A message from Spectator and Times columnist Hugo Rifkind: you’re all scum. | James Delingpole

February 22nd, 2010

The Spectator’s resident whimsyist Hugo Rifkind has written many silly pieces in the last few months, mostly on climate change, but his latest surely takes the soggy biscuit.

“I’m not saying anyone who ever posts an internet comment is nuts….” it’s titled. Rifkind spends the rest of his essay, of course, saying pretty much exactly that.

It is, I think I can safely promise, one of the most deliciously annoying and wrong-in-every-way pieces you will read all year.

There is snobbery and arrogance, rendered even more repellant somehow, by the desperate attempts to disguise it with a veneer of faux self-effacement, knockabout vernacular and japesome mirthfulness.

I don’t mean to be abusive here. I’m certainly not suggesting that everybody who comments on an article, ever, is sitting at home in their pants, tinfoil on head, basically being batshit doolally. I’m just saying it worries me. Pretty much any journalist I know would say the same. I know of one who describes the comments below her articles as ‘the bottom half of the internet’, which pretty much captures the sort of distaste we’re talking about here.

A lot of this is pure preciousness. I know it looks like we just knock this stuff out, still half-cut from the night before, but actually there’s a fair amount of effort involved. The last thing any hack wants is some amateur next door lowering the tone. When Leonardo da Vinci painted the ‘Mona Lisa’, after all, he didn’t leave a blank bit at the bottom, on which any passing oddbod was welcome to scrawl ‘BUT WOT ABUOT IMIGRATON?’

There is left-liberal prejudice masquerading as sweet reasonableness:

Comments Britain tends towards the hard right, but does the hard left, too. Comments Britain is uniformly Eurosceptic, even on the Guardian. (Maybe a slim British majority now is, but everyone?) Comments Britain is overwhelmingly sceptical about climate change, but recent polls suggest that, while scepticism is surely on the rise, 75 per cent remain with the boffins. Most of all, Comments Britain is nasty. There’s fury out there, and bile and hate. Out there in the actual world, people just don’t seem to be that nasty. People actually seem pretty nice.

There is an heroic refusal to accept that the internet has any power and significance whatsoever:

So when people tell me of a new, grass-roots momentum in politics, and then tell me that this momentum is web-based, I start to feel both queasy and doubtful. ConservativeHome, LabourHome, all the rest — I often suspect the views expressed in the comments on such sites are actually representative of nobody at all, up to and including the people who are online expressing them. I wonder if they are like the comments everywhere else, or the letters page of the Daily Express, or David Wright. Full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing.

Rifkind is not, of course, the first salary-cushioned print journalist to have suffered an attack of the vapours over the frightfulness of the internet. His ideological soulmate at the Independent Yasmin Alibhai Brown has often found herself in similar need of the smelling salts:

I never read the raving racists online but those who do tell me how revolting it is getting out there in the blogosphere. Ugly populism is fast food for the disillusioned.

This has not been my experience of the internet, I must say. Au contraire – without wishing to flatter you too much, you blog-addicted, foaming-mouthed, swivel-eyed loons – I’ve found the comments sections on blogs to be bastions of wisdom, rough-hewn common sense, wit, and often amazingly well-informed insight. And I don’t just mean on my blogs. What I always find equally heartening is when you look up an article online by, say, Polly Toynbee or some crack-papering fraudster from the Met Office and find its inconsistencies and idiocies being torn to shreds by a readership far more intelligent and on the ball than almost anyone in the liberal commentariat.

And this, I think, is the crux of the matter. The main reason so many left-liberals so loathe and fear the internet is that it is a medium that favours the libertarian right. It completely bypasses all those institutions that Gramscian Marxists fought so hard to capture: broadcasters like the BBC, the liberal-dominated print media, the seats of learning. It allows real people to say what’s really on their mind, unfettered by politically correct pieties. It is part of the same grassroots phenomenon that has seen the Tea Party movement flourish in the US and it expresses a wave of public revulsion at the dishonesty and cant of our political leaders, as well as a yearning cry for liberty in the face of growing dominance by the state.

And it’s not going to go away, however dearly Hugo Rifkind might wish it.

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3 Responses to “A message from Spectator and Times columnist Hugo Rifkind: you’re all scum.”

  1. Don Stuart says:February 22, 2010 at 1:20 pmThanks James for flagging up the appalling Hugo Rifkind. I recently took up subscription to the Spectator (back in November) after many years of reading it on line, and have been working my way through many entertaining and informative articles (some by yourself). I was aghast to read one by the aforementioned Rifkind from back in December I think which I couldn’t believe had got beyond the editor. It was written in the most absurdly sixth form leftie rant style and really lowered the quality of the magazine from which ever political view point you stood.

    I won’t lower the tone of this blog by using the ‘C’ word but suffice to say the man is a total ‘Tristram Hunt’.

    Now there’s another name badly deserving of a good verbal duffing up..

  2. Peter Crawford says:February 22, 2010 at 11:47 pmI read the article and also found it pretty daft.

    Your comment about the liberal commentariat is spot on. If you send a letter to a paper politely pointing out an error of fact by one of their star columnists I can assure you it will not be published. They really don’t like it at all.

    The beauty of the internet is that, providing you stick to the rules, there is no editorial pretorian guard to prevent any well informed reader from pointing out that their award-winning writer is talking through his or her backside.

    If Hugo Rifkind thinks this is full of “bile and hate” well…..ahh diddums.

  3. James W says:February 26, 2010 at 3:01 pmNice one.

    Rifkind has the smug self-importance, self-perceived omniscience and self-nomenclatured altruism of one of those dick-head Fabian.

    Fabians of course are well-known for being a bunch of elitist control-freak intellectual snobs, most of whom are simply engaged in a childish personal battle of wits with people they wished they were more like in order to prove their self-worth.

    Rifkind is a beneficiary of nepotism so of course he is always trying to prove how clever he is, with the result of course it consistently makes him look like a fool.

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Broken Britain | James Delingpole

February 17th, 2010

I’ve got another brilliant idea for a TV series. It’s called MPs Walled Up in Scorpion-Filled, Ebola-Ridden, Plague-Rat-Infested, Acid-Drenched, Radioactive Tower Block of Slow Hellish Screaming Death. All right, so the title does give away the premise, slightly, but I’d still watch it, wouldn’t you? 24/7. Done right — with special feature-length episodes devoted to Ed Balls, Harriet Harman, and the Milibands — I reckon it would be more satisfying than Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, Das Boot, South Park, The Simpsons and University Challenge rolled into one. And from me, that’s quite an accolade.

What I shan’t be watching again, I don’t think, is the tame rip-off of my idea currently showing on Channel 4. Tower Block of Commons (Channel 4, Monday) is a ‘social experiment’ in which various MPs are sent to live like council tenants for a week in a grotty tower block. You can guess the trajectory right away: by the end, all the participants will be appalled and astonished to realise just how out of touch they are with Britain’s broken society and will vow to strive harder to mend it.

(to read more, click here)

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Why I’m Cancelling My Kids’ Subscription to The Beano

Why I’m cancelling my kids’ subscription to The Beano

Earlier this week Bryony Gordon reported on how Dennis the Menace had been given a PC makeover.

But kids aren’t stupid. They get it. Witness eight-year-old Jacob Rush, from Ipswich, who noticed that Dennis the Menace now looks more like that sweet little swimmer Tom Daley. He’s slimmed down, his hair has softened, he’s smiling. He doesn’t bully Walter the Softy, who now has a girlfriend, as opposed to that pink poodle Foo Foo. Dennis no longer fires his catapult or his pea-shooter. Gnasher hasn’t tasted human flesh for some time now. Naturally, little Jacob was quite upset by this, and sent off an email to the Beano making his feelings clear. The publishers replied, blaming the new BBC cartoon in which Dennis has been given a PC makeover in order to comply with editorial and content guidelines.

When I read it I believed this excuse by publishers DC Thompson. Having seen the latest issue, though, I’m not so sure. In the third frame of Billy Whizz we have a teacher saying:

“Now it’s safe to have our lesson about saving energy!”

The neighbouring strip – a fairly new one called Super School (including a character evidently ripped off from Viz’s Johnny Fartpants called Stinkbomb!) – ends with a baddy shown huffing and puffing at a wind turbine.

We are told:

“He has to work at a wind-farm for a month to give the country free energy.”

All right, fair enough, you might think. Wind farms do exist (more’s the pity) so there’s no reason necessarily to exclude them from Britain’s oldest and best-loved comic.

But then you look below the cartoon and a little educational screed has been added:

“WIND FACT – A FIFTH OF ALL THE ELECTRICITY PRODUCED IN DENMARK COMES FROM WIND POWER – NOW THAT’S A USELESS FACT FOR YOU!”

Well I’m sorry but that little “Hey we’re all crazy and just having fun here kids” disclaimer at the end in no way mitigates the fact that what is going on here is gratuitous eco-propaganda which has absolutely no place in a children’s comic.

And if we’re really going to “educate” kids about the Danish wind farm experience, mightn’t it also be a good idea to mention how it has been a complete disaster for the Danes – driving their utility bills to ruinously high levels and forcing them to rely for most of their electricity needs (wind power being very erratic) on conventional power imported from their neighbours? Or is that the kind of unpalatable truth that ought to be kept from our dear ones?

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I Hate Weddings; Funerals Are Almost Invariably Better in Every Way

If I’d written the film it would have been called Four Funerals and a Wedding, because personally I find funerals much more fun. Not all funerals, obviously. But the funeral of someone who’s not a close relative and who’s had a good innings can be a very splendid occasion — as I was reminded the other week when I went to Tisbury, Wiltshire, to bid farewell to my old friend John Clanwilliam.

John, you may remember, was the earl I killed last summer during a game of human Cluedo. At Christmas, he died for real and though I shall miss him dearly I don’t think anyone could be too unhappy at the manner of his leaving: a few months after two glorious 90th birthday parties (one in London, one in the country), cheery, well-loved and with all his faculties intact.

I became his friend because my friend Tania — one of his daughters — invariably used to sit me next to him at lunch or dinner when I came to stay. ‘You’re only good at talking to very young people or very old people,’ explained Tania — perfectly truly. ‘And you’re the only person I know who’s as right-wing as Daddy is.’

John and I got on like a house on fire, spending many joyous hours bemoaning the state of modern Britain and winding up Tania who — like so many poshos — has unfortunate Whiggish tendencies. Besides being an ardent Speccie reader, John had the added advantage of having been in the war. It delighted me beyond measure when he declared himself a fan of my Dick Coward books because, I suppose, that’s the audience I most care about: the people who are in a position to know whether or not you’ve got it right.

John’s own war was pretty bloody, though not in the way you might expect. He came from a distinguished naval family — his grandfather the fourth Earl had been Admiral of the Fleet, his father was an admiral — and was educated at Dartmouth Naval College. None of his family is quite sure what happened, though there are suspicions that his ship may have run aground. Anyway, poor John Meade (as he then was) left the navy under a cloud, and didn’t speak much to his family for the rest of the war, which he spent working in a Birmingham munitions factory followed by a short and unglorious stint in the army.

What I love about this particular story is what it says about the resilience of the human spirit. John could have let the episode completely destroy him. Instead, he rebuilt his life — first as an abalone diver in South Africa — raised four children, and gave every impression of being thoroughly happy and fulfilled.

Whenever John turned up you felt that little bit more cheerful, which I’m sure is why so many people turned up to give him a proper send-off. Everything about the funeral service was perfect, from the chosen hymns (‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’) to the sweet tenor rendition of ‘Danny Boy’, to the booming, old-school, fear-of-God dismissal by a former Bishop of Bath and Wells. You felt at once teary and uplifted, in a way I know you’re supposed to at weddings too, but in my experience almost never are.

God I hate weddings. The only one I’ve really enjoyed was my own, because I got to decide on the food and the music and all the speeches were about me. But the idea of forking out perhaps £100 for a present and probably double that on transport and accommodation in order to hang about and get half cut and eat cold bloody salmon (not even wild, probably, but farmed in its own filth and pumped full of antibiotics) on a table next to someone you don’t know while listening to not just an oafish best man, but also the father, and probably some tedious godfather or other giving boring speeches that go on for ever and ever about a couple who are probably going to be divorced in five years fills me with horror.

It’s the trappedness I loathe and fear most. (I have the same problem with dinner parties.) At a wedding you can’t just flit in, enjoy cursory conversations with the old mates you came to see, grab some nosh and then bugger off. You’ve got the church service: an hour, bare min. You’ve got the queuing to say hi to the bride and groom (why?) before you’re allowed your first drink. Then a whole afternoon in a marquee on a table with the sort of people you’d never normally spend even ten minutes with unless you were being paid very large sums of money.

At least with funerals, you don’t go with any high expectations of fun and frivolity — whereas at weddings you do, setting yourself up for almost inevitable disappointment. And there’s an unspoken assumption at weddings that, as a guest, you’re privileged to be there and should be grateful to have made it on to the invitation list, which puts pressure on you to be on your best behaviour. At a funeral, on the other hand, you’re thought to be putting yourself out slightly. The family are touched and appreciative that you’ve made the effort. Also there’s no best man, no sit-down food ordeal, you don’t have to bring a present, and if you do behave badly no one minds or even notices because everyone’s on one of those weird, faintly hysterical, ‘it’s what he would have wanted’ post-funeral highs.

Then there’s death. I don’t think nearly enough of us think nearly often enough about this and what it means. If we did, half the liberal pieties infecting our society would vanish in a trice. For example, there’d be no more squeamishness about ‘passenger profiling’ at airports because absolutely everyone would appreciate — duh — that the needs of millions of free citizens who prefer to take the kind of holiday flight where you don’t end up spread over the Atlantic in a million tiny pieces trump those of, say, a beardie in a dishdasha travelling on a one-way ticket from the Yemen with hand-baggage only who would prefer not to be singled out for a full cavity search.

(to read more, click here)

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One thought on “I hate weddings; funerals are almost invariably better in every way”

  1. Kate McMaster says:17th February 2010 at 6:07 pmWhat a great tribute to your friend, James! I have enjoyed reading your past posts, as well.
    I will be back.

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Husky Rescue, Massive, Midlake

Husky Rescue – Ship of Light (Catskills) *****

I loved their last album Ghost Is Not Real, too, but with their third and latest offering Helsinki’s Husky Rescue have really plumbed the depths and reached the highest heights of exquisite bitter-sweet perfect misery pop. The secret lies in their ingenious combination of Finnish chilliness and melancholy (especially Reeta-Leena Korhola’s frail, beautiful vocals, a curious mix of tenderness and icy distance, which lend every song the vague feel of a deeply sad and sinister children’s story set in a cruel frosty land) with some of the jauntiest, catchiest most perfect synth pop melodies you’re likely to hear all year.

Midlake – The Courage Of Others (Co Op) *****

When people first started talking about the new folk revival about five years ago, I think most of us imagined it would be an even briefer fad than Riot Grrll or Grime. Instead, folk has taken over the world. If you love Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists – and of course you do – then you will be equally smitten by this offering from yet another bunch of sensitive, hippie beardies with a Fairport Convention fixation. Though Midlake are from Texas, they sound much more akin to an expert distillation of the best of the Laurel Canyon folkies, Neil Young and, maybe, Jethro Tull. Twittery flutes, gorgeous tunes, harmonies: what more do you need?

Massive Attack – Heligoland (Virgin) ****

If a new Massive Attack album – even after a wait of five years – is no longer the event it was, that’s probably because their last effort 100th Window was utterly forgettable. Heligoland, though marks a definite return to form. After the first few listens I’m not yet convinced it’s a five-star classic in the Mezzanine mould but that’s possibly because it’s so wilfully understated. But most of our old friends are here: vocals from Martina Topley Bird and Daddy G (as well as Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Elbow’s Guy Garvey), plus lashings of the usual boomy, stoner dub. Maybe the tunes will become more obvious with further plays.

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Charlotte Gainsbourg, Firstaid, Tindersticks | James Delingpole

February 15, 2010

Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM (Because Music) *****

Five stars: you’ll perhaps be expecting fireworks but what you actually get is a sultry, understated, modest affair – sweetly folkie and Francoise Hardy in places, lightly industrial and post-rave in others – with a slightly messy, small-hours feel to it. That’ll be the influence of Beck who produced and co-wrote the songs, based on fragmentary lyrics suggested by Gainsbourg. They’ve worked together brilliantly. I’m particularly smitten with the lilting lullaby-like In the End, the whispery dream-pop of Time Of The Assassins and the enervated punk-electronica of Greenwich Mean Time, but I can tell already the whole thing is going to be a massive grower. Borderline genius.

First Aid Kit – The Big Black And The Blue (Jagadamba) *****

First Aid Kit have become a bit of a You Tube sensation with a cover of Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song so exquisitely, unfeasibly lovely it makes the original sound almost like a tuneless dirge. Though you’ll surely think, as I did, that they’re some authentic Appalachian folk outfit – clear, penetrating vocals, the sweetest close harmonies and the most delicious country twang – they’re actually Swedish sisters, Klara and Johanna Soderberg (aged 16 and 19). I particularly like that little high whoop one of the girls does on the mindblowingly good A Window Opens but really the whole album is a total masterpiece. Buy!

Tindersticks – Falling Down A Mountain (4AD) ****

I’m giving Tindersticks’ eighth album a four-star benefit of the doubt. While I’m not yet totally smitten their records are often very slow growers and even after two plays I can hear definite signs of renewed confidence and creative revival. Harmony Round My Table is classic, old-school Tindersticks – right down to the delicate glockenspiel – with Stuart Staples’s lugubrious lounge vocals reaching almost dangerous levels of jauntiness. Elsewhere there are forays into Calexico-style western, a duet with Mary Margaret O’Hara, some mildly experimental jazz, and some lengthy, sparse but haunting instrumentals. Worth a go, definitely.

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Four Tet, Owl City, Hot Chip | James Delingpole

February 15, 2010: Reviews

Four Tet – There Is Love In You (Domino) ****

And the spate of brilliant, must-buy CDs continues. Kieran (Four Tet) Hebden is a contrary so-and-so. His last proper album Everything Ecstatic was hateful and the only time I’ve seen him DJ, it felt like he was largely there to bring us down and make our ears bleed. His latest, though, marks a return the form we last properly heard on his 2003 Rounds album. What he specialises in mainly is cerebral, slightly chilly and remote electro boffinry in the fine tradition of Kraftwerk and John Carpenter. But there are also plenty of outbreaks of tinkling, chimey, bubbling loveliness in the manner of Orbital, plus something of Underworld’s sweet melancholy and Boards Of Canada’s immense sonic vistas. Really, electronica doesn’t get much better than this.

Owl City – Ocean Eyes (Island) ***

Tim Burton loves this album. So do my kids. Says it all really. Unfortunately they’ve reached the age where they like their pop twee, processed and saccharine, which I’m afraid Owl City very much is, with fluffy marshmallow chunks of whimsy floating on top. Nice back story: shy 23-year old Minnesotan Alex Young uploads his DIY synth pop compositions onto My Space; 50 million hits and two albums later, he’s number one on both sides of the Atlantic with cute and winsome, AutoTune-drenched, undeniably catchy Fireflies. But if you’re expecting sparks and danger from the rest of the album, don’t. What he needs is a Four Tet remix.

Hot Chip – One Life Stand (Parlophone) ****

By spooky coincidence Hot Chip attended the same South London comprehensive as Four Tet. I don’t know what the opposite of a grower is – a shrinker, maybe? – but whatever it was, that’s how I felt about their first two albums. With each listen I got more annoyed by singer Alex’s nerve-jarring faux-tender wheedle, by the odd mix of electronic coldness and dreadful, soupy soft-soul. Here, though, all is forgiven. It’s an immaculate dance album with pretty much everything in the right place: great tunes, clever arrangements, Alex’s vocals sounding not nearly so irksome, and none of that uptightness which made their earlier work such a trial.

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Climategate: The Official Cover-up Continues

If there’s one thing that stinks even more than Climategate, it’s the attempts we’re seeing everywhere from the IPCC and Penn State University to the BBC to pretend that nothing seriously bad has happened, that “the science” is still “settled”, and that it’s perfectly OK for the authorities go on throwing loads more of our money at a problem that doesn’t exist.

The latest example of this noisome phenomenon is Sir Muir Russell’s official whitewash – sorry “independent inquiry”  into the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) scandal.

The inquiry has not even begun and already it has told its first blatant lie – seen here on its official website.

Do any of the Review team members have a predetermined view on climate change and climate science?
No.  Members of the research team come from a variety of scientific backgrounds. They were selected on the basis they have no prejudicial interest in climate change and climate science and for the contribution they can make to the issues the Review is looking at.

By what bizarre logic, then, did Sir Muir think it a good idea to appoint to his panel the editor of Nature, Dr Philip Campbell? Dr Campbell is hardly neutral: his magazine has for years been arguing aggressively in favour of the AGW, and which published this editorial in the wake of Climategate:

The e-mail archives stolen last month from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (UEA), UK, have been greeted by the climate-change-denialist fringe as a propaganda windfall (see page 551). To these denialists, the scientists’ scathing remarks about certain controversial palaeoclimate reconstructions qualify as the proverbial ‘smoking gun’: proof that mainstream climate researchers have systematically conspired to suppress evidence contradicting their doctrine that humans are warming the globe.

This paranoid interpretation would be laughable were it not for the fact that obstructionist politicians in the US Senate will probably use it next year as an excuse to stiffen their opposition to the country’s much needed climate bill. Nothing in the e-mails undermines the scientific case that global warming is real — or that human activities are almost certainly the cause. That case is supported by multiple, robust lines of evidence, including several that are completely independent of the climate reconstructions debated in the e-mails.

Dr Campbell has since resigned his post – and rightly so, as the Global Warming Policy Foundation makes clear. But are we to feel any more confident about the alleged neutrality of another of Sir Muir’s appointments, Professor Geoffrey Boulton?

Bishop Hill certainly doesn’t think so. He notes that Professor Boulton….

  • spent 18 years at the school of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia
  • works in an office almost next door to a member of the Hockey Team
  • says the argument over climate change is over
  • tours the country lecturing on the dangers of climate change
  • believes the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2050
  • signed up to a statement supporting the consensus in the wake of Climategate, which spoke of scientists adhering to the highest standards of integrity
  • could fairly be described as a global warming doommonger
  • is quite happy to discuss “denial” in the context of the climate debate.

You wonder, if Sir Muir really is that determined to keep his inquiry totally unbiased, independent, above-board and scrupulously neutral why he just doesn’t go the whole hog and appoint Al Gore, James Hansen and Rajendra Pachauri. I doubt the conclusions they’d reach would be any different.

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8 Responses to “Climategate: the official cover-up continues”

  1. Rupert says:February 13, 2010 at 10:03 amForgive my naivety but why are all these warming alarmists bothering to engage in any debate at all with the capitalist globalisation running-dog lackeys of the denialist movement over facts, figures and projections. Surely it would be more efficacious to adopt the tactics of the spine wizards at the British Chiropractic Association in dealing with Simon Singh and use England’s celebrated libel laws to silence Messrs Delingpole, Booker, North, Watt etc etc etc etc ad infinitum.
    Or would there just be too many people on the defendants list…?
  2. Tom Forrester-Paton says:February 14, 2010 at 2:58 amRupert – that would result in a TRIAL, a procedure involving forensic logic, a concept clearly alien to them, but which they rightly suspect might prove uncomfortable. It would also probably result in the public airing, under oath, of all sorts of evidence whch might compel hitherto lethargic and compliant prosecutorial services (aka Mr Plod) to act. Bring it on….!
  3. Tom Forrester-Paton says:February 15, 2010 at 12:31 amJames – in view of Dr Pachari’s recently-revealed literary talents, should we not in future refer to him as “Paperback Raitha”? Sorry, I couldn’t resist…
  4. Rupert says:February 15, 2010 at 5:28 pmOnly one man can save the IPCC from the stench of the ordure in now finds itself in. Enter stage left the world’s latest superhero the ever fragrant Doctor Patchouli !!!
  5. Rupert says:February 15, 2010 at 8:50 pmI wonder what Al Gore would really like to do with the multitudinous ‘deniers’? After all his name is an anagram of ‘gaoler’…
  6. David Q. Hall says:February 16, 2010 at 4:23 pmHolocene glacial retreat and sea level rise is an accepted geological fact:

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/gornitz_09/

    In the past 20,000 yrs sea levels have risen as much as 10-15 meters in a 500 year interval.

    During the Eocene there were temperate forests north of the Arctic circle and tropical forests in the Appalachain Mtns. (West Virginia, USA)

  7. John says:February 17, 2010 at 12:47 amRupert said:

    “a procedure involving forensic logic, a concept clearly alien to them”

    Unfortunately, skeptics are guilty of the same thing. Too much bombast and not enough substance to this debate lately.

  8. Tom Forrester-Paton says:February 17, 2010 at 1:43 pmJohn, I think the remark you refer to is mine. Actually you’re right. I don’t think the Tree Ring Circus are strangers to the scientific method. In truth I think they knew very well that their work was bad science, but were so invested in the AGW industry that they chose to lie, dissemble and obfuscate to keep the grants and the plaudits coming.

    However, when you accuse sceptics of the same lack of rigour, you repeat the mistake made by so many warmists (and, I grant you, too many sceptics) that it is the job of sceptics to present counter-theories to their own. It is not. What matters is whether AGW survives proper scrutiny, not whether those scrutinising it can do any better. I wish sceptics would remember this, but the fact that some don’t doesn’t relieve proponents of AGW of their obligation to present their theories in the form of falsifiable argument. The Climategate emails and code reveal the excruciating efforts of the high priesthood of AGW to do just that, their continuing failure, and the lengths to which they went or were prepared to go to conceal their work, with all its inadequacies, from proper peer review.

    There, that wasn’t too bombastic, was it?

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Climategate: Mad Sunday

I mean “Mad” in a good way.

This was the day when so many wheels came off Al Gore’s AGW gravy train and flew off in so many different directions, it was all but impossible to keep track of them.

Richard North and Jonathan Leake in The Sunday Times broke Africagate, exposing yet another erroneous claim in the fatally flawed Fourth IPCC Assessment report:

The most important is a claim that global warming could cut rain-fed north African crop production by up to 50% by 2020, a remarkably short time for such a dramatic change. The claim has been quoted in speeches by Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, and by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general.

This weekend Professor Chris Field, the new lead author of the IPCC’s climate impacts team, told The Sunday Times that he could find nothing in the report to support the claim. The revelation follows the IPCC’s retraction of a claim that the Himalayan glaciers might all melt by 2035.

The African claims could be even more embarrassing for the IPCC because they appear not only in its report on climate change impacts but, unlike the glaciers claim, are also repeated in its Synthesis Report.

The Sunday Express splashed on a fantastic story which many of you have urging me to write up for days, about the BBC pension fund’s massive exposure to carbon trading interests. (Sorry for not having done so; wish I had now but I’ve been a bit ill/distracted/busy having a go at Geoffrey Lean) Anyway, here’s the gist:

The corporation is under investigation after being inundated with complaints that its editorial coverage of climate change is biased in favour of those who say it is a man-made phenomenon. The £8 billion pension fund is likely to come under close scrutiny over its commitment to promote a low-carbon economy while struggling to reverse an estimated £2 billion deficit.

Truly, though we’ve been more spoiled this weekend than guests at the Ambassador’s Ferrero Rocher reception.The excellent Philip Stott offers a fine summary.

And if you have time, do spare a moment to enjoy the slowly-removes-glasses, draws-despairing-hand-across-forehead rage of the Observer’s science editor Robin McKie.

Why is it that the phrase Der Krieg Ist Verloren comes to mind?

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Dear Geoffrey Lean, Let Me Explain Why We’re So Cross…

My colleague Geoffrey Lean is upset by the vitriol he attracts on the internet. I feel for him. Though I have never met Geoffrey colleagues tells me he’s a delightful fellow who means very well. I’m sure he does and, though our views on AGW are very different, I take no more pleasure in seeing him taken to pieces by Telegraph-reading sceptics than I do from all the charming emails I get from George Monbiot groupies calling me something beginning with “C”. (And it’s shorter than “Climate change denier”).

But there appears to be something Geoffrey doesn’t understand and I’d like to take this opportunity to explain. This misconception is implicit in his headline: “We need to cool this climate row.” What it implies is that somewhere in the AGW debate is a sensible, moderate, middle ground and that if we can only approach this business in the spirit of a sort of Tony-Blair-style Third-Way triangulation, everything can be solved and we can all live happily ever after. No it can’t and we won’t.

Here are the killer paragraphs that betray Geoffrey’s (and not just Geoffrey’s but almost the entire green movement’s) wrong thinking:

The extremes, as so often, have met. The rejectionists and fundamentalists both wanted the Copenhagen climate summit to fail. Both seem at least partly swayed by ideology. For the fundamentalists, global warming should be a serious threat, therefore it must be one. For rejectionists, it must not be happening, therefore it can’t be.

The debate will surely continue. But is there a productive way forward? All sides condemn waste of the world’s resources. Conserving energy, reducing the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with clean sources is important for national security, and reducing other forms of air pollution besides the emission of greenhouse gases. It is also, as more and more economists and entrepreneurs are realising, an effective way of creating jobs and stimulating new, and sustainable, economic growth.

I think such a programme is necessary to head off dangerous climate change. But even if I am wrong, it would make the world a better, more prosperous place. Could all sides back it while continuing to argue about the science? That really would be a shock.

There are so many false assumptions contained therein that I don’t know where to begin. Probably the most dangerous is the canard about “green jobs”. These are a chimera, as we know from the evidence of Spain where for every “green job” created by government subsidy 2.2 jobs have been lost in the real economy. Not that this inconvenient truth seems to concern Dave Cameron’s green Conservatives overmuch.

Certainly the most erroneous is the utter nonsense that the measures being proposed to deal with “climate change” will “make the world a better, more prosperous place.”

No they won’t Geoff, and that’s why so many of us are so angry; why some of the emails you get are filled with such poison. We see, as you apparently do not, that in the name of this AGW scare you and your environmental correspondent colleagues have been helping to cook up these last few years our world is being destroyed.

You rightly cite biofuels as an example of green zealotry gone horribly wrong. If only it were the only one.

But how about the fact that, in the name of preserving the environment, the choicest parts of our magnificent British landscape are going to be ruined for generations by ugly, energy-inefficient, wind farms which are really little more than a means of transferring taxpayers’ money into the pockets of a few canny businessmen and pandering to EU bureaucracy but which will contribute nothing to our “energy security” because their power output is negligible?

How about the fact that thanks to the Climate Act we are expected to commit, in the middle of our direst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an annual £18 billion towards pointless green projects in order to deal with a problem that doesn’t actually exist?

You talk about “the science” Geoffrey, as if this were the place in which the solution lay. Again this is a fallacy. AGW has never been about “the science”, but about the corruption and debasement thereof. Try reading AW “Bishop Hill” Montford’s superb, gripping The Hockey Stick Illusion and then try to tell me, with a straight face, that the IPCC’s scaremongering reports have even the merest shred of integrity or that the cabal of activist scientists who have been pushing AGW  since the mid-Eighties were simply honest disinterested parties on a noble quest for pure scientific truth.

Climategate (which you persist in telling us was of no significance, though on what basis you have never quite made clear), was merely the iceberg tip not only of the greatest scientific scandal in history, but also of perhaps the most far reaching and deadly conspiracy ever inflicted on mankind. One that could ultimately lead to the destruction of the global economy and, by extension, industrial civilisation.

Yet here you are, telling us it can all be resolved if we only start talking a bit more nicely to one another. Well again I say this is not a moment for Tony-Blair-style triangulation. You rightly say that it is quite wrong to liken climate change denial to Holocaust denial. And the reason it’s wrong is because the Holocaust actually happened, whereas nobody is claiming that climate doesn’t change. The bone of contention is whether or not it is significantly, dangerously man-made.

What I don’t buy is the notion that in turn we sceptics should desist from calling the people on your side “eco-fascists” and “Nazis.” Why? The Nazis were the progenitors of the modern green movement and eco-fascism is exactly what organisations like the EU, the US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the current British government and the forthcoming Heath administration are trying to impose on their increasingly clued-up (and correspondingly sceptical) tax-paying, freedom-loving citizenry.

We love our world; we want our children and grandchildren to grow up with jobs and to be able to enjoy looking at landscapes which haven’t been destroyed by wind turbines; we understand that the richer an economy grows the more environmentally conscious it can afford to be. We believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Your side, Geoffrey, does not.

Related posts:

  1. Green jobs? Wot green jobs? (pt 242)
  2. The real cost of ‘global warming’
  3. Climategate: Green Agony Uncle ‘Dear James’ answers your Copenhagen questions
  4. ‘Green jobs’ and feed-in tariffs: rent-seeking parasites get their just desserts
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