Take this week’s climate prat of the week, Professor Jonathan Butterworth of the Physics and Astronomy Department at University College London.
Butterworth has just been caught red-handed trying to prevent one of his colleagues holding a conference for climate sceptics because, in his opinion, their views are “rather fringe.”
Here is the snooty email he sent to his colleague Dr Athem Alsabti, former Professor of Physics at Baghdad University, now working at UCL’s Observatory:
“It has been brought to my attention that you have booked a room at University College, London, for an external conference in September for a rather fringe group discussing aspects of climate science.
“If this event were to go ahead at UCL, it would generate a great deal of strong feeling, indeed it already has, as members of the UCL community are expressing concern to me that we are giving a platform to speakers who deny anthropogenic climate change while flying in the face of accepted scientific methods. I am sure you have no desire to bring UCL into disrepute, or to cause dissension in the UCL community, and I would encourage you to think about moving the event to a different venue, not on UCL premises.”
The conference – which is still going ahead, though not now in the university itself but at a nearby venue, Conway Hall – will feature a number of scientists every bit as distinguished in their field as Butterworth presumably is in his.
Professor Nils-Axel Mörner, who has published more refereed papers on sea-level rise than Professor Butterworth has had hot dinners; Professor Ole Humlum of the University of Oslo, who publishes a widely-circulated monthly data update on global temperatures and related matters; Professor Jan-Erik Solheim of Norway; members of the Swedish Polar Institute, of the Asociacion Rural de Paraguay; of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, of the U.S. Geological Survey; of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the former president of the Italian National Research Council; the Professor of Paleobotany at the Sapienza University, Rome; a world-leading physicist from the François Rabelais University in Tours; an analytical expert from the Laboratoire Analyse at the University of Paris; the brother of the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the House of Commons; dozens of doctors of science; and a sprinkling of IPCC expert reviewers, including your humble servant.
Butterworth may think he knows better on climate than these experts, though how is not immediately clear given that it’s not his field. And while he’s perfectly entitled to his random, unsupported, prejudiced, haughty, third-hand, groupthink-induced opinions, what’s baffling is his decision to invoke in his own support the principle of the “scientific method”. (Or “methods” as he mysteriously chooses to pluralise it in his email to Alsbati.)
It must be really annoying for a physics professor to be told by an English literature graduate that he doesn’t understand the scientific method. But since what he’s doing here is the rough equivalent of an English literature undergraduate not knowing who wrote Hamlet, I fear I may have to take the risk of bruising his inflated ego.
Professor Bob Carter, one of the world’s leading climate sceptics, has just dropped dead of a heart attack at the far too young age of 74. Perhaps it would be pushing it to say that he was driven to an early grave by the alarmist establishment. But there’s no question that his retirement would have been a lot more comfortable, less stressful and better paid if he’d hitched his career onto the Climate Change Gravy Train rather than doggedly speaking up for the cause of honest science.
Bob had known for years that man-made global warming theory was a crock. As a brilliant earth scientist – until 1998 he was head of the geology department at James Cook University in Australia – he understood perfectly well that on the geological scale our planet has experienced shifts in climate of a magnitude so vast as to make a mockery of the notion that humans can influence or control it.
His mistake was to admit this in public rather than keep schtum and take the money. As a result, Bob’s university decided to punish him for his heresy with a series of petty slights:
First James Cook University (JCU) took away his office, then they took his title. In protest at that, another professor hired Bob immediately for an hour a week so Bob could continue supervising students and keep his library access. But that was blocked as well, even the library pass and his email account were taken away, though they cost the University almost nothing.
James Cook University didn’t even bother to pretend to be interested in whether or not Bob was right. All that mattered to JCU is that Bob’s views were not politically correct – and that therefore this might jeopardise their image:
The only reasons given were that the staff of the School of Earth and Environmental Studies had discussed the issue (without any consultation with Carter) and decided that his views on climate change did not fit well within the School’s own teaching and research activities. Apparently it took up too much time to defend Carter against outside complaints about his public writings and lectures on climate change. (Busy executives don’t have time to say “Why don’t you ask Carter yourself?” or “We value vigorous debate here.” Presumably they are too busy practising their lines and learning the litany? )
The harrying of sceptics is commonplace in academe. (See, for example, the even more shocking treatment of Willie Soon).
Most people in most of the 20 countries surveyed say they don’t want their leaders to set ambitious climate targets.
Fewer than half describe climate change as a “very serious” problem.
The survey, conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC, could scarcely have come at a worst time for the global environmental movement. After the disastrous failure of the last major climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, they have been pulling out all the stops to make the talks which begin in Paris next week a success.
Earlier this year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon flew to the Vatican to enlist the Pope’s support; President Obama has declared that there is “no greater threat” than climate change; John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and the Prince of Wales have all said it’s worse than terrorism; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has helped out by erasing “the Pause” in global warming; the IUCN has magicked up a study claiming the doing-just-fine polar bears are in trouble….
“The economic crisis could spark a resurgence in the far Right,” warns a senior British government cabinet minister.
Warns? Well he would warn I suppose this guy – Balls is his name and that’s exactly what he talks – being as he’s so mindlessly, instinctively, incorrigeably left wing he makes Joe Stalin sound like Rush Limbaugh.
But speaking for myself I’d say a little bit more far Right is just what the world could do with right now. Our economies would recover more quickly; our kids would be better educated; our wives (qua Mayor of London Boris Johnson) would have larger breasts (if we so chose, though of course it wouldn’t be compulsory for small-but-perfectly-formed-breast-favourers like me); we’d earn more money and live longer and have all the leisure time we needed to do whatever we wanted, be it hunt foxes or smoke cigarettes or drive our 4 x 4s incredibly fast on no-speed-limit motorways or eat live ortolans in truffle and foie gras sandwiches or take long bracing walks in pristine landscapes unsullied by useless wind turbines or anything else we fancied, pretty much, because we’d be free, free, FREE!
Some of you might be wondering where the death camps fit into all this. And the Swastikas.
And the gay-bashing. And the Jew-murdering.
And my answer is: they don’t.
About the only Nazi/fascist thing I can envisage happening in my far-Right paradise – that and the fact that chic, Hugo-Boss-designed uniforms will be perfectly permissible among those who fancy such things – is that the trains will run on time. But that’s all.
You see when I talk about far Right, I don’t mean the caricature “all Conservatives are closet Nazis” version of supposed extreme right-wingery which appears in leftist propaganda from the likes of Mr Balls.
I just mean something a bit more robust than the limp-wristed conservatism currently espoused by a worryingly large number of US Republican and British Tory politicians. I mean real conservatism not “Compassionate Conservatism”, (which isn’t conservatism at all but diluted liberalism.)
Whenever I try explaining this to people (as I do quite a lot because hey, I’m on A Mission) usually their eyes glaze over or they look at me like I’m mad. “What?” they go. “How can you like cool music and be so heavily into freedom and call yourself right wing?”
My friends – I’m presuming you’re reading this because you want to be my friend and not because you think I’m evil and wrong and are just lurking here to annoy me – my friends, it is time that those of us on the right (and those of us who think we, er, might possibly be on the right, but are too scared to admit it, even to ourselves) came out of the closet and started standing up for ourselves and our cause.
Say it loud, say it proud: “I’m right-wing and I’m good and I’m happy in my skin.”
There. Don’t you feel SO much better?
I know I’ve been feeling a lot better, anyway, ever since I started becoming a fully-fledged, unabashed, practising right-winger.
Just recently, as I never tired of my reminding my long-suffering Facebook friends, I did a publicity tour of the US. Well, maybe a tour is too grand a word for it, given that I only stopped off in New York and DC. But I did do lots of talk radio, maybe thirty stations across the US, and just to ram home (so to speak) that gay analogy one more time, I came away feeling rather as my gay friends must have done when they finally plucked up the courage to tell their parents that, um, if they were expecting grandchildren any time soon then maybe it might not be too good an idea to hold their breath. I felt relieved of a terrible burden: the burden that comes of being right wing and forever having to hedge your views with semi-apologies, and nervous circumlocution, and long-winded explanations as to why is that even though you’re right wing your politics spring from the noblest of motives.
When you do the right-wing US talk shows, none of that is necessary. Au contraire. The more unashamedly right-wing you are, the more they love you for it. They take it as a given that being on the right is the right place to be. Which makes a refreshing change from doing pretty much any talk radio show in Britain, let me tell you. Over here – where most talk shows of note are in the control of the instinctively, unthinkingly left liberal BBC – your job as a right-winger is, at best, to provide freak-show amusement value; at worst, to afford prey for a series of carefully prepared traps with leaves on top and ravening tigers lurking in the pit underneath.
Your interviewer’s aim – this applies on TV as much as radio – will be to hold your opinions up to his audience’s righteous contempt by demonstrating that you are one or more of the following: a xenophobe, a racist, a climate-change denier, a Little Englander, a NIMBY, an elitist, a snob, or just a plain evil selfish bastard who doesn’t give a fig for anyone but himself. The BBC doesn’t do this deliberately. (Well, not often). It genuinely sees itself as a model of balance and reasonableness. Unfortunately, though, because it is staffed almost totally by bien-pensants recruited through the media pages of the left-wing Guardian newspaper, a BBC apparatchik’s idea of the centre ground is actually some way towards the political left.
But I have been sidetracked. There will be plenty of time in future blogs to have a go at BBC bias. My point in this inaugural one is to come up with some kind of statement of intent: who I am, what I stand for.
And what I stand for is a lot of things you wouldn’t necessarily associate with people on the right. Some of the things I value, admittedly, are straight down-the-line conservative. I believe in tradition; I go to church (though not nearly as often as maybe I should); I think foxhunting and staghunting are the coolest, most exciting sports ever invented (with grouse-shooting a close second); I believe that the English public school offers the best education in the world; I worship Johnny Cash; I get a terrible, aching, yearning feeling in my heart when I listen to Vaughan Williams’s English folk song suite; I play bridge; I like long country walks; and I’m utterly obsessed with World War II and am never happier than when talking to veterans – or indeed when hanging out with servicemen generally because yes, I do think meanly of myself for not having been a soldier, and I will always envy and admire those who have faced the ultimate test.
But not all my enthusiams are stereotypically right-wing. I’m liberal on recreational drug use, for example. Very liberal – though as I would prefer to put it “classically liberal” or libertarian. I like dance music. Led Zeppelin. Love. Radiohead. DJ Shadow. No seriously, my taste in music is pretty immaculate though I say it myself. And if you follow my recommendations up right, or go to my archive, I promise you, you’re in for many treats. I’m also a sensitive literary type. (Well, I write novels – the current series being set in World War II – which may not be quite the same thing. They’re full of graphic violence, black jokes and dirty sex, which the more straight-laced conservative type might find a bit near the knuckle). I like South Park. And The Simpsons. And culty, arthouse films like Lilya 4 Ever; Adaptation; Brazil and Being John Malkovich. I like Starship Troopers. The Sopranos. Band Of Brothers. Das Boot. And I’m really into vampire movies, so long as they’re evil vampires like in 30 Days Of Night, Salem’s Lot, From Dusk Till Dawn and Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and not wussy vegetarian ones designed for girls like in that current teen-vampire film whose name I forget.
Oh and having travelled a lot in Africa, I care about the state of that continent and am fascinated by its people (though I don’t think, pace Bob Geldof and Bono, that the solution lies in bombarding them with aid). And I get on well with black people, yellow people, hispanics and Jews. Even Germans and French, sometimes. I don’t think I’m racist. Well, certainly no more than the next human being. And I have so many gay friends, it has been suggested that I might be a closeted gay myself. Or at least that I’m in denial. Heavily in denial presumably, given that I’m happily married with a wife and three kids.
Anyway, look, fuck it – oh yeah, swearing, that’s another thing I do, which I have to be much more careful about in the US where I know casual swearing is much less prevalent among educated people – I’ve told you quite enough to be going on with. Really, all I wanted to do here apart from offer you a gentle introduction to the kind of thing I do, is come back to that point I was trying to make at the beginning about the fact that being right wing is not the same thing as being a Nazi. Or a fascist. Or any of those other nasty slurs that left-wingers like the Balls man and Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky and the rest like to use against us in order to wriggle out of the need to engage us in honest debate.
And if you want an even more detailed explanation of why right wingers, no matter how extreme, are neither fascists nor Nazis, read Jonah Goldberg’s excellent Liberal Fascism. The Nazis were a movement of the left – National Socialists – not the right, and the only reason that today we imagine otherwise is because of a very successful propaganda campaign begun by Joseph Stalin, and continued by his fellow travellers and useful idiots ever since.
Me, I’m a nice guy. I love my family, love nature, like peace and love, and never drown kittens unless it’s strictly necessary. But you know what? Just recently, what with Obamaland and all, I’ve had this wonderful, liberating sense that I no longer need to apologise to my antagonists on the green-tinged liberal-left for who I am and the things for which I stand. There are people, I’ve realised just recently, whom I’m never going to convert through force of argument, no matter how eloquent my delivery nor how indisputable my evidence.
So to all my friends and would-be friends I say: welcome!