Delingpole: RIP Clive James – Poet, Broadcaster And, More Importantly, Climate Sceptic

1976: Television presenter and writer Clive James appears in Granada's late night rock show 'So It Goes'. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
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Clive James, the Australian wit, critic, journalist, broadcaster and poet has died. His artistic virtues will, I’m sure, be widely celebrated and memorialised in the mainstream media. But of more interest here is the fact that he was an outspoken climate sceptic.

In an essay for the Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2017, he ripped into the hysterical exaggeration and scaremongering which constitutes ‘climate science.’

They came out of the grant-hungry fringe of semi-science to infect the heart of the mass media, where a whole generation of commentators taught each other to speak andwriteahyperbolicdoomlanguage(‘unprecedented’,‘irreversible’,etcetera),which you might have thought was sure to doom them in their turn. After all, nobody with an intact pair of ears really listens for long to anyone who talks about ‘the planet’ or ‘carbon’ or ‘climate denial’ or ‘the science’. But for now – and it could be a long now – the advocates of drastic action are still armed with a theory that no fact doesn’t fit.


Alarmists have always profited from their insistence that climate change is such a complex issue that no ‘science denier’ can have an opinion about it worth hearing. For most areas of science such an insistence would be true. But this particular area has a knack of raising questions that get more and more complicated in the ab- sence of an answer to the elementary ones. One of those elementary questions is about how man-made carbon dioxide can be a driver of climate change if the global temperature has not gone up by much over the last twenty years but the amount of man-made carbon dioxide has. If we go on to ask a supplementary question – say, how could carbon dioxide raise temperature when the evidence of the ice cores indicates that temperature has always raised carbon dioxide – we will be given com- plicated answers, but we still haven’t had an answer to the first question, except for the suggestion that the temperature, despite the observations, really has gone up, but that the extra heat is hiding in the ocean. It is not necessarily science denial to propose that this long professional habit of postponing an answer to the first and most elementary question is bizarre. Richard Feynman said that if a fact doesn’t fit the theory, the theory has to go. Feynman was a scientist.

He once wrote a poem on the subject for the Times (of London)

Imminent Catastrophe

The imminent catastrophe goes on
Not showing many signs of happening.
The ice at the North Pole that should be gone
By now, is awkwardly still lingering,
And though sometimes the weather is extreme
It seems no more so than when we were young
Who soon will hear no more of this grim theme
Reiterated in the special tongue
Of manufactured fright. Sea Level Rise
Will be here soon and could do such-and-such,
Say tenured pundits with unblinking eyes.
Continuing to not go up by much,
The sea supports the sceptics, but they, too,
Lapse into oratory when they predict
The sure collapse of the alarmist view
Like a house of cards, for they could not have picked
A metaphor less suited to their wish.
A house of cards subsides with just a sigh
And all the cards are still there.
Feverish Talk of apocalypse might, by and by,
Die down, but the deep anguish will persist.
His death, and not the Earth’s, is the true fear
That motivates the doomsday fantasist:
There can be no world if he is not here.

More remarkable than the colourful way James expressed his scepticism, though, is that fact that he expressed it at all.

There are many hundreds of celebrity public intellectuals and men of letters out there like Clive James. (Another of them — theatre director, author, critic, wit and Cambridge Footlights Beyond the Fringe star Dr Jonathan Miller — has died on the same day as James). But almost none of them — despite being supposedly clever people — have had the intellectual curiosity to think critically about, let alone publicly challenge, the Great Global Warming Scare Narrative.

Partly, no doubt, it’s that ‘climate change’ is one of those issues where they are imprisoned by Groupthink. All their chums think the same way so it must be a real problem.

Partly, it’s moral cowardice: even if they had their doubts, what would be the point of risking their careers and reputations by challenging the cosy orthodoxy?

That’s why Clive James deserves our respect. He was a luvvie who moved in luvvie circles who was yet prepared to ignore the clamour of the herd and speak up for the uncomfortable truth.

If only there were more like him.


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