In my last column I promised I’d name the guilty names: all those morally bankrupt, intellectually tainted, mendacious, ignorant useful idiot shills who for the last several years have assumed the mantle of scientific expertise and loftily declared that the “Pause” in global warming wasn’t a thing, only a fantasy cooked up by evil deniers.
You may say that I’m using a sledgehammer to crack a nest of cockroaches; that rather than crow in victory one should be magnanimous in order to prove oneself a better man than they are, Gunga Din.
I disagree. I want blood. Entrails too, please. Those of us who have spent years of our lives being mocked and traduced and demeaned by these verminous charlatans deserve our pound of flesh, not only for the sake of sweet vengeance, but also for the greater cause of scientific honesty and journalistic integrity.
This is no more than I would expect were the positions ever reversed.
Suppose, for example, that I had written in the Spectator an article on global warming and it subsequently emerged that it was scientifically illiterate, that I’d dragged the name of a good journalist (who had got his facts right) through the mud, and that I’d brought the title into disrepute by adopting a tone of lofty, scornful, apparent expertise entirely unjustified by reality: well here’s what I’d expect to have to do….
Apologise. First to the journalist I’d unfairly, perhaps libellously, maligned; next to the magazine’s editor for having been such a dogmatically wrongheaded prick; finally to the readers for having abused their faith in my due diligence and my supposedly superior knowledge. Indeed, I think if I’d ever got an article as comprehensively wrong as the one I’m about to mention, I’d feel so shit I think I might seriously consider never broaching the topic again.
So now, without further ado, let me introduce MARK LYNAS – activist, prominent environmental campaigner, and author of a very angry, high-handed 2008 article in the New Statesman (the left’s answer to the Spectator) called Has Global Warming Really Stopped?. This was in response to a piece by David Whitehouse which – quite controversially for the time – tentatively noted that the temperature record showed that there had been no “global warming” for several years and that this fact might, at some stage, become a significant issue.
Lynas was having none of it. His response brimmed with righteous indignation.
Here’s a flavour of the tone:
First let’s ask whether Whitehouse is wholly or partially correct in his analysis. To quote:
“The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.”
I’ll be blunt. Whitehouse got it wrong – completely wrong.
Lynas goes on to rehearse his involved and tedious cod-scientific explanation as to how David Whitehouse (formerly of the BBC, now science editor of the Global Warming Policy Foundation) apparently got it wrong.
Except, of course, as I reported yesterday David Whitehouse did not in fact get it wrong. Lynas did. So we really needn’t waste any valuable time reminding ourselves of the threadbare and rambling rationale Lynas (or rather, it seems from his piece, his friends at RealClimate) produced to try to poo poo the existence of the Pause. All that matters, we now know with hindsight, is: Skeptic Whitehouse 1; Environmentalist Lynas 0.
Now we all make mistakes. Today’s magazine article is tomorrow’s bogpaper. But for me what makes it much, much harder to indulge or forgive Lynas his error is the arrogance, the rudeness and the hectoring self righteousness of his delivery.
Yes all right, I know: when I write about global warming and environmentalism generally, I too can be pretty unforgiving, contemptuous and free with the insults.
But I do this in full of knowledge of the consequences, both good and bad. On the plus side, if I am right, then I deserve more kudos than those on my side who have taken a more cautious line. I’m like the berserk warrior hero who has leapt over the shield wall to confront the enemy mano a mano – I have chosen the path of death or glory. If I win, then my name shall resound through all eternity in the halls of Valhalla.
On the bad side, of course, it means that having committed myself so thoroughly and uncompromisingly to a particular position, then I run the risk of being slaughtered horribly should it emerge that I am in the wrong.
If I accept this then so should the berserk warriors on the other side of the climate argument – the green James Delingpoles. I absolutely refuse to allow them the luxury of being able to shrug their shoulders and go: “Oh all right. Maybe we called it slightly wrong a few years back. But we still deserve to live to fight another day because everyone’s entitled to their opinion.”
No. That is not the deal and it should not be the deal. Those who announce to their adversaries that they intend to offer no quarter should expect no quarter in return when they lose the battle.
Let me quote some more of that article by Mark Lynas to show why he deserves no mercy:
However, readers of my column will know that I give contrarians, or sceptics, or deniers (call them what you will) short shrift, and as a close follower of the scientific debate on this subject I can state without doubt that there is no dispute whatsoever within the expert community as to the reality or causes of manmade global warming. But even then, just because all the experts agree doesn’t make them right – it just makes them extremely unlikely to be wrong. That in turn means that if someone begs to disagree, they need to have some very strong grounds for doing so – not misreading a basic graph or advancing silly conspiracy theories about IPCC scientists receiving paycheques from the New World Order, as some of Whitehouse’s respondents do.
So, a mistaken article reached a flawed conclusion. Intentionally or not, readers were misled, and the good name of the New Statesman has been used all over the internet by climate contrarians seeking to support their entrenched positions. This is regrettable. Good journalism should never exclude legitimate voices from a debate of public interest, but it also needs to distinguish between carefully-checked fact and distorted misrepresentations in complex and divisive areas like this. The magazine’s editorial policy is unchanged: we want to see aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions, and support global calls for planetary temperatures to be stabilised at under two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
What sticks in the craw most here, I think, is the egregious hypocrisy. Here is Mark Lynas pompously invoking the highest principles of what he calls “good journalism” and adopting a fake air of neutrality and reasonableness – “this is regrettable” – not in order to practise a single one of the noble virtues he preaches but rather as a squalid, shoddy exercise in shitting over the opposition.
“Readers were misled”. Yes, indeed, they were Lynas. And guess which pernicious little tic of a git of a faux expert was doing the misleading here…
“We want to see aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions”. How dare you preach about “good journalism” and then go onto write a sentence which has nothing whatsoever to do with journalism, but is nothing more than political activism given the fig-leaf of objectivity by its presence in a bylined article in a half-way-respected political journal.
This is purely a left-wing game, by the way. There is no right-wing publication I can think of which would dream of publishing such pure political propaganda in the guise of authoritative journalism. Yet organs like the New Statesman and the Guardian – especially in their environmental coverage – do this all the time.
Not only that but they then “project” this particular sin onto their blameless opponents. (See David Whitehouse, above). I’ve lost count of the number of times people like me have been accused by Guardian and New Statesman writers of propagandising on behalf of Big Oil, of writing unscientific bullshit, of getting our facts embarrassingly wrong. They’re very good at the “tell” part, these lefty polemicists. What they’re much weaker at, in my experience, is the “show” part. Rarely if ever do their claims stand up for the very simple reason that those of us on the right side of the political argument don’t need to make stuff up: the truth is our friend so we cleave it with a passion.
One of my favourite tropes when I talk about climate alarmists is “study; bottle of whisky; service pistol.” I’m not of course seriously advocating that they all commit suicide out of shame (though of course that’s what they’d love to believe I’m saying, climate alarmists being suckers for using false victimhood as a weapon against their opponents) but I swear to God that it’s what I personally would feel like doing if I were finally revealed by events to have been as ignorant, corrupt, and morally bankrupt as they have been.
Yes, you could argue in the scheme of things that when set against the suppurating bubo of really appalling characters like Al Gore or Michael Mann or Tom Steyer, Mark Lynas is just an irksome little flea bite, that no one reads the New Statesman, that his views carry no weight outside the tiny bubble of green left-wingery…
But this, I think, would be to underestimate the influence of his cheesy propaganda stunts and his dodgy journalism and the way, at places like the BBC, he has been given licence to pose as some kind of environmental expert to whose views we should pay attention.
Lynas, let’s not forget, once assaulted the blameless Bjørn “Skeptical Environmentalist” Lomborg with a custard pie. (Lomborg’s crime? Why, to write a book full of facts and figures demonstrating that the green doomsday narrative is simply not borne out by empirical data)
Lynas also exploited his reputation as an environmental crusader to land a cushy gig working for the Maldives government of discredited president Mohamed Nasheed. He was responsible for that publicity stunt whereby the Maldives cabinet posed underwater in diving masks – in order to highlight the non-existent threat that the Maldives will soon be disappearing beneath the oceans as a result of man-made global warming. If this threat were real then you might reasonably say: “Fair play. Nice PR job. Well done for getting all those free holidays in the sunny Maldives where the snorkelling is great, one gathers.” But the threat is illusory. It is unsupported by scientific evidence. So what Lynas has been doing here is the very thing that he and his fellow activists so often accuse people like me of doing: misrepresenting the facts for ideology or for money. The dishonesty is bad enough, but worse are the consequences: those underwater cabinet photos went round the world. They sowed in the minds of the impressionable the idea that sea levels are rising at a dangerous, unprecedented rate (not true) and that therefore concerted international efforts must be made to deal with the global warming problem.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that Lynas once wrote a dismissive review of my book Watermelons – which he admitted he hadn’t fully read. The review, I should point out, did the very thing I accused greenie-lefty writers above of doing – the “tell not show” thing. Here’s a sample sentence: “Data is dispensable for Delingpole – that’s for the hated elite with their clipboards, computer models and lab coats.” Yep, that’ll be why nearly 30 pages of the book comprise very densely packed notes referencing every single one of its scientific claims. Why did I go to all that trouble (and let me tell you, these things really are an effort)? Why, precisely because I did not want to give my opponents the pleasure of being able to fault me on my facts. But hey guess what: Lynas was so buoyed up by his belief in the sublime justice of his cause that he told himself he didn’t need to treat his opponents with any kind of fair consideration. Deniers: they’re basically just scum, aren’t they?
Well, I hope I’ve left readers of this polemic in no doubt as who the real scumbag is here. And I say so in the spirit of mild contempt rather than strong hatred. Yes there are people in the alarmist camp that I do hate with a vengeance but Lynas isn’t one of them: way too minor league. I’ve simply decided to pick on him first because the Pause story is quite topical right now and because it just so happens that of all the articles anyone wrote on the subject that one that Lynas did for the New Statesman happens to be the most noxious and embarrassing.
Trust me, though, there’s plenty more loathing and exposure where this came from. Maybe having just had a near-death (-ish) experience has concentrated my mind. Maybe it’s because I can see the global warming narrative is really starting to fall apart now and I’ve recognised that this is the time when you signal to the cavalry hidden on the reverse of the slope to sweep down onto the enemy’s flank and cut them to pieces. This just the beginning. It’s going to be like Kill Bill. It’s going to be fun. These bastards deserve a skewering and I’m sharpening my samurai blade.