I’ve just wasted 20 hours of my life transcribing a debate organised by Greenpeace to publicise their new website
It’s a shameless imitation of the Global Warming Policy Foundation site. They must have read somewhere that GWPF and its leading lights Benny Peiser and Lord Lawson are the most quoted sceptics in the British media, so they decided to copy their format. They really have no idea.
Then, to publicise their website, they organised a debate, which you can watch here:
They put a post up at their new blog about the debate. Four weeks later, there’s just one comment – mine – telling them where they can read my transcript, which is at Alex Cull’s immensely useful site:
and where they can read my comment, which is here.
BishopHill had an article about it at:
where the most profound comment was certainly that of Ben Pile of Climate Resistance, who said:
“Six people standing on a stage with their heads up their backsides would have shed more light on the media’s role in the climate change debate […] These things are useful insofar as they are an opportunity to see under the skin of environmentalism proper. Not just the vacuity, the bubble, and the six ciphers bent over with self-regard, but also where it comes from: the editor, the journalist, the activist, the man from the quango, the academic (yeah right!), and the equally vapid speakers from the floor from an assortment of organisations are no more than the establishment whingeing to themselves about nobody listening to them.”
Well, I was listening. Transcribing their stuttering, spluttering streams of consciousness fills you with admiration for the patience of psychoanalysts, as you tune in to the pain, the anguish, the psychic traumas which lie behind the persistent whine of their vacuous discourse.
But these are no ordinary neurotics. They’re representatives of the the ruling élite which has put in place a multi-trillion pound celebration of the Great Goddess Gaia. They’re in the driving seat, and they’re not going to relinquish power without a fight.
The subject of the debate was “whether journalism was up to the debate about energy and climate change”. A debate about a debate, in other words, which justified the decision not to invite anyone from the other side of the debate which this debate was about.
Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, chaired the “debate”. The speakers were:
Angus McCrone, chief editor of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Ben Webster, media editor of The Times, formerly environment editor. He told us how he took up his present post the day the Murdochs were summoned before the Parliamentary Committee. Having to choose between saving the planet and saving his boss’s skin, he did the sensible thing.
David Kennedy, the chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, formerly of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Dr Alice Bell, senior teaching fellow at Imperial College London currently running a course on energy and climate change.
Tom Burke CBE, formerly the executive director of Friends of the Earth and advisor to three Secretaries of State for the Environment; currently environmental policy adviser to Rio Tinto and visiting professor at Imperial College and University College London, Senior Business Advisor to the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change and member of the External Review Committee of Shell.
Kennedy’s and Burke’s CVs say it all. Their contributions to the debate demonstrate the qualities required to rise in the current political climate. Hot air balloons tuned to detect which way the wind is blowing. Packing punchy Powerpoint bullet points. Unhindered by the need to construct coherent sentences with verbs. Just like what I just said. The fact that such incoherent airbrained arseholes are active at the centre of the power structure throughout the Western world is a major reason why I’m learning Mandarin.
Alice Bell’s contribution was … special. A stream of consciousness worthy of James Joyce. A Molly Bloom monologue without the sex. She should turn her contribution into a novel: – “To the Offshore Windfarm’. Sort of.
She sort of has. It’s at
Angus McCrone was the only member of the panel to come across as a rational human being. He makes a good living selling information about energy policy to people who need to know that kind of stuff. He was the only person to mention scepticism. There’s a word for people who sell what others (Rusbridger for example) give away for free – Sensible.
Actually, Ben Webster of the Times (why did I seem to hear strains of a baritone sax playing “That’s All” whenever he intervened?) was rational too, in a reptilian journalistic sort of way, in that he lost no occasion to put the boot into the loss-making, not-financed-by-a-slimy-American/Australian-millionaire Guardian. And the opportunities were numerous, given public school wimp Rusbridger’s tendency to bend over backwards to perform the Ben Pile trick-to-hide-the intellectual-decline at every opportunity. (Has anyone noticed – as they say on the Private Eye letter pages – Rusbridger’s resemblance to Fotherington Thomas in the Geoffrey Willans / Ronald Searle Molesworth books?)
Three of the five participants were contributors to the Guardian Environment website.
Rusbridger destroyed the occasion with what should have been a two minute introduction but which lasted 18 minutes. He then insisted that the panel should limit their interventions to five minutes, which they did, more or less. Rusbridger then took up half the remaining time for his own questions, and a pointless introduction of his pet environmental editor James Randerson.
A point I’ve been harping on about, in comments at Climate Resistance and elsewhere, is that Global Warming Mass Hysteria can best be explained as a symptom of mass tertiary education.
It’s my generation of university educated opinionated opinion-makers who’ve constructed a religion-stroke-neurosis to justify their existence. It’s knowing stuff which makes us better than you, and the stuff we know has to be important, and backed up by science which you plebs can’t understand (nor can we Arts graduates, frankly, but we know our place).
Rusbridger produces what sounds like a parody of my position when he says:
“We’ve got about 8 to 10 people who now cover science and environment. They’re all staggeringly bright, they’ve all got two or three degrees.”
then, to Alice Bell:
“I loved your description of how Leo Hickman [Guardian journalist, with two or three degrees] works, because it’s at the heart of what I sometimes describe as open journalism, this ability to not sit there in the newsroom and think that you function is as it was in the 19th and 20th century, but that there are lots of people out there who are really smart, probably know more than you, and if you can just work out how to harness that you’ll have something much more …”
and, in introducing his environment editor Randerson:
“We have one editor James Randerson…James has got about five degrees”
“I’m just going to bring in James Randerson who’s there who is on a news desk, and has been environmental correspondent. He may not have four degrees, but he’s certainly got a lot of degrees..”
Well, B.A., B.A., Black Sheep, as someone once said.
The one reference to what might risibly be described as “evidence” for the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (which finances the careers of every single member of the panel, except Webster, who sensibly jumped ship and is now employed defending his employer) came from Rusbridger right at the start, when he said:
“But at the end of the summer I went to see – did anybody else go and see Ten Billion at the Royal Court? Which was this extraordinary evening that really shouldn’t have worked at all. It was Stephen Emmott, a scientist […] and it was basically just a lecture. And yet it was the most gripping and enthralling and frightening thing that I’d seen all year. And it roamed around land and population and water and warming, and although it was only a tiny audience – there were only about ninety people in the theatre each evening, it really packed a punch – and the critics came out saying this was the most disturbing thing they’d seen all year, and reached an audience that maybe had become a bit immune to it. And I think that, I went back to work the next day feeling a bit depressed because often it takes things like theatrical productions or films – the Al Gore film – to find fresh ways of dealing with this subject. And so the question is really a challenge to journalism tonight – what is it, if it’s true that journalism is not quite failing to, to achieve the impact that this subject should have – why is that?”
Why is that?
Because, dear Rusbridger, proper journalists are still held to certain rules of deontology which prevent them from disseminating total bullshit  – rules which do not apply at the Royal fucking  Court Theatre. Which is why the scumbags  and bullshitters who rule us still feel free to lie through their fucking  teeth about climate change.
 vulgar terms popularised by Guardian journalist George Monbiot to denigrate opponents in the climate debate.(c.f. “yid”, “nigger” etc. in debate on race).
 vulgar term popularised at the Royal Court Theatre by Stephen Emmott, Microsoft Professor of Computational Science at the University of Oxford. (Or was it Cambridge? Frankly, I don’t give a f*cking computational toss).