Greenpeace suffers Serious Graun Injury

I’ve just wasted 20 hours of my life transcribing a debate organised by Greenpeace to publicise their new website
http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/
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:
http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/25860873
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:
https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20121002_bf
and where they can read my comment, which is here.
BishopHill had an article about it at:
http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/10/3/broken-filter-seminar.html
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
http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/newsdesk/energy/analysis/broken-filter-case-open-journalism-and-campaigning
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”
and finally:
“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 [1] – rules which do not apply at the Royal fucking [2] Court Theatre. Which is why the scumbags [1] and bullshitters[1] who rule us still feel free to lie through their fucking [2] teeth about climate change.

[1] vulgar terms popularised by Guardian journalist George Monbiot to denigrate opponents in the climate debate.(c.f. “yid”, “nigger” etc. in debate on race).

[2] 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).

This entry was posted in Guardian CommentisFree, Phantom Bodies & Zombie Blogs, Sociology of Climate Change, Weirdos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Greenpeace suffers Serious Graun Injury

  1. In the new spirit on one-degree-of-separation ‘claims as news’ via twitter, I wonder what the rules might be on suggesting BBC Newsnight will be running this story tonight?

  2. Vinny Burgoo says:

    (Geoff, there must free or cheap transcription software that can speed things up a bit. You’ll drive yourself mad listening to such stuff for 20 hours.)

    I haven’t read the whole transcript yet. I got distracted by the psychotherapist who described himself as ‘a very realistic pessimistic person’. This is Mark Brayne (not Brain) and it turns out that he’s of the pre-2011 Lovelockian school of realistic pessimism. He believes that science says that unless we make immediate and massive changes to how we live then global warming will destroy all human civilization within a couple of generations, with total human extinction following soon after. As there is no scientific support for this notion, you have to wonder whether it’s a product of depression. People who have nervous breakdowns often set themselves up as counsellors and psychotherapists. I wonder if Brayne had a breakdown in the 1990s and has yet to fully recover from it.

  3. dearieme says:

    “Ben Webster, media editor of The Times”: I suspect I’d prefer this Ben Webster.

  4. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Alice Bell has tweeted that she has five degrees.

    Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. I like some of her writing. She’s properly sceptical about some things. An independent thinker, not a clone. Or not always, anyway.

  5. Vinny Burgoo says:

    dearieme: Mmmmm, nice. Did he play with T-Bone Walker. Some of the riffs seem familiar.

    (I think I once hitch-hiked across the Sahara with a Ben Webster. Ben Somethingverysimilar, anyway.)

  6. alexjc38 says:

    Hi all, just to say I’ve made (and am making) some edits to the transcript (Vinny, many thanks, have changed “Brain” to “Brayne”). Re transcription software, there is something like that but as far as I know it’s still not marvellous. I once had Dragon ViaVoice pre-loaded on my previous PC, and never quite managed to get it to work smoothly. The human ear/brain/fingers/keyboard combination still rules, I think.

    Also many thanks Geoff for your patience – having sent me the final segment some days ago…

  7. carol says:

    great post. Enjoyed it. Is the Guardian into the money bubble do you think?

  8. dearieme says:

    “Alice Bell has tweeted that she has five degrees”: I trust she’s a concert-level pianist too?
    “Did he play with T-Bone Walker.” Dunno: his formative years were with Ellington.

  9. Paul Matthews says:

    “Alice Bell has tweeted that she has five degrees” – Mark Lynas has six, I’ve heard.

    Thank you for the summary and for doing the transcription Geoff, I shall waste no time in reading it carefully.

    There is another similar exercise in mutual groupthink reinforcement taking place on Wednesday in London (Royal Met Soc, Communicating Climate Science), with talks by Adam “I’m not a campaigner” Corner, Chris “I am a campaigner” Rose, and Alice “through the looking glass” Bell herself. You have to register to attend and places are limited, but if you are unlucky there may still be some places left. Apparently Barry and Josh are going.

  10. alexjc38 says:

    The list of participants has been extended now on the transcript site – in addition to Mark Brayne, there were (amongst others) Keith Allott of the WWF and Juliet Davenport, the CEO of Good Energy.

    @Paul Matthews, hopefully someone will be recording the Royal Met Soc event for posterity (?)

    @ Vinny, re Mark Brayne, psychotherapist and trauma expert, that’s an interesting point about personal experience. Very generally speaking, the personal outlook of psychotherapists involved with climate change seems to reflect a widespread and very acute pessimism amongst them – in some cases, not so much a glass half empty as a glass being held upside down and shaken to see if there are any drops left.

    This is probably an oversimplification, but they seem to take the worst-case scenarios as a given. Brayne’s prediction of “over a metre of… sea level rise very soon” comes across as very Al Gore (IPCC says less than half a metre by 2100, some other studies say between 0.7 and 1.2 metres during the next 100 years?) What has sea level rise been doing very recently (which might tell us what it will be doing “very soon”?) Nothing particularly dramatic, I think would be the answer.

    What’s also interesting is that they think that others, too, must be feeling this deep despair and pessimism but are not showing it. My take is: in that sense, the psychologists are trying to answer the big question re public engagement with climate change, i.e. why do the public not seem as engaged as (we, the psychologists, think) they should be? Their answer: the public are engaged on a deeper level (they must be, it’s serious stuff) – so it might seem that they’re indifferent but they’re in denial, pushing those feelings of despair and loss (which must be there) out of sight. We the psychotherapists can help, by creating a supportive environment in which people can express and come to terms with these deeply buried feelings of loss, etc.

    In this 2007 article he presents the argument in detail:
    http://www.istss.org/source/stresspoints/index.cfm?fuseaction=Newsletter.showThisIssue&Issue_ID=77&Article_ID=1299

    “As a therapist, you may indeed already have had clients coming to you with fears of what climate change will mean, for themselves and especially for their grandchildren.”

    As a cause of anxiety or depression, though, is climate change even on the radar? Or is it something that the therapists are tending to project onto their clients and the public at large? I suspect the latter, but might see if I can find some data (surveys, etc.) that would support one or other of those arguments.

  11. Vinny
    Thanks for the spelling correction. I remember Mark Brayne as the BBC’s Eastern Europe correspondent and World Service Diplomatic Correspondent. Very bright, though he only has two degrees (a First in German and Russian and another in psychotherapy)

    Dearieme, Vinny
    No record of Ben Webster and T-Bone Walker’s paths having crossed, but it’s not impossible. I said baritone sax, when it should have been tenor. Silly me. No sensible person will ever believe a word I say now. I don’t want to be fussy but I think Webster was formed with Fletcher Henderson and Teddy Wilson before joining Ellington. I know him for his playing ballads backing the likes of Ella Fizgerald. Superb.

    Paul Matthews
    Thanks for the tip off.
    I hope Barry or Josh have a tape recorder with them, in case the thing isn’t recorded. It’s not a debate, but a series of brief presentations. I’d be happy to transcribe, if there’s no official record.

  12. Tony Windsor says:

    OT I know, profuse apologies…but I have been waiting with bated breath for part 5 of Apopoclyse Close. How much longer to hear/read the further adventures of George Monnbat? I have liked everything I have seen here so far; please keep up the good work

  13. Tony Windsor
    Sorry to keep you in suspense. I started with the idea of satirising the particular foibles of a lot a of very different writers, movers, and shakers-in-their-boots, and then I realised that this would mean reading a LOT of material. And transcribing something like the Greenpeace debate makes you think – What’s the point? These people are beyond satire.
    Then a chance remark like Paul’s above about Alice ‘through the looking glass’ Bell starts you thinking …
    Apocalypse will be back soon, but cheaper and less subtle than I had hoped. Oh well…

  14. alexjc38 says:

    Just to say I’ve added the names of Q&A participants to the transcript cast list. Alan Rusbridger reckoned that about a third of the audience were people who were just interested (not professional environmentalists or media people) and yet all those who got to ask questions seemed to be in the environmentalist/activist/media categories, more or less:

    – Keith Allott: Head of climate change at WWF-UK
    – Mark Brayne: Psychotherapist and climate activist
    – Juliet Davenport: CEO of Good Energy
    – Ros Donald: Journalist for Carbon Brief
    – Anthony Froggatt: Energy policy consultant, Chatham House
    – Norbert Stute: Director, Better World Links, and activist

    I wonder just how many ordinary bods in the “just here because you’re interested” category were actually present.

  15. Paul Matthews says:

    As you say Geoff, these people are hard to parody. Alice Bell’s blog really is called “Through the looking glass”. Her latest article is all about a scientist called JD Bernal. Except it’s not about his science at all, it’s about his extreme left-wing political views.
    If you see sarcastic comments there from Tweedledum or Humpty Dumpty, it could be me.

  16. dearieme says:

    Webster started with Benny Moten, I think, but it’s the Ellington years that are commonly said to have formed his style. But perhaps that’s just Ellington worship?

  17. Alex I’ve just retrieved your very interesting Nov 5th comment from the spam box. Apologies for leaving it there so long.

  18. Pingback: Knickers to Climate Change | Geoffchambers's Blog

  19. Pingback: Alice Is At It Again | Geoffchambers's Blog

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