I’ve got an article in French up at http://www.skyfall.fr/?p=1384
It’s a brief summary of the sceptical blogosphere in Britain. I tried to get the maximum number of names in, and apologise in advance to those I forgot.
It’s been quite a struggle to write a very simple article in French, and it’s chastening to realise that after thirty years living and working in France, I still have great trouble expressing myself in writing.
Most French climatosceptiques read English (though, like me, they may feel shy about expressing themselves in writing in a foreign language) and are well-informed on articles that appear at WattsUpWithThat and Climate Audit, but we know little of what’s happening in France. The language barrier is therefore a bit of a one way street. (It’s different for the rest of Europe; Germany, Sweden and Holland have English-language sceptical sites). In the run up to Paris 2015 it seems to me important that we get to know each other better, which is why my article at Skyfall concentrates on explaining the sceptic scene in Britain.
I’ll get round to doing a survey of French sceptical sites one of these days. In the meantime, I recommend anyone with a basic knowledge of French to explore the Skyfall site at
The best place to start is at the top of the lefthand column where there is a quote which changes at random. On my last two visits there were quotes from Prince Charles and Phil Jones which had a ring of familiarity.
Still in the left hand column, under “Pages”, “Citations” gives a complete list of 134 quotations, running from St. Matthew to Margaret Beckett, often with a translation or link to the original, so you can compile your own bilingual list.
Then there’s a list of blogs which mixes English and French, Sceptic and Warmist, and live and dormant. I can vouch for Belgotopia and Climat de Terreur as being active and interesting. Others will take some time to explore, given the rather eccentric way links are organised. For example, under “Lectures”, clicking on “Michel Belouve” leads to an article “Climate Change: Politics founded on Pseudo-Science” dating from 2009. But in the right hand column of the linked article (which is on the site of the Institut Turgot) are many interesting-looking articles, including one from last week entitled “The Archaic Cosmogony of the WWF”. It looks as if the philosophical and sociological analysis of environmentalism which I’m always rabbiting on about is alive and well in French academia.
Back to Skyfall: in the righthand column are latest comments, indicating which threads are live.
“Bistrot du coin” and “Fil info de sceptiques” are both open threads, and therefore full of gags and insider references which are often amusing, but probably the most difficult things for a foreigner to understand. It’s difficult to follow the debate if you’re not familiar with the names of scores of politicians, journalists, media experts, and even one or two scientists. Comments run from oldest to newest, and are numbered, making life easier than at BishopHill.
The articles in the middle column are varied and always interesting. There’s a long series going on at the moment in which Benoît Rittaud analyses a report from Météo France on the Climate in France during the 21st Century. He also recounts the difficulties he’s been having getting data from the French Met Office under the equivalent of FOI requests, a procedure which resulted in Météo France offering to provide him with the data (invoiced at a rate of 56 euros per hour of research) provided he promised not to divulge it to a third party, and to destroy it after a year.
Benoît has a book out, “Le Mythe climatique” Seuil (2010), and another one due out next year on the fascinating subject of exponential demographic projections before Malthus. You can see him in debate with Jean Jouzel, vice-president of the IPCC, and Pascal Bruckner, a philosopher critical of environmentalism, and a Green MEP at
The biggest hindrance to understanding specialist writing of any kind in a foreign language is probably the jargon, and particularly the acronyms. For example, GES = Greenhouse gases, GIEC = IPCC etc. I’ll provide a short glossary if anyone thinks it worthwhile.
Just dipping my toe in the water of French climatoscepticisme has made me realise how little we know about the intellectual activities of our nearest neighbours, which brings me to a hobbyhorse of mine.
The last time I looked at the figures, books translated from foreign languages accounted for about 10% of books published in France. This sounds a lot until you realise that 90% were novels, leaving a few hundred books of non-fiction to transmit the intellectual life of the rest of the world to the French chattering classes. Of course, there are plenty of French writers and academics capable of filling the gap, but there is naturally a loss of epistemo-diversity in the process. When the French media want to know what’s going on in space exploration or Chinese diplomacy or climate science they naturally turn to the same tiny band of experts.
But in Britain things are worse. About 2% of books published are translated from foreign languages. Because we have access to the writings of the whole of North America, India, Australia, and a large part of Africa, we think we know it all. No wonder we have such difficulty getting along with Europe. Add the fact that the BBC and the serious newspapers no longer have foreign correspondents in place for decades in the major capitals, and you have a recipe for ignorance.
The reason I read a journalist like Ambrose Evan Pritchard, the economics correspondent of the Telegraph, is not because I agree with his economic ideas (I’m not even sure I understand them) but because he reads the German press (and the Portuguese and Italian press) in the original languages and reports what he reads.
If my only purpose in writing this blog was to be useful, I’d probably devote myself to translation and linking to other European blogs. But it isn’t, so I won’t. Still, I hope this article and others to follow will be useful, in particular for the other Brits who live in France (several of whom comment at Bishop Hill).