Rapley Redux


Writer Duncan Macmillan has been talking to one of the world’s most influential Climate Scientists Chris Rapley. Working with internationally renowned director, Katie Mitchell, a new piece of theatre has been created where the science is centre stage.
Climate change is a matter of importance to everyone, but what to do about it is mired in controversy. What’s needed is a conversation. What do we owe future generations? How can we protect our children and grandchildren?
Chris Rapley CBE is the Chair of the London Climate Change Partnership and Professor of Climate Science at University College London.
After Ten Billion, Katie Mitchell’s collaboration with the scientist Stephen Emmott in 2012, and directing the German language production of Duncan Macmillan’s Lungs, Katie continues her commitment to exploring the future of life on earth and climate change through theatre.
I hope the Royal Court won’t institute legal proceedings because I’ve reproduced their publicity blurb in full without permission. Its imperious tone recalls the tone of those Shakespearian actors the King and the Duke in Huckleberry Finn chapter 21. And we all know how their performance ended.
There are three sentences I’d like to take issue with. First: “Writer Duncan Macmillan has been talking to one of the world’s most influential Climate Scientists Chris Rapley.”
What does that mean? According to Rapley, Macmillan is largely responsible for the text. But it’s entirely written in the first person and recited by Rapley, including anecdotes about his childhood and his experience in the Antarctic. So who wrote it? And who says that Rapley is “one of the world’s most influential Climate Scientists”? As far as one can gather from his autobiography in the play, his scientific career has been limited to devising scientific measuring devices – an honourable and useful career no doubt, but not that of a climate scientist. Unless you think that a manufacturer of protractors is one of the world’s most influential geometricians…
Second sentence: “Climate change is a matter of importance to everyone, but what to do about it is mired in controversy.”
Wrong on both counts. Most people don’t give a flying hundredth of a degree of warming per annum about it. (Or might that be two hundredths of a degree some time in the future? Nothing in the current temperature record suggests it, but might it? Oh woe!) Try persuading the average voter that a rise of 2°C in 2100 is a reason to cut back on their foreign holidays and accept power cuts for the good of humanity – just try it.
“What to do about it” is not “mired in controversy” since all major parties are determined to cover the countryside with useless windmills till Kingdom come. They won’t succeed because democracy will stop them. Rapmillan (or Macley, or whoever finally admits to writing this pile of farm animal emissions) will by then be long forgotten. But I shall continue to try to keep the flame of their memory alive, if only for Chris Rapley’s granddaughter’s sake, so she can sleep at nights, while waiting for 2071. With a grandfather like that, she deserves our support.
* * *
A good friend of mine, who is also a work associate of Katie Mitchell – the director of the Antarctic Thespian Rapley and the serial liar not-quite Cambridge-Professor Stephen Emmott – asked me recently what I hoped to achieve by my obsessive criticism of these two individuals? I admit that I was at a loss for an answer. He took it for granted that I couldn’t possibly claim to know more about global warming than the professor Rapley, which of course I don’t. I know just enough to know that I’m right and he’s wrong.
In the course of our discussion it emerged that my friend, an intelligent educated person and a regular reader of the Guardian, had never heard of the eighteen year pause in temperature rise.
The many intelligent readers of BishopHill and the GWPF and a hundred other well-informed blogs have no idea of the nature of the task before us. Mitchell and Rapley and their acolytes are there in place for twenty years at least. Nothing except a spectacular global cooling can dislodge them. We have no more reason to predict such an event than our opponents have to predict the contrary.

About Geoff Chambers

Retired illustrator (children's magazines, religious education textbooks, an Encyclopaedia of Christianity, gay contact and female fitness magazines, pornographic strip cartoons etc.) Retired lecturer in English and History of Art in a French University; ardent blogger on climate hysteria, banned five times from the Guardian and twice from the Conversation. Now blogging at Cliscep.com
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8 Responses to Rapley Redux

  1. j ferguson says:

    Since you provoked these folks to complain about your publication of their words, I’ve been wondering if copyright protection extends to clearly political speech. Suppose someone advocated a particularly damaging course of action in a public venue. Wouldn’t it be almost a duty to report the exact words? … and to attempt to suppress it an attack on protected speech?

  2. catweazle666 says:

    ” Most people don’t give a flying hundredth of a degree of warming per annum about it”

    You have probably come across this already, but in case you or your followers haven’t…


    In a UN global survey of over 7 million respondents climate change came 16th out of 16 categories of concern.

  3. j ferguson says:

    I was a little clumsy there. I meant to say that your report of a clearly political event verbatim should be protected as free speech. Were they to attempt to suppress the publication of your report by asserting their copyright, they would, it seems to me, be attempting to your freedom to accurately report a political event.

    Before you get excited with this approach realize that my view is legally incompetent. But it might point to a defense, and perhaps a counter attack with the counsel of someone learned in these sorts of matters.

  4. j ferguson says:

    damn! “attempting to throttle your freedom to accurately report a political speech.”

  5. j ferguson
    Your argument is so limpidly reasonable that I’m sure a British judge would rule against it. Did you see what happened to Tony Newbery when he tried to find out what experts the BBC had been consulting? If not, just google 28gate.

    No I hadn’t seen that. What a wonderful Christmas present! I shall be playing with this for hours. Even in Polynesia action on climate change is way down the list, below clean water, nutritious food and equality of the sexes, though above political freedom and internet access (which they presumably have, or they wouldn’t be answering the survey).

  6. The text is now available for free at the link you have at the top of the post.

    I guess that means the legal threats are off.

  7. Thanks Paul. No, legal threats aren’t off. Following a letter from Rapley and Macmillan’s lawyers I’ve taken the transcript down. It would b interesting to see if the published text corresponds to that delivered. I’ve got intermittent internet at the moment.

  8. Pingback: “The Need for Vigorous Debate” | Climate Scepticism

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