Goodbye to All That

I intend to give this blog a rest for several months. I may be back before the Paris conference in December. (I may be back tomorrow if something gets me going, but that’s not my intention). I may drop the whole thing, in which case I’ll let you know.
I’m extremely depressed by the way the debate over the science of climate change has developed. I’ve never been more than a footblogger in the climate wars, though sometimes, accidentally, I’ve found myself in the thick of the combat. Despite the title of this post, I identify more with the Good Soldier Schweik than with Lt. Robert Graves, though unlike Schweik, I care about the outcome.
Robert Graves, after writing his account of the trench warfare in 1914-18 from which I borrowed the title for this post, had the luck to return to sanity and study classics under T.E. Lawrence. I won’t have such luck, though I hope to return to sanity and read a lot of history and social science and poetry. I may even take up Lewis Deane’s suggestion in a comment at
https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/amelia-sharman-the-sociologist-and-the-horseleech/
and read Hugh Kenner on Ezra Pound. [I found the comment when I came back to this blog for the first time in a fortnight and found that was one of the articles people had been looking at. Which brings me to another reason for stopping blogging:- I forget what I’ve written, even a year ago.]
But the main reason is that I’m depressed because I see no evidence of a positive outcome for climate scepticism. As the consensus hardens and the possibilities for rational debate are reduced, we sceptics are becoming less and less relevant. At the same time, the majority of sceptic blogs become more and more confident, as they see that the global surface temperatures are refusing to rise in line with model predictions and that the sceptical argument is being confirmed in numerous scientific papers, and sceptical blogs are becoming more numerous, and more popular, with more and more adherents in the comment columns of WattsUpWithThat and BishopHill.
But the debate has ceased to exist where it counts – in the mainstream media. In 2007, when my interest began, Lindzen or Lomborg could still be cited in the pages of the Independent or the Guardian. Since then a conscious decision has been taken to “move on” from debating the science to debating what to do, or rather how fast and how expensively to do it, and to leave us sceptics (that is, rational human beings with a respect for the principles of scientific enquiry and rational debate) by the wayside.
And the manner of debating has changed radically; witness the BlueCloud affair, as described at
http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2015/2/13/the-guardian-apologises.html
A Guardian commenter (and one time contributor) posted comments at that once respected liberal newspaper joking about beheading Mat Ridley, a British politician, journalist, and “lukewarmer”, and suggesting that his death would be no loss. The Guardian moderators (who banned me long ago, along with almost all rational sceptics) took two days to remove his comments which were a clear incitement to murder. The Guardian has since apologised – sort of.
Incitements to behead members of parliament are rare these days. [For the benefit of colonials, Ridley is a Viscount, and because his father has died, he’s eligible for election by his peers to our Upper House according to the revolutionary new rules for choosing our rulers. Personally, as an unrepentant Old Leftist, I prefer this system of hereditary aristocrats choosing the least senile amongst their number to the modern system of members of the Upper House being nominated directly by party leaders, a system which has led to the teenage Baroness Worthington of Friends of the Earth being appointed a
lifelong legislator of the world’s oldest democracy on the basis of her fervent belief in the non-existent warming of the planet. But that’s just me. End of digression].
I’m depressed by the level of debate, which hasn’t progressed in the years I’ve been following it. I’m depressed by the willingness of the best of the British bloggers to waste their time on the debate on name-calling – e.g. Andrew Montford, Paul Matthews and Kevin Marshall at
http://theconversation.com/deniers-vs-alarmists-its-time-to-lose-the-climate-debate-labels-37765
and Ben Pile at
http://www.climate-resistance.org/2015/02/about-denying-deniers-denial-and-denialism.html
But there are positive signs. Besides the big blogs (CA, WUWT, BH, JoNova, Donna) and old hands like Ben and Hilary, there are dozens of unmissable new blogs on the block (you know who I mean) and some dormant volcanoes like Maurizio at Omnologos and Tony Newbery at Harmless Sky are showing renewed signs of activity.
One of my reasons for taking a sabbatical is the proliferation of new blogs, which is a great encouragement, but means that a growing part of any blogger’s time is taken up with following what other bloggers are up to. It’s encouraging to see Paul Homewood’s revelations about temperature revisionism and Paul Matthews’ perr-reviewed article about the nature of sceptics making waves. As one minor thread in the seamless web of things, I feel I can safely tie a knot in it without the great tapestry of climate scepticism unravelling.
So – with a warp and a woof – I’m off.

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8 Responses to Goodbye to All That

  1. John Shade says:

    I share some of your reactions, but I may be a little more optimistic. I have not posted on my own blog for a coup!e of months now and that is troubling/puzzling me a bit. Anyway, I just want to say that your writings, both fictional and observational will be greatly missed . I very much hope to see you back before long. And I hope to get back myself!

  2. foxgoose says:

    Sorry to hear that Geoff – yours has always been one of the most entertaining offerings on the climate smorgasbord.

    I suspect you’ll be back one day though.

    I shall soldier on in the lowly trenches of anonymous sniping – trying my best to follow Alinsky’s 5th (& best) rule – “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defence.”

  3. alexjc38 says:

    Geoff, just to echo John Shade and Foxgoose – your input will be sorely missed, but hope and trust you will come back, at least before the festivities begin in Paris (“50 Days to Save the World”, Part Deux!)

  4. catweazle666 says:

    “But the main reason is that I’m depressed because I see no evidence of a positive outcome for climate scepticism.”

    You forget Geoff, we sceptics have a powerful ally – Mother Nature herself.

    Currently, the Earth is around half way down the cooling phase of the ~60 year cycle fairly well correlated with the North Atlantic Oscillation.

    In a few years it will become so evident that not only is the “pause” not going to go away, but that it is in fact a cooling trend that started around the turn of the century.

    It will be fascinating to see how the ‘usual suspects’ attempt to spin THAT.

  5. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Geoff: Before you go, what exactly is it that you’re sceptical about? I’ve never been quite sure.

  6. Sorry to hear you are taking a break Geoff. Yours is a distinctive voice in the climate blogosphere.
    For one thing, I’m not aware of any other climatosceptique who campaigns for the communist party. There is also your unique, witty and imaginative language and style of satire, that was first seen in Apocalypse Close but runs through your more recent posts on Emmott and Rapley.

    Maybe such blatant flattery will persuade you to change your mind or at least come back soon.

  7. Thanks Paul, I’ll still be around, for example commenting at
    http://theconversation.com/bbcs-climate-change-by-numbers-supports-big-risk-in-place-of-big-facts-38193
    The local communist candidate happens to be a personal friend who’s served the community well as vice president of the county council until the socialists decided to revoke the electoral alliance a few years ago and stood against the communists.
    People vote for individuals in local elections, and there are still villages here with communist mayors. You can tell which villages they are – they’re the ones twinned with towns in Kenya, which hold festivals of international cinema, and have squares named after Nelson Mandela.

  8. Only just learned of this post because of a trackback on Ben Pile, which I only became aware of because of a trackback on Science of Doom’s The Holocaust, Climate Science and Proof which began on 4th February. But I’ve been doing other things net-wise, including challenging a young Asian on a well-known software group about an accusation of racism he’d made of a newcomer. People will I’m sure find it hard to believe but I landed myself in hot water on that one. But as Helen Bamber once said:

    It is easy to be a bystander and I vowed never to be one.

    I’m not sorry to see Geoff go. I’d only be sorry if he felt truly disheartened. I find assessing the outcome of the cyber-wars over climate harder than ever. (There are so many unknowns in the newness of the media as well as everything else.) But there are other battles to fight and all in the end flow into one another, a bit like Tolkien’s song about setting on one road knowing it can lead to all or any others. Bon voyage on some different ones.

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