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
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
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
and Ben Pile at
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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Mortality and Climate Change

It’s commonplace to observe that climate catastrophism has many of the characteristics of an apocalyptic religion or doomsday cult. I’ve noted the weirdness of the authors of the Macmillan / Rapley epic “2071” – how Macmillan began an interview by stating that the world would be a better place if he had never been born, and how Rapley chose as the title the date at which his granddaughter would be the age he is now. I’m about the same age as Rapley and I know the funny things intimations of mortality can do to the mind. But all the same, you can’t help feeling these guys should be running an oddball cult on a mountain top somewhere, not influencing the energy policy of the planet.

There’s an article at  

which illustrates perfectly how climate change can become integrated into the innermost psychology of an intelligent educated person, affecting every aspect of their behaviour. For obvious reasons I refrained from commenting there. Instead I read it carefully several times, thinking about the mechanism by which so many Greek-educated citizens of the Roman Empire adopted the obscure religion of a sub-sect of an oppressed and despised race – a religion that overnight became the official creed of half the civilised world.

Once you’ve transformed a hypothesis about future temperature rise into an intimate part of your personality in this way, it’s easy to see how mere facts are not going to make a difference. I reproduce the article in full. Please be respectful in comments.

Live long, die green and leave a biodegradable corpse

by Robert John Young Professor of Wildlife Conservation at University of Salford

My mother died recently and at the funeral home I was asked if I had any ideas what kind of coffin she would like. For some reason I said something environmentally friendly. These words came out of my mouth more out of nervousness than anything previously discussed with my mother. Duly the undertaker showed us a catalogue of wicker coffins and we chose one made of banana leaves.

I often think of my carbon footprint – I have not owned a car in more than 15 years, for example – but I had never thought about my “green obligations” in death.

My mother may not have requested an environmentally friendly coffin, but she did state she wished to be cremated. Due to the lack of space in the UK around 80% of people request cremation – and if we think about green space being at a premium this makes ecological sense.

However the energy required to cremate a single person is equal to the energy they would use in a month if they were alive. In the UK this translates to a yearly energy consumption of a town of 16,000 people. In Asian countries where cremation is very popular there is considerable interest in using solar power to reduce such energy consumption.

Another problem with cremation is air pollution, which obviously depends on the filtering system being employed. Until recent times cremations were one of the major sources of mercury pollution in the UK due to the amalgam fillings in people’s teeth. A group of environmental NGOs recently called on the EU to curb mercury emissions from human cremation. Furthermore, the clothes worn and use of embalming fluids may also increase air pollution.

Humans have buried their dead for at least 100,000 years. Therefore, not wishing to throw the baby out with the bathwater, I looked into different burial options. A woodland burial initially appealed to me. However, I would only really approve of this if it resulted in the maintenance of a high-quality conservation area and wildlife refuge. And I wonder if it became popular enough if it could result in major reforestation of the UK. But bodies would still be rotting in the ground releasing globally warming methane gas.

Surely, there must be greener options than a standard burial or cremation? Coming from a family of fishermen I thought about burial at sea, as the fish could recycle my body quickly. But there are only three registered places in the UK and only around 50 such burials per year. As a biologist, I find the idea of becoming fish food strangely appealing. This is not a new idea: I remember reading of man who macabrely wished the meat from his body fed to the residents at Battersea Dogs Home. Not surprisingly this strange offer was declined.

As a conservationist the idea of recycling my body after death appeals: some Asian cultures have what are called sky burials, where a dead human body is laid out on a mountain top for scavenging animals such as birds of prey to feed on.

From a biological point of view I cannot see anything wrong with this, providing deceased people do not have contagious diseases. Burials in the ground are more to do with people not wishing the body disturbed by animals than hygiene considerations – hence being buried six feet. Unfortunately, as much as I like to imagine my deceased body on the top of Ben Nevis being recycled by golden eagles, I can never see it being allowed in the UK.

I suppose what really appeals to me is being fully recycled in a short time-frame. The problem is that cremation does not fully recycle the body and burials can take years for the recycling process to occur. Thus, if my body could be fully recycled quickly into the nutrient cycles, thereby allowing the burial plot to be constantly reused then I may have found a biologically acceptable method to dispose of my body when the time comes.

A company in Sweden has tested a concept of eco-burial on dead pigs (pigs are good models for the human body), whereby the animal is frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196℃, which makes the body become brittle and disintegrate. In the case of a human, the disintegrated body would be filtered for metals (such as tooth fillings) and then buried in a shallow grave.

In tests with pigs the remains become rich compost in six to twelve months. Plus this sort of eco-burial does not release greenhouse gases such as methane (from traditional burials) or carbon (from cremations) into the atmosphere. The only problem being it is still in development.

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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.

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My Thing with the Royal Court

I’ve just replied to the Royal Court’s executive producer. I promise I’ll keep the discussion polite from now on. Thanks to those who have offered their advice, and to Barry Woods and Paul Matthews who alerted me to a tweet in which Rapley says it’s “nothing to do with freedom of speech – straightforward breach of copyright.”
I try to counter this argument in my letter, without referring to the law, but merely to the fact that rational discussion of the points made by Rapley require that his text be in the public domain. Of course, if he doesn’t want rational discussion of the points he makes, or claims that 2071 is a work of fiction largely written by Macmillan, then I don’t have a leg to stand on. Here’s my reply:

Dear Ms Davies
On receipt of your letter I wrote a very rude reply on my blog, for which I apologise. I have since revised it, while leaving the original rudeness visible. I realise it was quite unforgivable to address you publicly in this fashion. As you know, here in France the Charlie Hebdo affair has resulted in a week of extremely fraught and often aggressive discussion about free speech and its limits. I overstepped those limits.

To reply directly to your point:
Yes, I have published an unauthorised transcription of the text by Macmillan and Rapley.
I appreciate that the authors hold a copyright on any work they publish, but since this work doesn’t exist anywhere at the moment except on my site, I don’t see how I can be infringing their copyright. The day they publish this work I will indeed take it down.

I am surprised that the authors are bothered about this. Apart from two anecdotes about professor Rapley’s boyhood atlas and the ice melting in his hand, there’s nothing in this text which couldn’t be found on Wikipaedia or in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. I’ll take those two anecdotes out if you like and rewrite the piece, using those two sources, and putting it in the third person.

More seriously, there is a strong public interest defence for keeping the text in the public domain. Apart from the personal anecdotes and the potted autobiography, the text is a political tract aimed at changing the behaviour of the whole world by reorganising the political and economic structure of society. A political tract is open to criticism, and to be criticised it must be cited. (Marx and Engels could no doubt have claimed copyright to the Communist Manifesto, but they’d have looked pretty silly if they tried to prevent people from reading it.)

My main criticisms of the text are 1) that it is extraordinarily boring, and 2) that it is grossly misleading in what it chooses to leave out. Both criticisms can only be justified by quoting the whole text. The first criticism is of course subjective, but important, given that professor Rapley, in an interview on your site, insists that it was written largely by Duncan Macmillan, who is a professional playwright.

The second criticism is far more serious. This is not the place to discuss the science of climate change, but Professor Rapley (or Mr Macmillan) admits that there is much we don’t know and will probably never know about the climate. (I know he said that because it’s in the transcript. It’s clearly important to know that an eminent scientist whose advice is sought by government bodies has admitted the ignorance surrounding the science.)
There is nothing in the text about the uncertainty surrounding climate sensitivity (the likely temperature rise resulting from a doubling of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere); nothing about the fact that predictions of future temperature rise are based on computer models, not on science; nothing about the failure of models to predict recent temperatures, or the fact that average atmospheric temperatures have not risen at all for the past eighteen years. There is nothing about the fact that climate related disasters have not risen over the past sixty odd years during which atmospheric CO2 has been rising. The causal connection between CO2 and temperature in the geological past is mentioned, but the fact that it is the temperature rise which causes increased CO2, and not vice versa, is glossed over.
The consistent choice of facts which support the climate catastrophe position and the absence of any expression of facts which argue against that position is the act of an activist, not of a scientist. For example, Rapley nowhere refers to the current eighteen year pause in temperature rise, but states that “each of the last three decades has been successively warmer … than any preceding decade since 1850.” which may be true, just as it’s true that in each of the last three decades we have become successively richer. But anyone who made that statement without mentioning the economic crisis of 2007 would be accused of being grossly misleading.

Both the text and the wide public discussion about the play in the media have emphasised the authority of science and of Rapley as a scientist. In giving such a partial, one-sided history of the current climate and of current climate science, this text gives a distorted view of the science. If you don’t believe me, you can read the text to check. The only way to demonstrate what it leaves out is to quote the text, the whole text, and nothing but the text. If I take the text down, we’ll have no way of knowing who’s right, but simply the word of Rapley (and Macmillan) and the memory of the few hundred people who saw the show.

Geoff Chambers

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Legal Advice Required Urgently

[In the cold light of day, and no longer pissed out of my mind, I’ve changed the first paragraph of my reply to Lucy Davies.]

I’d got a lot to say here about two important affairs
1) the thorough demolition of Lewandowsky by José Duarté at
ably commented by JoNova at
2) The recent events in Paris, and their implications for free speech.
But I’ve just received this email, which refers to my article here:
Dear Mr Chambers,
I am the Executive Producer at the Royal Court Theatre, which recently commissioned and produced 2071, written by Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley. It has been brought to my attention that you have made an unauthorised recording of the production, transcribed the playtext, and published it in full online. As this is a breach of both our trust and the writers’ legal copyright, I kindly request its removal from your site.
We chose not to produce a playtext as there is a publishing deal in process which your publishing of the text also prejudices.
I will let the copyright holders / writers and their representatives know about this communication. I trust you will agree to respect their legal rights and take down the text immediately.
In anticipation of your understanding and co-operation.
Kind regards
Lucy Davies
Executive Producer
Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square
020 7565 5050
07545 915182

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone reading this who can provide legal advice would contact me in the comments.
I’m not ready to become a martyr to climate catastrophism over the burblings of a depressive playwright who thinks the world would be a better place if he’d never been born; a director who drags her daughter round Europe on night trains in order to avoid adding to the greenhouse gasses emitted by Ryanair; and a second-rate scientist who licked the arse of a minister (Ed Milliband) by hiring a PR agency to put on a show in the Science Museum of which he was director in order to help the minister’s party to win an election, and who wrote a glowing review on Amazon of a book to which he had written the preface (a book in which a number of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists describe their efforts to make their patients more unhappy than they were before); and who loses no opportunity to describe those who disagree about the exact figure for the climate sensitivity to CO2 as “denialists”.
On the other hand, this mail suggests that I am legally obliged to censor a post on my blog. I am unwilling to do this for the following reasons:
I’ve spent the best part of the last four days following the news here in France about the most terrible attack on humanist values that we’ve seen in Europe since the second world war. I know the attacks in London (I was there) and Madrid killed more people, but the difference is in the fact that the Paris attack was targeted on a particular group (and I’ll have a lot to say at another time about Charlie Hebdo).
My feelings about censorship are complicated, as they must be for anyone who is capable of a moment’s reflection. Like many millions, I imagine, I have been affected by the recent events in Paris, and, as a foreigner living in France for the past thirty-odd years, I’ve been forced to revise my opinions about “les valeurs de la République”. [My first request for a “Carte de Séjour” was refused – illegally – thirty years ago by someone at the Paris Palais de Justice where I stood in line with a load of Cambodian and African “demandeurs d’asile politiques”. Once married to a French citizen, I made my first “demande de citoyenneté française. Then, because I moved house, I found that I would have to start all over again, and let it drop.]
End of autobiography.
Recent events in France provide a useful platform for defending the idea of freedom of speech with respect to the question of climate change.
I have frequently expressed my opinion on the censorship of opinion on the subject of climate change, as expressed in the report to the BBC Trust by Professor Steve Jones, or by the editor of Guardian Environment when he declared that “Global Warming was “Official Guardian Policy” (independently of whether temperatures rose or fell?) – that this was anti-science, irrational, and therefore should not be supported by those who believe in free speech.
In the mean time, let me reply to the email from Lucy Davies, Executive Producer at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square:

Dear Lucy,

Go fuck yourself.

I don’t quite understand. Is the text of Messrs Rapley and Macmillan a warning to the world that the human race is in danger? (in which case I have performed a service to mankind in bringing it to the notice of the billions who weren’t privileged to hear it recited at the Royal Court.) Or is it the most boring load of nonsense ever uttered on stage cobbled together by a couple of ignorant tossers out to make a fast buck? (In which case I will limit myself to quoting the most boring 15% and leave it to others to quote the rest.)

The recent production to which you refer is clearly designed to change the habits of the entire world, as was the previous performance at the Royal Court written by Stephen Emmott and directed by the same Katie Mitchell.

Both shows were performed before audiences of a few thousand spectators at most. Both performers (Emmott and Rapley) expressed the desire to change the politics of the western world with their performances. Emmott suggested that this would be done by people teaching their children how to kill people. Professor Rapley didn’t go so far, but he seemed to suggest that far-reaching changes would be necessary in our behaviour, without explaining exactly how these changes would come about. The Royal Court normally publishes the scripts of their plays. The Emmott script eventually emerged as a Penguin book. The on-line blurb suggesting that readers teach their children how to kill people was withdrawn, (possibly due to my criticisms).
When Rapley deigns to publish his burbling, I will be happy to reply in a civilised fashion. In the meantime, I will maintain my transcript of his nonsense at
yours truly
geoff chambers

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My Thing with Caroline Lucas

I just received a mail from someone called Caroline Lucas. She said:
Today is the final day of Left Foot Forward’s year end fundraising appeal. And a match funder will double your money – if you give right now. We know that in the run up to the General Election, the corporate media will be launching the best spin money can buy. At the same time they will block those they don’t like from getting any coverage. The only thing that can change this is supporting strong independent media like Left Foot Forward.
Left Foot Forward’s mission is to inform and to combat right-wing misinformation. They bring us the best progressive analysis and combat one-sided rhetoric. Left Foot Forward are committed to giving progressives the fair hearing we deserve. In the coming months, we need them to provide honest coverage and debunk the myths put forward by corporate media. For this, it is crucial that they remain independent. If you’ve been standing by and waiting for the right time to donate, this is it. The time is now. Chip in £3, or whatever you can afford. Please give now and get your donation matched. Your support is hugely appreciated.
Best Wishes,
Caroline Lucas MP
I replied as follows:
Dear Caroline
Sorry, but I won’t be giving any money to Left Foot Forward. I subscribed under the impression that it was a leftwing organisation, and I see that it supports the insane policies of climate catastrophism promoted by Greenpeace, the WWF and other multi-billion dollar NGOs supported by the foundations of American billionaires.
From the website of your own party I take the following:
there has been an explosion in political activism.
Oh no there hasn’t. There are less protesters on the street than at any time since the Napoleonic wars.
climate change is bringing unpredictable and threatening weather patterns.
Oh no it isn’t. Global temperatures haven’t risen significantly for 18 years. Ask the IPCC.
A vote for the Green Party is a vote for The Common Good.
Oh no it’s not. It’s a vote for windmills, which only work when the wind is blowing, and solar panels, which only work in the daytime, on sunny days.
And from:

The recent floods brought home the human cost of man-made climate change.

No they didn’t. They brought home the incompetence of the Environment Agency. The scientific theory of man-made global warming predicts that rises in temperature cause by anthropogenic greenhouse gases may provoke catastrophic events like floods. Since there has been no warming for the past 18 years or so, it is not possible that the Somerset floods are due to man-made climate change. Please correct your party’s website accordingly.

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Flanders & Swann: The First Law of Cultural Dynamics

I’m not at all sure that my recent article in French at has had the desired effect. It may take hundreds of years to create the necessary cultural liaisons by natural means, whereas if you pass by the official UN or EU channels, it takes as long as a Google translation. Here’s a comment I left under my article at

27.  geoff chambers | 20/12/2014 @ 23:58 Je constate qu’un article ne suffit pas pour tisser des liens à travers des cultures très diverses. Je viens de laisser une commentaire à…..e#comments qui n’a rien à voir avec cet article sauf qu’elle essaie de corriger des malentendus culturels. José Duarte étant californien, et donc plus éloigné de moi culturellement que vous les français, j’y ai cité les meilleurs chansonniers anglais des années 60, qui ne sont pas Lennon et Macartney, mais Flanders and Swann, que vous pouvez écouter ici avec leur traduction très libre de Brassens
 ou ici avec leur interprétation de la politique française.. Ils expriment leur politique anti-guerre ici avec Twenty tons of TNT (texte inclu)
et ici ils s’éxpriment sur la deuxième loi de thermodynamiques de Newton

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Learn French the Climatosceptique Way.

I’ve got an article in French up at

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).

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments Climate Porn – George Monbiot with Tits

There’s a new movement afoot to make us aware of the danger facing the planet. It’s called thefuture.To get an idea of what it’s about, I do recommend you watch the video at

It starts with an image of a very pretty boyish face, perched on a neck bizarrely painted blue, trying on what is obviously a very uncomfortable white helmet, and my first thought was: “Hello, they’ve hired a top director for this one, and like all top directors he’s gay and couldn’t resist using a pretty boy to get over whatever the message is going to be.” Then fifteen seconds in the camera pans down to breasts and then up to pained pouting lips. It’s not a boy, but a gamine, a very young-looking boyish-looking girl, and we see drips and understand why the helmet is so uncomfortable – it’s made of ice. In France it’s called Gel Bait.

Then we get a closeup of an armpit, breasts again, and feet. Then a view of the torso which explains the blue neck. The nude model is painted all over in blue with green patches, representing Our Planet. As the camera pans slowly down we wonder whether we will witness climate chaos in the shape of catastrophic bush fires in the southern hemisphere. Alas, no. Around about one minute forty seconds in she takes off her icy helmet and the credits come up, explaining what it’s about. They say (in small letters, no caps, American Typewriter Bold)
the ice caps are melting
That’s it folks.
The clip is titled “ICECAP” (The Future) NSFW.”
“Icecap” to me is the title of a rather useful climate sceptical site. “NSFW” had me baffled (New South fucking Wales?) but Wiki came up trumps:
“Not suitable/safe for work (NSFW) is Internet slang or shorthand. Typically, the NSFW tag is used … to mark… material such as nudity, pornography or profanity, which the viewer may not want to be seen accessing in a public or formal setting such as in a workplace.”
Well, quite. Who would want one’s workmates to know that one had been downloading images of under-age girls with painted nipples? Or of Bob Ward with a white circle painted round his right eye?
Because the big thing at thefuture is to get us all to paint a circle round one eye to symbolise something. Here’s why:
The Eye is The Future’s symbol. A large circle drawn around the eye which means, according to
We are connected:
We unite with a circle drawn around our eye to fight for our future.
We are the watchers:
We judge the powerful when they do not act to protect the future from climate change.
We are the creators:
We refuse to be victims. We create our own world.
Your eye:
Draw the eye in makeup, facepaint, marker pen, anything that works. Choose any colour and make it a thick, fierce circle around your socket. Look full of hope and fury.
Take a photo or film yourself. Post your Eye on Facebook
Their eye:
Choose a photo of anyone you think should belong in our tribe or of people who should be branded with the eye for their failure to protect our future. Go here to find out how to draw a digital eye.
If you join us we will tell you when our culture and our politics requires disruption. At these moments we want you to deploy the eye in real life and online.
This is your symbol and you can wear it anytime and anywhere you want. Show that you are full of fury whilst watching the people in power who are destroying our future. Wear the eye anywhere, at festivals or parties, when you are amongst our tribe. People will ask why you are doing it. Tell them.
* * * * * * * * * * *
I was going to finish with a joke about the fact that this site and its resolute avoidance of the normal clichés of left militancy and NGO earnestness is a good example of what we marketing persons term Russell re-Branding. But, stap me vitals if there wasn’t a link to a Russell (Brand, not Bertrand) video tacked on to the end of it. So instead I’ll finish with a link to

* * * * * * * * * * *
I’ve got a half-written article, provisionally titled “The Nazi Thing” or possibly “Hitler was Wrong”, about the furore caused by Tim Ball’s article at WUWT which quoted Mein Kampf. I wanted to discuss rationally what it is about the climate question which tempts us to make absurd comparisons with fascism. It’s obviously nothing to do with the comportment of the thoroughly decent chaps at the IPCC or the GISS or the Met Office or the Hadley Centre or the journalists at the Graun, who wouldn’t hurt a fly (if only in the interest of maintaining biodiversity…) I was going to cite some names, until I noticed that several had a Germanic or East European sound to them, and I thought better of it.
Sweet Gaia, what a filthy suppurating sore we have here. Is it a symptom of our diseased imagination, or does it indicate a real infection?
But it itches, and we must scratch it.
(On the ice helmet in the video: the reason the poor girl looked so pained was not because of the perils threatening our planet, but because a couple of kilos of ice on your head is FUCKING FREEZING.)

Posted in Phantom Bodies & Zombie Blogs, Weirdos | Tagged | 4 Comments

Graun Does Research

Many thanks to Paul Matthews for this (emphasis added):


Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments