Earlier this year, we here in the UK had a spring that felt more like winter. Now we are enduring the frightful ordeal of a summer that is exactly like a summer, only more so. I don’t know about other UK-based Samizdatistas, but this current burst of local warming saps my will to blog. When it is this warm, my idea of fun is not sitting next to a typing machine that happens also to be a fan heater. But I will give it a go anyway, and in a way that doesn’t change the subject from the weather.
Last week, there was a publicity stunt by some lady mountaineers, who climbed up the Shard, to protest against oil and gas drilling by Shell in the Arctic. Measured with a tape measure and a stop watch, media reactions to this escapade say that it was a big success.
Nevertheless, the mainstream media angle on all this may have somewhat disappointed the lady mountaineers. It was: Does This Kind Of Thing Work? Does a bunch of women showing off their shapely bottoms on nationwide television by clambering up a rather irrelevant but shapely new London tower really do much to change opinion on such matters as Arctic oil and gas drilling? That was the BBC’s original slant on this, and I heard the same thing on the Channel 5 TV news in the evening. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but such questions suggest to me a slight pulling back from this argument on the part of the media people, a feeling that a whole generation of broadcasters is detaching itself from a previously definite point of view, the obvious truth of which would have been their starting point only a few years ago, but which they now regard as just another of those arguments that people have, which it is now their job to report rather than to take sides in.
The pessimistic line on this, from the anti-alarmist point of view, is that all that the media people were really asking was: How Can We Best Make Everyone Into Climate Alarmists? Will this stunt accomplish this, or do we need to try other methods? We. They are still all on side with the climate alarmists, but some of the climate alarmists, especially those in the media, are now starting seriously to fret about tactics. But even if there was a big whiff of that about the coverage of this stunt, does not the suggestion that these lady climbers might not actually have been persuading anyone to think differently at least suggest that maybe their team in this argument might be wrong about matters of far greater substance, such as – whisper it ever so quietly – the alleged scientific fact of forthcoming climate catastrophe?
What is not deniable, if you will pardon the expression, is that a libertarian, Simon Gibbs of Libertarian Home, was asked to join in the coverage and say what he thought about it all,. You can listen to what Simon said here, and read Simon’s further thoughts on all this here. It was an email from Simon Gibbs that alerted me to this story. He knows that I am fond of the Shard.
My own opinion is that the climate alarmists are inexorably losing this argument, insofar as it is a mere argument, but that a colossal cleansing job, of insane bureaucracies constructed during the time when climate alarmists was winning, is only now starting to be embarked upon, and may never be entirely accomplished. At present the policy momentum is perhaps slowing, but it is still strongly with the climate alarmists. The alarmist policy momentum is certain still very strong in the UK.
Climbing up the Shard changes none of that, and may now even be harmful to the climate alarmist cause, because although this drama will delight the green faithful, it will only remind anti-green grumblers of what a racket they now think climate alarmism has become. It will also piss off Officialdom, whose continuing financial and political support for greenery is its main source of strength, the empowering of Officialdom being what climate alarmism is all about. This air of playing to the green gallery makes this adventure look like the latest version of gap year fun, rather than a serious attempt to right the wrongs of the world.
The biggest flaw in the climate alarmist array of arguments, apart from the fact that the alarmists are so unpersuasive and unreliable about the mere science of it all, is that they are clearly not now serious about suppressing CO2 emissions, worldwide. If they were, they would be spending far more of their efforts trying to get industrialising countries, in particular China, to industrialise differently. If they have any enthusiasm for this task, I for one have not noticed it. All I see is them trying to shut down the odd Western CO2 offender, and making Western taxpayers pay for pointless wind propellers and solar panels in a way that contributes a minus quantity of energy to the world and which drives energy bills upwards, in the already industrialised world. All of which suggests that the true purpose of climate alarmism now is to deindustrialise the industrialised world, rather than to save the world as a whole from the alleged menace of CO2. Perhaps they have in mind that the West will continue to lead the world, but this time away from industrialisation, by deindustrialising first, thereby capturing the high moral ground. If that is the idea, then it feels to me like Western Imperialism, repeating itself as suicidal farce.
Media stunts like this are most effective when they draw attention to some cause that until now had never been much heard of or much thought about. Similar escapades by various elaborately dressed Fathers For Justice, which, by the way, got a further dose of publicity during the coverage of this latest Shard-climbing stunt. Those F4J performances communicated how desperate the disenfranchised fathers of F4J were feeling, which was all part of their argument. We are victims, they were saying. We realise that this is daft stunt-mongering. But given that all else seems to have failed, how the hell else can we get some attention for our cause? And they got their attention. Now, whenever divorce law gets talked about, the Fathers For Justice point of view tends at least to get a mention.
But what of this Shard-climbing operation? Did that publicise a hitherto neglected argument? No. All who care already know what they think about climate alarmism. All that a stunt like this really accomplishes is to make a whole lot of people think, and say, more of what they already think, and have already been saying. Simon Gibbs, and I, and all others of our mind, remain unimpressed by the cause being publicised by the Shard-climbers, and we get to say so, again.
We also supply links to things like this Bishop Hill posting, which features video of the Bishop himself (aka Andrew Montford) and two others (Montford is the baldest of the three), taking it in turns to talk to some politicians. All concerned were bending over backwards to be sweetly reasonable rather than in any way vituperative. The other two are firmly in the climate alarmist camp, but you might not have known it just listening to them. Montford actually managed to land a few strong anti-alarmist punches, in his sweetly reasonably way. In other words, I think he did very, very well, not least in having contrived to get himself included in this event in the first place.
Looking back on his efforts, Montford says (with an added link from me) this:
It seems that the government is looking to find a way to persuade everyone that the science of global warming is solid so that we accept the IPCC report without question. I can’t see that happening. If you want to convince someone a report is solid, you really need it to actually be solid in the first place. There’s a long way to go before that happens.
I think I’m right in saying that this is the first time a sceptic has been heard in the SciTech committee since GWPF were invited to the Climategate hearings. I hope they learned something from it. Judging from the look on some of their faces when I was talking about sea ice, what I said was certainly new to them.
That sort of activity counts for a great deal more than Shard-climbing, I think.
I also recommend this earlier performance by Montford, which (because of writing this) I only now became aware of.