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More Clive James: Climate Change Sceptic (Part 1)

This discussion continues from the previous post “Clive James: Climate Change Sceptic” published in The AIMN recently.

That post took four lines of Clive James’s poem Imminent Catastrophe and compared what he said about melting ice at the poles and showed by reference to scientific statements how badly wrong he was.

Here is more of Clive James’s poem:

“And though sometimes the weather is extreme

It seems no more than when we were young

Who soon will hear no more of this theme

Reiterated in the special tongue

Of manufactured fright.”

Extreme Weather

In the Weekend Australian, Chris Kenny has pursued the denier theme of looking back and seeing the same old same old: that there have always been bushfires in Australia, so what is new?

He writes under the heading “Out of the bushfires and into the management plans”, The Australian, 18/01/2020:

“If you could miraculously prevent any changes in the Australian climate, reverting to and locking in preindustrial weather patterns of the 19th century, we still would face fire threats as bad as we have seen, and worse. That is the science-based reality that demonstrates the absurdity and ideological opportunism behind the climate hysteria that has dominated media coverage of our tragic bushfire season…

“Large elements of the media/political class are pretending that this is new, but mainstream Australians are unlikely to be fooled. They saw even worse than this 11 years ago in Victoria when 173 people were killed, 37 years ago in South Australia and Victoria when 75 people died, 53 years ago when 67 died in Tasmania: back in 1939 and the 1920s in Victoria; and so it goes.

“And so it goes”.

What Kenny has done, of course, is to cherry pick only the number of human deaths involved in three fires. He omits the Black Thursday fire in Victoria in 1851 in which 5,000,000 hectares were burnt and about 12 people only were killed.

Our recent fires have burnt 10.7 million hectares with the loss of 28 lives – and the fires are still burning – with huge losses of property, environment, animals and destruction of the economy.

In The Conversation, concerning the latest fires, Paul Read, Monash, and Richard Denniss, ANU, report:

“They are 25 times the size of Australia’s deadliest bush-fires, the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria that directly killed 173 people, so large they created their own weather…”

So much for Kennedy’s “science” and journalistic objectivity. More like ideological propaganda. What Kennedy is saying is that humans cannot change the climate but we can fire-proof the landscape. We can do that, he claims, by making ‘containment lines’ against wildfires, just as Tony Abbott secured our borders. Thus, we will be able ‘to resist and survive inevitable blazes in the worst conditions’.

“In the worst conditions”.

As well, of course, there will be widespread ‘hazard reduction’ which fire-chiefs say cannot be easily achieved in a narrow time frame. Other experts say that removal of litter increases the dryness of the earth, which in turn increases the intensity of the fire.

All this conjecture by Kenny is to avoid any mention of emissions reduction.

James’s poem continues:

“Sea Level Rise

Will be here soon and could do such-and-such,

Say tenured pundits with unblinking eyes.

Continuing to not go up by much,

The sea supports the sceptics…”

Sea Level Rises

The term “tenured pundits” derides climate scientists because it accuses them of being paid to say what they say, even if they do not believe it any more. What sceptics and deniers neglect to say is they, too, are paid to say what they say in denial.

As for Sea Level Rise, National Geographic tells us:

“Rising seas is one of those climate change effects. Average sea levels have swelled over 8 inches (about 23 cm) since 1880, with about three of those inches gained in the last 25 years. Every year, the sea rises another 0.13 inches (3.2 mm).

“Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons that move more slowly and drop more rain, contributing to more powerful storm surges that can strip away everything in their path. One study found that between 1963 and 2012, almost half of all deaths from Atlantic hurricanes were caused by storm surges.”

In The Guardian, 5/8/2019, a West Australian government report, ‘West Australian beaches, homes and roads at risk of crumbling into the sea’, as a result of rising sea levels. There are some 55 places around the WA coast which are at risk. Port Beach is among 15 hotspots in the Perth metropolitan area. There is talk of loss of insurance cover and legal action against local government for there being too many short term fixes.

On the east coast of Australia we have seen coastal destruction threatening houses and infrastructure.

James takes a swipe at people such as Tim Flannery and Julia Gillard who live near the sea. He uses this point to question their adherence to climate change claims of sea level rises.

In his essay “Mass Deaths Die Hard”, published in the IPA publication ”Climate Change: The Facts”, 2017, Clive James says:

“When you tell people once too often the missing heat is hiding in the ocean, they will switch over …”

Later he himself says:

“The reef disaster is like the millions of climate change refugees who were going to flood into the West by 2010. They never arrived. But when the refugees from the war in Syria started to arrive, there was a ready-made media apparatus waiting to declare that they were the missing climate change refugees really, because what else had caused the war but climate change? They were the missing heat that had been hiding in the ocean.”

Beyond silly, really. Too clever by half.

In Time Magazine Jan 16, 2020, Jasmine Aguilera tells us:

“Scientists announced Wednesday that 2019 now ranks as the hottest year globally. It comes second to 2016 by less than 0.75 degree F (or 0.04 degree C). Five of the warmest years in recorded history have occurred since 2015.

“The year was also the hottest year on record for Alaska, where wildfires burned throughout the state over the summer.

“Scientists announced on Monday that ocean temperatures are hotter than they have ever been, “We are heating the oceans today by the equivalent heat of five Hiroshima bombs every second , day and night, 365 days of the year, “ says John Abraham, professor of thermal sciences at the University of St Thomas, who co-authored the study on oceanic temperature rise.”

Climate Change sceptics and deniers will be astonished at this report for the relentless nature of the heating, and to know that Alaska is heating so much, so close to the Arctic!

The Great Barrier Reef

Closer to home we have the Great Barrier Reef, which James says has been dying for the past 50 years and will be for the next 50 years.

A BBC report “Great Barrier Reef: Mass decline in coral ‘babies’, scientists say” says:

“The number of new corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has plunged by 89% since the unprecedented bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, scientists say.

“The bleaching in 2016 and 2017 affected a 1,500 km (900miles) stretch of the reef. ‘Now the extent of the mortality is such that there is nothing left to replenish the reef’, Professor Baird said.

“The study also found that the mix of baby coral species had changed. It found a 93% drop in Acropora, a species which typically dominates a healthy reef and provides habitats for thousands of other species.

“The researchers said coral replacement could recover over the next 5-10 years if there were no future bleaching events.

“However, given current estimates, this likelihood was ‘almost inconceivable”, said Professor Baird.

The National Geographic magazine (8/2018) tells us:

“Severe bleaching used to hit a given reef about every 27 years. Since the 1980s the pace has accelerated to every six.“

Drought and Climate Change

An open letter appeared in The Australian, Friday, 17 Jan, 2020. It was written by David Haslingden, Chairman of the Australian Geographic Society, addressed to Angus Taylor, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister, disagreeing with the minister about a letter to The Australian by the Minister. It was titled: ”Who’s not doing enough on Climate Change?”

Haslingden’s letter read in part:

“Due to the deftness of our representatives from Kyoto to Madrid we have limited our pledges to levels that have required little if any modification of our mining and other emissions practices.”

The letter was swamped with responses from devotees of the broadsheet, telling Haslingden he did not know what he was saying. Aspects of scepticism have been well learnt by such readers.

One of the correspondents quoted from the IPCC AR5 Assessment report, 2014:

“Low confidence in attributing changes in drought over the global land areas since the mid-C20th to human influences owing to observational uncertainties and difficulties in distinguishing decadal scale variability in drought from long term trends.

“High confidence for drought during the last millennium of greater magnitude and longer duration than those observed since the beginning of the C20th in many regions.”

This is a summary of a global view. The correspondent claimed the IPCC did not support a connection between Climate Change and droughts.

On the same page of the report is: “Emerging areas of research: Internal variability versus anthropogenic forcing”. In that area of research is listed: “Australia: human influence on large scale drivers” (Cai et al, 2014, J.Clim)

As well, there is a graph with a diagonal going up to the right on which are depicted labels of events affected by Climate Change. High up are ‘Heat’ and ‘Cold’. Just below, is ‘Drought’ above six other affected events.

The reference to events “Heat” and “Cold” high up is interesting because the title of James’s essay “Mass Death Dies Hard” is an attempt to deride Paul Ehrlich’s claim that Climate Change will cause deaths through extreme heat and cold.

At Buzzfeed the following headline appeared after a special IPCC report on Climate Change and drought, August 2019:

Climate Change is Triggering More Heat Waves, Drought, and Crop Yield Declines, Study Says.

Continued tomorrow with Part 2

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  1. HumeAndTwain

    Eh, need a correction here … you say above: “An open letter appeared in The Australian, Friday, 17 June, 2020. ” Since it is only 1 February 2020 … perhaps an update?

  2. Phil

    Wank wank wank, money in the bank. Who really gives a flying fluck what Clive James thought about global warming? Yea go for my throat, James was about as funny as a bad case of Hemorrhoids. The only relief from his inane commentary, was the keyboard player Margarita Pracatan who was indeed funny. James was that far up himself, the only thing visible from his large date was his shoe laces.I will never forget him waxing lyrically about how hard the officer class had it in WW1. He was an insufferable snob and for my taste, more boring than a masonry bit.

  3. guest

    Phil, thank you for your comment.

    Clive thought he was funny, as we see in this article. But the article is not just about Clive and his humour.

    It is about all the millions of people here in Oz and around the world who dismiss Climate Change as a joke – some of them in high places and some of them with money in the bank for being dissenters/ sceptics/ deniers just like Clive.

    The IPA here in Oz, the propaganda arm of Murdoch media, parades him as a brilliant spokesperson for their own denial. Perhaps it is his ‘humour’ they like!

  4. Phil

    ” It is about all the millions of people here in Oz and around the world who dismiss Climate Change as a joke – some of them in high places and some of them with money in the bank for being dissenters/ sceptics/ deniers just like Clive.”

    I know. Going into the reasons people believe the ramblings of people like James, Bolt, Jones, Joyce, put your own thousand names after the few I mentioned if you like. The reasons people follow these people’s ravings could fill the Smithsonian. Going into a long winded treatise on my part about James and his opinions, for mine, is a waste of pixels. I get my jollies now by just ridiculing these opportunist cretins. It is sad people can’t see through the likes of James I don’t have that problem. I learnt a long time ago, people care less about the character of the messenger and they only hear what they want to hear.

  5. wam

    Nothing like understanding the difference between intelligent skeptics who believe in truths like god and natural climate change and not in man made interference with the processes of the change and the millions of sheep who follow the paid deniers.
    Perhaps a discussion on the greenhouse effect that makes Venus so hot and the need for power generation might realign the thinking of skeptic and possibly some deniers, but they are usually godlings without the ability to reason.

  6. guest


    what you will find if you look into the matter of skepticism or denial is that there are wheels within wheels. All kinds of explanations are contrived, no matter how much you explain aspects of Climate Change in terms of IPCC science. The skeptic/denier people make it up for themselves.

    They have shorthand mantras which become weasel words. For example, “Climategate” stands for a conspiracy to hide information the IPCC is accused of doing, they say, from some stolen e-mails. The fact is that the delay in publication was to check the facts more closely before publication. The matter has been investigated many times and no conspiracy has been found. But this does not stop skeptics/deniers from repeating the lie ad nauseam.

    What is really interesting is to untangle the connections between the skeptics/deniers and those vested interests which pay them, the businesses who profit from fudging the discussion about Climate Change – who pays the piper. There are on-line sites which can tell you about these connections.

    There is no coherent denier science. There is just a lot of waffle and sly invention. Arguing with them is a waste of time because money talks big. You can see that in the way coal miners, for example, will work for the money but take no notice of talk of threats and dangers to their children in the future, the kinds of things we have seen in recent fires. They will not even seek alternative work because their communities have always been miners.There must be ways to remove that anomaly by providing alternative jobs.

    It is interesting how the Coalition is now spruiking renewable energy technology as if they had invented it, despite their ridicule of it in the past.

    The important thing is to be familiar with what Climate science is about. Unfortunately there are people who have no opinion on the subject. This post seems to be revealing the fake science of skepticism/denial and saying something about IPCC science in contrast.

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