In my endless quest to be open-minded and well-informed I turned to the Guardian today and landed on this story by it Environment Editor Damian Carrington with the apocalyptic headline ‘Dramatic climate action needed to curtail ‘crazy’ extreme weather‘. No great surprise. There’s a similar story every day.
That’s quite a title isn’t it? Nine words only, but he’s managed to jam in ‘dramatic’, ‘action’, ‘crazy’ and ‘extreme’. Perhaps he used to be on a sports newsdesk, the crucible of journalistic cliché-packed writing. But that’s nowhere near as impressive as the 15 uses of the word ‘said’, each time following an individual scientist or ‘scientists’.
‘Scientists have said.’ What sort of science is ‘scientists have said’? Lots of things have been said in human history and most of them arrant nonsense. Here’s one of the examples: “The ‘crazy’ extreme weather rampaging around the globe in 2023 will become the norm within a decade without dramatic climate action, the world’s leading climate scientists have said.”
What does that mean? Adjust the word order and it reads “leading scientists have said the ‘crazy’ extreme weather will become the norm within a decade”. In other words, these geniuses know the future, a preposterous conceit they share with untold numbers of soothsayers, religious fanatics, demagogues, and lunatics, and how to change it. All you have to come out with is ‘scientists have said’ and suddenly the piece is imbued with pseudo-credibility.
Read on and of course the only possible route to evading Armageddon is zero consumption of fossil fuels. Not one piece of evidence is cited in the whole article, as usual. Of course, the proponents will evade being proved wrong or right since even if we did stop using fossil fuels overnight we’ll have to wait 200-300 years before we’ll know; and even then cause and effect will be impossible to prove.
Let’s go back a few years to when there were ever so slightly fewer fossil fuels being used. John Evelyn (1620-1706) was a founding member of the Royal Society. He wrote a diary, little known today but filled with gems, such as these (I’ve modernised the spelling):
February 5th 1652: It continued so ill weather as no vessels put to sea.
June 25th 1652: There fell this 25th day (after a drought of near four months) so violent a tempest of hail, rain, wind, thunder and lightning, as no man alive had seen the like in this age: the hail being in some places four and five inches about, broke all the glass about Lond: especially at Deptford, and more at Greenwich, where Sir Thomas Stafford, Vice-Chamberlain to the Queen, affirmed some had the shape of crowns: others the Order of the Garter about them; but these were fancies: it was certainly a very prodigious Storme: …