Paris Friday 13th

We’ve cancelled a number of posts that we were planning to put up about the COP21 conference. We could, I suppose, like the editors of Charlie Hebdo, insist on our fundamental rights to freedom of expression, but I just don’t think this is the time to be making sarcastic remarks about Paris or President François Hollande.

Last night as events unfolded there was a lot of speculation on French TV about whether the COP21 would be cancelled. I saw none of that this morning, no doubt because it would look like giving in to terrorism. However, with a state of emergency declared for the whole of France, the frontiers closed, and presumably all police leave cancelled, it’s hard to see how the security services could cope with such an event in two weeks’ time.

In addition, the first round of regional elections takes place on December 6th, during the conference. Marine le Pen, leader of the National Front is expected to top the poll in the North Region, which includes Calais, and her niece is expected to do the same in Provence-Côte d’Azur, which includes Marseilles, where rival drug gangs massacre each other with kalashnikovs with monotonous regularity. Security and Islamic radicalism were already hot topics before the events of last night.

The Prime Minister has split the ruling Socialist Party by suggesting that where socialists were trailing in the elections they should form an alliance with Sarkozy’s Republicans in order to keep the National Front out, which provoked Martine Aubrey, Mayor of Lille, daughter of Jacques Delors, and unofficial head of the left wing of the socialists to tell him publicly to f*** off.

To get a measure of the possible grave ramifications of this tragedy, it’s worth considering the two main TV news items yesterday before the attacks.

Yesterday morning we saw the Interior Minister announcing tough new measures to cut down on arms trafficking, with images of cupboards full of kalashnikovs seized by customs. The journalist explained patiently that these military weapons which circulate freely in the suburbs (“suburbs” in French is a euphemism for “housing estates with large immigrant populations”) could be used by terrorists – the unspoken subtext being that it wasn’t a problem as long as they were used by rival drug gangs to decimate each other. My reaction was that of any normal person: “WTF are you telling us this for, ten months after Charlie Hebdo?”

The second item was the Minister of Finance ecstatic about the return of economic growth – a stupendous 0.3% in the third quarter, practically guaranteeing 1% for the year. Listening to official advice last night to Parisians to stay indoors, with all schools and universities closed etc, it occurred to me that if every French family cancelled one day’s shopping in the current quarter, that 1% growth would be wiped out overnight.

If these considerations seem trivial compared with what happened in Paris last night (not to mention what happened in Turkey, the Sinai, Beirut, and what is happening in Iraq and Syria day and night) I have one more trivial fact to add.

Like most of France, I spent yesterday evening zapping between TV channels. The main commercial channel and the second regional state channel had both cancelled their programmes and did a good job of covering events. The main state channel France2 (the one that sacked weatherman Philippe Verdier) continued with its normal programme – a debate about climate change. I didn’t watch it.


  1. Dung
    Because it’s you, yes 🙂

    Seriously, I’d normally say yes, of course. But, as I say at the top of this post, we’ve practised a certain self-censorship for decency’s sake. The same kind of questions are being asked by our French colleagues over at about a post that Benoît put up on is own site and then took down again at the request of commenters.

    So the answer is, maybe. We’re a very loosely organised collective, with no hard and fast rules,, so I’m speaking strictly for myself here when I say I definitely don’t want to start a general discussion about Islamic extremism etc.


  2. For me the question for climate blogs now is whether COP21 will be cancelled. If it is, I’d see this as a respectful recognition that ‘climate change’ is a problem of a lower order than real political/sociological failure. If it isn’t, there’s going to be some dissonance about the world coming together to try to solve a problem many think is overblown while real problems like war, migration and theocratic nihilism mix together to form the chaos we now have.

    However, there are many forums for discussing Islamic extremism, and this is a climate blog so we should stick to climate here.


  3. Geoff

    Because its you I will not make my comment apart from saying that it is not about decency it is about the dreaded ‘politically corerect’ ^.^


  4. Dung
    Thanks. I appreciate your consideration.

    I agree. This was the point that Benoît was making in the post that he removed, on the advice of four or five commenters, I believe.

    A Syrian passport has just been fiound near the body of one of the suicide bombers, and a car with a Belgian numberplate is thought to have been used. The claims about the need for open borders within Europe, the claims that the Syrian war was the result of climate change, and no doubt dozens of other poitical claims, are all going to be thrown into a mighty explosive mix over the next few weeks and months.

    Foreign Minister Fabius is off to Turkey to stand in for Hollande at the G20 meeting. He’s looking excessively tired from nights of negotiations (in English) as president of the COP21. What head of state will dare come to Paris to affirm that 2°C is the biggest threat facing humanity?


  5. Some modesty from Al Gore, according to the Breitbart website:

    “Out of solidarity with the French people and the City of Paris, we have decided to suspend our broadcast of 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth.”

    In other words, 24hrs of reality gets real. This was, apparently, supposed to have been 24hr webcast from Paris.


  6. Geoff, I’m going to do my very best to refrain from any “sarcastic remarks” about Hollande. But, I hope you’ll forgive me for saying that I’ve been watching far too many politicians – of far too many stripes – for far too many years, in far too many countries, to be convinced of their sincerity beyond the (IMHO) often fleeting moments of their (pardon my skepticism) populist utterances.

    In my view, the canary in this particular coal-mine, is Sweden.

    A country I once very much admired: But that was very long ago and very far away; i.e. back in the days when their prime gurus were those who advocated (and the government actually practiced) respectful services to people with developmental handicaps.

    Sadly, Sweden today is a very different – and (IMHO) almost unrecognizable – country. See, for example (a long but, IMHO, not unrelated and worthwhile read) Ingrid Carlqvist’s:

    P.S. Thanks for your invite of a few weeks ago. I haven’t forgotten – although with this comment of mine, you and your colleagues might want to rescind it! – and I am giving it very serious consideration!


  7. Hilary
    Thanks for the comment. I read the (serious and well-documented) article you linked to with interest. The invite’s still on as far as I’m concerned.

    If anyone wants to see the kind of thing that gives free speech a bad name they should scroll through the comments at
    ..anti-semitism, sneers at the Bataclan audience because they weren’t carrying guns, sneers at the “Muslim” President Obama, jokes about nuking Teheran (no-one there seems to realise that Iran is the sworn enemy of ISIS/Daesh) – it’s all there. There are even some comments that got moderated – one wonders why.
    It’s not Anthony Watts’ fault. It’s just one of the hazards of being immensely popular and influential.
    One of the people we approached to join us refused politely on the grounds that blogs had come to the end of their usefulness. You have to wonder sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In that last post Geoff you seem to argue against free speech because people say things you don’t like, free speech is FREE. When you accept free speech you know you are going to see things you do not agree with but you get a great opportunity. If you encourage free speech you find out a lot more about what many people are really thinking and by doing so you get the chance to debate with them ^.^


  9. Ian Woolley (14 Nov 15 at 12:07 pm):
    “For me the question for climate blogs now is whether COP21 will be cancelled.”

    The French press is reporting that the COP21 will be held come what may, citing Foreign Minister Fabius, diplomatic sources, and “the President’s entourage”.
    Parisians aren’t going to like this, nor are the security staff of 80 heads of state, nor thousands of policemen, national guards and recently called-up reservists – tired after two weeks of patrolling and with all leave cancelled just before Christmas.
    But the big question is: how will the world’s voters react to two weeks of Heads of State in Paris declaiming that global warming is the greatest threat facing humanity?


  10. Geoff

    The Heads of State will proclaim that global warming is the greatest threat to the planet, they don’t give a stuff about humanity.


  11. Paris attacks – COP21 and the war on terror
    Oliver Tickell

    14th November 2015

    Is it a coincidence that the terrorist outrage in Paris was committed weeks before COP21, the biggest climate conference since 2009? Perhaps, writes Oliver Tickell. But failure to reach a strong climate agreement now looks more probable. And that’s an outcome that would suit ISIS – which makes $500m a year from oil sales – together with other oil producers.



    and it gets worse.


  12. ANONEUMOUSE (14 Nov 15 at 8:30 pm)
    No, we didn’t cop out. There were things in my post on the COP21 which would have been in horribly bad taste in the circumstances. They were nothing to do with terrorism.

    DUNG (14 Nov 15 at 8:34 pm)
    No, I wasn’t arguing against free speech. There are people who use the threads at WUWT to insult endlessly Obama with idiotic Arab-sounding puns on his name, others who bring their opposition to gun control into every discussion, etc. They’re very very tiresome and they’re the reason I hardly ever comment there. It’s the price Anthony pays for success.
    I’ve just got into an argument with the same kind of people at
    and I don’t want to see the person who accused me of supporting terror to be censored. I want him to see reason.
    I’ve also become buddies with a commenter who regularly insults me on climate threads. They say tragedy brings people together.


  13. I was out all day (singing 16th century multi-choir Venetian music by Andrea Gabrieli). So I was not involved in any discussions, but I completely agree with what Geoff says here. We had a couple of draft posts lined up that would now seem to be in very poor taste. It’s not a question of suppressing free speech or COPing out.
    Normal service will soon be resumed.


  14. Barry Woods

    OliverTickell makes one good point when he says:
    “It’s estimated that ten thousand or more climate activists from around the world may be planning to stay in Paris for the duration of the conference, both to demand a strong and effective agreement, and to develop their own agenda, alliances and plans for climate action… in many a policeman’s world view, there may be no huge difference between murderous terrorists and (generally) peaceful demonstrators anyway. Both are likely to be seen as the ‘enemy’.”

    Well, yes. I’d feel that way too if I’d spent weeks tramping the streets in a bullet-proof vest on the lookout for potential assassins. And then some Welsh psychology lecturer in a green wig comes prancing up the boulevard chanting slogans in a foreign tongue. You wouldn’t take any chances would you?


  15. Leaping on to hideous tragedies that happen to hit the headlines is an easy way to seek attention in order to re-direct it within moments to make some campaigning point. Complaining about any failure to do such leaping is also easy, but both actions reveal something peculiar and unpleasant: inhumane zealotry.

    I think we have a duty of compassion and respect for all those lives wrecked because of the atrocities in Paris, and this involves, at the very least, the courtesy of delaying our own plans to post an article referring to that city and to French political leaders. Geoff’s post was moving and appropriate.


  16. Paul, Barry
    I’d never heard of Andrea Gabrieli. I found a nice Magnificat for 12 voices on Youtube. I wasn’t sure who Oliver Tickell was (except that he was the son of his father). He’s on Youtube too.
    Andrea Gabrieli 7,387 views
    Tickell 510 views.
    Nice to know that the public has its priorities right.


  17. I had a friend who always prefaced a comment with ‘you’ll think I’m stupid but’ and people took her at her own face value despite her undoubted intelligence. The West has developed the English habit of apologising for stuff they haven’t done or couldn’t avoid and don’t really regret. Is it any wonder that the rest of the world accept our assumed guilt over AGW or Middle East crises at face value and then expect us to pay for the damge? We dispense a great deal of aid but instead of expecting gratitude, we assure them that they’re owed, and/or convince them that we’re a land of milk and honey and we’re just giving them the leavings from out table. A lot of the time we prove it not caring that the aid is spent wisely. Who would act like that other than people who have too much?

    From Europe we’ve acquired a tendency to make grand promises that we have no ability or real intention of sticking to. The EU is a temple to pointless schemes and fruitless activities. We can’t solve AGW any more than the problems faced or posed by Muslims and really haven’t the commitment or the resources to do what could be done. Is it any wonder that bitter resentment grows in those who don’t know or care that reality is very different than the media face?

    For both issues we need to evaluate what we want from our societies and how much we’re prepared to pay to keep/improve them. We need to be positive about what is good about today, not fret about yesterday, especially if we have no intention or ability to rectify the problem. The West will not exterminate itself financially or politically or climactically, no matter how likely it seems while they dither. We just need to reach the point where we seriously want to act.


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