The following remarks, by Prof. Patrick McGorry AO FAA FASSA FRCP FRANZCP, were made at the Hearing Aid climate concert in Melbourne last Saturday. (Dr McGorry was introduced by special guest George Marshall, according to the Australian custom of flying in celebrities from better countries to lend gravitas to an occasion.) Many thanks to Antipodean correspondent Brad Keyes for the transcript.
Thank you George. Dr Marshall’s gracious words remind me of a poem about suppressed and censored peoples.
From coast to coast the cry rang out:
We are silenced; we dare not speak out!
This breathtaking couplet captures the plight of the average climate advocate in today’s anti-climate atmosphere so poignantly, I think, that it’s hard to believe it was penned by one Leslie Fiedler, a philosopher of the 1950s.
Ironically, Fiedler was a notorious opponent of communism, so he must be spinning in his grave to be quoted at a concert for climate action! [Pause for laughter.]
But—just as we revere the music of Wagner above all others—surely we’re allowed to appreciate the lyricism of a writer whose personal views we find abhorrent.
Anyway, today is all about global-warming silence.
I’ve always said the tragedy of climate change is that nobody ever mentions it in any medium.
Sadly, the problem (of reticence, not of global warming itself!) starts with the very people we call simply The Scientists.
For various interesting reasons which are far too interesting to go into here, the climate-academic community has never really embraced the limelight as readily as their less talented, but more telegenic, colleagues in such “feel good” areas as bowel-cancer and diabetes research. As a result, climatology has completely missed out on the massive funding bonanza from which the other, “sexier” sciences have benefited in recent decades.
Aliens will one day look back on the last years of our civilization and shake their pumpkin-sized heads in sadness to think of our societal priorities, which (if you’ll excuse my French) are completely fucked up jusqu’à en être.
Even as the Earth’s seas “literally boil” in the words of one respected oceanographer, what do we do?
We squander research grants and celebrity endorsements and intellectual capital on purely theoretical dangers like Alzheimer’s, a disease which—as its shrillest proponents are forced to admit!—they can’t even guarantee will affect any specific member of the community, and even if it does, may or may not be a causative factor in their death.
Yes, you heard right: there’s a very real chance that you might never die of dementia.
Of course, it’s not in the interests of the pharmaceutical cartels, carers’ groups or a whole phalanx of “charities” for you to know this—we don’t call it a victimhood industry for nothing!—but it’s true. Take a look beyond the panic and the hype—look at the statistics behind the panic and the hype, and you’ll be appalled by the facts about Alzheimer’s.
For example, did you know that the closest the average Australian will come to experiencing it is having to nurse a dying, confused relative through their final years of suffering and terror? Of course not. And you’d never guess from the hysteria with which we’ve been taught to agonize over the academic possibility of losing our own marbles, would you?
We truly do live in a culture of fear.
Yet whether you’re a mathematical biologist or a climate psychiatrist like me, just try asking for a few bucks to study the devastating impacts of climate change on your field.
You’re likely to be met with blank stares and furrowed brows. “Global whatting? Whattal warming?”
Unless and until “climate change” becomes a household phrase in English, what hope do we have, as a species, of responding in time to save our children’s lives? Slim to Buckley’s.
That’s why I’ve always supported the work of people like George Marshall, a leader in the field of getting us—the people—to talk about the dangers of not talking about our culture of climate silence.
Just the other week, in my beloved home town [pause for cheers], I had the honor of cutting the ribbon on a multimillion-dollar Centre of Excellence for the understanding of popular indifference and governmental neglect around the global-warming issue.
MICIR, the Melbourne Institute for Climate Ignorance Research, has a simple mission: to make Australia a world leader, or at least a world player, in tackling a threat which threatens all of us, particularly those too small and cute to defend themselves—our children, and their children before them.
So I want to thank everyone who’s made these historic Hearing Aid concerts so successful. But you didn’t come here to hear me, no pun intended, did you? Without further ado, let me vacate the stage for my close personal acquaintance “Chris Martin,” the eco-friendly ‘rockstar of rock,’ and his amazing band “Cosplay.” Enjoy, and don’t forget to give generously.
Together, we can broach the topic of climate change.◼︎
Pat McGorry is a world-respected, highly-paid professor whose mental health and other achievements were recognized in 2010 by the award of Australian of the Year.
UPDATE: In the comments section of Dr George Marshall’s climate-silence blog, un certain agent provocateur based—where else?—in France and named—what else?—Geoff Chambers has the bad manners to sow doubts as to Lord Marshall’s basic numeracy. Darrell Harb informs us that he tried to come to the academic’s aid by neutralizing the agitator, but that Distinguished Professor Marshall was too embarrassed by the praise implicit in his comment to allow it to be published. It is therefore our duty to reproduce it here.
Professor Marshall is a busy climate mathematician who teaches and carries out groundbreaking research in climate arithmetic with a special focus on the plus operator. He isn’t giving you the climate-silent treatment as you so poisonously insinuate, it just sounds that way to you—a phenomenon the British academic Jonathan Rowson has dubbed “stealth silence.”
I fully understand the temptation not to have a substantial conversation with Mr Chambers, a notorious silence denier and something of a rockstar to the anti-silence crowd—indeed, on 24 percent of occasions, I myself have Frequently or Very Frequently avoided substantial conversation with him. However, call me a conspiracy ideator if you will, but I have these intrusive paranoid thoughts that it may be a strategic mistake on your part. Denialists and other opponents of climate silence are already sharpening their knives and drafting sarcastic headlines attacking you as a Leading Silentist [who is] Strangely Silent When Asked Awkward Questions.
You and I know that’s a lie, but that won’t matter—in the end, the climate debate isn’t about the silence; it’s a PR war.
As we speak, they’re drooling at the thought of misrepresenting your (understandable) refusal to respond as some sort of silence. You can actually hear their saliva glands pumping if you listen real hard on a silent night.
That would be a shame, for we would lose a leading voice in what American academic Michael E. Mann pithily dubs ‘the Silence Wars.’