The final countdown, the title somberly states.
So begins the “100 months to save the world” series in The Guardian, penned by Andrew Simms exactly 100 months and two days ago. Ostensibly the purpose of the series was to chronicle our doom over the ensuing 100 months whilst uselessly flailing about with ridiculous policy suggestions as to how to dodge the bullet at the end.
In this very first piece, his understanding and articulation of “the problem” is curiously very child-like. Or perhaps he regards his readers as simple-minded children. It is difficult to tell. When explaining why we should be clutching one another in abject terror of imminent irreversible Thermageddon in just 100 months he makes the following curious statement:
‘Faced with circumstances that clearly threaten human civilisation, scientists at least have the sense of humour to term what drives this process as “positive feedback”.’
Sense of humour? Andrew, ‘positive feedback’ is a technical term used across a multitude of disciplines and the clear absence of any obvious strong positive feedback to human produced CO2 in the climate system is the very backbone of most sceptical objections to the hysterical catastrophism you’re trying to sell. It is also a term completely separable from the ethical and practical consequences in whatever domain it is used. You, however, bizarrely and cluelessly liken it to “accidental humour” and needlessly inform the reader that by “positive”, climate scientists actually mean “negative” in this context. I think even Brad would struggle to parody this.
Speaking of selling: it just so happened that not long past the halfway point in the “100 months” (coincidence, I’m sure), Simms had a book to flog—Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity—in which “Simms shows how such end of the world scenarios [global warming and financial meltdown] offer us the chance for a new beginning,” according to the accompanying blurb. If it’s just the same to you, Andrew, I think the only thing I’ll be saving as a result of your book is my wallet. And given your apparently sub-primary-school understanding of the rôle of positive feedbacks in this entire debate I suspect most readers will come out dumber than they went in after reading it. Caveat Emptor.
Simms also set up a website with a dramatic looking countdown which has not only counted down to zero and neglected to self-destruct but now appears to have gone hilariously wrong, with part of the countdown now showing -94 days.
Now, did our protagonist do the honourable thing, put his hands up and say “sorry folks, I got it wrong”? No, of course not. Just like the famous UFO cults studied by psychologists when their appointed day for mass abduction comes and goes without incident, he carries on as if nothing has changed.
Yes, the “-1 Months and counting to save the world” has an entry as recently as 24th November. What does it say? Well—and I’m sure this won’t surprise most of you—apparently we need a “new climate change story.” And why is that, Andrew?
He explains that the paragons of rationality (including himself of course, natch) have failed. With absolutely no self-awareness apparent whatsoever, he opines:
“The presentation of evidence, sober argument and the appeal to reason is deeply engrained in the culture of campaigning for progressive change. Other approaches tend to leave advocates feeling insecure, suspicious or lacking confidence.”
“100 months to save the world”? Sober argument? Huh. And he has the chutzpah to also complain about snake-oil salesmen in the same piece.
Simms opened his first piece with the clichéd ‘shouting fire in a crowded theatre’ metaphor. Which is amusing. Because these people never stop shouting fire and yet they never run for the exits. In fact, they continue to sit calmly.
Why is that?