Clive on Climate

Mass Death Dies Hard

Clive James

When you tell people once too often that the missing extra heat is hiding in the ocean, they will switch over to watch Game of Thrones, where the dialogue is less ridiculous and all the threats come true. The proponents of man-made climate catastrophe asked us for so many leaps of faith that they were bound to run out of credibility in the end. Now that they finally seem to be doing so, it could be a good time for those of us who have never been convinced by all those urgent warnings to start warning each other that we might be making a comparably senseless tactical error if we expect the elastic cause of the catastrophists, and all of its exponents, to go away in a hurry…

Read the whole thing.


  1. I had read this yesterday, courtesy of the GWPF. It’s definitely a long read, but every word – and James’ eloquent turns of phrase – is more than worth it.

    It is one of the essays in the latest edition of Climate Change: The Facts. If the other essays in this collection are as lucid and engaging as this one – and the list of contributors, as well as editor Jennifer Marohasy, suggests that they might well be – this book could (finally?!) be the game-changer we’ve been waiting for!


  2. Hilary

    I’d like to agree with you this book (and this essay) could finally be the game-changer we’ve been waiting for, but if you google Clive James’s essay you find hardly an mention outside Australia and New Zealand (one in Italian and one in a Scandinavian language – none from the US or Britain that I could see, despite the fact that Clive James has been one of the most popular journalists in Britain for the past 40+ years. He has a regular spot in the Guardian writing about his imminent death. He says the article has been hard to write,and near the end he mentions Trump’s election during the writing of the final paragraphs. So the article has been unpublished for six months by his own paper. Talk about kicking a man when he’s already got one foot in the grave…


  3. I particularly liked this phrase: “Lord Stern lends the Royal Society the
    honour of his presence. For those of us who regard him as a vocalised stuffed shirt,..”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Geoff. After publishing his Guardian column each and every Saturday (some of which are little gems), there has been nothing from him for more than a month. AFAIK the Guardian has said nothing.


  5. Given the circmstances of its publication and the state of health of the author, it might seem unfair to criticise this article. But I’d like to do so anyway, partly as a tribute to Clive James, whose articles I’ve been reading for forty or fifty years.

    [Explanation for non-Brits:] Clive came to fame writing TV criticism in the Observer, articles in which he dissected Dr Who and Shakespeare with equal intelligence and humour. He was for a certain time the best, funniest journalist in Britain, until one day there were dozens of Clive Jameses, though none as good as the original.

    He’s been writing in the Guardian for a while, most reently about his illness and impending death. The fact that the Guardian has not published this article is disturbing. Did he offer it to his employers? Did they refuse it, and if so, why?

    Clive sems to be glossing over what may be an example of press censorship without equivalent in the West with his analysis of the imminent demise of the printed press. I disagree, for complicated reasons, but since neither of us will be around to see who’s right, it’s not important. What counts is that Clive is one of those writers who will be read by several millions simply because of his name. And he’s been published in print in Australia, and (according to Google) mentioned in New Zealand, Sweden, and Italy, but not in Britain.

    He mentions Booker, Ridley, and Rose, who manage to place sceptical articles in the serious British press. Booker and Ridley are significant figures in British letters, but hardly household names, and Rose is a decent, courageous journalist.
    An article by Clive James would be read by millions and break a taboo. Other humorous writers would reply. Does his contract with the Guardian prevent him from publishing in other UK papers? Suddenly, the details of the contract of an elderly journalist with a dying British journal seem more important than all the scientific papers estimating likely climate sensitivity.

    Clive James says that he wouldn’t have read climate sceptic sites if he hadn’t been hospitalised – a rather disturbing admission. Does that mean that we climate sceptics are always destined to be recruited among society’s disposable members – like tramps from Eastern Europe hired to decontaminate nuclear sites – professors near retirement with nothing to lose, retired grumpies, people with unfashionably rightwing views?

    And why doesn’t he mention who they are? Let’s hope that they include those serious indviduals who supply us footbloggers in the climate wars with our intellectual nourishment: Watts, McIntyre, Nova, Homewood, Montford, (and apologise to many others… )

    Clive James’ analysis starts with a warning to us sceptics that alarmism won’t collapse like a house of cards, yet goes on to mock his (mainly Australian) top alarmists for the cardboard jokers they are.

    Of course, criticising James for not having written the one authoritative sceptical article we need is beside the point he makes. It’s not over until it’s over. And here his little anti-Marxist dig hurts. The nearest equivalent I know of to our own navel-gazing efforts to keep our spirits up is in the numerous memoires of Marxists and Anarchists in the wake of the Stalinist catastophe. Of course, Alarmism is not comparable to Stalinism in its results – yet. Our own Lysenkos won’t kill millions, just hasten the probably inevitable decline of Western civilisation, which in the bigger (Marxist) scheme of things, is not such a big deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Clive James’ article suggests that he’s not really that au fait with the sceptical world. Like some lefty journalist bumbling into the Spanish Civil War, he’s full of good intentions, but alas not well enough informed to pull of the analysis that would change opinions.

    Does he know who Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts are? He doesn’t say. Does he know who Mike Kelly is? The question is more serious, because Kelly wrote the article that Clive James could have writeen back in 2009. It’s here,
    and it’s as funny as anything Clive ever wrote, but it’s completely unknown. It begins:

    Like an Aristophanes satire, like Hamlet, it opens with two slaves, spear-carriers, little people. Footsoldiers of history, two researchers in a corrupt and impoverished mid-90s Russia schlep through the tundra to take core samples from trees at the behest of the bigger fish in far-off East Anglia. Stepan and Rashit don’t even have their own e-mail address and like characters in some absurdist comedy must pass jointly under the name of Tatiana M. Dedkova. Conscientious and obliging, they strike a human note all through this drama. Their talk is of mundane material concerns, the smallness of funds, the expense of helicopters, the scramble for grants. They are the ones who get their hands dirty, and their vicissitudes periodically revived my interest during the slower stretches of the tale, those otherwise devoted to abstruse details of committee work and other longueurs. ‘We also collected many wood samples from living and dead larches of various ages. But we were bited by many thousands of mosquitos especially small ones.’ They are perhaps the only likeable characters on the establishment side, apart from the exasperated and appalled IT man Harry in the separate ‘Harry_read_me’ document, and I cheered up whenever they appeared. ‘Slaves’ is horseshit, and ‘footsoldiers’ insulting, but if scientists are allowed to put a creative spin on facts, I can certainly do so. They are respected scientists: in fact, it emerges, eminent or destined to be eminent. But they talk funny and are at the beck and call of CRU, are financially dependent on them; when the film is made they will be comedy relief, played by Alexei Sayle and the dopey one out of The Fast Show.

    Here’s the point. Clive James had his doubts. And so did Thingy and Wotsit, and they expressed them until George Monbiot told them to shut up, which they did, because it was complicated, and George seemed to have the facts at his fingertips…
    But Mike Kelly did the job that Melanie Phillips and Jeremy Clarkson and Rod Liddle could have done, but Mike Kelly s nothing, and therefore not attackable by George Monbiot…

    Let us now praise completely unknown men…


  7. Geoff, he does take the piss out of Monbiot to an extent that could not be tolerated at the Guardian. He used to write for Standpoint but it doesn’t seem to appear there. The Graun use him for his ageing wisdom articles on Netflix, these days


  8. Be careful about slagging off at the Guardian for possibly not publishing his articles. There is a very real likelihood that he is just too sick to write them. And no other papers have offered him space for his opinion pieces.


  9. I like the essay.
    However it is long past time for skeptics to stop apologizing for not having advanced maths.
    The vast majority of climatevhypevwe read, watch or hear is produced by people who undertaken less study of climate than most skeptics.
    And many skeptics are trained in science and engineering.
    A cook does not have to be a trained microbiologist to smell a rotten piece of meat.


  10. The other news is that Jennifer Marohasy is demonstrating that persistent fact based re views of the data show in plain form that climate science is cooking the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. @CHRISM56
    I won’t spoil to what Clive likens GM, it is worth reading if only for that.
    But I do report the odd looks cast my way when I involuntarily twitched out loud in a rather boring meeting. I choose my seat carefully – my laptop screen cannot be seen by anyone else.
    Also useful for keeping a eye on the test match 🙂


  12. Jeez I just saw that al gore was in London promoting his next get rich strategy. If I had known in advance I would gladly have defecated in front of his hotel door


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