The Second Day of Thunberg
Four nights ago, their time, Americans sat enthralled by a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing that’s just about to start (my time).
The daily virus conference is the highlight of my existence of late; it’s one tradition I hope carries on long after COVID-19 is eradicated. Like any serious “Faucista” I always self-isolate to avoid exposure to the kind of spoilers currently spreading like Spanish flu across Portugal and other nations where Thursday’s press conference is already finished (their time).
Besides, as my gammy always said, “it’s breaking news until you hear about it in your non-accelerating inertial reference frame.”
As a raging solipsist, Gammy would have loved web video. (She just lived long enough to permit technologies like MP4 and QuickTime to be invented, but died before she could experience the joy of making the tiny people in her monitor strut and fret their hour upon the stage at the click of a button.) I find me bethinking myself of her as I sip my Horlicks and start the video.
Bill Bryan, Department of Homeland Security, is up first. He will be ably assisted later by the President himself.
(Yesterday a thoughtless co-worker let slip, inter alia, something along the lines of Trump having “injected humungous amounts of light into the [whole coronavirus] topic.” Fortunately, however, she was mumbling into a mask, so this whole water-cooler meta-briefing was as unintelligible as it was unwanted.)
Bryan is just getting warmed up, but he’s already shown Americans a graphic so game-changing it demands immediate livebloguery:
Like all scientific advice, this is based closely on evidence discovered in a table.
Make no mistake: the public-health benefits of a few degrees’ warming represent devastating news for the climate movement, making it much harder to pretend they’re anti-death when they agitate for a cooler atmosphere. (For medical researchers and practitioners, meanwhile, who actually are anti-death—and have historically been some of the staunchest critics of viruses and other diseases—it’s not really news at all.)
Establishing a correlation in the public mind between the pandemic’s severity and global temperatures has been a wet dream for activists ever since plague masks and mobile morgues first became fixtures of contemporary life, sometime in March this year. But if the correlation is a negative one, then it’s starting to look less like a holy grail than a poisoned chalice.
And so it begins. Again. The climate community will have to do everything in its power to change the subject, confuse the public and cloud yet another bolus of science. These chores have become so second-nature, so automated, that the average believalist—is there another kind?—can now fight several facts at a time without even glancing at his dog-eared playbook, Oreskes & Conway (2010).
But the truth—like Microsoft Office Suite 2018 for Mac, or the heaving qualifications of an intern in Return to Almora—longs to be free. No prison made of wire, or lace, or Cuportiv microcotton can hold it. Spring for the extra 32GB of memory fabric if you like; it shall not avail you. Those puppies will out.
It’s a joy to see the facts already going bacterial on the Internet. It’s all the sweeter because our opponents can barely hide their malthusiasm about the implications.
Let’s take a random or, as they say in science, scientific biopsy of the buzz buzzing around GlobalWarmingSavesLivesGate.
It is of course Twitter, the wet market of the debatosphere, where the outbreak has its nest.
This wisecrack was the first to reference the explosive finding:
Within minutes it had attracted tens of eyeballs, and is currently on track for its second Like in as many hours.
Before you could say Greta Toynboyalé the news had even crossed over the new-old mediaphragm. On Web 1.0, the website WattsUpWithThat—the most popular and hated blog in the climate space—was covering a ‘Plan by UK & German Governments to Turn Covid-19 into a Climate Action Opportunity.’ Far below the line where the untrained eye might be forgiven for missing it, this comment punctuates the irrelevantia:
I foresee a minor hitch in this agenda: it’s predicated on fulminant science-denihilism, like most ideas that pop into the skulls of our opponents.
You can fight global warming, or you can fight SARS-CoV-2 particles, but you can’t do both.
I tried to get this dead-simple grade-school fact through to Bob Ward—the glabrous guard-poodle of the politics of misanthropy—with all the success you’d expect. The Belligerent Ignorance is strong with the anti-science crowd.
The comment closes with a link. Contact tracing takes us back to the New World, where a futile Tweet to Ward confirms that the meme has high social-to-legacy-to-social transmissibility—if not Earth-to-idiot communicability.
And by now independent mentions were also popping up on the platform. In a case of Six Degrees of Percolation, the finding had bubbled literally all the way up to the attention of Naomi Oreskes. (This high-ranking climate macher is also known as “the Adolf Hitler of evil” to her legions of defenders). Oreskes, after twatting one of the lazy partisan attacks she likes to tack on to her climate schtick, was told that, in fact,
It’s not often you see everyone talking about a piece of scientific data, is it?
You’re probably aware of my abhorrence of exaggeration, an abhorrence which, in my analysis, is one of the principal components in the longevity and credibility I’ve earned as a commentator on the frontline of the Climate Wars. So you know I’m telling the truth, or at least mine, when I say that when the DHS prescribes warming of the entire world (inside plus outside) as a public health measure, it’s a turning-point with the potential to out-kick the ass of the First Day of Thunberg.
I refer, of course, to the kick-assest moment of last year: those 240 deathless seconds when a virgin saint stood before the flower of the classe climatique and m*therfucked them in the face with their own phoniness, greed and indifference to sentient suffering. It could hardly have happened to a more deserving audience. (A friend of a friend in ASIO has assured me “some real nasty customers—30 or 35 of the evilest believalists conceivable” were in attendance that day.)
How dare you, demanded Greta Beata, Virgo Gloriana, and it was glorious because they had no explanation, and they knew it, and we knew it, and as the awkward glory dragged on you could actually see on the face of the simple peasant girl that she too was starting to realize she’d just asked a question nobody in that room could ever answer without first answering the Problem of Evil.
She had the reasons all wrong, of course, but she was seconds away from drawing the right conlusion about the inhuman sea of sub-scum lolling greasily at her feet.
And then, as soon as it began, the glory died. It was a glorified rat—a squirrel of the Look! A Squirrel! family (sciurus obscurans)—that deglorified the world again.
During her transfiguration that day, at that lectern in New York City, the child had held her audience captive, pinning them in the crosshairs of a velociraptor glare. Needless to say, this wasn’t what the climate cacarchy had bargained on. Something had gone very wrong. Had they really raised this bitch-child up from nothing, only to have their favor repaid in thinly-veiled accusations of genocidal depravity?
It must have felt like four hours to those fat frauds, as they squirmed and sweated in their chairs like undocumenteds at a police station.
Only one thing could save them at that point. A diversion. If only they had an excuse, any excuse, to switch narratives, that would do the trick. The media would know exactly what to do then, and would be glad to do it—it’s not as if they had any great desire to answer Greta’s question either.
No left-wing newspaper editor in America (but I repeat myself) savored the prospect of running an Explainer column the next day, telling their readers in five to 10 paras ‘How They Dare.’ The moderatorial staff at Quora was hardly looking forward to a flood of variations on ¿Cómo se atreven? and Where do they get off daring?
And yet, unless something big and shiny moved in the periphery of the public’s vision before the start of the next news cycle, people were going to start asking questions. Or at least one question.
That’s when this—meaning, the broader social phenomenon for which this was metonymous or microcosmic—happened:
Pictured: the unprovoked hate-tweet which drew condemnation from mad-rights advocates, environment reporters and charities that work with mental kids.
At first the significance of Trump’s remarks was almost entirely lost on the non-elect. Large swathes of the world had no idea there was a story here, let alone what the story was.
FOX even promoted the myth that the President had simply said how nice it was to see Greta, describing her as a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. And the tragedy of America’s intellectual stratification today means that when FOX News says something, Midwesterners have no way of knowing different. (And they never will, not until the legitimate media crack the conundrum of how to speak down to their level without being inauthentic. That’s the tricky part: as basic science shows, the less sophisticated someone is, the more instinctive their ‘nose’ for city folk blowing smoke up their asses.)
I have to admit I was sucked in too. In my defense, I’ve lived most of my life in Australia, a nation that never really outgrew the irony-deficient, literalist genes we inherited from Britain. How was I to supposed to tell that Trump, the most American man in America, was just practicing America’s national pastime: biting sarcasm?
In retrospect, of course, it’s obvious. He’s clearly having a bunch of tasteless and heartless yuks at at the expense of a deeply insane young girl. Once you’ve seen through the First Tweet you can’t un-see through it.
Still, I vividly recall the man or woman who was Trump’s Press Secretary that week valiantly trying to paint him as a sort of guileless, stream-of-consciousness blabbermouth who had no idea how touched the teen was in the head when he fired off his mentally-incorrect comments. Nobody—from Miss Thunberg’s own entourage to the IPCC to the Guardian—was having a bar of this excuse, obviously. How gullible did Trump think the climate world was?
I mean, for fuck’s s*ke, wrote someone like George Monbiot, look at the kid: are you really telling me she struck you as compos mentis, Mr President?
What even the most astute reader may not have noticed, however, is that we’re no longer talking about how they dare. A minute ago the climate movement was being torn a new ozone hole by the genetically-dehanced 16-year-old supersoldier who was supposed to be its salvation. It was designer Frankenchickens come home to roost all round. At last, the fear-mongering globalist fuckoffracy was eating its young! Or being eaten thereby!
So what happened? When did we start talking about that time the Denier-in-Chief made fun of a young female of disability whose only crime was to Believe?
I’m not really sure myself—my segue was way too slick for me. But the point is, squirreling works.
Trump’s Tweet—and a small handful of similar gibes (if nowhere near as drolly brilliant) about the precocious mystic and her lifelong struggle with lunacy—were more than excuse enough for the skalds of the storytelling professions to reactivate their lazy, old, familiar, comforting schema: Deniers and Their War on Kids.
Even Thunberg’s own message was retconned to match this new/old narrative frame.
Greta has never been at war with the Climate Hypocritocracy.
Greta has always been at war with Skeptics.
I once tried to locate anything nasty the Swedeling had said about Our Side. I couldn’t. But that hardly matters any more. She’s in the Schema now, so she might as well hate us, because nobody will ever believe she doesn’t. Thunberg’s admirable, if not astonishing, ability to get through four continuous minutes of climate dysangelism without once blaming skeptics for any of the world’s ills (real or hallucinated) was tracelessly effaced from most of the media’s memory—not overnight, but before the sun had even gone down on the First Day of Thunberg.
And that’s how the bastards slipped the noose they’d fashioned for their own atlanto-axial joints: we helped them. Just when they were desperate for a distraction we heard their prayers, and that’s how they snatched retreat from the jaws of defeat.
They’ll never be able to answer Greta’s question, of course, and they’ll never have to—it exists only as a GIF now. And 50 kronor says not one monger in a hundred of said meme can tell me its meaning any more.
How dare who?
How dare they what?
I doubt the LOL-lard armies of 4chan even know her name.
But the time for dwelling on past glories is over. All my body is still a-tingle with the after-glory of tonight’s warmth-versus-virus slides.
I’m almost at the halfway mark in the video, and nothing else has happened to blow a glory-hole in the back of my skull, not like those two graphics. And that’s OK—once you’ve scored a hit as palpable as that, there’s no glory in trying to top yourself. The first Rule of Effectiveness is don’t steal your own Thunberg.
Oh, OK, the President is on in a minute. This is just terrific, tremendous news. If anyone knows the hard way not to blow the perfect moment with careless talk, it’s Donald Trump. As long as the leader of the Free World (or whatever it’s called in the Age of House Arrest) can get through ten or 15 minutes of questions from the press corps without embarrassment, we’re home free.
They’ll never be able to bury tonight’s real news.
So get up, inject that light or hope or change or whatever into the national COVID19 conversation, and get out, Mr President, for the love of God.
I can’t watch. ■
UPDATE: Apparently not everyone is taking the same message away from this conference as ‘ClimateNuremberg.’ Overheard at WUWT itself was this, er, novel take on the findings:
Even the mildest global warming scenario is expected to significantly raise the extinction risk for SARS-CoV-2; the White House itself (hardly a bastion of “warmism”) admits this!
Last week—his time—Bill Bryan of the DHS publicly confirmed fears that a rise in environmental (“indoor and outdoor”) temperatures would violate the virus’ right to a stable climate—a right it enjoys as a living, reproducing thing under international treaty. Even the average WUWT reader, who thinks mankind has a sort of custodial duty to the world’s biota ever since we were deputized by our invisible space-daddy or whatever, should be able to grasp the theological implications of the graphic below.
If this doesn’t convince you of the need for an urgent downward correction in global temperature, I’ll condescendingly repeat myself until it does:
Sure, maybe SARS-CoV-2 isn’t the most charismatic mascot in the battle for diversity and equity in our biosphere.
But science is about looking past the superficial, seeing what’s underneath the capsid. Homo sapiens sapiens has been encroaching on the habitat of viruses just like this since prehistoric times, if not earlier, displacing and decimating them with the smallpox-tainted blankets of our destructive genius. Yet science is also about faith, and my faith says it’s never too late to mitigate. We just need to find the courage to dial the global thermostat slightly to the left.
Or do you want to look your kids’ kids’ kids in the eye and explain why kids soon aren’t going to know what COVID-19 is?