Delingpole’s Magical Hold Over The Sceptics

James Snell January 17, 2014 4
Delingpole’s Magical Hold Over The Sceptics

Are Climate Change sceptics a bit too quick to swallow anything Delingpole serves up?

Science denial popped up again in the last couple of weeks. Literarily energetic – but scientifically misguided – Telegraph blogger James Delingpole used his talents at word arranging to pen a piece in the Daily Mail for the first of this month. In it, he relegated the scientific debate about the likely effects of rising global temperatures dramatically, by turning it into an opportunity to stupidly gawp – rather than one with which to actually argue about things.

You see, what happened was that some scientists and whatnot got stuck in some ice, somewhere, and that gives dear old James enough evidence to claim, with absolute authority, that he is not only right but brilliant too – so there!

The problem is (obviously discounting the schoolboy smugness and sub-sixth form debating society logic) that he misrepresents almost everyone who disagrees with him. For Delingpole, if ice continues to exist that proves that ‘Global Warming’ (as he still insists on calling it) cannot be occurring. If he updated his understanding, as well as his terminology, then he might have noticed that climate change does not just consist of drowning polar bears and soggy front gardens.

Instead, it is shorthand for a whole range of changes which are broadly affected by the increased emission of carbon dioxide and comparable gases. Only one of these diverse and worrying consequences includes melting ice caps. Others include a higher frequency of extreme weather events, in the mould of Typhoon Haiyan or Superstorm Sandy – for instance.

I am sadly unable to dispute the veracity of his florid claims, as I hold no qualification in this sort of science – but, then again, neither does he. All I can say with confidence is that Delingpole has successfully authored an article which willingly conflates individual cases and general – not to say global – trends.

His piece also commits a serious error in that he does not take account of the more sophisticated views of climate scientists. He does not debate their professional opinions at all – except the ones he has assigned to them! James Delingpole appearing to win a ‘debate’ on terms set by none other than James Delingpole mustn’t be too hard to orchestrate.

In short, Delingpole takes too much time and space writing about the supposed ‘irony’ of the situation and his favourite bugbears – including the Guardian newspaper and the BBC among others. When it comes to anything important – actual data rather than excessively descriptive triviality – his evidence is rather thin on the ground.

He mentions a couple of statistics which supposedly demonstrate that the ice caps are actually growing. Regardless of whether they are true or not, two arbitrarily selected pieces of data does not a pattern make. At best it is an interesting quirk – nothing more. Those readers who were hoping for some substantial points to combat the creeping tendrils of the ‘green lobby’ had better look elsewhere.

Even the UN, who are normally non-confrontational wimps, have come out on the side of those who accept that climate change is occurring – and, this is vital, that it is worth stopping. If an organisation which goes to great lengths to take no sides and to accomplish nothing can be this decisive, one can only assume that this is the case for a damn good reason.

With such a mass of evidence suggesting that, yes, climate change is occurring and, yes, it is largely down to the actions of humanity – it seems only sensible to own up to the fact and actually do something about it. After all, even if one was somehow unconvinced by the proof of our species’ involvement, doesn’t it seem prudent to embark upon programmes, policies and initiatives which might give us a fighting chance of stopping the possible catastrophe? To do (or indeed to think) anything else reeks of irresponsibility in the face of a potentially grave crisis.

There is great irony in those who chose not to ‘believe’ the near-consensus of man-made climate change. They have taken it upon themselves to self-style as ‘sceptics’, and that, for me, is a profound degradation of the term. Scepticism used to mean a reliance on the scientific principle of empiricism to challenge unsubstantiated claims – often of a supernatural nature. Nowadays, it appears, all one needs to claim such a moniker is to publicly doubt something – anything – regardless of how universally accepted it is in the same scientific circles.

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