Damien Hirst, Grayson Perry, James Delingpole: all winners of major art prizes. I was awarded mine last week by Anglia Ruskin University (formerly Anglia Polytechnic) which I think is a bit like Cambridge (it’s in the same town), though bizarrely its excellence has yet to filter through to the official UK uni rankings, where it’s rated 115th out of a list of 123.
Anyway, the point is, I won. Sort of. I ‘won’ this extremely important prize in the way that Michael Mann, the shifty climate scientist, has been known to claim he ‘won’ the Nobel prize when it was awarded to the IPCC. That is, the prize wasn’t handed to me personally but I did play my part.
What happened was this. Anglia Ruskin staged a ‘Sustainable Art’ competition and the winning entry was a 6ft high mock stone slab (made out of plywood) engraved with the names of six notorious ‘climate deniers’ including me, Christopher Booker and Lord Lawson, no less.
It’s a handsome piece of art, clever too because in ingenious installation-y style a continual stream of symbolic engine oil cascades down the face of the slab, which bears the legend ‘Lest we forget those who denied.’ But I think what probably clinched it wasn’t the design or the technical skill but the impeccable correctness of its politics.
The piece’s creator, a third-year fine art student called Ian Wolter, clearly knows how to please a sustainability prize judging panel. He declared: ‘With this work I envisage a time when the deliberate denial of climate change will be seen as a crime because it hinders progress towards a low-carbon future.’
So young, so certain. I wonder what deep background research led him to form this considered view. Actually, no I don’t, because it’s obvious. He’ll have got it from his science and geography teachers at school; from BBC nature documentaries and news reports; from comedians like Dara Ó Briain and Marcus Brigstocke; from celebrity mathematician Simon Singh, whispery-voiced gorilla-hugger David Attenborough and pouty-mouthed astronomer Brian Cox; from every other article in the Guardian; from the Science Museum in London; from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth; from his fellow students and university professors; from the ‘97 per cent’ of scientists who, so legend has it, say the science on global warming is settled… .
Never once, in all likelihood, will young Ian ever in his entire life have been put in a position where he has been given intellectual permission even to consider the possibility that the sceptics might have a point. Like a member of the Hitler Youth who knows that Jews are bad because, well everyone knows they are, Ian can scarcely be blamed for thinking as he does. He’s just another helpless stooge of the prevailing culture.
‘Ah but things will change,’ I expect many of you breezily imagine. ‘Sooner or later, we’ll come up with the killer piece of evidence that decides the issue either way. And then we’ll all know exactly where we are and what to do.’
But this isn’t going to happen. The reason I know it’s not going to happen is that that killer evidence is already in, lots of it in fact. We know for certain that despite almost all the computer models’ predictions there has been no global warming for more than 18 years; we know — this is currently the subject of a major investigation by the Global Warming Policy Foundation — that the raw data has been so heavily tampered with that all those ‘hottest year ever’ claims are utterly bogus; we know that ocean acidification is just another myth, that the ‘97 per cent’ figure is a fraud, that all the predictions about species extinction, resource depletion and other green fantasies have been wildly exaggerated.
Yet the green caravan trundles on regardless. I saw this in Rome last week, where I’d gone to cover a visit by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who had come to the Vatican to persuade the Pope that he should join the war on ‘climate change’. A rival conference had been staged by a delegation from the free-market think-tank the Heartland Institute, which wanted to make the counter-argument: that catastrophic man-made global warming theory is unsupported by real-world evidence; that the measures being taken to deal with it, far from helping the world’s poor, are immiserating and impoverishing them still further.
The contrast between the two events could scarcely have been greater. At the Vatican, a hefty international press contingent religiously noted down every word, even though nothing of any interest was said — just the usual pieties about ‘sustainability’ and the urgency of the crisis and the needs of ‘future generations’.
At the Heartland event, on the other hand, a series of fascinating, erudite mini-lectures was delivered by a team including a meteorologist, a physicist, an ex-Nasa man who’d helped devise the landing gear for the Apollo project, and a theologian. But it was all utterly wasted on those few journalists who’d bothered to turn up. They weren’t going to allow a few inconvenient facts to get in the way of the real story: ‘Koch–funded cranks roll in to Rome to try to stop His Holiness saving the world.’
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