Climate change: sceptics, deniers and conspiracy theorists

An observation

Why is it that the climate-change sceptics, deniers and conspiracy theorists are so keen to question, critique and/or dismiss the "theory" of climate change BUT don't ever seem to have a problem with the theory of gravity? Or relativity? Or -- dare I say it -- evolution? Odd, isn't it?

On that note, let me draw your attention to a brilliant blog post on the Telegraph website from the wonderfully named Will Heaven, who begins:

Imagine a Premier League of cranks and conspiracy theorists. Who do you reckon would top it? It's a tough call. I think Holocaust deniers would lift the cup, with 9/11 truthers not far behind. But there's a new lot on the rise, recently promoted from Division One: global warming sceptics. Fuelled by the hype surrounding Climategate, those who believe that climate change has nothing to do with mankind's release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have had a storming week -- led, in case you hadn't noticed, by our very own James Delingpole.

Well, brilliant though he is, Delingpole's about as much of a scientist as he is the captain of the England rugby team.

Read the full post here.

Oh, and here's Hugo Rifkind in the Speccie hilariously dismissing the relevance of the "Climategate" controversy:

So some of them are crooks. It's like giving up on doctors because of Harold Shipman. I appreciate that you lot don't like to be called "climate-change deniers" because of the implied Holocaust equivalence but, melodramatic as it is, the comparison hasn't come from nowhere. You are the forces of anti-science, anti-reason and anti-fact. Your natural bedfellows are the 9/11 Truthers -- people who believe that the way to deal with something frightening which they don't understand is to recast it as part of a convoluted fantasy which they do. Go back a few hundred years, and it's people like you who would have cried "witch" and run for the kindling when the village crone predicted that bad things might happen if you shagged your sister.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood