James Delingpole

Climate wars: I’m being attacked by my own side. Why?

13 April 2013

9:00 AM

13 April 2013

9:00 AM

There’s nothing more irritating then being asked to apologise for something you haven’t done. No, wait, there is: when the person demanding the apology is one of the friends you admire most in the world — and when the alleged victim of your non-existent crime is one of the people you most despise.

The friend’s name is Anthony Watts, meteorologist and fellow happy warrior in the great global battle against climate change nonsense. He runs the world’s most widely read climate sceptic website, Watts Up With That?, which got to the Climategate story before I did. Recently, we were both winners in the 2013 Bloggies Awards: he deservedly won best science blog (for the third year running); I was named best political blogger.

What was significant about this year’s Bloggies — voted for by readers all over the world — was the large number of categories won by notorious climate sceptics. Besides Wattsy and me, prizes went to Small Dead Animals and Australian Climate Madness, while runners-up included ClimateAudit, JoNova and Tallbloke’s Talkshop.

This was originally going to be the subject of this week’s column. The Bloggies do not have a notable right-wing or sceptical bias (my category, for example, has been won three times by the left-wing Huffington Post). So it’s surely a sign of just how rapidly the cultural ground is shifting. Even the once ardently warmist Economist has noticed: the other week it got as close as it could to writing a grovelling retraction on AGW without actually admitting to having ever been wrong.


The subject I’m going to write about instead is far more important than that. It concerns what I call the Left-Liberal War On Metaphor. Before I go into more detail, though, let me describe what Watts thinks I did wrong. It began with a comment piece I wrote in the Australian, which concluded: ‘The climate alarmist industry has some very tough questions to answer: preferably in the defendant’s dock in a court of law, before a judge wearing a black cap.’

Next day I was surprised to see this rhetorical flourish being imaginatively interpreted on the internet by a green activist blogger as a ‘call for climate alarmists’ to face the ‘death sentence’. Clearly, from both phrase and context, this is not what I said or meant. Yes, it’s absolutely true I believe the corrupt, mendacious and destructive climate alarmist industry deserves bringing to a swift end. But I chose my words with care: you cannot put a rope round a dodgy computer model, or a £13.7 million research grant for the UEA or an hysterically misleading BBC nature documentary about vanishing polar bears. You cannot hang an industry.

So much is obvious — or should be to anyone with an even halfway functional understanding of English usage. Yet, of course, that didn’t stop one or two more desperate climate activists from trying wilfully to distort my blameless phrase for political effect. Among those now crying wolf was none other than Michael Mann, the American climate scientist responsible for the infamous Hockey Stick. He began tweeting that I had called for his ‘murder’ and demanded that I should be sacked from my Telegraph blog.

Do you see what’s going on here? I certainly could, because it’s a battle I’ve been fighting for quite some time: the way whenever the liberal-left comes up against an argument it can’t counter with facts, it plays the offence-taking game. You saw it just the other day when the Labour party feigned umbrage at the alleged insensitivity of Osborne’s and later Cameron’s remarks on Mick Philpott and welfare dependency. It’s a crude tactic but often a highly effective one. Rather than engage in a debate you can’t win, you instead close down the argument by calling into question your opponent’s moral integrity.

This was just what Mann was doing here. He was trying it on with his faux-offence-taking and crocodile tears. And he shouldn’t have been allowed to get away with this rhetorical cheat any more than he was allowed to get away with his risibly inept Hockey Stick. The facts simply didn’t support it: not at any stage had anyone called for his ‘murder’, judicial or otherwise.

I pointed all this out on a follow-up blog post. Should climate alarmists such as Michael Mann, Tim Flannery and George Monbiot face execution for the damage their foolish prognostications of doom have caused, I began by asking rhetorically. My answer was a very clearly stated ‘No’. Sure I could see the case for some kind of ‘Climate Nuremberg’ — but only, I stressed, a ‘metaphorical’ one. This, I explained, is because a) I’m against the death sentence, b) I’m not an extreme authoritarian, and c) I don’t want these charlatans dead — I want them alive, being daily reminded how utterly wrong they’ve been proved about everything they predicted.

Crystal-clear stuff, I’d say. But apparently not pellucid enough for my friend Anthony Watts, who issued a lofty encyclical on his widely read blog condemning me for ‘pouring gasoline on the fire’ of the climate debate by using ‘ugly commentary’ and demanding I ‘fix it and apologise’.

Sorry, Anthony mate, but if anyone needs to apologise here it’s you. I have far too much respect for you to call you a ‘useful idiot’. You are, rather, what Von Mises called a ‘useful innocent’. Not only have you needlessly conceded territory to a ruthless, implacable and dishonest enemy but you have unwittingly betrayed those virtues — courage, open-mindedness and intellectual rigour — which have made Watts Up With That so justly successful. When you’ve studied Areopagitica and Swift’s A Modest Proposal, when you’ve read up on Gramsci, the ‘Big Lie’ in Mein Kampf and Agenda 21, then get back to me. Till then, don’t presume to lecture me about the proper use of metaphor in the culture wars any more than I’d presume to lecture you on the correct siting of weather stations.

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Show comments
  • fearless__fred

    Ouch! When I read the blog post in question, I have to say that it looked like an obvious trap for ‘cherry pickers’. It’s message was crystal clear if you read the whole thing properly. As sure as night follows day, Mann et al (not known for reading ‘the whole thing properly’) ‘figuratively’ got their ‘metaphoric’ legs cut to the bone in JD’s ‘metaphoric’ gin trap. Shame that Watty seems to have become some sort of collateral victim.

  • http://twitter.com/BarryJWoods Barry Woods

    Strange I can’t find a link to Watts’ article…. how remiss, how Mannian of James…

    some extracts:



    “To be fair to Dr. Mann, Delingpole was asking for it with the way he wrote his piece, and for the record I think Delingpole made a huge mistake in taking on the subject. I would be rightfully upset too if I was named the way Delingpole did it. Even if it was intended as satire, it was like pouring gasoline on a fire, besides being ugly commentary we don’t needon either side.”

    So, clearly there’s similar Nuremberg style ugliness on both sides to go around. Except we don’t see outrage from Mann, Romm and others over it when it is directed at skeptics it seems.

    My point is, no matter who says it, in whatever context, it will turn into a shouting match no matter how many qualifiers or caveats you attach to it, and we simply don’t need it, because all it does is polarize the tribal nature of the climate debate even further.

    • http://twitter.com/JamesDelingpole James Delingpole

      You ought be aware, Barry, before you make your cheap shot observations that I have no control over links in the online Spectator.

      • http://twitter.com/BarryJWoods Barry Woods

        Why not quote why Watts think you wrong..

        just adding fuel to the fire, no matter how clever how nuanced you feel it is. Anthony clearly ‘gets’ what you are doing with your articles. But clearly thinks them a mistake.

        So your whole article, is not about apologizing for something you haven’t done..

        what you have done was well understood, and found wanting.

        • http://twitter.com/BarryJWoods Barry Woods

          Anthony Watts:

          “To be fair to Dr. Mann, Delingpole was asking for it with the way he wrote his piece, and for the record I think Delingpole made a huge mistake in taking on the subject. I would be rightfully upset too if I was named the way Delingpole did it. Even if it was intended as satire, it was like pouring gasoline on a fire, besides being ugly commentary we don’t needon either side.

          To be fair to Delingpole, here’s the part that those that are outraged aren’t talking about:”


          Watts finishes with:

          “So, clearly there’s similar Nuremberg style ugliness on both sides to go around. Except we don’t see outrage from Mann, Romm and others over it when it is directed at skeptics it seems.

          My point is, no matter who says it, in whatever context, it will turn into a shouting match no matter how many qualifiers or caveats you attach to it, and we simply don’t need it, because all it does is polarize the tribal nature of the climate debate even further.

          To Delingpole, take a cue from Dave Roberts at Grist: fix it and apologize. To Mann, Romm, and others, clean up your own house before taking your outrage further.” – A Watts

          the apology requested, was for polarizing the debate.

          • Goodgulf_the_Grey

            Bary Woods, Barry Woods, Barry Woods. Three posts in six minutes. Can you not organise your thoughts before you press ‘Post’, Barry?

            “the [sic] apology requested, [sic] was for polarizing the debate.” Remind me, Barry: which side polarized the debate by calling for Nuremberg-style trials for the other side? And which side has never called for Nuremberg-style trials for the other side, including in James’ Delingpole’s piece?

      • http://twitter.com/BarryJWoods Barry Woods

        you started the cheap shots on twitter James, then blocked when I ‘dared’ criticize you back..

        • global city

          and while this little three way girly fight goes on the AGW mob are regrouping their army of little f**kwits for the next attack on society. Stop it now!

  • http://twitter.com/rogtallbloke Rog Tallbloke

    The storm in my teacup made my karma runneth over Mann’s lazy dogma. Furthermore a stitch in time saves the fox jumping over moon with a mad cow. Or something.

  • Justin Boston

    As much as I enjoy Watts’ website, he’s gotten a little too big for his britches in the last year or so. Watts relies on his popularity and equates that with authority. Romm does the same thing. The only people benefiting from this are Romm, Mann, and their compadres, as they giggle at us from the sidelines.

    • http://fauxscienceslayer.com/ Joseph A Olson

      Exactly…this is a three-sided, lob-sided fake debate. We have the overt force of the FALSE government-funded BIG Warmists, the partially government funded LUKE Warmists and the unfunded NO Warmists. Watts ruthlessly demeans the supports of traditional Thermodynamics presented at Principia Scientific International, by the authors of “Slaying the Sky Dragon” and belittles those who show that there is NO back-radiation warming.

      I was forbidden to mention my website “FauxScienceSlayer.com” or use the words “Slayer” or “Principia”….hardly objective discussion guidelines. I made a minor error in the comment section on an inappropriate Watts experiment. My Mea Culpa is interesting analysis of some bloggies errors.

  • http://twitter.com/whatmenaresayin Christian J.

    I thought that court case was a fantastic idea and did not derive from that article anything as hysterical as Mann would automatically do. One would well know that Mann has no leg to stand on and could not possibly justify his shonky “Hockey Shtick” as we all know. The article worked for me and I was amazed when Anthony drew that conclusion. I just could not see it. Keep up the good work James, ignore the fodder.

    • TimeForRespect

      agree – any challenge in a court by Mann would require his raw data to be presented as evidence and open for scientific scrutiny, something Mann has been very reluctant to do because of course, the ruling would, on the balance of probabilities be a death sentence to the Mann’s schtick.

  • TimeForRespect

    Climate shenanigans encompass a range of areas of ‘expertise’ – not just the so-called ‘hard sciences’. The dubious ‘scientific’ arguments for man-made global warming have been effectively challenged by those skilled in matters ending with ‘eology’ and ‘ics’. However, this challenge alone has proven generally insufficient to identify and address the perpetuation of the myth in a form readily understood by those uneducated in ‘hard science’. It is at this point that ‘authorities’ from the other sciences come into play, those skilled and qualified in identification and rigorous evaluation
    of domestic and international socio-political-economic motivations, impacts,
    methods of communication and fields of influence of those religiously devoted to the perpetuation of the faith based man-made warming myth in the face of all contrary ‘hard scientific’ evidence. With all respect to Watts, to use ‘authority’ to undermine and chastise the ‘authority’ of those in other fields seems rather presumptuous if not ‘naff’.

  • napiersabre

    James I was quite shocked to see what Watts had put on his blog. And he had a lame excuses for switching off comments because he knew he had overstepped the boundary. I seldom visit Watts up With That now as Anthony Watts despite all his good work on surface stations and the temperature record is less open to challenge when it comes to getting down to the nitty gritty of the arguments about the role of CO2 and how trace gases are supposed to be responsible for climate shifts. He also has some wacky ideas about renewable power.

    The reality is the whole Arrhenius theory fails every sanity check when applied to other planets or scenario’s. Nikolov & Zeller of course have had air time on WUWT but the best discussions about their theory are elsewhere.
    All I can say to you is keep doing what you are doing. The more you get under the skin of the likes of Mann the more stupid he looks. Unfortunately Anthony Watts has made himself look stupid and a bit stuffy by jumping in before he had engaged his brain. I guess that is what happens when you are voted the best science blog 3 years in a row. Perhaps the front line in the fight against the climate scam is moving on and WUWT’s role is less important today than it was 5 years ago.

  • CyrilH

    I agree with James Dellingpole. We are in total war with these charlatans. Because of their activism and dodgy science people in Australia are being moved from the homes because the sea might flood them in a couple of decades. Farmers have had their land declared green zones, which means that they can not even clear regrowth, so that the Australian government can crow that they have met their commitments under Kyoto. This effectively prevents them from carrying out any agriculture and so steals the economic value of their property from them. They are having to walk away from farms that have been in their families for generations. This has happened to thousands of Australian farmers and to other farmers across the world. We also now have a Carbon Dioxide tax which is closing down industries and throwing thousands out of work.

    I know that this is now seen as not the right thing to say but My Father suffered permanent damage driving the Japanese out of the then Australian territory of Papua New Guinea to protect the freedoms that are now under attack through the back door by these watermelons. If you wish to go into appeasement mode you will end up in the same position the British were in at Dunkirk but maybe you will not be so lucky with the rescue arrangements as they were.

    These people do need to be held to account and being “nice” to them isn’t doing our cause any good. Warmists Delenda Est! Yes, these people need to be totally destroyed and discredited so that they are unable to ever again get gainful employment and spent the rest of their lives in shame and hopefully living under a bridge somewhere with just a piece of corrugated iron for shelter. To continue with the Cato the elder reference, this is equivalent to salting their fields as the Romans did with Carthage

    • global city

      Yes, but the political scam that is the AGW mania needs to be crushed by incontestable science. Watt knows that. He knows that giving them that tiny piece of ammo has enabled them to question everything else JD has contributed (play the man, not the ball…. it works) and will now be able to use this to deflect debate for months on end and resurrect it every time that JD lobs another fantastic revelation into the debate, which is happening…is it not?

  • AlecM

    The problem is two-fold. Firstly the yanks are taught to be absolutely literal – they do not understand irony. Secondly Wattsy, being a Meteorologist, was taught and believes in fake back radiation, the core of Climate Fakery. Therefore, he is circling the wagons around his discipline.

    • global city

      I remember an expat scouser (it was reported in the Liverpool Echo as a funny story) being threatened with court by a fellow Councillor, somewhere around Bournmouth, because he had shouted at him ‘you’re dead!’ (as in, you’re in trouble you’) The other fellow shit himself, thinking he really meant it and reported him to the police!

  • http://williamsticker.blogspot.com Bill Sticker

    Caption; “Andrew Watts knows the truth about climate change. So why won’t he tell the truth about me?”


    JD, have a quiet word with the speccies sub-eds will you?

  • global city

    It is a bit like Farage and immigration. You are walking a tightrope. You do marvelous stuff and nearly everything that you write about the AGW scam is spot on, but giving the AGW establishment even the smallest piece of ammo can do tremendous harm. Only your tactical sense has been picked up on, not your contribution, so let it go?

  • Russell Seitz

    This is less Orwellian than surreal- Watts ersatz climate science blog , already notorious for excluding climate scientists from commenting has just installed automatic censorship software:


  • http://twitter.com/bbcgoogle Rockin Ron

    What a self piteous whine from the man who is never wrong. JD crossed the line between passion and obsession a long time ago and now his contributions just make me wish I could listen to a wind turbine instead of this faulty windbag!

  • Paul J

    perhaps it’s because you’re a mentally dis-abled conspiracy theorist?