Wow! Finally in my life I get to experience what it’s like to be a rock star and I’m loving every moment. OK, so the drugs are in pretty short supply. As too is the meaningless sex with nubile groupies. But what do I care, the crowd love me and I love them. God bless America! God bless the Heartland Institute’s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change!
You’d think it would be quite dull, a conference of 700 climate sceptics (or ‘realists’, as we prefer to call ourselves) cooped up for two and half days of intense panel sessions (‘Quantifying the Effects of Ocean Acidification on Marine Organisms’; ‘Green Eggs and Scam: the Myth of Green Jobs’; ‘Analysis of the Russian Segment of the HADCRUT3 Database’) and lectures (beginning at 7.30 a.m). But I haven’t had so much fun in years.
First, the hospitality. They know how to look after you, these right-leaning US think tanks — even modest-sized ones like the free-market Heartland Institute, which suffers the misfortune of being largely funded by private donors rather than — contrary to what you’re told by many greens — Big Oil, Big Carbon or Big Totally Evil. Food is good. Booze is plentiful. There is little wimping out — especially not from the strong Aussie delegation including Senator Cory Bernardi and scientists Bob Carter and Ian Plimer.
Second, the people. Here I am, a humble blogger and polemicist with a mere English literature degree, rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s most eminent oceanographers, economists, geologists, physicists, astrophysicists — even a couple of astronauts. I can’t believe it. I am not worthy. But instead of shunning me they’re coming up and shaking me by the hand and thanking me for the modest service I have done for their cause. Our cause.
At my session, I find myself in the ludicrous position of being on a ‘science’ panel with distinguished rocket scientist Fred Singer, Ross McKitrick (the Canadian economist who, with Steve McIntyre, exposed the flaws in the infamous Hockey Stick) and meteorologist Joe D’Aleo (whose research into the siting of weather stations and the Urban Heat Island effect has cast serious doubt on the extent of late-20th-century ‘global warming’). I feel a bit embarrassed by the flipness of the chosen title for my talk, which is: ‘Climategate and the war against ManBearPig.’ (ManBearPig, in case you don’t know, is the mythical beast Al Gore uses to terrify the kids when he comes to give a lecture at South Park Elementary in Matt Stone’s and Trey Parker’s cultish cartoon series.)
The BBC’s Roger Harrabin — one of the Beeb’s army of die-hard Warmists — has noticed too. ‘What’s a know-nothing like Delingpole doing on a science panel?’ he has asked the organisers, as if this simple fact alone is enough to render the entire conference invalid. (Moments later, when I introduce myself, he says he’s quite tempted to punch me because of all the lies and disinformation I put out — though he later apologises and puts it down to jet lag.)
I make this the subject of my speech. What is a non-scientist like me doing here? Simple. I’m here to point out that the Anthropogenic Global Warming scare is not about science and never was. As Climategate proved (but as some of us suspected long before), AGW is the invention of a cabal of activists, all working towards more or less the same ecofascist agenda: Mother Gaia is suffering; it’s mostly our fault; the only way to atone for our sins is to destroy Western industrial civilisation and shackle ourselves with a form of One World government run by ‘experts’ and bureaucrats over whom we have no democratic control. It is a battle against a tyranny every bit as great as we faced in the second world war or the Cold War. All what’s different about this enemy is that instead of jackboots it wears long hair, a warm, caring smile and drives a VW Combi with an ‘Atomkraft Nein Danke’ sticker.
That’s the bad news. The almost worse news is that while there has been no global warming since 1998, the general view among those who really know is that we could now be entering a lengthy period — 20 or 30 years (most of the rest of your and my life buggered) — of global cooling.
All the auguries are there. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which works in roughly 30-year cycles, has now begun its cooling phase (such as we last had in the chilly years between the mid-1940s and the mid-1970s). We’re about to enter a La Niña phase in the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, which means at the very least we’re due for a winter every bit as harsh as the most recent one. Worse still, low sunspot activity suggests we might be entering a solar minimum period, such as the Maunder Minimum (1645 to 1715) when those ice fairs were held on the Thames, or the Dalton Minimum (1790 to 1830) which gave us both Napoleon’s frozen retreat from Moscow and the terrible ‘Year Without a Summer’ (1816). Periods of cooling such as this are much more greatly to be feared, of course, than periods of warming — which historically have coincided with abundance, relative peacefulness, economic growth and cultural flourishing.
Or, if you want to be really depressed, there’s always the possibility that we’re on the brink of another ice age. Warm ‘interglacial’ periods such as the one we’re in now last about 10,000 years. And we’re already past the 10,000th year.
And it isn’t hysterical alarmists saying this stuff. Climate realists don’t really do hysterical alarmism. They tend to be sober, considered, unflappable types like Don Easterbrook, a geology professor with 48 years of fieldwork behind him; and Swedish Arctic expert Fred Goldberg. The reason they’re unflappable — and more often than not, resiliently good-humoured — is that they’ve had to be. For at least 20 years now, they’ve had to endure stoically as the billions of dollars of government grant funding which might partly have come their way has instead been funnelled into the research labs and pockets of those scientists pushing the AGW ‘consensus’.
It’s no wonder that the bit of my speech that got the biggest laugh was when I asked: ‘How many of you here are in the pay of Big Oil?’ No hands were raised. ‘And how many of you would like to be in the pay of Big Oil?’ Up shot 150 arms. ‘Guess we picked the wrong side of the debate to be on,’ I said, hardly needing to explain that companies like Shell and BP pump far, far more money into eco-nonsense like carbon trading and green posturing than they do into sceptical science.
That’s the problem with being an Evil Climate Change Denier. The tide is turning in our favour. History will vindicate us. But until then the only perks of the job are the joy of one another’s company and the smug satisfaction of knowing that one day we’ll be able to look at the wreckage of disasters like cap and trade, David Cameron’s wind farms and the IPCC’s junk science predictions and say: ‘I told you so.’
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated May 29, 2010