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by | Mar 1, 2012

A Guardian editorial speaks ‘In Praise of Plunge‘…

The arts have a patchy record on the subject of climate change. Greenland at the National Theatre was a play about environmental disaster that was little short of a disaster itself. The temptation is often strong to be preachy. Which is why Michael Pinsky’s Plunge is so interesting. Without any accompanying signage, fluorescent blue rings have appeared on three of London’s most prominent columns – in the City, in Covent Garden and just off the Mall. They could be mistaken for those ultraviolet fly zappers popular in kebab shops. But this clever installation marks sea level some thousand years hence. The science is not available to make accurate forecasts on this timeframe, so Pinsky’s premise that the sea will rise 28 metres is an imaginative one. But imagining a world where St Paul’s Cathedral, the Donmar Warehouse and the Athenaeum are all under water powerfully makes the climate change point.

‘Plunge’ is apparently some of that ‘art’ stuff, on the theme of global warming.

Apparently the blue ring ‘marks sea level some thousand years hence’. But as Geoff observes in the comments, the Grauniad has to admit that ‘The science is not available to make accurate forecasts on this timeframe, so Pinsky’s premise that the sea will rise 28 metres is an imaginative one.’

No it isn’t, ‘imaginative’! It’s simply obvious. And is it any more ‘artistic’ than a tidal gauge? It’s just a blue ring of light, stuck on a column. It’s the kind of idea you might have picking your nose, when not really watching a TV programme — or something else as banal as the ‘art’ itself. Art imitates life, after all.

This is more of that Guardian making stuff up again, isn’t it… ‘Fake, but accurate’ on their view. But simply absurd to everybody else.

Speaking of trends… January was another poor showing for the journal of doom

The Guardian
Headline circulation: 229,753
Month-on-month change: -0.15%
Year-on-year change: -17.74%

The Guardian lost 17.74% of its circulation over the year to January – nearly one in five readers of its print edition (who are spared most of its ecobabble). That’s the trend they should worry about.

I hope the Plunge continues.


  1. geoffchambers

    For ten years the Guardian’s been telling us that “it’s all about the science”, and here, in one paragraph, they throw it out and tell us that “art makes the point”.
    Except it’s not true, since the art would have no point at all if we hadn’t had it hammered into us that the seas will rise x metres, and to doubt it, or even to question the timescale, was to reveal oneself as a denier and anti-science. Whether the science as wrong, or misinterpreted, or exaggerated makes no difference. The catastrophe is in the process of being transformed from a scientific fact into a revealed, spiritual truth – mythology, in fact.
    Talking of London’s columns. I see that the Mithraic temple is to be replaced at its ancient site. Not exactly, of course, since that would involve burying it under 30 metres of accumulated muck. One wonders what Mithras-worshippers worried about 2000 years ago. Did they have Guardians (the paper sort or the Rupert Read variety) worrying about how high up the temple columns the water would come in future centuries? Or did they just have a good sacrifice, say a prayer, and get on with their lives?

  2. Alex Cull

    Regarding climate change art, I’ve just been reading the Guardian’s live-blogging of TED 2012 (“What’s next for planet earth?”):

    12.33pm: Uh oh. There’s “climate change musical theatre” up on stage now.
    You know what. It may be kindest just to draw a discreet veil.
    12.40pm: Right. They’re singing about pigeons dying now. I’ll spare you the details…

    Intrigued, I looked it up – the theatrical production is The Great Immensity, a Broadway-style musical by The Civilians Investigative Theater (the dying pigeon, you may be interested to learn, is meant to be Martha, the last passenger pigeon.) According to one description I found:

    This is an original musical that is part mystery and part morality tale. Woven into the story are authentic interviews with top scientists, indigenous community leaders, tour guides and others who have been touched by the reality of global climate change, deforestation and endangered ecosystems.

    It seems to have received several hefty grants, including one from the National Science Foundation:

    I’ve haven’t found many reviews of this musical that go beyond a brief description. Here’s one mostly positive reviewer (not an AGW sceptic):

    Written and directed by Steve Cosson, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, and co-produced by Cosson’s New York-based “investigative theatre” company, The Civilians, The Great Immensity may be multi-media, but is also a single-issue show. Throughout nearly two hours, there are charming songs and occasional comic relief, but no subplots, no diversions from the message at hand: The world is ending; the damage humans have done is irreversible; it’s not too late to save the planet, but don’t get your hopes up.

    However, here’s another reviewer (also not an AGW sceptic) who was less than impressed:

    I can’t honestly say I learned anything new about global warming, even though the dialogue was heavy-handedly laced with facts that easily could’ve been cribbed from the Wikipedia entry on that topic. In fact, many of the songs (I’m not kidding about this) sounded like a Wikipedia entry set to music. Sometimes, lyrics that don’t scan can be quite effective, but in this case, they far too often sounded as though no serious work had been attempted. Friedman’s music was equally uninspired.

    Artistic Director Eric Rosen appeared before the performance to offer the usual greeting and to provide, quite bluntly, the reason for the play’s existence – a grant which he claims has brought over a quarter-million dollars to Kansas City. My question would be, simply, was it worth the money? And the answer to that, for the audience who spent an evening visibly fighting off sleep, would probably be “no.”

    This is the problem with much of climate-change art. However well-funded and cleverly executed it might be (also possibly well-acted, in the case of theatre or film – the Civilians in The Great Immensity, for instance, or Pete Postlethwaite in The Age of Stupid) it just cannot seem to completely evade the curse of being simultaneously preachy and boring (Wikipedia set to music!) Or just unengaging and slightly ridiculous, as the Guardian’s live-blogger evidently found.

    For your delectation, by the way, here’s the pigeon song that Carole Cadwalladr must have been writing about:

  3. james cox

    every village has a water marker at the lock.

    I think we have a limited time span on which to reflect on climatic change and there in lies the problem. Despite the age of the universe, we remember changes in sea levels as a marking pint in our history. Our past that we can know – both Written and oral – is laden with stories of floods and droughts. We know now that sea levels change, and we also know that what characterises the accompanying historical narrative is a fear of the apocalypse. The mantra is “lets save ourselves” yet why would we want to relive Noah’s arc.
    I think we may need a very different arc this time round to keep us afloat. but surely it can’t be some form of melancholy archaeological ecologism

  4. james cox

    “lets save ourselves” has come to mean, save everything that we know, The species that live now, are all that we know. Thus conservation amounts to special “cherry picking”. Thus by the very act of conservation you enact biological change. I am not saying that we should remove ourselves from nature – if that was at all possible – but we cannot take a snapshot of the biosphere and try and try preserve that reality for ever.

  5. Garry

    RE Alex on climate catastrophe “art”

    The documentary The Burning Season used to be available as an online video stream here in the US. But despite its splash opening has apparently been shoved backstage as it quite unintentionally revealed the utter greed and hype surrounding the IPCC (filmed at Bali) and cap and trade. The desire to save the world played a part but was of course greatly overshadowed by the rivers of (tax) money to be skimmed from the racket.

    Same old song in the AGW world: “I’m doing bad for the greater good.”

    It might still be around and is worth a watch, at least for the unintended laughs.

  6. james cox

    isn’t the case that everyone is simply bored by the climate change debate? however important climate change might turn out to be.
    personally, why should I give a fuck; I don’t drive; I don’t buy loads of stuff I don’t need; I like my computer, and I know that without industry I would not be able to afford it; I have bricks surrounding me; I am warm’ I ride a bike because its makes me happy not because i feel guilty; my kids eat vegetables. My cloths leave something to be desired . but I like that …..

  7. james cox

    if you want a good story look at the European carbon trading scheme. without economic parity (i.e the euro-zone) the scheme is redundant

  8. james cox

    ” The catastrophe is in the process of being transformed from a scientific fact into a revealed, spiritual truth – mythology” well said g

  9. james cox

    syntax asside

  10. james cox

    syntax aside

  11. Step Left

    Art that is completely false, is by definition shit art, and thats not to mention the poor ‘imagination’ used to come up with this piece of shit, I mean art, no wait, I mean shit.

    This reminds me of one particular piece by some stuckist called ‘foreign policy 2000’ or something that was donated to Brian Haws anti-war camp, on which some other douche bag artist made a piece of art on, or something, its all terribly boring and simple.

    Anyway, this piece had a crappy swishy red/violet background and GWB’s head on a dominatrix whipping a slave with the head of T. Blair on. As someone who is well schooled in international relations, foreign policy theory and most importantly FACTS. I hated the piece because it was so demonstratably false. It didnt relate in anyway to the reality of uk/us foreign policy relations on Iraq or Intervention. Only an ignorant person would create a piece like that, and only someone with a simplistic appreciation of politics and the world would make such a crap and untrue point.

    That example has a fair bit of similarity with this ‘blue ring’ farce.

    It’s not skillful, its not inventive or imaginative, ans ultimately its shit because its a complete fabrication.

  12. Mooloo

    Ben’s thesis, if I understand him correctly, is that modern politicians are latching on to Green policies in a desperate attempt to feel meaningful and relevant. So that they can become the avant-garde leaders they grew up dreaming to be (rather than the administrators that they actually are).

    Well if there is any group that has truly lost any sense of meaning or purpose it is the artistic avant-garde. It would be amazing if they didn’t seize on whatever the latest moral panic of the left is.

    If I wanted to ridicule global warming, one of the best ways would be publicising it through post-modern (or whatever the correct term is now) “art”. For the majority of the population such installations are irredeemably faddish and stupid. The blue ring is unusual in actually being rather pretty, but is as vapid in meaning as ever.

    A firm link between such “art” and global warming is likely to make the whole project seem elitist and ephemeral. Exactly what the Greens do not want.

  13. Alex Cull

    @ Garry, I’m not sure The Burning Season is still available as streaming video, but will try to get to see it (DVD from the library, perhaps) as I’m interested in the Bali episode. Thanks!

  14. Alex Cull

    Mooloo: “A firm link between such “art” and global warming is likely to make the whole project seem elitist and ephemeral. Exactly what the Greens do not want.”

    A great example of elitist and ephemeral climate change art is the Nowhere Island project – £500,000 of UK tax money being spent on digging up several tons of rock and gravel in the Arctic last year, calling it a new island nation, towing it along the south coast of the UK this summer and then shipping it back to the Arctic, all to raise awareness about climate change, and some other stuff:

    Our expedition team was formed from some of the brightest minds in the UK, who used the journey to discuss the values and ideas on which this new nation might be formed and worked together to form the resource of information and ideas which will be used in the year-long schools programme and online Embassy from January 2012.

    Apparently some of the brightest minds in the UK include a number of Guardian readers, including Tamsin Omond of Climate Rush and activist Laurie Penny.

    Here’s Laurie Penny, writing about the project:

    I’ve left London, and I am sailing to a new island that has appeared out of the ice in the Arctic circle. No, this is not a prank. I’ve been invited along with an eclectic collection of academics, artists, lawyers, activists, sixth-formers and scientists to sail to this small pitch of land, which has been named NowhereIsland, as part of the Cultural Olympiad. Right now, I’m in Oslo, and tomorrow we travel to Svalbard, where we will board a ship, the Noorderlicht, which will take us to the island, where those of us who went to fee-paying schools will be devoured by bears [jokey reference to Horatio Chapple, 17 year-old schoolboy mauled to death by a polar bear in Svalbard the month before].

    Along the way, we’re supposed to debate and discuss how to build a conceptual new nation, a model society in the wreck of late capitalism. There is a chance, given how many Guardian readers we seem to have on this trip, that we may just all turn pirate and start raiding the coastal towns of Norway and Finland and looting all the humous and complicated jam. Presuming we make it, however, we will have weeks stuck on a boat to debate utopianism, anarchism, feminism and environmental activism and try to avoid one another’s eyes in the communal showers.

    More from Penny:

    Of all the myriad problems with the Nowhere Island project, the press have inevitably focused on the most anodine and inconsequential: the money. The main criticism, raised by commentators from the Guardian to ‘Lucy, 26’ on page 3 of The Sun, was that the project is expensive: half a million of dedicated Arts Council funding over several years. This is paying for construction costs, transporting the island material from Svalbard, travel funding, publicity, building a website which involves thousands of people in an accessible philosophy project about citizenship and the failures of nation-states to solve financial and ecological disaster, and employing an entire staff team for two years. Given that there are many other projects receiving the same non-transferrable funding as part of the Cultural Olympiad, one of which is apparently a set of giant crocheted lions, attacking Nowhere Island on the basis of cost to the taxpayer might seem a little snippy – but in the end, it’s an argument that, if you choose to engage with it, can’t be won. Of course a speculative Utopia involving lots of schools projects is better than a crocheted lion, but so is re-employing twenty nurses, or stopping a library from being closed down.

    I believe in art, and folly, and dreams. I believe that if we can’t collectively subsidise artists to imagine new worlds for us, we have no business speaking of social progress.

    Philip Strange, an actual scientist – Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Reading – but no AGW-sceptic, nevertheless has doubts:

    In Nowhereisland, Hartley has put together what should be a major art/science project. It is also a political one as it is trying to use the visual arts to make a political statement about nationhood and climate change to challenge people’s ideas and perhaps change their behaviour. Communities and schools are getting involved in order to widen the influence of the work. For all of these reasons, Hartley should be applauded for his vision and energy. It is a pity, therefore, that the science aspect of the project feels rather weak. On the expedition, very few of the voyagers had any serious scientific credentials. It doesn’t feel like Hartley tried hard enough to include scientists; it would have strengthened the project if, for example, scientists and particularly a practising climate scientist had been involved. Perhaps it is very difficult to lure scientists out of their labs to participate in this sort of project, but there seems no shortage of scientists willing to participate in Wellcome Trust art/science programmes. I am also uneasy about the project plan; it feels self-indulgent. The project is designed to engender reflection on climate change, which is a very laudable aim. So was it really necessary to desecrate the island by removing material and transporting it back to the UK to make the sculpture? Surely a replica would have made the point just as clearly. How much fossil fuel was used to fly the “thinkers” to the Arctic and ferry them around the island on the expedition and how much did that contribute to climate change?

    Elsewhere, opinions vary. Devon MP Geoffrey Cox has called the project “extraordinary folly”, while Phil Gibby, head of Arts Council England insists that it will be “a remarkable visual sculpture”. But I’ll leave the last word to the Guardian’s Leo Hickman:

    For a project that claims to be driven by environmental concerns, where is the logic in digging up six tonnes of rock from a pristine environment and then towing it by barge hundreds of miles away for display?

    And wasn’t it entirely obvious to the Arts Council that the core message behind the project would be drowned out by the completely predictable outcry over its huge cost and environmentally unsympathetic construction? If the aim of the project was to raise awareness about the urgency of climate change then, sadly, it seems to have already failed.

  15. Ben Pile

    Funny to think that this project seems to be the same about of money that the GWPF have apparently had to fund their entire operation.

    Leo has a point… But not one he remembers when he’s going after us evil deniers, etc. No, it’s the Dark Side which is ‘Well Funded’, and has lost its grasp on ‘reason’.

  16. R.O.H.Van der Hope.

    Here in Eastern Australia in March 2012 we are just hoping and praying for the next drought, thanks very much. What about a play about that?

  17. Lewis Deane

    What was Marx’ favourite epithet? ‘Canaille’!

  18. geoffchambers

    Alex #14
    The Nowhere Island Project sounds like a scaled up version of those little bottles of different coloured sand you bring back from holiday on the Seychelles or the Isle of Wight. Except the sand is to evoke happy memories, while the rock is meant to make us feel bad.

    Imagine if the Renaissance had discovered Environmentalism. We might have seen this posted up in the town square in Florence:
    “Tuscany is home to one of the world’s great sustainable geological wonders – the pristine outcrops of white marble in Carrara. To celebrate the fact, the republican government has commissioned the conceptual artist Michelangelo to bring a large block of the said marble and set it up outside the town hall. In homage to a great Green future world leader yet to be born, the block will be called Dave”.

  19. Mooloo

    Tuscany is home to one of the world’s great sustainable geological wonders.

    Since when has anything been “sustainable” which is taken out of the ground? Don’t you know that “sustainable” is code for organic?

    Concrete, glass and steel are “unsustainable” – as if we are going to ever run out of any of them. Wood is “sustainable”, even when in quite short supply.

    Similarly, any natural environment is “fragile”, even when a desert and the animals and plants there are rather obviously quite robust or they would have been wiped out long ago.Similarly, any ecosystem is “delicately poised”, even when rather obviously fecund.

  20. geoffchambers

    “sustainable geological wonder” was just a rather strained joke. Carrara is still being quarried, and very impressive it looks from the train. In the absence of modern day Michelangelos, I imagine it’s mostly used for garden ornaments.
    If we’re ever chosen to be Guardians, we can ban garden ornaments of course. Or send climate criminals to penal colonies on Mars to mine the asteroids, depending on how we’re feeling.

  21. Mooloo

    Or send climate criminals to penal colonies on Mars to mine the asteroids, depending on how we’re feeling.

    Nu-uh. They’re “pristine” so we won’t be allowed to touch them.

    Think I’m joking? The interior of Antarctica is a true desert. Basically nothing lives there. No-one goes there either, because it is no doubt awe-inspiring for a 10 minute look, but boring and dangerous for a stay. Yet we are urged to never mine the place, because it is “pristine”. (Of course we will never mine the interior for practical reasons, but if we did it’s not as if anyone anywhere would lose anything of any practical value.)

    The logical consequence of the Polly Higgins line of thinking (ecocide is a crime, trees have rights) is that we can’t do anything,

  22. Rosco

    There is no “greenhouse effect”.

    The Sun can heat the Moon’s surface to ~120 degrees C.

    The Earth never approaches anything like these temperatures.

    Both are bathed in the same solar radiation.

    Why is this ???

    Experiments demonstrate that the solar radiation can raise the temperature very quickly and these same experiments rule out the so called “backradiation” from “greenhouse gases” because the surfaces being heated are under glass which excludes the infrared component so the heating is solely by the Sun – consider inside a closed vehicle in the sun, much hotter inside than outside and glass excluding infrared radiation entering.

    It is because the atmosphere acts to cool the Earth NOT add heat as “climate scientists” claim.

    This seems stunningly obvious to me.

  23. Alex Cull

    The other thing about the pristine spaces of the polar regions, is that they make excellent backdrops for climate change art!

    The Nowhere Island project originally came about because of a series of expeditions launched by an organisation called Cape Farewell. According to their website, Cape Farewell was founded in 2001 to “instigate a cultural response to climate change”.

    Cape Farewell works in partnership with scientific and cultural institutions to deliver an innovative climate programme of public engagement. We use the notion of expedition – Arctic, Island, Urban and Conceptual – to interrogate the scientific, social and economic realities that lead to climate disruption, and to inspire the creation of climate focused art which is disseminated across a range of platforms – exhibitions, festivals, publications, digital media and film.

    To interrogate the scientific realities “that lead to climate disruption”, they rely a lot on the IPCC’s AR4. “These reports are written by teams of scientists and contain clear facts about what is happening.” Listed under “The Facts” are statements such as “Climate change could kill more than a third of the world’s plant and animal species by 2050”, which is familiar to those of us who’ve read Chapter 31 of The Delinquent Teenager by Donna Laframboise (now there’s a proper interrogation!) as an example of something diametrically opposite to “clear facts”.

    The founder of Cape Farewell is artist David Buckland, and here you can see some of his art:

    Giant illuminated letters projected onto the flanks of Arctic icebergs proclaim “A HOT WIND MORE TERRIBLE THAN DARKNESS”, “SELF LOATHING. SELF GREED. SELF LOVE.” and (my personal favourite) “GOING TO HELL ON A HANDCART”.

    It reminds me of that cartoon where two mathematicians are looking at a complicated equation on a blackboard, and where Step 2 is “Then a miracle occurs”. On the one hand we have the questionable output from IPCC’s jury-rigged fudge factory. On the other, we have “GOING TO HELL ON A HANDCART”. And between Step 1 and Step 3 we have – not so much a miracle as a sort of absurd, hysterical leap of artistic despair.

  24. geoffchambers

    Thanks for the reminder about Cape Farewell. Ian McEwan gives a satirical portrait of one of their trips to the Arctic in his truly awful global warming novel “Solar”.

    A couple of years ago 10:10 invited novelists and poets to do their bit to save the planet, and the results were posted here:
    Here are some extracts:

    Margaret Attwood:
    “In the first age, we created gods… In the second age we created money… In the third age, money became a god… In the fourth age we created deserts.”

    Helen Simpson:
    “In ten years’ time, we’ll be casting around for scapegoats. Children will be accusing parents, and wise parents will have disappeared all visual evidence of dad’s gap year in South America and mum on Ayers Rock and the whole gang over in Florida waiting in line to shake Mickey’s hand … you’ll find yourself exposed – as hypocritical as a Victorian adjusting his antimacassars while the sweep’s boy chokes to death up the chimney. Nobody will be able to plead ignorance, either. We can all see what’s happening, on a daily basis, on television”.

    Jeanette Winterson:
    “I am your inner polar bear. Find me before it’s too late… I will be everything you have lost. I will be everything you neglected. I will be everything you forgot. I will be the wild place sold for money.

  25. Vinny Burgoo

    Alex, on one of those Cape Farewell trips, one artist’s art consisted of making toast. I think the message was that we’re all toast unless governments, NGOs and philanthropic foundations stop paying us to travel to the ends of the earth to make toast, or something.

    He claimed that his was the most northerly toast ever made. I told him that Nansen definitely made toast about 100 miles further north and might have made it 400 miles further north. He didn’t reply. (I’ve since discovered that the famous state-funded performance artist Horatio Nelson might have made toast about 50 miles further north when he was a midshipman in the 1770s.)

    Here’s a small animation explaining Pinsky’s _Plunge_:

    And here’s an artwork by a group of artists who have been employed to teach schoolchildren about the meaning of _Plunge_:

    They clearly have the right mental age to communicate with children but I’m a bit worried about the violence. Their adulteration of sweets might set a bad example, too. (That artwork was a protest about government support for free schools. Free schools should be, like, free of meddling from Da Man, man.)

  26. Alex Cull

    @ Geoff, @ Vinny, thanks for the further examples – my inner polar bear is having a good laugh!

  27. Mooloo

    Margaret Attwood:
    “In the first age, we created gods… In the second age we created money… In the third age, money became a god… In the fourth age we created deserts.”

    The same Margaret Attwood who accept the $1,000,000 Dan David Prize? Clearly as a person who is so pure of heart she will not be included in those for whom “money became god”, but most of the rest of us would do a bit of worshiping to get a sum like that.

    What is it about the Greens that people of expensive lifestyles feel happy to chide the rest of us about loving money too much? At least the Puritans, flagellants and their ilk at least practice what they preached. Our current pious lot can’t even manage that.

  28. Ben Pile

    Mooloo – The same Margaret Attwood who accept the $1,000,000 Dan David Prize?

    What?! A million dollars? What am I missing? Is it irony? I’m sure I’m missing the joke. I’ve not read any of her books, but is that all it takes to win a literature prize – glib trite cant?

    No wonder alarmists shriek about deniers. We barely have to scratch the surface of these epic morons to find stellar quantities of only mediocrity. Anyone could write what Atwood has – is that a representative sample?

  29. Mooloo

    To be fair Ben, I believe Margaret Attwood is a good writer. More the line of my wife and mother-in-law, who are both reasonable judges of literature, than me.

    To wind you up a bit more, she won the million smackeroos for her political work, not her writing. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

    Jeanette Winterson, of the “inner polar bear” nonsense has an OBE.

    But it’s important to remember that the environmental message is being swamped by a hostile media and political establishment. They are the under-dogs, fighting for what is right. Quite how they square that with their prizes and honours is beyond me.

  30. geoffchambers

    Articles at Guardian Environment are a whole new art form in themselves.

    They have several new articles on global warming today. One states that Lord Lawson is the unpaid chairman of a consultancy which once had links with another consultancy which once gave advice to a company which owns a coal-fired power station in Poland. The other (quoting expert Risky Agwama) says global warming is causing cheetahs’ balls to overheat and make their sperm curl up.
    Or possibly vice versa. Perhaps it’s Doctor Risky who is linked with the Polish power station, and Lord Lawson who..
    I give up.

  31. Lewis Deane

    ‘In the absence of modern day Michelangelos, I imagine it’s mostly used for garden ornaments.’

    O sad and barbarous times, Geoff! That’s more than worth a poem!

  32. Lewis Deane

    I have a phobia for toads and garden gnomes:
    Specifically those made from the marble of Caraara:
    It makes me murderous : though David and his small
    Penis doesn’t help: for I hate small penises, too,
    Particularly from (O God where from?) the Isle of White
    Or the Seychelles! Chop ’em off, I say! Paquin, pull Down!

  33. Lewis Deane

    What’s more than funny is the idea of ‘polluting’ the pristine death of the Antarctic with our dirty life! Do you know we’re bringing our dirty pollen to that perfect death! And on our shoes – how horrid!

  34. Lewis Deane

    By the way, Ben Pile is right about Margaret Atwood and I have read her. A Canadian novelist of passable phrases and unavoidable cant. And Jeanette Winterson (apparently, she had her lesbo tiffs ’round ‘ere!) what an ‘inner polar bear’ (can’t think of a worse curse!)! People ask me, after writing my dribble for so long, why I do not attempt to publish – what, among those people? To be a Roger McGough?! Canaille! And more Canaille! (O endless.)

  35. William

    “…this clever installation marks sea level some thousand years hence.”

    Artists, when they are inspired, see truths that others do not. I presume that the artist who made the blue rings had experienced a dream/vision of how high the water will be in these locations, a thousand years hence.

    What the artist did not perceive is that the water will be in solid form, not liquid.

  36. Doug Cotton

    Within about 24 hours there will be a new paper Radiated Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics at

    In over 6,000 words it covers a wide range of reasons why carbon dioxide can have no warming effect and only a slight cooling effect.

    This is only the sixth paper to be accepted by this organisation which is dedicated to the truth in science.

  37. geoffchambers

    “Climate change seems to put mediocrity in pole position”.
    Climate change science / ethics / politics / journalism is mediocrity. I’d suggest that both climate science and the mediocrity that one sees in all aspects of cultural life have a common cause in the rapid expansion of university education, and the subsequent creation of an intellectual élite which has adopted the planet as its tribal totem.
    George Carty in a comment at CR a while back linked to a very interesting American comment on the rise of the opinionated class – people whose job is gathering and passing on information, for whom opinions are the common currency. If all you (and everyone around you) has to offer is opinions, naturally, you’re going to be impressed by scientists who know facts. Philosophers, artists, and greenwashing PR consultants who have latched onto global warming are all playing exactly the same game.

  38. Doug Cotton

    The “science” is available. Physics has been around a long time – it just hasn’t been applied correctly to climate, until now. Please consider these points and my peer-reviewed paper linked below …

    Climatologists love to talk about energy being trapped by carbon dioxide and thus not exiting at the top of the atmosphere (TOA.)

    It is nowhere near as simple as that. All the radiation gets to space sooner or later. Carbon dioxide just scatters it on its way so you don’t see radiation in those bandwidths at TOA. The energy still gets out, and you have no proof that it doesn’t, because you don’t have the necessary simultaneous measurements made all over the world.

    In the hemisphere that is cooling at night there is far more getting out, whereas in the hemisphere in the sunlight there is far more coming in. This is obvious.

    When I placed a wide necked vacuum flask filled with water in the sun yesterday (with the lid off) the temperature of the water rose from 19.5 deg.C at 5:08am to 29.1 deg.C at 1:53pm while the air around it rose from 19.0 to 31.9 deg.C.

    What did the backradiation do at night? Well from 9:15pm till 12:05am the water cooled from 24.2 deg.C to 23.4 deg.C while the air cooled from 24.2 deg.C to 22.7 deg.C.

    According to those energy diagrams the backradiation, even at night, is about half the solar radiation during the day. Well, maybe it is, but it does not have anything like half the effect on the temperature as you can confirm in your own backyard.

    This is because, when radiation from a cooler atmosphere strikes a warmer surface it undergoes “resonant scattering” (sometimes called pseudo-scattering) and this means its energy is not converted to thermal energy. This is the reason that heat does not transfer from cold to hot. If it did the universe would go crazy.

    When opposing radiation is scattered, its own energy replaces energy which the warmer body would have radiated from its own thermal energy supply.

    You can imagine it as if you are just about to pay for fuel at a gas station when a friend travelling with you offers you cash for the right amount. It’s quicker and easier for you to just pay with the cash, rather than going through the longer process of using a credit card to pay from your own account. So it is with radiation. The warmer body cools more slowly as a result because a ready source of energy from incident radiation is quicker to just “reflect” back into the atmosphere, rather than have to convert its own thermal energy to radiated energy.

    The ramifications are this:

    Not all radiation from the atmosphere is the same. That from cooler regions has less effect. Also, that with fewer frequencies under its Planck curve has less effect again.

    Each carbon dioxide molecule thus has far less effect than each water vapour molecule because the latter can radiate with more frequencies which “oppose” the frequencies being emitted by the surface, especially the oceans.

    Furthermore, it is only the radiative cooling process of the surface which is slowed down. There are other processes like evaporative cooling and diffusion followed by convection which cannot be affected by backradiation, and which will tend to compensate for any slowing of the radiation.

    This is why, at night, the water in the flask cools nearly as fast as the air around it. The net effect on the rate of cooling is totally negligible.

    The backradiation does not affect temperatures anywhere near as much as solar radiation, even though its “W/m^2” is probably about half as much.

    And there are other reasons also why it all balances out and climate follows natural cycles without any anthropogenic effect. This is explained in detail in my peer-reviewed publication now being further reviewed by dozens of scientists.


  39. Mises Scholar

    “On Dennis Miller’s radio show Thursday Lord Christopher Monckton, a former policy adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and an activist against global warming “alarmism,” went all-in on questioning President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

    “… the 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley hinted about his position on the issue in April 2010 at a tea party rally on the National Mall near the White House.
    But on Miller’s show, he said the birth certificate issue was far more important that combatting so-called anthropogenic global warming.

    “I mean, hey you got a president who has a false birth certificate on the Internet, on the White House website,” Monckton said. “It’s not even clear where he was born…

    “… Miller protested by saying he disagreed with the suggestion that Obama has a fraudulent birth certificate. But Monckton dug in his heels.

    “I don’t know whether he is Kenyan or not,” Monckton said.

    “The point is that if I were you, I would want to make absolutely sure that he was born here before allowing him to be elected. And the birth certificate that he put up on that website, I don’t know where he was born. But I do know that birth certificate isn’t genuine.”

    Monckton firmly asserted that the birth certificate on the White House website wasn’t real, and claimed it could be dismantled with software.

    “It appears in layers on the screen in such a way you can remove quite separately each of the individual dates,”

    Monckton said.

    “You use Adobe Illustrator and each of the individual dates is in its own separate layer. This thing has been fabricated. Sheriff [Joe] Arpaio of Arizona has had a team on this for six months. And he has now gone public and said there’s something very desperately wrong with this and of course nobody is saying anything because the entire electorate has been fooled.”

    “… I haven’t a clue where Obama was born and I wouldn’t want to entreat into the private grief behind investigating. But the point is, is what he has done on the White House website is he has put up a document which he is plainly a forgery and I would regard that as a very serious matter.”

    • Ben Pile

      I really really really don’t care about what Monckton thinks about Obama’s birth certificate.

  40. Mooloo

    I think Mises Scholar thinks because we are all “deniers” here that we must love Monckton, because he is a fellow “denier”.

    Some people really can’t get it into their heads that the anti-AGW group are not some sort of monolithic bunch of blockheads all enslaved to the message of Big Oil. They do seem to thing we are all a bunch of uneducated right wing retards, no matter how much evidence to the contrary.

    I’m picking that most of the regulars here not only don’t care what Monckton thinks about Obama’s birth, that they also don’t care what he thinks about climate. Or anything, for that matter.

  41. Leonard

    I too find this right/left marginalising of the faithful vs the sceptics really quite annoying. Just because I am a sceptic on climate change it does not make me right wing, but assumptions by opposing factions continually place me in political camps in which I do not reside. In the UK this is best demonstrated by the Guardian and the Telegraph.

    Monckton does not help things by pointless accusations about birth certificates. Obama exists, and I don’t care where he was born. Monckton completely turns me off when this purile investigation into Obama’s origins gives ammunition to those who then argue that his global warming scepticism is as gratuitously nuts as they perceive his right wing views on other subjects.

    Similarly the Guardian seeks to identify me and other left of centre people as right wing because I do not go along with its evangelistic stance on global warming.

    If you are properly sceptical about this subject then you ruin any objective stance by allying yourself through prior positioning or prejudice to a political cause that is not about facts but about philosophy. Global warming through CO2 either exists or it doesn’t. I do not wish to be categorised as to my general political views because I ask salient questions on theories which I am not convinced about.



  1. Scary, scary,scary: Alarmist about alarmism? « SkeptEco - [...] Now we have artists getting in on the act with an installation called “Plunge” with rings of blue light…

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