As the New Year dawned, much of the UK enjoyed comparatively mild conditions, as it had through the Christmas period. This was not only good for those with one eye on the cost of heating, but it also ensured the silence of the climate change denial fringe, at least on one subject. Booker and Delingpole would have to find other subjects on which to unload their scorn and bile.
Then temperatures fell, and late last week we all saw the snow. With remarkable coincidence, Christopher Booker was on to it like a shot: “I looked out of the window on Friday morning to see that 6in of global warming had turned my Somerset garden into a winter wonderland”. Spent Thursday sleeping, then, Chris. Then readers get the usual guff about him knowing everything and scientists nothing.
A similar line has been taken by James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, as his headline reads “Deddy. What is this strange white stuff falling from the sky?” which must be achingly funny for those of Del Boy’s fans who want to talk as posh as him (Sid and Doris Bonkers). And both these august pillars of climate change denial are after the same target.
As with any time there is a snowfall, David Viner gets it in the neck. Back in March 2000, he ventured the prospect that “within a few years winter snowfall will become ‘a very rare and exciting event’”. Note that he did not define “a few”, and thus his hostage to fortune: Del and Booker, who know more than all those rotten scientists put together, have defined it for him. But only when it snows.
But even as this dysfunctional duo is baying in celebration, the true level of their much-vaunted knowledge is let slip. Booker asserts “no one in the world actually knows what global temperatures will be even next month”. Bullshit. We can say with some precision and certainly what global temperatures will be. What we cannot say with any certainty is the temperature for individual towns or cities.
Delingpole fares little better: he cites Anthony Watts in claiming that December 2012 was some kind of record month for snowfall, but manages to miss (a) we didn’t have very much in most of the UK, (b) snow cover and volume are not the same thing, and (c) the graph that Watts cites shows a significant negative anomaly for 1978-9, which was the last really severe winter to hit the UK (and it snowed a lot).
And both Booker and Delingpole manage to miss what Viner also said: “Heavy snow will return occasionally ... but when it does we will be unprepared ... snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years’ time”. How did they miss that? After all, Booker has recently read “scores of books, hundreds of scientific papers and thousands of blog posts”. He can’t be just cherry-picking, can he? It rather looks like he can.
So keen to crow that they score two own goals. No change there, then.