The deeply subversive Guardian yesterday featured those it considered to be the worst trolls of 2013. Some of the names will be familiar to Zelo Street regulars, like (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, and the clear winner, professional motormouth Katie Hopkins. But one name is missing, and he’s clearly unhappy at the omission: step forward Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil.
Neil has carved out his own niche in the Twitter trolling stakes when it comes to climate change, a subject where he has previous on trying to redefine the scientific consensus to suit the sceptic side of the argument. So when a Russian icebreaker got stuck in Antarctic sea ice with a group of scientists and reporters in board, he was off and running, albeit not making total sense.
“Not a reversal in reducing Antarctic ice that has stuck the ship. Sea ice extent growing for decades. Climate scientists on board know that?” he proferred, making the false assumption that those on board were prone to making the same kind of false assumption that he was – or that this was the purpose of their voyage. Still, it set the tone for the next bout of trolling.
“Some seem to think the boat is trapped in Antarctic sea ice because weather abnormally bad. 1 It’s summer. 2 Sea ice growing for years” came next. This is classic trolling (who “seemed to think”? Heck, who cares, he’s just making it up) combined with misinformation: the minimum for Antarctic ice comes not in December, but in March.
Still, it served them all right, because “Looks like media team on ship stuck in Antarctic ice consists of one Guardian journalist, one BBC and one who works for both”. This is totally irrelevant, but serves to enable the myth to be pushed that the Beeb and Guardian are somehow joined at the hip.
Then comes a classic slice of trolling: “Given well documented growth in Antarctic sea ice extent why did climate scientists and science journos on board not anticipate problems?” to which the answer is that they did, otherwise no provision would have been made to take sufficient food and drink for exactly that eventuality. And of course it is the ship’s operator to which he should have addressed his question.
What Neil does not address – and nor do the rest of the sceptic lobby – is that the significant loss of Antarctic ice is from land and not sea, this diminishing at over 100 cubic kilometres a year from 2002 to 2009. It was land ice falling into the sea that trapped the icebreaker, not that Andrew Neil is about to let such inconvenient facts slip into his trolling. That makes things easier for him.
And it is facts that need to be deployed against that trolling (sorry, Graham Linehan) to demonstrate that this is all Neil is doing.