For those who believed the earth was flat, the moment of reality must have come as a terrible shock, as ships sailed beyond El Hierro - the westernmost Canary Island, and thought at the time to be the end of the world - and failed to fall off. So it is proving with climate change, which has resulted in increased temperatures, droughts, changed weather patters, more and bigger hurricanes, and the sound of denialists running for cover.
One of the best known climate change deniers has been Rupert Murdoch, still there at the head of his mafia empire, and in day to day charge of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse). Rupe, to the lasting joy of his adoring fans (Sid and Doris Delingpole), Tweeted out his disdain for such trivialities as science. He also, along the way, shelled out $28.8 million for a house and winery in the upmarket Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air.
The Murdoch mansion in Bel Air ...
As the Guardian has reported, “Murdoch bought the estate, boasting steep vine-lined slopes and a 1920s Mediterranean-style house with nine bathrooms and 11 bedrooms, as a home for when he and wife, Jerry Hall, visit the US west coast … A previous owner, Victor Fleming, the director of The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, used to host Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Ingrid Bergman and other Hollywood illuminati”.
Murdoch’s belief that It Wasn’t Really Happening could be seen very clearly when he was active on Twitter, telling “Just flying over N Atlantic 300 miles of ice. Global warming!” as well as “World growing greener with increased carbon. Thirty years of satellite evidence. Forests growing faster and thicker” and the priceless “To the naked eye reef looks fully as good as it did 50 years ago”. He couldn’t see it, so it wasn’t there.
Well, that was then, but this is now: that California estate with its house and winery is now in the path of what has become known as the Skirball Fire. The Guardian again: “Flames fanned by strong winds reached a temperature-controlled wine storage shed on [Murdoch’s] Moraga Vineyards estate on Wednesday after destroying at least six properties in Bel-Air and threatening hundreds more”.
All that wine lost! “The estate has been evacuated. The house appeared undamaged on Wednesday night but the blaze was still largely out of control. It’s unclear how much wine was lost in the storage shed which burned”. As for climate change not happening, “California’s fire season usually ends in November but the hottest summer on record and delayed rains have left the region tinder-dry into December. Some scientists have linked the conditions to climate change”. Climate change reality has arrived chez Murdoch.
... and this week's reality in Los Angeles
So what has Rupe had to say as fire threatens to take out all those memories of 1930s Hollywood glitterati? “We are monitoring the situation as closely as we can and are grateful for the efforts of all the first responders … Some of our neighbors have suffered heavy losses and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time”.
He might also think a little more about what the scientific mainstream is telling him, and a little less about being contrarian just to flog a few more papers.