2007 - 2021

Ice Ice Baby

Last night opposition leaders jostled together vying for credibility in the first ever election debate focusing on the environmental emergency, in which the absent Boris Johnson was replaced by a melting ice sculpture. A second sculpture took the place of Brexit party leader Nigel Farage, who also refused to take part.  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Siân Berry from the Green party, Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price participated in the televised debate.

Jo Swinson pointed to her re-usable cup. So pro-Trident but earnest about her disposables?

In the latest fit of Trumpian spin the “Furious Tories” are taking Channel 4 to Ofcom over the ice sculpture empty-chair tactic. And now, after a week in which Michael Gove attacked Channel 4 for its ‘leftist propaganda”, they are now threatening to review Channel 4’s public service broadcasting obligations. While both moves point to a further shift into Trumpian politics which is both viscerally anti-ecological and depressingly anti-media, much of this has been ignored.

Why did Johnson fail to turn up?

The answer is that the climate is a decisive factor in this election – and the Conservatives policy agenda is not just dire, but what would have been exposed is the people financing them and their political agenda.

But the other reason is that he’s a climate science denier.

In a Telegraph column entitled “I can’t stand this December heat, but it has nothing to do with global warming: We may all be sweating in the winter air, but remember, we humans have always put ourselves at the centre of cosmic events” Johnson wrote:

“It is fantastic news that the world has agreed to cut pollution and help people save money, but I am sure that those global leaders were driven by a primitive fear that the present ambient warm weather is somehow caused by humanity; and that fear – as far as I understand the science – is equally without foundation. There may be all kinds of reasons why I was sweating at ping-pong [in December] – but they don’t include global warming.”

As Mat Hope writes for Byline Times (‘Climate Deniers and Big Polluters are Backing Boris Johnson and the Tories for a Reason’):

“The Tories received more than £5 million in donations from backers of climate science denial over the past decade, according to analysis by DeSmog. The party and its MPs have received 94% of all the donations from individuals and companies that actively lobby against climate action in the UK since 2002. In contrast, the Liberal Democrats received £2,000 over the same period. Labour? £0.

The MP who received the most from these sources? Boris Johnson – the man who once looked at his window, saw it was snowing again and decided that the sun must be to blame for the uncharacteristically cold weather rather than decades of fossil fuel use filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.

It’s not just climate science deniers that are backing the Tories, though, it’s also major polluters – many of whom are part of the Tory donor club known as the ‘Leaders Group’. The entry price to become a member of this elite set is a minimum of £50,000. Recent members include Ayman Asfari, chief executive of Jersey-registered oil services provider Petrofrac, which is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office; Ian Roper Taylor, chairman of oil trader Vitol, which is also being dragged through the courts; and Amjad Bseisu, chief executive of oil company Enquest, and a prominent voice calling for the UK to extract every last drop of North Sea oil and to hell with what climate scientists say.”

The Tories are dripping in corporate cash and climate denial.

Josiah Mortimer points out:

“During a trip to the US, Johnson was the speaker at a black-tie dinner in Washington hosted by the conservative thinktank, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He used the opportunity to criticise Theresa May’s “Chequers” Brexit deal and said social mobility would be his top priority in power. Johnson’s team had their “accommodation, travel and hospitality” paid for by the AEI, according to Parliament’s Register of Interests.

The AEI has a history of spreading doubt about climate change and opposing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and has received significant funding from the Koch family and ExxonMobil.”

The danger is that everything descends into a flurry of gags and hot-takes as the blur of social media flashes before your dumb-founded eyes. The Conservatives essentially sabotaged a landmark debate and created the necessary chaos to cover their own venal connection to the most polluting industry supporters.

This in a week where were told by scientists that the world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points. This risk is “an existential threat to civilisation”, they say, meaning “we are in a state of planetary emergency”.

In our most serious moment we are infested by stupidity.

As the Tories collude in omnicide we’re left talking about Boris Johnson’s oafish dad. God help us.





Comments (13)

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  1. Derek Henry says:

    That is small fry Mike you are missing the big picture.

    The Tories have always been the City Of London party.

    That is where “the government works like a household budget ” myth started.

    Deficits are bad and surpluses are good nonsense.

    To push more businesses and households to take out loans as their policies destroyed the private sector surplus.

    The Pinstripe Mafia, more apt than ever given the number of banking scandals and market manipulation crimes outstanding, are responsible for 50% of the Tory Party’s budget. The finance lobby has donated more than £50 million since 2010 to the Tories, and just five wealthy hedge fund backers have collectively given more than £18 million.

    Here is Keval Bharadia is the former Head of Derivatives Product Development at the London Stock Exchange talking about it.

    Keval still used the government needs the city of London taxes line which is nonsense of course but you will catch the drift.


  2. Derek Henry says:

    The finance lobby are the ones the left have to beat.

    The growth commission was written by the SNP to appease the finance lobby. They are terrified of them.

    See all of the cranes around Glasgow city centre they are building banks. Barclays over the water is HUGE. Looking for 2,500 staff. Others are getting built with a running track on the roof.

    Scotland’s deficit is 8% of GDP. They are coming for our savings.

    They will be competing for the 8% surplus households and business enjoy.

  3. Pirate Carnival says:

    Firstly, another great piece. Ah’m glad of the climate-oriented works that have increased over the last year or so and look forward to more as part of Bella’s new agenda movin forward. Though there are already solid websites and forums uncovering the vast climate-denial lobby industry, it never hurts to keep droppin those names and ‘think tanks’.
    Secondly, Derek H please gonnae stop clutterin up the comments with off-topic inanities and yer economic drivel. Ah suppose this is the trap tae get a rise, it’s entirely possible yer a bot, cause you read like one. Havin happily read this magazine fir years, includin the comments which can be just as valuable, I find it sad my first and mayhap only comment is to pipe up and ask you to appreciate (or don’t) the article, and stop whoring yer own agenda please and thankya kindly. The current climate crisis is by no means small fry, it is likely the only issue we should be talking about (as opposed tae, say, Brexit, Bake Off or economic policy)

    1. john learmonth says:

      You forgot to mention Strictly… but then I’m a ‘denier’ so what do i know.
      Agree with you about Derek though. I await an article about 9AD Byzantium art and the impact it had on Islamic philosophy in Alexandria and await Derek to tell the people of the era …….if you don’t control your currency your civilisation is finished….oops!

  4. Derek Henry says:

    Thanks pirate and John.

    For proving my point about GROUPTHINK echo chambers.

    That’s very kind of you.

    Prof Michael Hudson and David Graeber with his debt the first 5000 years has already beat you to it I’m afraid.


    1. john learmonth says:

      Get a life Derek. Without a sense of humour what do we have…….

      1. Daniel Raphael says:

        John, I think there’s a name for people who inhabit the internet purely for the purpose of “getting a rise” out of others; they are invariably self-absorbed and the content of their remarks is irrelevant to anything other than their desire for attention.

        Now…what are they called? Hmm.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    Coincidentally, Talking Pictures TV today screened a British movie from 1935 called Once in a New Moon, concerning the Anglo-British village of Shrimpton-on-Sea. The local postmaster-cum-astronomer Drake reads of reputable scientific warnings of impending global danger (floods, storms, earthquakes) caused by a dead star encroaching on the planet. When he tries to raise these concerns with the local elite (aristocrats, clergy, military officer) they refuse to listen to him, claiming he is drunk or deluded. However, amid gales and floods, Shrimpton is engulfed by catastrophe. The elite, still in denial, set up an ineffectual committee based on traditional hierarchical lines, but eventually have to accept what Drake tells them (after doing observations and sea voyage): the village has been wrenched off the Earth and become a satellite, Shrimpton-in-Space. The elite set up rationing for the masses, but continue to live the high life, until disgruntled villagers force a general election. Which the elite faction, led by arch-Conservative Lady aristocrat, are confident of winning by trotting out traditional campaign slogans rather than resorting to dirty tricks and bribery. They lose heavily to the populist faction campaigning for equal rights and fair shares, headed by a reluctant Drake, who tries to come to a political comprise with the elite to deliver the popular mandate. When the capitalist-military-clerical-landowning elite faction refuse to accept the result of the general election, they try to continue as if nothing has changed, issuing proclamations and laws and styling themselves with imperialist titles while condemning ‘rank socialism’. Compromise fails, Drake reluctantly gives in to a more ‘hooliganistic’ revolutionary element, albeit one fighting for survival, and civil war looms. After all this, could there ever be a return to the old days of hierarchy and hypocrisy? I found it fascinating, and there are some really amusing lines given our modern context.
    I wonder if there was more political literacy amongst the general public in those days.

    1. john learmonth says:

      Try watching Peter Sellers in ‘I’m alright Jack’.
      In the meantime its Friday night and I’m off to the pub for a pint of ‘imperialist’ Timothy Taylors landlord bitter imported from Keighley in Yorkshire. I hope if we become independent we won’t stop importing from our ‘masters’ down south as Scottish beer is utter crap……..the union had some uses after all.
      What did Yorkshire ever do for us…….

  6. John McLeod says:

    Mike – thanks for another of your powerful short pieces that takes a current event and talking-point and allows us to go behind the scenes and learn more about how and why it is significant.

    I am struggling to see the relevance of the majority of the comments offered in the dicussion forum. This seems to happen a lot in independence-oriented discussion forums on a range of sites. This is a pity because we need as many dialogue arenas as possible, as a way of sharing knowledge and sustaining everyday democracy.

    To encourage such dialogue around climate, mass extinction, pollution etc issues in Bella, it might be helpful to try to do something to link up the various articles on this vital topic. For example, Ice Ice Baby connects with articles by Mairi McFadyen, Dougald Hine, and other contributors.

    1. Thanks John – and good idea about linking other pieces.

      We’re also going to have a bit of a clear-out of Trolls and re-boot our comments policy …

  7. john burrows says:

    For the past 38 years I have been measuring, modeling, and teaching climate science.

    I am currently involved in constructing ocean buoy weather platforms, and automatic weather systems for use aboard ocean going vessels.

    For seven of those years, I conducted upper air soundings of the atmosphere across a quarter of the globe. For another 10 years, I helped maintain the surface based platforms over the same area.

    I believe I speak from some experience.

    Without realizing it, Ch4’s ice block stunt is a perfect metaphor for the issue of climate change.

    In layman’s terms, climate can be reduced to the simple concept of the prescence, or lack thereof, of water. Snow, ice, rain, hail, clouds, lightening, tornadoes, hurricanes and drought. Its water that changes the surface of the earth. It’s water that’s doing all the damage. The fires in Australia are due to the lack of it. The floods in England are a result of too much of it.

    Here’ a fun fact- approximately 150 trillion metric tons of water falls on the land surfaces of mother earth every 9 days. 7 billion human beings use only 5 trillion metric tons of it a year.

    Carbon dioxide is a dangerous greenhouse gas when their is too much of it. Water vapor is far more dangerous.

    We are changing the balance of the hydrological cycle when we introduce more condensation nuclei into the atmosphere than is supplied by the natural environment.

    Modern society, globally, is injecting carbon directly into the mixing layer of the atmosphere. We are facilitating the phase change of water in ever increasing volumes. When we facilitate its formation in one place, there is often less of it somewhere else. That’s just thermodynamics.

    Addicted to fossil fuels as we are, we are mainlining climate change. If you want a functional solution to arresting climate change, put a lid on every chimney and a plug in every exhaust pipe. They are just another form of hypodermic needle as far as the atmosphere is concerned.

    The metaphor of two climate change deniers and pimps for the fossil fuel sector, melting before everyones eyes into puddles of water, will forever mark this election for me. That and the mockery that is “public” broadcasting in this country.

    The BBC’s political interventions in this election have been nothing short of criminal, in my eyes. Its governors should be charged with electoral interference and every one of its political editors should be cashiered.

    1. Jo says:

      Thanks for this John. Very informative especially for non-scientific folk like me.

      As for your summary of BBC conduct this election, I couldn’t agree more. It has been truly shocking.

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