Climate denial has always been cretinous, deadly and irresponsible, but today, right here, right now, it requires Morrisonian levels of cognitive dissonance, a toddler’s inability to link cause and effect, a rotten sold soul, and an unwillingness to look outside the window and believe your own stupid fucking face. That Rupert Murdoch employs so many people with these prerequisite qualities and personality traits is not a coincidence, nor is it surprising – we know subconscious bias leads bosses to hire assholes exactly like themselves. In 2023, the hottest year modern humans have lived through (until next year 🥳), overt climate denial is a purebreed of un-fucking-hinged.
Though less likely to dominate the frontpages than it did for decades, denialism is still ceded into the electorate via the flappy slackjaws of a professional class of dangerous and disgusting dickheads: pseudo-journalists like Sky News’ Chris Kenny, Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and Andrew Bolt. On air and in print they scoff and scorn and guffaw like primates hurling shit at the more evolved apes in the clan that have finally discovered how to use tools.
This July was the hottest month ever recorded – records being 174 years old – with an average global temperature of 17c. If that sounds cold, it’s not: this is a global average which includes the southern hemisphere’s winter. (And if that last explanatory sentence felt patronising, please know I included it only for any NewsCorp columnists reading along; they seem to be uniformly missing this point.)
It’s fairly stark. A decent portion of the creepy things that happen at the start of terrible movies like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow are happening. This year Antarctica is missing a chunk of sea ice the size of Argentina. Europe – traditionally one of the least on-fire continents – is on fire. Ice core and tree ring samples need to go back 120,000 years for the last time the planet was this hot. UN Secretary General António Guterres did not mince his words last week. ‘Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning,’ he said. ‘The era of global boiling has arrived.’
Pause for a breath here, because it’s important to note that if Guterres’ words are a little alarming, that is entirely the point behind them. If you’ve been paying attention thus far to the climate’s degradation over the past few decades, nothing unexpected and unpredicted is happening here, and the cadre of denialists at NewsCorp continue to cement their decades’ long legacy of being extremely fucking wrong about everything.
We are beyond needing to argue the truth of any of this. The floods and fires and storms of climate refugees do this on behalf of the world’s despondent scientists, concerned citizens, and exasperated activists. And yet climate denial somehow continues to obfuscate, confuse, and misinform, manufacturing consent for the type of cowardly inaction both major parties jerk-off to, greasing the wheels for the continued plundering of our futures by an exceptionally small group of vampiric individuals, soulless mega-corporations, their dancing puppeticians and convenient idiots in conservative (read: mainstream) media circles.
Convenient idiots like The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair, who responded to the UN’s rhetoric shift as only a man pelted in the head with rocks could. ‘The hilarious thing about the UN’s announcement of “global boiling”, its climate extremism, is that the guy was wearing a tie,’ he said, impressed with his own wit and allowing a pregnant pause for his mic drop moment to sink in. ‘That’s the first thing you get rid of when it gets a bit warm,’ he continued, oblivious to the fact the UN tends to hold its event inside air conditioned rooms and not beneath Iran’s midday sun – where, incidentally, it was 49.9c today. You fucking ghouls.
On July 16, as the world’s hottest month rolled on, Rowan Dean pointed to the fact that the Himalayas were still covered in snow. ‘I guess they didn’t get the memo that it was the hottest day on the planet in 125,000 years,’ he said, impressively managing to remain upright, dressed and conscious. That Dean misunderstands two exceptionally basic concepts – how averages work, and that different parts of the world experience different weather all at the same time – and has still not let this hamper his employment opportunities is a testament to his gumption and drive. If he continues progressing at this rate he’ll receive his pen licence by the end of the year.
And then there’s the ever-reliable Andrew Bolt, every asshole uncle’s favourite source of BBQ-soiling opinions. In a Herald Sun column entitled ‘Finally, proof that net zero is bonkers’, Bolt wrote that ‘global warming is a massively exaggerated problem and attempts to “stop” it are both useless and a grotesque waste of billions of dollars.’
Keep in mind that all of this has been uttered following NewsCorp’s short-lived and pathetic Joe Hildebrand-led attempt at greenwashing its own image, Mission Zero, which featured articles called things like ‘What polluters are doing to help’.
Bulking out Hydra’s roster, NewsCorp also has a suite of guests no one should be listening to on such matters. People like Professor Ian Plimer, a geologist at the University of Melbourne, WHO HAS BEEN THE DIRECTOR OF A NUMBER OF MINING COMPANIES, and whose Wikipedia page states, in the third fucking sentence of its introduction, that he has been ‘criticised by climate scientists for misinterpreting data and spreading misinformation’ and then provides seven references proving this. Seven.
Sounds like a credible guest!
When Dean asked Plimer about the latest round of climate records broken, Plimer replied, ‘Well that’s total BS. These are activists. You can count on a saw-miller’s hand the number of real journalists reporting on climate… This is just scare mongering.’ He went on to elaborate. ‘Every summer it gets warmer, strange about that. Every winter it’s cold. Now we have a lot of bushfires in summer. A lot of those are deliberately lit… this is a normal summertime event.’
No one is denying the existence of winter, summer, of the seasons more generally, Professor Plimer! But glad you cleared that up for us!
There are many different forms of climate denial. There’s talking about arson while the world grows ever more combustible. There’s advocating for carbon capture and storage – a scam that doesn’t work – which is the preferred method amongst politicians owned by mining companies that do not want to appear thus. There’s pretending your fossil fuel company is transitioning to save the planet with fancy ads featuring softly lit attractive people walking through fields and smiling at wind turbines. And then there’s the overt unreality spraying forth from Rupert Murdoch’s many public-facing orifices.
Given the gravity of climate denialism’s consequences, it should in the future be considered a serious crime. We would not be in this perilous position without it. This isn’t Thought Police shit, calm down Twitter Blue subscriber, this is about perspective, about survival, about punishments fitting the scale of the sin. We lock teenagers up for possessing marijuana; why not CEOs, and politicians and journalists for collaborating with our species’ own demise? At the very least, opinions as thickheaded as these should get you tarred and feathered on the back of a donkey as the village jeers and hurls mud, rotten fruit pelting perpetrators as they begin an exiled existence roaming the ever-warmer desert wastelands at the edge of the known world. We would all be better off for it.