Diary

Gadfly
Piers-reviewed climate science

Bushfire and reproductive rights expert Barnaby Joyce, MP, may be onto something with his idea that the sun’s magnetic field is the devil behind the terrible conflagrations sweeping the nation.

Citizens who labour under the belief that CO2 is the cause of our problems have clearly not read up on solar magnetic theory. One of the principal proponents of this theory is an Englishman named Piers Corbyn. Yes, the older brother of British election hopeful Jeremy Corbyn.

Piers is not to be dismissed lightly. He’s got a master’s degree in astrophysics from Imperial College London and commercial success with a business called WeatherAction, which makes medium-range predictions that are sold to utility providers in need of forward forecasts.

Piers’ company explains its forecasts are based on “predictable aspects of solar particle and magnetic activity and sun-earth connections and their modulation by lunar effects”.

He says this “unique method” is known as the “solar-lunar-action-technique” or SLAT. He couldn’t stress more forcefully that it is a “brazen falsity” to claim that weather extremes are driven by CO2.

“There is no evidence or scientific paper which demonstrates a link in the real world,” Piers adds, to the relief of 84 per cent of the Coalition frontbench and our assortment of paleo-conservative newspaper flappers.

What the Honourable Barnaby  may not appreciate is that while studying all this at university, Piers was an active Trotskyist – Fourth International branch, dedicated to the overthrow of global capitalism, which at the moment is doing a reasonably good job of overthrowing itself.

In fact, Piers has established something titled Action4Life, which campaigns against action on climate change because it is a hoax propounded by a capitalist plot to take over the world.

Trotskyism, capitalist plots, the sun, lunar activity and the joyous contribution of CO2. What’s not to like?

Secrets and alibis

It’s surprising how quickly Prince Andrew’s alibis to Emily Maitlis on the BBC are unravelling. As little tots in the 17th century used to sing:

 

The grand old Duke of York,

He had ten thousand men;

He marched them up to the top of the hill,

And he marched them down again.

 

And when they were up, they were up,

And when they were down, they were down,

And when they were only halfway up,

They were neither up nor down.

 

Never was a nursery rhyme so ripe with meaning. In this instance, it was 10,000 communications advisers, spinners, wardrobe assistants, hair groomers, style agents, draft question consultants, neck masseurs and negotiators. And yet, the former “roving trade envoy” still managed to look and sound as thick as a brick.

“The party prince?” That’s a “bit of a stretch”, replied Andy, whereupon the blatts published hundreds of snaps of him draped around models and celebrities. Former Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger called it Andrew’s “gallery of crumpet”.

Andy said the photo of him with his arm around a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts must have been a fake because those are “travelling clothes” – not what the prince would wear in London. Whereupon everyone published photos of him everywhere in his “travelling clothes”. Anyway, “I’m not one to, as it were, hug,” he added – prompting media snaps of the prince hugging.

At Pizza Express in Woking, none of the locals had heard a whisper that HRH had been wolfing down a Hawaiian at the time he was allegedly having sex with a teenager.

Possibly his most dazzling revelation was that, unlike for women, sex for a man “is a positive act”. It’s so positive you’d remember it, and if you can’t remember it, then it didn’t happen.

Phew. Such a relief.

Throwing it into the verse

One would have hoped that Professor Flint from Monarchists Down Under would have given some badly needed perspective on all this. Instead, it was left to the London Review of Books to unearth stanzas from Clive James’s diary in 1983.

This is before Clive, riddled with illness, became a climate denier.

 

Hosannahs for Prince Andrew and Koo Stark,

Who when the chips are down are not in doubt

That what needs doing when the world looks bleak

Is best done on the Island of Mustique.

 

Too bad that jealous Fleet Street crabs the act.

Andrew deserves a break with his show-stopper,

In view of all the dreary weeks he hacked

Around the Falklands with his lonely chopper.

 

Nevertheless you have to face the fact

Young Koo’s the next thing to a teenybopper:

Highly unsuitable and, if adorable

From certain angles, all the more deplorable.

 

Meanwhile, corporates are fleeing the prince’s business mentoring initiative, [email protected], while universities and charities are trying to work out how to prise him off their letterheads.

Banking on trouble

As if we haven’t had enough global upheaval to last us a lifetime, along comes the Bank of America’s outlook for what’s ahead.

The bank starts its forecast for the 2020s like this: “We enter the next decade with interest rates at 5,000-year lows, the largest asset bubble in history, a planet that is heating up, and a deflationary profile of debt, disruption and demographics.”

Added to the dire cocktail is that by the end of that decade there will be nearly a billion more people on the planet, a rapidly ageing population, up to 800 million jobs threatened by automation, and “the environment on the brink of catastrophic change”.

It’s such a relief to know that we’re in the hands of the finest and most perspicacious politicians to manage our way through this.

What we’re seeing is “peak globalisation” with a trend towards the reassertion of sovereignty over trade and investment.

The shift away from globalisation is already happening with a technological “arms race”, which the bank calls a “splinternet” – there will be Chinese technology, and technology for the rest of the world.

The decade will also see “peak inequality, peak oil, peak youth and peak stuff”. Yes, peak stuff is bad news for retailers as conspicuous consumption gives way to the “sharing and circular economies”.

But it is the environment that concerns the bank most deeply. The past four years have been the hottest recorded, and the warmest 20 years occurred over the past 22 years. If governments were smart enough, “bold climate action could yield a direct economic gain of $US26 trillion through to 2030 compared with business as usual”.

Vintage pollies to get hammered

The Lawsons auction catalogue has just lobbed with news of lot 541: 18 bottles of 2004 Penfolds Bin 407 cabernet sauvignon from South Australia.

It’s being offered by former Liberal MP, and one-time parliamentary secretary to treasurer Peter Costello, the Honourable Chris Pearce.

We may have forgotten Chris but his bottles live on. Presumably he bought them at a fundraising auction somewhere before he bowed out of politics in 2010.

What gets this offering into the estimated $2000 to $3000 price range is that each bottle is signed by a different Howard-era cabinet minister, including Little Winston himself.

What delight awaits. The wine would taste so much better served from a bottle signed by Bunter Downer; or the Mad Monk, minister for Ageing; or Kev Andrews, minister for Immigration; or even Phil Ruddock, father of the “Pacific Solution”.

Bunter’s latest forensic contribution to national affairs was an article in The Australian Financial Review announcing that climate leadership is “expensive virtue signalling”.

Jeremy Oliver’s OnWine reviews Bin 407 as revealing “a minty aroma of cassis, violets, dark cherries and small red berry fruits neatly interwoven with cedar/dark chocolate oak”.

On the other hand, Paul Feeney at Vivino says, it’s “well balanced with plumb [sic] and stone fruit up front … This wine will keep ageing for long time.”

Just for the record

Last week it was Gadfly’s melancholy duty to inform readers about the restrictions on Hansard reporting imposed by the speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly, the Honourable Jonathan O’Dea.

It was all getting too much for the transcribers of parliamentary proceedings and on health and safety grounds they had to down quills and take a breather.

As ever, Gadfly is at the forefront of driving the administrative agenda, and so it was after our missive and the subsequent public outcry sparked by it that Speaker O’Dea backed off as promptly as Monday: “I have instructed that Hansard are to resume their normal service this week.”

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 23, 2019 as "Gadfly: Piers-reviewed climate science". Subscribe here.

Richard Ackland
is the publisher of Justinian. He is The Saturday Paper’s diarist-at-large and legal affairs editor.