Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Tomorrow marks first showing at my local Fine Arts cinema of the re-release of the classic Monty Python film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.   Python humour is deeply ingrained within the cohort that grew up watching all of the original episodes on English TV and re-enacting them all the following morning.  To this day, members of that generation can recall with great accuracy their favourite skits: the cheese shop, the dead parrot, the upper-class twit race, the Bishop and nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!  We may falter at Shakespeare, our Latin and Greek is passed recall, but Python sketches, we have them!
What prompted this reminiscence, was the exchange over at the Roger Pielke Jr. site concerning the pathologies in climate science, the subsequent illustration of tribalism in climate politics and the continued confirmation that nobody expects the Spanish inquisition when they posit reasonable propositions only to be scorned.
Sadly, as Climate Audit continues to document, all climate science is not equal, nor do people practice what they preach.
Over at Climate Resistance, they discuss the status of climate porn and make this observation:
  • ....climate change isn't something difficult for governments to cope with. It is actually convenient.
  • The political establishment's absorption of environmentalism allows it to substantially lower the standard by which it is measured, and gives authoritarianism a legitimising basis.
  • The looming, inevitable environmental crisis instructs the public to lower their expectations accordingly. It means that rather than finding a way through problems such as energy supply, water and travel infrastructure, and of course, raising expectations, politicians can turn the normal business of politics around, and redefine the problem as one of individual morality.
  • The statement that the public must use less electricity, must travel less, and must consume fewer resources is a statement that the public must expect less of politicians and politics, and behave themselves.
  • The failure of the establishment's collective imagination is what drives 'climate change ethics'.
  • The search for international agreements and legal frameworks to 'combat climate change' is a way of externalising what cannot legitimately be done domestically. Once in place, politicians can reasonably argue that punitive climate laws are a matter of international obligation; we are all bound by them, and cannot do anything about them. It defers politics and political accountibility to the strange, undemocratic, inaccessible space that exists between states.
It was Harold Wilson's England that gave rise to Monty Python's particular brand of satire.  Hopefully the current state of political ineptness will serve as similar fodder for new comedy.  Until then, there is this and, of course, the renewed quest for the Holy Grail.