In 1837 Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson wrote a short tale for children called ‘The Emperor’s new clothes’. In this a pair of enterprising weavers undertake to provide a magnificent new suit for his majesty, which will have the interesting characteristic of being quite invisible to those of his court who are ignorant, or incompetent, or otherwise, unfit for their position.
The story is apparently based on a 14th century version of a myth that goes back to classic times.
The climax of the tale comes when an unsophisticated observer of the royal procession (a small boy), who does not know what he is supposed to see, shouts out that the Emperor has no clothes! Of course, the story is now taken to be a metaphor for human gullibility; for hollow pretentiousness and the collective denial of what is clearly the case. In theme, it has a lot in common with a more or less contemporary account of the apparently irresistible forces of collective self-deception involved in such episodes as the ‘South Sea Company Bubble’ and the, earlier, ‘Dutch tulip mania’. The book is, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay, 1841. It is a fascinating account of ‘group-think’ and how resistant it is to rational input. ‘Men go mad in herds’, he says, ‘they only discover their senses, one by one’.
This, of course, is where the present climate change mania comes in. I do not suppose that one in a hundred of those self-righteous protesters in our streets over the last few days could sustain an argument on the mechanisms of global warming, on the climate history of the planet, or on the metabolism and physical chemistry of carbon dioxide. That is why those who are using them for their political ends rigorously exclude from any debate, persons who might have a different opinion.
This was most dramatically illustrated in Hamilton, where the University of Waikato, to its eternal shame, promoted a major piece of public propaganda, using its own staff. These included a professor of law and a professor of Maori Studies but it did not include the one member of staff, whose area of expertise this is. Of course, he is a critic. Similarly, the specialist at Auckland has not been called to any of these ‘public discussions’ and neither have other persons who have extensive knowledge in relevant areas but who do not (to a greater or lesser extent) support the global-warming disaster hypothesis.
Mr Anderson does not tell us how the media handled the imperial procession and the naked Emperor but I am betting that the court scribes were particularly fulsome and poetic about the magnificence of the royal wardrobe and were particularly impressed by the enthusiastic support of a very personable young woman in the crowd. As far as the boy is concerned, I think they would be opining that the boy’s mother should take him home and teach him better manners.
I have complained on previous occasions about how badly served we are by the main-stream media. This is certainly the case here. We are about to send a delegation to Paris which will sell the interests of New Zealand people down the river (Seine) on the basis of bogus science. To some degree, I think our representatives are victims, themselves. They have been misinformed and manipulated and they have been unable to resist (in public, at least). It will cost us. We will fine ourselves for our emissions, whilst China and India continue to increase theirs, at no cost and by a relatively overwhelming amount. Now how stupid is that? It is particularly so, since there has been no significant global warming for nearly twenty years. And, of course, that was what it was all supposed to be about.
Come back, Mr Mackay, we need you.