06/08/2008 08:04 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Quiddities and Quillets

Usually when we use Titanic metaphors in relation to global warming we find ourselves up on the bridge speaking to the Captain who, blind eye to the telescope, is signaling full speed ahead, and saying "Icebergs, what Icebergs?" Or perhaps in the ballroom with the rich, dancing the night away, literally.

Instead, this time, I want to take you down, past the ballroom, past the second class passenger cabins, and down into the depths of the ship near the third class passengers. There you will find a climate change denier, potentially of course the grandfather of one of our own deniers. Shush, go quietly so you don't disturb him, and so you can hear him above the roar of the engines and the scraping of an iceberg along the hull. Listen ....

"Ssssss, ah the lovely, the lovely hull, my precious ssssssship, greatest ssssssship ever built, and it'sssss mine, all mine, my precious. Sssssee the water coming through that little hole? Ah, lovely water, we lovesssss the water we do. But not very much water, really, just a little bit, and water is sssso natural in a ship. Anyway, there is supposed to be water coming in through the hole, they probably put the hole in so the water could get out again. All ships have holes, I'm sure. And not so much water on the floor yet, really, only covers my feet, oh yes, now my legsssss. It will stop soon, bound to. And if it doesn't, well then, my preciousssss can't sink, nothing can happen to her, unsinkable. Anyway, even if she does sink into the lovely water, full of fishes, lovely fishes, there are life boats on board, we can all escape. But really, my preciousss will be fine, and I can stay in her forever."

Look, I know, I know, easy target, next thing I'll be poking fun at Jehovah's Witnesses or Scientology or the La Rouche movement or Warren Jeffs. The world seems to always have an endless supply of gullible-willing-to-suspend-all-disbelief potential followers for any new leader who hoists a flag. I've been poking fun at denialists for some time now, but enough is enough, no more Mr Funny Guy, it's time, deadly serious from now on. For ten years these people have been babbling on, not critical, not skeptical, but just in complete denial, like our slippery friend in the bowels of the Titanic. Nothing will do the trick - not the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap, or the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, or hurricanes removing the whole state of Kansas. They will still keep spouting the same old rubbish, like a player piano roll; ice caps on Mars, climate has changed before, 1970s ice age, sun spots, crops in Greenland, 1998 a hot year, cold in Chicago today, CO2 good for you, can't predict weather even next week, etc etc. The points can be, and have been, answered a thousand times, but into the piano goes the roll, and the same old tune is played again and again.

And it isn't funny any more, not even with clever "Gollum on the Titanic" metaphors. For over ten years now you have obfuscated and quibbled; turned to quiddities, quillets, cases, tenures, and tricks. For ten long years you have given governments everywhere, urged on by giant corporations, an excuse to believe there was debate when there was none. Out with the lot of you. You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you.

We tend to think of climate change denialists as some kind of new breed, new cult, new sect, but there is really nothing new about them. They have infested America from the first day at Jamestown as the sound of axes rang out. Ever since then they have resisted all attempts at conservation measures. Rivers dammed, forests felled, dust bowls created, species hunted to extinction. There would always be plenty more trees, more buffalo, more salmon, more Passenger Pigeons, shining seas, grass on the Prairies, snow, clean water. Every attempt to warn of coming problems being met with contempt and obfuscation, and a demand that big business (and big agribusiness) must be allowed to get on with things, unfettered by any environmental regulation.

Well, the last 400 years have been an extended home and away season, where the Denialist Dragons ("Go the Dragons") have met and beaten every team of Environmentalist Spotted Owls ("Come on the Owls") that challenged them. And now Global Warming, it's the big one, the Super Bowl. Greenhouse temperature rise is a massive refutation of the proposition that the world should be run by businessmen for businessmen. Businessmen and conservative politicians hate global warming because it is one of those stubborn facts that keep getting in the way of ideology. Global warming is the final match for the difference of opinion between conservationists and the Right, and the Right know that they have lost the game. So they continue to thrash about, demanding extra time, video replays, injury stoppages, player substitutions, goal kicks to be retaken.

And please, whatever talking points you have left in your supporters kit, forget it. I don't want to hear them. I know it is going to be something (global cooling since 2001 perhaps?) that is just as silly as all the other nonsense you have spouted to an increasingly bored crowd of spectators.

Game over. Go home. Let us get on with trying to work out how to clean up the mess you and your supporters have left us with.

Alas poor Yoricks? No.

Metaphors to burn, as the planet heats up, on The Watermelon Blog.