Jim Hopkins: vapid, vacuous, pretty vacant

by Gareth on December 18, 2011

There’s a terrible tyranny in being a columnist for a national newspaper, required to produce entertaining and informative copy every week. It’s a hard job, having an opinion and expressing it cogently. Some writers struggle and succeed, others strive and fail dismally. The NZ Herald — the newspaper of record for NZ’s biggest city — has a couple of fine examples of the latter: old curmudgeon Garth George, who meets the difficulties inherent in his job by ripping off other people’s copy, and red-spectacled “funny man” Jim Hopkins, who has never allowed the facts to get in the way of a good rant.

And what a diatribe he gave us last Friday! Global warming’s gone away, Jim reckons:

There has been a trickle of terror but, by and large, the whole calamitous narrative is a goneburger.

…and…

The conclusion’s inescapable. Either we (literally) cooked our goose a long time ago or global warming’s always been more chimera than catastrophe. Quids in, it’s the latter. This is a crisis of faith, not a crisis of fact.

…and…

We just don’t need to worry about it any more. That’s all. The prediction holds. Global warming has disappeared.

Yes that’s right, because the media isn’t giving global warming the same prominence as a few years ago, the problem must be over. Thank the Lord for that sir. And what a shame that Hopkins’ is talking — not to put too fine a point on it — complete bollocks. Here’s why:

Hopkins is wrong because the laws of physics haven’t changed. CO2 continues to accumulate in the atmosphere, the world continues to warm. But his position is actually worse than mere wishful thinking — it’s based on wilful ignorance. The world’s media have been providing the very kind of “calamitous narrative” he thinks has disappeared — but he’s failed to notice. Let’s count a few of the terrible weather disasters likely to have been made worse by a warming climate:

…and that’s just for starters. You’d think Hopkins might have noticed, but perhaps he needs a new prescription in those famous red specs of his.

You might also think that the powers that be at the NZ Herald would notice just how far removed from reality their “humorous” columnist1 has strayed — but given that they are happy to provide a regular platform for Garth George and Chris de Freitas, one has to assume they don’t care.

[See also: Phoebe Fletcher at Tumeke!]

[Pace the Sex Pistols, you'll always find that Hopkins is out to lunch.]

  1. He had me smiling at his “Higgs bison” quip in the opening par, but that was the extent of my amusement. Reminded me of something though: What’s the difference between a buffalo and a bison? You can’t wash your hands in a buffalo. [/Aussie accent] []

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Johnmacmot December 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Deliberately haven’t bothered to read the article, but I recollect hearing Hopkins talking total nonense about climate change a couple of years ago on a farming programme on radio. I’ve always enjoyed his humour in the past, but my opinion of him dropped hugely after that experience.

I suspect his views might have been shaped by some of the farming sector denialists he mixes with!

Macro December 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm

My same thoughts entirely.
Good to see you’ve survived the flooding. :)
Ironic that Hopkins should be publishing his rubbish when AGW was making its presence truly felt not an hours flight from Christchurch

Johnmacmot December 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

No problems where we are – survived comfortably, thanks! It’s a bit startling looking at the damage and on-going issues around the district.

noelfuller December 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I believe it was Bernard Shaw who said, “If you have nothing to say you will have no style.” I read Hopkins, he is all style, of a kind, and nothing to say -or would Shaw claim he has no style either?

Noel

bill December 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I love the line of, um, ‘reasoning’ that runs ‘if AGW was actually important more people would be worrying about it, and the government would actually do something about it’. The ironic flipside of ‘they wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true’. And we’ve recently experienced another variant; ‘even the Greens don’t believe it, because, see, there they are talking about another issue, and if this is really so important, they shouldn’t be!’

It’s amazingly prevalent.

It’s also a clear indicator that while everybody certainly ages, very few manage to grow up.

bennydale December 18, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Pompous nonsense Bill.

If AGW was the problem that Al Gore and alarmists think it is, it demands direct action. Not fuming about it from behind the keyboard. Eiuther it is or it isn’t a grave threat to humanity’s future. If it is such a threat to our existence then you and other alarmists should have the courage of your convictions to express yourself a little more dramatically than blog commenting.

sailrick December 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

bennydale

To start with, your use of the terms warmist and alarmist are misleading. It’s called science. It isn’t a political persuasion or ideology or something to be decided by popular poll. Science isn’t done by talk show hosts, scientifically illiterate politicians, journalists or your uncle Bob.
By using the terms you do, you are implying that the vast majority of the world’s scientists are “environmentalists”, rather than accepting that what they do is Science.

You might try substituting “realist” for warmist and alarmist.

Secondly, as soon as you mention Al Gore, you’ve lost me. He has nothing to do with it. “Shoot the messenger” is not a scientific inquiry.

Thirdly, people have all kinds of environmental concerns and environmentalists can become focused on one particular area of concern, which has a tendency toward compartmentalizing greens.

So to a certain extent, you are right. It wouldn’t hurt to focus more on climate change. For me, the most glaring example is oppostion to large scale solar in the U.S southwest deserts, by people who want to protect the desert ecosystem.
While I appreciate their dedication to that, I think they are being shortsighted, since using a tiny percentage of available desert land for solar, will harm the desert ecosytem far less than climate change will. 1,000 GW of base load solar thermal, for example, would be a big help in developing a robust clean grid.

Often solutions for climate change can also be solutions for other issues and visa versa. Stopping the burning of Coal is a good example, since it is so polluting, in so many ways, including greenhouse gas.

RW December 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm

You are an offensive troll, indistinguishable from the rest of the tag team that turn up here. How dare you accuse people here of lacking the courage of their convictions. Go and commune with your dim-bulb mate Treadgold instead – he’s more at your intellectual level. Maybe you can help him with his litigation?

bill December 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Touch a nerve did I, Benny?

Let’s see: I vote Green; use public transport; ride my bicycle or walk for all local trips; don’t fly all over the world on my holidays and avoid the same on work junkets; use a small, fuel efficient car when I have to; have a solar array on my roof; purchase 100% wind power for any electricity that comes from the mains; purchase 100% reveg offsets for my natural gas usage; support local-growers at the regular local farmers’ markets; write regularly to elected officials; participate in all the local rallies on the issue; keep myself up-to-date on the issue (thanks go here to Gareth and Bryan); and do my best to regularly crush the nonsense churned out by Denialist deadheads here online and whenever I encounter it in the rest of the world.

I also donate a significant portion of my income regularly to Oxfam, the Australian Bush Heritage Fund, and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. I donate my photographic services to The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation. And I’ve even been rung up by aides and asked to frame questions to be asked in parliament or tailor material to be handed to journalists on several occasions. Have you?

So, I walk the talk, Sunshine.

What the hell do you do?

bennydale December 18, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Oh Bill. Wonderful work. Very civic.

But that’s not the point.

Global warming is portrayed as threatening humanity’s survival. Jim Hopkin’s point is that many other issues – such as asset sales – now dominate the (pre and immediately post) election thinking of the greens. If AGW is such a dire threat why isn’t it the only item on the agenda for them ? Not just a sideshow but “the greatest moral challenge of our generation.” As a green voter how can you have time for anything else ? Sunshine…

bennydale December 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm

…and don’t you like the way my avatar resembles a green swastika ?

Ooops. Off topic. Sorry Gareth.

bill December 18, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Well, we can all see that you like to ramble and don’t do logic too well. But we knew that already.

If I talk about anything other than AGW – say issues relating to social justice or more typical conservation concerns – therefore I don’t really believe AGW is an overwhelming threat to the future of humanity and the biodiversity of this planet? Um, sure…

The avatars, incidentally, are an integral part of the WordPress theme package (WordPress is the content management system that handles the blog), and are randomly and automatically assigned by this third-party software. There’s one more little point with which to prick the bloom of your ignorance. ;-)

And, really, what do you do? Justify your existence!

Thomas December 18, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Jim Hopkins presents with a classical late stage of “intellectual disconnect syndrome” – IDS – (switching ones intellect or whats left of it off in order to cope with the severe mental stress resulting from the denial of an obvious reality which is conflicting with perceived peer pressure by other sufferers of IDS, long held deluded beliefs or unreasonably assumed entitlements…)
Unfortunately the condition in its late stages as seen here is believed to be incurable and commonly results in terminal irrelevance….. ;-)

Thomas December 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Uh and I forgot to add: IDS is a condition easily transmittable by the sharing of mental drivel oozing from affected individuals in the blogosphere. Inoculation with scientific literacy is known to convey effective immunity.
Benny here is another case sadly beyond recovery already…
It would seem that he missed all prescribed dozes of the public science education program designed to combat IDS….. ;-)

Kiwipoet December 18, 2011 at 8:27 pm

It’s a pity that good minds like Garath have to waste their time pointing out the obvious to digbats like Hopkins, who has never been funny, and atavistic regressives like Garth George. I guess Mr Hopkins wants us to admire him for his rugged, individualistic stand in refusing to leave his quake endangered house in Lyttleton. I can make my own decisions, I’m a grown up man, he keeps saying, and the more he says it the less I believe it. I wonder if he’s heard the latest about the methane plumes a kilometre in diameter discovered by the Russians – even the right-wing media have caught up with that one.
Much thanks to Garath and co for the Climate Show, and all power to you guys at Hot Topic.

bennydale December 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Kiwipoet, I wonder if you are confusing Jim Hopkins with Joe Bennett ?
Then again, they may both live in quake damaged Lyttleton houses…

But further to my point above, Jim Hopkins is challenging global warming alarmists to have the courage of their convictions. Global thermageddan surely demands direct action.

“Actions must follow what one believed, else one could not claim to believe it.”

“Bonhoeffer” , Eric Metaxas.

Kiwipoet December 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Bennydale: try this one on. Not as funny as Jim Hopkins would like to be…but there you go.

There are half a dozen people chilling out on a railway line. One of them is lying with his ear to a rail.
I say we haven’t enough data to know if a train is coming or not, so therefore it’s best to do nothing, the first says.
That’s right, the second says, but you know, there have always been trains coming through here so really nothing has changed.
That’s right, the third says, and furthermore the whole idea that there’s a train coming is a conspiracy to get us off the train lines. They want us to move!
That right, the fourth says, this whole thing is ideologically driven! It’s all about taxes!
Ah, excuse me, said the fifth, who was lying on the rails, there’s a train coming. If you put your ear the track you’ll hear a kind of rumble, and look, in the distance puffs of train smoke!
Alarmist! They screamed at the fifth, and everybody broke out arguing.
Meanwhile the sixth, who hadn’t said anything yet, was quietly attempting to get off the train lines.
What are you doing, the other five yelled. They had to yell pretty hard because the rumbling was getting louder.
The sixth answered, I’m trying to get off the train tracks, but I can’t, because I’m handcuffed to the rest of you lot.

bennydale December 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm

An absolute pearl Kiwipoet !

How about this one.

Two old greenies are sitting over a joint after a global warming session.

Look at those two old fools over there one of them says to his mate. That’ll be us in another 10 years.

You dipshit, says his mate. That’s a mirror.

bill December 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Wow, Benny, you should go on the stage.

sailrick December 19, 2011 at 3:03 pm

There’s a very good movie at YouTube, called “Home”
about 90 minutes, and worth every minute.

After watching, if you don’t start wondering why everyone isn’t an “environmentalist”, watch it again.

Thomas December 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Thanks sailrick for the reminder about the Home movie. Always wanted to show it to the family. Thankfully its freely available on youtube even in HD. Thought provoking material for the teenagers.
I just wish indeed that it was a mandatory exhibit to be watched by all.
http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=jqxENMKaeCU

Tom Bennion December 19, 2011 at 12:26 am

Weather is getting strange quite rapidly. People are noticing.

Jim’s little outburst reminds everyone – something odd is going on.

In the US, Republican rejection of climate change has increased public concern about it. The same may be happening here.

sailrick December 19, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I think you’re right about a backlash to GOP denialism.

What’s given me some new hope, is the OWS movement. People, who are awake to the manipulations by corporations, can now connect the dots from that to the climate change denial PR machine.
I don’t think that even most progressives, who accept AGW, are really aware of the massive efforts to confuse the issue with misinformation.
That might change now.

If the Democrats were smart, they would make it a major issue – to win in 2012.

robint December 19, 2011 at 3:45 am

Indeed it may; as a straw in the wind, the NZ ACT party, once a hot-bed of AGW denial, is now down to 1 MP, John Banks, who is himself not a denialist.

RW December 19, 2011 at 6:59 am

I have always found Hopkins’ “humour” to be pretty weak, and he now confirms what I suspected – he’s just another dumb “journalist”. Good points made by Tom Bennion and robint.

RW December 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

Looking at the replies to the column, the “anti” brigade is still churning out its nonsense, with the Treadgold idiot prominent of course.

CTG December 19, 2011 at 10:10 am

bennydale obviously subscribes to the ostrich view of reality – if you can’t see it, it isn’t happening.

Quick, find me a bucket of sand…

CTG December 19, 2011 at 11:51 am

… as illustrated by the incomparable Flanders and Swann.

Kiwipoet December 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Bennydale:
Your’e right, I did confuse Joe Bennet and Jim Hopkins, maybe because they sing from the same songbook. I’m glad you enjoyed my tale – I enjoyed your’s too! Think I’ve been there!
As for AGW, bear in mind that there is convergence/consensus of evidence – not opinion. Climate scientists don’t believe in global warming – they simply accept the evidence. Deniers would like to make this an issue of belief, just as they attempt to switch the debate from the facts to economics. Belief has nothing to do with it. Recognising the evidence does. Whether I blog, fail to blog, demonstrate, shout from the rooftops or got to sleep won’t change the facts. It seems to me that the battle for hearts and minds on AGW is mainly happening in the blogsphere.
I suggest that if you, or Jim Hopkins, or Joe Bennet for that matter, know something 99% of climate scientists don’t,then you’d better tell them quick – because they have this funny idea there’s a train coming.

bill December 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Hang on, I just read footnote 1. ‘Bison’? Surely that’s your accent, not ours?

(Then again, many years ago in NZ no-one would believe I was an Aussie – I’d have to flare the nostrils, gird the upper palate and speak me best ‘Strayan to prove it! We don’t think of ourselves as having regional accents in the wide brown land, but upon moving to Sydney a few years later I realised just why South Australians might be taken for the English.)

PS I distinctly recall a group of us being quite bemused by Rena Owen’s reference to a ‘flesh’ car in Once Were Warriors.

Gareth December 19, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Depends who’s telling it, I suppose…

Re the NZ accent. Friends from the UK visiting us a few years ago were ordering dessert. Dish of the day was pear something or other. The waitress pronounced pear as “pee-uhr”, to British ears sounding like a Brighton beach construction. I had to translate.

The late lamented Ken Campbell visited NZ years ago to do his one man show, and made great fun of being in Auckland airport and being advised to go to the Chicken Counter. He had no chickens with him, etc…

Beaker December 19, 2011 at 8:53 pm

In the same vein
“Titty Beer? Cant you just call it breast milk”
“I said when he is upset he wants his TEADY BEAR!”

IF Jim Hopkins is hoping to write for the Spectator he must up his game. Simply ignoring evidence is not enough, you must praise the work of cranks. Jim should have cited Ken Ring!

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