The catechism of climate crank cliché

“A cliché,” according to the late Brian O’Nolan, “is a phrase that has become fossilised, its component words deprived of their intrinsic light and meaning by incessant usage. Thus it appears that clichés reflect somewhat the frequency of the same situations in life. If this be so, a sociological commentary could be compiled from these items of mortified language.”

O’Nolan is perhaps better known as Flann O’Brien, the author of such staggering works of comic genius as The Third Policeman and At Swim-Two-Birds, but for many years he contributed a column to the Irish Times under the pen name Myles na Gopaleen. One of the highlights of that column was the occasional appearance of extracts from Myles na Gopaleen’s Catechism of Cliché.

I was reminded of that catechism when I stumbled upon the “core principles” of the International Climate Science Coalition, a list of the doctrines the ICSC expects its members and supporters to believe and promote. Like Myles’ least favourite constructions, they are certainly fossilised and deprived of any intrinsic meaning but have the added attraction of being for the most part untrue.

A catechism, as the more literate (or Catholic) reader will know, is:

…a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present. Catechisms are doctrinal manuals often in the form of questions followed by answers to be memorized, a format that has been used in non-religious or secular contexts as well. [Wikipedia]

Amongst the doctrinal manuals available for today’s climate sceptic there are the popular scriptures by Plimer and Wishart, the undergraduate philippics of Carter and Allegro, and the industrial grade biblical length blockbuster produced by Fred Singer and his Not the IPCC project. So much to choose from, such a lot to read. How is the would-be denier to thread their way through such a maze of doctrinal complexity, uncertainty and contradiction? Let us help them by preparing a climate crank catechism in the style of Myles…

What is it that global climate is always doing?


In what ways are current changes like a Tom Jones song?

They are not unusual.

What is the current warming (if any) of the planetary climate?


What is it that climate science is doing?

Rapidly evolving.

And in what direction is that evolution proceeding?

Away from CO2 as a cause of climate change.

With what word shall we always prefix our mentions of climate change?




Climate models are always?


Climate models are in want of what?

Scientific integrity.

What future condition is climate modelling the only evidence for?

Catastrophic climate change.

[Narrator] Excellent! You are learning fast…

What are scientists who agree with us?


And how many of them are there?


What collectively do they prove the absence of?


What is it that carbon dioxide is essential for?

Life on earth.

Action to reduce carbon emissions is what?


What are all forms of renewable energy?

Heavily subsidised.

Yes. And?

Very expensive.

Yes. And?

Lead to increased CO2 emissions.

And finally: whodunnit?

It’s the sun what done it!

All comments to this post should take the form of an entry to the catechism.

15 thoughts on “The catechism of climate crank cliché”

  1. What is climate science?
    A religion

    Who believes in this religion?
    Watermelons (geen on the outside, red in the middle)

    What are those who expose these watermelons and their religion?
    Latter-day Galileos.

    This would be hilarious if it wasn’t such an accurate portrayal.

  2. Who invented the greenhouse effect, and when?

    Al Gore, in 2007 with Jim Hansen (but this is a secret).

    What does Al Gore live in?

    A big mansion heated by fossil fuels.

    What does Al Gore travel by?

    A fleet of private jets burning fossil fuels.

    What is Al Gore?


    What is the temperature increase since 1998 / 2005 / for the last decade / since last week?

    Statistically insignificant.

    What did temperature do before CO2?

    Go up.

    What did alarmists predict in the 1970s?

    A new ice age.

    What is the Hockey Stick?


    What do alarmist scientists get from their predictions?

    Billions and billions of dollars of research grants into their Cayman Islands bank accounts [oops, didn’t mean to become that creative]

  3. What is ocean acidification?
    Never mind.

    What is ocean heating?
    A factoid of little consequence.

    Who is Al Gore’s henchman?
    The Southern fungus-farmer…

  4. Who is the Anti-Christ?
    George Soros.

    What is CO2?
    Plant food.

    Some call it pollution, but we call it?

    The best thing about this is?
    We don’t have to think!

  5. Galileo? indeed, as one can learn from the cartoon on p.7 of Environment & Climate News, from Heartland, who people may recall gave funding to NZCSC and ICSC. (Note: ~5MB, download a be slow, be patient.)
    It’s part of an article by Heartland President Joseph Bast called
    “Heartland President Debunks Global Warming Myths.”

    People may recognize a meme or two and one wonders if ICSC folks ever read this journal.

    I offer an analogy: the moon is surely made of cheese, as I’ve seen a film on the expedition there by Wallace and Gromit.

  6. Who is the most truthful man to ever speak on global warming?

    Christopher Monckton

    Who is using his climate change forum to convert all of NZ to the joys of truffle-eating?

    Gareth Renowden
    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  7. Localised severe winters show us?

    Global cooling.

    Sustained increases in global average temperature-?

    Mean nothing.

    Short-term cooling trends show us?

    Global cooling.

    Consistent long-term global warming trends-?

    Mean nothing.

    Short-term, localised flat or downward sea-level trends show us?

    The seas are not rising.

    Long-term global sea-level rises-?

    Mean nothing. Just look at this chart I’m holding upside down.

    Quite a lot of snow falling anywhere in the world shows us?

    Global cooling.

    The loss of millions of tonnes of glacial ice across the world-?

    Means nothing.

    The Arctic Ocean-?

    Is not losing ice.

    The Arctic Ocean-?

    Is recovering from any recent ice loss.

    The Arctic Ocean-?

    Has been ice-free many times. I read it in a book.

    Polar Bears-?

    Are doing fine.

    The species of the World are?

    Not migrating.

    The species of the World will?


    The species of the World are?

    Of little interest to me anyway. Stop going on about it.

    Global Warming-?

    Stopped last Tuesday.

    And how do we know all this?

    Because blessed Saint Anthony tells us What’s Up.

    1. That’s more like it!

      But you should rev up the questions a bit to get the full Myles effect…

      What species of charismatic megafauna is not threatened by the mythical retreat of boreal sea ice?

      Polar Bear!

  8. What is climate sensitivity?
    One third of whatever you think it is.

    What is peer review?
    A process not half as rigorous as blog review.

    Where is the decline?

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