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Saturday, January 20, 2007


Robert Fisk advises us to fear climate change, not our enemies:

It was a warning. Scratched, of course after more than 50 years, but a home movie, shot by my mother in colour. But most of the colour is white. Bill Fisk, the 57-year-old borough treasurer of Maidstone, is standing in the garden of our home in his long black office coat, wearing - as always - his First World War regimental tie, throwing snow balls at his son.

If you were Robert Fisk’s father, you too might have attacked Robert Fisk.

I am 10 years old, in short trousers but up to my waist in snow. There must have been two feet of it in the garden. You can even see the condensation from my mouth. My mother doesn’t appear on the film of course. She is standing in the snow behind my father, 36 years old, the daughter of café proprietors who every Boxing Day would host my own and my aunt’s family with a huge lunch and a roaring log fire. It really was cold then.

It must remain ever so.

I think was it Andrew Marr, when editor of The Independent, who first made me think about what was happening. It was a stiflingly hot summer and I had just arrived in London from Beirut and commented that there wasn’t much difference in temperature. And Andrew turned round and pointed across the city. “Something’s gone wrong with the bloody weather!” he roared.

Why is there always so much roaring around Fisk?

Now I acknowledge it silently: the great storms that sweep across Europe, the weird turbulence that my passenger jet pilots experience high over the Atlantic. Because I have never travelled so far or so frequently, I notice that at year’s end it’s 15 degrees in Toronto and Montreal - a “springtime Christmas”, the Canadian papers announce in a land famous for its tundra.

These days Canada is famous as the place where Fisk once took his pullover off because of the sun. By the way, if Fisk is so concerned about global warming, why is he flying more frequently than ever before?

Water levels in the world’s oceans may rise 20 feet higher, we are told. And I calculate that in Beirut, the Mediterranean - in rough weather - will be splashing over my second-floor balcony wall.

I curl down deep in my bed, because the nights are strangely damp ...

The splashing! It’s already happening! From his dampened sheets, Fisk solves the threat of terrorism:

The only way to lessen the risk of attack in London or Washington is to adopt a moral, just policy towards the Middle East. Failure to do this - and the Blairs and the Bushes clearly have no intention of doing so - means that we will be bombed again.

Care to outline just what might be a “moral, just policy towards the Middle East”, Robert? No? Well, let’s just move on to what we should fear:

I think we should be afraid - of what we are doing to our planet. But we should not fear our enemies in the world. They will return.

They’ll return; so we shouldn’t fear them. Not making much sense there, Bob.

Meanwhile, watch the world and the weather and the turbulence at high altitude. And remember the snow in Maidstone.

We’ll try.

UPDATE. Some sound points from eeniemeenie:

Fisk was 10 years old in 1956.

According to professor Gordon Manley’s table of mean temperatures in England (1659 to 1973) February 1956 was an unusually cold month (-0.2 C) so if his home movie was taken then there probably was snow.

No other month in the entire decade seems to have been cold enough for snow to last on the ground.

I’d guess the reason the home movie was taken in the first place was because the snow was unusual - yet Fisk is using it as evidence that there is something wrong with the weather because it doesn’t snow like it did when he was a kid.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/20/2007 at 01:37 PM
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