Tuesday 8 May 2007

Hann immortal, planet regrettably toast

The time has come to stake my claim to immortality with an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary as the inventor of the word that truly captures the spirit of our times. My first stab was “Frazerism”, after the wonderfully gloomy Private James Frazer from Dad’s Army, who was always announcing “We’re doomed”.

Unfortunately I Googled it and “Frazerism” turns out to exist already; apparently it’s a thoroughly abstruse error in the interpretation of Greek mythology. Having accidentally reached the ancient world, I next thought of “soothsayerism”, after that mad old biddy who used to interrupt Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii by shouting “Woe, woe and thrice woe”. No good: it too has already been done.

My thoughts then turned to Dr Heinz Kiosk, a creation of that great satirist Michael Wharton. Kiosk was a distinguished social psychologist who was forever clearing rooms by bellowing “We are all guilty!” Would you believe that kioskism also exists, at any rate in translation from Japanese? I do hope it doesn’t mean anything obscene.

So I’m going to stake everything on a new coinage: Frazeoskism, meaning that we’re all doomed and we only have ourselves to blame. Which sums up our current belief system just about perfectly.

The Kent earthquake the other weekend was refreshing as one of the few instances these days of a piece of news that wasn’t trailed for at least 24 hours before it actually happened; but also because it was a natural disaster that wasn’t blamed on human action. (“If only the foolish people of Folkestone had got rid of their 4x4s, stopped flying, gone veggie, recycled more of their rubbish and installed weaker light bulbs, all this misery might have been avoided.”)

Nowadays you can’t have a flood, drought, heatwave or hurricane without some pundit popping up to announce that such extreme weather is the direct result of global warming, which is all our fault. Never mind that there have been similar disasters throughout recorded history. Now they provide a splendid excuse to crack down on the pleasures and freedoms of humanity as a whole.

We must accept that the Earth has been getting seriously warmer for about 30 years. The problem for us older sceptics is that, for about 30 years before then, it was actually getting cooler; so much so that in the early 1970s we were bombarded by scientific warnings of a new Ice Age. Funnily enough, none of those experts thought to suggest that we could counter the problem by lighting coal fires in every room, or driving our cars aimlessly around the block at every opportunity.

Frazeoskism today has all the characteristics of a religion. We are condemned to eternal flames if we do not convert to it. Heretics, like those scientists who participated in Channel 4’s The Great Global Warming Swindle, are threatened with death. There is even a racket, called “carbon offsetting”, which bears a striking resemblance to the sale of those worthless indulgences which did so much to discredit the mediaeval Papacy and kick-start the Protestant reformation.

Unlike the practical environmentalism that brought salmon back to the Tyne, Frazeoskism is constraining and destructive. Its well-funded scientific high priests jet around the world from one enormous junket, sorry conference, to another, working out how they can interfere with our lives; and, much more cruelly, with those of the Asians and Africans whose leaders were finally hoping to drag them out of millennia of poverty through industrialisation.

When irritatingly useless, gigantic industrial structures ruin the views you cherish, remember that they’re not just wind farms; they are the cathedrals of Frazeoskism, and they’re promising you salvation. Even better, it’s coming in this world, not the next. Resist if you like, but sadly you’ll be battling against the spirit of the age as surely as those short-lived Saxons who pointed out to the sword-wielding Norman invaders that they already had some perfectly good churches.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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