Sean Thomas: “novelist, journalist and travel writer”. And, it would appear, environmental scientist of considerable repute. So much so that he is good enough to rattle off some 800 words on the subject of climate change for the website of the Daily Telegraph.
Rest assured: this is not your standard rant from your standard climate change denier. (Unlike those of Thomas’s colleague, James Dellingpole, a man whose environmental commentary is as irksome and ignorant as it is studiedly iconoclastic.) Thomas protests his faith in climate science and in its learned practitioners. He promises that he has a “basic respect” for climate scientists and for science more generally. After all, he knows it is science that has given him the ability to pop pills on flights to Thailand, a breakthrough for which he appears to be truly, if bizarrely, grateful.
Then proceedings take a turn for the worse. It goes without saying that he drags out the tired old non-truth that climate change stopped in 1998 – no-one flogs a dead horse like a climate change denier – but he also points out that it snows in winter in parts of the United States, and that he sensed a “shrill religiosity” in some of those who see climate change as something of a threat. Clearly we are to take this as proof positive that the scientific basis of climate change is hokum.
But rather than asserting that Marxism-climatism is the greatest threat to civilisation since the European Union, Thomas strikes a markedly different tone. While researching his upcoming novel – and how many Nobel Prize-winning scientists can say that? – he came across a mysterious theory called Cosmic Habituation. Apparently, “in all manner of scientific disciplines… scientific truths are losing their truthfulness”. That is, the more times we perform the same experiment, the less “impressive” the results become. “Is God teasing us?” Thomas asks, leaving it up to us to decide whether or not he is being serious.
Thomas’s main contention is that the cheeky hand of Cosmic Habituation is creating merry hell with climate science. Even as we thought things were steadily becoming clearer so they are actually poised to unravel from the seams to the centre. And so the esteemed writer of The Bible of the Dead, armed with nothing but the truth and a first-draft manuscript, knocks on the door of the establishment to politely tell those poor old boffins that they are most probably wrong. But it is not their fault: they are just stuck in the paradigm.
Quite why climate science is more susceptible to divine tinkering than, say, germ theory is never fully explained. In truth, it is not terribly clear how Thomas manages to ramble from accepting climate science, to suggesting that global warming will become progressively less so each time we look at a thermometer. But if he is truly worried that science stops working if we use it too much, perhaps he should stop using aeroplanes: we never know when God might decide that physics just isn’t working for Him anymore. In the meantime, perhaps Thomas should get back to his novel.