One of the phrases I’ve learnt through folowing US politics is “dog whistle”. A dog whistle is a phrase or turn of speech deployed by politicians in front of like-minded crowds, the true meaning of which is supposedly only heard by fellow believers. Most often I’ve heard of them being used by right wingers in lieu of the sort of language that’s frowned upon these days. A recent example is Tom Tancredo, who made a failed bid to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, telling a conference of Teabaggers that there should be a “civics-literacy” test before allowing anyone to vote. What sounds like an innocuous phrase was almost certainly meant to allude to the days of segregation in the southern states, basically suggesting that Obama only got in because blacks voted for him and everything would be better if they could go back to the good old days when various tricks were used to keep non-whites off the voting register.
John Redwood, the supposedly super intelligent MP for Wokingham, has a dog whistle which isn’t as offensive. In fact it’s becoming a bit pathetic the more times I see him use it. In any post on his blog about climate change he has to throw in something along the lines of “remember, it’s climate, not weather”. This is a smug attempt at a jibe at climate scientists, who regularly have to explain day to day weather and the long term climate are not the same things. The sort of climate change deniers attracted to Redwood’s blog don’t want to think too hard, so can’t imagine that there’s a difference between data and a datum. Today it’s cold, they reason, so the world can’t possibly be warming up over time.
A variation on the phrase was deployed today in a post that’s even more wrongheaded than normal. The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology released a report on how plants and animals have shifted their rhythms earlier in the year and in Redwood’s muddled thinking this somehow became meteorologists getting weather forecasting wrong. So he made fun of them for predicting the start of spring at the wrong time, when they did nothing of the sort.
Every time John Redwood writes about climate change he gets it all wrong. Neither of the reasons I can think of for his doing so say anything good about his ability to represent his constituents, let alone make decisions that affect the rest of us (should the Tories win the election and he gets a cabinet position). Either he doesn’t do any research and just goes with what his idealogy tells him, or he has such a low opinion of us that he thinks he can keep on lying and he’ll get away with it.
Update It seems the Vulcan has a thin skin. Apparently “The comments on this link are offensive and wrong. Clearly the author has no sense of humour about this subject.” And the comment I left on his blog, which was a variation on the last paragraph above, hasn’t been approved.
I’ve left another comment, which also may not be approved so I’m going to reproduce it here-
Humour is subjective. Your repetitive catchphrase is dull and nowhere near as clever as some think it is. And the attempts to poke fun at climate scientists that it appears in are plodding and, crucially for someone making himself out to be informed on the subject, invariably based upon arguments which have been shown to be wrong.
If you don’t like my honest and forthright assessment of what I think you’re doing then you need to put a bit more effort into researching the subject before writing about it. Jumping on the denial bandwagon may appeal to some of your readers but I expect better from someone who may have a say in running the country after the election.