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14 May 2012

“The Green Dream”: Is this the stupidest statement of all time?

Stewart Stevenson MSP: Scotland's Minister for the
Environment and Climate Change
Going greener with every Tweet
One of the most important aspects of language etiquette is knowing, not just what to say, but what not to say—in other words, when to remain silent. As the old English proverb has it: empty vessels make the most noise. Or, as Gene Hackman memorably put it to the racist, wife-beating, small-town policeman in Mississippi Burning: “You know why you’re so stupid, Deputy? Because you don’t know when to shut up.”
     The same applies to Scotland’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change. I have mentioned this strange man before (see 3 April: Is This the Dullest Video of All Time?), but in searching for something else this morning, I accidentally came upon his Twitter account again, and I found that he has not stopped mentioning the weather—or should I say, climate change, which is a euphemism for global warming. On 5 May, he wrote this:
“Large snowflakes currently falling in Banffshire. And in Feb it was too hot to sit out. Climate change very real today.”
     Five points immediately spring to mind:
-                     What is the significance of the size of the snowflakes? Do they suggest the planet is getting warmer or cooler?
-                     Why should cooler weather in May than February indicate anything other than that an unstable system constantly fluctuates?
-                     How is the case for global warming assisted by cooler than expected weather?
-                     How can any argument for (or against) global warming be supported by a data set of two observations, three months apart in a single location in north-east Scotland?
-                     And why does the Minister say that it was “too hot to sit out” in “Feb”, when the Tweet that I presume he was referring to (“First lunch outside in Banffshire this year. Hats essential. Have returned indoors to escape heat!”) was broadcast on 25 March?
     Beyond the self-advertising imbecility of his observation and reasoning, what makes the whole thing intolerable is the holier-than-thou, heart-on-his-sleeve concern for the weather, which I presume he thinks has something to do with “climate”. Even Russians who do not speak very good English realise that the two are completely different concepts: just as people and populations are different concepts.
     But not our Stewart, sadly. As Minister for Climate Change, he cannot shut up about the weather. So, after his absurd Tweet of 5 May, we get: “Sunny day, sunny me” (7 May); “Weather fine but chilly” (8 May); “Sunny out there” (9 May); “Bit damp out there” (10 May); “Beautifully sunny out there” (12 May); “Weather improving” (yesterday).
     Is there no stopping these people?
     Unfortunately not. But if you want some light relief, I suggest watching this video showing His Holiness the Minister addressing an almost completely empty Scottish Parliament chamber on the skull-crackingly boring subject of “Scotland’s world-leading carbon reduction target” which St Stewart aims “to cut by 42% by 2020”—if he’s in power that long. Let’s hope not!

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