Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

King Canute, Don Quixote and climate change

By Peter McCloy - posted Tuesday, 30 September 2014

“We need system change to stop climate change” according to OLO blogger En Passant (OLO September 17).

No wonder people call me a denier. Certainly one of us is.

Here’s a fact: If there were no people on earth, none at all, the climate would keep on changing. So why lead an article with such a silly statement?


When King Canute set up his throne on the beach and commanded the tide not to rise he was acting in the certain knowledge that he would get his feet wet. He was demonstrating to his subjects that certain things are inevitable, that to believe otherwise is hubris, demanding powers not available even to kings.

This is a lesson lost on our leaders, who seem to be suggesting that we can stop climate change. We can’t.

Perhaps it’s true that anthropogenic activities contribute, but even so the forces that have been at work since the world was formed just keep rolling along.

Of course when they say ‘climate change’they actually mean ‘catastrophic anthropogenic global warming’(CAGW), but its handy to reduce that to a term that really has little meaning.

CAGW is the ideal political issue. It presumes a catastrophe from which the masses need to be rescued, and it’s caused by human activities that can be regulated and controlled.

It has the advantage of being long term, and the politicians who win election now will not be held to account. If temperatures continue to rise, it will be because we didn’t take the actions they proposed. If it stops rising, or in fact falls,  it will prove the efficacy of those actions.


No wonder Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore, Barack Obama, the CPA (Combined Politicians of Australia) and the political class generally embrace the concept. If you told me that there was a consensus supported by 97% of politicians I’d be inclined to suggest that you were erring on the conservative side.

What of the 300,000 people who turned out on the streets of New York? There was no obvious consensus demonstrated by the crowd.

The march has been compared to the demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, or Martin Luther King’s Freedom march in the 60s. There is, however, an important distinction that needs to be made.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

11 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Peter McCloy is an author and speaker, now retired, who lives on five acres of rock in an ecologically sensible home in the bush. He is working on a 20,000-year plan to develop his property, and occasionally puts pen to paper, especially when sufficiently aroused by politicians. He is a foundation member of the Climate Sceptics. Politically, Peter is a Lennonist - like John, he believes that everything a politician touches turns to sh*t.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Peter McCloy

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Peter McCloy
Article Tools
Comment 11 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy