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Scaring the proles

A commenter called Sleepalot posted this on the thread about Mike Hulme's new climate course (for context see here).

Today we have scaring the proles. Yesterday,
We had narrative writing. And tomorrow morning,
we will be taxing them into the dirt. But today,
Today we have scaring the proles. CO2 bubbles
harmlessly through coral reefs east of Papua New Guinea,
And today we have scaring the proles.

This is the adjusted temperature data. And this
Is the residual anomaly, whose use you will see,
when you are given your graphs. And this is the raw temperature data,
Which in your case you have not got. The trees
stand unflinching, steadfast against all adversity,
Which in our case we have not got.

Now this is the graph, and you hold it like so,
And you cover this end with your thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone grinning. You can keep a straight face,
if you have enough faith in the Cause. The daisies
shadow the lawn with their leaves, never letting anyone see
Any one of them grinning.

And this you can see is our model result. The pupose of this
is to extend our reach. As you see, We can change these
parameters just as much as we please: we call this
building consensus. And rapidly backwards and forwards,
the advocates are alarming and corrupting MPs:
They call it building consensus.

They call it building consensus: it's easy enough
if you can keep a straight face: like the trend,
and the scale, and the narrative, and the tipping point,
which in our case we have not got; and the skeptics
excluded from every arena, and the advocates going backwards and forwards,
For today we have scaring the proles.

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Reader Comments (62)

Wow. Superb.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko


Mar 31, 2012 at 8:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Haldane

Old Norse?

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Well penned Sleepalot.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This is giving Vogonity a run for it's money.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Gosh. Thank you. Could you please add a link to the original poem by Henry Reed -
it'll make more sense.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Henry Reed, 'Changing of Parts'. Nicely done.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterMalcolm


Mar 31, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDR

Nice one, Sleepalot - top of the class!

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Sobering and solemn for me.

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:07 AM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

Instant response from both members of this household (both of us Eng Lit people from the 60s)
That is bloody brilliant!

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Many a true jest, spoken in word.

Bullseye Sleepalot.

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

A new candidate for the Poet Laureate?

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Very well done! Well worthy of this showcase spot! If I were to run say an evening class on anti-establishment eco-poetry, this would surely be in it.

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:46 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade


btw the CAGW party is over...

31 March: Bloomberg: Ewa Krukowska: Carbon ‘Like Titanic’ Sinking on EU Permit Glut
The plunge in European Union carbon permits is putting prices on course for their longest-ever decline and shows no sign of ending as member states wrangle over curbing a glut in the market.
EU allowances for December fell 5.2 percent this year, extending a streak of quarterly losses stretching back to March 2011. Prices may drop a further 50 percent and lawmakers will probably fail to cut supply in the world’s largest emissions market through a so-called set-aside process, according to UBS AG...
“Unless EU governments come up with a surprise decision to strongly support the set-aside or ambitious mid-term emission- reduction targets, I don’t see prices moving up much over the coming months,” Tuomas Rautanen, head of regulatory affairs and consulting at First Climate in Zurich, said by e-mail...
Prices will probably fall to about 3 euros before lawmakers are able to tighten the bloc’s emissions targets, a process that may take “years,” Per Lekander, UBS’s Paris-based global head of utilities research, said in a phone interview yesterday.
“It’s not that I’m skeptical on the set-aside, it’s just not going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to get blocked.” Utilities including RWE AG (RWE), based in Essen, Germany, will probably buy allowances in high volume should prices drop near 3 euros, the analyst said...
“It’s a big challenge to re-design the ETS and make it a system that would reward both energy efficiency and pure emission reductions, but you can’t avoid it,” he said today by phone. “It’s like being on the Titanic and seeing the iceberg in front of you; either you make a U-turn or crash.” ...

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Mike Hulme, Geographer and Professor of Climate Change at the CRU, are you trying to droop a bloody big hint? It was all a work of fiction from the University whose only real reputation is its course on Creative Writing?

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

We are 500 years behind Vogon eco-poetry. Here is one that Mac heard in the last thread, and lived to tell the tale:

Oh freddled gruntbuggly thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes.
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!

I love BH.

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

This must be the finest parody I have ever seen. I'm sure Henry Reed would approve! When I was much younger, I told someone I did't think I really "got" poetry, whereupon she she showed me Reed's "Naming of parts". I read it and fell about laughing. "There you go," she said, "how can you say you don't get poetry?"

Mar 31, 2012 at 9:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Larkin

Today we've been plagiarizing Reed.
Yesterday,we warmed to praise of Wegman.
Tomorrow, since Nature is too taxing for the weekend
Lets let pigin science effervesce instead, and forget
Hot tides turning brain corals Into bleached white skulls
As Black Line burns its way along the reefs of Papua

There's no need to scare the proles.

Mar 31, 2012 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Which leads me to the conclusion that all of climate science in its present form was pinned by another poet a day or two ago:

“Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.”
          Lewis Carroll

Mar 31, 2012 at 10:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

And all along I thought they were scaring the poles😄

Mar 31, 2012 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Thank you Sleepalot. That is just brilliant !

Mar 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheSkyIsFalling

Russell, you really are a miserable sod sometimes. Not to mention nitpicker par excellence!
Don't you understand the difference between plagiarism and pastiche?

Mar 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Great news about GM pullings its funding from the Heartland Institute, eh?

Mar 31, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commenterbigcitylib

It had to be war poetry wot did it. Brilliant.

Mar 31, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Massive news BCL. Not.

Mar 31, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Massive news BCL. Not.

It simply increases the amount of damages Heartland will take off Gleick in any civil action. Clear evidence of damage caused.

Mar 31, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Registered Commenterrickbradford


Plagiarism is passing off other's work as your own and pastiche is what Sean Connery eats when he's in Cornwall. (Or Greggs.)

Mar 31, 2012 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Woolley

Excellent. Subtle and beautifully poised. Sceptics are just nicer more intelligent people, aren't they...

Mar 31, 2012 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Thanks for the additional link to the original, Sleepalot. There is even an audio link at that link, and reading the climate version aloud after listening to the original raises it to a whole new level.

Sheer brilliance!

Mar 31, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

The Poles have decided not to quiver, and are vetoing EU BS left and right. I've recanted every snide thing I ever said or thought about them!

Mar 31, 2012 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian H

The Poles have been hit very badly by North German wind farms. Their excess energy surges were being dumped into the Polish grid and by slamming steam turbine output to zero, were causing serious damage and a dramatic rise in fuel consumption.

So, last December, the Poles put in phase inverter switches at the border. In response the Germans have decided to invest in Norway, converting hydro to pump storage. That will retain ownership of the potential energy.

The capital expense means they won't build UK nuclear capacity and it looks like we have to choose between funding those plants out of taxation OR flooding 1% of UK land area and ~5% of Scottish land area for oie own pump storage, plus having the planned interconnect to Norway.

Wind energy is seriously bad.

Mar 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

Very interesting; there are more parts to the work, and while listening to Part III, read by Reed himself, I noticed in the last verse at least, that Reed used different words from the printed text in places.

E.g., text: "though neither is strictly called for" spoken: "though neither being strictly called for";
text: "But perhaps I have started too early with a difficult task" spoken: "But perhaps I started too early with a difficult problem"
text: "We will start again, further north, with a simpler problem" spoken: "We will start again, further north, with a {simple assault/simpler sort?}[unclear]"

Mar 31, 2012 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrian H

"Sleepalot" has taken A.A. Milne to heart.

Mar 31, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Blake

"Plagiarism is passing off other's work as your own and pastiche is what Sean Connery eats when he's in Cornwall. "

I thought the French drank pastiche.

Mar 31, 2012 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicL

Great parody, very apt.

Mar 31, 2012 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

Scaring the proles. What a wonderful song title. Crank up the Marshall!

Mar 31, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergreenschist

I've often wondered why 'Naming of parts" was almost the only memorable poem to come out the Second World War when the first had Owen, Brooke and Sasoon. At least the Climate Wars has "Sleepalot". Brilliant. Can I pre-order the book due out by Christmas with Josh's cartoons and Sleepalot's parodies.

Now for pedants corner. The poem is a parody of Reed. A parody is a piece of verse or text written in the style of another author. The word 'pastiche' comes from French for a sort of pasty with lots of different bits inside and would apply if it combined styles of several authors.

Mar 31, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon

"I've often wondered why 'Naming of parts" was almost the only memorable poem to come out the Second World War when the first had Owen, Brooke and Sasoon."

You have to be kidding...

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Mar 31, 2012 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandy

That helps a lot Ron thanks, but what's this 'Gliecks Pasty' that's been in the news all week?

Mar 31, 2012 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterCumbrian Lad

You are absolutely right and 'parody' was what I meant and the word I should have used.

Mar 31, 2012 at 7:24 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

re High Flight...first time I head of it is at the end here

Great writing by Peggy Noonan.....great delivery by Reagan. Great quotation to end with.

Mar 31, 2012 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder


And don't forget Charles Causley's Song of the Dying Gunner:

Oh mother my mouth is full of stars
As cartridges in the tray
My blood is a twin-branched scarlet tree
And it runs all runs away;
Oh cooks to the galley is sounded off
And the lads are down in the mess
But I lie down by the forward gun
With a bullet in my breast.
Don’t send me a parcel at Christmas time
Of socks and nutty and wine
And don’t depend on a long week-end
By the Great Western line.
Farewell Aggie-Weston. The barracks at Guz,
Hang my tiddley suit on the door
I’m sewn up neat in a canvas sheet,
And I shan’t be home no more.

Mar 31, 2012 at 7:33 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

Thanks for the extra World War 2 poems. I'd heard of 'High Flight' before but never associated with World War 2.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRon

Not a pastiche or a pastry or any kind of parody. More like a sendup in the spirit of Mad Magazine. My apologies to Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias -


I met a traveller of an antique land
Who said: A soaring hockey stick of stone
Springs from the desert. Near it, on the sand,
Half sunk, a balded visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of dark disdain,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless bits,
The student that faked them and the stats that lied
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymanndias, scientist of Scientists:
Look on my graph, ye oilmen, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Mar 31, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterPoetNot

An excellent piece by Sleepalot but I'd love our own (Scottish) national poet, Elvis McGonagall, to get stuck in too. A kind of 'Battle of the Bards' so to speak.
For those who haven't heard him and are in the UK, visit the BBC iPlayer site and listen to the March 31st broadcast of Radio 4's 'Saturday Live'
If you're outside the UK then Mr Google can point the way to his website where you can listen to (or read) some of his musings.
He is pure, dead brilliant by the way!

Mar 31, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

@ Sandy
That poem of yours would be the perfect base for telling the story of how a demented Mann (to the point of imagining himself a god) created his "hockeystick".

Lines like " Unmindful of the tyrrany of facts, did brutal and unmentionable acts, upon Earth's ancient climate history, according to his own philosophy,"... just come straight at you.

Mar 31, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterSleepalot

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of fact,
And danced the science on computer modelled graphs......


Apr 1, 2012 at 12:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandy

This is the lyrics of 'I am Colossus'. Fits the idea of climate change to a tee.

I'm the great Leviathan. Insatiable colossus
Titanic engulfer of lives. I reward you, absorb you
I'm the monstrous mouth that hungers for your awe
Immense construction of lies. I own you, disown you

I am life. I'm death. You empower me

I'm a mammoth king evoked, conjured by your dreams
Summoned by your fears. You need me, you feed me
I'm the imposing giant. Infallible dictator
My rules apply to all. You'll heed me, bleed for me

I am life. I'm death. I decide your fate
You empower me. You'd even kill for me

Guzzling down your dreams - the tears of unheard pleas I drink,
Imbibe with such delight the fear that floods your temporal shell
Raging red rivers and streams - the kingdom of my shadow
Where dread of man in endless night revives my every cell

To those who doubt - your wounds will never heal
To those who question my creation - I'm not real

I am pain. I am grief. I'm the things you fear
I'm the lie whispered into your ear
I'm the great Leviathan. I'm dominance and greed
You imagined me, so I was conceived

I am life. I'm death. You belong to me
Call me what I am. I am colossus.

Apr 1, 2012 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

@Shub Apr 1, 2012 at 12:57 AM


I am pain. I am grief. I'm the things you fear
I'm the lie whispered into your ear
I'm the great Leviathan. I'm dominance and greed
You imagined me, so I was conceived

I am life. I'm death. You belong to me
Call me what I am. I am colossus.

Hmmm ... Colossus, eh? I'm not so sure about that ... but when it comes to Big Green, I certainly would not dispute their colossal "dominance and greed".

[Sorry, folks ... I'm just in a somewhat punny mood today ... must be on account of reading all the wonderful eco-poetry examples here that I wish I'd written ;-)]

Apr 1, 2012 at 2:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov

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