I recently had an unexpected encounter with radical climate expert Professor Felix Knutta, just returned from an IPCC conference on "The Climate of Persuasion".
We bumped into each other quite by chance at a local swimming pool. Although not prepared to give me a formal interview in such moist surroundings, he did have time for a chat on his latest ideas which sadly didn’t quite make it into the final version of AR5.
‘As you must know,’ Professor Knutta began as we sipped a Fairtrade coffee by the poolside, ‘the climate change message is going through a sticky patch. The way the climate is behaving at the moment is absolutely deplorable.’
‘Because it isn’t warming as predicted you mean?’
‘Too right - even the Arctic is playing hard to get and refusing to melt on cue. We should nuke the place in my view - right up the Northwest Passage. Warm things up a bit wouldn't it?’
‘Nuke the Arctic Professor? May I quote you on that?
‘Not bloody likely - I'll deny it anyway,' the Professor laughed. 'But the whole global warming message has to be sexed up to blazes or we'll come across as a bunch of whinging pillocks wetting ourselves over nothing.’
‘Really? Sexing up the message hasn’t worked too well in the past,’ I replied, unable to think of anything better for the moment. A common problem with Professor Knutta I find.
‘Well I intend to beef up a lot more than the message; so this time we’ll see a result. Climate science has never been all that stimulating anyway, at least not in any red-blooded physical sense, but thanks to my latest research into what I call climate droop that may change. At least I hope so.’
‘In what way Professor?’
‘Well now, I see it like this. We climate experts are passionate about our work – perhaps too passionate for our own good. Unprecedentedly passionate I might say.’
‘A few of you certainly are...’
‘But our passion should surely attract some kind of reward for all our unprecedented discoveries and selfless toil,’ Professor Knutta explained while fiddling with his Speedo swimming trunks. They seemed a little tight to me. Somewhat revealing too - for a middle-aged chap with a midriff shaped by the international conference circuit.
‘So do you mean a kind of physical reward when you talk about the sexing up the message?’
‘In a somewhat roundabout way I suppose I do mean that.’
‘An eco-brothel?’ I hazarded. I threw it in more to distract him from those blasted Speedos than anything else.
‘Umm... hardly that...’ the Professor mumbled, still fiddling. ‘Although presumably eco-brothels accept carbon credits of which I happen to have an unlimited supply. Blow me – what a splendid idea.’
‘So are you suggesting,’ I ploughed on while wondering what on earth he actually was suggesting. ‘You are suggesting that those people who support radical action on global warming should promote climate change from a more stimulating angle?’ One or two people were staring at us so I tried to look nonchalant and non-pervy as possible.
‘Not exactly,’ Professor Knutta eventually mused. He was now scratching himself in an area which polite society usually leaves unscratched. ‘It’s all to do with our attitude to Gaia which I’m sure is far less intimate than it should be.’
‘Indeed yes – far less intimate than is healthy in my view. We climate pioneers may as well admit that what keeps us going in spite of the climate playing the fool is that we are physically attracted to the environment in the person... in the delightful person of Gaia herself.’
‘Err... physically attracted to Gaia?’ I was floundering at this point. Briefly I considered asking the Professor if he meant some kind of intimate contact with trees, but couldn’t quite put the words together. The images were clear enough unfortunately. Luckily he finally finished scratching and came to the point.
‘I’m not suggesting anything improper here you understand...’
‘Such as bonking Gaia?’ I couldn’t help adding. Somehow it just slipped out.
‘Such as bonking Gaia... which sadly appears to be technically impossible... as far as one can tell at the moment,’ the Professor mused for a long moment with a strange look in his eyes - perhaps even the glint of a tear.
‘...and what a very great pity that is,’ he mumbled with a huge subterranean sigh. He began fiddling with his Speedos again so I nipped off for something much stronger than Fairtrade coffee.