First It Never Rains, Then It Pours


The great Aussie writer and critic Clive James does a job on the credulous folks who consider Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) to be gospel:

…Before the [recent Australian] floods, proponents of the CAGW view had argued that there would never be enough rain again, because of Climate Change. When it became clear that there might be more than enough rain, the view was adapted: the floods, too, were the result of Climate Change. In other words, they were something unprecedented. Those opposing this view — those who believed that in Australia nothing could be less unprecedented than a flood unless it was a drought — took to quoting Dorothea Mackellar’s poem “My Country”, which until recently every Australian youngster was obliged to hear recited in school. In my day we sometimes had to recite it ourselves, and weren’t allowed to go home until we had given evidence that we could remember at least the first four lines of the second stanza, which runs like this.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror —
The wide brown land for me.

The first four lines of the stanza are the bit that everybody knows, partly because they are so addictively crafted, and partly because they fit the national experience of what Australia’s geography and climate are actually like. In any household, the seniors (known in Australia as “the wrinklies”) remember the droughts and the flooding rains of their childhood. I myself remember the Maitland floods of the early 1950s. The whole of the central seaboard of New South Wales was under water. I can remember rain you couldn’t see through: right there in my southern suburb of Sydney, the creek flooded the park, and the lake in the park spilled into the bottom of our street, prompting the construction of a galvanised iron canoe in which three of us sailed to what would have been certain death if the contraption had floated for more than a few seconds.

All three of us are old men now, of differing achievements and views, but none of us would be easily persuaded that the recent floods were a new thing. They come and go in long cycles, spaced apart by droughts. When white explorers first set off to cross the country’s vast interior, they didn’t have to go very far before they encountered the sort of parched terrain that would eventually convert them into corpses suitably posed for Sidney Nolan. There was nothing wrong with the weather, only with their expectations. As any Aboriginal might have told them had they known how to ask, the Australian climate is simply like that. For Queensland, this has been one of several floods in a hundred years, and not even the worst. Though the fashionable propaganda about the unprecedented nature of the inhospitable weather has been largely the product of inner-city intellectuals who rarely see the inland except when they fly over it on their way to another city, the truth is that even a city-dweller will catch on to the facts if he or she lives long enough. First it never rains, but then it pours. Hence the expression, perhaps; and hence Dorothea Mackellar’s poem, certainly…

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