I first chanced upon this horror (in abbreviated form) while in the bath reading The Week (which used to be my favourite mag but has gone seriously off now that it has abandoned all pretence of neutrality on the AGW * issue). And though I admit it wasn't quite as bad as having Freddy Krueger's clawed hand come from beneath the bubbles to disembowel me then drag me down the plughole, it still gave me a seriously nasty turn - as I'm sure it will you too once I've parsed its insidious monstrousness.

It's an article Charles Clover wrote in The Sunday Times a few weeks ago titled "If climate change doesn't grab you, meet its evil twin." On first glance, it might look like just more of the same old glib drivel we've come to expect from the MSM's environment specialists...

There's the statutory de haut en bas dismissal of your typical sceptic: "always a man, almost invariably wearing a tweed jacket", apparently, claims the tweed-jacket-wearing, pheasant-shooting Clover.

There's the vaunting assumption of superior knowledge: "On each occasion I am met by a look of puzzlement, followed by a perplexed nod, and I realise the person in question hasn't a clue what I am talking about."

And there's the strained affectation of reasoned neutrality: "I would be absolutely overjoyed if in a few years' time we were to find out that Richard Lindzen, the most distinguished sceptic among the academic meteorologists, has turned out to be right and that the early 21st century got itself into a hysterical panic on the basis of trends based on highly uncertain computer predictions."

What's much more interesting about the article, though, is its subtext. What we see here is a very early example of something we're going to see an awful lot more of from climate-fear-promoters in the coming months and years: the sly attempt to disengage from the increasingly discredited AGW hypothesis and pretend that the argument was really always about something else.

Not, of course, that Clover will dare yet admit this. His every statement of doubt about AGW is hedged with the shrillest of protestations that of course he still maintains the true faith.

See, for example, here:
"However, even if you happen to believe that everything we know about greenhouse gases is illusory - unlikely though that is - "
and here:
"I am not for a moment belittling the science behind man-made global warming. This still seems to me solid, despite the shenanigans at the University of East Anglia."
Yes, yes, of course, you still believe in ManBearPig, Charles. No one's doubting you. You're just, er, finessing your argument, isn't that right? Preparing the way for the unlikely moment - not that it will ever happen: perish the thought - when the weather starts behaving rather differently from the way the computer models are predicting, and it becomes clearer and clearer that man-made CO2 isn't a significant driver of "climate change" and that far from getting inexorably warmer the world appears to be turning positively glacial.

We all know how hard it is to say "sorry" when we've got something seriously wrong. Much easier, instead, to come up with a formula which says that even though some fools might perceive us to have been in error we were in fact right all along. This is why, just as they did once before when they stopped talking about "global warming" and started talking about "climate change" , climate-fear-promoters like Clover are starting to big up this deadly new threat called "acidification of the oceans."

This is no more a genuine threat than is AGW as you'll learn if you read here, here, here, or this article at Watts Up With That. But it has the huge advantage, from the climate-fear-promotion industry's point of view, that it continues to finger CO2 as the real villain of the piece. And so long as they can do that, it means our governments will still have the excuse they need to continue with their insanely expensive directives on carbon emissions; and it means - while most of us are impoverished by our inflated utility bills - that the thieves and fat cats who are on top of the carbon trading scam will get stupendously richer and richer.

Do you see, now, what I meant when I describe Clover's piece as the scariest article you'll read all year? It's frightening because it prefigures in all its grisly cynicism just where the argument about "climate change" is going next. Or rather where the argument isn't going - because as far as the lobbyists, eco-correspondents, government leaders, EU apparatchiks and "scientists" pushing AGW theory are concerned, there won't be an argument at all. For an argument to happen, you need two sides to engage with one another using facts. And facts as far as the AGW lobby is concerned are sublimely irrelevant. They have already made their decision: never mind the truth - CO2 is a deadly poison. There are too many vested interests at stake for them to change course now.

* Anthropogenic Global Warming