A Tribute to Professor Steffen


Yesterday I was haunted to find a certain guest post gathering digital dust on Climate Nuremberg’s server.

Nobody can say why exactly we never published it, but perhaps the editorial team dismissed it as pedestrian, un-newsworthy, childishly written, or all of the above.

And it is. But it’s also eerie, for this reason: the piece came to us from Will Steffen. As you probably know, the Australian National University [ANU] Professor and seven scared colleagues are now missing, presumed destined for a fate worse than death in the underground debating pits.

We therefore print the following as a tribute to Australia’s own Gone Girls.

“An Awful Fright”
by Will Steffen (1947—?)

It was on a faculty canape night in the spring of 2011 that someone attempted to pass himself off as one of us. The interloper was impeccably academic in appearance, perhaps having learned from the failure of the Coochey plot in 2010—this time his attire gave no hint of the truth that he was a conservative.

But suspicions were aroused by an unguarded remark, which is said to have been, “So, how about them Knicks?”

Upon verification that the Knicks are neither [an] ice nor [a] field hockey [team], the rest of the room adopted a stance of defensive hostility to the infiltrator. I was proud of my staff: just a year ago, I thought, these people didn’t even know the basics of Stranger Danger theory.

Starved of the oxygen of politeness, and unequal to the strain of long silences, the unidentified male eventually resorted to, “So, how ’bout this weather?”

We had trained for this scenario.

Even the security staff knew enough science to prick up at the mention of “weather” (a topic no climate scientist would have studied enough to form an opinion on). They leaped into action.

“The individual is understood to have left voluntarily,” as I would phrase it the next day in a comforting mass email to ANU climate staff.

(They’re always individuals, aren’t they? What is it about denialism and individualism? Note to self: grant material here?)

Just to be safe, festivities adjourned to the state-of-the-art panic room the university had built for us, on my insistence, following the Coochey threats. But as you can imagine, there was little appetite for canapes now. I for one was too busy trying to steady my shaking hands with champagne substitute.

As adrenalin slowly returned to background titres over the following few days, I came to look back on the incident with some pride. Whoever was behind it had, in a real sense, flattered the ANU by targeting us for the second time in as many years.

We were obviously making some interest, or interests, nervous—the mark of all good science.


The events recounted above are considered the second-most audacious terrorist plot against climate scientists in Australian history, but are sure to be eclipsed by the abduction of the Scared Scientists. Professor Steffen must be proud of the attention he’s attracted—wherever he is now.

Scared Scientists Steffen

Professor Steffen would go on to achieve the rank of Scared Scientist (pictured), but he wrote this piece when he was a humble macroeconomist with a chemical-engineering doctorate who specialised in aversive tax therapy.

5 thoughts on “A Tribute to Professor Steffen

  1. Pingback: What else the lesser outlets are saying about Our Scared Scientists | CLIMATE NUREMBERG

  2. Peter Crawford

    Well he certainly looks like he’;s shitting a brick. Can’t we do something to help these poor bastards? And that mad looking woman middle right…fucking tragic really

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brad Keyes Post author

      ‘Can’t we do something to help these poor bastards?’
      Thanks for your concern. Financial hardship is, indeed, a day-to-day reality for the heroes who work in our tertiary faculties. The good news is, you can make a difference. Write your congressperson, assemblyperson, headperson, warlord/lady or regional strongperson and demand to know why the full-time, 8-months-a-year Distinguished Professors in our Climate Psychology schools are barely earning twice as much as the doctors in our hospitals if they’re lucky, and how our societies’ priorities got so messed up. Be concise, specific but not polite: you want their attention, so a few high-impact swears are your friend.


    2. Brad Keyes Post author

      “Well he certainly looks like he’;s shitting a brick. ”

      How did—were you—how can you tell? Yes, he was.

      Do you know how much carbon goes into making bricks the traditional, “dirty” way? All the climate luvvy savvy duvvies are shitting their own bricks these days. It’s clean, organic and there’s no need for mortar—just deposit one on top of another and they *schmlip* together like Duplo, with a schmlipping sound.

      I was at Naomi’s seventh housewarming the other day and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was different about it. “Hey lover,” said the minx, sidling up to me. “I see you crinkling your nose. Yeah, it’s a unique boutique, isn’t it. You know how I’ve made a career in pseudoscience by pulling shit out of my ass? Well now I’ve made a house.”

      Clearing her throat loudly, she said, “Boys and girls, a toast: to the house absolute crap built.”

      Liked by 1 person


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