The Polarisation Of The Climate Debate

Climate Changes, But Facts Don’t: Debunking Monckton

On the 19th of July in 2011 the National Press Club of Australia held a debate on climate change. In this video I will be analysing the claims Monckton made during the debate and if they are correct or not.

The reason I’m doing this is that Monckton challenges his critics to check his sources, or like he put it in this debate “to do your homework”. I’m going to follow him up on this to see if the scientific literature, and other available sources, corroborate what he’s saying.

18 - The Polarisation Of The Climate Debate

Video description

On the 19th of July in 2011 the National Press Club of Australia held a debate on climate change. I will be analysing the claims Monckton made during the debate and if they are correct or not.

During this part of the debate the issue of civility in the public arena during discussions on climate change is raised. And I give my take on the matter on what Monckton says and on civility in general.

Transcript

STEVE LEWIS:
Next question Andrew Tillett.

QUESTION:

Andrew Tillett from The West Australian. A question for both of you. Just about the tone of the debate about climate change, not the one here but in the wider community where it seems to degenerate into a lot of name-calling and mudslinging on both sides.

And I mean we had Lord Monckton's beginning of the trip you were sort of overshadowed with the comments about Professor Garnaut which you have subsequently apologised for, but that prompted someone like Malcolm Turnbull to call you a rather sick vaudeville character. We…

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
… better than he manages.

QUESTION:
Yeah, I just - yeah, are we getting - is there going to be any hope of getting a more civilised tone to this debate, or has it become too polarised?

[…]

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
First of all, ladies and gentlemen of the press, I hope that you would regard us as conducting a civilised debate here and I should certainly like, at this point, to pay tribute to my opponent in this debate, who has conducted himself in an entirely civilised fashion and I'm going to try to do the same. So can we give him a round of applause.

[Applause]

Now I am concerned that three weeks before I arrived in Australia, one of your journalists said that climate sceptics should be branded with tattoos. I am concerned that two weeks before I came to Australia, one of your journalists, on a leading national newspaper, in that national newspaper, said that climate sceptics should be gassed. Now I wonder what kind of a regime it was that used to do that to its opponents?

And what I'm particularly concerned about, ladies and gentlemen of the press, is that you have quite rightly called me out for a single, inadvertent, crass remark for which I have completely and abjectly and humbly and unreservedly apologised - and I renew that apology now - and yet you have not asked your own number, who have done similar things - in fact worse things - to apologise.

And Andrew, you say you work for the West Australian. Was this the paper whose headline, a couple of weeks ago, was Ban the Lord, with a large picture of me?

[Laughter]

Was that a civilised tone? I'm not sure that it was.

So let us all agree that in future this debate should be conducted at a more scientific level. It is not enough to wave our arms and say the science is clear, when the climate is a chaotic object and, therefore, the science can never be clear. It's not good enough to say the science is clear because there's a consensus, because consensus is not the way science is done. Science is done by hard work, hard research, checking, checking and checking again. Back to those equations again.

For those who aren't aware of what Monckton said that sparked the controversy here's the relevant clip:

Monckton labels climate change adviser 'fascist' - 0:39 to 0:48

Professor Ross Garnaut that again is a fascist point of view. To merely accept authority without question. Heil Hitler, on we go.

He was way out of line with his remark and it was the right choice of him to apologise for it. However, this is far from atypical behaviour from Monckton. Another video of him making an offensive statement has also garnered some attention:

Lord Monckton Invades SustainUS Booth - Calls U.S. students "Hitler Youth"  - 2:45 to 3:50 and 4:28 to 5:28

BEN WESSEL:
As far as I'm concerned.. First of all... My name is Ben Wessel.

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
No, I'm not going to shake the hand of a Hitler Youth.

BEN WESSEL:
Sir, as a jew I'm not really sure how I should take that. You know...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
I'll tell you how you should take it.

[Crosstalk]

...because of the biofuel scam world food prices have doubled. That is because of the global warming scare, which you won't look at the science of, and as a result of that millions are dying in third world countries. Because food prices have doubled, because of the biofuel scam, because of the global warming scare...

BEN WESSEL:
Sir, and I can agree with you. And I don't think biofuels are the solution.

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
...Not because there has been any global warming. But you people don't care. And until you start caring I will call you Hitler Youth if you ever again interrupt any meeting ever again at which I am present. Where we....

SUSTAINUS YOUTH:
You have just come over here.

BEN WESSEL:
Yeah, that's right.

[Crosstalk]

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
So now.. So..

SUSTAINUS YOUTH:
[inaudible]

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
…Tough luck. Now you know what it looks like when you do robotic chants of the sort which the Hitler Youth used to do in Copenhagen when they occupied this city.

[...]

BEN WESSEL:
...in all honestly because I think it's good, you know, not to try and drown out other peoples opinions. And I do agree with that. And I'd like to...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
That's what you did. That's what you did.

BEN WESSEL:
I will invite you...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
That's what the Hitler Youth did.

BEN WESSEL:
What I'd... What I'd like to say is...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
That's what the Hitler Youth did. And if you behave like the Hitler Youth I will call you what you are, Hitler Youth.

BEN WESSEL:
Sir, well ok well, having not have...

[crosstalk]

Well I'll let you know how I feel about that personally in a second.

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
Tough.

BEN WESSEL:
I'd like to tell you though that as for as long as I've been alive, you know the past 20 years, the science has been settled. And it's unfortunate that you have to...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
The science of what has been settled?

BEN WESSEL:
The science of anthropogenic climate change. And I really truly believe that.

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
Alright now, can you tell me what has been settled then?

BEN WESSEL:
Well I believe that the global climate trend, is that temperatures are rising, and if we would...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
And so have they been rising for the past 15 years?

BEN WESSEL:
Sir, they...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
Have they been rising for the past 15 years?

BEN WESSEL:
The greater trend is that they have been rising. And that is the truth. That is the truth.

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
Have they been rising for the past 15 years?

BEN WESSEL:
So I'd like to give you my card.

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
No, I do not...

BEN WESSEL:
So if you'd like to discuss this...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
No, I do not want the cards of a Hitler Youth. No.

BEN WESSEL:
Sir, as a jew, again, I think you can... This is absurd...

CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON:
I'm sorry?

BEN WESSEL:
And I'm just getting a little frustrated.

As far as I'm aware he never apologised for this behaviour.

These aren't isolated incidents. There are mild examples of this behaviour already present in the sections of the debate that I've talked about. Outside of these particular incidents he has made some very severe accusations, for example of fraud, towards scientists and opponents. Remember the court cases I talked about and the IPCC graph?

He has repeatedly threatened critics with lawsuits for simply doing what I've been doing here, following up on his sources and claims. In my opinion it is because of this Monckton isn't the person that should lecture anyone on civility in public discourse.

But despite all of that, he does have a point. We should try to be as civil as possible when engaging with opponents. You don't have to sugarcoat everything you do and say, but language like this should not be used. It just distracts from the arguments being made.

Sources

  1. Monckton labels climate change adviser 'fascist'
  2. Lord Monckton Invades SustainUS Booth - Calls U.S. students "Hitler Youth"
  3. Climate: The Extremists Join the Debate at Last!
  4. Abraham correspondence

Media resources

  1. Monckton labels climate change adviser 'fascist'
  2. Lord Monckton Invades SustainUS Booth - Calls U.S. students "Hitler Youth"

Climate Changes, But Facts Don’t: Debunking Monckton