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November 15th 2009 print

John Izzard

Why Monbiot ran

Initially, George Monbiot agreed to debate Ian Plimer, but someone reasoned that it was a high-risk venture - a debate between a froth and bubble, blog-obsessed journalist and a leading academic with impeccable credentials in earth sciences.

Who is George Monbiot?

Well, while some of his fellow London journalists call him Moonbat, George Monbiot is actually the Guardian newspaper’s attack dog. A sort of in-house Cassandra. Those of you who received their education prior to the present era may recall that the Cassandra of Greek mythology (“she who entangles men”) was said to have had her ears licked clean by snakes during an interlude in Apollo’s temple.

This, apparently, enabled her to hear the future.

George Monbiot certainly has the gift to hear the future. Or at least one version of the future. As the left-leaning Guardian’s environmental prophet he is about as nasty a climate-change-fanatic as you are ever likely to find. His latest book, The Age of Consent – A Manifesto for a New World Order is said to be a best seller. Journalist and broadcaster Rod Liddle, who writes for the Sunday Times (UK), recently said of Monbiot “ His entire column in today’s Guardian deals exclusively with one subject which has obsessed the man for years, and bored the rest of us: himself.”

Why George Monbiot should interest us in Australia is that he is, with the assistance of some keen high-profile Australian climate-change academics, trying to destroy the reputation and standing of Ian Plimer, author of Heaven and Earth: Global Warming – The Missing Science. heaven&earth-1And when it comes to academic character assassination, no one does it better than our local boys and girls. Think of what was dished out to Professor Orr, Professor Blainey and Keith Windschuttle, to name a few.

It all started in July this year when James Delingpole did an interview with Professor Ian Plimer about his book for The Spectator. Monbiot attacked The Spectator for even daring to print something on Plimer, let alone review his book. It didn’t help that Delingpole headlined his story as “Meet the man who has exposed the great climate change con trick.” To suggest that snakes came flying out of the ears of the climate-change evangelists would be an understatement. Talk about a hissy-fitting!

Delingpole’s reaction to Monbiot’s venomous diatribe against Ian Plimer was robust. Then Plimer, on July 15challenged Monbiot to “put his money where his mouth is” in a live debate. Plimer offered to pay for his own airfare to London to take part. The simple theme for the debate, Plimer suggested, was “Human induced climate change – myth or reality.”

Those who thought that this debate might resemble the great 1860 Oxford Evolution debate, which took place seven months after Darwin published his Origin of Species, were to be disappointed. In that debate Thomas Huxley engaged Bishop Samuel Wilberforce (and others) in a discussion on Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The killer line was when Wilberforce asked Huxley whether it was through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed descent from a monkey. Huxley reputedly replied that “he would not be ashamed to have a monkey as an ancestor, but he would be ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure the truth”.

Back to the Plimer/Monbiot spat.

Initially, Monbiot agreed to the debate, but someone reasoned that it was a high-risk venture – a debate between a froth and bubble, blog-obsessed journalist and a leading academic with impeccable credentials in earth sciences. The danger for climate alarmists was that Plimer’s entire argument rested on physical evidence of the past, and what that evidence has taught us, while Monbiot and the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) rest their case on computer models and as yet, unproven theories. It became obvious (and Monbiot later admitted this himself) that he didn’t have the scientific background to mount a cogent argument nor to defend the climate-change theories in his normal magisterial, high-brow manner.

Then Monbiot, obviously following advice from his new-best Australian friends, started to play games. With the help of Professor David Karoly of Melbourne University, Professor Michael Ashley of the University of NSW, Professor Kurt Lambeck, President of the Australian Academy of Science and Tim Lambert of Scienceblogs, Monbiot came up with a debate-avoidance strategy.

He told Plimer (via email) that he would only agree to a debate if Plimer would answer a series of questions, questions that appeared to have been supplied to Monbiot from Plimer’s Australian IPCC critics.

These were no ordinary questions but questions framed in the Civil War manner of “When did you last see your father?” Questions you might think were the work of the Stasi or the KGB. The eleven questions Monbiot submitted to Plimer were actually 29 questions sprinkled with juicy little flourishes such as question 4(b) “ Was this a mistake or did you deliberately confuse two data sets?” Or question 8 (b) “Was this a mistake or was it a deliberate misrepresentation?”

Plimer responded (via email) by requesting Monbiot himself answer a series of scientific questions about climate, questions that Plimer thought his own university students would have little difficulty in answering. After all Monbiot was England’s leading climate-change media front man and Plimer rightly expected his opponent to have some scientific knowledge of the theories Monbiot so boastfully expounded.

The end result of all these email exchanges was Monbiot’s exit strategy – that because Plimer wouldn’t answer the loaded questions, the debate was off. Monbiot then immediately published the email exchanges he had between himself, Plimer, and The Spectator.

What has become obvious from all this is that the IPCC and the human induced climate change advocates fear open debate and will not tolerate any questioning of their theories. Unfortunately for seekers of truth, in the tradition of Thomas Huxley, suppression, avoidance and ridicule is the weapon of choice for this new brand of science. Had the words not been taken already, this new style of science might well have been named scientology or even science fiction.

Undeterred, Plimer and The Spectator continued with the event. Plimer flew to London and addressed a packed hall of 600 people last Thursday. They paid 25 pounds a seat to hear an alternative view on climate change. An empty chair was planned for the podium. A thunderstorm and downpour followed Ian Plimer’s oration.

Run Monbiot, run Monbiot, run, run, run!

See also: “The Monbiot Affair” -
emails between Ian Plimer and George Monbiat