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February 03rd 2010 print

Tom Quirk

Monckton in Melbourne – report

Monckton's time was cut short by the insistence of The Age newspaper environmental writer on a one on one interview. The article that followed in The Age on Tuesday said next to nothing about the arguments raised and the tone of the article could best be described as “atmospheric”!

Lord Monckton swept into Melbourne and swept out again. His two days have had him speaking directly to well over one thousand people and through radio and TV he has been listened to by many more. 

Monday started with the noble Lord talking with that weather vane of the chattering classes, Jon Faine of your ABC. In fact it was styled a debate with Rupert Posner from The Climate Group. The most interesting feature was Lord Monckton’s use of facts compared to Posner suggesting that Monckton was wrong and should talk to the very people whose facts Monckton was quoting at him! Posner also appeared to agree with a caller who described Monckton as a lunatic. Boorish behaviour compared to the courteous remarks of Monckton. 

The next public meeting was at the Institute for Private Enterprise hosted by Des Moore. Monckton was preceded by Professor Ian Plimer, who covered some four and a bit billion years up to the 1800s suggesting that even as carbon dioxide had varied from over thirty percent to three hundred parts per million in the atmosphere, life had flourished. Lord Monckton began by saying how good it was to be in Australia where he was addressed as “Voicount” Monckton as opposed to Scotland where he was addressed as “Vacant” Monckton. There is no doubt however that he does not have an empty head but an open and very active mind. He talked for about three quarters of an hour entirely without notes, first on the science and convincingly arguing that even if the IPCC science was accepted and its recommendations followed it would have little effect on temperatures by 2100. In two hours, he displayed a mastery of the subject in answering quite technical scientific questions but also in ranging across philosophy, education and politics in a most lucid fashion. His remarks about politicians needing issues was an echo of H L Mencken’s famous quote that “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”. 

Andrew Bolt was there and Monckton went out of his way to praise his journalism: Everybody applauded. By contrast he had a go at Janet Albrechtsen’s article about his reference to Nazis. He said his comment was based on the total disruption to a meeting in Copenhagen by a band of youths, including some Germans, and the reaction of an elderly German associate at the meeting. The latter had burst into tears because it reminded him of what Hitler Youth movement had done to destroy democracy in Germany. Monckton was a most courteous speaker whose time was cut short by the insistence of The Age newspaper environmental writer on a one on one interview. The article that followed in The Age on Tuesday said next to nothing about the arguments raised and the tone of the article could best be described as “atmospheric”!

Monckton expressed doubts about a rapid unravelling of the politics, quoting the time it took to unravel the ban on DDT after Rachel Carson’s book and how even since WHO removed the ban it still applies in some countries. Similarly he quoted the disastrous rise in food prices from the move to bio-fuels driven by the Global Warming scare. He also thought that major political parties were reluctant to even ask questions about issues that are clearly not “settled”. 

In the evening Lord Monckton talked to near one thousand people at the Sofitel in central Melbourne. The audience ranged from the young to the old and he held their interest for nearly two hours only to come to a peculiar start in question time. A bearded interlocutor had the roving microphone removed as he was reluctant to ask a question but wished to make a statement. Perhaps the most entertaining slide of the evening was the correlation of sunspot numbers with Republican Senators. It made the important point that much of the promoted evidence for global warming may be genuine events that actually have no connection with human induced emissions of carbon dioxide. 

The next day, Monckton first talked at Scotch College and then to some fifty at the Institute of Public Affairs. Again, he was courteous, very well informed and may even have influenced at least some who are close to one of the major political parties. Both he and Ian Plimer singled out the IPA as the only think tank in Australia that has continued to ask questions about both the scientific basis of global warming and economic consequences of action to curb it. Over 100,000 copies of Ian Plimer’s Heaven+Earth have now been sold. 

It will be interesting to see whether Christopher Monckton is elevated to become the King Canute of Climate Change.