The dire warnings that the kids at GetUp!, the ALP’s attack dogs, were going to buy 100 seats at the Monckton/Denniss debate and cause some embarrassment for Lord Moncton came to nothing. Were they there? If so they may as well have saved the $7,000 in seating charges and stayed home. The whole hour of the debate at the National Press Club in Canberra turned out to be a rather civilised, well mannered affair.
Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute gave his opening address, Lord Monckton gave his. Then it was questions from the floor. Unfortunately, for those with a gladiatorial instinct there was no verbal biffing or below-the-belt punches. What there was though was the realisation that Richard Denniss had pulled the fight. His only basis premise was that the science was settled. That most unscientific of gods, consensus was his one and only argument. When Monckton stated that it was the challenging of consensus that marked the advancement of science, Denniss ducked the issue.
Instead Denniss called upon things like the need for “global insurance” and compared climate realism with the diagnosis for cancer and its treatment, insinuating that climate realists were like people seeking herbal remedies. This and a whole host of such similes, did nothing to advance the argument of the warmists beyond consensus, consensus, consensus.
His lordship on the other hand moved about the national Press Club forum like, well, to borrow a worn-out phrase from the past, he “danced like a butterfly and stung like a bee”. Monckton offered Facts, examples, logical questions, straight answers. It was no contest. We had heard most of the points before, but not so clearly stated– so digestible in both form and content.
What was exposed was the fact that the actual “deniers” are the warmists. They are so self-assured with their science, their arguments, their solutions, that they don’t need to listen to anyone who asks questions or has an alternate position. The science is settled, they say, so let’s deny anyone a forum who might, just might, have a reasonable counter-argument. Great science — pity about the logic — sort of thing. Past scientists have been both clever, and at the same time, slightly bonkers. Take the Greek philosopher and mathematician, Pythagoras.
Pythagoras, while great with theorems and musical theories, had this thing about beans. He and his followers created their own religion. They feared beans and did everything in their power to avoid them. Something to do with beans looking like female genitalia. Some followers claimed that he could “write on the moon”. The problem today is when science and religion blend; when scientific theory becomes a quasi-religious dogma. You can’t question the science … it is settled. Clever stuff. So scientific!
The most interesting aspect of the Monckton/Denniss debate was the curious issue of the warmist scientists lack of interest in debating the good Lord. Apparently Lord Monckton isn’t a “scientist” (he is a famous mathematician) so our scientists cannot lower themselves to debate with him. Instead he gets Richard Denniss an economist, and former Greens/Democrat advisor, to do the hard miles. Comments made by Denniss, during the debate, that the science was so complicated that scientists couldn’t be bothered fighting smart-arsed questions from amateurs, like his Lordship, therefore justified why they wouldn’t debate himsounded a bit spurious — and it is.
All of this had a curious ring to it.
The day before the debate the ABC’s The Drum published an article by Professor Stephan Lewandowsky headed “The difference between scientific debate and phony talkfests”:
The vaudevillian climate “sceptic” Lord Monckton, who is scouring Australia for venues for his theatrical performances but has given wide berth to the IUGG [International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics] meeting, has a life-long record of refusing to enter a scientific debate, not having published in peer-review literature.
That, according to Lord Monckton, is a complete lie. The substance of this charge was raised at the National Press Club debate, and well answered by Lord Monckton who gave ample examples to refute the charge. Lewandowsky also said, in a some-what Orwellian fashion:
For scientists, there is no reason to engage with individuals in an academic setting who refuse scientific debate and accountability, and who demonstrably have nothing to bring to the debate.
It would appear that the closing of the scientific mind to evidence, opinion or indeed questions, as to the quality and soundness of both their science and their conclusions, cannot be questioned by non-members of the climate-warmist-club. This was evident in the National Press Club debate with Richard Denniss’s constant refrain about “consensus science”.
Another unfortunate aspect of Richard Denniss’s approach was that it mirrored, unconditionally, the Gillard policy regarding the Carbon (dioxide) Tax, the ETS and all the bumph associated with the present political-scientific climate-war raging in this country. The result was that Lord Monckton was debating an opponent with no thought, other than “consensus”. If all you get in response to an argument, a question or a point that puts “the science” in doubt is the glib answer “the science is settled”, what can you do?
Obviously the majority of the Australian public have decided what to do — they doubt both the science and the scientists and politicians who repeat that “global warming is the greatest moral and economic challenge of out time”. They don’t believe the science is settled — not by a long shot.
The charge that is often made, that the climate change/global warming theory has a “faith” based undercurrent to it, was self-evident during the Monckton/Denniss debate. Denniss was doing what every inflexible dogmatic tyrant and religious figure has done for possibly the past 10,000 years. “My belief will not be challenged” … or… the science is settled.
How all this fits with the Australia Institute’s claim to “inform public debate and bring greater accountability to the democratic process” is anyone’s guess.