There is much to be said for stepping away from the climate change “debate” and coming back refreshed.
In many respects it’s disheartening in a way to see to the same old deniers trotting out the same old tired arguments: “the climate has always changed”; “it’s the sun”; the absurd “it’s not happening”; and the wonderfully insane “it’s a conspiracy!”
Watching Plimers recent performance in London reminded me of some of the basic tactics employed by the denial machine and its operatives.
Firslty, just how proficient the deniers are at what is called the Gish Gallop: throwing out hundreds of little factoids and arguments in order to a) sound authoritative and b) confuse.
Fact checking their statements is both tedious and time consuming: the “Gish Gallop” allows them to make dozens of absurd claims without risk of being challenged. Both Ian Plimer and “Not-really-a-Lord” Monckton are practitioner’s par excellence.
Playing dress up
Coming back into the debate also reminded me how much the deniers love nothing better than playing the adult version of dress-ups by assuming the garb and vocabulary of scientists and other authority figures.
Plimer loves to take the “trust me I’m a scientist” line in order to assume the authority of science, while simultaneously attacking what is settled science.
It is why Monckton is so strident in his attempts to claim he is a “member of the House of Lords” when he clearly is not.
But in order to accept the claims of Plimer and Monckton and the roles they want to play, one needs to also wave away hundreds of uncomfortable facts.
Even though Monckton is famously not a member of the House of Lords, to his supporters he “really is”.
It helps explain why Jo Nova and Andrew Bolt will accept Monckton’s claim to being a “Lord’ over official statements by that very body. One only has to see Jo Nova’s post on the issue to see the depth in which the denial community is desperate to protect the status of one of their “tribal elders”.
Can Monckton claim to be a member of the House of Lords Nova asks rhetorically?
According to a constitutional lawyer. Yes, quite so.
Monckton, on returning fromAustraliafrom his tour this autumn, consulted Hugh O’Donoghue, a leading constitutional lawyer at Carmelite Chambers, overlooking the River Thames just a mile downstream from the Houses of Parliament. His question: “Am I or am I not a member of the House of Lords?”
O’Donoghue, who specializes in difficult human-rights cases and Peerage law, spent months carefully researching Monckton’s question. He says Lord Monckton “was and is correct at all points”. The conclusion of his 11-page opinion (see PDF at bottom of this article), reviewing 1000 years of Peerage law, is clear on the issue:
Yes… because the opinion of one single lawyer trumps the official view of the UKs upper house.
I mean this lawyer sits just one mile downstream from the Houses of Parliament! Golly gosh, that makes them really authoritative. And its 11 pages!
To have any real validity, either statute law would need to be changed or the matter taken to court where a Judge would make a determination.
Until then, this advice is merely an unsubstantiated opinion.
Caution, extreme usage of dead languages ahead
The classically trained Monckton loves to sprinkle his monologues – and I say monologues because Monckton doesn’t have conversations, he simply talks and talks, and talks – with snatches of Latin.
Monckton’s use of dead languages is intended to do two things: intimidate his critics and demonstrate his arcane knowledge to impress his gullible audience.
It very much reminds me of the very things George Orwell noted in his famous essay, “Politics and the English Language“.
Cautioning the reader against words used to “dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgements”, Orwell notes:
“Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones…”
Monckton arguments are so fatuous, fact free and incredibly fanciful that he needs to dress them up what is essentially verbal pyrotechnics.
To which all I have to say is caveat emptor.
Pepper spraying the truth
So why all this dressing up and verbal pyrotechnics?
The denial movement exists to do one thing, and it does it very well: to confuse.
It uses a variety of tools and techniques to support this strategy of confusion: denying climate change is real; attacking the reputations of scientists; hacking into computer systems; threatening scientists with death threats; engaging in email campaigns of intimidation and harassment; plastering online forums with sound bites and denier memes.
Their campaign is nasty, relentless and effective.
I call it “pepper spraying the truth” because their tactics are designed to itimidate, bully and force us to look away.
The millions of words generated by the denier blogs posts and Andrew Bolt articles are simply the individual particles of a pepper spray applied to the public debate. It forces the closure of our eyes, blinding us to urgency of climate change.
In their application of their pepper spray, the deniers have degraded public discourse.
There is no “debate”.
There is no “reasoning”.
There is the denial machine whose only function is it is whip out the pepper spray and violently apply it to the public “eyes”.
“But what if climate change is real? What can we do? What should we do…” asks the public
“It’s not real! Look away! “ the deniers scream as they keep up a steady spray of false memes.
Read any online forum or comments section on a newspaper article discussing climate change and you’ll see the “spray” of denier memes and arguments. Every word, every post, every article from the deniers angrily sprayed into our eyes.
The “pepper spray” makes it too painful to engage in any form of discussion or debate.
Tragically all of us are left irritated, confused, and blinded