Scepticism damaging the conservative political brand: Aussie media becoming alert to the paranoid style of climate sceptics

One of the better sites focussed on the economic and business aspects of climate change is Climate Spectator. Apart from some great coverage on business, climate change policy and the energy industry, they also publish thought provoking opinion pieces.

Thus I’d like to point readers to a great piece by Tristan Edis titled The Mad Monk and Monckton’s mates. To my mind it is indicative of mainstream media (MSM) now understand the fact that Monckton and many climate sceptics are – to put it ever so politely – barking mad.

Edis notes in somewhat amazed fashion Monckton’s connection to the political fringe: 

“So why was a person who made their name questioning global warming invited to launch such a party?  Because Monckton dreams up many of the stories that feed these people’s sense of paranoia and victim hood. Monckton’s beef is not so much with the science of global warming; it’s with the liberal-left agenda more generally. In a January article in WND Weekly, he labels Obama a communist that will bankrupt America within a matter of a few years, claims he has faked his birthplace and confidently predicts will be jailed in five years time. He rails against Obama for allowing “unfettered immigration”, “baby-butchering”, gay marriage, and being “soft on Islam” (whatever that means – presumably nothing to do with executing Osama Bin Laden).”

For many of us, this isn’t new. More importantly, Edis notes by associating itself with Monckton, the conservative Liberal National Party (LNP) have hurt their brand:

“A number of individuals and groups that are influential within the Liberal Party and its membership have embraced and championed Monckton’s views on climate change.  These include the Institute of Public Affairs, Andrew Bolt, Hugh Morgan, and Gina Rinehart.  Cory Bernardi, who was one of the key backers of the coup against Malcolm Turnbull that installed Tony Abbott, expresses views and is involved in organisations which are closely linked to Monckton and websites like WND Weekly.

The Liberal Party needs to guard themselves against being infiltrated by this kind of extremist nonsense. Abbott was persuaded to meet Monckton back in 2010 just a day after releasing their climate change policy. This was a mistake…”

Let me reiterate that point: climate change scepticism is damaging the conservative “brand”. It may have had a political utility at one point, but no longer. Let’s not forget the cash thrown at conservative politicians by the fossil fuel industry – one wonders if that influenced their views on the science:

Fossil fuel lobby: Campaign donations anyone?

Conservative politician/s: Oh, that’s lovely innit! Thanks, but is there a catch?

During the last American election the Republicans ran on a platform that included the explicit denial of climate change. Readers may recall the events of November 2012 and how that strategy worked out… hint it didn’t go well for the Republicans.

Still, I can appreciate why those in the MSM may have baulked on reporting the actual world view climate change deniers – who are neither sceptical or dispassionate on climate change, but fringe dwelling conspiracy theorists.

Firstly, News Limited owns 70% of the news print market in Australia and has been championing the views of extremists like Monckton for years. Not many journalists, in an industry in considerable turmoil and declining job security, are going to take on editors such as Chris Mitchell at The Australian – or the Sun King himself, Murdoch – who push the sceptic agenda.

Secondly, if my experience is anything to go by, once you start pointing out the obvious connection to conspiracy culture and start criticising said beliefs it brings out an army of angry, embittered trolls. Your inbox and article/website comes under sustained assault.

Fun? Well suffice to say over the years I’ve developed a very thick skin.

Thirdly, much of the activities of these climate sceptics and conspiracy theorists happen on the fringe: you have to know where to look in the very dark corners of the internet. Sites such as World Net Daily (heck even Jo Nova’s blog) aren’t exactly choice online destinations for mainstream Australia.

But crucially it takes time to become attuned to what sceptics are saying – as in what they are really saying.  

When deniers like Monckton reference “Agenda 21” the phrase and its connotations will go over the heads of the MSM and average punter. But to those attuned to the world views of conspiracy culture, the phrase “Agenda 21” is a reference to the “sceptics” belief in a coming New World Order, black helicopters, death camps for pensioners and micro-chips embedded into the skulls of every living person on the planet.

At this point it is safe to say Monckton’s down under tour is a damp squib, fizzing out like firecracker under a torrent of indifference. In previous years he enjoyed far more attention, getting gigs on the ABC, Channel 7, televised debates at the National Press Club, radio chats with disgraced shock-jock Alan Jones and huge support from conservative columnists and News Limited. All of which seems to have evaporated.

If you want a picture of Monckton 2013 Australian tour, imagine a doddery, elderly crank standing in an empty lecture theatre muttering aloud “Good lord, where did all my good friends go?”

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43 thoughts on “Scepticism damaging the conservative political brand: Aussie media becoming alert to the paranoid style of climate sceptics

  1. Sammy Jankis says:

    The Murdoch press might be cooling off on The Great Monckton Circus a little, but they show no signs of serving as an outlet for denialist nonsense generally. Just look at the Cut & Paste section of The Australian the other day, which cited Catallaxy Files and Watts Up With That to attack Dr Karl and Craig Emerson on climate change. Would we ever see the ramblings of LNP members or Alan Jones contrasted against peer reviewed science? I seriously doubt it.

    The political enemies of The Australian and its tabloid sisters accept the scientific consensus on climate change, meaning they must reject it in order to maintain their ideological purity.

  2. snerkersnerk says:

    I notice that deniers are called skeptics a couple of times in the post… That doesn’t sound right. Deniers are the opposite of skeptics.

  3. john byatt says:

    comment at RC could be some interesting stuff from this workshop

    sidd says:
    12 Feb 2013 at 8:35 PM
    Second Mr.Benson’s request to stick to the science. Here is some science for West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) aficionados.

    I note several juicy bits. Dutrieux et al. speak of 100m/yr melt under Pine Island Glacier(PIG). New basal topo data on Byrd Glacier. St. Laurent et al. estimate 1GW/mile (of coastline) heat input from ocean. Schroeder et al. describe subglacial water under Thwaites. Siegfried et al. write of tidal pumping of warm ocean water into and melt water out of subglacial cavities with tidal flexure of ice shelf and sheet.Walker (Ryan) et al. put math to the model for tidal flexure. Walker (C .C.) et al. suggest that Amery might do something dramatic soon (I thought this was the WAIS, not the EAIS

  4. Eric Worrall says:

    Let’s not forget the cash thrown at conservative politicians by the fossil fuel industry – one wonders if that influenced their views on the science:

    I can’t believe in the wake of the $100 million paid to Al Gore by big oil, that you guys are still banging on about the pennies received by some skeptic scientists.

    As for Monckton damaging the brand, the reason the Conservatives lost in America was they put up a left leaning centrist, rather than a Conservative. As one of the Heartland people put it, Americans were given a choice between the man who invented Obamacare or the man who was implementing it. There was no compelling reason to change president.

    We love Monckton, because he upsets eco lunatics so much. Why? Because he is effective – he single handedly turned the Republicans against the climate lie, and he looks like he’s on the verge of doing the same for Australia.

    • $500M paid out by Koch. The reasons Conservatives lost in America is they’re nuts.

    • Sammy Jankis says:

      As for Monckton damaging the brand, the reason the Conservatives lost in America was they put up a left leaning centrist, rather than a Conservative.

      Oh, Eric. Don’t ever change.

      [Monckton] single handedly turned the Republicans against the climate lie…

      What? You’re suggesting the Republicans were all up for getting tough on climate change until Monckton arrived on the scene? Please. Denialism is in the blood of the GOP politics. Monckton was just another “authority” they could call upon to insist that the the overwhelming majority of climate scientists have no idea what they’re talking about (or are engaged in a communist conspiracy).

      …and he looks like he’s on the verge of doing the same for Australia.

      No. He’ll be preaching to the converted. Abbott may well give Monckton a wide berth after the attention he received for meeting with him on his last visit. Cory Bernardi might be excited to see him, but I don’t think too many in the LNP will be keen to be associated with Monckton given that he’s gone full birther and is hanging out with Pastor Danny.

      • I saw Monckton here in the US last year. The audience members were completely *nuts*. As in totally unhinged. It was an honest-to-goodness All American freak-show.

        As I was trying to locate the venue where Monckton was speaking, I saw a parked car with a “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” bumper-sticker. I then knew that I was getting close!

    • zoot says:

      Why the fixation on Al Gore?
      The science based side of the divide has plenty of real scientists and real data to rely on, so you never see us citing Fat Al.
      Meanwhile you keep posting links to the Watts/Coddling/Monckton/Delingpole/Rose axis of stupidity.
      And the ice continues to melt, the flora and fauna continue to move their habitats polewards and the planet continues to warm.

    • thefingas says:

      Love it Eric!

      “As for Monckton damaging the brand, the reason the Conservatives lost in America was they put up a left leaning centrist, rather than a Conservative.”

      You’re right if Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, or Cain won the primary, the GOP would’ve won in a landslide!


      • Watching the Deniers says:

        The GOP lost because it could not capture the independents – they were (rightly) spooked by the extremists in the Tea Party. Indeed, they GOP are in the process of expunging the extremists. Karl Rove is lining up funds to get rid of them:

        After spending more than $300 million in what was widely regarded a losing effort in the 2012 elections, Rove and his fundraising allies have launched the Conservative Victory Project to help fight primary battles, especially for the Senate, against candidates they think will hurt the party’s chances in the 2014 midterms.

        Many Republicans think that the party blew a chance to take control of the Senate in 2012, when they needed to win four Democratic-held seats, by offering candidates who were too flawed to win.

        They point to Missouri and Indiana, where Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively, lost what had been scored early on as winnable races for the GOP. In both cases, the party’s chances dimmed after the candidates made controversial comments about rape and abortion. Frustrated by those outcomes, Rove and his group will seek more control in the primary process through ad buys and the vetting of candidates.

        And here:

        Romney failed because he flipped-flopped, he tried to appeal to the right-wing but as the election loomed he starting back tracking to capture the independents. The “GOP lost because we weren’t conservative enough” is an amusing myth.

      • thefingas says:

        And that’s why I love Eric because as long as he and other conservatives think the GOP lost 2012 because Romney was “too left/centrist” they will continue to lose elections.

      • Eric Worrall says:

        Perhaps I should clarify – the Republican candidate I think would have had a real shot was Ron Paul.

        He is a hardline fiscal Conservative but socially fairly Liberal – which is probably why he didn’t win the nomination (that and he isn’t the best speaker I’ve ever seen).

        But he was popular with swing voters, and his long track record of voting against tax rises would have won points with the tea partiers.

        As for his views on Climate change, frankly I couldn’t give a sh*t – I don’t even know what they are. Whatever they are, I would have trusted his low tax Libertarianism not to make too much of a botch of policy.

        Sadly he’s too old to try again.

    • Dr No says:

      Yes – we need Chris to persuade Tony that climate change is “crap”.
      Maybe he could persuade him that Medicare is also “crap”.
      And that certain ethnic groups are “crap”.

      I am not joking. Conservatives like Tony, because of the depth of their intellects, are susceptible to people like Chris.
      Think Bernadi,,Joyce etc.

    • Ron Paul, a candidate for 1912 but stood a century later. He’d have been demolished.

    • Nick says:

      “We love Monckton…” ,says Eric,oblivious to the fact that the man is an idiot of the first order. Monckton is forgiven his foolish life,false claims and frequent faux-pas because he ‘upsets’ some people.

      Is that good enough for you,Eric? You’re a child!

  5. john byatt says:

    good grief, have any of you checked out bruce at WTWWTD ?

    Dunning kruger, the real deal


  6. john byatt says:

    good grief, have any of you checked out bruce at WTWWTD ?

    Dunning Kruger, the real deal, the only bloke on earth who knows the truth,


  7. john byatt says:

    it happened again, you have already posted that, nothing comes up, and then on second go both come up, shit happens

  8. Skeptikal says:

    Let me reiterate that point: climate change scepticism is damaging the conservative “brand”.

    Recent polling would suggest that you are wrong.

    If you want to know how to REALLY damage a political brand… all you have to do is introduce a carbon tax after you promised not to.

  9. Debunker says:

    Er Eric….

    ” is like trying to identify the faint CO2 signal in the temperature record – a needle in a haystack.”

    You mean like this?

    What do you not understand about a fairly simple correlation between CO2 and Temperature?

    • Eric Worrall says:

      There’s a much better correlation between solar activity and temperature.

      And a third of all CO2 emitted by humans was released since 1997. During this period the temperature of the world has not increased.

      • Watts is anti-science. You may as well post a gif from 4chan.

      • Alex the Seal says:

        – Why do you think the effects of CO2 on climate are immediate when you readily accept lags for solar forcing?
        – Why cherry pick the hottest year in the instrumental record as a basis for trend?
        – You link to a post that has a chart that stops in 1982 – why don’t they show an updated graph? We have comprehensive data up til 2012.
        – The link you posted contradicts itself. If there is lag as claimed in the second half of the piece, why does it not show up in Friis-Christensen’s study? If the “U-turn” from ’85 manifests in 2005, why do the Friis-Christensen results not have a 20 year lag?

      • john byatt says:

        correlate this

      • Debunker says:

        As Alex correctly notes, the reason why WTFUWT doesn’t show any data since 1982 on that link you posted, (leaving out 30 years!), is that the sun – temp relationship, (such as it is), completely breaks down, and solar activity actually DECREASES whilst temperature is still going up. Watts must know this, ergo, he is cheating with the data, and Eric, my son, you have been had.

        You really need to do a bit more research before posting rubbish. You may believe it but the rest of us who live in a fact based world and are actually a bit skeptical, (ie, don’t believe everything we read), will call you on it every time

      • Nick says:

        Eric,once again your arse has been handed to you after another of your repetitive and simply silly blurtings has been swiftly corrected.

        Your response? A sane person with some humility might adjust their position…

      • Debunker says:

        Yes Eric, Watts was indulging in a fairly simple but effective scientific deception called “Cherry Picking”. You pick the start or end point of the data and show only the bits that support your contention; ignoring the 90% that contradicts it. Hence, for example, leaving out the last 30 years of solar activity, or picking 1997/98 as a start date to show that there has not been any warming. The fact that this was the hottest year by far last century escapes the average scientifically illiterate clod, so they don’t even know that they have been had. If you pick any other year last century to start with, the graph has a very healthy upward slope. So you have just uncritically parroted two of the most used denialist talking points, clearly, without knowing what you are talking about.

  10. Eric Worrall says:

    Just a quick aside, if you’re looking at damage, you want to see the damage the New Zealand obsession with green energy has done to her natural beauty spots. I’m currently in Taupo region, in my spare time sight seeing some of the natural wonders of this area.

    Sadly a number of beauty spots have been destroyed with ugly geothermal energy installations.

    But damage done by Greens to the green brand is hardly limited to New Zealand. A recent Austrian TV expose of environmental damage done by alternative energy projects has shocked green enthusiasts.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      I know the film, its on the same level of as “Great global warming swindle” – a piece of disingenuous propaganda.\

      The thing is here:

      Does not actually offer any evidence. It’s all framing.

    • zoot says:

      Sadly a number of beauty spots have been destroyed with ugly geothermal energy installations.

      Oh I don’t know Eric, they’re nowhere near as ugly as a coal mine:

    • Debunker says:

      A fairly Standard denialist trick to throw an indefensible pseudo factoid like:

      ” is like trying to identify the faint CO2 signal in the temperature record – a needle in a haystack.”

      Then when you are called on it, to change the topic and go off completely at a tangent to throw in a straw man argument like the supposed damage done to the environment by environmentalists. But OK, lets look at that. What about the damage done by Big oil? Err… Exxon Valdez, Canadian tar sands, BP in the Gulf of Mexico, etc etc. C’mon Eric, you are never going to win that one!.

    • Dr No says:

      I also visited New Zealand last year and was amazed at the rate at which their glaciers are retreating.
      Of course, it could have been an optical illusion combined with deliberately falsified measurements. After all, isnt it true that some New Zealand climate scientists were taken to court accused of some sort of mischief?

    • Alex the Seal says:

      That’s the price of progress, my friend.

      The last 60 years has given us the must prosperous period of human existence giving the western world the highest standard of living in history. If we want that to continue we must do it sustainably.

      This has less to do with politics than it does with physics, mathematics and chemistry. We live in a finite world.

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