I’ve just received an invitation from the Brisbane Institute to participate in a debate with Ian Plimer and Lord Monckton. Having seen Plimer’s Lateline performance, I can’t imagine that this exercise will add much to the sum of human knowledge. OTOH, the event will go ahead regardless. Any thoughts?
Clarification I should say straight off that I have no intention of attempt to debate climate science. Although I’m probably better qualified to discuss the key issues (many of which involve statistics) than either Plimer or Monckton, that’ s not saying much. In any case, discussing these issues in a debate format with dishonest antagonists is pointless, as has been shown many times.
So, the only way to approach it is to address the underlying conspiracy theory directly. If Monckton and Plimer are right, all the major scientific bodies in the world are engaged in a conspiracy to introduce communist world government by (drumroll!) auctioning tradeable carbon emissions permits. The question is, can I convince an audience sympathetic to delusionism that this is a really silly thing to believe?
Update Without advising me that my invitation had been withdrawn, the Institute made another invitation, to Barry Brook, who accepted. So, the decision has been made for me. I did, however, think about the approach I might take if I accepted.
I planned to elaborate Monckton’s conspiracy theory, announce myself as part of the global conspiracy, and conclude by pointing to Margaret Thatcher (Monckton’s former employer) as the originator of the whole thing (she has a great 1990 speech putting forward the case for urgent action based on the precautionary principle). At the end I would have played it straight for a minute or so, asking the audience whether they want to believe this black helicopter nonsense or the alternative that the scientists have it right. Would this have worked? We’ll never know.
Regardless, I certainly hope that Barry Brook and Graham Readfearn (the Courier-Mail environment blogger who will also appear on the pro-science side) stick it to Monckton and Plimer for their political axe-grinding, long track record of lies, and general nuttiness, rather than giving this deplorable event any credibility.