Christopher Monckton shows his workings

In March 2012 Christopher Monckton spoke at California State University in Bakersfield. His talk was entitled Fallacies about Global Warming.

In July, in a posting concerning a speech by Patrick Moore, I devoted my second paragraph to observing the puzzling detail that warmists (who claim to be championing The Science) seldom show much science, whereas sceptics (who the warmists claim to be anti-science) show abundant scientific data and workings to back up their contentions.  Earlier this month we looked at a speech by arch-warmist, Lord Deben, in which I defy you to find any science at all. Today let’s look at a speech by a very high-profile sceptic.

The gathering was hosted by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove whose introduction saves me having to labour the point I made the previous time Monckton was on this blog. Monckton is so formidably well prepared, well briefed and well researched that no warmist dares face him in debate. He has challenged Al Gore repeatedly, to be met with progressively lame excuses.

I suggest that you listen to Grove’s introduction twice, once to absorb what she has to say and again to watch Monckton while she is saying it. He never stops looking around the audience, and not just idly gazing but unobtrusively looking intently, summing up, evaluating, taking measure, analyzing that audience . The man is a pro.

Monckton begins speaking at 4:15. His opening is almost verbatim the one he used the previous time he was on this blog. I have no quarrel with that: if J.S.Bach could recycle good ideas it excuses the rest of us. Nevertheless I remain uneasy over the flaunting of his title.

I know why he does it. Thanks to politicians’ changing of the constitution of the House of Lords, he is no longer eligible to sit in the House. This has caused some of the Westminster mediocracy to claim that he is not a Lord. His passport gives the lie to that. He is a viscount by birth, and understandably enjoys waving that under the noses of the naysayers. Flaunting a title is faintly tacky. He knows this, and has clearly made a policy decision that the joy of cocking a snoot at snotty bureaucrats justifies a touch of tackiness, Not only does he flaunt his title in his opening he brands his slides with a coronet, and even sometimes the Parliamentary portcullis. I understand and sympathize, but I remain uneasy.

After some bits of fun at the beginning he gets down to cases at 6:15, and immediately he addresses one hugely important fact. There has been warming and we contributed to it. I know of no one who disputes that. The scepticism is in how much warming there has been, will be, how big our contribution, and therefore whether the recommended changes to our behaviour can reap any discernible benefit or will ruin the world’s economy to no purpose. There are other ancillary matters, but that is the essence.

Up come his graphs! He very skilfully handles them in language that is as straightforward and simple as possible. Those of us less numerate can still get a little addled at times, but stick with it: the really important bits are clear as crystal.

He delivers a surgical dismantling of the global warming scam, with all the workings you could possibly want. I have read quite a lot on the subject so most of it doesn’t surprise me. If you haven’t you could get angry. I part company with Monckton in one little detail. At 27:00 he suggests that climate scientists played their naughty games to confuse bureaucrats and politicians. I believe that those politicians and bureaucrats specifically commissioned those results from the scientists. Cui bono.

Now you know why Al Gore scurries away and hides at any suggestion of a debate with Monckton. He’d be ignominiously annihilated and he knows it.

Monckton is outstandingly good, but he’s not perfect. Anyone who works this hard at a skill wants to be perfect. Very soon – possibly in my next posting – I shall examine his imperfections.

Patrick Moore – the climate realist

The Heartland Institute hosted ICCC9 – the ninth International Conference on Climate Change – in Las Vegas from 7 – 9 July 2014.

With a debate like the climate one I find my sympathies instinctively tending towards the side that shows its workings. I want to be able to take my own look at the data in question. Many years ago I noticed that whereas sceptics fell over themselves to cite chapter and verse to support their theories, alarmists tended to restrict themselves to unsubstantiated assertions and infantile name-calling (often aimed at anyone who dared protest that they weren’t showing their workings). Part of the name-calling involved the term ‘anti-science’. This was rather rich coming from those who were never prepared to engage in a debate on the science, preferring to hide behind the risible debate-killer “the science is settled”. At any rate I looked at the source data as hard as a non-scientist is able, and closely followed the debate from the standpoint of a rhetorician. I also followed the money. The alarmists’ assertions collapsed before my eyes. As far as I am concerned the game was up many years ago. The global warming movement has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with politics – and pretty questionable politics at that. With any friends who continue to espouse this dead hypothesis I no longer bother to argue: I merely invite them to look more closely.

Greenpeace’s most famous dropout, Patrick Moore, spoke at ICCC9 on 8 July.

I believe this is the first time on this blog that I have failed to attach to the first mention of the speaker’s name a hyperlink to biographical material. There is a good reason: nothing you can read will give you a more comprehensive overview of Patrick Moore’s environmental career than the beginning of this speech. Till 5:15 it is wall-to-wall ethos.

His slides during this section are purely wordless pictures, which is good, the words he speaks are scripted, which isn’t. He doesn’t seem to be reading from the lectern, so why do I believe it is scripted? It’s in the rhythm. The pauses and links between sentences are unnatural in their duration. Also it’s in the stumbles and self-corrections which have ‘script’ written all over them. He appears not to be reading, so he is reciting: he has learnt it. He did not need to. He is perfectly capable of speaking all of this spontaneously. For some reason he just does not dare. Reciting a learnt script is not true shooting from the hip: it doesn’t have the sparkle that so seduces audiences.

Then he turns to why he left Greenpeace and to the main message of his speech, the essential climate-realism that he preaches. Now – disastrously – his slides are smothered in verbiage. Watching the video of this speech, we can pause it to read it all; but the audience in the hall cannot do that. They can listen to him or they can read the slides, but not both. He has set up his slides in competition to himself. Why, in heaven’s name, do so many speakers make this mistake?

Curiously, just as the slides get submerged under words, Moore starts to sound spontaneous. Now I believe that he is shooting this from the hip.

At 8:35 he gets into a muddle over his slides, Things start coming up in the wrong order. This may not be his fault, but having too many slides is his fault.

I am not anti-slides: I am anti-words-on-slides. I know that in speeches like this speakers feel they need to give chapter and verse to back up what they are saying. They are right: look at my second paragraph above. Therefore consider something along the lines of …

The IPCC in their report said on page xxx, “///////////////”.  

You will find the precise quote and its context on page y in the conference program.

By all means show pictures and graphs, but wherever possible restrict your words to graph labels only. You will be astonished how liberating that is. The fewer slides you have the less chance there is for things to go wrong. A trainee of mine had to conduct an all-day workshop the day after attending my course. He later told me that during my course he was mentally pruning down his dozen slides. By the time we parted he was determined to use just two. In the event he didn’t use even those – or a script, or notes. He shot the entire day from the hip with no slides, and received ecstatic feedback.

There is absolutely no added credibility or emphasis in the audience’s being able to read the words you are speaking.

Back to Patrick Moore! This is a very good speech. From 10:36, just after the hiatus with the mixed up slides, he gets into his stride. His speaking is now spontaneous and impassioned, and his slides get much sparser with words. At that point he becomes, frankly, awesome. He knows his stuff inside out, and it pours out of him with all the authority which his 40 years of experience as an ecologist have generated.

Just compare this with Al Gore’s ghastly sci-fi film, An Inconvenient Truth. Go check the facts.

Go figure.

Lord Lawson reads what needs to be said.

At the end of April 2014, Lord Lawson of Blaby gave a speech to the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment at the University of Bath, in England. His being the Chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lawson’s pronouncements on the subject of climate change usually excite a degree of interest, and this occasion was no exception.

You should not be too alarmed by the indication at the foot of the video that it lasts for nearly an hour and a half. Lawson’s speech ends at 46:30, and the rest is questions – quite robust ones by the way.

At the outset, Lawson asks for his briefcase, which had been placed in the care of someone else. He is duly delivered his script, from which he reads the entire speech. Some might say that he is not making a speech so much as presenting a paper, and I would tend to agree. The process that we witness is in every sense that of a talking head. We would get more out of it if we each were to read that paper to ourselves (till the onset of the questions). That way our minds would process the information at our own pace and rhythm, rather than his, with consequent greater understanding of what is argued. It’s the same phenomenon that makes the film of a book almost invariably inferior to the book.

If you would rather read it yourself, here is a transcript.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I would greatly prefer him not to have used a script. Using paper, even if as skilfully as Lawson, instantly robs your delivery of a substantial part of its persuasiveness.They will also expect me to claim that I could have enabled him to have dispensed with it, though they might not believe it.

One man, who would probably not have believed it last Wednesday, did a course with me on Thursday. He is a senior executive in a well-known British company. On Saturday he sent me an email. I have not sought his permission to identify him so I shall not do so.

What I failed to highlight on Thursday was that on Friday I was hosting an all day workshop with senior members of the xxxxxxxx team.  I had been having kittens for weeks.  Through the time in your course I was mentally whittling down the workshop from 20 slides, to 6, to 2.  That’s what I slept on, and eventually I conducted an 8 hour workshop with no slides and no notes.  I launched the day with a James Bond opening (an icebreaker) followed by a 15 minute speech on why we were there.  A speech with purpose!  What followed was a very lively and interesting workshop. I could not have done it without you.  You switched a light on, and I hope I can keep it alight in future presentations.

He will!

Patrick Moore – The Sensible Environmentalist

At a TEDx gathering in Vancouver in November 2009, Patrick Moore was one of the speakers. If you have clicked the link on his name, or looked at the picture below, you will know that we are dealing here not with the late, English, wonderfully eccentric, amateur astronomer and xylophone player, but with the Canadian environmentalist, the co-founder of Greenpeace who left that organisation in disgust when it conspicuously lost its way a few years ago. He now calls himself The Sensible Environmentalist, and spends much of his time campaigning on behalf of Golden Rice.

I am not an environmentalist but I have read a few books on the subject, been around the block a few times, and watched enough speakers to have developed a nose for, and allergy to, bullshit. The field of environmental activism tends to be so deep in the steaming stuff that in order to critique most speeches I’d need to be equipped with a JCB. So I usually don’t. Let’s see whether I was justified in hoping that Moore would be worth my making an exception in his case.

There’s something that bothers me about his voice and the manner of his speaking. The urgency he conveys is not a problem for me because it indicates a willingness to get into the driving seat. It’s not exactly the speed with which he speaks, because it doesn’t feel like undue nervousness. It is as if he were driving in too low a gear: the voice is working too hard. I bet he gets sore throats after big presentations. If so, it’s absurdly easy to prevent it.

At 2:35 there’s a lovely catalogue of names. If you don’t understand why I like it, you have neither had a course with me nor read The Face & Tripod.

There are a few occasions when he stumbles and momentarily loses his place. Some might blame this on his shooting the speech from the hip, but a couple of small stumbles are a tiny price to pay for the audience engagement that goes with being paper-free. The stumbles don’t bother me, and I’d lay money that they don’t bother his audience; but if they trouble him, there are a few improvements that could be made to his structure to make the mind-mapping easier.

I enjoy his summary dismissal of fallacy after fallacy connected to the global warming scam. At the time of writing we have just been treated (if that’s the word) to mounds of garbage in a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Proper scientists having over the years deserted the IPCC in disgust over being misquoted, it is now mainly a nest of political activists still trying to masquerade as scientists. The main-stream media, either too idle to check or in politico/economic thrall to the alarmist nonsense, make up an eager team of cheer-leaders. I’m old enough to remember when the BBC, for instance, was a respectable organisation employing proper journalists. Others of a similar age who seem to swallow this tripe show themselves too trusting or too busy to check any details. At least I hope that’s the case: the alternative is too depressing.

The most depressing thing is when people start clamouring for ‘deniers’ to be silenced, sectioned, or imprisoned. They might as well burn books like they did in Berlin in 1933. People behave like this only when they know their own argument to be weak. It is weak because its scientific basis is flimsy, and was always actually political rather than scientific.

If you want one reason why I believe this, just go and see how many attempts by sceptical scientists to join in public debate with warmists have had the warmists scurrying for cover. Christopher Monckton has repeatedly challenged Al Gore. Gore has made increasingly pathetic excuses; and who’s to blame him? He’d be slaughtered.

Watching this speech, I find myself wanting to endorse Patrick Moore’s description of himself as The Sensible Environmentalist. He could easily be a better speaker, but meanwhile he’s quite good enough for most markets. And what he says is suitably coloured with doubt as to persuade me that he is a genuine seeker after truth.

Willis Eschenbach – refreshingly simple.

In 2012 The Heartland Institute hosted its seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7) in Chicago. Among the speakers was Willis Eschenbach.

Climatologists delight in pointing out the lack of Eschenbach’s scientific qualifications, though it is rather sweet how seldom they make the same observation about Al Gore. The difference is that Eschenbach readily tells everyone who will listen that he is not a scientist. My having no scientific qualifications either, I am happy to dwell instead on how well he articulates his message.

They do not tell us on YouTube who makes the introduction, and this is an omission I prefer not to repeat.  Having scanned through scores of mugshots on Heartland’s website I reckon this is Steve Goreham. I wanted to name him because he does it well. Eschenbach begins at 1:13, uttering his first words before he reaches the lectern.

As I have observed before, W.B.Yeats said,

“Think like a wise man but express yourself like the common people.”

In my work I frequently find myself paraphrasing in common terms what some boffin has said to me, either the better for me to understand what he will be telling other boffins in some speech that I am helping with, or to help him make some impenetrable piece of ‘scientese’ (an Eschenbach word) more digestible for the lay people in an audience. Therefore listening to Eschenbach, who is a carpenter, handling scientific concepts in everyday language is like a holiday.

It is worth remembering that you do not need a PhD in order to read. If a scientist publishes something and you read it, the fact that you happen not to be a scientist does not make what you learnt any less relevant. Eschenbach’s speech is about species’ extinction rates having been exaggerated. Here’s a startling claim from him. It appears at the 5 minute mark: there is no record of any species having gone extinct from habitat loss.


Do you view that with suspicion? Would you have been as sceptical if, say, Dr Craig Loehle had said it? I did not invent that name: Dr Loehle is Principal Scientist with the National [US] Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI). He collaborates with Eschenbach on publications.

I am not in a position to pontificate on the quality of Eschenbach’s research or his pronouncements; but I can comment on how well he puts it across. His delivery is refreshingly guileless, clear, well structured and largely shot from the hip. It is held together by a narrative thread that keeps you with him. What more could I want?