Steve Milloy is better than a voice-over

At the Heartland Institute‘s 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC) on March 24, 2017, Steve Milloy presented a speech entitled “Resetting Climate Policy”.

I was interested to watch, because I have had a book of his (it’s an exposé of the EPA) on my wish list for longer than I care to admit, and have been following Milloy on Twitter in the mean time.

Speeches from Heartland’s various ICCCs have appeared in this blog for many years, during which time I have watched the production values on their videos go from ‘clunky’ to ‘seriously neat’. You have only to look at that ‘still’ on the video above to see how we get a simultaneous view of the speaker and his visual slide that is nearly as good as that of the live audience. I congratulate them.

I say “nearly” as good because in that window the slide occupies more space than the speaker.  You could argue that it needs to in order that all those words should be legible, and at that point I begin to quarrel with the speaker.

A convention has built over the years that seems to decree that it isn’t a serious presentation unless it is accompanied by slides smothered in verbiage. I fight with that every working day, because it means that the slides are in competition with the speaker for the audience’s attention and the speaker can become a voice-over for a slide-show.

At corporate presentations the speaker is very often presenting a report whose hard-copy contains a fat deck of slides, but that doesn’t mean the speaker has to use all (or any) of them in the presentation. The presentation should not attempt to précis the report but to trail it. The object is to persuade the audience to read the damn thing, and if your précis is too good they won’t.

Does Milloy’s audience at this presentation get a hard-copy of his slide deck? If so I would try to persuade him to leave at least most of the slides out of the presentation.

In Heartland’s defence I bet that most of their ICCC speakers’ slides are graphs, and graphs are when slides become invaluable and detail on them likewise, so I will forgive their dedicating most of the video space to slides.

But what of Milloy’s actual speech? It is very good. It is specifically aimed at his live audience which is knowledgeable on the subject matter, so he doesn’t faff around with unnecessary explanations – e.g. who Tony Heller is (I won’t either); and therefore he gets a whole lot more into the available time. This might leave some video viewers, who are eavesdroppers after all, scratching their heads but perhaps eager to become more knowledgeable.

Speaking of which I really must get on and read his book, Scare Pollution.

 

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.

Christopher Booker – a writer not a speaker.

Every week Britain’s Sunday Telegraph includes a column by Christopher Booker. He is regularly described as a contrarian, and his often ferocious campaigns include attacking the EU, the secrecy surrounding the British Family Court system, and imbecilic officialdom in general. He spurns the shallow fashions of the intelligentsia and gives the impression of using very thorough research, which is why his opponents tend to restrict themselves to argumentum ad hominem attacks. They seldom prevail if the argument comes down to hard evidence.

Perhaps his chief target in recent years has been global warming alarmism, so I was not surprised to see his name crop up amongst speakers at the same Heartland Institute International Conference on Climate Change in March 2009 that provided this blog recently with a speech by Professor Richard Lindzen.

His introduction is charmingly and self-deprecatingly provided by Dr John Dunn.

Booker begins at 1:45 with a mildly humorous opening. This is good: never try to be too funny too soon unless you are a professional comedian. He then briefly speaks spontaneously and very personally about the conference being peopled with those whose work he admires. And then…

He picks up a sheaf of papers and proceeds to read. My heart sinks. Booker writes well; and most good writers are too restricted to thinking – as it were – through their pen. A speaker needs to think through his tongue, because written English is different from spoken English. Booker, in short, is a talking head for the same reason as we discussed in the case of Brendan O’Neill. This is stuff that would be interesting to read but which is stilted and tedious to listen to.

There are a few blessed occasions that his eyes lift to the audience and he permits himself an aside; but still his script retains overall control. And that is not the only reason for my heart sinking.

The main body of his speech seems to consist principally of his recounting the history of the global warming scare from the time that the global cooling scare lost political traction. I suspect that this audience was not only sympathetic to his argument but populated almost entirely by people who knew this story every bit as well as he. It’s never easy to find a new slant on an argument when you are pushing against an open door, but that is what you really have to do.

At the outset it looks as if he has solved this problem.  He begins talking about the book he co-wrote with Richard North, Scared to Death, in which they analysed the extraordinarily consistent pattern in which successive political/pseudo-scientific scares lived their brief lives, rising up and falling away before being buried and forgotten – scares like bird-flu, Y2K, BSE, etc. He does continue by showing how in its beginnings the global warming scare followed the same overall pattern, causing me to look forward to his restricting himself to that theme, exploring and explaining the extraordinary longevity of this particular scare. How, for instance, are its adherents managing to fight an increasingly bizarre rearguard action even though we have seen more than one and a half decades of the planet refusing to follow any of the projections of the computer models? Why are schools and museums still allowed to poison our children’s minds with this garbage? Is it merely that too much political capital has been invested in it? Admittedly this speech dates from 2009 when many more people than today were still paying lip-service to it, but the game was up even then – which is why Copenhagen collapsed.

Instead, as I mentioned earlier, he gets bogged down too much in a history that in this company is commonplace.

And he’s reading it.

And what is worse he’s accelerating.

At the 16-minute mark he is beginning to gabble and tumble over his words; and at 16:53 we learn why. Someone tells him from the floor that he has five more minutes, and he exclaims with surprise that he had thought he was already over-running. What does this tell us? There is no clock. What does it cost conference organisers to place a clock, working and correct, within sight of the platform? This was the same year that Richard Lindzen had microphone problems, and after this blog’s critique of that speech Jim Lakely, Director of Communications for the Heartland Institute, posted a comment saying that their technology was better at subsequent conferences. I trust this includes their installing a clock.

If Booker had stuck to a study of the mechanics of the scare, exploring the similarities and differences with previous scares, and if he had learnt how to structure the speech so that he could shoot the whole thing from the hip, this speech would have been infinitely better. It deserved to be, because it was important.