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The 7.30 Report - Monckton v Oppenheimer
7.30 Report Transcripts, 3 and 4 February 2010

Below are the “transcripts” of the “interviews” by the 7.30 report with Christopher Monckton and (the following day) a lead author of the IPCC, a Professor Oppenheimer.  Note, first, that very little appears of what Monckton actually said and almost nothing of what Monckton said on substance at the National Press Club (from where some of his statements were taken).

Second, while us citizens/taxpayers have become almost accustomed to O’Brien’s bias, for a national broadcaster the extreme difference in treatment here is a  disgrace. Note that O’Brien himself chose not to interview Monckton (ostensibly to avoid giving him “credibility”, presumably, but more likely because he realised that Monckton would make an example of him) but he did conduct the interview with Oppenheimer. There he served up the usual Dorothy Dixer type questions he asks of almost anyone on the left or with green credentials and effected no challenges on any substantive issue. That the ABC should try to portray that the IPCC has made only “one or two” mistakes is, of course, laughable: the many mistakes have been well known for a considerable time and an increasing number are now out in the public arena (Andrew Bolt gives a brief incomplete list on his blog).

I heard a whisper late last year that the ABC Board had discussed the possibility of recommending that O’Brien be given notice. Although some may think that such obvious displays of bias means that he “does no harm”, the time has surely come when a taxpayer-funded organisation should provide a better service on important national policy issues. I am copying this to the ABC Board.

Des Moore

Tracey Bowden and Christopher Monckton

Kerry O’Brien and Michael Oppenheimer


7.30 Report

Climate wars- Lord Monckton visits Australia

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 03/02/2010

Reporter: Tracy Bowden

While the emissions trading scheme bill continues to dominate parliament, the climate change debate has ramped up again. The collapse of Copenhagen and the spotlight on several embarrassing slip-ups by the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change has charged the sceptics with fresh energy. One of the most colourful sceptics, Lord Christopher Monckton is currently on a speaking tour in Australia. Lord Monckton has a devoted following and spoken to packed audiences across the country.


KERRY O'BRIEN: Until a year or so ago, the scientific debate on climate change linked to the global build-up of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions seemed all but over, done and dusted.

But as the push for drastic cuts in emissions by the nations of the world, grew in intensity in advance of last December's Copenhagen summit, the voices of sceptics and outright non-believers began to gather strength.

The collapse of Copenhagen and the spotlight on several embarrassing slip-ups by the UN’s scientific bible on global warming, the international panel on climate change, has charged the sceptics with fresh energy.

One of the most colourful sceptics is a member of the British aristocracy and who is attracting an enthusiastic band of followers on a speaking tour in Australia.

Christopher Monckton, an advisor to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was in Canberra today, where he met with Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

Tracy Bowden reports.

TRACY BOWDEN: The line snakes along two floors and down several flights of stairs as people queue for tickets to tonight's event. They're here for a presentation by the climate change sceptic Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and it seems he will be preaching to the converted.

(to attendee) Have you formed a view on climate change?

ATTENDEE: I certainly have.

TRACY BOWDEN: May I ask what that is?

ATTENDEE: It's a load of crap.

ATTENDEE 2: It might be changing but we haven't caused it.

PENNY SACKETT, CHIEF SCIENTIST: I think that we're seeing more and more a confusion between a political debate, a political debate that needs to happen, it's important to happen, and the discussion of the science. I feel that these two things are being confused and it worries me, actually.

TRACY BOWDEN: It's a full house. More than 800 people have paid $20 each to attend. With standing room only at the back.

They're here to listen to Lord Monckton's warnings about global government and the conspiracy of global warming, views embraced by radio host Alan Jones.

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON, CLIMATE CHANGE SCEPTIC: Just in case any of you have to leave early, here is my message.

I hope that is clear.

TRACY BOWDEN: Lord Monckton is a hereditary peer but has never sat in the House of Lords. He started out as a journalist, is also a mathematician and was an adviser to British Prime Minister Thatcher. As he proudly illustrates at every opportunity, he is also trained in the classics.

TRACY BOWDEN: What motivates you in?

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: Well, I could give you the answer that our blessed Lord gave to Pontius Pilate. He said this, (Speaks Latin)

Unto this was I born, for this came I into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth.

TRACY BOWDEN: You say you are not a scientist, you're a mathematician. Would it be fair to say you're also a showman?

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: I don't think that's for me to say. But if you give me an audience, the larger better, I do enjoy myself.

(to audience) As you can see is the houses of Parliament would disappear, to which my saying is, and your problem is?

(audience laughs)

TRACY BOWDEN: In simple terms, Lord Monckton disputes the fact that the earth is warming and that the activity of humans is to blame. He's totally opposed to plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and believes growing crops for biofuels has left millions of children starving.

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: We will not tolerate lies anymore. No more bogus statistics. No more bent graphs. No more made up results.

No more global warming profiteering. By the big guy at the expense of the little guy. Those days are over.

BEN MCNEIL, CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH CENTRE, UNSW: Lord Monckton is a former political adviser for a UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. I think it's very dangerous for us to take scientific advice from someone like that.

JOHN CONNOR, CLIMATE INSTITUTE: It's healthy to have a debate; it's healthy to be sceptical about these things.

It's unhealthy to be in denial about the risks that is poses for Australia, the Australian economy and even the for the global economy.

TRACY BOWDEN: Lord Monckton's visit comes at a time when the scientific case for climate change has suffered some embarrassing setbacks.

First, the UN's climate change body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, admitted that its claims that the Himalayan glaciers could melt within 40 years were false and based on an unverified article in a magazine.

RAKENDRA PACHAURI, UN CLIMATE CHIEF: You can't say it's careless science, it's one mistake. In a 3,000 page report, we made a mistake and we've admitted it.

TRACY BOWDEN: Now there are further claims that the IPCC based part of a report about ice melting from mountain peaks on a student essay.

BEN MCNEIL: Some recent developments have definitely I would say caused some people within the community to question somehow the science. Somehow there is a grand conspiracy amongst thousands of climate scientists to get together and really lie to the world.

I can say unequivocally that's complete absurdity.

TRACY BOWDEN: Ben McNeil is base at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Some scientists are not prepared to discuss Lord Monckton for fear of giving him more exposure, Ben McNeil feels people need to understand the depth of scientific knowledge on global warming.

BEN MCNEIL: It's the fundamentals of climate change have not changed. We've known for a long time that the climate is driven by two main things in the long term: the sun and greenhouse gases. The greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Climate scientists we thought that by researching and having publications on the truth is going to pervade within society. And we're, I guess we were naive.

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: And then of course the arch liar of them all, St Albert Arnold Gore blimey.

TRACY BOWDEN: There's a wealth of scientific evidence supporting global warming from highly respected organisations. Is it all wrong?

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: First of all, there has been warming, yes. For 300 years. So where would you expect the warmest years to come? Of course at the end of the period.

Let's also going on to the ice sheets for instance. In fact, there's been no significant loss of ice worldwide, sea ice, for instance. There's no clear evidence that sea level is rising any faster than it has for the last couple of hundred years.

TRACY BOWDEN: Some scientists counter your claims saying you're actually part of a full scale orchestrated misinformation campaign.

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: No, I am most certainly not part of a global conspiracy to destroy the planet and make money out of doing so. In fact, roughly speaking 50,000 times as much is spent on propaganda by Government, environmental group, corporate interest trying to promote the global warming scare as is spent on the other side.

PENNY SACKETT: Honest scepticism is actually required in science. Scientists are generally their own worst sceptics. And so scepticism is frankly something that science is founded on.

TRACY BOWDEN: Australia's chief scientist, Professor Penny Sackett, encourages debate about climate change but worries that the lines are blurring between the science and the politics.

PENNY SACKETT: This is what I meant about polarising society. We're beginning to describe people as sceptics or denialists or alarmist, warmist, all of these words that I'm beginning to hear. And I think that is very unhelpful, because when we're doing that we're actually playing the man and not ball. We should be discussing the science, not labelling people.

TRACY BOWDEN: Lord Monckton is entertaining, he's a good speaker, is he dangerous?

JOHN CONNOR: Well, he's dangerous to the extent that people aren't challenging those views or the extent to which they're entertained or paraded as somehow an equivalence of a view on the science. And there's a role for all of us including the media about how those views are presented.

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: A huge army of new bureaucracies to enforce the will of those whom you do not elect on those whom you do.

And this is what they were going to be given the power to do: to take control over all formerly free markets and set the market rules. So control or to rig the market.

JOHN CONNOR: Claims that he's made around a world government being formed quietly behind the scenes is just crazy stuff, frankly. And a gross misinterpretation of what was going on in the Copenhagen negotiation process.

TRACY BOWDEN: Lord Monckton's supporters describe him as a champion of free speech and debate. But he doesn't always appreciate the views of his opponents as a group of climate change supporters in Copenhagen discovered.

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: You are listening now to the shouts in the background of the Hitler youth who have sprayed Copenhagen with slogans of a childish nature.

TRACY BOWDEN: So if climate change is nothing to worry about, what does Lord Monckton suggest?

LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON: My advice would be to sit back, wait 10 years. If we have another 10 years during which the absurdly exaggerated temperature forecast do not come to pass it will become apparent to everyone that nothing needs to be done.

TRACY BOWDEN: Lord Monckton is due to leave Australia at the end of the week. But in a federal election year with climate change a hot button issue, debate on the subject is far from over.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tracy Bowden with that report.



7.30 Report

IPCC scientists on the defensive as sceptics step up assault

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 04/02/2010

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

Revelations of at least one significant error in the most recent report of the IPCC, the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change - the exaggerated claim that the Himalayan glaciers will melt in the next 25 years has caused great embarrassment. The IPCC and its thousands of voluntary scientists are now on the defensive, and climate change sceptics have stepped up their assault on its credibility. Professor Michael Oppenheimer was a lead author on the report and he spoke with Kerry O’Brien from New York.


KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Muddying the waters on the Government's case on climate change is the embarrassing revelations of at least one significant error in the most recent report of the IPCC, the UN's International Panel on Climate Change, and that is the exaggerated claim that the Himalayan glaciers will melt in the next 25 years. The IPCC reports have been the scientific foundation on which countries like Australia have built their policies to combat global warming as a human-induced phenomenon. The IPCC and its thousands of voluntary scientists are now on the defensive, and climate change sceptics have stepped up their assault on its credibility.

Professor Michael Oppenheimer is a Professor of Geosciences at America's Princeton University and a veteran of the IPCC process. He advised the New York State government on acid rain in the early '80s, contributed to the second IPCC report in '96 and was a lead author on the third and fourth IPCC reports. Professor Oppenheimer is now co-ordinating a special IPCC report on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters, and I spoke with him from his New York office earlier today.

Michael Oppenheimer, how does the IPCC undo the damage to its credibility from the recent embarrassing revelations on issues like the Himalaya glaciers and the Amazon rainforests?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, IPCC LEAD AUTHOR, PRINCETON UNI: Well, in my view, really the Himalaya issue was the one that carries with it some embarrassment. A mistake was clearly made. I think the way that IPCC rectifies the damage is, number one, being as transparent as possible, letting people know what they do and how they do it. And number two, learning from the mistake, reviewing our procedures, making sure that the way that the review procedures, which are quite rigorous, are followed, is by the book, and therefore reducing the chances of this ever happening again. But I have to say, in a report with perhaps hundreds of thousands of individual facts in it, it shouldn't be surprising if an error appears once in a while. So the point of an error is not as - that it undermines the process. The point is to provide a learning experience so you can do better next time. We oughta reduce the chances of something like this ever happening again, but in the real world, with such a complicated document, once in a while something is gonna sneak through.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There have been a lot of dramatic conclusions drawn though as a result of the IPCC report, and this was a dramatic claim. You can understand, can't you, why people will automatically say, "Well, here's one dramatic claim that proved to be wrong." Why should we continue to have faith in the other dramatic findings of the IPCC?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: Well, first of all, I'm sure that every opponent of action on climate change is now poring over these reports and has been doing so now for some time, looking for other mistakes. And the fact that others haven't turned up, I think should lend a strong note of faith. People should have credence in the process, because IPCC does a very good job on a very complicated subject, but then again, no person and process is perfect.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Is there, as Britain's chief scientist John Beddington said recently, a fundamental uncertainty about climate change science?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: There is fundamental uncertainty; there's a lot of fundamental uncertainty, and no-one should fool themselves to think that scientists are giving them absolute answers. And it's part of our job as scientists to be crystal clear with the governments and with the public about what the uncertainties are. And IPCC has done a better job and a more transparent job than any of the other assessment processes of any kind of issue that's this complex in being transparent about what we know and what we don't know, so that policymakers can make informed judgments. But this is different. This point isn't really about representation of uncertainty. It really is about a mistake having gotten through.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But do you believe that the fundamental uncertainty that you acknowledge has been honestly reflected in the IPCC reports?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: Yes, in fact I think IPCC has bent over backwards to be cautious, to not state things as known that were very uncertain and to be quite clear about what the risks are about how much we know and how much we don't know. I don't know of any other assessment process on any other problem that's nearly this complex, where the scientists lean over backwards quite so much to not overstate the case. If anything, IPCC is conservative, as we saw with the last assessment, where IPCC got a lot of criticism for being too cautious about its statements on sea level rise. Well, if you have to err on a problem like this, it's better to err in the direction of caution, and that's exactly what IPCC has done.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well for all we know about climate science, is there still an enormous amount we don't know?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: Well, there is an enormous amount we don't know and that hopefully we'll learn, but there's an enormous amount that we do know as well. We know that greenhouse gases trap heat that would otherwise escape into space and that they're build-up will inevitably warm earth. We know that Earth is warmer than it was a century ago and we know that the greenhouse gases are very likely responsible for most of that warming, at least over the past 50 years. We can make additional statements about the intensification of certain types of storms, about the increase in heatwaves and the diminution in very cold weather. It looks like droughts have been on the increase and it's likely they will in the future, and so forth. I don't want to go down the list of all the statements, but some of these statements can be made with great confidence, like the effect of the greenhouse gases, and some of them with less confidence, like whether current droughts or associated - can be tied in a cause and effect way to the build up of the greenhouse gases. It's a complicated problem, but that's what we elect political leaders for, to take the evidence, sort it out and make sensible policy. We don't elect people to be daunted by scientific complexity. It's our job as scientists to be explicit about what that level of complexity is.

KERRY O'BRIEN: It's fair to say, isn't it, that many of the scientists involved in the IPCC process are also environmentalists? You yourself were chief scientist and an advocate with an NGO called the Environmental Defence Fund. How does the IPCC adequately impose a discipline on you all to avoid bias, conscious or unconscious?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: There are many ways. First of all, for every former environmental employee like me, there's someone who for instance is a current employee of Exxon. And when you get inside the room and talk to each other as scientists, as far as I can tell, nobody is consciously acting on any bias; they're just trying to be good scientists and look at the data objectively. I don't think in all my 20 years of dealing with IPCC that I've ever seen a scientist try to make a judgment because he or she had environmental inclinations or because he or she worked for a major oil company. It just doesn't work like that. But in order to ensure against subconscious or unconscious bias, IPCC has a multi-layered review process where the documents in draft form go out to a small group of scientists to look and scrub every fact. Then they go out to a much bigger group of scientists, hundreds of them to scrub down every chapter. Then they go to the governments, who in turn turn them over to their own scientists to scrub it down. So that by the time you get to producing a final document, it's not only been reviewed three times, but there's what's called a review editor who sorts through all the comments from the reviewers and all the responses to make sure that the authors are actually taking up on the criticisms and responding to them in a plausible and reasonable way. This is a very, very tough review process and it takes a lot of time to deal with it. But it's good, because in all - again, all the hundreds of thousands of facts, we only see one, maybe there's two, errors that anybody's been able to turn up with in the last assessment. You know, we invite that scrutiny. I think it's a good thing. Every error is a learning experience and tells us how to do it better in the future.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There are calls for peer-reviewed dissenting scientific opinions to be published as part of future IPCC reports. Is that a reasonable proposition from your perspective?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: I've long thought that it would make sense to find scientists who are experts in the field, who are publishing in the peer-reviewed literature, um, to formally within the IPCC process, be able to look, take an independent look and present their own views. Now, IPCC invites in the whole spectrum of scientists. Some of the most famous sceptics have been part of the IPCC. You can find their names as authors of the reports. They have participated. They have partaken of these judgments. But I think actually it could be formalised, not with a view towards getting sceptics, particularly, but just setting up different groups in IPCC which would look independently at the same questions - key questions like the sea level rise question or the Himalayan glaciers question and see if groups operating independently in fact still come up with the same answers. i think that would be healthy. And, frankly, I don't think there'd be much objection to it within IPCC.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Hyperbole is an inevitable part of the landscape of political debate. Is there a responsibility on political leaders to acknowledge the uncertainties of climate science, as you have, when they're driving their climate change agendas?

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: There's a responsibility on the part of advocates of climate change policy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to be quite clear - excuse me - to be quite clear with the public about what the uncertainties are in the information on which they're basing their judgments, and there's an equal responsibility on the part of opponents of action on the greenhouse gases to state the uncertainties in what they know so that the public can make its own judgments about which side is making a proper evaluation. So it's everybody's responsibility - from the scientist, to the policymakers trying to move action on the problem, to the policymakers opposing it to really be honest, transparent and fully cognisant and inform the public what we know, what we know with less certainty and what we don't know at all. That's the only way we'll get sensible judgements on this problem. And I think the scientific community would welcome that kind of process.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Michael Oppenheimer, thank you very much for talking with us.

MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER: It's been a pleasure.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And Professor Oppenheimer will be delivering a lecture at Sydney University's Institute for Sustainable Solutions later this month.


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