A few weeks ago I wrote a story for DeSmogBlog looking at how Lord Christopher Monckton – a poster child of the climate science denialist movement – had agreed to launch a new Australian political party fronted by an anti-Islamist Creationist preacher.
The party in question is called Rise Up Australia and its messianic front man, Pastor Danny Nalliah, believes that only God can control the climate and that Victoria’s 2007 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed more than 170 people, were God’s punishment for Victoria’s laws allowing abortion.
Well, Lord Monckton’s deed has been done and duly covered on the ABC’s flagship news program 7.30 Report.
The rented room at the National Press Club in Canberra was chock-full of Pastor Danny’s enthusiastic, God-fearing supporters and Lord Monckton whipped their evangelism until the froth was soaking the carpet. Reporter Hayden Cooper went through Nalliah’s beliefs, including his claim that he had brought a couple of people back from the dead.
As I explained on DeSmogBlog and also on Crikey, Pastor Nalliah actually launched the party in May 2011 (and again a couple of months later) and registered the party with the Australian Electoral Commission 12 months ago. But the launch made for good telly.
One of Lord Monckton’s longest-serving supporters is Andrew Bolt, the climate science mangling News Ltd columnist and blogger who is, as we’re often told, the country’s most influential political commentator. He’s none too chuffed by Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Pastor Danny, and wrote on his blog:
“Why on earth was Christopher Monckton endorsing the nationalist Rise Up Australia Party? Great chance for warmists to paint climate sceptics as fringe dwellers.”
So rather than denouncing the extremist views of Pastor Danny Nalliah, Andrew Bolt instead is most immediately concerned that Lord Monckton’s endorsement of Rise Up Australia might be bad PR for climate sceptics.
But Andrew Bolt is an awful long way behind the climate science denial 8-Ball here, given that Lord Monckton was endorsing Pastor Danny Nalliah’s position as long ago as July 2011 when Monckton was invited to speak at Nalliah’s extremist Catch the Fire Ministries.
As an aide-mémoire, Lord Monckton’s 2011 tour of Australia was in trouble before it started, when just weeks before he had described the views of Australian government climate policy advisor Professor Ross Garnaut as “fascist”.
During a Californian conference talk (where he shared the platform with ‘intelligent design’ advocates) Lord Monckton also used a two-metre high picture of a swastika next to a quote from Professor Garnaut.
It was also the tour at which he gave a lecture in Perth at the invitation of Gina Rinehart and then addressed a pro-mining think-tank, also in Perth, where he suggested the “super rich” should be encouraged to buy into the media as a way to get more publicity for climate sceptics like Andrew Bolt.
At the time of Lord Monckton’s swastika incident, Bolt jumped to Lord Monckton’s defence and described his critics as “hypocrites” and “cowards”. Monckton apologised for the remark, which he said was “catastrophically stupid and offensive”. But after leaving the country, Lord Monckton decided that in fact his actions had been “very mild“.
Before we get back to matters present, it’s worth pointing out that Lord Monckton has been recently touring the US, sponsored by Tea Party groups, and telling audiences that President Barack Obama probably wasn’t born in America and that his Hawaiian birth certificate was most likely forged.
This fact didn’t deter Andrew Bolt from promoting Lord Monckton’s tour three times on his blog (here, here and here). Neither, presumably, did Monckton’s previous endorsement of Pastor Nalliah. Only now, after negative publicity on a prominent ABC news show, does Bolt start to worry about climate sceptics being seen as fringe dwellers with loopy beliefs.
But extricating the climate denial movement from conspiracy theories might be a job too big even for Australia’s most-often-described-as-influential columnist. In the psychological science literature, there’s a trait described as “conspiracist ideation” – the tendency to see some dark, secretive collusion as the most likely explanation for something which challenges your views.
Recent work in this field suggests that rejection of science is often linked to a willingness to accept conspiracy theories, such as NASA faking the moon landings or plots from within the British Royal family to kill Princess Diana.
One of Lord Monckton’s tour sponsors is South Australian state MLC Ann Bressington, who gave a keynote speech in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago at the launch of the Lord Monckton Foundation where she told the audience about some secretive, insidious United Nations plot to encourage sustainable development. In conspiratorial dark tones, she told the audience: “The words Agenda 21, ladies and gentleman, were never meant to be spoken.”
So keen in fact was the United Nations to avoid the words “Agenda 21″ from ever being spoken, they hid them away on the cover of the 1992 document of the same name which is still hidden on a publicly-available United Nations web page.
When Ann Bressington isn’t warning people about non-existant secretive plots at the United Nations, she’s warning them about the “biggest health fraud of all time” – fluoride in drinking water.
The event where Bressington appeared was filmed by an organisation called Bushvision, which is led by Leon Ashby, a co-founder of the Climate Sceptics political party. A glance at Bushvision’s other contributions on YouTube reveals a slew of videos promoting climate science denial, anti-fluoridation and lots and lots of footage of evangelical Christian “healers” curing people just by touch (spinal injuries, crippled knees, pancreatic cysts, gluten intolerance, diseased gall bladder, partial blindness, terminal cancer – all healed).
This isn’t the first time that Andrew Bolt has been spooked by the beliefs held by some in his own ranks. In August last year, he chastised the climate denial group the Galileo Movement – Patron Sydney radio personality Alan Jones – for promoting anti-Semitic consipiracy theories about Jewish bankers ruling the world. For at least a year, Bolt had been on the organisation’s panel of experts even though he claimed to know little about it.
A survey of 13950 scientific research papers on climate change published between 1991 and 2012 has found that 0.17 per cent (just 24 papers) argued global warming was either false or was caused by something other than human activities.
Despite what Andrew Bolt might tell you, the reason that climate science denialists are described as being on the fringe is because that is generally where they are. Perhaps the reason they shout so loud, is so that their voices can be heard from the outer reaches of reality.