Monckton’s Schenectady showdown


Attendees listen to Monckton’s speech at Union College. Photo by Charlotte Lehman

Monckton vanquishes Union College “Greens too yellow to admit they’re really Reds”

wattsupwiththat.com | Mar Mar 10, 2012

by Justin Pulliam

THE NEWS that Lord Monckton was to give his “Climate of Freedom” lecture at Union College in Schenectady, New York, had thrown the university’s environmentalists into a turmoil. The campus environmentalists set up a Facebook page announcing a counter-meeting of their own immediately following Monckton’s lecture. There is no debate about global warming, they announced. There is a consensus. The science is settled. Their meeting would be addressed by professors and PhDs, the “true” scientists, no less. Sparks, it seemed, were gonna fly.

Traveling with Lord Monckton on the East Coast leg of his current whistle-stop tour of the US and Canada, I was looking forward to documenting the Schenectady showdown. I have had the pleasure of listening to His Lordship at previous campus events. He is at his best when confronted by a hostile audience. The angrier and more indignant they are, the more he seems to like it.

The Union Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) sponsored the lecture, which was video streamed by CampusReform.org (where a video recording is available). The afternoon of the event, Lord Monckton appeared on the CFACT leaders’ hour-long weekly show on the Union College radio station. As a result, that evening 200 people packed a campus lecture theater to hear Lord Monckton speak.

As they filed in, Lord Monckton was chatting contentedly to a quaveringly bossy woman with messy blonde hair who was head of the college environmental faction. Her group had set up a table at the door of the auditorium, covered in slogans scribbled on messy bits of recycled burger boxes held together with duct tape (Re-Use Cardboard Now And Save The Planet). “There’s a CONSENSUS!” she shrieked.

“That, Madame, is intellectual baby-talk,” replied Lord Monckton. Had she not heard of Aristotle’s codification of the commonest logical fallacies in human discourse, including that which the medieval schoolmen would later describe as the argumentum ad populum, the headcount fallacy?  From her reddening face and baffled expression, it was possible to deduce that she had not. Nor had she heard of the argumentum ad verecundiam, the fallacy of appealing to the reputation of those in authority.

Lord Monckton was shown a graph demonstrating a superficially close correlation between CO2 concentration and temperature over the past 150,000 years. Mildly, he asked, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Was it CO2 concentration that changed first, or temperature that changed first, driving the changes in CO2 concentration?”

The student clutching the graph mumbled that it was impossible to tell, and nobody really knew.

At Lord Monckton’s elbow, an elderly lady – presumably on faculty at Union College – said, “Perhaps I can help. It was temperature that changed first.”
“Exactly,” said Lord Monckton.

“However,” she continued, “CO2 then acted as a feedback, amplifying the temperature change. That’s one way we know CO2 is a problem today. And what,” she said, turning noticeably acerbic in a twinkling of Lord Monckton’s eye, “caused the changes in temperature?”

“Well,” said Lord Monckton, “we don’t know for certain, but one plausible explanation …”
“… is the Milankovich cycles!” burst in the venerable PhD, anxious not to have her punch-line stolen.

“Yes,” Monckton agreed imperturbably, “the precession of the equinoxes, and variations in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit and in the obliquity of its axis with respect to the plane of the ecliptic. Actually, it is arguable that the cycles were first posited by an autodidact university janitor, a Mr. Croll.” The yakking crowd of environmentalists grew more thoughtful. Their propaganda had made him out to be an ignorant nincompoop, and they had begun to realize they had made the mistake of believing it.

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