Climate deniers agree their key messages for journalists (with a journalist in the room)

Climate deniers from across the world just met in Paris to agree the key messages they want to get across to the press. Here they are.

Adam Ramsay
Adam Ramsay
3 December 2015

The climate deniers: Tom Harris standing at the front, Christopher Monkton in the front row on the right

This afternoon, I went along to a fringe event in central Paris put on by the UK climate denier brigade. There were about 15 people – all older white men but for one woman, me, and Brendan Montague, editor of DesmogUK, with whom I'd arrived. 

Among the small number at PCC15, as they called their event, were a number of prominent figures from the movement against the scientific consensus on climate change. Patrick Moore, the controversial former director of Greenpeace who has questioned both whether global warming is man-made, and whether it is dangerous, was leaving as we arrived. UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew was there, as were Christopher Monckton, a prominent climate change denier, and Canadian Tom Harris, executive director of the “International Climate Science Coalition” – and former operations director of the “High Park Group”, a Canadian lobbying company. I was told we'd missed the journalist James Delingpole and Piers Corbyn (MD of WeatherAction and brother of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn)..

Brendan was there to button-hole Christopher Monckton – I'll link to his interview as soon as its up. Meanwhile I had a nice cup of tea with a couple of folks at the back of the room, before settling down to the final session of the conference, at which they discussed their key messages to present to the media. I'm not quite sure why they did this with two journalists in the room. In any case, I took copious notes, which are copied below.

The session was chaired by Tom Harris, and Christopher Monckton sat at the front of the audience and said more than anyone else. Each headline message they discussed is in bold, and the things people said about them are written below. The exact wording is sometimes mine rather than than theirs, but the messages are the same. My notes on their comments are in italics.

1) Focus on adaptation

2) The carbon cycle

- “Carbon moves much faster than the UN tell us”

- Carbon dioxide moves through the atmosphere in 4-5 years. (not 100 years)

- CO2 is absorbed much faster (by plants) than the UN say.

- Mean absorption time is seven years.

- “Residence time”.

There seemed to be some discussion between Monckton and another man on the precise time periods relating to the carbon cycle, hence the different figures.

3) CO2 is beneficial to the biosphere

- “The life-giving gas on the planet”.

- “Greening the deserts”.

4) Lack of significant problems of ocean acidification

- The reducing pH in the oceans is not a threat

- “We don't want to admit that it (oceanic pH) is reducing because it's not reduced by much” - Monckton

- “Wide variations (in pH) are easily tolerated by marine life” (this was based on one apparent study from the basins of a couple of rivers in Brazil)

- “Ocean acidification is a misnomer”

- “The ocean has never been acidic in the geologic record”

- “The ocean can only become acidic if the world runs out of rocks”.

5) Solar factors

- Solar factors are the major drivers of climate change and grossly overwhelm the human contribution.

6) We want to see an increasing use of fossil fuel, especially the least expensive, coal

- If you don't have electricity, your life span will be 10-15 years shorter.

- Tens of millions are being killed every year because of the war on coal (Monckton).

- “War on coal” is resulting in tens of millions of deaths.

- “Depriving the poor of inexpensive fuel".

- Vast loss of life.

7) The relative insignificance of the human contribution to atmospheric composition

- To the nearest 10th of 1% there is no CO2 in the air at all. (Monckton)

- The lack of warming for the past 18+ years supports the hypothesis

8) The solutions to the supposed climate crisis are far more damaging than the possible problem

- Attempts at mitigation of climate change, even if it were a problem on the scale they say it is, would cost 10-100 times what they say it is.

9) Global warming is a natural consequence of deglaciation

- There's no consensus that most of the warming pre-1950 was anthropogenic, and therefore no consensus future warming is dangerous.

10) In a warming world, extreme storms reduce

- For the last 150 years, there has been no increase in hurricane/cyclone activity

- There's been an increase in sea ice.

- There's been an increase in East Antartica land ice

- There's been a decrease in tornadoes in the USA

- There is information coming out from insurance companies saying that storms cost more. The same level of storminess is causing more damage because there's more people and more infrastructure. Over the last 100 year, there's been a 13x increase in infrastructure on the world's coasts. 

11) Wind turbines

- In most operating conditions, wind turbines cause more CO2 than coal (Monckton)

- Wind turbines cause far more problems for wildlife and humans (than fossil fuels).

12) Policy makers & mainstream media have been deceived into thinking there is only one side

- They need to open the door to people who have been excluded (ie climate sceptics).

- The only way this will be brought to a resolution is through an independent judicial inquiry. (Someone proposed that they specifically say this should happen in the Hague, and Monckton said that “the other side would be extremely reluctant” to be cross-examined).

13) Sea level

- The data show a mean sea level rise over the past few decades that is indistinguishable from zero (0-1mm per year). Any increase over that which has been reported is a result of tampering with the data, because of, for example, isostatic adjustment (land rising back up slowly after the last ice-age).

14) “We're not climate change deniers”

- “We accept that there is such a thing as the greenhouse effect” - Monckton

- “Yes, if you add CO2 to the atmosphere, it would cause some warming – there are some on the fringes who would deny that, but it's tactically efficacious for us to accept that.” - Monckton

Monckton suggested that they should accept that the greenhouse effect is real. There was a fair amount of disagreement in the room. The chair said “I'm trying to appeal to left wing journalists”. For a moment they lost control as a number of people shouted out their various objections. The conclusion?: “The Greenhouse Effect – the debate continues”.

15) People today are experiencing problems due to natural climate change

They cannot get the help they need due to all this focus on the distant future.

16) Working people's jobs are being destroyed

- There is in fact no realistic danger for generations yet unborn, but since real harm is being done to today's generations, it's time someone spoke up for those poor people and those poor countries being denied electricity and adaptation support.

- There is no need for any national or international action to make global warming go away. The whole match is superfluous. It has its own damaging environmental footprint. (The conversation then moved back to the evils of wind farms).

17) There is no policy that is better than doing nothing

18) We don't need any middle man if we wish to help people in foreign countries

- If individual nations wish to give money to less developed countries to help them get energy structures, or to cope with natural climate disasters, we do not need the UN.

There was quite a lot of general UN hatred in the room. One man – a lawyer - was there because he'd been invited to speak about his court cases against the UN.

- We don't need a UN. (There was some disagreement about this)

- Countries should withdraw from the UNFCCC immediately. (They all agreed on this).

- If for any 20 years, temperatures do not increase by more than 0.5 degrees the whole apparatus will be wrapped up.

Also, at one point, Phillip Foster, an English minister who seemed to be the event organiser, suggested they say they aren't funded by the coal industry. Tom Harris responded: “I don't think the funding issue is something we should say anything about... I don't think that funding is something we should get into... I want to get funding from oil”

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