Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Protest condemns university’s decision to host climate denier Monckton

A small but spirited group of protesters braved driving wind and rain outside Fremantle’s Notre Dame University on the evening of June 30 to express their opposition to the University playing host to British climate change denier Christopher Monckton.

Earlier that day, Perth's daily newspaper The West Australian had obligingly provided free publicity for Monckton’s impending speech in an article occupying most of its front page.

In his speech, Monckton reportedly attacked wind farms, a favourite target of the British landed gentry and aristocracy, for whom this clean, safe form of energy is unthinkable because it may interfere with the views from their stately homes.

Prior to his latest visit to our shores, Monckton had likened the Australian government's climate change advisor, Ross Garnaut, to a fascist.

The Australian corporate media and the ABC uncritically allow Monckton to style himself "Lord Monckton" and describe him as a British politician and climate change sceptic.

Almost all elements of these descriptors are misleading, except for the word British. A check on the British House of Lords website confirms he is not a member of that chamber.

A politician is, in everyday language, a member of a legislative body (usually popularly elected). Monckton is not. His only political office of any note is that of deputy leader of the fringe UK Independence Party. 'Sceptic' is a weasel word for denier.

Monckton has no credentials in climate science and his views deserve no more media coverage than those of any other unqualified person.

But it is no accident that media owned and controlled by billionaires have wildly inflated Monckton’s importance and his views while not holding him to account for his multiple deceptions.

Many billionaires stand to lose in the transformation of the economy from fossil fuel dependence to renewable energy, which a safe climate demands. The publicity accorded his views provides just the sort of distractions the polluters need to help sow doubt and confusion over climate change in the public mind.

[This article by R W McKenzie for Green Left Weekly. Photos by Zeb Parkes.]