How to demolish a denier: scientist fillets Pat Kenny

Prof Richard Somerville of the University of California is one of the world’s top climate experts. A lead author for the IPCC’s AR4, he is research professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He is also a big fan of John Tyndall, the 19th century scientific genius from Leighlinbridge, and (at least until Seán O’Brien hit the Ireland rugby squad) Carlow’s most famous son.

Somerville was in Dublin earlier tonight to deliver a lecture on the amazing legacy of scientific discoveries attributed to the dogged and ingenious research work carried out by Tyndall over a glittering career. With the international focus on climate science, the EPA was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the publication in 1861 of Tyndall’s landmark paper, entitled On the Absorption and Radiation  of  Heat  by  Gases  and Vapours.

Tyndall was the first to prove experimentally the existence of the greenhouse effect. He is, in a very real sense, the father of climate science. It’s quite an achievement for an Irishman from a small rural town at the edge of the British Empire and whose father was a shoemaker.

Small wonder Prof Somerville accepted the EPA’s invitation to travel to Ireland to honour this scientist, many of whose numerous discoveries are still seen as crucial after a century and a half. However, Prof Somerville’s day was not entirely without incident. He was in fact the victim of an attempted mugging. He told the audience this evening that he was “still smarting” after the assault, in which he was battered repeatedly with (or rather, by) an unknown object, possibly a plank.

The incident took place in a studio somewhere off Dublin’s Stillorgan Road, and was witnessed by tens of thousands of people who happened to be tuned in to RTE Radio One this morning. This being Ireland, the assailant, instead of being brought to book for his crimes against science – and journalism – is instead the State’s highest paid broadcaster, with an open microphone through which to spin his Tea Party-inspired anti-science propaganda. (You can download a Podcast of the whole sorry piece here).

These are serious charges, yes, but Kenny, in the words of the Gardai, “has form” in this area, as your correspondent knows only too well. Back to this morning. The interview lasted some 25 minutes, with the first half a pretty uncontroversial discussion on Tyndall the man and the scientist, his amazing inventions and discoveries (it was he who first figured out why the sky appears blue).

Using the new CERN data that inferred the possibility that the speed of light may not be an absolute limit, Kenny put it to Somerville that, since science couldn’t guarantee certainty, maybe lots of other stuff is wrong too. The climate change, IPCC stuff. “You know, science doesn’t give you certainty”, Somerville responded. “If you insist on certainty, you have to go to theology and other places; science gives you a very near-certainty for some things. Does the Earth go round the sun? Well, I can’t tell you we know that 1000% for sure, but I promise you’ll never get a grant to do research to establish that it doesn’t go around”.

Somerville went on to patiently explain that: “for the basic understanding of climate change that I’ve described to you, the fact that the greenhouse effect keeps us warm, that we’ve added to the gases that cause it…that’s very unlikely to be overthrown, you’re talking about overthrowing basic physics, basic quantum mechanics, the work of thousands of scientists published in tens of thousands of (peer-reviewed) papers”.

You could hardly put it more clearly, or more plainly than that. But Pat would not be deterred by all these dreary facts; he is made of sterner stuff. “I’ll tell you what people worry about, you remember the row about the Himalayas, it turned out to be not as the (IPCC) panel was saying it was”. And if that wasn’t proof of scientific perfidy, Pat added that last week the Times Atlas of the world admitted to overstating the rate of Greenland ice melt in a press release promoting its latest edition.

Somerville, still polite, pointed out that the Times mistake was a publisher’s error, which was challenged by, ahem, scientists as soon as it was issued. As for the IPCC clangers, “a couple of errors were found in a document that is 3,000 pages long…there are errors in the telephone book for Dublin but that doesn’t mean you should abolish the phone company”. He added that none of the errors that came to light in the AR4 were actually in the physical sciences part of the report. Touché, Prof.

So that’s cleared up then, Pat? Not quite. “I’m drawing your attention to Prof Mojib Latif, a member of the Panel, who is now suggesting that a mini Ice Age may be on the way…that maybe they (IPCC) got that bit wrong”. Somerville, still polite to a fault, retorted that Latif (who he knows personally) is pointing out a possibility, not an error in the IPCC’s findings. Latif has his views, but they are just that, one man’s views.

“It’s a big mistake, you know there are outliers in every area of science; there are people with PhDs in retrovirus who don’t think HIV causes AIDS, but you’re making a mistake when you think those people should be given equal credence with the overwhelming consensus. Something like 97-98% of the people most actively publishing in this field espouse the IPCC’s basic conclusions”.

Every now and then, Somerville added, “an Einstein or a Darwin or a Galileo does come along and overthrow accepted wisdom, but I’ll tell you, having been a scientist for 50 years, that almost all the people who think they’re a Galileo are just wrong”.

Had enough yet, Pat? Hell no. Digging ever deeper into the rabbit hole of his own dearly held beliefs, he ploughed ahead where angels would have feared to tread. Kenny’s next interjection was to infer that there has been a huge increase in Arctic ice cover since 2007, quoting the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado. “So do you know what I mean, there is always a fear that there is a rush to a consensus”.

“Yes, but this is a consensus that has been building for decades, and the points you are taking are largely, you might say, media misquotations of scientific results”. Kenny’s tone turned to salty indignation: “Is that not true…summer (Arctic) sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, up 26% since 2007”. Ha, slippery scientist, weasel your way out of that one! Somerville ruined another good rant with the banal facts that the September 2011 sea ice minimum is close to reaching the all-time low sea ice level recorded in 2007. So, it is slightly less bad this year than the worst year yet recorded. “So you really have to put this (ie. random quotations plucked from the web) in context, you really ought to talk to experts, because the headline is often wrong”.

This was beginning to look more and more like Rocky IV. Somerville keeps thumping Kenny around the head, but he staggers blindly on, both eyes swollen shut, refusing to just give it up. “When I see a name like the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, I kinda believe it”, Rocky slurred from the red corner. “But then you ought to go and read carefully, and talk to the people there and look at the context from which that titbit of a sentence is taken”.

Somerville had by now clearly rumbled that this was no ordinary media interview. Coming from the US, he is well experienced in the climate denier talking points and the industry-funded media misinformation machine. Guess he just hadn’t expected such bone-headed denialism right in the heart of the State broadcaster in an EU country.

“I’m afraid there is, you might say, a journalistic tendency – and I don’t want to insult your feelings (“oh no, feel free”, Kenny literally snarled back, mid-sentence) we talk about false balance in the (a) versus (b), he-said-she-said; if I say the world is round, go find the person who will say it is flat; I’m afraid that the small contrarian minority gets excessive headlines”. The rich irony was probably not lost on Somerville that he was making this very point about headline-making contrarians to a… headline-making contrarian.

Pat spat out his bloodied gumshield and came out swinging wildly: “I suppose people are confused when they read in newspapers a couple of decades ago that we were actually heading for a colder world not a warmer one, and now, two decades on, scientists say we’re heading for a warmer world; it’s kinda normal to wonder, well, are they going to change their minds AGAIN?”

Enough of the bullshit. Somerville was by now evidently thoroughly disgusted with the interview and the interviewer and dispensed with the niceties: “Let me tell you the truth about that statement; you deserve to hear it. Scientific research has been done on what was said in the 1970s about a coming Ice Age (Peterson et al, 2008). This study points out that that was a media frenzy. Those quotes are from Newsweek magazine, from newspapers…in the 1970s the overwhelming preponderance of scientific articles published were concerned with man-made warming, just as they are today, but there was some media hype, and now the myth exists to this day, and it is exactly that, a myth that scientists predicted an Ice Age in the 1970s”.

Game, set and match. Kenny the fearless broadcaster exposed over and over again as a mendacious, unrepentant spinner of myth and falsehood. Not once in the course of this interview did he take on board any of the myriad factual corrections he was humiliatingly and publicly subjected to.

Kenny went strangely quiet for a minute or two as Somerville explained how it is in the realm of politics to make the decisions on what steps societies take to address climate change. Science is there to provide a factual framework, not to make those decisions.

Having emptied his own quiver of myths, Kenny then adopted his favourite “here’s a text that asks why do scientists keep quoting consensus when real science is not decided by majority”. And of course, one of Pat’s own favourite red herrings conveniently turned up in a text: the Medieval Warm Period, when it was, gosh darn it, five degrees warmer!

Somerville again demolished the ‘consensus’ jibe, and quickly followed it with a one-two to floor the tired old ‘it was a bit warmer in parts of northern Europe a few centuries back, ergo global warming is a hoax’ line. Having worked the Rush Limbaugh playbook for virtually the entire interview, Kenny, in the last 60 seconds or so attempted to slip in a quick “reasonable man” exit strategy by suggesting that ‘if’ all this science does somehow turn out to be, well, factual, then maybe we ought to consider doing something to limit the risks.

My favourite line in this whole farce was when Somerville, intentionally or otherwise, said: “thank you again for having me on”. He was, quite literally, having him on alright.

I don’t usually have the opportunity to listen to daytime radio, but my spies were telling me that Kenny had back-pedalled from his virulent anti-climate science position back in 2009 and towards a more genuinely ‘sceptical’ journalistic tone. That, evidently, no longer applies. Kenny however met his match this morning, and was thoroughly and utterly debunked.

Transcripts of this shambles of an interview will, I imagine, be showing up as cautionary tales in the hazards of communicating climate science to the general public when you have to run the gauntlet of opinionated media ‘stars’, drunk on their own self-importance and well beyond giving a damn about anything beyond preening their egos and counting their money*.

Kenny is one year shy of retirement age next January. Any chance he might take a line from Lennon and McCartney and concentrate his considerable energies where he at least can’t do much harm:

Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four?”

* Author’s declaration of interest: I admit to not being a noted fan of Kenny (rest assured, the feeling is mutual)

ThinkOrSwim is a blog focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
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27 Responses to How to demolish a denier: scientist fillets Pat Kenny

  1. Derrick Hambleton says:

    Too right John. Have been in the ring with Kenny on a couple of occassions. Once on the taxi deregulation issue, and about the lack of plans for new schools in Galway. He deliberately turns your quite reasonable arguments around just to make himself look smart. A habit followed by many other journos in RTE. Good article. My mothers namesake Sommerville was more than a match. Clever man.

  2. John Gibbons says:

    @Derrick
    You’ve got it in one. It’s all about making PK look and sound clever, and heaven help anyone who gets between his audience and his ego. Listening back last night to that Somerville piece, I couldn’t help but recall the classic Alan Partridge Radio Norwich early morning “radio interview” with the irate farmers’ union rep, where, as the interviewee was socking it to the hapless Partridge, Alan went on the attack, accusing farmers of feeding chemicals to their chickens to make them grow faster, and having 50 foot mutant chickens in their sheds. And after the farmers’ rep walked out, Partridge continued the sham interview, this time getting his (female) assistant to pretend to be the voice of the farmer “agreeing” with everything Pat, sorry, Alan just said!

  3. Toby says:

    I listened to Kenny’s interview with mounting irrritation at the stupidity of the questions.

    Kenny’s sthick seems to be “I don’t believe global warming is happening, but the precautionary principle etc etc ”

    The ultimate came for me when Kenny quoted the NSIDC as if it showed that Arctic Ice was increasing in the summer. I vented my ire (as gently as possible) in an e-mail to the show, but I doubt if I ever will get a response.

    Somerville demolished Kenny, but the solid deniers will take comfort from the presenter’s BS.

  4. John Gibbons says:

    @ Toby
    I don’t expect your email will ever see the light of day. PK has a funny habit of only reading out emails and texts that tally very closely with his own ‘take’ on a given issue, especially if, as in the case of climate change, he is way out on a limb – and knows it.

    As an aside, the alumni magazine ‘UCD Connect’ last year did a piece profiling some of its better known graduates who are in the media. In the case of Kenny’s profile, the magazine actually singled out the fact that in 2009 he had become associated with climate change denialism and appeared to be supporting this Flat Earth proposition. Ouch, being outed as a muppet among one’s peers – that musta stung the Great One!

    You are correct in saying that deniers and closet deniers (IBEC and the IFA are in the latter category) take huge comfort from the spewing of this rubbish on a semi-regular case by a high-profile broadcaster who actually has a reputation for being quite tech-savvy and appears, at least in subjects where he doesn’t have a personal blind spot, to keep himself informed and up to date.

  5. Colin says:

    @ John

    “but my spies were telling me that Kenny had back-pedalled from his virulent anti-climate science position back in 2009 and towards a more genuinely ‘sceptical’ journalistic tone”

    Tell us more about this….

  6. John Gibbons says:

    @Colin
    Not much to say, to be honest. Feedback from the couple of people who keep an ear out to daytime radio on my behalf and who let me know if anything of interest pops up was that PK had backed off his hard-core denialism line, possibly as it was beginning to expose him to (well-earned) ridicule. But his guard certainly dropped yesterday morning, as he waited in the long grass to hijack a discussion about Ireland’s greatest scientist and turn it into a smart alec-y ‘tour’ of contrarian talking points.

    He clearly hadn’t done his homework; had he done so, Kenny would have realised he was way out of his depth trying to bitch-slap Somerville, who, quite apart from his scientific expertise, specialises in climate science communication and encounters far better prepared wise-asses on an almost daily basis in the US. This is, after all, home to an entire mongrel network (Fox News) dedicated to subverting science, smearing scientists and promoting the naked commercial interests of a handful of transnational corporations and their squillionaire owners.

    Compared to these mad dogs, Kenny is more of a pampered poodle, albeit with a bad temper and a nasty little nip.

  7. Colin says:

    @John

    Thanks, the interview was cringe-worthy and embarrassing. Somerville was a class act…

  8. Margaret Desmond says:

    John,
    Well done on putting the core elements of the Sommerville V’ Kenny radio interview out there for those not fortunate to hear it. I was in the car at the time and laughed myself silly at some of the ridiculous and juvenile questions posed by Kenny. In my opinion he was demolised by an expert in the field and was clearly out of his depth. In fact I would turn this on it’s head and suggest he (Kenny) did climate science a service by using his own prejudices to illustrate the ill founded claims of the denier community. Well done Pat!!

    As an addendum I was lucky enought to have a couple of words with the Prof Sommerville at the EPA Tyndall Conference (congrats to all for a wonderful event) yesterday and congratuated him on his radio interview ‘win’.

  9. John Gibbons says:

    @Margaret
    Happy to oblige. I think it’s important that we hold people who wield power in Ireland accountable, and while we have begun to challenge the untrammeled power of bankers, lawyers, builders and bishops, there remains an extraordinary accountability deficit with the likes of Kenny.

    I like your seeing the positive in his interview, i.e. that Kenny clearly exposed himself as the science charlatan he is. “Using his own prejudices to illustrate the ill founded claims of the denier community” – well put!

    Delighted you got to meet Prof Somerville and I can only hope his trip to Ireland wasn’t unduly tainted by his unpleasant encounter with one individual with a small mind to accompany a big ego.

  10. Margaret Desmond says:

    John,

    I think he is resilient! But was a little surprised I guess at the attack. But as you rightly pointed up one of his core activities is the communication of climate science; which means that Pat was probably just an inconvenience to him!

  11. Thatcher says:

    Top class hatchet-wielding, sir. Unpleasant business but someone has to do it, and it may as well be someone who enjoys his work and is not exactly squeamish. On both counts, you seem particularly well qualified for the job.

    It does beg the point as to whether this type of (blog-based) critique, however withering, has any effect at all on the wider debate. I was a little unclear on that front and decided to test the thesis by typing ‘Pat Kenny climate denier?’ into my search engine and bang! Up pops several of your postings, as well as other posts either linked to this one or clearly borrowing from it. For anyone who’s heard vague rumours about Mr Kenny, that’s the first place they’ll look.

    To quote a well known reformed coke-using alcoholic: Mission accomplished!

  12. John Mashey says:

    Ho, ho. I met Richard at last AGU meeting.
    Wrong guy to try the Gish Gallup of climate anti-science on, since he both knows the science thoroughly and is interview-savvy.
    help on this:
    “to spin his Tea Party-inspired anti-science propaganda”

    In the US, the Tea Party was sparkplugged by two front groups, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, which are primarily funded by the Koch brothers with some help from RIchard Mellon Scaife and a few others. The Kochs run the w2nd largest private company in the US (Koch Industries, oil gas, etc) and are 2 of the top 10 richest people in the US. Their father cofounded the John birch Society and they’d just as soon see the US Federal government disappear. They certainly have no use for a) science b) education (except funding George Mason U) c) environmental regulations d) any non-fossil fuels. They fund numerous entities that doe anti-science CCC, see pp.93-95, 2 Koch rows and Lambe row. They are James Inhofe’s biggest funder.
    All of this may help make sense of current US politics …

    But is there some Tea (“Koch”) Party connection with Pat Kenney specifically or Ireland in general? [While I’m quite familiar with the UK connections among groups, Monckton, Pesieer, etc, but is there an Irish equivalent of the US thinktanks or the UK’s GWPF?
    Or is there some Irish political party connected with the Tea Party?]

  13. John Gibbons says:

    Hi John

    I honestly don’t think there’s a de facto Tea Party style movement here in Ireland. Kenny trained as an engineer 40 years ago, this I suspect imbues him with a belief that he “understands” technical matters, even those far beyond his long-outdated primary qualification. He prides himself on being a bit of a science geek, which is doubly unfortunate in the case of climate science, where his personal loathing of greenies (all 40 shades of them) blindsides him to actually doing his own critical appraisal of the data, and the integrity of the various apparently conflicting data sources.

    A smart guy like that would, if he chose to, figure out the facts from the bullshit in a day or two. But since the implications of climate change threaten his world-view, then something’s gotta give, and it isn’t going to be his world-view. To take an even more clearcut example, Michael O’Leary doesn’t want to pay carbon taxes, ergo the science is wrong.

  14. John Mashey says:

    Thanks, needless to say, I’ve seen those reasons before 🙂

  15. Eric Conroy says:

    Well done John on your blog and to Richard on the PK show. On the issue of the “increased” Arctic sea ice, why would PK make this point about a 26% rise since 2007? Was that a headline in some paper? Is it true or false? How does it relate to the lowest sea-ice cover since 2007 mentioned by Richard? Could it have risen over the summer and reduced substantially in Aug/Sep. to the lowest sea-ice level since 2007? Richard didn’t directly refute the PK statement. How do the 2 statements relate to each other in 2011 terms?
    Eric.

  16. John Gibbons says:

    Eric

    Our Pat nearly wet himself with his Eureka! moment about the “26% increase in Arctic sea ice”. He repeatedly referenced the US Govt’s own ‘National Snow and Ice Data Center”; even Pat agrees these guys don’t just pull figures out of thin air.

    So what exactly does the NSIDC have to say? Their latest posting is dated: October 4, 2011, ie. yesterday, so we know it’s bang up to date. The headline: ‘Summer 2011: Arctic sea ice near record lows’. Heloooooooo? Is this the same NSIDC that Pat Kenny was ramlatching about to Somerville as supporting his ‘expanding Arctic sea ice’ thesis?

    Maybe it’s all a horrible misunderstanding? Well, here’s verbatim, unedited from the NSIDC release: “The summer sea ice melt season has ended in the Arctic. Arctic sea ice extent reached its low for the year, the second lowest in the satellite record, on September 9. The minimum extent was only slightly above 2007, the record low year, even though weather conditions this year were not as conducive to ice loss as in 2007. Both the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route were open for a period during September”.

    What the above passage proves is one immutable fact: Pat Kenny is either a simpleton (unlikely) or a damn liar. But please, don’t take my word for it. Listen back to Kenny’s gross misrepresentation of the NSIDC data, then read the Center’s own report, in full, below:
    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    So Eric, to answer your question: Kenny Googles something like: “Arctic sea ice increasing” and this delivers him to propaganda sites like Wattsup, who have folks who are very well paid to twist science facts to suit the agendas of their corporate sponsors. From there, it’s copy-and-paste, and presto, instant “facts” relayed via RTE to thousands of listeners who might assume (falsely) that Kenny is “just doing his job, asking the hard questions, digging up the uncomfortable facts”. He is doing none of the above, just good ol’ shovelling of other people’s propaganda manure.

    What he’s doing is not hard to work out. Why, there’s a tough one. I doubt he’s in the pay of some evil energy company, more likely, I can only really put it down to the utter and complete loathing he appears to hold for anyone even remotely ‘green’ or ‘environmental’. Watch him slicing through Oisin Coghlan on a Frontline show some months back if you still doubt this. Oisin is a reasonable, articulate and calm bloke, but Kenny treated him like he was Fr Brendan Smith…

  17. Coilin MacLochlainn says:

    Had Prof Richard Somerville not got nerves of steel, an ability to think on his feet when waylaid by Kenny and an unrivalled experience of the anthropogenic global warming deniers’ most frequently deployed trick questions, the outcome of the interview could well have been different. Congratulations and many thanks to Prof Somerville for such a perfect object lesson in how to respond to a shameless and full-on denier. And thank you, John, for your detailed and entertaining summary of the interview.

    Kenny has trotted out the same trip-up questions so many times now it is obvious he is not looking for answers but is trying to derail the efforts of climate scientists. Of course, if challenged on this he would no doubt say, “but I’m a journalist, I have to ask the hard questions.” That’s his get-out clause, and it gives him the licence to be disingenuous and to use subterfuge to mislead. If Kenny was fulfilling his public service broadcasting obligations, with the responsibilities to the Irish public that go with that, and not pursuing some private agenda, he would be delighted to interview someone of Somerville’s calibre and intellect to tease out solutions to the climate change problem. Instead he approaches him as a deadly foe that must be vanquished. By the end of the interview you could have cut the air with a knife, and Somerville said later in the day that he was still in shock.

    What is it with Kenny? This is a very very dangerous game he’s playing and it’s clear that he’s fooling a lot of people: even Stephen Price in The Sunday Times described him as an excellent broadcaster last week (and to be fair, he can be excellent, and he always used to be). John Tyndall must be turning in his grave at this flagrant misuse of the 150th anniversary of his celebrated breakthrough paper on the greenhouse effect, to attack the very work that he pioneered. Let’s hope Prof Somerville has not been discouraged from visiting these shores again. I think you should organise a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, John, signed by as many leading scientists as possible. We should also try and find out if Kenny has any connections to the oil industry (who must love him for his ‘work’) or if he simply has a grudge against environmentalists.

    On the Arctic ice question, it’s not just the extent of cover or the lack of it that matters now, it is also the thickness of the ice. This is decreasing year on year.

  18. John Gibbons says:

    Coilin

    Thanks for your comments; curiously, the thought of the BCI route did cross my mind, especially in relation to the bare-faced mendacity employed in purporting to present “data” from the NSIDC when that very organization’s own statements tell the precisely opposite story. But I promise you the BCI won’t want to rock the boat and take on RTE’s Special One.

    As for getting climate scientists to sign such a complaint, it would be like getting the mayor of Kilkenny to sign a complaint against the local radio station. Since there is no way of getting rid of Kenny, people (including scientists) pussy foot around him, fearful that they’ll be the next ones to get lambasted from his radio or TV bully pulpits. We live in the ‘celebrity age’. Doesn’t matter what you’re famous for, what matters is being famous. Kenny is a household name, and a lot of the time does a decent job (at least on the radio) so most folks are entirely unaware that he is sneaking his personal anti-environment grudge onto the national agenda. And in truth, most people don’t care much either.

  19. Ruairi says:

    John,
    Richard Somerville has stated that he does not debate with ‘contrarians’.Pat Kenny being aware of this,and the possibility that Mr.Somerville might have taken umbrage and marched out of the studio,probably took the wiser course in dumbing down his challenges and treating his guest gently, just enough to keep Richard in his seat and yet make a reasonable effort to put the ‘realist’ viewpoint. Mr. Somerville came to honour John Tyndall,one of our esteemed scientists, and had he stormed out, the media could easily have misconstrued the interview to paint Pat in a very anti science light. Considering the delicacy of the situation, I think Pat did all right.
    Ruairí

  20. Toby says:

    For anyone who wants to listen to this Interview, try the RTE page http://www.rte.ie/radio1/podcast/podcast_patkenny.xml

    Scroll down to see the Tyndall interview link. Professor Somerville’s homage to Tyndall is interesting in itself. At the bottom it says how to get the podcast.

  21. John Gibbons says:

    Ruairi

    I’d like to place as benign a reading on the above incident as you do, but as Adam Smith points out above, PK has so much “form” on this issue, and has been (publicly) rumbled on it before, so there’s no way this could have been as inadvertent as you infer. Kenny usually hides behind a hard-core denialist ‘scientist’ (he used Ian Plimer, an Aussie fraud, as a human shield when interviewing me 2 years ago) and then tries to wade in as the ‘voice of reason’ in the manufactured bun-fight.

    He changed tack with Somerville, and tried, I suspect, to lull his interviewee into a very relaxed frame of mind via the lengthy preamble on John Tyndall, before eventually sticking the knife in. I’ve always suspected Kenny’s understanding of the science is paper-thin, and this interview bore that out. Once his denialist talking points had been debunked, one at a time, he was left looking like a proper Charlie.

    If you listen to the last 10 minutes of the interview, Somerville – politely – beat the living crap out of our Pat. And you don’t see that too often on his radio show. It’ll be quite a while before he chooses to match his ‘expertise’ in this field with an actual expert again. But he will persist, and I expect to see him switch back to giving air-time to hard core denialists.

  22. seafóid says:

    PK is probably on the way out anyway after his 30% pay cut.

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/1018/1224305994874.html

  23. John Gibbons says:

    Seafoid,
    No doubt the foreign networks are in a bidding war right now for our Pat, City Channel would love to have him, and he’d be great on the Shopping Channel selling fake jewellery to grannies!

    But seriously, Noel Curran spoke the truth at last when he said our ‘stars’ have been grossly overpaid – and overrated – for years. And that’s from the head of RTE!

  24. Michael Marshall says:

    I’ve got tired of just seeing the same valiant DENIER-fighters from the Big Four of the Anglo world, so I set my Google to find denier-fighters in the smaller nations of the world. Sad to see Eire has got its Pat Kenny ( Kenny is a ubiquitous name here in Atlantic Canada also) – glad to see that Eire has you !

  25. John Gibbons says:

    Cheers Michael. Kenny is a bit of a once-off: big fish, big ego, small (media) tank. Swimming in the shit of his own self-importance for so long, he thinks it’s normal. Lack of critical focus on Kenny, either by his employers or by other parts of the Irish media is depressing. But yes, we chip away. Not hard, really. Unlike some true hard-core deniers who’ve learned their lines from the various online playbooks, Kenny is as lazy as he is opinionated. The above interview shows it too. Once he runs out of clichés, he hides behind “texts from listeners”. Old dog, old tricks. All the dignity of a David Bellamy in his dotage. Nothing to do but wait till Kenny fades off the scene.

  26. Paul Creedon says:

    Interesting comment John. It gives quite an insight into your character! 

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