Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t?

The McAleer/McElhinney bandwagon pulled into town on Thursday evening, with an appearance on TodayFM’s The Last Word with Anton Savage. The station had asked me to appear to challenge/counter some of his ‘global-warming-is-all-a-big-conspiracy-to-keep-you-poor-and-raise-taxes’ line of, for want of a better word, logic.

Click here to listen to TodayFM interview

The bait was tempting, and yes, I admit, I took it. When Phelim’s opening line was “I intend to tell the truth”, I was immediately reminded of Richard Nixon gazing into the camera lens to assure the public that “I am not a crook”. It went downhill from there, with nearly 17 minutes of bare-knuckle “debate”. But there’s the rub: McAleer wears his ignorance of climate science like a badge of honour. His debating rhetoric is a slightly refined version of the schoolyard taunt that “you’re smelly”.

Nailing him down an any one specific lie proved elusive, since his entire project is a confection to begin with. He expressed total and I believe entirely genuine surprise that the IPCC is a panel comprising not just scientists, but also policymakers, politicians and planners. But rather than being mortified at his own astonishing lack of basic knowledge about an organisation his entire mockumentary is dedicated to discrediting, instead he goes the “you’re smelly!” route by saying how this ‘proves’ his argument. Jeeze.

Enough said. This exchange brings to the fore the old problem for everyone involved in this area: is it really a good idea at all to actually engage with these snake oil merchants, or are you simply playing into their hands by engaging in a faux ‘debate’ that only serves to confuse the public into believing that ‘the science is still undecided’ on climate change. Just getting that big fat lie out into the public domain represents a triumph of sorts for the likes of McAleer and others of his ilk.

As Fagin sang in Oliver Twist, “I’m reviewing the situation, I think I better think it out again!”

ThinkOrSwim is a blog by journalist John Gibbons focusing on the inter-related crises involving climate change, sustainability, resource depletion, energy and biodiversity loss
This entry was posted in Global Warming, Irish Focus. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t?

  1. Pidge says:

    “Well I don’t know…”

    Says it all, really.

  2. Foxy says:

    I think you handled McAleer very well – he seems to be a publicity seeker for his propaganda movie. Taking cheap shots adds no value to the clinate change debate. It is interesting to note that alongside your article in the Irish Times on Aug 14th that William Melville wrote about scientists disagreeing over the reasons for global warming and that it is embarassing to see each side accuse the other of dihonesty. As he says Scientists from both sides must come together to resolve this matter. There is enough confusion already.

  3. John Gibbons says:

    Foxy, appreciate the comments re. the McAleer “movie”. Where we might have to disagree is on the value of the comments by Dr William Reville in last Thursday’s paper. Sadly, he is hawking some serious grudge and has placed himself well beyond the Pale of what being a scientist (or science writer) can possibly entail.

  4. Cathal says:


    Just listened to the interview, you came across as a bit of an condescending arse imho, you should have been a bit calmer and reasonable.

  5. Anyone who believes that carbon dioxide is capable of causing the atmosphere to overheat is either too lazy, uninterested or simply incapable of checking facts for themselves. CO2 is a nutrient and one of the fundamental essentials of life on earth, and not a threat to the climate. Man’s emissions thereof are insignificant anyway! The wheels are extremely loose on the ‘global warming/climate change’ bandwagon, and anyone with any respect for reason who finds themselves on it would be well advised to jump off before it crashes. Even the most cursory examination exposes the whole MMGW scam for what it is. Belief in it is very dangerous as it takes focus and resources away from concerns that actually do matter.
    J.Dickson, http://www.okgetreal.com

  6. John Gibbons says:

    Thanks again Johathan for your wacky tabaccy addition to the scientific understanding of CO2, which as I’m sure you know was first explained by a fellow Carlow man, John Tyndall, back in the 1860s. It’s been accepted scientific fact, in other words, for 150 years. He would doubtless be amused/disappointed at anyone being so ignorant of Junior Cert physics a century and a half later.

  7. John Gibbons says:

    Cathal (2 postings above), yes, I wouldn’t file it as my finest ever performance. Still, nobody’s perfect, and that’s certainly not a claim I’d ever make for myself. I’m willing to put my condescending arse on the line, even if I do end up getting it chopped now and again, to tacke McAleer’s mendacity. How about you?

  8. Foxy says:

    It seems like Dr William Reville has changed his tune in his Science contribution in today’s Irish Times with his assertion that population control in the developed world is not the answer to global warming but rather a drastic reduction in carbon emissions. Some weeks ago he mentioned that the waters were muddied on root causes of global warming but your piece today drives home the point that political idealogy is too often disguised as science and this is being deliberately used by the market fundamentalists to generate confusion and denial of the risks of unsustainable carbon emissions.

  9. Richard says:


    You say in your interview that you come from a farm, livestock or crops? I believe that livestock, particular cows, are the single largest producers of CO2, I will back this up if needed, but I was wondering your opinion on this and possible suggestions for a solution.

    If livestock is the largest producer and by a good factor I believe, is focusing on human created carbon emission wasteful or itself a miss use of resources.

    Phelim’s argument was very poor and any person with any concept of science could only sit open mouth listening to some of his arguments, but Al Gore’s documentary, if it can be called that, is very poor science itself and I would propose that it is comparable to the trash that Phelim was presenting, picking the people with sufficient letters after their name to give the answer they were looking for. Don’t get me wrong, I do accept global warming and the consequences it will have. An example off the top of my head for one of the large errors in Gores film the diagram where he confuses the tropopause with the ionosphere… and I believe there are others far more misleading then that. I would like to see something on your site that corrects and updates the errors and omissions from Gore’s film, perhaps you could make a film and have it properly peer reviewed to put this matter to some sort of rest.

    I think a good way to discredit Phelim and his film would have been asking him to make it free instead of charging for it, I think then you might have seen his true colours.

    And indeed not your finest ever performance, but understandable when dealing with someone “Like That”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *