November 18, 2009
Stephen Murphy responds to Clive Hamilton
I am a candidate in the Higgins by-election. I am a climate sceptic. This week my rival, Clive Hamilton, published an extraordinary rant in an internet newsletter in which he equated climate scepticism with Holocaust denial.
In usual circumstances, you know that your opponent has lost the debate if they either start playing the man or invoke Godwin's Law. A complete lack of substantive argument can be assured if they do both, and there is some irony in being accused of personal aggrandisement by a Canberra based “public intellectual” who seems to be using the Higgins by-election as little more than a promotional vehicle for his next book.
My opponent, who represents the Greens, says climate deniers are immoral, dangerous, and worse than Holocaust deniers because they will be responsible for enormous suffering. It's hard to believe that by challenging the government to back up their claims of catastrophic man-made global warming with empirical evidence, that I'll be responsible for the deaths of millions of impoverished people.
He says that he suspects I am “motivated, not by truth-seeking, but by political goals, a desire for funds from fossil-fuel companies or personal aggrandisement.”
I started on the path of what I am doing, to seek out the scientific evidence on climate change and to stand in the Higgins by-election, out of a sense of concern for what is right.
Much to the disappointment of people like Hamilton, climate sceptics are not evil people who burn down forests for fun and eat tiger tail soup for dinner before relaxing on sofas made out of polar bear skins.
My Greens opponent speaks as a true believer who refuses to consider evidence which questions his own beliefs. He may say, “Denialism is not scepticism but a refusal to accept the facts, the rejection of all of the evidence”, yet he stubbornly refuses to consider the substantial body of scientific evidence which now questions the validity of the man made climate change thesis.
I value truth, honesty and due process. Whilst prepared to engage on the battleground of ideas, I take it a little personally to be the subject of such puerile abuse as this:
There is something especially repugnant, even evil, about Holocaust denial. Denying or covering up a monstrous crime makes Holocaust deniers somehow complicit in it. Better to have your daughter marry a climate sceptic, who is perhaps motivated by contrarianism, foolishness or self-importance rather than wickedness.
Though somewhat bitter and confusing this is a particularly unpleasant personal attack. I was married just 12 weeks ago.
Argument, Dr Hamilton, without moral clarity is no argument at all.
Stephen Murphy is an independent candidate for Higgins. His website is here
See also Des Moore on “Political insurgency in Higgins” here
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