It is difficult to know where to start with Queensland One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, the staring-eyed, climate change denier. He is a conspiracy theorist, and believes that all sorts of massive conspiracies have been perpetrated within the scientific community, particularly among those studying climate science. It is about as ludicrous a suggestion as that stating there was a conspiracy to fake the moon landings. If he had a modicum of understanding of science (he is a mining engineer), he would know that massive conspiracies in science are impossible. Science is such a cut-throat business, that if anyone can overturn a well supported, widely accepted theory, with some pertinent data and cogent arguments, the previous theory will be jettisoned and it will be replaced by a theory better able to explain the facts. I know, as I have been in this position, where three colleagues and I instigated the replacement of a theory that had been around for 120 years. It took us a couple of peer-reviewed papers to explain the details, but its acceptance happened fairly easily. In addition, one of our initially most strident critics only took a short while to be convinced by us. This was because we had the evidence, which turned out to be conclusive. So, if someone could demonstrate that climate change is not happening, and they had the evidence to demonstrate it, they would be almost instantly lauded and the theory dumped. Roberts, in his monumental ignorance, does not understand this.
Roberts is one of those people who is impervious to evidence. He has made up his mind and all evidence is selectively chosen to try to bolster his story or, where it does not, the data are stated to have been doctored by the scientists. Roberts’ favourite tactic is to ask people to produce all the data, there and then, demonstrating climate change is happening. When they can’t, he effectively says ‘therefore it must be a hoax’. You could do the same with any scientific theory: Heliocentricity, Plate Tectonics, Continental Drift, Evolution, Atomic theory, Relativity etc. Nobody has all the evidence at hand. We just know these to be the best current theories because no other explanation of the millions of observations makes sense.
On the ABC’s Q & A, Roberts was on the panel with the University of Manchester’s particle physicist Brian Cox. Cox had either done his research, or had been worded up by the producers that Roberts was going to be appearing, and he had a couple of graphs, which clearly showed that the average global temperature is increasing dramatically, but Roberts would have none of it, stating that it had all been doctored. Roberts has published a manifesto arguing that a cabal of private banks is in the process of establishing a worldwide socialist government. He has pointed to the Jewish Goldman-Sachs, Warburgs, Rothschilds and the non-Jewish Rockefellers as the main perpetrators. This bizarre manifesto was too much even for far right wing commentator and climate change denier, Andrew Bolt, who distanced himself from Roberts, despite the latter stating he was “not anti-Semitic”. Roberts is simply a conspiracy theorist.
It seems that some time ago, Pauline Hanson, rather than ring up a scientist who would actually know what they were talking about, rang Roberts to ask him about “this Carbon Dioxide thing”. He told her it was a sham, and she, in her complete ignorance, believed him. Then she invited him to advise her on climate policy, which presumably will be a very simple process, as they will not have one. In an interview with the ‘The Monthly’, Roberts stated that all of One Nation’s senators have their specialisations: Roberts’ is climate, Hanson’s is Islam and foreign ownership, Culleton’s is the banks, and Burston’s is defence. This is one of the funniest things I have read in a serious journalistic piece, and it was a while before I could stop crying laughing. It is a shame that Culleton’s expertise in banking didn’t extend to remaining solvent, as he has been declared bankrupt, and therefore ineligible to sit in the Senate. He has also been declared ineligible to stand for the Senate because he had been convicted of larceny at the time of the election. He is the only person in the history of the Australian Senate who has been declared both ineligible to stand as well as to sit.
One of the most ludicrous things I have ever seen Hanson do, is to fall for Roberts’ little suggestion of an expedition to do some snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). There have been alarming stories (from real scientists) of coral bleaching on the GBR, particularly in the northern part of the reef where the water tends to be warmest. However, Hanson, Roberts and Burston, the wacky trifecta, went to a section near Great Keppel Island, opposite Rockhampton, near the southern end of the reef. From that little swim, Hanson and Roberts declared the GBR is just peachy. It is difficult to imagine anything as stupid as this little snorkelling expedition, or that it could have been suggested by anyone with a modicum of common sense. Perhaps it is Malcolm Roberts’ way of attempting to make Pauline look like an idiot, so he can eventually take over the party. If so, it succeeded admirably.