Movie maker James Cameron has called people who don’t believe as strongly as he does that the end is nigh “boneheads”, which, as insults go, isn’t particularly inventive. You would have expected a guy who thought up the Terminator would have devised a slur better than one considered hackneyed on elementary school playgrounds.
But of course, Hollywood directors rarely write their own material, and instead rely on the talent of others. Here’s the full quote (which is now a few months old, but I only heard it on its echo):
I want to call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads. Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.
Well, Jimmy, I can hear you and I’m willing if you are. Since you are the challenger, and I am the challenged, by tradition I have the right of choice of weapon. Smith and Wesson Model 29. It’s a six-and-a-half inch nickel-barreled .44 mag revolver, a gun obviously appropriate under the circumstance. If you like, we could do holsters, but I’m fine with drawing from the belt.
I suppose, though, that when Cameron made this threat, he was full of the same kind of material typically produced by his industry. So I don’t think any skeptical climate scientist need lose sleep fretting that the next time they open their door they will find a bespurred James Cameron playing with his shiny pistol.
Anyway, point is, Cameron thought it would be a good idea to debate some people about climate change. Have a shoot out off the lip on stage instead of in the street with real weapons, that is. The folks set to debate Jimmy got excited. But at the last moment, Cameron changed his mind and decided to remain hidden in a room on the second floor of the saloon. Somehow, his timidity made the press and blogs and was judged significant.
It is not. James Cameron debating anybody on the physics of climate change would be of the same informational value as if your muffler repair man tried out his forensic skills. It is true that both the muffler man and the cameraman have the same right to debate, but it is also so that both have the same level of expertise.
Suppose Cameron were not a coward and attended his debate. The most likely outcome would have been that he would have been exposed as a know-nothing. But so what? This was already obvious from the prior evidence. For example, this is a man who in public has claimed that carbon dioxide will “cause the destruction of 50 percent of all species on this planet by the end of the century.” Even Greenpeace isn’t that loony.
And does anybody believe that his supporters, after hearing his fantastical, fanatical statements, would have Seen The Light and changed their minds? The question is answered in its asking.
The only reason that this sad episode is worth commenting on is that there are some on the skeptical side—more than a few—who are crowing over the “victory” of Cameron canceling the debate. It is as if his action has proved that the worse fears of global warming are false.
This is ridiculous. And his canceling is no sort of victory at all. It is a defeat.
For the “debate” never should have been agreed to in the first place. That is was shows that some climate skeptics are just as celebrity addled as the Chicken Littles. “Wow! We get to debate a Hollywood director! I wonder if Tom Cruise will show up?”
Even acknowledging the request for a debate is to give the man and his lunatic views a certain legitimacy. Taking him up on his offer of a shootout is one thing, because his threat was personal, and his refusal to back up his words with actions shows Jimmy to be the coward that he is.
But agreeing to argue with him over the proper roll of feedback in cloud parameterizations in GCMs is asinine. If climate skeptics want a real debate, they should ask my pal Gavin. Best him and then you have something to crow about. But beat up Jimmy Cameron and your top claim can only be that you shot a fish in a barrel. It is pathetic.