“What an arsehole!”

It will raise the temperature of the debate, if not the planet’s atmosphere. I refer to a piece on Newsnight featuring University of East Anglia environmental scientist Andrew Watson and Marc Morano, a former US Congressional aide and disciple of Rush Limbaugh who now runs the lunatic-right, anti-environmentalist website ClimateDepot.com.

Throughout the day Watson has been giving interviews, against the orders of his university bosses, backing the actions of Phil Jones and the other Norwich scientists caught up in the ClimateGate pseudo-scandal. My impression is that Watson has being doing a good job of defending his colleagues, and the climate change consensus.

On Newsnight Watson was put up against a denialist hack for whom “Bluster” is a middle name. It was an ugly confrontation, and I salute Watson for keeping his cool through the exchange, only to lose it at the end. Watson no doubt thought he was off-mic when he came out with an evident truth about his gobby debating partner:

“What an arsehole!”

Appropriate? Wise? Politic?

Who cares?

Certainly not me. I fully agree with the sentiment expressed by the good professor. As for the denialists’ reaction to Professor Watson, cue masses of hot air and faux indignation.

Next, British prime minister Gordon Brown has a pop at climate deniers, or, to use his words, “anti-science, flat-earth climate sceptics”.

Some, including a much respected regular visitor to this blog, would regard such language as counter-productive. It would indeed be an inappropriate debating tactic if we were up against a thoughtful and civilised opposition. Needless to say, we are not.

The denialists have no argument when it comes to the science, merely regurgitating in the mass media claims that were long ago shown to be unfounded. So the denialists now resort to criminal activity, and employ slander and character assassination as their primary weapons in a battle to derail political moves to a low carbon economy.

Correction

Andrew Watson in fact said:

“What an asshole!”

while feigning an American accent. And the BBC have chosen not to edit the comment out of the video now available on the Newsnight website. This despite Martha Kearney’s on-air apology in the programme for Professor Watson’s “bad language”.