James Cameron Ducks Global Warming Debate That Never Should Have Been Agreed To

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.


  1. Luis Dias

    I agree. For a different example, Dawkins made the right choice to completely ignore William Lame Craig’s juvenile attempts to debate him. Dawkins simply refuses to debate creotards, and to give them any second of attention.

    So, to be sure, mr. Monckton’s acceptance of the challenge was also juvenile and pathetic. But mr. Monckton is getting us used to his inanities…

  2. rich

    So is Al Gore’s refusal to engage in debates right for the same reasons?

  3. Luis Dias

    No, Rich. Al Gore’s refusal do engage in debates is right because that spares us from cringing to death while watching him confusing himself up.

  4. Briggs


    Gore may be debated on the political implications of the IPCC, because on these matters he is an expert. But it is pointless to debate Gore on the physics. He understands this, which is why he always refuses.

    Just as, or even more strongly, nobody should listen to him about the physics, biology, or any other technical matter.

  5. LeChat

    For a supposedly intelligent individual, these people say a lot of really stupid things. Cameron should stick to making movies and shut up.

  6. Ari

    The Cat,

    So many people should just shut up. This, unfortunately, is not limited only to movie directors.

  7. Golly, Ari, way to spoil a thread. You’re no fun today.

  8. Ray

    It is obvious that most of the AGW advocates, like Al Gore, have never had a physics course. I had two thermodynamics courses, one taught by the physics dept. (the theory) and the other by the mechanical engineering dept. (the machinery). Many of the AGW advocates claims are simply contrary to thermodynamics, like the claim that carbon dioxide traps heat. I used to work at a place that had a carbon dioxide laser in the lab. We would impress visitors by cutting sheet metal with the infrared beam. The CO2 in that laser sure wasn’t trapping any heat. Of course, infrared is electromagnetic radiation, not heat.

  9. John Galt

    I think Camron is a lot like Al Gore. An uneducated blowhard. His last experiance with science was probably when he go a C in the ninth grade.

  10. papertiger

    But before, the media, which isn’t very particular, would have quoted Jimmy, giving his comment weight far in excess of it’s merit.

    Now they won’t. Or if they do, it will be with a wink and a nod, making it perfectly clear that he is not credible.

    Progress is made. Crowing by my peeps, for my peeps, changes the media tone. Maybe just a little.

  11. Of course you shouldn’t listen to film directors, what do they know? Listen to Sheryl Crow instead. Allow me to quote Homer simpson (in awe): “Rock stars! Is there anything they don’t know?”

  12. B. Humphreys

    True enough. Beating Cameron would be like shooting fish in a barrel … one with no water in it.

    When challenged by the King of the World however, the skeptic side pretty well had to agree if only to avoid the “See? They haven’t got the guts to debate me!” response from big Jimmy.

    Fortunately for Cameron, some one (Joe Romm, I hear) stepped in and advised him that he would have no chance against the likes of Marc Morano and would damage the cause.

    I did enjoy the reason given for his withdrawl. The proposed debate opponets were not at Cameron’s level and it was therefore beneth him to debate them and provide them with undeserved publicity … presumably because they would be able to claim having exchanged words with so august a personage.

    Mr. Cameron should probably stick to making things up … or maybe he is.

  13. Alan Grey

    Um…I believe Cameron was going to bring two scientists with him for the debate, so it is hardly fair to say it was lame because Cameron isn’t an expert…

  14. kdk33

    Ditto what Alan Grey said. Not fair to characterize the (canceled) event as a debate against Cameron.

  15. rich


    That’s a reasonable answer but, as far as I recall, in “An Inconvenient Truth” he presented so-say scientific arguments. Which implies, to me, that when he backs away from scientific debate – wisely, as you suggest – he’s saying, “Don’t ask me, I’m just the front man.” But I suppose we knew that.

    Luis, you’ve just got to a handle on schadenfreude.

  16. kuhnkat

    Mr. Briggs,

    Jimmie boy was to have a couple accomplices that were more experienced. That DOES make a difference as he can do the fluff and histrionics and they could do the science. Except, based on most other debates that have actually happened, there has been close to no science even from those alledgedly qualified.

    Jimmie boy should be laughed at for being a moron as all other climate alarmists should.

  17. PaddikJ

    Of course it’s not sporting to debate an unarmed man, even if he’s the one who picked the fight. Famous Jimmy doesn’t even have cinema cred, as anybody with brain-1 knows. I snorted & guffawed all the way through Avatar, only to watch half the audience rise for a standing ovation. Go figure.

    Problem is, there are too many people with less than brain-1, so someone had to pick up the gauntlet, if only to keep him from loud-mouthing his “victory” all over the planet. The key issue was that he does have a large bully pulpit.

    So, yes it was pathetic, but no, it could not have been reasonably avoided.

Leave a Reply

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