It was a tale of two theses on climate change around the Pantheon in Paris on Monday night. In front of the magnificent neoclassical building dedicated to French heroes, a dozen icebergs from Greenland were melting away, while down the street American deniers held a “red carpet world premiére” for their latest effort to portray it all as a “hoax”.
Devised as an artwork by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing, Ice Watch involved "lassoing" chunks of floating sea ice off the west coast of Greenland, taking them by container ship to Copenhagen and then transporting them by truck to Paris, where they were placed in a circle on the pedestrian plaza in front of the Pantheon.
The project, intended to show how the Arctic region is threatened by climate change and the consequences of that for us all, has caught the public imagination. At every time of the day, dozens of men, women and especially children, come to see, touch and pose with the icebergs, and watch them melt, trickling water into the Parisian drains.
Since the blocks of ice were placed there to mark the opening of COP21, they have already shrunk by a metre, according to one of the Ice Watch attendants distributing a newspaper-style information booklet. She also anticipated that they would last for the remainder of the week, despite unseasonably warm winter weather in the French capital.
Not far away, self-styled "skeptics" from the Climate Depot, a Washington-based project run by climate change denier Marc Morano, staged the world premiére of Climate Hustle, claiming that it would "rock" the UN climate summit, just as Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth had created a sensation when it was released in 2006.
"Featuring interviews and comments from more than 30 renowned scientists and climate experts, Climate Hustle lays out compelling evidence that devastates the global warming scare", with Morano playing the role of host for "a fact-finding and often times hilarious journey through the propaganda-laced world of 'climate change' claims".
Morano was accompanied on the red carpet at Cinema du Pantheon by Christopher (Lord) Monckton, who claimed in Paris that US President Barack Obama was secretly working with "other totalitarians" and a "small group of malevolent scientists to establish a communist, or even fascist, world government -- using COP21 as their vehicle".
He cited as “evidence” a short passage in the draft Paris agreement that proposes setting up an international climate court, arguing that this was the latest effort to introduce a global government “through the back door”. The contentious proposal appears in square-bracketed text and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that it will be adopted.
Viscount Monckton had his UN credentials withdrawn at COP18 in Doha, Qatar, in 2012 after he posed as a delegate dressed up in a traditional Arab dish-dash to gain entry to one of the plenary sessions. As a result, he was permanently prohibited from attending climate summits and made his latest remarks at a fringe meeting in Paris.
Attendance at the premiére of Climate Hustle was by invitation only by the Washington-based Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, known more commonly as C-Fact. I tried to get a ticket, but was told by email that my application was unsuccessful "due to limited space" in the small cinema and the "high volume of ticket requests".
As the French would say, "Je suis désolé".