Monckton: this has to be a joke…

The-3rd-Viscount-Monckton-001 That is what I first thought when I saw a blog item saying that US Republicans have taken on Lord Monckton as a consultant/spokesperson on climate change. What next, I thought, HIV/AIDS policy advisor?  But no, it’s true: GOP Chooses Non-Scientist Lord Monckton as Sole Expert Witness at Climate Change Hearing.

House Republicans have chosen Lord Christopher Monckton, a non-scientist with a penchant for outrageous remarks, as their sole witness at tomorrow’s hearing in front of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) called the hearing in an effort to further restore public confidence in climate science, and to set the record straight that ‘Climategate’ was not the scandal climate deniers and the right-wing media tried to portray in the wake of the theft of private emails from scientists at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia.

A press release announcing the hearing states that the scientists "will address the claims of deniers head-on."

The explanatory hearing will include testimony from Lisa Graumlich, director of the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona, who served on the British panel that last month exonerated the CRU scientists of any malpractice.

Rep. Markey has also called three top American climate scientists to explain that climate science remains fundamentally sound and supported by evidence gathered by reputed scientific institutions around the world.  The three expert scientist witnesses were involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that have been attacked by climate deniers, including Lord Monckton.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, the Ranking Minority Member of the committee, chose Monckton as the Republican’s sole witness at the hearing.

Of all the people in the world the GOP could call to testify, they chose Christopher (not-really-a-Lord) Monckton, a non-scientist with a diploma in journalism studies and a knack for trampling Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies

Suffice to say that Lord M has no scientific credentials in any field related to climate science, even remotely.

There are other bees in his bonnet as well.

Is there no end to the delights of his lordship Christopher Monckton, also known as Viscount Monckton of Brenchley? Or perhaps it would be accurate to ask: is there no beginning to the delights of Lord Monckton?

To the list of his eccentric views on climate change, Europe, HIV/Aids and … well, most things, we can add his public subscription to the "birther" cause: the idea that Barack Obama may have been born in Kenya and is therefore not the legitimate president of the United States of America.

The vigilant blogger David Weigel, now at the Washington Post,witnessed Monckton’s speech yesterday to tea party-ers at the Mall in Washington DC, at an event organised by FreedomWorks, the right-wing-funded astroturf (as in, fake grass roots) noise machine:

"America!" said Monckton at the start of his speech. "Land of opportunity! You can be born in Kenya and end up as president of the United States!"

That remark was well received in the crowd, if not as boisterously applauded as Monckton’s other jokes. After the speech … a reporter from USA Today and I both asked Monckton whether he was joking.

"I have no idea where he was born," said Monckton, who was working the crowd and signing autographs. "What I do find strange is that the public records of his Hawaiian birth have been sealed, and can not be obtained by the public. His lawyers have spent a lot of money trying to seal the records of his public life. All of those records should be open to the public, as they always were for previous presidents."…

Luckily for the Conservative party, it parted ways with Monckton some time ago. His lordship is currently a member of the UK Independence Party.

I wonder if perhaps Tony Abbott might consider Lord M as our next Chief Scientist, should the Libs get up in the 2010 election. I mean, why not? The talk-back crowd love him.

And that Penny Sackett person is proving so annoying.

Australia’s chief scientists Professor Penny Sackett has backed a group of eminent international scientists calling for urgent action on climate change.

Professor Sackett said governments everywhere needed to show more leadership on climate change action.

"Even if each one of us on the face of the earth stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, not another ounce into the atmosphere, the temperature would still rise," she told ABC radio on Friday.

"I would say that every delay makes it harder for ourselves in the future. I’d like us to also think about how much more difficult it makes it for the next generation."

In their open letter published in the journal Science, the group of 250 scientists called for rationale debate and not to have discussion deflected by extreme views.

That comes shortly after the federal government decided not to proceed with its emissions trading legislation at this stage.

Professor Sackett said she fully supported the call for urgent action based on the real and compelling evidence.

"We certainly need every technique that we can muster, and that will mean climate legislation in countries around the world," she said.

"There are many other things we can, and now I would say the urgency of doing those things is even stronger."

One signatory, Australian National University Professor Kurt Lambeck, said he was aware of personal attacks on individual scientists, and that was totally unacceptable from either side.

"It’s a call really for rational debate on scientific issues. That’s really what it’s about – to get the facts out, to be able to debate the pros and cons of arguments, and not have that discussion deflected by extreme views," he said.

See also the New York Times: Scientists Lash at ‘McCarthy-Like Threats’.

Scientists Climate Statement PDF



25 thoughts on “Monckton: this has to be a joke…

  1. For what then happened, and an analysis of what Monckton said, see Deltoid.

    The most damning thing about Christopher Monckton’s testimony to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on global warming science (video here), is the fact that the Republicans could not or would not get a single scientist to testify.

    His main argument is based on the same confusion that I dealt with in my debate with him — the idea that Pinker (2005) which found an increase in short wave radiation at the surface, actually found an increase in radiative forcing. Rachel Pinker herself explained the difference: (my emphasis)

    The CO2 “radiative forcing” value that Mr. Christopher Monckton is quoting refers to the impact on the Earth’s Radiative balance as described above. The numbers that we quote in our paper represent the change in surface SW due to changes in the atmosphere (clouds, water vapor, aerosols). These two numbers cannot be compared at their face value.

    But Monckton ignored this correction from Pinker in his testimony…

  2. “…Could not or would not…”

    Of COURSE the Republicans could not get a a non-AGW worshiper to testify. It took all the minority Repubs had just to get Monckton. Even that was an exceptional accomplishment, given the almost super-minority they have. Does Timmy not understand how American government works or something?

  3. It took all the minority Repubs had just to get Monckton. You mean there was not one US scientist of any kind who would/could do the job? Surely not.

  4. No, that’s not at all what I meant. There are, quite literally, thousands of scientists who could have done the job. But the anti-science Democrats control congress and stifle dissent, so they would allow only one skeptic (yes, it’s spelled with a ‘k’), despite the fact that over half of scientists are skeptics.

    So Monckton was chosen, mostly because he draws the international crowd. Good Lord, are you still believing that scientists not paid to support AGW still believe in AGW?

  5. Sad to see Republicans being sucked in by a Lordship, especially one who really is not a member of the House of Lords or even a climate scientist.

  6. I think I understand your sentiment. It’s like how sad it is to see devout AGW believers being sucked in by an ex-VP from Tennessee who also isn’t a climate scientist.

  7. I no longer depend on Al Gore for my information, Kevin, and never really have, even in 2007.

    I am rather more impressed by things like Scientists Taking Steps to Defend Work on Climate.

    And before running the “they’re paid” line, consider: “Who pays for Lord Monckton?”

    Christopher Monckton will trouser $20,000 for an Australian Tour with Ian Plimer on backing vocals. To celebrate both The Australian and The Daily Telegraph printed extracts from Monckton’s letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd generously offering to brief Rudd about climate science. Monckton always makes lots of errors when he writes about science, but this letter may have broken his previous record..

    See also: Hamilton: Viscount Monckton of Brenchley’s over-egged CV, and from a rural perspective Lord Monckton, high priest of scepticism.

    A SCOTTISH aristocrat currently touring Australia has a climate change message not too dissimilar to what many of our farmers have believed for some time –there is no climate change problem and concerns about global warming have been greatly exaggerated.

    Lord Christopher Monckton, whose reputation is not as a scientist but as the “high priest of climate scepticism”, will speak at a farm lobby-endorsed climate change forum in Canberra next week to explain what he sees as “climate nonsense” and how Australian farmers have been caught up in a major carbon “dodge”…

    Lord Monckton concedes he has no piece of paper that qualifies him as a climate scientist.

    He says he’s a classical architect by training, but his experience in policy making for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, assessing scientific scares, gives him credibility.

    He’s become a very rich man making and selling mathematical puzzles, but for the record it’s believed his two-week trip to Australia, largely sponsored by climate sceptics groups in Australia, is earning him a cool $100,000…

  8. Great angle, Neil! Monckton will make $20k! Of course you know, Mann has received over $US 10 million. The Hadley CRU has been awarded almost half a billion el bees (I don’t have a ‘pound’ button on my keyboard). But we should be most concerned about those $twenty thousand. Or as hippies and brits would say ‘twenty thousands’.

    I’m not sure why it’s so important to you that someone earns a degree in ‘climate science’. McIntyre doesn’t have a degree in climate science and he completely refuted Michael Mann’s hockey stick prediction, even though Mann HAS a degree in climate science. Degree does not equal intelligence.

    You need to stop depending upon universities to declare what people are good at. Look at the argument, not the degree. I have no degree in computer science, yet I can tussle with the best of them in c or ASM. No university said that I have that ability (in fact, it’s mostly thanks to a cool comp sci roommate of mine in college), yet I can still find minor mistakes, major flaws in exceptions, etc. Sheesh, would you doubt the theory of relativity because Einstein wasn’t a theoretical physicist, according to universities?

    Monckton may indeed be getting richer, but nothing like AGW sycophants like Gore, Mann, et al. The money is going to the worshipers at 1000 times the rate that it’s going to the skeptics.

  9. Sheesh, would you doubt the theory of relativity because Einstein wasn’t a theoretical physicist, according to universities? Say what? Hence his Nobel Prize citation (1921): “”for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect” and the fact that he worked at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (now Max-Planck-Institut) für Physik , Berlin, Germany.

    And money?

    Top 10 Koch beneficiaries 2005-2008

    Mercatus center: ($9.2m received from Koch grants 2005-2008) Conservative thinktank at George Mason University. This group suggested in 2001 that global warming would be beneficial in winter and at the poles. In 2009 they recommended that nothing be done to cut emissions.

    Americans for prosperity. ($5.17m). Have built opposition to clean energy and climate legislation with events across US.

    Institute for humane studies ($1.96m). Several prominent climate sceptics have positions here, including Fred Singer and Robert Bradley.

    Heritage foundation ($1.62m). Conservative thinktank leads US opposition to climate change science.

    Cato Insitute ($1.02m). Thinktank disputes science behind climate change and questions the rationale for taking action.

    Manhattan Institute ($800,000). This institute regularly publishes climate science denials.

    Washington legal foundation ($655,000) Published articles on the business threats posed by regulation of climate change.

    Federalist society for law ($542,000) advocates inaction on global warming

    National center for policy analysis ($130,000) NCPA disseminates climate science scepticism.

    American council on science and health ($113,800) Has published papers claiming that cutting greenhouse emissions would be detrimental to public health.


    As for recent developments on Mann, I agree with the Washington Post Friday, May 7, 2010:

    “WE KNEW Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had declared war on reality. Now he has declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry as well. We hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the University of Virginia have the spine to repudiate Mr. Cuccinelli’s abuse of the legal code. If they do not, the quality of Virginia’s universities will suffer for years to come.

    “In his ongoing campaign to wish away human-induced climate change, Mr. Cuccinelli has targeted Michael Mann, a climate scientist who used to teach at the University of Virginia, investigating him for allegedly defrauding taxpayers by obtaining grants from the commonwealth to conduct research on global temperatures. The attorney general is demanding that the university turn over astonishingly vast numbers of e-mails and other documents relating to Mr. Mann, including all correspondence with a long list of other reputable scientists.

    “As ammunition for this chilling assault, Mr. Cuccinelli twists beyond recognition a statute designed to punish government contractors who use fake receipts to claim taxpayer funds and those who commit other such frauds. For Mr. Cuccinelli’s “investigation” to have any merit, the attorney general must suppose that Mr. Mann “knowingly” presented “a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval.” Mr. Cuccinelli’s justification for this suspicion seems to be a series of e-mails that surfaced last year in which Mr. Mann wrote of a “trick” he used in one of his analyses, a term that referred to a method of presenting data to non-experts, not an effort to falsify results.

    “IN FACT, the scientific community, including a National Academy of Sciences panel, has pored over Mr. Mann’s work for more than a decade, and though supporters and skeptics still disagree on much, it’s clear that his conclusions are not obviously, premeditatedly fraudulent, particularly since they come with admissions about the uncertainties inherent to his work. Inquiries in Britain and one at Pennsylvania State University, Mr. Mann’s current academic home, also absolved him of wrongdoing with regard to the e-mail controversy, the latter noting in particular that there is no evidence that he “suppressed or falsified data.”

    “By equating controversial results with legal fraud, Mr. Cuccinelli demonstrates a dangerous disregard for scientific method and academic freedom. The remedy for unsatisfactory data or analysis is public criticism from peers and more data, not a politically tinged witch hunt or, worse, a civil penalty. Scientists and other academics inevitably will get things wrong, and they will use public funds in the process, because failure is as important to producing good scholarship as success. For the commonwealth to persecute scientists because one official or another dislikes their findings is the fastest way to cripple not only its stellar flagship university, but also its entire public higher education system.

    “That’s why the university should immediately challenge the attorney general’s “civil investigative demand” for documents, which the law allows, and which a university spokeswoman says it is considering. It’s also why Mr. McDonnell should condemn the attorney general and aid the university, making it clear that Mr. Cuccinelli speaks only for himself.”

  10. …it’s clear that his conclusions are not obviously, premeditatedly fraudulent…

    Ok, so you’re saying that Mann wasn’t being obvious. For $10 million, I’d not be obvious about being premeditatedly fraudulent too! His results were still fraudulent. Who cares if he was being obvious or not? You’re sounding British again.

    The point remains. $Tens of billions are wasted on global warmerists every year. $Thousands go to skeptics. Which does Neil complain about? The $thousands. Your logic is a perfect example of why I don’t get along with non-scientists.

  11. So the National Academy of Sciences aren’t scientists? And all those think tanks getting their millions (and thousands) from the Koch family and others are scientists?

    For Mann, better commentators than I have had many a go: Michael Mann

    Kevin, I really think your opposition to the findings of climate science is political and ideological, not scientific.

    You missed the new post then. Not me, just something to read reflecting the non-scientific views of New Scientist.

  12. Hmm, I don’t remember saying that the NAS aren’t scientists. Are you sure I said that? There is no doubt that some minority of scientists believe in AGW. That’s the nature of unproven theories – some scientists believe them, others do not. That’s why science rocks.

    If we were all forced to believe in someone’s idea of a consensus, Copernicus’ idea would have never taken flight. And it almost didn’t, since the Vatican declared that the debate was over. Einstein’s ideas don’t jibe with Newton’s, and EVERYONE in the scientific community believed Newton’s laws were sacrosanct. So relativity would have just passed us by if ‘consensus’ was the law that science abided by. Thank God it’s not!

    No, Neil, my opposition is NOT political. It’s scientific. It’s also personal. It’s scientific because these ‘climate scientists’ write simulations of the Earth’s climate that predict doom and gloom in the near future. Then when actual climate data inevitably proves their models wrong, they don’t apologize – no, they run it again to produce doom and gloom just a few years later. It’s so obvious that they are just working for a paycheck. I can’t believe you can’t see it, even taking into account that you’re a liberal.

    And here’s why it’s personal: It’s #$^$ing cold in the winter down here in southern Louisiana. It’s not supposed to be. We’re supposed to be able to grow orange trees down here. It’s been done since 1830, but it’s not a viable option anymore. We have orange tree killing frost (<24 deg F) six to ten times a year now, for some unknown reason. It's been this way for the last four years. (turning on caps lock) AND YET THE GISS TEMPS SHOW SOUTHERN LOUISIANA SUFFERING FROM A FRICKIN' WARMING TREND! Simply put, they're lying.

    In fairness to you, it might also be a little political, since I'm extremely offended that my tax dollars pay these scientists to spew the lies, but that's small potatoes in comparison. I'm not even happy that my tax dollars subsidize operas :). I'm grumpy like that.

    (side note: I just became aware that I didn't know how to spell consensus! I've always spelled it 'concensus', but the spellchecker caught it. Holy crap, I'm British! Or at least I spell as poorly as them. Oh well, at least my teeth are straight. And white.)

  13. Not me! Don’t you think it would be more fair to tax patrons of the arts, instead of people who are not interested? Raise the price of viewing the arts so that the people who are benefiting from it are the one’s paying for it.

    I’d even support a government subsidy where people making less income who have a desire to see an opera at the Met can get a drastically reduced rate. But as it stands now, the arts are heavily subsidized, and even then only fairly well-to-do people have the ability to afford tickets. That’s not a good deal for anyone but socialites.

  14. The journalist in question is, but the work of Kuhn and his colleagues is interesting.

    “A group of astronomers led by the University of Hawaii’s Dr. Jeff Kuhn has found that in recent times the sun’s size has been remarkably constant. Its diameter has changed by less than one part in a million over the last 12 years.
    “This constancy is baffling, given the violence of the changes we see every day on the sun’s surface and the fluctuations that take place over an 11-year solar cycle,” commented Kuhn, the associate director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA) who is responsible for Haleakala Observatories.
    Kuhn’s work is part of worldwide efforts to understand the influence of the sun on Earth’s climate. “We can’t predict the climate on Earth until we understand these changes on the sun,” he said.
    Kuhn and his colleagues (Dr. Rock Bush from Stanford, Dr. Marcelo Emilio from Brazil, and Dr. Isabelle Scholl at IfA) used NASA’s long-lived Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite to monitor the sun’s diameter, and they will soon repeat the experiment with much greater accuracy using NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which was launched on February 11. According to Kuhn, the ultimate solution to this puzzle will depend on probing the smallest observable scales of the solar surface using the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), which is scheduled for completion on Haleakala in 2017.
    “To be able to predict what the sun will do, we need both the big picture and the details,” said Kuhn. “Just as powerful hurricanes on Earth start as a gentle breeze, the analogs of terrestrial storms on the sun start as small kinks in the sun’s magnetic field.”

    That’s the University of Hawaii’s account.

  15. Are you suggesting that if you get paid, your data is untrustworthy? I think that is a fantastic idea! I’ve never read a study that supported AGW where the author wasn’t paid. But I’ve read quite a few skeptical reports where the author was not paid.

  16. Wrong link in that “paid” comment: see Lawrence Solomon.

    New Scientist criticized Solomon’s assertion, in a June 7, 2008, column, that carbon dioxide is “nature’s fertilizer, bathing the biota with its life-giving nutrients.” Solomon also warned that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could lead to “food production dropping worldwide.” However, the magazine points out, Solomon is misrepresenting a 2004 study that concluded that “the change in biomass” over two decades “is largely due to sunnier days in the Amazon and nothing to do with any ‘life-giving nutrients’ in CO2 or anything else.”

    See also Lawrence Solomon’s “Deniers” – A Carefully Calculated Lie is Still a Lie.

  17. See, this is why I think AGW is just a scam made up to tax the plebes and control governments. The UN has come up with ANOTHER environmental armageddon theory. And their solution? Exactly the same as their solution to AGW. Tax everyone, and establish world government through the UN. What a farce.

    About your comment – I’m somewhat stunned that you don’t believe higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere lead to increased food production. Most non-grasses are C3 plants and grow much faster as CO2 increases, up to around 1500 ppm. This is not new information. Greenhouse producers have been augmenting CO2 up to around 1200 ppm in cucumber and tomato greenhouses for a century.

    Someone did a study last year about trees and found:

    The scientist found that over the last 50 years, the rise in carbon dioxide increased aspen trees’ growth rates by 53%. The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, was published today in the journal Global Change Biology.
    “We were quite surprised to see this large of a response,” says Rick Lindroth, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an author of the study. “We wouldn’t have been surprised to see some effect, but a 53% increase is a whopping increase.”

    I wouldn’t call it a ‘life giving nutrient’. It’s a ‘building block’. Other than that, New Scientist made a serious mistake in being critical of such an obvious truth.

  18. ‘blockquote’ is not doing what it’s supposed to be doing in the comments. Sorry if my comment is hard to understand. Next time I’ll use italics.

  19. Jeez, can’t you link to things that only take a couple of minutes to peruse? Your links are always an hour long :(. Oh well. I’m out of town for a while, but will listen when I come back. But if it’s just some guy disagreeing with Monckton, I won’t be impressed.

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