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August 23 2012


Daily Kos Climate Change SOS Blogathon Features Wide Range of Climate Hawk Voices

Our friends over at Daily Kos are running an amazing Climate Change SOS Blogathon this week, featuring dozens of voices from the climate hawk community. Bill McKibben, Michael Mann, John Abraham, Rep. Ed Markey, A Siegel, Richard Heinberg, Heather Libby, Brad Johnson, Kelly Rigg and DeSmog's IT director Evan Leeson are just some of the many friends of DeSmog that are contributing posts throughout the week-long blogathon.

I jumped into the action as well, contributing a piece on Tuesday titled Breaking Up With Polluters To Save The Climate.

Greg Laden just posted a scary piece about the implications of sea level rise for future generations.

There is a lot of great content. I highly recommend heading over to Daily Kos to check it out. Here is a full run-down of the posts so far. Stay tuned to the Climate Change SOS Blogathon box at the bottom of most posts to keep up with the newer entries.


August 05 2010


Monckton Watch: Lordly Phony Threatens Phony Suit

The British House of Lords has once again disavowed any association with the embarrassing Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, even as his Lordship has labored to earn even wider notoriety by threatening a lawsuit against yet another U.S. academic.

The Lordly disavowal came in response to a very funny letter of inquiry from the wonderful wiseacres at Friends of Gin and Tonic (temporarily the "Lords of Gin and Tonic" in faux tribute to the self-promoting Viscount).

Monckton himself launched the unconvincing legal threat against Scott Mandia, a professor at Suffolk County College in Seldon, New York. In addition to operating an excellent informational website on climate change, Prof. Mandia also runs his own blog, on which he had the impertinence to call out Monckton for his earlier ridiculous attacks on University of St. Thomas Professor John Abraham. <!--break-->

Mandia had encouraged his readers to write letters to mainstream media sources, urging them to look into the issue and, "Expose Monckton for the fraud that he is." Monckton chose to interpret that as an accusation that he had committed fraud, a topic on which much rich discussion could follow. For example, lying so frequently about being a member of the House of Lords that the House itself feels moved to take countermeasures might reasonably be interpreted as fraud.

But Mandia was so clearly saying that Monckton IS a fraud, a contention well-supported by the definition of that word in my Oxford English Reference Dictionary: "3. a person or thing not fulfilling what is claimed or expected of him, her, or it."

For clarity - and because Monckton seems to have difficulty understanding things on first reading - useful synonyms might include, "imposter, pretender, masquerader, mountebank, quack, charlatan, fake, phony, fourflusher, flimflammer, trickster, bamboozler or dissembler."

I personally like mountebank, as in, Christopher Monckton, Third Mountebank Monckton of Brenchley - although, like Monckton himself, such a title would dishonor the members of his family who actually earned the hereditary peerage in the first place.

July 13 2010


Monckton exposes his rebuttal: So much blather; so little substance

The motor-mouth Monckton - which is to say, Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley - has authored a 48,000-word Response to John Abraham (attached). It is a breathless and libelous screed that can lead to only one certain conclusion: the good Lord doesn't have a leg to stand on.

For those catching up, John Abraham is a professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, who some months ago released a detailed critique of an earlier Monckton presentation. Abraham found Monckton's work sadly lacking. Monckton misquoted or mislabelled sources; he promoted positions that were unsupported in his material; he bobbled his math; he manipulated or inadvertently misrepresented graphical information and he arrived at conclusions that were, in Abraham's own generally careful words, "absurd."

Monckton is outraged (which appears to be a permanent condition - either outraged or outrageous). In a response that goes on for 99 tiresome pages, he calls Abraham a liar, and accuses him of bad faith, malice and academic dishonesty. The Viscount then insists that Abraham and his unversity atone for their sins by paying $110,000 in "damages" to a charity of Monckton's own choosing. This is couched as some kind of libel action in the court of public opinion - the only court where Monckton dare step: he'd be laughed out of town (and found libel for costs) if he tried any of this nonsense before even the most sympathetic judge.


Monckton's entire response is both too silly and too incredibly long to be picked apart piece by piece: that would take months. But here are a couple of representative outbursts. In a foreword, "signed" by the Science and Public Policy Institute (the SPPInstitute) Monckton (clearly the author; he screws up his first-person, third-person pronouns) says:

Abraham falsely stated that “Remember, Chris Monckton’s never published a paper in anything”
(37), when he knew or negligently and recklessly failed to check that – to take two examples –
Lord Monckton had published papers on the determination of climate sensitivity in the UK’s
Quarterly Economic Bulletin and in the American Physical Society’s reviewed newsletter, Physics
and Society ...

In context, Abraham's reference - an accurate one - held that Monckton has never published anything in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Monckton's riposte cites a bulletin in a Welsh business school not a particularly impressive standard for scientific peer review. Monckton also points to feature that he wrote for an APS newsletter. The latter is also NOT a peer-reviewed journal and Monckton has been scolded by people, including the then-president of the American Physical Society, Arthur Biensenstock, for misrepresenting this fact.

So, per Abraham's criticism, Monckton says something, he offers a vague source to back up his position, but when you go to the source, you find that he has said something that is quite incorrect. If you didn't already know Monckton - which is to say, if you hadn't come to expect this performance - you might have thought that someone who was calling someone else a "liar" would take greater care with his own facts.

My favourite set of criticisms, though, revolve around Abraham's general statements that Monckton had urged his audience to believe "The world is not warming;" "The ice is not melting:" "The ocean isn't heating;" and "Sea levels aren't rising at all."

Monckton says this is "a lie" and to prove it, he points to some of the graphs that he used to illustrate these issues. These graphs appear on slides labelled "The 'it's getting worse' lie;" and " ...so sea level has not risen for four years;" and "Arctic summer sea ice area is just fine; it's recovering from a 30-year low in 2007."

I find this fascinating. Monckton uses these slides in his presentation to argue that climate change is nothing to worry about and that the world scientific community is peopled by a pack of liars. Yet, when he's crticised for this idiocy, he notices that the graphs and science in his OWN PRESENTATION demonstrate the exact opposite. He puts up an image showing a steady increase in sea level and he draws a big red line across the only four-year period in which the rise pauses - declaring global warming at an end. And then he accuses John Abraham of lying! Monckton says that "Arctic summer sea ice area is just fine ..." and then bids us in a later defence to concentrate on the part where he mentions 2007 as a low point unprecedented in the history of Arctic sea ice record-keeping. Say whatever else you want about the guy, you have to give Monckton credit for having cast iron cojones and no sense of shame whatsoever.

Here's the bottom line: Monckton is a risible hack who burries fact in a lather of language, and who cares for nothing so much as the promotion of his own dubious reputation. If you doubt it, take the 90 minutes to watch Monckton's rude, sophomoric and objectionable presentation and then take another 80 minutes to watch John Abraham's remarkably respectful response. Then, if you're really, really determined, check out Monckton's latest epistle.

After such an exercise, preferably followed by some strong drink and a good night sleep, I believe that most people will conclude that John Abraham is a careful scientist and that the Lord Monckton is a belligerent and unapologetic polemicist, pushing an ideological viewpoint that is - in a way that he has noticed himself - quite directly in opposition to the evidence at hand.



AttachmentSize response_to_john_abraham.pdf5.38 MB

May 25 2010


Christopher Monckton: Lies, damn lies or staggering incompetence

John Abraham's Critique Devastates the Florid Lord's Denier Diatribe

Christopher Monckton, the self-celebrating Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, toured Canada and the U.S. last year calling the world's best climate scientists and activists "liars" for setting out their concerns about the dangers of climate change. In his presentations and his PowerPoints, Monckton was graceless and taunting in tone, making fun of Al Gore's accent along with his science. The record now shows that Monckton was also wrong - and frankly, wrong is such a way that he himself must be found to be either a flagrant and shameless liar or the most incompetent compiler of information since church scholars gathered to argue for the flatness of the earth.

The new critique was assembled by John P. Abraham, an engineering professor at St. Thomas University in St. Paul Minnesota. A diligent - even painstaking - researcher, Abraham is also unreservedly respectful in his own presentation, giving Monckton the benefit of every doubt.

The facts, however, are less accommodating. As Prof. Abraham demonstrates time and again, Monckton has consistently misinterpreted, misrepresented or flat-out lied about his "evidence" arguing against the theory of human-induced global warming. He has mangled references, misrepresented findings, cobbled together unattributed graphs and staked his case to critically compromised scholars.<!--break-->

Monckton has already revealed himself as someone whose capacity to be antisocial goes well beyond mere rudeness. This new presentation should be required viewing for anyone who regards him as even vaguely credible on climate science. Take the time: you will find he is anything but.

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