The cautionary tale of Lord Monckton: from rising star to smouldering “deep impact” crater

Lord Monckton comes down to Earth... the one with the changing climate and all*

  

Many of those familiar with the climate debate are now aware of the “fall” of one of the denial movements prominent members.   

Christopher “Lord” Monckton’s reputation as a credible voice in the debate is severly compromised to the point he is now a global laughing stock.  

His rise to the leading voice of climate scepticism was meteoric: from obscure advisor under Margret Thatcher’s, he rose to strutting the global debate on climate change debate.  

Monckton had it all. He was the “Rock Star” of denial.  

Feted by the denial community, he conducted speaking tours around the world to the fawning adulation of people such as Jo Nova, Andrew Bolt and  conservative elements of the media. He even recently appeared before a US Senate hearing on global warming, the only “expert” the Republicans could bring to the table.  

And now like a shooting star, gravity has brought him to Earth.  

All that is now left is a smouldering crater with debris scattered across a large area.  

The damage to the entire denial movement is starting to be felt. Having hitched themselves to Monckton’s “celebrity” status, they now find their association embarrassing.  

Guardian journalist George Monbiot sums up the last couple of weeks:  

“…Another one bites the dust. Every so often, someone with a strong stomach and time to spare volunteers to devote weeks or months of their life to a grisly task: investigating the claims of a person who dismisses the science or significance of man-made climate change…  

Now another fallen idol of climate change denial must be added to the list: Viscount Monckton’s assertions have been comprehensively discredited by professor of mechanical engineering John Abraham, at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota.  

Abraham, like the other brave souls who have taken on this thankless task, has plainly spent a very long time on it. He investigates a single lecture Monckton delivered in October last year. He was struck by the amazing claims that Monckton made: that climate science is catalogue of lies and conspiracies. If they were true, it would be a matter of the utmost seriousness: human-caused climate change would, as Monckton is fond of saying, be the greatest fraud in scientific history. If they were untrue, it was important to show why.  

…The results of Abraham’s investigation are astonishing: not one of the claims he looks into withstands scrutiny. He exposes a repeated pattern of misinformation, distortion and manipulation, as he explains in the article he has written for the Guardian. Some of Monckton’s assertions are breath-taking in their brazen disregard of facts. He has gravely misrepresented papers and authors he refers to, in some cases he appears to have created data, graphs and trends out of thin air: at least that was how it appeared to Abraham when Monckton gave no references and his graphs and figures starkly contradicted the published science.”  

Abraham’s masterful dissection  

Titled “A scientists replies to Christopher Monckton“, Abraham’s careful, precise analysis of a 2009 presentation by the venerable Lord Monckton has shattered any credibility he once had.  

Said Abraham about his motivation:  

“…It takes a lot to make a scientist mad – even today, when it seems that science and scientists are under siege, particularly over the topic of climate change. But everyone has a breaking point, one straw too many that inspires them to act.  

For me, that time came last October when I learned about a British import we have had the displeasure of experiencing here in the United States.  

That import, Christopher Monckton, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, had given a rousing speech to a crowd at Bethel University in Minnesota, near where I live.  

He started checking Monckton’s sources, and what he found was incredible:  

“I actually tracked down the articles and authors that Monckton cited. What I discovered was incredible, even to a scientist who follows the politics of climate change. I found that he had misrepresented the science…”  

Abraham emailed the authors of papers Monckton cited to proof global warming was a myth: in every instance Monckton had misrepresented the research, stating the complete opposite of what was actually reported.  

Monckton either lied or misunderstood what he was reading. Whatever the case he was wrong. Not even close to being wrong.  

As a blogger, and someone with a keen interest in “debunking” the claims of deniers I can only say that Abrahams 80+ minute presentation is a masterpiece.  

Indeed, I aspire to produce something half as good as Abrahams work.  

Abraham presentation is devastating. Indeed, if there is a “climate sceptic” reading this then I dare you to listen to Abraham’s presentation and respond.  

I’d love to know how you handle such truths.  

With denial perhaps?  

Monckton: fallen star  

Very shortly Monckton will find himself with not an ounce of credibility left, and his speaking engagements and media profile will evaporate. Now doubt he will continue to haunt the fringes of the climate debate, but outside the denial community his reputation is in tatters.  

And rightly so.  

Monckton, as one of the leading figures of the denial movement has done enormous damage to the reputation of science and the publics trust in scientists.   

He’s also a rather tragic figure: a man so sure of his own genius he can’t see his own flaws or limitations. **  

Monckton now stands as a precautionary tale.  

This is what happens when you try to take on an entire scientific discipline without the training, understanding or wit to understand the basics of the science.  

All I can say is “Who’s next”.  

Let’s take Abraham’s example to heart and apply the same rigor and analysis to the claims of the other prominent denialists out there.  

* Image source: http://www.psi.edu/explorecraters/background.htm  

** That he is not a genius is very clear.

14 thoughts on “The cautionary tale of Lord Monckton: from rising star to smouldering “deep impact” crater

  1. On Skeptical Science Monckton has stated that he will soon reply to Prof Abraham’s presentation – I expect that he’ll just repeat his claims with other false references – which would need time to dissect (however, following this interaction, I’m sure others will be quick to fact check). He needs to respond however – this is worth a lot of money to him and his policy institute.
    I really do hope he does fade out of the picture; he was the reason I started my blog (after debating with family who idolise him) – so much so I made a character for him; Mr. D. Nial.
    Tim

  2. Helen Bang says:

    Who’s next?

    How about the law professor, Jason Scott Johnston, has written a paper (link below, apologies for using the one from this ‘think tank’ but other links just have the abstract)

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/gw_advocacy_science_cross_examination.pdf

    Again quoting lots of scientific papers, possibly erroneously. Hopefully some scientists can unpick it.

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      This is a target for sure – I’m drafting a post as quick response, and others have asked about this.

      It’s a big one – 82 pages of crankiness.

      But I have a background in legal research, and know the tools and methodologies very well. I’ve downloaded and reviewing…

      As a piece of legal scholarship it is an odd piece.

  3. Helen Bang says:

    Sorry, should have been ‘who has written’ of course.

  4. EoR says:

    This is the way the Moonbat ends.
    Not with a bang but with a whimper.
    T S Eliot (sort of)

  5. ThatPirateGuy says:

    Do you really think this will damage him? Won’t he simply be seen as a martyr?

    I think you are being wildly optimistic. Cranks like him are unsinkable rubber ducks because they don’t depend on facts.

  6. Tony Sidaway says:

    As far as I’m aware, nobody in the reality-based community has ever taken Monckton seriously. Recent events have merely highlighted his tenuous grasp of the science of climate change.

  7. Phil M says:

    Strange that Monckton attacks Abrahams creditials & tries to label him as some sort of bible teacher when Monckton doesnt have a scientific qualification at all :

    Monkcton: ” As the extremists lose the argument and become more desperate, that is changing. John Abraham, a lecturer in fluid mechanics at a bible-college in Minnesota has recently issued ”

    He is careful not to use the word “scientist”, as that would put them on an unequal footing. Pitting a journalist (Monkton) with no scientific training, no qualifications, no papers published, no scientific institute on the planet backing him against a professor, who HAS published scientific papers, knows scientific process, has taught science classes & continues to work to this day with SCIENCE.

    Monckton also says : ” and so venomously ad-hominem are Abraham’s artful puerilities, that climate-extremist bloggers everywhere have circulated them and praised them to the warming skies. ”

    Yet no one can find a venomous ad hom remark in his whole presentation. Where as Doug Bostrom points out in Moncktons replies, the ad homs are easily identifiable:

    “propaganda artifices

    hilariously mendacious

    he looks like an overcooked prawn

    artful puerilities

    fourteenth-rate zoologist

    man on the Clapham omnibus

    climate-extremist Comrades

    cobble together his ramblings

    deliberately dishonest personal attack

    an ingenious fiction

    hide the truth

    make this nonsense look plausible

    wriggled and waffled

    flagrant and deliberate misrepresentation

    mere Bible-College lecturer

    spectacular exaggerations

    mawkish sci-fi comedy horror movie

    artfully distorts or carefully omits

    shoddy little piece of lavishly-funded venom

    serious, serial, material errors, exaggerations, or downright lies

    gross professional misconduct

    academic dishonesty and deliberate lying”

    Monckton likes to think of himself as some moral high ground holding, lordly Oxford debater, yet is as crude as a $10 hooker.

  8. Phil M says:

    Monckton appears to bypass scientific process all together & go straight to the lobbying stage. When you hear him on main stream media he is fairly composed & tries to stay on target in regards to science. You rarely hear him entertain his more paranoid delusional conspiracy theories & partisan politics.

    But get him on Alex Jones & lets let it all hang out baby!!

    2:42 “They still intend to take freedom & democracy away forever & president Obama & the administration will do everything they can to make sure the UN re- the global government is cemented into place, so that your constitution will no longer matter & so that freedom, democracy & prosperity will be gone forever”

    The scary thing is that, there are many people who believe the views he spews in the main stream media without ever checking his gish gallop. He says it all so fast & has so many graphs etc in his presentations, that no one would be sitting there in the crowd with their own computer ready for the counter. They might get one counter in, but Monckton simply continues on with the gish gallop & the rest of his speach appears to people as above board. I’m thankful for John Abraham in deconstructing Monckton.

    Even scarier is that others believe Moncktons conspiracy theories:

    tweed187187 “We will die before you take our freedom! ”
    katkal3 @tweed187187 “WE WILL KILL BEFORE YOU TAKE OUR FREEDOM!!! ”
    smithbrain @tweed187187 “I agree with you. I rather die on my feet then live on my knees ”

    Monckton & co dont have any science on their side, but have lots of lobbying & propaganda, albeit, very effective propaganda.

  9. Tony Sidaway says:

    I don’t call Monckton’s strategy “effective”, rather the reverse. He has tainted the dwindling scientific case against the mainstream view with bizarre conspiracy theories and wild rhetoric. If you’re engaged in discussion on global warming and somebody cites Monckton (and in my experience this happens often) then that person has handed you an open goalmouth.

  10. JellyRoll says:

    Monckton is the best thing that ever happened to mainstream climate science. He is destroying what little credibility the ‘skeptics’ have left (not that they had much to start with, but I am feeling generous…), and he is doing so with flair and dedication and terminal self-destruction.

    A true son of the (nouveau faux) English aristocracy.

    We should be at least a little grateful. Money can’t buy this sort of entertainment. He is a free gift that just keeps on giving. 😉 🙂

  11. fluff says:

    but nathan all my life

  12. fluff says:

    fluffy toes all my life u bully me dude

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