Guest Post: A Scientist Replies to Lord Christopher Monckton

This week I’m delighted to have Peter Miesler – a reader and blogger from Durango, Colorado – a guest writer.

Peter is the author of Citizens Challenge, and offers not only a good summary of the Abraham’s masterful deconstruction of Christopher “Lord” Monckton, but insight to his own interactions with climate “sceptics”.

Peter comes to the conclusion that climate denial is may actually be a “faith based” position. No matter how strong the evidence for AGW, they’ll find a way to rationalise the evidence away. My personal opinion is that climate change denial mimics creationism and it’s denial of evolution. They use the exact same techniques and tactics. Both are deeply hostile to science.

Take the time to have a read of Peter excellent summary of the events of the last few weeks.

I’d also encourage other readers to submit pieces. Not only does it help me keep up a steady stream of content for this blog, it can allow you to have your say on the debate.

Mike @ WTD

Cascading denial: when in doubt, expand the conspiracy

I have been carrying on a virtual conversation with various scientifically informed folks who are vocal “skeptics” regarding man-made global warming.

This past winter that conversation flared with a spat of emails offering up “Climategate” tidbits along with a lot of overblown, even slanderous, charges toward the scientists whose personal emails had been stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Having read the full texts of the emails being singled out, I was able to carry on a spirited defense of the scientists integrity.

Since then, the thousands of stolen UEA-CRU emails have been scoured, yet “skeptics” have been unable to dredge up a single instance of real malfeasance. As for the original half dozen hollow accusations, in February a Penn State academic board of inquiry cleared Michael Mann of scientific misconduct. In March, the British House of Commons issued a report exonerating Professor Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit. In April, another international panel of inquire set up at UEA also found no wrongdoing. 

Predictably, now the diehard “skeptics” are claiming everyone is in on the “fraud.”

All the while these contrarians continue to ignore what Earth observation satellites and monitoring instruments are telling us.

I’m disappointed that my email pals never acknowledged any of their mistaken pronouncements and that the conversation becomes quiet as a black hole unless they have something to toss at me. What should we think of the AGW “Skeptical” Community when they refuse to look at anything that disagrees with their mindset?

After all, isn’t intellectual integrity about a genuine desire to learn and being able to admit one was wrong and that new information justifies reorienting ones thinking?

Abrahams v Monckton

One of the most outspoken proselytizers of such obstinate denial is one Lord Christopher Monckton who has been spending the past years flying the globe, demeaning every aspect of AGW science. Recently, he gave a guest lecture at Bethel University – where University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) professor, PhD. John Abraham was listen. What the scientist heard so disturbed him that he spent the next few months doing a detailed examination of Monckton’s talk along with the data slides used. The result is an 83 minute presentation titled “A Scientist Replies to Christopher Monckton: Abraham v. Monckton.”

Having watched a number of Lord Monckton’s presentations I was struck by the contrast in styles. Whereas Monckton is bombastic, self-certain and loves tossing out catchy insults, Abraham is soft spoken, polite and rigorously sticks to examining the issues. He acknowledges Monckton’s skills and admits:

“After listening to his comments, and viewing his presentation, any reasonable audience might feel that climate risks are not as serious as we’ve been led to believe… If you believe him you’d have to conclude that: The world is not warming; Sea levels are not rising; Ice is not melting; Polar bears not threatened; Oceans not heating; No ocean acidification; Scientists are lying, (and) there is a conspiracy.”

Abraham begins by giving his scientific qualifications, which are impressive. Then, in stark contrast to Monckton who explicitly proclaims he possesses the “truth,” Abraham makes the following disclosure: “Just because I’ve published all of these papers doesn’t mean I’m right. All this says is that I have a background in energy, heat, and fluids which is germane to the topic of climate change.” He then goes on to list Monckton’s credentials which when you get to climate science are quite frankly zero. Abraham goes on to ask:

“Now does that mean he’s wrong?… Does that mean non-experts are not allowed to have an opinion on this? Absolutely not. We welcome everyone with an opinion on this topic, you can be knowledgeable about things outside your formal area of expertise. But, nevertheless we want to think about the background that people have when we ascribe credibility to the comments they make.”

With that introduction PhD. Abraham proceeds down the list of Monckton’s claims.

Abrahams dissection

Presenting both sides and leaving it to the viewer to decide which side possesses credibility. While examining these claims and graphs two trends become obvious, one is that Monckton disagrees with all major scientific organizations who have official positions on climate change – portraying himself as the lone valiant warrior of truth battling against everyone else’s conspiracy of lies. The other being that Monckton consistently misrepresents the scientific work (along with graphs) of other scientists.

For example (slide #22-24 ), regarding the “medieval warming period”. Monckton condemns the 1990 & 2001 IPCC reports for hiding the data, but he’s basing that on studies that were not published until between 2002 and 2006. (#25 ) Monckton then claims 700 scientist say MWP was hotter than today.

Among them showing graphs by Huang 1998, Noon 2003, Keigwin 1996, Esper/Schweingruber 2004. (#26-32 ) Abraham contacted these scientists and shares a pile of quotes making clear that everyone of these scientists is concerned about global warming and that it is real and of concern and that MWP was cooler than today’s trend.

At slide #33 Monckton’s claims that IPCC’s published climate sensitivity estimate rests on just 4 scientific papers – when in fact the number of references in a single chapter of a single part of the report is 275 (C1-wg1), there are 43 chapters in total. It goes on and on. But, perhaps what sums it up best is slide #36: NASA-GISS Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index – 1880 2009. I won’t be a spoiler, check it out for yourself.

This exposé of Lord Monckton’s base dishonesty continues for another seventy some slides.

Yet, Monckton is still shamelessly broadcasting proven lies, somehow feeling justified in using graphs that are falsifications and misrepresenting the real science others have worked hard to gather. What’s most troubling is how typical he is of the operating style of the multi-million dollar Global Warming Denial propaganda campaign in general.

Given Professor Abraham’s thorough smack down of myths presented as scientific truth, I’m reminded of my virtual AGW conversation mates, with their obstinate refusal to acknowledge a single error of judgment, or take into consideration any of the ominous data being gathered these days. What’s going on? Have “global warming skeptics” become so blinded by immediate self interest, or perhaps frozen by fear at this self-created brave new world we are entering, that they believe hiding is a better strategy?

Ultimately the question is: Are “global warming skeptics” even capable of responding to data and factual arguments or is it a hopeless “faith-based” position they cling to… rather than an exercise in genuine skepticism about the data?

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: A Scientist Replies to Lord Christopher Monckton

  1. It certainly is a faith based.
    I recently got caught in a lengthy discussion with someone who I put in a lot of effort into debating his scepticism, only for the other end to go quiet (later to find on other discussions that he continued to sprout the same rubbish). You wonder why you bother and how a person could be so quick to challenge the science but also so unwilling to learn from the reason offered – the only conclusion is faith.

  2. pointer says:

    Nice summary, Peter. It’s clear from your description of Monckton — and from everything of his that I’ve read — that he’s a conspiracist. There’s no getting through to such thinkers, I’ve found. Anything that doesn’t fit into their warped worldview (such as the latest news about the retraction of Jonathan Leake’s patently false stories) will simply be distorted until it better aligns itself with their paranoia.

  3. Ben says:

    I think Monckton is best described as a pathological egoist. He loves to perform, loves to think of himself as smarter than everyone else. He’d be just as vehemently argumentative on the subject of cupcakes if they’d grabbed his interest.

  4. Hammiesink says:

    For what it’s worth, I think the skeptics have gotten quieter recently because “climategate” is dying down, and because the BP oil spill has put a bit of a dent in the love of oil.

    I kinda miss ’em. I love debunking nonsense.

  5. Mike,
    Thank you for printing this.

    I have since put together a complete index and notes of the Abraham v Monckton presentation’s 126 slides. A study guide so to speak.

    “A Citizen’s Unauthorized Notes… Science on Trial” You can find it at:
    http://citizenschallenge.blogspot.com/2010/06/citizens-unauthorized-notes-science-on.html
    (anyone is welcome to copy and use it)

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