[ASC-list] Lord Monckton Circus in town

Toss Gascoigne director at tossgascoigne.com.au
Thu Jun 23 04:54:58 UTC 2011


A note from David Hood:

Hi all,   I heard Greg Carey talking on 4BC this morning about the  
science of Anthropogenic Climate Change "not being settled by any  
means", and why?     Because Christopher Monckton says so.   This  
mocking of real science by our radio shock jocks makes me so damn  
angry, when the future for my beautiful grand daughter is so seriously  
threatened......     Who is Christopher Monckton?     Read the  
attached article and make up your own mind.      Cheers,    David.

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The chief troupier: the follies of Christopher Monckton
John Abraham   -  The Conversation, 23 June 2011.
This summer, the people of Australia will yet again be treated to a  
circus tour of sorts.   It is to make light of one of the most  
pressing problems facing this planet.   That problem, climate change,  
will not go away even though an orchestrated group of contrarians  
wishes it would.
The most outspoken leader of this troupe is Christopher Monckton, a  
person with excellent credentials in speaking but no credentials in  
real science (he has not published a single peer-reviewed paper on any  
scientific topic).   Christopher Monckton presents himself as a fair  
and accurate interpreter of the science, but a careful examination of  
his views shows that he is anything but fair and accurate.   Real  
scientists have never taken Mr Monckton seriously.  This hasn’t  
stopped him from traveling the world, presenting his views on science  
to anyone who will listen.   Mr Monckton has been shown to have his  
science wrong on many occasions.   Many real scientists have spent  
untold hours of effort to carefully document his scientific nonsense.
The documentation is critically important because in Mr Monckton’s  
speeches, he cites study after study which give the impression that  
either climate change is not happening, or if it is, we don’t need to  
worry about it.   Mr. Monckton artfully mixes self-deprecation and  
humour among slides laden with graphs and scientific images that seem  
convincing to his audience.   I wondered, what does Mr. Monckton know  
that 97 per cent of the world’s leading climate scientists don’t?   Is  
he some Galileo shouting truth from the rooftops?   I had to find  
out.   Last year, I performed a little investigation.    I actually  
read the articles that Mr Monckton used as evidence against the  
concerns of climate change.   What I discovered was astonishing.
None of the articles I read supported the claims or inferences that  
Mr. Monckton was promoting.   Just to be sure, I began to write to the  
authors of the papers.   Of the 16 authors I wrote to, all of them  
agreed with me: Mr. Monckton had misrepresented or misunderstood their  
work.   So, where does Mr. Monckton’s science go astray?   Nearly  
everywhere.   Here are a few highlights of his mistaken understanding:
– Mr Monckton claimed that the International Astronomical Union (IAU)  
had a symposium wherein they declared that recent warming was caused  
by the sun.   I wrote to officials at the IAU and they stated that  
they made no such declaration.   Mr. Monckton has twice admitted that  
he was in error on this claim.
– Mr Monckton claimed that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric  
Administration (NOAA) uses canvas buckets to measure ocean  
temperatures because more accurate methods are “not convenient, they  
go the wrong way”.   I wrote to Sydney Levitus at NOAA and asked if  
this was true.    He wrote back, “Mr. Monckton’s statement to the  
effect that NOAA uses temperature measurements gathered by dragging  
canvas buckets through the ocean are completely false.    In fact, I  
know of no scientific group that would even think such a technique  
could supply useful measurements.”
– Mr Monckton claimed that “the medieval warm period was real, global,  
and warmer than today”.   He showed a number of papers which  
reportedly support his claim. Well, I wrote to a number of these  
authors and they all agreed that Mr. Monckton had not accurately  
presented their work. For instance, Dr. Anil Gupta told me, “You are  
right, we never said the medieval warm period was warmer than  
today".   Another researcher, Dr David Anderson, stated, “Your  
interpretation (of our work) is more correct”.   Dr Lloyd Kiegwin said  
that I was “absolutely right,” and Dr David Frank stated,  
“temperatures now, are indeed much warmer than during medieval times”.
– Mr Monckton also wrote that Arctic sea ice is fine, it has been  
steady for a decade.   Monckton used information from a research group  
called IARC-JAXA.   I wrote to two scientists there, Dr. Larry Hinzman  
and Dr. John Walsh.   They both agreed that Monckton had not correctly  
presented that data.   Just to be sure, I wrote to Dr. Mark Serreze  
from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.   He emphatically stated,  
“Monckton is wrong”.
I could go on and on …but we get the picture.   Monckton’s science is  
wrong and Monckton’s interpretation of others’ work does not agree  
with the originators of the data.   He makes mistakes on polar bears,  
claims that the ocean is cooling, claims that the planet is cooling,  
claims that ocean rises will not be significant, claims that ocean  
acidification is not a concern, claims that recent global warming is  
caused by cloud changes, and so on.   It would be one thing if Mr.  
Monckton just gave speeches to partisan audiences.   It is an entirely  
different matter when he testified to the US Congress as an “expert”  
on climate change.   That testimony, in May 2010, presented nine key  
assertions that were without merit. Mr Monckton’s assertions were so  
misleading that a group of 26 scientists (myself included) wrote a  
detailed, point-by-point rebuttal.   Scientists are generally a  
reserved group.   Despite this reservation, statements used to  
describe Mr. Monckton’s testimony included, “Mr. Monckton’s assertions  
on acidification are remarkable …the basics of this subject have been  
understood for a long time”.   Another scientist stated, “Monckton’s  
reasoning and calculation is incorrect …the remainder of his statement  
is simply chemical nonsense”.   Still another reported, “The  
submission from Monckton … is profoundly wrong… This is simply a red  
herring”.
What motivates scientists like myself to spend untold hours of time,  
without pay, to carefully document Monckton’s false claims?   The  
reason is simple.   We have a serious problem facing us. In order to  
make wise and informed decisions, we need accurate information.   Only  
with good information can we decide which pathway offers us the  
cheapest and most effective means to deal with climate change.   When  
people like Christopher Monckton misrepresent science, with an obvious  
agenda to delay action, they make our decisions more difficult and  
more expensive.   Instead of making light of the issue of climate  
change, instead of vilifying people who are genuinely concerned,  
instead of presenting inaccurate science, we should find ways to work  
together in a civil manner to collectively choose a path forward.   
What Mr Monckton doesn’t tell people is that the technology to deal  
with this problem is available right now.    Enacting solutions now  
would provide many benefits.   Aside from addressing climate change,  
it would create jobs, improve national security and diversify our  
energy supply. Who can be against that?
Instead of fighting science and demeaning climate scientists, we  
should focus on solutions.   We really don’t need more Moncktons in  
this debate.   We need people who are respectful, scientifically  
literate and focused on solutions.   We need people who are not afraid  
of trusting in our own ingenuity to solve this problem.   We need  
people who have the courage to take action now for the sake of our  
future generations.   Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air?
(John Abraham is Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering at  
University of St Thomas)
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