Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Fantasy of Viscount Monckton

The regular pin-up boy of the climate denialists is a gentleman named Christopher Monckton, perhaps better known as Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. There are many people whose scepticism of climate change - its extent and drivers - are respectable, well qualified and whose science and scientific background is impeccable.

Lord Monckton could not be counted among them.

His qualifications - a degree in Classics from Oxford and a Diploma in Journalism from Cardiff - impressive as they may be, are not in the right area. That doesn't stop the more swivel-eyed deniers, the ones who see climate change as a political battleground rather than a process that simply doesn't care whether you're Left, right or Monster Raving Loony, from claiming him as a champion and nominating him to be their leading spokesperson.

Perhaps paradoxically, I sincerely hope they succeed because this self-aggrandising buffoon, who has misrepresented his legislative status in public, even to the US Senate, discredits the denialist camp with every public appearance. The more closely his pronouncements - which remind one of Toad of Toad Hall on a particularly puffed-up day - are examined, the more they fall apart.

I came across an excellent couple of posts on other sites that I simply have to share. It would be shameful and selfish of me to fail to do so.

First, Lord Monckton's claim to be a member of the House of Lords - a claim that he made to a US Senate Committee, for goodness' sake. He inherited his title in 2006, on the death of his father. That was seven years after the House of Lords was reformed to exclude all but 92 hereditary peers. Lord Monckton stood for election to the Lords but lost. He got the same number of votes that I did - NONE. And I didn't even stand.

Lord Monckton is not, was not and never has been a member of the House of Lords. Not even a 'non-sitting, non-voting' member, as he has often claimed. He uses a representation very similar to the Portcullis symbol of the UK's Parliament in many of his presentations, as he continues to seek to give the impression that he is a member of the UK's Upper House. The House of Lords is now, at last, taking some kind of action, it would appear. A group called 'Friends of Gin & Tonic' has received a response that indicates they are taking this seriously. See here: friendsofginandtonic.org.

And there's more. For a long time, Lord Monckton was regarded as a bit of a clown on the outer circle of debate about climate change. It must be conceded that, with sheer bravado, chutzpah and more front than Brighton, he has managed to get himself air time and a little closer in - thus the swivel-eyed championing him as a spokesman. That may change, as people start taking his polemical impact seriously. I am delighted to introduce you to 'Lord Monckton's Rap Sheet', which is a list of his misdemeanours, misrepresentations, mendacity and misleading cases - a list that grows daily. Originated by Barry Bickmore, a geochemistry professor at Brigham Young University and an active Republican (so can't be accused of being a Left-wing plottist!), it systematically takes apart Lord Monckton's claims and exposes his misunderstandings (if one is kind - he is a Classics grad, not science) in a digestible way. It is here: lord-moncktons-rap-sheet.

A summary of some of the charges listed:

Shady business dealings
Inflating his Resume (a slam-dunk, I think)
Misrepresenting Scientific Literature
Making up Data (goes with the territory)
Abusing Scientific Equations (to be fair, this could be simply because he doesn't understand them)
Threatening Those who Disagree with him (libel threats fly about like confetti; not all are pursued. In fact, very few are)
"Being a Snake-oil salesman who actually sells snake-oil!"

There is other stuff, too. Big thanks to Barry Bickmore and to the others who contributed to that blog.

It's a jolly start to understanding the nonsense spouted by the denialists generally and the Noble Lord in particular. It even exposes the hollowness of his claim to have invented a cure for a range of diseases, including flu,
Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, food poisoning, and HIV. All out of one bottle! Sadly, it would appear that he has let the patent application lapse. Could be just an oversight but we may never know.

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