Lord Monckton – AGW non-expert (par excellence)
Or is he a non-AGW expert; or maybe even a non-AGW non-expert? I am not sure. One or two things I am fairly certain about though, since he is a Classics graduate of Churchill College Cambridge; and a former newspaper editor, British Conservative politician, and hereditary peer… he is not a scientist, has no apparent scientific training, and is not (IMHO) a neutral interpreter of climate science.
He served in Conservative Central Office and worked for Margaret Thatcher’s Number 10 Policy Unit during the 1980s. Therefore, not surprisingly perhaps, Monckton is a prolific writer and public speaker. Furthermore, presumably due to his aristocratic status and well-connected position, he is frequently cited by the Heartland Institute and Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) as a climate change expert, although he is clearly nothing of the sort. Why is this?
The SPPI’s website declares its Mission is to provide “…research and educational materials dedicated to sound public policy based on sound science… [and to] support the advancement of sensible public policies rooted in rational science and economics”. It is difficult to see how Monckton’s Classics background qualifies him for the position of SPPI’s Chief Policy Advisor but, as such, this enables him to publish his second-hand ideas without going through any peer-review process. However, I believe it is also important to note the use of the phrase “sound science” as this little gem was used by those that sought to discredit scientific evidence that passive smoking is dangerous… Why is this?
The discredited nature of his testimony to US Congress last year is well-documented; and yet he continues to pop-up on sites like Wattsupwiththat? Why is this?
I think I know the answer to all of these questions. The answer is money; or rather big business interests vested in the continuance of our careless consumerism. The counter-argument that states that scientists are engaged in a self-serving campaign to retain investment in research programmes just does not stand up to scrutiny. Therefore, with regard to Monckton, although he is a multi-faceted denialist, his bottom line is an economic rationalist one…
In typically-bold fashion, Monckton has published (via SPPI) a critique of a speech made by (US Presidential Science Advisor) John Holdren on 6 September 2010 entitled, ‘Climate-Change Science and Policy: What Do We Know? What Should We Do?’ This critique, entitled Unsound Advice,# provides a good summary of Monckton’s position, which is that AGW stopped in 2001, current warmth is not unprecedented, some glaciers are advancing, and sea levels are not rising, etc. Monckton appears to question the IPPC’s independence (as per Fred Singer etc) and/or ridicule its conclusions; and to criticise Holdren’s reliance on the output of climate models (where have we heard that before?). However, he concludes his diatribe with one final bold – but yet again completely unsubstantiated – statement that: “Any measures to cut CO2 emissions that are affordable will make no difference to the climate. Any cuts in CO2 emissions that might in theory make some difference to the climate are unaffordable.”
Thus, it may be seen that, not satisfied with ridiculing the work of thousands of scientists in hundreds of countries, Monckton’s trump card is an economic one; and he clearly believes that the consensus view is mistaken (but how could he possibly know?). Moreover, even if warming may happen and may be significant, he does not accept that radical change in human behaviour is required (but why should his opinions be taken seriously?).
So, Lord Monckton, if I may speak directly to you now, will you please leave science to the scientists to sort-out; and go back to your History of Art, or whatever it is that you are actually good at?
# Monckton publishing a book criticising a scientist and giving it the title “Unsound Advice” is almost as ironic as the first draft of Julian Assange’s autobiography being published without his consent (but not quite)!