The Monckton trail comes to an end
After my last exchange of emails with Christopher Monckton (back in May this year), I did promise myself I would not waste any more time on him. However, following the recent flurry of publicity surrounding the pronouncements of first Richard Muller, then John Christy, and then James Hansen (all of which have been covered on this blog recently – here, here, and here), I decided to try once more to see if there is any scope for having a rational discussion of facts with this aristocratic Classics graduate and former newspaper proprietor turned climate expert.
Sadly, it has thus become quite apparent that this is not possible. Therefore – and I mean it this time – I do not intend to ever email him again. However, first of all some context: Of the three incidents above, it was Christy’s highly misleading testimony to the US Senate – and the disgraceful attempts by his supporters to defend it by inverting reality and accusing mainstream scientists of abusing their positions of influence – that prompted me to email Monckton again. However, this time, I decided address my email to three people not just one; the other two being Rev Phillip Foster (Repeal the Act) and Dr Benny Peiser (GWPF). For now, I will focus on the exchange of email I had with Monckton after I sent this email (under the title ‘An appeal to you to be reasonable’)…
Dear Lord Monckton, Rev. Foster, and Dr Peiser,
We have had a few exchanges of emails in recent months and, unfortunately, they have not been very constructive. Being an eternal optimist, I am hoping that this time may be different. However, before reading any further, I should like to ask you, as I did in a recent email to the Bishop of Chester (currently on holiday), to bear in mind that I am a Conservative voter and hold very conservative views on a range of social issues; but have been concerned about the environment for as long as I have been a Christian… In other words, I am a very long way from being a“Watermelon”…
I recently tried to watch the video of the 1 August 2012 hearings of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works but, for me, the volume was too low. Fortunately, the same web page has links to the prepared text of both the opening statements of Senator Boxer and Senator Inhoffe; as well as to PDFs of the written testimony from all six Witnesses.
Reading these has left me feeling very uneasy because, just as they did in the hot summer of 1988 in which James Hansen testified to a similar Committee, truth and integrity seem to have become lost in political farce:
– Before listening to any witnesses, Boxer and Inhoffe make two completely mutually-contradictory statements (of their views on climate change) containing numerous conflicting truth-claims.
– Both Democrats and Republicans call Witnesses that (one could argue) simply tell them what they want to hear.
– Witnesses are cross-examined by Senators from both parties but no-one changes their opinion (based on the balance of the evidence).
– No prejudices are challenged or dislodged; and truth remains in the eye of the beholder.
However, given the completely opposite views stated -they cannot all be right -some of the Witnesses must be wrong. Furthermore, truth is not whatever you want it to be; the truth is what it is and… If we cannot be sure what the truth is, then we should act according to the balance of probability; not according to our prejudice.
Therefore, with regard to the evidence presented in Panel 1 of these Hearings (PhDs Christopher Field, John Christy, and James McCarthy), the choice is as follows:
– John Christy is probably right and almost everything the majority of climate scientists tell us is wrong; or
– The majority of climate scientists are probably right and almost everything Christy says is wrong.
Forgetting arguments about science for a moment – and putting all our prejudices aside (because we all have them) – which of these scenarios is more likely?
In my humble opinion, the answer to this question is simply far too important for humans to continue to argue about it based on pre-existing ideological prejudice; or concerns regarding the motives of those making unpalatable statements. We all need to stop dodging the issue: The predictions made by James Hansen in 1988 have not only been proven accurate – the situation is now worse than that – as he said in his op-ed in the Washington Post last weekend, this “is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened”.
With the greatest of respect, therefore, is it not time that we all acknowledged that we are all equally likely to be prejudiced – and/or suspended our disbelief – long enough to take a cold hard look at the facts of history and science; and ask ourselves what would be the wisest thing to do? Indeed, this is a question I posed on my blog some months ago – in typically light-hearted fashion – and find myself asking it still.
Assuming you will make one, and do so in a similar reasonable-minded fashion, I await your response(s) with interest.
Yours very sincerely,
I have reproduced this email in full here because, despite being what I thought was entirely polite, reasonable, and conciliatory, the response I got from Monckton was none of the above. Instead, he chose to take offence at the title of the email; suggesting that this was insulting (because it implied that he or his current position is unreasonable). Here, the phrase “me thinks he dost protest too much” comes to mind. However, I cannot quote from his exact words because, as he has done in the past, Monckton has invoked his right to privacy.
One of the many ironies in dealing with Monckton is his ability to invert reality (and apparent blindness regarding his own failings when criticising others). He is on record as having criticised me for waffling and not being concise but, on its own, his initial response to me on this occasion was 1984 words; and was followed by 550 words; 1634 words; 875 words; 111 words; and 612 words (a total of 5766 words with an average of 961 words per email). This compares with my original 650 words (above), 219 words; 298 words; 253 words; 97 words; and 74 words (a total of 1591 words with an average of 265 words per email).
To be fair to Monckton, he did spend most of his time lecturing me on his superior grasp of Latin and/or trying to bait me into discussing his version of climate science. However, I stuck to my principles; and kept insisting that I did not want to “debate” science – I wanted to discuss what actions are now most likely to be in the best long-term interests of humanity. Monckton, however, was not willing to engage in such a discussion; which is a great shame for all concerned.
Despite Monckton’s claim to a right of privacy in his initial response; supposedly extending to a prohibition against my even acknowledging the existence of his email (which sounds like Super Injunction territory to me), he did not assert any such right over subsequent emails. I am therefore tempted to publish them but, when set in chronological order with my emails, the whole thing runs to over 8000 words, which I doubt anyone would read; even though it reveals a lot about Monckton’s modus operandi. For all Plebians out there, that is Latin for ‘method of operation’. ;-)