Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

Archive for the ‘Christopher Monckton’ Category

There is no New World Order conspiracy

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This post was therefore not published yesterday (i.e. International Workers’ Day).

Since publishing my book, I have been contacted by a number of academics in a variety of countries who are doing – or have done – research into climate change scepticism (i.e. similar to that which I did for my MA – the basis of my book).  As well as being very enthusiastic about my research, they have all asked me why I did not get it published in an academic journal.  However, the answer to this question is simple: I did not rate my chances as an unknown, sole author, while not doing a PhD.  I am therefore now actively pursuing the possibility of doing both.

However, to get to the point, having established these contacts, it is obvious to me that, along with ‘Agenda 21’, the concept of a ‘New World Order’ conspiracy is one that I did not mention in my dissertation two years ago.  Although one is merely a subset of the other, Wikipedia is a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with these terms:
– Agenda 21  is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels.
— The common theme in conspiracy theories about a New World Order is that a secretive… elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government…  Significant occurrences in politics and finance… and current events are seen as steps in an on-going plot to achieve world domination through secret political gatherings and decision-making processes.

Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is fond of mentioning Agenda 21 in his speeches (e.g. here and here), but I have still not come across anyone (maybe I have just not looked hard enough) who frequently refers explicitly to the New World Order (NWO).  Having said that, NWO conspiracy theory is the basis of James Delingpole’s stupid Watermelons books.
http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/category/watermelons/)

The trouble is, of course, that, whereas the organised nature of the campaign to discredit climate science and scientists is a very well-documented conspiracy fact, the idea that there is a global conspiracy to bring about an NWO is a delusion.  Indeed, it may even be a form of vestigial anti-Semitism.  I say this because Hitler believed the Jews were intent on establishing an NWO. However, as well as being entirely discredited long before the start of World War Two (WW2), this idea was – and is – entirely intellectually incoherent.  In the decades preceding WW2, Jews were simultaneously accused of plotting to bring about an NWO and derided for being obsessed with making money.  Despite this, even today, anti-Semitic organisations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood indoctrinate their followers into believing that there is an NWO conspiracy – they just call it ‘Zionism’.  But that is another story.
http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/could-we-get-another-hitler/

Certainly, from the beginning of the Cold War onwards, belief in an NWO and/or characterisation of the USSR as the “evil empire” or “Red Menace”, acted as a recruiting sergeant for libertarians and free-market economists everywhere.  Furthermore, as Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway have clearly documented, in their book Merchants of Doubt, it was a bunch of neo-conservative physicists, whose worldview was forged in the Cold War era, who laid the foundations of the campaign to dispute climate science for ideological reasons.  In the twilight years of the USSR (before the Berlin Wall came down), it was they who convinced President George Bush to resist much of what the first Rio Earth Summit sought to do in 1992…  The USA had decided that the new enemy was “environmentalism”.  People may think this is simplistic but the German Minister for the Environment at the time, Klaus Topfer, is on record as having said this is how he perceived the USA’s position at the time  (See Timothy Luke’s ‘A Rough Road out of Rio’ (2000) – PDF available here).

Sadly, the idea that environmentalism is the enemy of progress is complete bullshit.

I’m sorry to be so blunt but, there really is no better word for it.  However, this is sad for a variety of reasons:
— So many have been – and still are – convinced that concern for the environment is a form of Communism (or Fascism).
— This powerful delusion has been responsible for the failure of international efforts to prevent the environmental catastrophe that is now unfolding.
— The failure of climate scientists to explain their message in such as way as to shatter this delusion may result in things getting much worse than they might have done.
— The World’s politicians are yet to wake up to (or admit) the reality that simply curtailing the increase in global CO2 emissions will never solve the problem.

What we needed was ecological modernisation (i.e. modifications to the way we do things so as to make them more ecologically-friendly and environmentally-sustainable).  Instead, what we have got is economic stagnation (because perpetual growth in consumption and accelerating resource depletion was always going to run into trouble eventually).

The questions that therefore remain are whether climate change sceptics are going to continue to try to perpetuate:
— The myth that Communists realised they could not win power in Western democracies so therefore invented the Green Party instead.
— The myth that there is a left-wing conspiracy to over-tax and over-regulate people (so as to make everyone poorer).
— The myth that we need not worry about the finite nature of the Earth’s mineral resources or its ability to deal with our pollution simply because of human ingenuity (Prometheanism) or Nature’s bounty (Cornucopianism).

I really do think it is time to admit that the game is up, the NWO does not exist:
— The only environmental conspiracy is that which seeks to deny the truth that human activity is irreversibly altering the Earth’s climate.
— The only political conspiracy is that which seeks to under-tax and under-regulate industry (so as to make a few people richer).
— The amount of energy received from the Sun is effectively constant and therefore, by powering industrialised civilisation using the fossilised energy received by the Earth over millions of years, the Carbon Era has been neither physically nor environmentally sustainable.

So, then, the NWO conspiracy does not exist.  However, that is not the end of the story.

Sadly, as I pointed out three months ago now, the CO2 fairy does not exist either:  Given the history of exponentially growing demand for fossil fuels (and therefore CO2 emissions), it will be a very long time until carbon capture and storage (CCS) could possibly begin to solve our problem.  Indeed, the technology is still at the experimental stage and, even once the best method of CCS is identified, it will then have to be made operational on a global basis such that sequestration exceeds emissions.  Only then would the atmospheric concentration of CO2 begin to fall. This will therefore never happen unless global emissions are massively reduced.

The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones; and we have a limited carbon budget that we simply cannot exceed and expect to retain a habitable planet.  Therefore, wherever their use is easily substitutable, we need to phase out the use of fossil fuels as soon as possible.  And, yes, that is the end of story.

Greedy Lying Bastards (the movie)

with 6 comments

Presumably Lord Monckton (et al) will now sue the film-makers for defamation of character?

Or, maybe, just maybe, this new 90 minute documentary film could be the final push that US Congress needs to investigate the corporate misinformation machine that – like Frankenstein – just refuses to die. However, we killed it once; so we can kill it again.  As Brenden DeMelle (of the De-Smog Blog website) has said in an email to all site subscribers:

Just imagine a Congressional investigation, like the one Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) headed up against the tobacco companies and their efforts to downplay the scientific findings that cigarette smoke causes cancer. Imagine, David and Charles Koch and Exxon’s Rex Tillerson, alongside Marc Morano, Fred Singer and all the others, in a Congressional hearing… It could happen. Both Rep. Waxman and Senator Boxer have the power, right now, to hold such a hearing.

In fact, De Smog Blog has an excellent summary of the movie and some great quotes from (or links to) reviews of it: http://desmogblog.com/2013/03/08/greedy-lying-bastards-new-film-pulls-no-punches

Here are a couple more I have found:

[The Director, Craig Rosebraugh] scores points by contrasting his film’s emotional title with the temperate rationality of his talking-head scientists. But the film’s effectiveness largely stems from the flat-out lameness of the opposition arguments, the lack of scientific credentials of those making them, and the self-interest of their corporate bosses. (Ronnie Scheib in Vanity magazine)

Although lacking the cinematic finesse and frequent doses of humor that such filmmakers as Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock bring to their similarly polemical projects, Rosebraugh advances his arguments with undeniable persuasiveness. The sheer volume of damning information, imparted in clear and comprehensive fashion, gives the film a power that might indeed succeed in changing some people’s minds. (Frank Scheck in The Hollywood Recorder newspaper)

This film deserves to do well. Indeed, it is in all our interests that this film should do well because, as I point out in the Preface to my new book, The Denial of Science:

…because of the economic and political realities of the world in which we live, politicians will not take any action that will be unpopular with business interests and/or the wider electorate. If this is the case, Peter Jacques (2009) would appear to be right to conclude that anti-environmentalism (i.e. environmental scepticism) needs to be exposed as being “in violation of the public interest”.

This means that the US Congress will only overcome the power of vested corporate interests (by which it is encircled and controlled) if there is sufficient public demand for this misinformation campaign – surely the greatest and gravest false flag operation in human history – to be brought to an end. We can but hope…

However, if there is anyone reading this who somehow remains unconvinced about who it is that has been lying to us for so long, please read this excellent article by international environmental journalist Stephen Leahy: http://stephenleahy.net/2013/03/07/climate-change-b-s-detector-sorting-fact-from-fiction/

Nuclear, wind and wave power chiefs in joint appeal on green energy

with 4 comments

I have been very critical of the UK’s Coalition Government recently – and I am particularly concerned about the completely opposing views of Energy Secretary (John Hayes) and Climate Change Minister (Ed Davey).  However, I am clearly not the only one who is concerned…  As is made clear by this very significant article published on the website of The Independent newspaper on Monday:

The leaders of Britain’s nuclear, wind and tidal industries today put aside years of mutual suspicion and antipathy with an unprecedented joint appeal to ministers not to abandon their commitment to combat climate change…

John Hayes really needs to stop basing what he says on the completely discredited views of people like Lord Lawson and Christopher Monckton and start paying attention instead to what actual scientists say.

It is also good to see that Greenpeace may be willing to abandon its axiomatic rejection of nuclear power generation. However, I remain bemused as to why Dr Amory Lovins’ assertion (in Reinventing Fire) that we could survive on renewables alone is not taken seriously…

It is good to see unanimity in the face of Government duplicity.  However, Carbon Capture ans Storage (CCS) is just fossil fuel industry propaganda to provide an excuse to keep burning fossil fuels. We may need the technology to help prevent an ecological catastrophe but, CCS should not be used as an excuse to perpetuate the insanity of burning all fossil fuels simply because they are there. Humanity must exercise some self-restraint and leave some fossil fuels in the ground. If we do not, our civilisation will go the same way as all those that have previously disappeared because they failed to respect the fact that their environment had a finite capacity to cope with the scale of their activities.

Since we now know this, failure to modify our behaviour will be the ultimate human folly.

The crime of Socrates

with 16 comments

(or is it the curse of Cassandra?)

Andrew Marr’s History of the World is the latest BBC programme featuring the eponymous presenter (although the word Human is clearly missing from the title somewhere). The second installment was broadcast in the UK on Sunday night and, I have to say, it was an improvement on the first.  Some may ask, “If you thought the first was bad then why did you watch the second?”  Well, the answer is that I was almost willing Andrew Marr to prove me wrong.  You see, I suspect he is peddling a libertarian agenda; but I am hoping that he is not.

The first programme in the series covered the emergence of Homo sapiens from Africa 70,000 years ago – and their subsequent conquest of the entire planet (and the extinction of Neanderthals in the process) – up to the emergence of agriculture, urbanisation and civilisation 7,000 years ago. The worst thing about the programme was the repetitive – and almost subliminal – message that climate change is natural and we cannot stop it.  Wheareas Marr emphasised the way in which Homo sapiens were almost wiped out by natural changes in climate; he appeared to gloss over a complementary truth:  Modern civilisation only came about – and has only persisted – because of the relative stability of sea levels and temperature over that last 7,000 years.  I suspect, therefore, that Marr has been having too many lunches with the likes of Lords Monckton and Lawson.  Whatever the case may be, episode 1 does not seem to have impressed Tom Sutcliffe of The Independent newspaper either.

In the second programme, this ‘climate change is natural’ meme made a brief appearance at the start; only to be juxtaposed with the suggestion that, although nature has been a tough adversary, human beings are their own worst enemy.  Even though I not misanthropic, I am much more content with this assertion than the one that says climate change is natural and/or we must adapt to it:  This is an utterly fallacious argument that can only be sustained by ignoring the fact that the change now underway is much faster than all previous natural change because human activity is causing most of it.

Nevertheless, I think Andrew Marr redeemed himself somewhat in this second episode:  With his usual amiable style of delivery, he talked the viewer through the history of human civilisation, visiting places like the Assyrian city of Nineveh, the Persian city of Babylon, the Lydian city of Sardis, and the Greek city of Athens.  Also thrown into the mix were brief accounts of the rise and fall of the Phoenicians as a maritime trading empire; the emergence of Buddhism in India and of Confucism in China; and Alexander the Great’s admirable early attempts at cosmopolitanism and globalisation (nice ideas; shame about the outcome).

However, as indicated by the title of this post, the thing that grabbed my attention was the emergence of what we now call democracy in Greece (i.e. in Greek, Demos = people; and Cratos = power); and how contingent our concept of democracy is…  If the Persians had not gone down to such a highly-implausible defeat in a battle 26 miles from Athens, we might be missing a lot more than just a name for the longest event on the athletics schedule at the Olympic games:  Had the Persians beaten the Athenian army at Marathon, the course of human history would have been very different indeed!

So why have I focussed on the case of Socrates, who was effectively accused and convicted of being dangerously subversive in 399BC and, having been found guilty, was required to kill himself by drinking poison…?  Well, leaving aside the bizarre method of “execution”, what exactly was his crime?  According to Andrew Marr, Socrates merely raised questions regarding the limitations of democracy and/or how dissenters should be dealt with.  According to Wikipedia (link above), Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of the city and of impious acts (namely “failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges” and “introducing new deities”).   Socrates philosophical musings were clearly seen as subversive and anti-democratic.  However, all Socrates appears to have been guilty of is being one of the first to recognise the fallacy of the marketplace of ideas.  He basically challenged the notion that majority opinion will always be right; and championed the idea that expert opinions should carry more weight. He also held unusual religious views.  He was, in essence, a free thinker, a non-conformist, and anti-Establishment.

Modern science has much for which it should be grateful to Socrates; and so have Environmentalists:  In essence, environmentalism is the consequence of thinking outside the box; it arises from pursuing the consequences of science wherever they lead; and refusing to be prevented from reaching any particular conclusion simply because it may be politically inconvenient.

Nowadays, fortunately, those who challenge the received wisdom of our political leaders are not executed (by poisoning, hanging, beheading or any other unpleasant means).  Unfortunately, however, we just seem to be ignored instead.

Therefore, even though all we are really doing is embracing the Newtonian reality that all actions have consequences (especially when it comes to issues surrounding waste, pollution, and recycling), we seem to have swapped the philosophical legacy of Socrates for the mythological curse of Cassandra (whom no-one would believe).

The Three Monkeys – Monckton, Foster and Peiser

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Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Why the picture of monkeys?

The short story:
1. Lord Monckton believes Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) is a myth (i.e. a hoax or a false alarm).
2. Rev. Foster believes that ACD is inconsistent with God’s plan for humanity (i.e. as revealed in the Bible).
3. Dr. Peiser presumably believes ACD will go away if he ignores it (i.e. he has not responded to my emails).

The slightly longer story:
I recently sent an email to Lord Monckton (ex-UKIP), Rev Philip Foster (Repeal the Act) and Dr Benny Peiser (GWPF). I thought my email was reasonable and polite, whereas the response I got from Monckton was neither. Both my email and a summary of Monckton’s response were posted on this blog last week. However, as I have explained, Monckton was not willing to admit any possibility of his being wrong: Anthropogenic climate disruption is a myth. End of story. Therefore, he appears to be the Hear No Evil monkey. Today, as promised, I will explain why Rev. Foster appears to be the See No Evil monkey; and Dr Peiser appears to be the Speak No Evil monkey.

Rev. Foster is actually a retired Church of England vicar and a published author. He is also, unsurprisingly perhaps, a very nice person. However, just like me, he is not infallible. I have previously tried to engage Rev. Foster in debate regarding the content of his book, While The Earth Endures: Creation, Cosmology and Climate Change. In order to do this, I apologised to him for any offence caused by the humorous title I gave to my factual review of his book on Amazon. However, he will still not even admit that the famously unreproducable 1909 experiment of Professor R. W. Wood (demonstrating that a greenhouse gets hot by preventing convection not by trapping radiation) means that our “greenhouse” analogy is poor: It does prove that atmospheric CO2 cannot trap outgoing long wave radiation. This is just as well really; because Life on Earth would be impossible if CO2 did not do this.

Another favourite tactic of Rev. Foster is to accuse me of what C.S. Lewis called ‘Bulverism’ (i.e. telling someone they are wrong without first demonstrating why they are wrong). This is a very facile criticism to make; especially if you are in the habit of rejecting as suspicious any evidence that does not confirm to your pre-existing view of reality: If that is the case, this then becomes an entirely self-referential position; a completely impregnable fortress of confirmation bias; and an utterly unfalsifiable argument.

Finally, there is Rev. Foster’s theology; as set out in his book and expounded to me in his emails. Although he is clearly not a Young Earth Creationist, I think Rev. Foster is an eternal optimist; because he appears to believe that:
— Ecological scarcity is not possible because the Bible says God has made abundant provision for humans;
— Over-population can’t happen because we have been commanded to go forth and multiply; and
— We cannot trash the planet because God won’t let us.
I have suggested to him that the history of the Jews as set out in the Old Testament – and indeed the entire history of human civilisation – suggests he may be wrong about these things. Sadly, Rev. Foster doesn’t see it that way… He is the See No Evil monkey.

As for Dr Benny Peiser being the Speak No Evil monkey; that’s an easy one: He has never responded to any email I have sent him; whether it was addressed to him personally or copied to him. Presumably, like Monckton, he has also chosen to be offended by my use of humour (e.g. in my entirely factual account of his misrepresentation of climate science and scientists). As does Monckton, he presumably also mistakes this for an ad hominem attack. Unfortunately, they are both wrong, because the term is conventionally used when someone attacks the messenger because they cannot falsify the message. However…

I don’t need to falsify their messages because they have been falsified already; and
the Laws of Physics cannot be changed by endlessly repeating erroneous ideas.

Written by Martin Lack

20 August 2012 at 00:02

The Monckton trail comes to an end

with 16 comments

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,

Martin Lack

———–

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’. ;-)

Written by Martin Lack

14 August 2012 at 00:02

On the trail of Christopher Monckton – part 2

with 2 comments

I reviewed the backstory to this yesterday; and concluded with the first of Monckton’s responses to me this week (which I cannot share with you because he has asked me not to publish them). However, you can get an idea of the main (coherent and vaguely sensible) points he made from what I said in return:

——————————

Dear Viscount Monckton,

Thank you for giving me the benefit of your superior knowledge of 11th Century history. I have never claimed to be an expert on this; or anything else.

However, neither do I repeatedly attempt to dismiss the opinions of the vast majority of relevantly-qualified active climate science researchers with a track-record of peer-reviewed publications – and the very carefully considered public statements of institutions with huge reputations – as all being part of some global conspiracy, stupidity, or insanity (and/or “murderers, tyrants or madmen” – according to the Heartland Institute).

Neither of us is a climate scientist, we are both just interested amateurs: You are interested because you see environmentalists as attacking the primacy of the free market in the affairs of mankind. I am interested because I see libertarian ideology as “treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation” (former World Bank economist, Herman E Daly).
See: http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/it-doesnt-have-to-be-like-this/

I don’t need to quote or even misquote scientific research. There is only one of us that is denying what the majority of scientists are telling us; and the small minority that continue to tell you what you want to hear have never been truly objective – they have allowed their political and/or religious views to cloud their judgement (one Richard S Lindzen being a case in point). However, one by one, they will either die of old age or admit they were wrong; as have done physicist Richard Muller and economist William Nordhaus.

The only question that therefore remains is just how expensive will dealing with the effects of anthropogenic climate disruption be by the time the fossil fuel lobby funded climate change denial machine finally loses the fight it appears to have picked with history, science and reason.

I was wondering what could possibly cause you to preface your email with the word “confidential” but then I found it: However, it is absolutely ridiculous and contemptible for someone like yourself – who has no scientific training or qualifications – to label [...Ooops - that's confidential I'm afraid!...] as being scientifically illiterate. All the more so since every single attempt you have made to besmirch his reputation and/or challenge his academic position has been comprehensively rebutted. At least the AGU agreed with me that what Lindzen has been doing is questionable (but admitted they had no Code of Conduct via which to reprimand him for his “propagation of misinformation about scientific research”).
See: http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/on-the-subject-of-professional-ethics/

Regards,

Martin Lack.

——————————

Dear Mr. Lack,

[Sorry - Confidentiality has been invoked by the author]

Monckton of Brenchley.

——————————

Dear Viscount Monckton,

Whilst I am grateful to you for taking the trouble to respond to me (rather than ignore me), I do wish you would stop repeating falsehoods for no reason: I have not used your responses without your permission. On the contrary, as I have said previously, I asked for permission; you declined it; and I did not publish.

Since neither of us is a climate scientist; we must both appeal to the authority of others. Whereas you appeal to that of a minority of scientists who insist the majority are wrong; I appeal to the authority of the majority who insist the minority are prejudiced against accepting human responsibility for any and all our environmental problems.

Your position requires the existence of a scientific and/or governmental conspiracy on an unprecedented scale – for which here is no evidence (that has not been already comprehensively debunked). I know it may have become something of a personal mantra but no-one has yet falsified my argument that:

There is simply no evidence for your left-wing conspiracy to over-tax and over-regulate people (so as to make everyone poorer). Whereas, there is a great deal of evidence for a right-wing conspiracy to under-tax and under-regulate industry (so as to make a few people richer).
See: To all who say AGW is junk science (4 October 2011)

For your information, I do not hate Professor Lindzen, you, or any other so-called “sceptic”. However, because of its increasingly-obvious adverse consequences, I am very angry about the ideologically-prejudiced and irrational nature of the fight so-called “sceptics” have picked with history and science. Gordon Brown once equated your position with that of Flat Earthers. In my opinion, this was a rare occasion on which he was right about something.

Although I am grateful to you for engaging with me, I do not feel that you are taking on board anything I say. Furthermore, since I am now repeating myself as well, I think these exchanges have reached their natural end…

Regards,

Martin Lack.

Written by Martin Lack

26 May 2012 at 00:02

On the trail of Christopher Monckton – part 1

with 18 comments

The third Viscount of Brenchley, Christopher Monckton, is a bit of a slippery customer: A member of the British aristocracy with no scientific training or qualifications, but nevertheless idolised as an expert by climate change “sceptics”, he is prone to rambling statements (even more pompous-sounding than much of what I write!) that are full of potentially misleading information and/or misrepresented research that is invariably poorly (if ever) referenced. You could be forgiven for concluding that he is “intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbosity” (i.e. Disraeli on Gladstone)…!

In recent years, you could also be forgiven for assuming that he was going to slowly fade from view as a result of the forensic examination of one of his presentations expertly carried out by Professor John Abraham; and Monckton’s spectacular failure to respond appropriately and/or effectively to such a devastating critique. Much more recently, he has been taken to task by Potholer54 (a.k.a Peter Hatfield) and – having been quite content at first to debate online – has gone remarkably quiet since being challenged to debate the science face-to-face (see Footnote).

My personal dealings with Monckton began when I attempted to redress the misleading presentation of one Richard S Lindzen at a meeting in London on 22 February this year that Monckton chaired. Having departed from my own script, I was prevented from asking even the simplest of questions (because I was clearly off-message too). You can even see me attempting this feat here.

Monckton then harassed me over my supposed defamation of his character within my subsequent complaint to MIT regarding Lindzen. I clarified the intent of my remarks to MIT and issued an apology; something I am pretty sure Monckton has never done. As Hatfield has demonstrated, Monckton just changes what he says (i.e. so-called “Monckton Manoeuvres”)

In April this year, I invited Monckton to review my own assessment of him as a non-expert in climate science (September 2011) and tell me where I have gone wrong. However, in his long-winded and disparaging response – full of reality inversions and obfuscations – he did not address any of my factual criticism of either him; his absence of any relevant qualifications; his repeatedly having been shown to be peddling misinformation; and to have misinterpreted – if not misrepresented – genuine climate science. He also declined my request for permission to publish his response.

Most recently, in response to a piece by Scott Denning PhD (a rare non-sceptical speaker at Heartland Institute conferences), Monckton submitted a 5000-word dissertation to the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, which was also subject to forensic examination and found to be pre-debunked “sceptical” propaganda. Unfortunately, the post summarising this nonsense was bombarded by silly comments that prompted the site editor, Bud Ward, to close-off the post to new comments just after Monckton had attempted to rebut my own criticisms… Unable to get Mr Ward to allow my response to appear, I decided to email Monckton myself. Therefore, what follows is a transcript of the exchanges that has since followed; or at least it would be if Monckton had not again claimed his right(?) to confidentiality in responding to me. However, I think you can guess what he said – and how he said it – from my responses:

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Viscount Monckton,

You have made great play of the fact that you followed chairing the Lindzen sideshow on 22 February by briefing an anonymous and sceptical Cabinet Minister. Because I was concerned that this might constitute an attempt to subvert sensible government policy, I asked my MP to find out who you met. However, short of trawling through every department’s records (when published), this is not going to be possible and, in any case, I suspect your meeting (if there was one) will not have been “on the record”.

With regard to your recent (surely pre-existing?) essay submitted to the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media, I think it was entirely ludicrous of Scott Denning to respond by repeating the unfair suggestion that you might be a creation of the comic Sacha Baren Cohen. However, the reason this annoyed me is that it appears to have (understandably) prompted a deluge of comments from those who consider your unscientific views on climate change worthy of attention. This, in turn, prompted Bud Ward to stop accepting comments on that particular post. Despite my protestation, Mr Ward has refused to publish my response to your last comment so, for the record, here it is:

“With respect, Viscount Monckton, it is the so-called climate ‘sceptics’ that are failing to learn the lessons of history (or palaeoclimatology for that matter). I was brought up not to live beyond my means; and humanity would have done well to do the same. Instead, our environmental bank account is now seriously overdrawn; and the interest payments will just get bigger and bigger if we make no attempt to pay off our debts.”

Also for the record: I think history may have done King Canute a dis-service as he probably sought to demonstrate that man cannot hold back the tide. However, this is more in your field of expertise than mine. Perhaps you can enlighten me? Furthermore, if you already know this, are you not also guilty of mis-representing King Canute as well (by telling readers they should “Remember Canute”); and perpetuating yet another myth (such as that which seeks to suggest human activity is not the primary driver of ongoing climate disruption)?

Finally, I should like to re-iterate the frustration of many people who have pointed out that, although you are always very quick to ridicule people and/or demand retractions for supposed defamatory comments or misleading or incorrect statements, you do not seem to practice what you preach: That is to say, when things you say or write are shown to have been likely to mislead, inaccurate, or demonstrable false (e.g. in your dealings with John Abraham, Peter Hatfield, and here and elsewhere in the ‘Monckton Myths’ section of the SkepticalScience website) you do not seem to ever admit it. I would however be delighted to be proven wrong but, please do not waste your time writing me a long response, links to published statements on the Internet will suffice.

Yours very sincerely,

Martin Lack.

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Dear Mr. Lack,

[Sorry - Confidentiality has been invoked by the author]

Monckton of Brenchley.

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Footnote: Monckton claims to have rebutted Peter Hatfield’s criticism on the website of SPPI – an organisation for which he is Chief Policy Advisor, which gives him a platform from which to spout non-peer-reviewed misinformation; and gain the attention of ignorant and/or credulous politicians on Capitol Hill in the USA. Unfortunately, the SPPI website does not have a search function – and this response (if it exists) is not in any obvious place such as the ‘Monckton Collection’.

==============================
The exchanges continued, from which you can infer what Monckton said, but I will conclude this sorry tale tomorrow.

Written by Martin Lack

25 May 2012 at 00:02

Is it now time to admit defeat?

with 89 comments

This is a transcript of an email I sent to Lord Monckton yesterday (and copied to Directors of both the GWPF and the IEA).
_________________________________

Dear Lord Monckton,

I am pleased to note that you were satisfied with my attempt to rectify a somewhat careless remark I made in my email to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on 13 March 2012 (viewable here if you scroll down). I must admit that the comment that attracted your attention (presumably MIT sent the email to you for comment?) was unusual for me, in that I generally try to limit myself to textual criticism (i.e. exposing fallacies in the things people have actually said).

As such, although I am confident than none of it is libellous, based on the research I did for my MA in Environmental Politics (i.e. my dissertation), I believe I have produced a great deal of criticism of so-called climate change “sceptics” and apparently “sceptical” organisations, such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation and the Institute of Economic Affairs, that you and your fellow “sceptics” may be interested to read. If so, a good place to start would be the following: A brief history of mine (12 March 2012).

In the mainstream media there is a distinct lack (no pun intended) of objective criticism of such “scepticism”, which I believe Peter Jacques (University of Florida) is right to conclude is not in the public interest. Furthermore, I believe that all remaining climate change “scepticism” can be reduced to economic rationalism (i.e. the belief that we must not wreck the economy in order to fix the problem). However, even this tired old argument is now looking decidedly unsound, given the findings of Lord Stern (2006, 2009), the International Energy Agency (2011) and, most recently, William Nordhaus (2012).

In addition, of course, we have ongoing observations and/or incoming data revealing that, just as the climate models predicted it would, the warming of the oceans due to the Earth’s current energy imbalance is giving rise to more frequent and more severe weather of all kinds. Thus, although no single event can be categorically blamed on anthropogenic climate disruption, the dice are clearly now loaded – making extreme events that break century-old records (as in the UK and US last month) ever more likely (see the SREX report, as recently-published by the consistently overly-optimistic IPCC)…

I am therefore left wondering when you “sceptics” are going to throw in the towel; and admit that you are wrong?

Yours sincerely,
etc.

_________________________________

References
International Energy Agency (2011), World Energy Outlook 2011.
Stern, N (2006), The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.
Stern, N (2009), A Blueprint for a Safer Planet: How to Manage Climate Change and Create a New Era of Progress and Prosperity.
Nordhaus, W (2012), Why the Global Warming Skeptics Are Wrong.

A brief history of mine

with 5 comments

I should like to thank James Delingpole for making such a complete ass of himself in an interview with Sir Paul Nurse just over a year ago, as it was this act of gross stupidity that first propelled me into the Blogosphere. Although my first Blog, entitled James Delingpile, did not last very long, the second, Earthy Issues, fared better and is still available today (although I am not maintaining it). However, last August, just before going on holiday, I set up this blog and the rest, as they say, is history. For an elaboration on this part of the story, please see my Background page.

While on holiday in the South of France with my children and my ex-Wife (yes, I know, that is a bit weird), it was very hot (I wonder why?) and, for over a week, the night-time temperature never went below 20C / 70F. Therefore, I don’t know whether it was the heat or indigestion but, every night, unable to sleep, I would sit at the dining room table writing stuff that has since appeared here: I have also used this blog as a vehicle for sharing with the World the findings from my 5 months spent analysing the public discourse of climate change scepticism in the UK, as practiced by organisations, scientists, economists, politicians, and others. Whereas a 300-word Abstract of my dissertation is viewable on my About page, I still think my first attempt to subsequently summarise its importance to a wider audience was possibly better:
How to be a climate change ‘sceptic’ (7 September 2012).

Since then, although I have always tried very hard to attack the erroneous message rather than the messengers, I have posted a large number of items on many of the subjects of my research, the following being good examples:
The Global Warming Policy Foundation
The Institute of Economic Affairs
Lord (Nigel) Lawson of Blaby
Lord (Christopher) Monckton of Brenchley
Benny Peiser
Conservative Euro and Climate sceptics
Graham Stringer MP (Labour)
Sammy Wilson MP (DUP)

I have run a series of posts on the challenges posed by ecological economics to modernity itself (in 3 parts); as well as Conservatism (N.B. I am a Conservative voter), Liberalism, and Socialism; and perhaps most significantly of all, I have written a great deal as a consequence of reading James Hansen’s extra-ordinary book, Storms of my Grandchildren. For those that have not read it, or any of my posts on it, the best place to start would be Climate science in a nut fragment (6 February 2012).

Much more recently, I ran a series of posts looking at the work of the sceptical British journalists Brendan O’Neill, Melanie Phillips, Christopher Booker and, of course, James Delingpole; starting with an introduction to these peddlers of fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD) here.

However, because this blog is not seeking to attack anyone personally, underlying all of this is my concern for the Environment in general and concern regarding the failure of humanity to grasp that it is not superior to nature; it is part of it: In other words, all things are connected… As I said in my recent post regarding mining in wilderness areas, with me, this concern for the environment goes back over 20 years and, with the benefit of all that I learned while doing my MA, I have decided that the lies must now stop; and I believe I am in as good a position as anyone else to stop them. So, Professor Lindzen, please don’t take it personally but, I firmly believe you over-stepped the line at the Palace of Westminster on 22 February 2012; and I believe the World will now call you to account for it. I still don’t know why you did it. Indeed, as do many others, I suspect you genuinely believe what you say to be true, as do all of those I have listed above (probably).

However, when it gets to the point that anybody has to denounce those who admit they were wrong and/or change their mind (like Richard Muller and William Nordhaus) for supposedly being duped by the conspiracy; when that conspiracy must be forced to grow to include steadily more and more people (now including the UN, the WMO, the IPCC, Governments, Scientific and Professional bodies, and hundreds of research scientists all over the World), I think it is time to admit, as Barry Bickmore has said, “you are trying too hard to avoid the truth!”

However, by far the most insidious thing about all this is that behind all the peddlers of misinformation lurks the driving force of this campaign to deny human responsibility for climate change, the Conservative Think Tanks like the Heartland Institute, which work on behalf of major business interests (as opposed to the public interest) of which James Hoggan says in his book, Climate Cover Up:

Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.

There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.

As I said, I think it is time for the lies to stop; and if Lindzengate shall prove to be the El Alamein of climate change denial (i.e. the beginning of the end or at least “the end of the beginning” – Winston Churchill), I for one will be delighted.

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