Dangerously Dishonest Climate “Expert” at Large in Canada
Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is gamboling his way across Canada, acting like a character recently escaped from a Monty Python skit and inflaming the passions of climate change deniers and their favourite newspaper editors (at the National Post and the Calgary Herald).
Monckton is being urged on and abetted by the Friends of Science, an oily front group, long derided for trying to conceal its connections to the Calgary oil and gas community. Right wing think tanks the Fraser Institute and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy are also sponsoring the tour. (Although the Fraser Institute has been a recipient of Exxon Mobil funding in the past, neither organization is acknowledging who is paying Monckton to suggest that we all have “the courage to do nothing” about climate change.)
There are two problems with Monckton. First, he claims to be a science expert, regardless that his paper-thin educational background lies in the Classics and his single academic credit is a diploma in journalism (no sin, but surely not a climatology PhD). The second problem is that despite his track record for apparently intentional inaccuracies, people continue to take him seriously.
What of that track record?
Monckton has been caught out on several occasions indulging in deliberate manipulation of scientific data to understate the effects of climate science. But his petty prevarications are more entertaining.
- Monckton claimed in a 2006 letter to U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and John D. Rockefeller that he is Member of the House of Lords – when he is no such thing. This looks more like a barefaced lie than a mistake. Monckton, who lost his first shot at the Lords in 1999, also ran in an election and lost again in 2007. An honest man would have noticed.
- Monckton, or someone working curiously from Monckton’s personal IP address, claimed in 2007 that he had won a libel judgment against Guardian newspaper columnist George Monbiot – when he had done no such thing. When challenged, Monckton dodged rather than denied. Not convincingly, though.
- After the Nobel committee awarded the 2007 Peace Prize to Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”, Monckton claimed to also be a Nobel winner because he had done such good work trying to undermine their effort. He even got a friend to melt down an old science experiment so they could fashion a little Nobel Prize pin, later presented to Monckton in a highly unofficial ceremony. (For the record, Monckton claims he deserves the accolade because he was a “reviewer” of the IPCC report. The IPCC accepts reviews, unsolicited, from all parties and actually invites reviews from people who have varied perspectives, scientific and otherwise. DeSmogBlog manager Kevin Grandia, for example, is an IPCC reviewer, but makes no claim to being a Nobel laureate.)
- When, in 2008, Monckton wrote an opinion piece in a newsletter of the American Physical Society, he told everyone he could find that it was a “peer-reviewed publication.” This would be true only if another Lord – a “hereditary peer” – was looking over his shoulder. And when the APS attached a note to the article to clarify its status, Monckton did the pompous twit stomp – to no avail.
Monckton is, of course, entitled to wander around the world saying outragious things – whether they are true or not. It is his right to encourage the ill-informed to stand in front of oncoming buses, on the loose theory that they might survive a likely collision or that any ultimate injuries were inevitable in any case.
The Fraser Institute is also within its rights to sponsor a fall assault on reason, also paying Monckton’s soulmate, the dotty former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson, to argue that climate science is, mysteriously, no longer valid. But they shouldn’t be able to do so without admitting who is paying the bill. If a doctor told a bus crash victim that their broken leg was caused by osteoporosis and not by the accident, you’d be skeptical. But if you found out that the doctor was being paid by the bus driver’s insurance company, you would be outraged – justifiably.
We know, in this instance, that we can’t trust what Monckton says anyway. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to know who is paying him to spin these yarns.