Posted by: Barry Bickmore | February 16, 2011

The Monckton Files: Monckton a Moderate Contrarian?

In all my encounters with Christopher Monckton, one thing has struck me above all.  No matter how cherry-picked his facts… no matter how much data he simply makes up… no matter how dishonest he makes himself look by falsely claiming to be a member of Parliament… and no matter how quixotic he makes himself look by threatening lawsuits against anyone who points out any of the above… you never hear a peep out of the other skeptics.  Hopefully, that’s changing.  Read on.

Let me back up a bit and give you an example that shows why I have pretty low expectations for most of the climate contrarian community.  I’ve been reading Roy Spencer’s latest book, The Great Global Warming Blunder:  How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists.  One thing that strikes me is that Spencer presents some interesting critiques of mainstream climatology that at least aren’t crazy, and I haven’t noticed Spencer repeating any of the really stupid contrarian arguments–like pretending climate modelers have never heard that water vapor is a greenhouse gas.  He’s definitely informed enough to realize that Monckton is a bit off.  And yet, where was Roy Spencer just last December, but at the Cancún climate conference at a CFACT press conference, shoulder-to-shoulder with Lord Monckton?  A couple days before the press conference, Monckton reflected about the upcoming event,

I’d put quite a large bet on one of the mainstream media types asking a question designed to cast both of us an unfavorable light: “Dr. Spencer, why have you agreed to share a platform with that loony charlatan Monckton, who is not a scientist and is not even a real Lord?”

I wouldn’t have put it that way, exactly–Monckton is a fake member of Parliament, but a real Lord.  (Just ask Rep. Joe Barton, who calls Monckton simply, “Lord,” rather than “Lord Monckton.”)  But I have to admit that I am curious about how people like Roy Spencer and Dick Lindzen can share a podium with someone as extreme as Monckton without any apparent discomfort.

Well, with all the negative attention Monckton has been getting–John Abraham’s critique, my Rap Sheet, the takedown of Monckton’s congressional testimony by 20 prominent climate scientists, the new Monckton Myths page at Skeptical Science, and the recent BBC documentary that was mostly about Monckton–that may be starting to change.  Some contrarians are starting to gripe about how the BBC documentary treats Monckton as their global spokesman.  The Carbon Brief reports,

The third Viscount of Brenchley recently failed to secure an injunction to stop the broadcast of BBC4 Storyville Meet the Climate Sceptics. The programme included extensive criticism of Monckton’s scientific claims by leading researchers. This follows last year’s detailed refutation of Lord Monckton’s arguments by 20 leading scientists, and the publication of a dedicated “Monckton Myths” section on the website Sceptical Science.

Now, in the fallout from the programme, Lord Monckton has been left fighting a rearguard action against fellow sceptics. He is attacked on Dr Richard North’s EU Referendum blog for being too over-the-top in his claims. Dr North is a former member of UKIP where Lord Monckton is now deputy leader, but there appears to be no love lost between them. Dr North writes:

“Monckton is not the only climate sceptic in town – he does not represent ‘us’, whoever ‘us’ might be, and many people with sceptic views feel uneasy about his bombast and his faux scientific certainty.

But it is classic BBC tactics to pick on the easiest target, create a straw man and knock it down.”

He adds:

“The BBC has an unerring ability to spot the ‘swivel-eyed loon’ and build them up. The ‘mark’, usually with an over-inflated ego, is invariably flattered and falls for it every time. Monckton fitted the bill admirably, and the hatchet job proceeded apace.”

What Dr. North fails to acknowledge, however, is that it’s not just the BBC that has been building up Monckton as the spokesman for the contrarians.  I showed clips in my video on consensus in climate science in which people like Rep. Joe Barton and radio host Alex Jones introduced Monckton as one of the foremost skeptical experts on climate change.  Really.  I could have provided more clips just like that, as well, and I think the fact that Monckton has been invited to testify before Congress about climate science on more than one occasion speaks for itself.

As interesting as it is that a contrarian like North is so frustrated with Monckton’s extremism that he’s willing to break ranks and call Monckton a “swivel-eyed loon,” the plot thickens considerably as The Carbon Brief goes on to explain that there are actually contrarians more extreme than Monckton, who are frustrated with him as well.

But ironically, Lord Monckton has also come under fire from another group for not being sceptical enough about basic physics.

In leaked emails circulated among climate sceptics including Lord Lawson, Christopher Booker of the Sunday Telegraph and Andrew Montford of the Bishop Hill blog, Monckton is roundly attacked for conceding that carbon dioxide emissions cause some global warming.

Hans Schreuder, of I Love My Carbon Dioxide, claims carbon dioxide will cause climate cooling. He lays into Monckton, saying: “Even more luke-warmers will be borne from this man’s incorrect views of reality.

“Has he read the latest papers on the extra cooling that is the only logical effect that can be ascribed to atmospheric carbon dioxide?”

He then apparently argues that it’s Monckton’s acceptance of the basic link between CO2 and warming which makes him easy to debunk:

“Little wonder than that this man is heralded by the BBC as the ‘voice of climate scepticism’ – it suits them well as his arguments are easy pickings.”

Lord Monckton finds himself caught in the middle – North attacking him for being too over-the-top, Schreuder for not being extreme enough.

Now that’s rich–Monckton is a moderate contrarian?

I’ve often heard contrarians who aren’t as extreme as Monckton complaining that the scientists on the other side of the fence won’t sit down and hash out their differences with them.  My answer to them is that if they continue to refuse to distance themselves from people like Monckton and Shreuder, who simply cannot be taken seriously, what can they expect?  Maybe it’s time push a few people out of the “Big Tent”.



  1. Great post. But did you know Google Ads put up on your blog ads for the far right political party the ‘Australian Freedom Party’?

    • Nope, didn’t know that. To anyone who reads that ad, please disregard the message, since Australians clearly don’t deserve freedom. 😉

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