SciBlogs

Posts Tagged Bryan Leyland

Stuff’s stuff-up: climate liars on the loose Gareth Renowden Feb 23

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Stuff Nation was introduced a couple of years ago as the reader-led section of Fairfax Digital’s NZ news site Stuff.co.nz1, home to quiz groups and news submitted by readers. Sadly for them, one or two of their readers have been taking them for a ride, to judge by one of this weekend’s lead stories — a “reader report” by one Tom Harris titled We must adapt to climate change. Harris is highly unlikely to be a regular reader of Stuff Nation, being based in Ottawa, but he is executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition, a spin-off from the NZ Climate Science Coalition established with money from US extreme right-wing lobby group the Heartland Institute.

The ICSC lists Bryan Leyland and Terry Dunleavy — two of the trustees of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust that are trying to avoid paying the costs they incurred in taking an idiotic court case against NIWA and the NZ temperature record — as key players, and it is probably safe to assume that Leyland, who has in the past boasted about his ability to “twist arms” in Fairfax newsrooms2, is responsible for placing Harris’s piece with Stuff. It’s an op-ed riffing off John Kerry’s comments about climate change during his recent Indonesia visit, so compelling and well-argued that it’s been featured in high profile outlets around the world including The Bahamas Weekly, and — well, that’s about it.

Harris’s piece should be an embarrassment to any media organisation that has pretensions to any kind of editorial standards. Among the lies, distortions and misleading statements are:

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change demonstrates that much of what we thought we knew about climate is wrong or highly debatable. The science is becoming more unsettled as the field advances.

The NIPCC is a Heartland-funded exercise designed to massage the facts and mislead. It is better described as Heartland’s big book of lies about climate change, as I noted a while ago. Meanwhile, real climate scientists are becoming ever more certain that we are in deep trouble.

We do not actually know how much climate will change as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue to rise. We do not even know whether warming or cooling lies ahead.

Future warming is certain unless and until atmospheric CO2 levels begin to reduce. Future cooling is only possible should there be a large number of big volcanic eruptions, the sun reduces its energy output significantly, we pass through a large cloud of interstellar dust, or someone rewrites quantum physics to show that everything we know about radiatively active gases is wrong. Even if that were to happen, the oceans would still acidify and cause us huge problems.

While atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased about 8 per cent over the past 17 years, even the IPCC now acknowledges that planetary temperatures have not risen during this period for reasons they do not understand.

The planet has warmed over the last 17 years. The hottest year in the long term global record was 2010, and the next El Niño (2014/15?) is likely to usher in a new record.

Of greater concern than hypothetical future warming is the possibility that the past decade’s cold weather records are a harbinger of significant global cooling. Solar scientists are forecasting that cooling is inevitable as the sun weakens into a ‘grand minimum’ over the coming decades.

“Solar scientists” are forecasting no such thing. An oddball Russian scientist may be, but no one with real solar chops is suggesting that cooling is likely. If this is the official view of the ICSC, then it places them so far out into left field that they should probably be asked to leave the stadium.

…governments across the world are planning only for warming, a relatively benign scenario and one that is appearing increasingly improbable.

Warming will only be benign if carbon emissions are cut with extreme urgency, and if we can reduce the atmospheric carbon load to 350 ppm or lower as soon as possible. If we don’t — or can’t — do that, we are far more likely to be on the road to ruin.

And finally, Harris reveals his real agenda:

Moving away from coal and other hydrocarbon fuels to flimsy alternative power sources because of climate concerns would be suicide.

Failing to move away from coal and hydrocarbon fuels is the truly suicidal approach, but inconvenient to the fossil fuel interests that have bankrolled the campaign against emissions reductions, in which Harris has a been a bit-part player.

Harris’s interpretation of reality, born of an expedient ideology that lauds fossil fuels above all others and denies the reality of climate danger, is about as useful to any public debate on climate matters as a fart in the thunderstorm that’s just rattled through my neighbourhood. The digital overlords of Stuff Nation at Fairfax NZ have been made to look foolish. Their reader-led exercise in news gathering is only going to be useful if they do some cursory fact-checking. Or perhaps they have just demonstrated that they are willing fellow travellers with Harris on the highway to hell. Either way, they should be ashamed of themselves, and at the very least apologise to their readers for so egregiously misleading them.

  1. Internet home of Fairfax’s NZ newspapers, principally The Dominion Post (Wellington) and The Press (Christchurch).
  2. See update 2 to this post.

Memo to Brill and his NZ climate cranks: pay up or shut up Gareth Renowden Feb 04

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

I suppose it had to happen. Jim Salinger’s excellent summary of the strange case of the climate cranks and their attempt to sue the New Zealand temperature record has attracted a response from deep inside La La Land. Barry Brill, chairman of the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition and litigant in chief, has posted a piece of piss-poor propaganda trying to make their actions seem reasonable. He fails spectacularly, as you might expect — but he also fails to mention the most salient fact of all.

Brill is the ex-lawyer who put the losing court case together. He, together with the trustees of the NZ Climate Science Education Trust — Terry Dunleavy, Bryan Leyland and Doug Edmeades — are in default of the costs awarded against them by the judge. It’s a cool $89,000, and if Brill et al don’t pay up, the NZ taxpayer will have to foot their bill. As one of those taxpayers, I object strenuously to funding their absurd political posturing.

Brill, Leyland, Dunleavy et al would do well to remember that in the “court of public opinion” people who welch on their debts and try to avoid the consequences of their actions are regarded as mountebanks and charlatans. They should shut up until they’ve paid up.

Salinger upsets cranks: Treadgold’s toys exit cot Gareth Renowden Jan 27

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Jim Salinger’s analysis of the climate crank campaign to cast doubt on New Zealand’s long term temperature record, published last week at The Conversation, has drawn an astonishing response1 from Richard Treadgold (left), the man who kicked off the whole sorry process over four years ago. In an intemperate and libellous comment at his web site, Treadgold accuses Salinger of deception, stupidity and questions his mental stability:

Painting our efforts as some kind of attack on science is stupid. Salinger is either mentally unstable or he’s trying to hide his deceptive treatment of the national temperature records. We asked for details. You’re obviously hiding something if you call that anti-science.

The truth, of course, is that Treadgold and his friends at the Climate “Science” Coalition have spent the last four years quite deliberately attacking Salinger and the science team at NIWA by alleging they acted to deliberately overstate warming in New Zealand. They’ve taken their case to the High Court, and lost. Now they’re running away from facing the legal consequences, by refusing to pay court-ordered legal costs and leaving the NZ taxpayer to foot the bill2.

This has never been about science. It has always been a political campaign, as Treadgold himself acknowledged when he admitted to the “essentially political objectives of our paper”. Having the lost the argument, he’s now behaving like a spoilt child, throwing a hissy fit at Salinger for telling an uncomfortable truth. His pettiness even extends to posting articles suggesting that Salinger’s affiliations with the Universities of Auckland and Tasmania may be false3.

The last line of his typically prolix comment is interesting.

Finally, it’s insufficient that you merely repeat Salinger’s empty allegation of ‘errors’ in our audit. If you want us to respond to the allegation, specify the errors.

The hypocrisy evident here is breathtaking. The “audit” refers to a reconstruction of the NZ temperature record produced by Treadgold’s Coalition pals4 that was submitted as evidence in their High Court case. Treadgold and the CSC know perfectly well that NIWA found significant errors in that reconstruction, because a detailed description of those errors formed an important part of NIWA’s evidence produced in court.

If Treadgold and the CSC are so sure that their “audit” is faultless, why do they not submit it for peer review at an academic journal? I’m sure that Chris de Freitas, never averse to lending his academic weight to the climate crank cause, would be willing to act as lead author and help to usher it past peer review, as he has done for so many papers over the years. I hear that Pattern Recognition in Physics could have a new publisher who might be interested. In the meantime, if Treadgold has any sense of decency he will apologise to Salinger for so maligning an honest man. Past history would suggest that I should not hold my breath.

  1. Web cited so that he can’t “disappear” the evidence.
  2. I will have a great deal more to say on this issue, unless and until Barry Brill, Terry Dunleavy, Bryan Leyland and Doug Edmeades pay the costs awarded against their shonky trust
  3. They aren’t.
  4. Statistical Audit of the NIWA 7-Station Review, NZCSC, July 2011, available here.

When climate cranks lose at law: Salinger on the failed attempt to sue the NZ temperature record Gareth Renowden Jan 23

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

If you do nothing else today, take the time to read Jim Salinger’s account at The Conversation of the attempt by New Zealand’s little coterie of climate deniers to cast doubt on the country’s temperature record. It’s a useful summary of the cranks’ ludicrous effort, but Jim points out that it is just a small part of a much larger global PR campaign — drawing heavily on the strategies and tactics first used by the tobacco lobby — to undermine action to reduce emissions:

Earlier this month, the news broke that major tobacco companies will finally admit they “deliberately deceived the American public”, in “corrective statements” that would run on prime-time TV, in newspapers and even on cigarette packs.

It’s taken a 15-year court battle with the US government to reach this point, and it shows that evidence can trump doubt-mongering in the long run.

A similar day may come for those who actively work to cast doubt on climate science.

Frankly, that day can’t come soon enough.

Meanwhile, the latest news on the attempt by the men behind the trust used to bring the legal action — the NZ Climate Science Education Trust, fronted by Bryan Leyland, Terry Dunleavy and Doug Edmeades — to dump the costs of their failed case on the New Zealand taxpayer is that the official liquidator rates the “prospect of dividend” – that is, a payout by the trust — as “unlikely”. In the latest report (pdf) posted at the Companies Office1, the liquidator comments that he has only be able to contact one of the NZCSET trustees and that “he has thus far been co-operative with the liquidation”. If the other two trustees are not helpful, the liquidator warns that “they will be summonsed to attend a meeting to provide the necessary information”.

It may be that Christmas and summer holidays is slowing down the process, but if the NZCSET trustees are being deliberately unhelpful, I hope the Insolvency Service uses all of its powers to make them comply with the law. These men have wasted large amounts of taxpayer money pursuing their idiotic political agenda, and must be made to pay for their folly.

  1. Go to the Societies and Trusts Online section, click search register, then use the NZCSET registration number – 2539286 – to find the documents.

NZ climate cranks’ trust folded, Brill et al try to escape justice Gareth Renowden Jan 12

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

The New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET), the body established three years ago to bring a legal case against the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), has been put into liquidation without paying the costs awarded against it after its case failed — confirming my suspicion when the trust was formed that it had been created purely to protect the litigants from the consequences of a failed action. The NZCSET owes NIWA at least $89,238.90, but Steve Kilgallon at the Sunday Star Times reports that no monies have been paid:

NIWA chief executive John Morgan said it was still considering pursuing two of the trust’s key players – former wine journalist Terry Dunleavy, a Justice of the Peace and MBE, and retired lawyer Barry Brill, a former National MP – for the money, but was waiting for the liquidation process to finish.

He added: “On the surface it looks like the trust was purely for the purpose of taking action, which is not what one would consider the normal use of a charitable trust”.

Kilgallon also spoke NZCSET trustee Bryan Leyland:

Trustee Bryan Leyland, when asked about its assets, said: “To my knowledge, there is no money. We spent a large amount of money on the court case, there were some expensive legal technicalities.”

Funding had come “from a number of sources, which are confidential”.

Leyland thus confirms — perhaps inadvertently — that the NZCSET was created solely to bring the court action, and to protect its own trustees from the consequences of their actions. It was apparently able to find “a large amount of money” to pay its lawyers to run the action, but not to pay the costs awarded against it.

A quick look back at some of the dates associated with the trust and its case against NIWA is instructive:

  • The NZCSET’s Statement of Claim against NIWA was filed in the High Court on July 5th 2010.
  • The NZCSET’s Deed of Trust is dated July 30th, so the trust did not exist at the time the case began.
  • The NZCSET’s registration as a trust was not granted until August 10th, shortly before news of the case hit the press.
  • In the two and a half years since the formation of the NZCSET there is no sign that the trust attempted to meet any of its stated educational objectives.

It is quite clear from the actions of the trust, and the glib statements made by its trustees, that it was never intended to do anything other than bring a case against NIWA. It was always a legal manoeuvre — an attempt to hide the perpetrators of a piece of politically and ideologically-inspired tomfoolery behind NZ trust law.

If NIWA decides not to pursue Dunleavy, Leyland and Brill for restitution of its legal costs, then the NZ taxpayer will have to pick up the bill. Even if funds are forthcoming, they will not cover the huge waste of scientist and management time spent in handling the case. Having failed to make warming go away by litigation, they must now face up to the heat of public outrage at their scandalous misuse of public money.

The last refuge of scoundrels Gareth Renowden Oct 14

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Tomorrow, in the Appeal Court in Wellington (pdf), Justices Harrison, French and Miller will hear argument in the case of the NZ Climate Science “Education” Trust (NZCSET) versus the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), in the continuing effort of the cranks to litigate away warming in New Zealand over the last 150 years. According to the man who kicked off the whole process, Richard Treadgold of the “Climate Conversation” web site, the NZCSET bases its appeal on two main points:

The focussed grounds are that all three NIWA temperature series resulted from serious mistakes of fact, which impugned the rationality of the Crown Entity’s decisions.

This seems somewhat surprising, given that the judge in the original case was so scathing of the NZCSET’s expertise in his judgement delivered a year ago. One wonders how the Appeal Court will react to any attempt to relitigate the original decision, given Justice Venning’s findings. But then perhaps the whole appeal has rather more to do with the second basis for appeal:

The Coalition is also seeking reversal of the High Court’s costs order.

Costs of $118,000 were awarded against the NZCSET — a trust formed specifically to bring the original court case, and which did not legally exist until weeks after the original court documents were filed. Could it be that the trustees of the NZCSET, being Terry Dunleavy, Bryan Leyland and Doug Edmeades1, aren’t happy to pay the costs incurred by their leader and legal eagle, Barry Brill? One hopes that they’re not planning to fold the trust in the event that their appeal isn’t successful, thus avoiding having to pay NIWA’s costs. After all, they founded the trust with lofty aims:

… to promote a heightened awareness and understanding of, and knowledge about, the climate, environment and climate and environmental issues among scholars and researchers, members of the professions and members of the public… (see Sec 4.1.1 of the certificate)

I have a few questions for the trustees:

  • How much money has the trust disbursed amongst scholars and researchers since it was established on July 30, 2010? Over three years of fund raising and charitable endeavour has surely delivered more than a footling little court case?
  • In what ways, other than by bringing an unsuccessful court case, has the trust “heightened awareness and understanding of climate”?
  • In the event that you are unsuccessful in your appeal, are you planning to pay up in full for the costs awarded against you by Justice Venning? If not, why not?

I eagerly await assurances from the NZ Climate Science Education Trust that their laudable education effort continues, and that it has adequate funds to meet the costs they’ve incurred by taking NIWA to court. No doubt they will have plans for further and more productive education efforts in the near future. But I won’t be holding my breath…

Update: Tuesday 15th @ 3-50pm

Word reaches me that the NZCSET have just capitulated and abandoned their appeal against Justice Venning’s decision — in other words, a comprehensive victory for NIWA and a further vindication of the work done by their team on the NZ temperature record. The Appeal judges have reserved their judgement on costs, but it’s possible that the NZCSET’s legal bill might just have increased a fair bit.

  1. According to the certificate of incorporation: go here, click on Register Search, insert 2539286 in the appropriate box, and click “search”.

Monckton and the big waka Gareth Renowden Apr 25

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Monckton tried to blink. His eyes were gritty and he could barely focus on the scribbled formulae on the pad before him — his crucial contribution to the redesign of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The tiny screen of his Osborne transportable computer blinked lazily at him. His back was sore. The air in No 10 was very dry, and there was a racket going on outside the Cabinet Room. It sounded as if the functionaries were running every vacuum cleaner in Whitehall over the new dark blue carpets the blessed Margaret had installed. The scruffy red shagpile left by Callaghan was in a skip in Downing Street, and the Laird was glad to see the back of it. He was rather pleased with the shade he’d chosen, and even happier that Margaret had liked it. The shining light of modern conservatism entered the room, her bright halo and blue crimplene dress throwing a magical illumination onto the oak panelling. She strode to Monckton’s side and put her hand on his shoulder. A frisson of almost erotic excitement coursed down his spine and disappeared down a trouser leg. He dressed to the right.

“Chris. Wake up.” He opened his eyes and the recurring dream turned into the stuff of nightmare. The whiskery face of Bryan “British” Leyland, his devoted minder on this barnstorming tour of New Zealand, leered beerily into his face. Every bump of the ageing Toyota ute brought Leyland’s face ever closer to the Laird’s nose. He recoiled, elegantly.

“You feeling alright?” Leyland asked. “You were looking a bit peaky, and moaning.”

“Fine, thank you,” Monckton sighed deeply. “How far to the next barn?” He was becoming rather fed up with the succession of shearing sheds he was being required to storm. Bloody smelly places, acrid with sheep piss and stale shit, and bereft of decent chairs.

“Not far. Bit more than a barn this time. You wait. I’ll tell Henderson to step on it.” Leyland’s face cracked into what passed for a smile in NZ climate sceptic circles.

Up on the back of the ute Scrotum, Monckton’s wrinkled retainer, clung on to the roll bar for dear life, legs akimbo, bracing himself against the brutal bumps delivered by the rutted rural track they were hurtling along. The wind whistled past his large ears, and what was left of his silver mane streamed out behind him. Leyland’s dog, a miniature poodle with a shaved head called Rodney1, normally a restrained and refined little thing, was channeling every huntaway it had ever sniffed and barking blue murder. The wrinkled retainer gave it a swift kick, but it wouldn’t shut up. Two weeks of travelling down the length of New Zealand had woken atavistic memories in its tiny brain. They’d had to pull it off Gibbs when it had fastened its teeth into his crotch at the wine and sculpture party, and that tedious bearded scrivener had looked none too pleased when it had pissed on his winklepickers at the Auckland yacht club.

The ute pulled up outside a long, low, undeniably stylish stone building, a relic of the days when young British men came to New Zealand to sow their wild oats and make a fortune off the sheep’s back. Some who got it the wrong way round were forced to stay, and went on to lay the foundations of New Zealand conservatism. Dunleavy was at the door, waving a bottle of red wine and a glass. Monckton jumped down from the ute, instructed Scrotum to set up the laptop and projector, and walked unsteadily over to the grinning doyenne of NZ wine journalism.

“Gidday, Chris. Enjoy the ride?”

Monckton smiled wearily, and took the proffered glass. “What’s this stuff, Terry?”

“Waitaki pinot noir2. Limestone country, cool climate. Going to be the next Burgundy, if we can stop the wallabies eating the grapes.”

“Wallabies?” Monckton started, and looked around nervously.

“Local pest,” said Dunleavy. “Not going to bother us tonight, though. Much too shy.”

***

Monckton cantered through his usual repartee, carefully tailored to the local market, honed and refined by weeks of constant repetition. Slides came and slides went — there were even a few stifled laughs at his witticisms. Gone were the Gillard and Flannery jokes of his Australian tour, replaced by elegant barbs about Salinger, NIWA and the Greens. The elderly audience looked suitably horrified when he told them that Helen Clark was plotting to have them all rounded up and placed in concentration camps on Waiheke Island, and there were none of the dreadful Green Nazi youth pretending to be the Flat Earth Society hanging around the door tootling on strange instruments to upset proceedings. Their dress sense was terrible. Almost as bad as the audience’s.

The Laird had prepared carefully for this trip. Leyland had assured him that his fans would be dressed in moleskins, so Scrotum had perforce spent a muddy few months hunting moles around the stately lawns of old England until sufficient skins had been assembled to make a serviceable pair of trousers. He cut a fine dash in them, Monckton thought, stroking the fur clinging to his shapely thigh before taking the stage at his first gig in Matakana. There was some laughter, but no sign of mole skins anywhere. Dull brown trousers and check shirts, yes. He’d been set up, he decided, and it took the best part of a week before Leyland could calm him down. Eventually, Scrotum had suggested that he should write a letter of complaint to the purveyors of said “moleskins”, Messrs Rodd, Cannon and Ball, pointing out that they were in breach of the trade descriptions legislation, and that if they did not immediately cease the misuse of the proper name of old mouldywarp, Talpa europaea, in relation to nondescript, if admittedly hard-wearing trousers much beloved of the farming communities of New Zealand, he would bring an action for consumer fraud, and possibly lay a complaint with the police.

***

Scrotum sipped at a glass of wine and looked up at the splendid array of stars arching from coast to distant alp. Inside the hall, the Laird was waxing lyrical about world government and ponds in Wagga Wagga. A gentle vibration at his hip jerked him from his revery.

“Yes. OK. On the island. Not tonight?” Plans were being rearranged. The New Zealand climate science cabal, controlled by the infamous triumvirate of Boston, Frame and Renwick3 were plotting a special send off for the Laird.

Applause echoed across the valley. Monckton stepped out of the hall, snatched Scrotum’s glass and downed the wine in an eager gulp. A big old harvest moon was rising above the ridge behind the grand shed. The man in the moon was upside down, he reflected, running through some astronomical calculations in his head, stopping only when he’d disproved the theory of gravity and became nervous about falling off the planet.

Silhouetted against the orange orb was a row of bouncing marsupials, looking cross. The Laird coughed up the wine, gave a little scream, and ran back indoors.

***

Te waka-a-Brash was bobbing at its mooring in Bluff harbour. The southwesterly wind was whipping at little waves, make them froth and foam in excitement at the gale to come. Scrotum watched from the shore, guarding the Laird’s fashionably battered leather luggage, hand-sewn from red deer hides sustainably harvested by his grandfather4. On the back of the yacht, a tall, bald-headed old man greeted the dinghy with a merry wave. The Laird looked a little pale, Scrotum thought, as the curse of hereditary seasickness struck his master. Monckton erupted explosively all over Brash’s trousers, but still managed to scramble onto the transom without getting his spats wet.

The sail over to Stewart Island was… exciting. Brash cut a fine figure in his yellow souwester and smock, gimlet eyes peering into the spume whistling past the bow as his spatulate hands kept the great silver wheel under control. Leyland, Dunleavy and Henderson had joined the Laird at the lee rail. All were being copiously and loudly sick.

“You’re OK, Scrotum?”, Brash asked. “Sailor, are you?” Scrotum thought he detected a note of admiration in the old banker’s voice.

“Brought up on boats, sir,” he said, “but don’t get out much these days.”

“Good stuff. This is going to be fun. This is the real thing. Blue water, big wind, none of that Hauraki Gulf wine and wheezy-breezy nonsense. Out here it’s man, man’s man, and ocean.” He started singing a shanty of great vulgarity. Scrotum made his apologies and retired below to fry some bacon rinds for the Laird.

***

The swell dropped away as Te waka-a-Brash swept in towards Oban. Monckton recovered his composure within minutes.

“Oban, eh!”, he pronounced triumphantly. “I’ll bet none of you buggers have been to the real Oban, in Scotland, bonny Scotland, where men in kilts eat haggis and deep-fried Mars bars.”

“Sounds like Dunedin,” said Henderson grimly. “They’re all called Jock there.”

“Sad excuse for an Oban if you ask me,” the Laird continued. “Where’s the ferry to Tobermory and Tiree? Where’s the Bank of Scotland and the granite-clad walls of the Bonny Prince Charlie pub?” He sniffed, and wiped a tear from his eye.

Scrotum took Monckton gently by the elbow and sat him down in the cockpit. “Won’t be long now, sir. We’re staying in the pub over there.”

“Fine place,” said Brash. “Full of stout menfolk who know the meaning of liberty, fraternity and the price of fish. It’s going to be a fun few days.”

***

Brash touched a button, and rusty chain spooled out of a hatch on the deck and splashed into the turquoise water. Leyland, who had been reading the collected works of Fred Singer on a beanbag in the bow, was taken so much by surprise that he had to retire to the poop (as he called the blunt end) to recover. As the anchor bit into the white sand full fathom five below the keel, Te waka-a-Brash swung round in the wind and settled down to quietly ride the swell. Surf crashed on the white sand beach behind them, and the bush clad slopes of the little island glistened as the night’s rain dried off in the insistent, interminable, damnable breeze.

Monckton thrust his head out of the cabin and looked around. “What’s this place, Don?”

Codfish Island. Great fishing spot, good beaches, plenty of parrots.”

“Parrots?” The Laird looked uncomfortable.

“Kakapo. Ground parrots. Parrots that think they’re rabbits. Very rare. This is their last refuge, paid for by the long-suffering NZ taxpayer. Terrible waste of money, if they can’t cut it in the modern world they should be allowed to…”

“What Don’s trying to say,” Dunleavy interrupted, “is that the Department of Conservation is so strapped for cash that we’ve been able to slip the DG a wodge of used notes and got permission to take a few trophies, if you get my drift…” The wink transformed his roseate face into a grotesque leer.

“I’ve got the taxidermist all lined up,” said Henderson eagerly.

“Lets go stick it to the Green fascist conservationists,” Leyland urged excitedly, a gleam in his eye and a .22 in his hand.

***

The parrot hunt wasn’t going well. Every time they got sight of one of the pudgy green birds poking its head out of a burrow, a nonchalant DOC warden would emerge from the bush, and apologise profusely for spoiling their fun. It was a full two hours before Brash was able to line up a shot, but all he succeeded in doing was winging a foreign volunteer camouflaged as a flax bush.

Monckton was finding it all a bit boring, and had taken to carving crude lettering on to tree trunks. He was on his third UKIP when a loud toot rang through the forest gloom. The sceptic troupe immediately stood up, dusted themselves down and started back to the beach.

“What’s going on?”, Monckton asked, struggling to keep up as Brash bounded over fallen trees with gay abandon.

“Lunch,” Dunleavy replied. “Barry’s brought it round from the pub. Can’t hunt on an empty stomach.”

When the little party regained the beach, they found a second boat bobbing in the bay. A fire had been lit on the beach, and NZ’s senior climate inactivist was busying himself by frying fish. Camp chairs had been arranged in a circle, bottles of finest sauvignon blanc were chilling in an ice bucket, and a picnic hamper stood ready to disgorge crusty bread and pickles. Monckton plonked himself in a chair. Dunleavy handed him a glass of wine, and Brill passed him a plate of sizzling fillets. Things were looking up.

“This fish is good,” the Laird said, his mouth full.

“It’s brill,” said Barry.

“No. You’re Brill. What’s the fish?”

“The fish is brill,” the verbose old lawyer snapped.

“You’re a fish?”

Monckton was confused. Scrotum refilled his glass from a fresh bottle of Cloudy Bay, then retired to the edge of the bush, consulted his watch and sat down to survey the horizon to the north.

***

It had been a most excellent lunch, a welcome respite after the Laird’s grand tour of the land of the long white cloud. Sitting round the driftwood fire the men began to tell tales of their great battles against the global climate conspiracy. Monckton entertained them with the story of the night when Bast and the Heartland team, after rather too much bourbon at Bankroll Barry’s expense, had accidentally set fire to the pool table at Fred Singer’s secret Kennebunkport lair. Brill bored them all with a recounting of his interminable legal fight against warming in New Zealand, but British Leyland saved the day by singing the Ballad of the Lonesome Pine5 in his quavering tenor. As the last rousing chorus of Hang the Mann, hang the Mann, hang the Mann slowly, drew to a close, a strange rhythmic chanting could just be heard over the sussuration of the surf sucking on the sand. Around the headland to the east a long narrow canoe appeared, being paddled furiously by a dozen or more people, all yelling in time as their paddles splashed.

“What the hell’s that?” asked Monckton.

“Maori war canoe, a big waka.” said Dunleavy tersely. “God knows what it’s doing down here.”

“Maybe the tourist board have laid it on for our honoured guest,” Leyland offered, spotting the nervous glint in the Laird’s eye.

“Scrotum! Bring me my stab-proof vest and pith helmet immediately.” Monckton jumped to his feet, but his manservant was nowhere to be seen.

From his vantage point just inside the forest, Scrotum smiled, and set the video camera to record.

***

The elaborately carved prow of the waka ran up on to the beach, the staring eyes of a huge carved Polynesian Wratt6 looking fiercely down on the sceptic band. Scrotum recognised some of the faces of the paddlers. That was Salinger in the bow, his yarmulke looking a little out of place amongst the moko and full body tattoos of his fellow scientists. Frame was brandishing a mere of finest pounamu, his tongue extended so prodigiously in challenge that it almost reached his chest. Renwick was crouched over baring his bottom at the beach, while Hunter, Mullen and Manning were leaping up and down shouting incomprehensible imprecations. Boston was taking notes in the Stern, the sun glinting off the terrible shapes tattooed on his pate, while the fearsome female climate fighters Robyn Malcolm and Xena the Warrior Princess shipped the paddles.

Within moments, the war party had jumped through the surf and formed a phalanx in front of Monckton and the coalitionists. Frame began a terrible yell, and the others began to beat their chests and arms and jump up and down.

“It’s a haka. A challenge, a welcome, a celebration. Nothing to be worried about,” Leyland hissed into the Laird’s ear.

“From where I’m standing, it bloody well is,” Monckton barked. He began to move backwards, pushing Leyland between him and the stomping warriors. The others held their ground, but their smiles were not entirely unforced.

The haka ended. Monckton’s backtracking turned into a full blown backwards sprint until he caught a heel on a piece of driftwood and collapsed into the sand. Leyland stood over the prostrate peer, his bearded chin thrust out and his arms crossed defiantly, but he was no match for Lawless and Malcolm. Within seconds they had him on the ground, gagged and trussed. Manning and Hunter threw a rope around Brash and the others, and tied them up into a sheaf of angry denial.

Frame and Renwick pulled Monckton upright and manhandled him roughly to the waka, where Salinger was waiting. Within minutes, the task force from the rational world were all aboard and the great canoe was heading out into the bay.

“Not my boat,” Brash cried. “Not my beautiful yacht.” Te waka-a-Brash had been scuttled by Salinger, and was settling down into the cold southern ocean.

Scrotum emerged from the bush, went over to Leyland and undid his gag.

“What was all that about?” Leyland asked. “Where are they taking him?”

“I have no idea,” Scrotum replied, “but I think he may be some time…”






Everything in this story is true, except the bits that aren’t. No endangered birds were harmed in the making of this tale. Stewart Island is not at all dangerous to visit. In fact, it’s a very nice place indeed, if you like rain, wind, fishing and NZ native flora and fauna.

This is the seventh tale in The Monckton Files.

Previous episodes:

Monckton & The Case Of The Missing Curry,

Mycroft Monckton Makes Mischief,

Something Potty In The State Of Denmark,

Monckton in Australia: Picnic at Hanging Sock.

A Carol for Monckton,

Monckton and the Mob.

  1. It can run, but it can’t Hide.
  2. Hot Topic strongly recommends the John Forrest Collection Waitaki pinot noir — absolutely nothing to do with any Dunleavy, and almost as good as the Limestone Hills pinot.
  3. More degrees than NZ vodka, and vicious when cornered.
  4. Affectionately known to the Tannochbrae staff as “Machine gun” Monckton because of his propensity for carrying an old Gatling gun when stalking stags on Rannoch Moor.
  5. Trad., arranged McIntyre and McKittrick.
  6. A mythical beast, brought with the first waka from Hawaiki.

More Monckton madness: Agenda 21 means concentration camps for all Gareth Renowden Mar 12

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Christopher “I could be the next Pope”1 Monckton is no stranger to outrageous overstatement, but on his current tour of Australia he’s really been pushing the boat far out onto the sea of craziness that passes for his political philosophy. As well as his usual climate nonsense, he’s been telling his Aussie audiences all about a new bugaboo: Agenda 21 – the new face of fascism, apparently. This is how he describes it in an article titled Agenda 21′s Terror Down Under:

…the U.N.’s anti-irrigation, anti-pesticide, anti-farming, anti-business, anti-environment, anti-population, anti-human, anti-Western, anti-capitalist, anti-everything Agenda 21 program…

But what does this mean for humanity? UN-created concentration camps, as Monckton explained to an Aussie audience last month…

“The remaining few areas where the last few humans allowed to exist in America in what they call human settlement zones — and what we would call concentration camps — all ideas of freedom and individual liberty will have gone if this is implemented…”

Agenda 21 is a terrible UN plot that has got it in for everything we hold dear, as this slide from one of his talks handily summarises.

Agenda21Monckton

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? I’d vote against that. Unfortunately, as is true of so much that Monckton promotes, it’s a complete work of conspiracist fiction. Agenda 21, according to Wikipedia, is:

…a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development.

The demonisation of this anodyne initiative is a product of the wilder shores of American conservatism, where opposition to environmental regulation in any form can be traced back to the days when ranchers were fighting restrictions on their use of public lands. Agenda 21 paranoia has been picked up and popularised by Tea Party Republicans, but Monckton’s version of the beast is one of the most extreme out there. In MoncktonWorld™, climate change is a scam put together by the UN in order to bring about world government. Tin foil hat territory, in other words.

It doesn’t seem to matter just how lunatic and extreme Monckton’s public utterances are, he will still find a warm welcome amongst climate sceptics. Here’s NZ’s very own Richard Treadgold, taking Monckton’s agenda at face value

Agenda 21 values human life below every other kind of life — people are less worthy than plants and animals, rodents, reptiles and insects. I didn’t believe this when I first heard about it, so I started reading about this monstrous programme for myself, and it’s true — this “agenda” threatens our freedom.

…and swallowing it whole:

Monckton is in the forefront of opposition to Agenda 21. Thinking people everywhere support him. We should, too.

I shudder to think what definition of “thinking” Treadgold is using, but if it involves taking Monckton seriously then it’s probably a clinical condition and the unfortunate sufferers should consult a medical professional.

MoncktonNZposter2013Monckton’s on his way to New Zealand in April, and his sponsors2 have started to promote his speaking engagements with a charming little poster (left). Quite how a pregnant hippie chick is supposed to appeal to sceptics is not something I can be bothered trying to fathom out, but I do note that Monckton is scheduled to travel from Matakana to Gore speaking at some of the nation’s smaller venues. I’m sure he’ll be warmly welcomed by the Flat Earth Society and the nation’s climate cranks — but I wonder if Federated Farmers, who are sponsoring his Marlborough talk, really want to be associated with a man who thinks the UN is plotting to bring in world government? And does the NZ Institute of International Affairs, a rather august and respectable body, really think it should be promoting3 the views of a conspiracy nutcase?

The last word I shall leave to the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Here he is describing (with some glee) the deep emotions he’s been rousing in Australia:

[a farmer in South Australia] was so delighted that someone – anyone – is speaking up for the farmers menaced not only by the carbon tax but also by daft environmental over-regulation that he is naming this year’s prize bull “Lord Monckton.”

At least the bullshit produced by that beast will be useful around the farm.

  1. Seriously, he did write that — and “in one vital respect I am an eminently suitable candidate”, here.
  2. Includes all the usual suspects, especially Bryan Leyland, who has been desperately trying (and failing) to find real scientists and genuine academics to engage Monckton in debate.
  3. In Hamilton, on April 8th.

Leyland joins the über cranks: signs up with serial liar O’Sullivan’s vanity “science” group Gareth Renowden Dec 04

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Bryan “the cooling is comingLeyland, energy and economics spokesman for the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, affiliate of various other coalitions, and a man with a penchant for writing to the UN Secretary General1, has joined Principia Scientific International, the internet home for the bewildered and deluded set up by John O’Sullivan, and chaired by Canadian crank Tim Ball. Vincent Gray, another NZ C”S”C luminary, has also joined the group.

Regular readers will recall that O’Sullivan has a long track record2 of misrepresenting his background and making stupid errors of fact in his blog posts, so it is at least within the bounds of possibility that he is making all this up — but if we take what O’Sullivan writes at face value, then Leyland is now a member of an organisation that exists to deny the greenhouse effect. Just look at the titles of the two most recent articles posted to the PSI web site: Greenhouse Effect Refutation, and Absence of a Measurable Greenhouse Effect. But then as Leyland’s web site includes this chilling little observation

The last sunspot cycle was 12.5 years and the previous one was 9.5 years. The evidence tells us that a 3 year increase in cycle length will result in cooling of at least 1°C. As the total amount of warming that has occurred since the early 1900s is 0.7°C, this is potentially very serious. We could be returning to the conditions in the little ice age.

…perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that he has chosen to throw in his lot with the physics deniers O’Sullivan has gathered around himself. Not a good look, however, for someone who still pretends to have a grasp on reality. I wonder if the NZ media, ever prone to giving Leyland’s thoughts on climate an airing, will notice his retreat from the real world?

  1. As I suggested, his fingerprints were all over the text.
  2. His PSI bio still includes the claim that he has written for the National Review, China Daily, and India Times, despite my pointing out this was a lie 18 months ago.

Signing up to nonsense: denialists plot letter to UN secretary general Gareth Renowden Nov 29

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

People send me stuff. Imagine my surprise when this morning’s mail included the text of a round robin email from Tom Harris — the Canadian PR man who heads the Heartland-funded denialist lobby group the International Climate Science Coalition [full text here]. It gives an interesting insight to how these groups work behind the scenes. Here’s Harris appealing for signatures to a letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon:

Time is short if we are to mount a significant counterpoint to the scientifically invalid assertions already being broadcast by the 1,500 journalists and 7,000 environmentalists attending the UN climate conference now underway in Qatar.

Please find below our “Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations” to which we are inviting your endorsement. We have 61 qualified endorsers as of 9 pm EST, about 19 hours after we started to ask people.

Because we have an agreement with a major media outlet to publish the open letter on Thursday, I will need to know of your support within the next day if possible, please.

The denialist spin machine in action. The usual suspects queuing to sign up to a letter that’s going to be published — where? My guess would be the Wall Street Journal. Even more interesting is the nonsense these luminaries are so keen to endorse…

It’s worth noting that Harris is not giving anyone the chance to change his proposed letter. The usual suspects are expected to sign up without quibbling about wording. And they’re signing up to a thoroughly modern catechism of climate crank disinformation. Here are the key claims in the letter:

UK Met Office data shows “there has been no statistically significant global warming for almost 16 years”.

This is nonsense, based on a beat-up published by the Daily Mail a few months ago. Warming continues, as the World Meteorological Organisation points out.

Global warming that has not occurred cannot have caused the extreme weather of the past few years. Whether, when and how warming will resume is unknown. The science is unclear. Some scientists point out that near-term natural cooling, linked to variations in solar output, is also a distinct possibility.

“Some scientists”? I suspect only the signatories to Harris’s letter expect a “near-term natural cooling” caused by the sun1.

The “even larger climate shocks” you have mentioned would be worse if the world cooled than if it warmed.

A remarkable (and unsupportable) assertion. I will allow that an ice age might be an inconvenience, but as our emissions have effectively postponed the next one for the foreseeable future, that’s the least of our worries.

The incidence and severity of extreme weather has not increased. There is little evidence that dangerous weather-related events will occur more often in future.

The letter goes on to quote from last year’s IPCC special report on climate extremes (SREX), but ignores the key findings of that report: that increased extremes of hot weather and rainfall are being recorded, and are “virtually certain” to continue as the climate warms.

We also ask that you acknowledge that policy actions by the UN, or by the signatory nations to the UNFCCC, that aim to reduce CO2 emissions are unlikely to exercise any significant influence on future climate.

Harris and his tame signatories can ask, but to expect the UN secretary general to reject the advice of his own organisation and the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists on the basis of an error-ridden screed put together as a stunt by PR flacks for fossil fuel interests is a bit of stretch, I’d have thought. Harris’s letter will be just as effective as all the other letters he’s sent to UN secretary generals at climate conferences, and that is not at all.

  1. The phrasing recalls similar pronouncements by NZ’s very own Bryan Leyland, a veteran of several climate science coalitions. I wonder if by any chance he had a hand in the letter?