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Brill’s bills still unpaid, but Barry’s off to Vegas Gareth Renowden Jun 19

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The attempt by a small group of climate cranks to bring a legal case against the New Zealand temperature record will leave the taxpayer to pick up a bill likely to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Radio NZ News yesterday. Efforts by the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) to recover court-ordered costs of $90,000 from the NZ Climate Science Education Trust (CSET) are virtually certain to fail according to the official liquidator, leaving the bill to be met by taxpayers. The Trust has no assets, and the prospects of any pay out are rated “unlikely”. But despite initiating the legal case and orchestrating the trust’s attempts to avoid meeting its liabilities, Barry Brill, the retired lawyer and former National Party politician who chairs the NZ Climate “Science” Coalition, is flying off to Las Vegas to speak at the latest climate crank networking event organised by far-right US lobby group the Heartland Institute.

The latest report from the official liquidator (pdf) makes it obvious that the CSET was formed with the express intention of bringing the court action and as a cover to protect the litigants from the financial consequences of failure. It also raises serious questions about the way that the case was funded. The evidence is damning:

  • The CSET’s statement of claim against NIWA was filed with the High Court on July 5th, 2010.
  • The CSET’s deed of trust is dated July 30th – more than three weeks after the case was filed in its name.
  • The CSET was not officially registered as a trust until August 10th, 2010.
  • The CSET did nothing except bring an action against NIWA.

In addition, according to the liquidator’s report, the CSET had no assets, did not receive or disburse any monies, and did not keep any financial records. But CSET trustee Bryan Leyland told the Sunday Star Times in January:

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”.

The statements made to the liquidator tell a different story:

The trustees were questioned about how the charitable trust funded the legal proceedings against NIWA. They advised that all legal advice and representation was provided on a pro bono basis and Mr Brill paid for the court fees personally.

Leyland’s comments to the SST are clearly not compatible with the statements made to the official liquidator. If a “large amount of money” was spent on the case, but legal representation was provided pro bono, where was the money spent and why was it not channeled through the trust and properly recorded in the CSET’s accounts? Either Leyland was misleading the Sunday Star Times, or he was misleading the official liquidator.

It’s worth recalling that Brill’s original presentation of the CSET’s arguments was so bad that the trust had to call in a barrister — Terry Sissons — to lick their arguments into shape, and present the case in the High Court. Did Sissons represent the CSET pro bono? On the face of it, that seems unlikely. If he did not, was he paid by Brill, the trustees or a third party, and why was that not recorded by the Trust as expenditure on their activities?

It is clear that Brill and the trustees have serious questions to answer regarding the management and funding of their legal action, and their misuse and mismanagement of a charitable trust.

Meanwhile, Brill is off to the Heartland Institute’s 9th “conference” on climate change. Readers with long memories may recall that the last time Brill addressed the world’s assembled cranks1 he was pushing legal action against national temperature records as something that should be tried all over the world.

Brill’s travel expenses are likely to have been funded by Heartland — who have a history of funding NZ climate crank organisations. He is set to appear on a panel2 discussing “international perspectives on climate change”, along with potty peer Christopher Monckton and Sebastian Luning from Germany.

I think we can safely assume that Brill will not be describing the failure of his much vaunted legal action, or passing the hat round in order to help the New Zealand taxpayer meet the costs of his stupid, self-serving and politically-motivated legal action.

  1. In Washington in 2011, see footnote 2 here.
  2. From 4pm to 5pm on Tuesday , July 8, full schedule here.

Whale meat again – Slater’s climate pseudoskeptic siren songs Gareth Renowden May 06

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New Zealand’s highest traffic blog is Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil Beef Hooked (try saying it in an Irish accent) — an aggressive right-wing sensationalist blog not noted for its delicate approach to current affairs. Unsurprisingly, Slater is an outspoken climate pseudoskeptic, with a long history of posts rubbishing climate science and the reality of climate change. This morning’s effort — The Cognitive Dissonance Of The Media On Climate Change — is pretty much par for Slater’s course, but riffs on an interesting new paper about the potential for serious additional ice loss from Antarctica which has been getting quite a bit of local media coverage (Stuff, RNZ News).

Slater’s complaint is straightforward enough: he relies on Monckton’s latest temperature trend cherry pick at µWatts and Climate Depot to demonstrate that there’s “no global warming for the last 17 years and 9 months”, shows a graph of the current increase in Antarctic sea ice, and then complains that because the NZ media has given prominence to a new study by Matthias Mengel and Anders Levermann at the Potsdam Institute1 that finds that a large chunk of the East Antarctic ice sheet could be vulnerable if warming continues, then the media must be biased. As he puts it:

These scaremongering scenarios really do show the cognitive dissonance of the mainstream media and their inability to look dispassionately at the evidence before us, instead they push political lines. All of their stories have “could”, “should”, “might” and “maybe” qualifiers.

Unfortunately, Slater’s the one with the cognitive dissonance. His “dispassionate” look at the evidence is anything but, and his aggressive rejection of the new ice sheet evidence — “This report doesn’t sound plausible at all, it sounds like horse crap to me” — appears to be based entirely on his own lack of understanding of ice sheet dynamics.

Let’s look at Slater’s choice of counter evidence. Monckton’s “17 years” is straightforwardly misleading for two main reasons. The first is handily summarised by Skeptical Science’s well-known “Escalator” graph:

Picking periods of negative or no trend in the surface temperature record2 tells us nothing about the long term — in which warming is unequivocal — or about the big picture, in which heat continues to accumulate in the system. Ice melts, oceans warm, heatwaves and storms get worse.

Next Slater shows the current NSIDC graph of Antarctic sea ice extent. It’s running above average as the ice heads towards its winter maximum. He doesn’t show you the equivalent NSIDC graph of Arctic sea ice, which is running well below the 1981-2010 average, or acknowledge that Greenland and Antarctica are losing ice mass, or that the world’s glaciers are melting away rapidly. Looking at Antarctic sea ice on its own tells us nothing about the big picture. In other words, it’s another cherry ripe for the picking, designed to mislead the unwary.

Slater’s final argument amounts to little more than “it’s cold in Antarctica, so the ice won’t melt” — which shows that he doesn’t understand the key point about the new research. From the Science Daily report:

“East Antarctica’s Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant,” says lead-author Matthias Mengel, “once uncorked, it empties out.” The basin is the largest region of marine ice on rocky ground in East Antarctica. Currently a rim of ice at the coast holds the ice behind in place: like a cork holding back the content of a bottle. While the air over Antarctica remains cold, warming oceans can cause ice loss on the coast. Ice melting could make this relatively small cork disappear — once lost, this would trigger a long term sea-level rise of 300-400 centimeters. “The full sea-level rise would ultimately be up to 80 times bigger than the initial melting of the ice cork,” says co-author Anders Levermann.

Warming ocean waters are already causing ice loss in West Antarctica — particularly around the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers that flow into the Amundsen Sea, which are both likely to become “unpinned” in the same way Mengel and Levermann have modelled for the Wilkes Basin — but a lot sooner.

It’s tempting to write off Slater’s misunderstandings and misrepresentation as just another example of political ideology trumping uncomfortable fact, but with his sizeable audience and hotline to key government figures such as Prime Minister John Key, recently fired cabinet minister Maurice Wilkinson and the beleaguered minister of justice Judith Collins, it’s reasonable to ask to what extent Slater’s aggressive denial of climate reality is something the government is quite happy to hide behind. They are certainly not acting as if they take the problem seriously.

  1. M. Mengel, A. Levermann. Ice plug prevents irreversible discharge from East Antarctica. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE2226
  2. See also Colin Sharples’ superb demonstration of the effects of changing trend windows in this classic Hot Topic post from 2009.

Saturday snark: a textbook for Vincent Gareth Renowden Feb 01

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As Stoat points out, the IPCC has released the reviewers comments on the Working Group One second order draft report. And as you might expect, the IPCC’s favourite inexpert commenter, the New Zealand Climate “Science” Coalition’s very own Vincent Gray was busy reviewing their work. Here’s comment 1-549 from Chapter One (pdf) by Gray:

The records shown are not “observations” and they are not “temperatures”. They are also not “globally averaged. They are a set of multiple averages, subtracted from an overall average, compiled from a vaying non-standardised set of maximum an minimum temperature measurements at varying weather sations and ship measurements. They were previously treated as “Mean Global Temperature anomaly” The uncertainties attached to each figure are very great, individual temperature measurements are rarely accurate to better than one degree, so a claimed “trend” over 100 years of less than one degree has a very low level of statistical significance. [Vincent Gray, New Zealand] (all spelling from IPCC doc)

The response from the editors is a minor classic of its kind:

Rejected – The comment does not reflect the scientific understanding. The errors in individual observations are not additive; we are also doing relative analysis that eliminates many of the concerns about individual errors. The reviewer obviously has a limited understanding of the associated error evaluation for analysis of large datasets. See Chapter 2 for more on the evaluation of these datasets. Or maybe even read a basic textbook. (my emphasis)

For more on accuracy versus precision, and the statistical power of large numbers, this classic post by Tamino is well worth a read.

There are other minor gems to be found as the reviewers deal with Monckton (in the “general” section) and John McLean (seemingly everywhere). In fact McLean’s ubiquity suggests that he may have acceded to Gray’s throne as the man with most comments on a single IPCC report. But don’t expect me to add them all up, I do have a life…

A hierarchy of fleas Gareth Renowden May 10

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Big fleas have little fleas,

Upon their backs to bite ‘em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas,

And so, ad infinitum.

The Siphonaptera

We’ll start in the middle, shall we, with “high priest of climate scepticism” Chris Monckton still railing against the failure of the halls of NZ academe to bow down before his obvious intellect. You could say that Chris is doing his best to be a flea in the fur of climate science, what with all his attempts to irritate scientists with scattergun accusations of fraud and libel. But the potty peer is also collecting his own fleas, attracted by his conspiracist thinking and intent on feasting on his fanaticism.

A few weeks ago, John O’Sullivan — the serial liar behind vanity crank science startup Principia Scientific International — wrote an open letter to Monckton, taking him to task for dismissing people who don’t accept the existence of the greenhouse effect as cranks. It’s a question of credibility amongst cranks and their peers, and Monckton could not resist a snotty response.

One John O’Sullivan has written me a confused and scientifically illiterate “open letter” in which he describes me as a “greenhouse gas promoter”. I do not promote greenhouse gases.

It’s a minor classic of a minuscule genre1. Monckton goes for the straightforwardly rude dismissal:

The series of elementary errors he here perpetrates, delivered with an unbecoming, cranky arrogance, indicates the need for considerable elementary education on his part.

The PP’s use of the C word stirs the mighty behemoth that is the collective intellect behind PSI, and O’Sullivan’s rejoinder is also a minor classic of its kind: the goalpost shift. Monckton’s second reply is, if anything, even snottier than his first:

Here, O’Sullivan characteristically but unwisely assumes that, since he is himself bottomlessly ignorant, others are as ignorant as he. As will be seen, that is not so.

Hell hath no fury like a crank scorned, which is something Monckton discovered for himself during his NZ visit. Interviewed by the editor of Uncensored Magazine2, Chris was rather dismissive of the reality of the chemtrails conspiracy. According to NZ’s chemtrails community, that means he’s playing “an active role in the chemtrail/geoengineering cover up”. Here’s more incisive analysis of Monckton’s real role from the same source:

Could it be that he’s functioning as a gatekeeper to keep people from knowing about the weather modification technology being used globally to create extremes, and exposing the IPCC, Al Gore, Michael Mann, Phil Jones and others as con artists, in order to win the public’s trust? He may be engaging in predictive programming regarding United Nations’ Agenda 21 – telling people that it is going to happen, so they will more readily accept it?

You could almost feel sorry for Monckton, were he not himself a conspiracy theorist, happy to tell his audiences that the UN is plotting to force humanity to live in concentration camps and that climate science is all a trumped up fraud. The potty peer wants to be accepted as a real scientist on a par with the people he defines as his peers3 — Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer chief amongst them4, even going to the extent of leaping to the defence of Spencer at µWatts when he was criticised by Skeptical Science recently5.

For Monckton, this could be a simple matter of self-esteem or self-importance, but it is also evidence of a need to retain what passes for credibility in the world of climate denial. He has to put clear blue water between himself and what he defines as the lunatic fringe. Unfortunately, his own descent into rabble-rousing and conspiracist thinking has drawn the rest of the fringe towards him like moths towards a flame — a perfect example of crank magnetism.

Further evidence of this need to reject the fringe can be seen in Anthony Watts refusal to espouse or promote the arguments6 adopted by O’Sullivan’s group of greenhouse deniers, and Roy Spencer’s various articles in defence of basic physics7.

These are all symptoms of a wider problem for the campaign to do nothing to reduce emissions — how do you maintain a credible case for inaction in the face of mounting evidence of a serious, perhaps even civilisation-threatening problem? As the evidence becomes quite literally undeniable, how do you keep the campaign going? How do you keep your sceptical foot soldiers happy?

These problems aren’t new. The answer was decided long ago: you feed the base. To keep the campaign going you tell your supporters what they want to hear, whatever the facts: that there’s been no warming for 17 years, that the Arctic ice melt isn’t a problem, that those heatwaves and floods and droughts are nothing to do with our emissions.

Unfortunately, that’s not what the science says, or most of the media report, so to make the lies credible you have to postulate a global conspiracy by climate scientists and environmentalists to distort the facts, commit fraud and create a chimera. And that’s Pandora’s Box you just opened.

As the years have gone by, and the accusations of conspiracy and fraud have become more strident, so the climate inactivists have drifted further and further from reality and into the orbits occupied by the chemtrail and crank physics conspiracists. They’ve sat down with the devil, and they’ve picked up his fleas. The result is quite a circus…

  1. Crank replies to criticisms by other cranks of their own crankery.
  2. Well, was Jack the Ripper Winston Churchill’s father? I think we should be told.
  3. Yes, I know it’s the second time I’ve used that pun, but you find a better word…
  4. Not setting the bar very high, it could be argued.
  5. SkS deals with Spencer’s misrepresentation of the science, but the best bit in the Catholic Online interview is where he says “we will need to burn even more fossil fuels in order to find replacements for fossil fuels.” I mean, words fail, etc etc.
  6. Many, various and mutually inconsistent.
  7. He’s been at it since 2009, at least.

VUW 3 vindicated, Monckton complaint rejected Gareth Renowden May 06

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Potty peer Chris Monckton’s complaint against VUW academics Jonathan Boston, David Frame and Jim Renwick has been roundly rejected by the university. An investigation carried out by a senior member of the academic staff found that Monckton’s allegations of fraud and libel were “not substantiated”. VUW vice chancellor Pat Walsh was unequivocal in his support of the VUW 3:

“I want to state clearly that I have faith in these academic staff. By speaking publicly in their field of expertise, they were doing exactly what we expect.”

It remains to be seen how Monckton will respond, but it will probably involve more empty threats. In a typically tasteless and intemperate article posted at WND last week, he fantasised about reporting VUW to the police:

If I do not receive a reply very soon, police will be asked to investigate not only the “professor” who had posted up the dodgy graph but also the vice-chancellor, the chancellor and the “university” itself as accessories during and after the fact of scientific fraud. Don’t send your child there, and don’t give it any money.

Despite hobnobbing with a High Court judge during his NZ visit1, it appears that Monckton’s grasp of the law is as dodgy as his understanding of climate science and economics.

  1. Or at least claiming to. It would be interesting to know to whom he refers…

Monckton and the big waka Gareth Renowden Apr 25

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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.

Monckton misfires on Radio New Zealand: a baker’s dozen of errors and deception Gareth Renowden Apr 19

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Last night Radio New Zealand’s Nights programme — a show with a long-standing commitment to excellent coverage of science and scientists — for some strange reason decided to broadcast an interview with Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Quite why they bothered to give him a platform remains to be seen, but as you might expect, [...]

Moaning minnie Monckton attacks academic freedom: Support The VUW Three! Gareth Renowden Apr 15

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Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, has converted his recent threats against NZ academics and universities into a gloriously idiotic letter of complaint (pdf), sent to the vice chancellor of Victoria University of Wellington, professor Pat Walsh, last Friday. In the letter, Monckton accuses the head of the Institute of Policy Studies, professor Jonathan Boston, of [...]

More Monckton invention: what Myles Allen didn’t say Gareth Renowden Apr 11

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Poor old Chris. The discount Viscount has not been having a happy time with the New Zealand press, as my Sciblogs colleague Peter Griffin noted in Monckton’s nightmare week in New Zealand last week. According to the Waikato TImes, he may even be about to hang up his sceptic spurs1. He was given a much more gentle ride by the SunLive news web site in Tauranga, who were pleased to give him a chance to continue to misrepresent and misdirect in a video interview posted yesterday. As ever, I watched it so you wouldn’t have to…

Here’s Monckton putting words in the mouth of Myles Allen:

Interestingly, Dr Myles Allen from Oxford University, who’s been right in the tank for the extremist presentations of how much [warming] we might see, he’s been saying, ooh, we’re going to get 5ºC of warming for sure. He came out just last week and said – no, that can’t be right, with 17 – 23 years without any global warming at all then we’re looking more at perhaps a maximum of 2ºC warming over this century, and that, frankly, is not enough to do any particular damage.

Two degrees “not enough to do any particular damage” is (of course) complete nonsense, but it is the words the potty peer puts in Myles Allen’s mouth that are the flat out inventions. Monckton is probably referring to a piece of David Rose tosh in the Daily Mail that so grievously misrepresented Allen’s views that he took the time to pen a reply for The Guardian. Here’s what Allen has to say about likely warming this century:

…even if the “climate sensitivity” is as low as 2C, as some lines of evidence now suggest, we would still be looking at 4C plus by the early 22nd century.

The reason is that there is plenty of fossil carbon down there, and we keep finding more: the Japanese have just demonstrated how to mine sub-ocean methane clathrates. And as other carbon pools fill up, an increasing fraction of the carbon we dump in the atmosphere stays there, in effect, forever (unless our grandchildren decide to pump it out again).

In other words, Monckton is badly misrepresenting Allen’s views, and presumably hoping that no-one down here in little old New Zealand will notice. Just like he was hoping that no-one would notice his lies about the Arctic. No doubt the Flat Earth Society will approve of his tactics…

  1. Hurrah!

More Monckton invention: what Myles Allen didn’t say Gareth Renowden Apr 11

Join the conversation at Hot Topic

Poor old Chris. The discount Viscount has not been having a happy time with the New Zealand press, as my Sciblogs colleague Peter Griffin noted in Monckton’s nightmare week in New Zealand last week. According to the Waikato TImes, he may even be about to hang up his sceptic spurs1. He was given a much [...]

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