Monckton is a fraud

By Gareth Renowden 03/08/2010

Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, pompous peer of a parish in Kent, not content with threatening legal action against US scientist John Abraham (who had the temerity to point out the huge number of errors and misrepresentations in a talk he gave: see Support John Abraham, now 1050+ comments), has now threatened action for libel against Professor Scott Mandia. Mandia wrote a blog post in support of Abraham, inviting members of the media to consider if Monckton were a fraud — which drew a spiteful little email from Tannochbrae

I also note that you have publicly accused me of ’fraud’, and have widely circulated that accusation on the internet, and have expressed the intention to invite the mass media to repeat it. Since this is a serious charge, do you have any evidence to back it up, or should I add your name to that of Professor Abraham in the libel case that will be filed shortly?

Mandia’s open letter to the media asked them to “expose Monckton for the fraud that he is”, which is somewhat different to an accusation of fraudulent behaviour. Let’s examine the evidence, and see if Monckton can reasonably be described as “a fraud”, and whether his actions and public statements are in themselves fraudulent. First we need some definitions:

The Google definition listing is here, and from that Princeton Wordnet offers:

  • intentional deception resulting in injury to another person
  • imposter: a person who makes deceitful pretenses
  • something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage

My elderly Oxford English Dictionary (complete edition, 1979) offers the following:

  • the quality or disposition of being deceitful; faithlessness, insincerity
  • criminal deception; the using of false representations to obtain an unjust an unjust advantage or to injure the rights and interest of another
  • an act or instance of deception, an artifice by which the right or interest of another is injured, a dishonest trick or stratagem
  • colloq of a person; One who is not who he appears to be; an imposter, a humbug ( = a hoax, jesting or befooling trick, an imposture, deception, fraud or sham)

Then a US legal definition (definitions differ in other jurisdictions):

Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

How do Monckton’s public statements, writings and presentations stack up when considered in the light of the above definitions. Not well. Let us first note the evidence assembled by Professor Barry Bickmore of Brigham Young University in Utah on his Lord Monckton’s Rap Sheet page. One item will suffice: In a letter to the US Congress Monckton represented himself as a member of the House of Lords in the British Parliament. Monckton is not now, nor has he ever been a member of the House of Lords. Intentional misrepresentation? You be the judge…

Next, let us consider his bizarrely overwrought “Response to John Abraham” [PDF]. Once more, one item will be sufficient. From page 69:

394: Are you aware of results such as that of Pinker et al. (2005), and of several other researchers and data gathering organizations? Pinker found that in 18 years and 1 month from 1983-2001 a naturally-occurring global brightening, attributable at least in part to a reduction in cloud cover at low latitudes and altitudes, had increased the flux of solar radiation reaching the surface by 2.9 Watts per square meter, an increase sufficient to account for all of the ’global warming’ over the period?

Monckton made a similar assertion in a debate with Deltoid’s Tim Lambert in Australia earlier in this year, only to have the wind knocked from his sails by a quote from Rachel Pinker, pointing out that he was wrong. Tasked with this, Monckton assured Lambert that he would “check with Pinker and the IPCC”, and change his argument. It appears that he has failed to do this, preferring instead to continue to misrepresent Pinker’s paper. A deceitful pretence? You be the judge…

Closer to home, Monckton was caught telling lies on New Zealand television, claiming to be an expert on the calculation of climate sensitivity:

The scientists have indeed got their sums wrong, because there are only perhaps 40 or 50 scientists involved in calculating that one central quality, which is known as climate sensitivity, how much warming will you get. It’s a very narrow, very specialist field in which I have actually published work in the [slight pause] reviewed literature, and there’s not many people who have done that. Very few people people have actually done work in this field, and unfortunately what they have done is they have preferred at the UN’s climate panel to rely on computer models which are in effect a form of guesswork.

Monckton’s only contribution to this field was an article (not a peer-reviewed paper) in a newsletter (not a peer-reviewed journal) of the American Physical Society in 2008, which got the science so badly wrong that Arthur Smith was able to document 125 errors. Two years on, Monckton would prefer we didn’t remember that. Something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage in debate? You be the judge…

Monckton has also made free with his threats of actions for libel. Aside from Abraham and Mandia, he has threatened George Monbiot and The Guardian (he got nowhere, though he has apparently attempted to claim that he was awarded £50,000 damages), and Arthur Smith’s debunking also earned him a threat of action (see Monckton’s Rap Sheet). None of the ignoble Lord’s threats amount to more than hot air. Perhaps he thinks that preaching from a bully pulpit will impress his congregation. His popularity with the American think tanks running the campaign against action on climate change depends to some extent on his being seen to be at least vaguely credible, and perhaps that demands that he be seen to posture and preen. Or perhaps that is just the nature of the man…

In Britain he carries much less clout. There he is recognised for what he is — a pretentious fabulist and self-important minor peer who is involved with a fringe far-Right political party. Nigel Lawson’s secretly-funded Global Warming Policy Foundation wouldn’t touch Monckton with a barge pole, because it would make Lawson and his backers look like idiots.

On the evidence, it is clear that Monckton is a shameless humbug, a proven liar and a hypocrite, who intentionally misrepresents the facts of climate science in order to mislead his audience. The real mystery is why this isn’t obvious to important sections of the US body politic.