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Denier dissected

Written By: - Date published: 7:49 am, June 6th, 2010 - 35 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags: ,

Climate change, let’s recap. It’s real, it’s happening, people are dying. It’s going to be hugely damaging to life in general and human agriculture and “civilisation” in particular. We know that there is a well funded corporate campaign to obfuscate and deny climate change science (similar to the tobacco industry campaign to hide the truth about cancer). We know that no amount of evidence or reason will ever convince those who have already made up their minds to deny. The task of climate change scientists is almost impossible. Deniers will keep denying until the facts completely overwhelm them, by which time it will be far, far too late.

One of the highest profile deniers is “Lord” Christopher Monckton. We’ve discussed him here before, and he has commented on The Standard himself. Monckton is a systematic liar, and it’s good to see him finally taken to task by a real scientist (part of a trend as scientists fight back). Monbiot sums up:

Viscount Monckton, another fallen idol of climate denial

Professor John Abraham’s withering scrutiny reveals how the gurus of climate scepticism repeat a pattern of manipulation

Another one bites the dust. Every so often, someone with a strong stomach and time to spare volunteers to devote weeks or months of their life to a grisly task: investigating the claims of a person who dismisses the science or significance of man-made climate change. Dave Rado did it with Martin Durkin’s film, the Great Global Warming Swindle. Howard Friel did it with Bjørn Lomborg. Ian Enting did it with Ian Plimer.

It involves slow, painstaking work, following the sources, checking the claims against the science. But the result in all cases has been the same: a devastating debunking of both the claims and the methods of the people investigated. Now another fallen idol of climate change denial must be added to the list: Viscount Monckton’s assertions have been comprehensively discredited by professor of mechanical engineering John Abraham, at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota.

John Abraham writes:

Monckton takes scientist to brink of madness at climate change talk

An angry professor who listened to Monckton’s speech at a US university demolishes the wild claims made by the climate denier

… Monckton cited scientist after scientist whose work “disproved” global warming. He contended that polar bears are not really at risk (in fact they do better as weather warms); projections of sea level rise are a mere 6cm; Arctic ice has not declined in a decade; Greenland is not melting; sea levels are not rising; ocean temperatures are not increasing; medieval times were warmer than today; ocean acidification is not occurring; and global temperatures are not increasing.

If true, these conclusions would be welcome. But there is a problem with this kind of truth it is not made by wishing. So I began a journey of investigation (the full results of which you can view here). I actually tracked down the articles and authors that Monckton cited. What I discovered was incredible, even to a scientist who follows the politics of climate change. I found that he had misrepresented the science. …

How can such misrepresentations be made without public recourse? I cannot answer that. I can say that scientists are listening and though our voices are small, we will use them to hold people like Monckton and others to account for their public claims.

The science community is slowly learning that if we don’t perform this service, no one will. Tough decisions are going to have to be made and the public deserves accurate information about the science so they can help make those decisions.

Abraham’s full results (a long narrated slideshow presentation) are comprehensive and devastating. Monckton is a serial liar, and it can only be deliberate. Deniers come in two flavours, fools and liars. The fools who follow, I can understand, desperate to believe what they want to believe. The liars who lead, like Monckton, I don’t understand at all. What makes a person tell lies that are going to cost us the earth?

35 comments on “Denier dissected ”

  1. jcuknz 1

    However disgusting and regretable it is there have always people who take the opposite view, it must be part of human nature to object to being one of the sheep. You find it even in sheep so it must be nature rather than human nature.

  2. wyndham 2

    Could Monckton’s views have anything to do with the adulation of his fellow deniers, the wining and dining that accompanies his worldwide perambulations ? Strutting on the stage? And the money. Ah yes! the money.

  3. bob 3

    jcuknz: I don’t understand who you regard to be the sheep. Climate change deniers or critical analysts ?

  4. I hope this whole episode makes people realise the importance of proper referencing. Hooray for footnotes!

  5. Mac1 5

    I had a school and University friend who loved to defend the indefensible, purely for the intellectual challenge of it. One memorable argument I remember was his postulation that wind was caused by the effect of the rotation of the earth. The inevitable challenge that wind changed direction he put down to changes in land form such as the snow levels in mountain passes.

    For him it was a game. Perhaps it made him feel smarter being able to defend the indefensible against lesser minds who were on the correct side of the argument.

    As for Monckton, maybe he is a secular version of Bishop Brian. Or another manifestation of that national complexity- the English eccentric.

    I am more interested in an explanation of the followers who would rather believe than know, for whom truth is too challenging, or frightening, the intellectual ‘stay-a-beds’.

    • Bunji 5.1

      But the wind IS caused by the rotation of the earth! That’s why westerlies predominate and it takes longer to fly west than east…

      and, well… okay, it’s only a half-truth, but those are the most convincing lies.

      I can see the appeal for the followers. We have very comfortable lives in the west. Very comfortable and unsustainable lives – even most of those of use who make some effort haven’t really changed enough.

  6. Bill 6

    “The liars who lead, like Monckton, I don’t understand at all. What makes a person tell lies that are going to cost us the earth?”

    So are you really saying that you don’t understand the motivation of gurus?

    How about money and power for a start? Most know themselves to be charlatans…some are deluded but all are false and utterly dependent on having followers flock…

    How about the glamour of recognition…fame?

    And the list goes on.

    And then possibly a kicker…

    How about he is not deluded. How about he simply cannot believe that he is spouting his shit and getting away with it? How about he thought the game would be up pretty quickly and is as astounded as everyone that he has been allowed to ride the gravy train of fame and fortune for this long? How about he thinks, ‘If they can’t bring me and my crap to heal, then there really is no hope anyway and so I might as well carry on reaping the good stuff’?

    You can see how that might work, yes?

    Oh, and then the real targets of all of us ought not to be these false prophets, gurus (call them what you will) but the institutions that profit from their activities. Know what I mean? These guys are a bit different from the cliché of the Indian guru only insofar as benefits accrue to institutions and corporations as well as the practitioner…kind of like if there were ‘lone gun’ Catholic gurus who received only tacit approval from the church and so ultimately benefited the institution of the church as well as their own black hearted and swollen tongued selves.

  7. No doubt about it Bill ,money and power will bring out all the sleazy and slimy who will lie and lie if they are coining it in .Look no further than the present PM. The problem is they seem to get away with it.They also cause so much trouble. Take the ant- vaccination group , we now have a return of TB and measle outbreaks ,with all the trouble that causes. Then we have Holocaust deniers . There are many others ,but the common theme is money or power or both. The answer ? I dont really know , just slog on exposing these people the best we can.

    • Bill 7.1

      I’m not too sure about your focus there.

      TB is arguably a disease of poverty. Holocaust denial doesn’t spin money any more than that archaeologist whose name escapes me for the moment who spouted shit to sell books…aliens and stuff. And I can’t see who is making money from not immunising kids or whoever.

      Unlike the vaccination programme for the flu last year which poured billions into the coffers of two or three pharmaceutical companies. And it transpires that the WHO had the wool pulled over their eyes by having their reports written and criteria altered by advisors in the pay of the self same companies.

      http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/292992

      Or then there is Omega 3. A multi billion dollar industry. And it looks like hype.

      “…someone has now finally conducted a proper trial of fish oil pills(…:): a well-conducted, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in 450 children aged 810 years from a mainstream school population. (…) and the researchers found no improvement. Show me the news headlines about that paper.

      Meanwhile (…) global sales for fish oil pills to be at $2bn, having doubled in five years, with sales projected to reach $2.5bn by 2012. ”

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/05/bad-science-omega3-fish-oil

      Or what about animal fat and cholesterol research being funded by the margarine council and relying (from memory) on a study from the 50s where rabbits were injected with animal product?

      Or what about send me your money or cede control to me and I’ll let you in on the secret, send you the product with a free add on, put a star on your chart, save your soul, see you right and generally take care of things for you to ensure no harm visits…at least for as long as you don’t ask any questions?

      We got a deal?

  8. BLiP 8

    In the words of that towering New Zealand intellect: “full credit” to the scientists who have taken the time and lent their energy to debunking the denialists.

    Personally, I’ve given up arguing with the denialists. Its like seeking to apply logic and reason to cult members who have had their cognitive functions disabled by the fervour of their belief and the brainwashing tactics of those who would control them. But, I wonder, is there a one-hit sentence or paragraph that can be applied which, upon investigation, proves climate warning. The nearest I have found came from someone here who wrote:

    Do molecules with dipole moments such as those of gaseous carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emit heat when bombarded by infra-red radiation and, if so, what are the implications of that action for the Earth’s atmosphere given current levels of emissions?

    Any alternatives, suggestions for improvement . . .

    • seth 8.1

      The fact that the rate of increase in the ocean levels has slowed down in the last 20 years remarkedly, compared to the rest of the 20th century must be a real pain in the you know what for blind believers like you.

      You do realise that you blindly believing the media is exactly the same as what you attack on the denialists? Your cognitive functions have been impaired by reading BS media reports and hand picked and massaged statistics and data.

      Who is better, those who blindly believe in something or those who deny it?

  9. prism 9

    What makes a person tell lies that are going to cost us the earth?
    I guess because he loves the sound of his own voice, Brit wit was “He was vaccinated with a gramophone needle”.
    The other important point is that wealthy people are willing to listen, applaud and pay him in some way, certainly his transport I should think. He probably was a flatulent little boy at school and has never grown up inside his head.

  10. you picked on one man telling the truth. your business of earning while scaring is well exposed. have the decency to stand down

  11. Andy 11

    I am interested to know what exactly a “climate change denier” is, as you refer to it.

    As I am aware, the likes of Monckton. Spencer, Lindzen etc all accept that CO2 has a basic climate sensitivity of around 1degC for a doubling of CO2 in the absence of feedback.

    The IPCC claim a sensitivity greater then this due to a positive feedback. There are also arguments that the sensitivity may be less than 1degC due to negative feedback.

    There is very little evidence to support either hypothesis. Most of the “evidence” is based on the output of computer models. These models have proved in the past to be hopelessly inaccurate (e.g Ozone hole, Iceland volcanic ash, long term Met Office weather forecasts)

    So my question is, why do you label people “deniers” because they doubt the output of computer models that have been shown in the past to have failed to predict the future?

    • lprent 11.1

      Nope. Mainly because the CCD ‘science’ is hopelessly flawed. It takes the most wildly optimistic viewpoint possible. It assumes that almost everything we know about positive feedback mechanisms isn’t going to happen.

      The IPCC scenarios are almost as bad. They take the proven only and not the probable. A good example is the breakup of the Antarctica peninsula sea ice sheets and the consequent increased speeds of the glaciers behind them. Or they severe under-estimates of the decrease in ice mass in the Arctic ice cover. If those probable events were fed into the same models that you’re talking about in 2005 when the last IPCC report was being compiled, then their worst case scenario would become the best case.

      In both of the simulations you mentioned, the computer simulations have consistently under-estimated the potential damage rather than over-estimated it when measured against the physical evidence. Have you seen the pictures of the damage to the Finnish airforce turbines? That is because the sims are only loaded with the available proven evidence – not what actually is probable.

      The problem with your idiotic insistence that we wait until we have physical evidence before we act, is that we’d have destroyed our civilization because you want to play with your bloody SUV’s for a few years more.

    • Zorr 11.2

      There are several flaws to your argument there that place you still squarely in the CCD camp – possibly due to your misunderstanding of the science rather than a desire to be there so let me explain some of the ideas behind what constitutes “scientific modelling” and basic science while we are at it.

      You take a measurement. You record it.
      You take a measurement. You record it.
      You take a measurement. You record it.
      ad infinitum…

      Until eventually you have enough material evidence to start seeing a pattern beginning to emerge. At this point you start to use established statistical methods to correlate the immense amount of evidence gathered and to determine what factors have an effect that we are interested in and whether there is a determinable relationship between data points (simple ones being logarithmic or quadratic that you may remember from high school).

      At this point, a funny thing happens – because one of the things we are interested in is these changes as a function of time we can then (essentially) see in to the future with regards these variables as long as we have accurately assessed them. Would it make any difference to you if the scientists came out and said “Hey guys, we know you don’t trust that computer modelling stuff so here is 100pages of calculations for you to read over that we did by hand”?

      To take a simple analogy, if I was to state to you that the car you would be travelling in was going to accelerate at a rate of 10 km/h every min and that you would therefore be travelling at 100km/h after 10 mins, you would be hard pressed to argue against me. Climate change scientists are essentially trying to tell us the same thing – our planet is heading down a certain path and we will be hard pressed to stop it happening if we are even capable of reversing it still.

      Also, on the ozone hole thing, who ever said that was bunk?

      • Andy 11.2.1

        I seem to be getting some very odd responses here. I was trying to get some measure of what a “climate change denier” is.

        Naturally, I can understand that you hate Monckton. He is an easy target: hereditary peer, former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, etc etc. And of course, horror upon horrors, he has been shown to have been inaccurate in his statements.Now let’s be fair here, over 30% of the IPCC AR4 report is non-peer-reviewed, and can be therefore also be considered to be inaccurate.

        Anyway, moving right along, I am assumed to be making the idiotic assertion that we should do nothing about climate change, and what’s more, I drive an SUV.

        As it happens, I drive a small economical car, and ride a bike, but I’d really hate to shatter your illusion that I am a right wing racist with a Thai mail order bride.

        At this point, it is reasonable to assume that any further rational debate is pointless.

        • RedLogix 11.2.1.1

          ow let’s be fair here, over 30% of the IPCC AR4 report is non-peer-reviewed, and can be therefore also be considered to be inaccurate.

          What so this makes the other 70% irrelevant?

          And logically there remains a huge gap between something being merely ‘not peer reviewed’ and proven wrong. (By contrast Moncton makes provable errors over and over.)

          The real problem with the IPCC process is that it’s a massive, cumbersome process, involving thousands of people, that ‘committtee to death’ much of it’s work. In other words it tends to be a very conservative document, that tend to safest ‘most probable’ scenarios.

          Many people actually working in the field, personally believe the IPCC will eventually be proven wrong alright…wrong as in hopelessly optimistic.

          • Andy 11.2.1.1.1

            And you presumably have evidence that the IPCC is conservative

            We are dying to hear your rational scientific arguments as to why this may be the case

            • RedLogix 11.2.1.1.1.1

              If you wanted the science you would have found it long ago. That’s why we cannot have a rational discussion.

            • lprent 11.2.1.1.1.2

              Read the preface to the first part (science) of the IPCC reports. They state their methodology there.

              You can read can’t you? Maybe you can look it up? Come back when you’ve checked out the relevant parts.

              • Andy

                Oh sorry,
                the usual Warmist “you can read I presume” answer

                Sorry\, have to try better next time, \
                \
                Acheived not acheived

                • lprent

                  Don’t apologize. It wastes time.

                  Just do the damn reading…

                  • Andy

                    If the IPCC are underestimating the effects of climate change, does that not make them “deniers” by your definition?

        • lprent 11.2.1.2

          The IPCC report is in a number of parts. Only one of those parts is about the science of climate change, which is completely peer reviewed. The remainder are about expected effects about what is in the first part.

          Lets be fair here – since we’ve never seen such rapid climate change either in human history or even in the geological record, a lot of the non-climate change science parts are inherently speculative and are there for the guidance of the politicians.

          But lets be also fair here – you are just a bit of a scientific illiterate who really seems to know very little about a series of reports. Perhaps you should go and read them to gain sufficient knowledge to be able to discuss the topic.

          • Andy 11.2.1.2.1

            But lets be also fair here you are just a bit of a scientific illiterate who really seems to know very little about a series of reports.

            And your evidence for this rather sweeping statement about my intellectual prowess is.. exactly…

            Please tell me, I can hardly wait ,

  12. eye saw 12

    Alexander King cofounder of the Club of Rome from his 1991 book,”The first global revolution”,said,”The common enemy of humanity is man.
    In searching for a new enemy to unite us,we came up with the idea that pollution,the threat of Global Warming,water shortages,famine and the like would fit the bill.All those dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome.
    The real enemy then is humanity itself”.

  13. Majestic Oil 13

    Thanks for that ROB its just what we need the sheep thinking as we are very heavily invested in “climate change” previously marketed as “man made global warming”( until exposed as a big lie).
    We are turning your country into one big enron and you are buying!
    Keep on spreading the word ROB(& our other little players/financially invested cohorts).
    We can still trick the people by calling all those that oppose Carbon Trading derivatives ” deniers and fools” .

  14. Thank you Eye Saw for the Alexander King quote “The real enemy is humanity itself’. I am unfamiliar with his work and my own research has led me to precisely this conclusion. A fascinating phenomenon became apparent during the tens of thousand of hours of psychoanalysis of the language of “climate experts’ and the Green Movement in general: we tend to frame issues so as to deny the change we call for.

    It is helpful to understand that a powerful element of the conscious state of all human beings is our capacity for self-deceit and that our capacity for denial of stewardship/change is incredible. In other words, it is beyond the capacity of our intellect to know and believe the sophistication of our denial. However once we can acknowledge this incredible capacity and enjoy compassion we are more able live in acceptance of stewardship/change.

    I hope this makes it clear that I am not calling “climate experts’ and the Green Movement “liars’ and “immoral’ when I suggest these groups put human kind at greatest risk. Indeed here is the paradox: it is our enhanced awareness of the possible negative impacts of our individual activities that make us extraordinarily vulnerable to using our prime symbols in denial of stewardship/change. These symbol uses reflect the extra dissonance caused by the conflict between our knowledge of our impacts and our actions. They also work to generate a similar dissonance in our audience. Hence we each become our own greatest enemy.
    It is possible to transcend our ego and enjoy greater harmony using guides such as the Sustainability Principle of Energy you can read more at http://www.bonusjoules.co.nz You might even like to join the call for a national review of our use of our prime symbols.

  15. JonL 15

    [quote]Who is better, those who blindly believe in something or those who deny it?[/quote] They are both as bad as the other!

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