Thursday, June 10, 2010

“A Scientist Replies to Christopher Monckton: Abraham v. Monckton.”

Professor Abraham's presentation can be found at:

Over the past couple years I have been carrying on a virtual conversation with various scientifically informed folks who are vocal “skeptics” regarding man-made global warming (AGW). This past winter that conversation flared with a spat of emails offering up ClimateGate tidbits along with a lot of overblown, even slanderous, charges toward the scientists whose personal emails had been stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. Having read the full texts of the emails being singled out, I was able to carry on a spirited defense of the scientists integrity.

During this winter and spring the thousands of stolen UEA-CRU emails have been scoured, yet “skeptics” have been unable to dredge up a single instance of real malfeasance. As for the original half dozen hollow accusations, in February a Penn State academic board of inquiry cleared Michael Mann of scientific misconduct. In March, the British House of Commons issued a report exonerating Professor Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit. In April, another International Panel of Inquire set up at UEA also found no wrongdoing. Predictably, now the diehard “skeptics” are claiming everyone is in on the “fraud.” All the while ignoring what Earth observation satellites and monitoring instruments are telling us.

I’m disappointed that my email pals never acknowledged any of their mistaken pronouncements and that the conversation becomes quiet as a black hole unless they have something to toss at me. What should we think of the AGW “Skeptical” Community when they refuse to look at anything that disagrees with their mindset? After all, intellectual integrity is about a desire to learn and being able to admit one was wrong and that new information justifies reorienting ones thinking.

One of the most outspoken proselytizers of such obstinate denial is Lord Christopher Monckton who has been spending the past years flying the globe, demeaning every aspect of AGW science. Recently, he gave a guest lecture at Bethel University - where
University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) professor, PhD. John Abraham was listen. What he heard so disturbed him that he spent the next few months doing a detailed examination of Monckton’s talk along with the data slides used. The result is an 80 minute presentation titled “A Scientist Replies to Christopher Monckton: Abraham v. Monckton.” The report can be found at

For more details see Professor Abraham's guest posts at Skeptical Science.

Having watched a number of Lord Monckton’s presentations I was struck by the contrast in styles. Whereas Monckton is bombastic, self-certain and loves tossing out catchy insults, Abraham is soft spoken, polite and rigorously sticks to examining the issues. He acknowledges Monckton’s skills and admits: “After listening to his comments, and viewing his presentation, any reasonable audience might feel that climate risks are not as serious as we’ve been led to believe... If you believe him you’d have to conclude that: The world is not warming; Sea levels are not rising; Ice is not melting; Polar bears not threatened; Oceans is not heating; No ocean acidification; Scientists are lying, (and) there is a conspiracy.”

Abraham begins by giving his qualifications, which are impressive. Then, in stark contrast to Monckton who explicitly proclaims he possesses the “truth,” Abraham makes the following disclosure: “Just because I’ve published all of these papers doesn’t mean I’m right. All this says is that I have a background in energy, heat, and fluids which is germane to the topic of climate change.” He then goes on to list Monckton’s climate science credentials which quite frankly are zero. Abraham goes on to ask: “Now does that mean he’s wrong?... Does that mean non-experts are not allowed to have an opinion on this? Absolutely not. We welcome everyone with an opinion on this topic, you can be knowledgeable about things outside your formal area of expertise. But, nevertheless we want to think about the background that people have when we ascribe credibility to the comments they make.”

With that introduction PhD. Abraham proceeds down a list of Monckton’s claims. While examining these claims and graphs two trends become obvious, one is that Monckton disagrees with all major scientific organizations who have official positions on climate change - portraying himself as the lone valiant warrior of truth battling against everyone else’s conspiracy of lies. The other being that Monckton consistently misrepresents the scientific work (along with graphs) of other scientists. Example after example is given where scientists clearly reject what Monckton claims regarding their work. Yet, Monckton shamelessly continues broadcasting proven lies, somehow feeling justified in using graphs that are falsifications and misrepresenting the real science others have worked hard to gather. What’s most troubling is it’s so typical of the multi-million dollar Global Warming Denial propaganda campaign in general.

Given Professor Abraham’s thorough smack down of myths presented as scientific truth, I’m reminded of my virtual AGW conversation mates, with their obstinate refusal to acknowledge a single error of judgment, or take into consideration any of the ominous data being gathered these days. What’s going on? Have “global warming skeptics” become so frozen by fear at this self-created brave new world we are entering that they believe hiding is a better strategy?

Ultimately the question is: Are “global warming skeptics” even capable of responding to data and factual arguments or is it a hopeless “faith-based” position they cling to... rather than an exercise in genuine skepticism about the data?

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