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28 Jun 2010

Lord Monckton Defrocked, Point by Point….

I haven’t blogged about this before due to lack of time, but I really should have, given that it really is essential reading/viewing.  Lord Monckton is one the leading climate sceptics out there, who very publicly argues that the world is actually getting colder, the oceans are not acidifying, arctic ice is not retreating, and that climate change is all a scam cooked up by the UN in order to usher in a New World Order (still with me?). Last October, he gave a talk at Bethel University in Minnesota in which he set out his case.  In the audience was one John Abraham, associate professor in the School of Engineering at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota.  He knew something was wrong, and then went off and spent months chasing up Monckton’s references, arguing that “the science community is slowly learning that if we don’t perform this service, no one will”.  His conclusion?  Every single reference is misinterpreted, distorted or falsified.  His online presentation patiently goes through every one of Monckton’s slides and pulls his arguments to pieces.  If you still think climate sceptics have even half a leg to stand on, this is essential viewing.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.


Ed Straker
28 Jun 5:01pm

As I read through the blogosphere I’ve come across some articles lately that put forward the notion that environmentalists continuing to appeal to the logical nature of humanity via scientific arguments quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns. Ultimately people react to information overload by filtering data according to their biases. As such, Lord Monckton is given equal weight to the IPCC.

It’s not essential viewing for people like us because it’s preaching to the converted. Few people who take Monckton seriously would spend the time to watch this entire presentation. Instead people will, as I said, leap to conclusions based on their biases and the scattered information (valid or bogus) that’s floating around.

You’d think that as the ice sheets melt, more species go extinct, crops wither, freshwater supplies become more strained, that people might begin to take these issues seriously, but as long as there is a steady stream of FUD out there, people will gravitate further away from inconvenient truths and towards increasingly exotic rationalizations for why we shouldn’t alter BAU.

This explains why the entire world practically fell over drunk with relief during Climategate. People either don’t want to or are incapable of thinking deeply enough about these issues to get to the truth of the matter.

We now have over 40 years of traditional Cassandra-based environmental activism behind us, and you can see how little it’s actually impacted the trajectory of humanity.

I see little evidence that it’s going to change. Each time I fool myself into thinking we’ve hit some milestone, whether it be Live Earth, or the airing of Earth 2100, I am disappointed. Awareness of our predicament will always be a minority thing, and people altering their lives to be good earth stewards will always be niche, so much so that the combined beneficial effect will be minor.

The frog has to boil in the pot before everyone else changes, at which point it will probably be too late to prevent the worst impact on society.

Thomas V
28 Jun 6:48pm

I think you make an excellent point about people filtering information according to their biases. However, this is associated with a strictly pessimistic viewpoint of the commitment environmentalism. I don’t believe awareness of climate change is subject to a minority, there is general global concern as we saw at Climategate. Yeah, there were some people who “fell over drunk with relief,” but one can’t ignore the enormity of outrage that followed Climategate. When have so many third world countries stood up to the rich and westernized countries around the world? When have so many people around the world told their political leaders that this is not enough?

It’s true that many people do lack the ability/education to comprehend such rotund political and scientific arguments, but this works both ways. Al Gore did it. Though many environmental enthusiasts agree with Al Gore and his “Inconvenient Truth” that doesn’t change the fact that many will be manipulated by his arguments. It’s just like Lord Monckton’s presentation. This isn’t a bad thing. People often need things like this as a starting point to get involved with issues such as climate change, and now there is more and more green propaganda everywhere. One can’t expect an individual who’s interest is first piqued to search out John Abraham’s presentation or rifle through the IPCC’s projections for sea level rising. They’re going to start somewhere simple and work their way up, which takes time. We need to look for ways to foster this growth. Movements are slow to grow but they’re also very hard to quell. I think we’re headed towards good things with such growing interest.

Katy Duke
28 Jun 7:06pm

I’m hoping Ed’s views don’t come to fruition, though I recognise them well. In our transition town we are failing to reach out to the majority of the community, let alone tackling the Mail readers & sceptics. I really couldn’t face ploughing through the Monckton stuff but I have just finished listening to Abraham’s analysis & expose. Thank goodness for sense, citation & expert analysis over bluff & vested interests. It is however clear that we can’t sit aside from the garbage press & nonsense science, as the UEA perhaps attempted to do, but need to spend our (precious) time countering such rubbish. Thanks Rob.

You might like to see some of the latest OneClimate videos, Greenpeace on G8/G20, Oxfam on climate finance & tcktcktck’s analysis of the latest climate backslide

Ed Straker
28 Jun 9:37pm

You know how when someone is given a terminal diagnosis, no matter how rational and straight-laced they are, suddenly they start looking for 2nd and 3rd opinions. If that doesn’t work, they abandon traditional medicine. They go on some vision quest in Peru, dive into new age and snake oil holistic medicine? They start sitting inside pyramids and chanting? That’s kind of where we are right now.

The ramifications of admitting to global warming, limits to growth, overshoot, are too much to accept. And so we take people like Lord Monckton (in the UK) or Glenn Beck (in the US), people who in the past would be considered mental midgets and wingnuts, and hoist them up on a pedestal as the last great hope for defending BAU.

And I’ll tell you something else, whatever these conservatives lack in making factual arguments, they make up in being able to connect with the reptilian part of Joe Sixpack. They know how to sell an idea based on people’s desires and predilections and their fight-or-flight impulses, and their tendency to blame the messenger and scapegoat. Scientists don’t know how to sell science. They feel that the data merely speaks for itself. Well, it doesn’t. People shop for their reality. That explains, let’s say, the continued belief in creationism.

I’m telling you this is all part of the psychology and politics of denial. I’m not saying we should let their idiocy stand uncontested. Do it as a matter of principle if you like. But if you’re waiting for some global epiphany, you’re waiting for Godot. And meanwhile, we simply don’t HAVE another 20-40 years for this to reach critical mass. When people really DO concede these points, people will already be subsisting on nettles and long-pork.

Stephen Lark
29 Jun 4:43am

An excellent (and free) climate change denial debunking tool I recently downloaded is the Skeptical Science iPhone app (also works on iPod touch & iPad). This app has over 100 arguments from the Skeptical Science website in the app, with detailed responses (including links to peer reviewed science journals) responding to each of the arguments. The app also has full text search, top ten used arguments, and the app is continually updated with the website content.

Check it out iOwners:

Jon Brooke
29 Jun 2:24pm

Look into the eyes… Not around the eyes…

I’m not sure that that photo doesn’t count as an ad hominem attack, when really there’s no need, especially here.

Ed is right to an extent, but I think that Dr Abrahams has done a very useful piece of work that will save some people a lot of time.

Having watched presentations and read articles by the likes of Monkton I often do find that I end up, for my own piece of mind, trying to track down the papers and points of view quoted by skeptics. Usually this puts my mind at rest, but often I find that I simply uncover more levels of complexity and have to spend even more time digging.

The most important point that this presentation makes isn’t that any particular citation is wrong, but that Monkton has made a systematic effort to mislead, highlighted for me by the large number of scientists who have directly responded to Abrahams’ requests for clarification.

Great piece of work.

Andrew Ramponi
30 Jun 9:25am

Listening to some of Lord Monckton’s talk (too pompous to bear for long) I found myself hearing the voice of some Pope in the Middle Ages, condemning as blasphemy the idea that the earth was a globe circling the sun. Thereafter all I could hear was blah, blah, blah, blah…so I switched off.

Ed Straker
30 Jun 3:40pm

If only climate denial were as irrelevant to the fate of the planet as believing that it circles around the sun. The way we think was the key to our ascendancy as a species and it’s also sealing our fate.

John Mason
1 Jul 9:07am

In addition, I would recommend Pete Sinclair’s Climate Crock videos – each just under 10 minutes long, they firmly nail some of the anti-science nonsense being circulated out there:

Cheers – John

1 Jul 11:05pm

As far as I can tell, a significant strand of reasoning amongst ‘hard core’ climate deniers seems to go something like this (and I think I’m probably badly rephrasing something Rob has said 🙂

1. Environmentalists want to take all the fun out of life.

2. Climate change is being used by environmentalists as a way to bully us into taking all the fun out of our lives.

3. Therefore, climate change is a myth.

Even Abrahams’ meticulous work won’t much dent that argument. The Transition ‘When Harry Met Sally’ approach … “Hey – she’s having so much fun over there … I’ll have what ever she’s having!” is more likely to work, I think.

Peter Gilbert
1 Jul 11:49pm

I met the (then) Hon. Christopher Monckton a few times 35 years ago. He was pompous and unwitty then and, from his opening which was all I could endure to watch, he doesn’t seem to have changed much. In those days he edited The Universe, the newspaper of the Roman Catholic church in England.
Abraham’s blow by blow account is excellent and comprehensively debunks Monckton’s assertions.

2 Jul 12:23pm

It appears that Abraham has released something which nobody cares to watch, that serves as a rallying cry for more of the AGW nonsense. If people watch it, then check Abraham’s facts, they’ll see his lies piled on lies.
Forget this personal attack and go to the facts. Don’t try to run with this silly diversion from reality. Monckton may be a little hard to swallow, but temperatures have cooled. This report may be shiny, but is still on the sinking ship of Gore-lies.
Even if Monckton was only 10% correct, that still destroys the carbon-trading promotion ($$$) AGW puts forward.

2 Jul 1:02pm

Matthew. Much that I could respond to, but I wanted to pick up on your statement that “if people watch it, then check Abraham’s facts, they’ll see his lies piled on lies”. An extraordinary statement. Have you actually watched Abraham’s presentation?

If you had, you would see that what he does is not to introduce lots of new arguments, rather he goes through each of Monckton’s own slides, and explores whether the peer-reviewed papers Monckton refers to and uses to build his case actually say what Monckton says they do. It turns out that every reference has been manipulated, distorted, misrepresented. All Abraham does is to check what Monckton says, and to see whether he is faithfully representing the literature he cites.

There is no room for Abraham to ‘pile lies on lies’… he is asking the authors of the papers Monckton cites, and they state that they have been misrepresented. You write that ‘even if Monckton was only 10% correct’… from Abraham’s exhaustive research, it would appear that Monckton is way less than 10% correct, far closer to 0% in fact.

Oh, and also, temperatures have not cooled, NASA reports that January to April was easily the hottest on record, and this looks set to be the hottest year on record.

John Mason
2 Jul 6:37pm

Hello Matthew,

I checked Abraham’s sources myself. He is absolutely correct. Not only that, but by comparison he has behaved most reasonably in constructing his points.

I would suggest that discussion threads after Delingpole articles in the Telegraph might be more of better appeal as gathering-places for people who like, for whatever reason best known to themselves, to repeatedly state that scientists are liars….

We are looking for positive solutions (dare I say Progress?) to what is an uncertain future here, not getting bogged down in the dogma of the past!

Cheers – John

3 Jul 2:11am

Sorry folks but Monckton has replied to Abraham`s critique and it seems Monckton is correct.

Katy Duke
4 Jul 7:08am

Bernard, no need to be sorry, I think you’ll find that we prefer to believe statements with detailed attributions. You presumable refer to this –, where M continues his venomous attack (saying for eg. “most “scientists” – Abraham and, a fortiori, the accident-prone Monbiot among them – have no more expertise in predicting or even understanding the strange behavior of the complex, non-linear, chaotic object that is the Earth’s climate than the man on the Clapham omnibus.”)
“Abraham’s approach is novel. He’s saying not that I got one thing wrong but that I got just about everything wrong. And how plausible is that?” [er, very!]

Abraham has responded to Monckton’s reply here – & says;

“I encourage people to view both of our arguments and make their own conclusions. I stand by my work and welcome judgment by the public and the scientific community. My intention as a professional scientist is to help provide a public disclosure of your scientific methods. I continue to believe that your work seriously misrepresents the science upon which you rely.”

Lynn Kristle
6 Jul 12:27am

People are sooo passionate about this issue. I’m no scientist, so I can’t tell, but I say it’s better to be on the safe side and start taking care of the planet that takes care of us.

Thomas V
6 Jul 4:47pm

Alright, most of us are on the same page but we’re really looking over a good point made by Monckton, even if it’s made for the wrong reasons. Where’s the money coming from for our governments to wage war on global warming? It comes from the people. How can we raise taxes when there are so many people living in poverty? Is it fair to lay the burden on the wealthy? What do we do about this?

And let me point out that this is no genius point made by Monckton. We all know how this works and this is a point that’s been made several times before by several persons. Monckton says we shouldn’t do it cause he thinks climate change is BS. We know it’s not. So how can we answer the questions in the above paragraph?

14 Jul 3:45pm

Al Gore has been a leading contender for Global Wariming since its foundation by Edmund Rothchild. His mentor was a climate change scientist by the name of Roger Revelle a leading expert of global warming.

Just before his death in 91 Revelloe published a joint manuscript with two other leading scientists called ‘What to do about greenhouse warming, look before you leap’. Hence, Look before you leap.

Do you really understand what the UN wants with this ETS. That you will end up with no fridge, oven, microwave, fire, heater, car, money, house.

AND that a billion of us ‘developed’ people will have to pay compensation and development costs for the other 6 billion people.

The worst thing is they insist on World Government as the only way society can be fairly policed. And if this happens who will hold world power, will it be whoever has the most people? China. Or whoever has the most money? Saudi Arabia and Rome.


14 Jul 5:52pm

Dear oh dear.

Ed Straker
14 Jul 6:32pm

“The worst thing is they insist on World Government as the only way society can be fairly policed.”

So what’s your idea, smarty pants? You’ll take your Thomas Paine-style freedoms all the way back to Olduvai Gorge.

Thomas V
14 Jul 8:28pm

Uh, that’s a bit too exaggerated to prove your point.

Secondly, cutting down on our own wasteful spending of energy to help the third world countries out there? Doesn’t sound so bad to me, we’ve been taking advantage of them for centuries. With the green innovations that exist it’s really not that hard.

Ed Straker
14 Jul 10:28pm

“Secondly, cutting down on our own wasteful spending of energy to help the third world countries out there? Doesn’t sound so bad to me, we’ve been taking advantage of them for centuries. With the green innovations that exist it’s really not that hard.”

I don’t think you have a realistic idea of how most people relate to energy consumption. Currently it’s a factor of consumerism and status-symbolism. If you waste energy, it shows you have status. A big car, a McMansion, a private jet. Energy has to get a lot more expensive for people to take conservation and alternative energy seriously. And even with peak oil, shale gas and coal will be more than enough to seal our fate with global warming before “the market” acts as a proper incentive.

So there is definitely a role for regulation and legislation, fears of Big Brother be-damned.

Daniel Bratchell
15 Jul 3:33pm

Katy Duke’s statement that she could not face the “Monckton stuff” but avidly read Abraham seems to show just how one-sided her view of climate change is.

Thomas V
15 Jul 8:43pm

I think that retort is a little short sighted.

That status-symbolism and consumerism changes and evolves frequently to incorporate new ideas, trends, etc. Take, for instance, the green fad that everyone seems to be joining. Middle class suburban families buy energy star approved washers and dryers or choose cars with better gas mileage. These are the trends that have really sunk into the middle class. Honestly how many people can afford a private jet and a mansion in Bel-Air? People who own these things are a minority on a completely different level of consumerism that most people can’t relate to.

Also, that’s only one step out of many that must be taken together. Steps need to be taken against consumption of peak oil and coal too. We can’t focus on one aspect of Global Warming/Environmental Racism without the others.

I’d agree with Ed that there is most definitely a role for regulation and legislation.

Katy Duke
15 Jul 11:52pm

Daniel, I’ve spent many years avidly watching & listening to both sides of the argument, including hours of study of Monkton, Watt, Ball, Bellamy, Plimer, Singer, Seitz, etc, direct debate with sceptics & analysing in detail both ‘sides’ of the argument, looking at the diagrams & generally getting to grips with the subject. My conclusion (call it a view if you like, I prefer to consider it as logic) is that there is overwhelming evidence, and there’s nothing one-sided about that.

Rather than using this forum for personal criticism, perhaps you’d like to comment on the actual debate?

Ed’s comment “If you waste energy, it shows you have status” stirred me. Perhaps I’m lucky to be in a place where frugality is championed, how do we spread that influence… perhaps we really should try & get the Beckhams to play out the role created for them in Transition Tales?

Daniel Bratchell
16 Jul 11:50am


I was not making a personal criticism = I was reflecting how little notice the CO2 theory supporters take of sceptic opinions. As soon as we raise concerns we are treated with disdain – our last prime minister in the UK referred to us as “flat earthers” and our esteemed Prince of Wales, who is usually very sound in his judgements, has also joined in the attack. None of these people answer with any scientific information to back their claims.

But to the point of this debate. My scepticism has increased since our government sent copies of Al Gore’s video to all schools. This was challenged and the High Court found eight errors of fact and then stopped looking because it was satisfied that the government was found to be illegally sending propaganda to schools. The climategate affair has been investigated three times and each time they were exonerated. Each report merely stated that the perpetrators were naive in maintaining records and threatening to destroy them rather than disclose them – no attempt was made to explain why they found that the scientific irregularities were not unlawful.

One of the chief scientific advisors to our government recently opened a BBC TV programme about climate change by vehemently defending the CO2 theory. He ended the programme by saying “we cannot explain the observed changes in climate is due to natural environment therefore it must be due to CO2”. Which backs up my belief that the theory is based on statistics and not science. Temperatures are up, CO2 is up, therefore the culprit is CO2. The BBC used to be noted for its adherence to truth and impartiality but it now merely propagates the views of its executives. This programme purported to be a discussion on the pros and cons – there were three scientists representing the pros and one the cons and the latter agreed with 75% of the pros’ arguments. How impartial was that?

But my real question is whether the catastrophic conseqences about which we are warned can be caused by CO2 of which there is only 0.0388% in the atmospehere. Forest fires burn fiercely because they are fed by 20% oxygen – if that were only 0.0388% would the fire even ignite?

I have written for an explanation to the IPCC, the CRU at East Anglia, the Hadley Centre, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor and even the
Royal Society. Despite calls from the pro lobby that scientists should be more open none of them have responded except the Hadley Centre which did not answer the question. This seems to indicate that there is no answer. If you have an answer please let me know.

In the meantime our government, despite the financial crisis, is planning to spend billions of pounds on wind turbines which have been proved to be inefficient and more costly than other forms of supply, even nuclear energy.

Daniel Bratchell
16 Jul 1:38pm


Apolgies. In referring to the UK I thought I was posting to an American website. Still it is a WWW so it might have been appropiate.

Francis Macnaughton
16 Jul 9:30pm


It is not true to say wind turbines are more costly than other generation see

Katy Duke
17 Jul 8:27pm

Daniel, I think I was trying to point out that we ‘CO2 theory supporters’ take a lot of notice of you ‘sceptic opinioners’ because it is fascinating to see how you can tag on to the edges of the argument & yet expect the respect for your theories that we give to those who study & publish proper scientific data. We actually would love your theories to be true because it would mean we could continue business as usual.

Sadly I think you will find there is ample scientific argument to back ‘our’ claims. Just because you have had no answers to your individual emails doesn’t mean that there are no answers.

Daniel Bratchell
18 Jul 7:24pm

Francis Macnaughton

I have read your link but I am not convinced.

The report was looking for the least cost zero carbon option. But it did not include other forms such as wave power etc. It also did not include in the wind power costings Revenue Support by which I assume they mean subsidies. What measure of enegy generation efficiency did they include? Did they include costs of demolition at the end of life which I understand to be about 25 years?

And did they take into account the cost of building and maintaining the back-up systems needed to cope with windless days?

I do not understand when comparing with nuclesr what they mean by First of a Kind.

Daniel Bratchell
18 Jul 7:41pm


In the absence of scientific proof rather than statistical evidence I continue to be a sceptic.

You say that we tag on to the edges of the argument & yet expect the respect for your theories that we give to those who study & publish proper scientific data. I have been trying to discover whether any scientist has actually tested my theory about 0.0388% CO2 which seems to me to be a very fundamental necessity.

You say that the fact that I have not received a reply does not mean that there is no answer. The Hadley Centre in their reply rpeated all the arguments we have heard before but did not answer my question – if they took the trouble to reply why did they not give me the information?

Katy Duke
18 Jul 11:09pm

Francis Macnaughton
19 Jul 8:52am


Wave power is never going to be cheaper than on-shore wind given the costs of construction and operation in a much more challenging environment.

On-shore wind subsidies via the Renewable Obligation are paid after generation and therefore do not affect levelised costs. Capacity factor is between 25 and 31% which is reasonable for a properly sited machine (many manage better than that). Levelised costs are defined as whole life cycle so demolition is included.

Reserve and Balancing costs for the Grid as a whole are more complex but I have seen reports that have looked at this and estimated it as a few pounds per MWh providing the proportion of wind power remains below around 20% of total capacity.

First of a Kind is to allow for the learning costs of bringing the first of a new design of machinery into operation – especially nuclear with its huge licensing costs.

By any chance are you now prepared to concede that your comment that wind power is more costly than other forms of generation including nuclear might be too sweeping or even just plain wrong?

Daniel Bratchell
20 Jul 10:34am


I bow to the fact that you obviously have more knowledge of detail than I have but you have not answered some of my questions. The report said that Revenue Support was not included in the costings. You say that “On-shore wind subsidies via the Renewable Obligation are paid after generation and therefore do not affect levelised costs”. If they are paid therefore they must surely be costs whenever they are paid.

Regarding back-up sytems you say that Reserve and Balancing costs are estimated at a few pounds per MWh. I do not understand how this is calculated but I will ignore it.

Daniel Bratchell
20 Jul 11:08am


When you say “get back to us” who is us? Do you work for a scientific institution?

I have visited your link and have read a few entries which are mostly discussing the conflict between the Ayes and the Nos. There does not seem to be much science discussed. At age 79 I will not have time to read all of them.

I remain unconvinced until somebody can give me proof that the CO2 theory is based on science and not statistics; or can demonstrate scientifically that 0.0388& will cause global warming.

Katy Duke
20 Jul 11:22am

Daniel, there is plenty of evidence for climate change, much of it found on the link I gave you. You might also find this useful;

I particularly enjoyed this also;

[…] changes, at which point it will probably be too late to prevent the worst impact on society. Lord Monckton Defrocked, Point by Point…. Transition Culture A man on the main motor mile mesmerised much monkey magic Meandering piecemeal Reply […]

18 Aug 6:46am

Jesus, everyone debating this issue here seems really intelligent and calm! How utterly refreshing! 😉

11 Nov 8:27pm

Lord Monckton replied to Abraham point by point, debunking Abraham’s claims. Abraham as far as I know has not come clean and Monckton has discussed the issue with St Thomas’ President. Monckton has already debunked just about every slide, so nice distorted news article.