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Viscount Christopher Monckton: Lord of the lies on climate change

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Viscount Christopher Monckton has spent years spreading anti-climate change lies worldwide (Screenshot via YouTube)

Viscount Christopher Monckton, who describes climate science as a monstrous hoax and a bandwagon of lies, has taken his own bandwagon of lies around the world on lecture tours.

He has appeared before Congress committees as a climate change expert and his speeches have been watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube. But a close examination of some of his statements reveals him to be lord of the lies.

Independent Australia provides a “peer review” of 20 of his statements which demonstrates one of the world’s champion climate change deniers is a champion fabricator.

Lie 1: In a 2009 presentation about the need for truth in the climate change debate, he alleged Sir John Houghton, first chairman of the scientific advisory board of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), had written in his book about global warming: ‘Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.’ (22:32 into the presentation.)

Monckton alleged in an illustration that this meant scientists were saying: ‘We’re all gonna lie!’

The UK Independent revealed the allegation about Sir John is a fabrication, apparently invented by Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist Piers Akerman.

Lie 2: In the same speech about the need for truth (40:17 into the presentation), he announced to applause:

“I wear with pride my Nobel Peace Prize pin. I, too, Al baby [Al Gore], am a Nobel laureate but I got mine for telling the truth and you got yours for telling lies.”

He is not a Nobel laureate.

Lie 3: In the same speech, he lied again.

“Now we move on to the truth about what has been happening,” he said, going on to talk about Himalayan glaciers (55:35 into the presentation):

“The glaciers are showing no particular change in 200 years.”

A NASA study found that in the Chinese Himalayas between 1950 and 1970, more than 320 glaciers were retreating. After 1990, this number increased to nearly 600. And a recent report says melting has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades.

Lie 4: He even lied to a Congressional committee when he appeared as an “expert witness” on climate change in 2009.

The U.S. Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was asked to respond to Monckton’s claim to Congress in a graph that:

‘Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the air at less than half the rate the U.N. had imagined.’

NOAA said the source of the figure provided was unknown and ‘erroneous’. Not only that, far from the increase being below predictions, CO2 is increasing at a faster rate than was projected.

Lie 5: There was another lie to the committee when Monckton claimed:

‘There has been global cooling for seven years.’

The response by NOAA to Congress was damning, saying:

‘...calculation of a trend over the last seven years is a gross mischaracterisation of the longer term trend. During the last seven years, six of the seven warmest years on record have been all been observed based on NOAA’s global land and ocean data.’

Lie 6: He also lied to a U.S. House of Representatives committee in 2009, alleging along with his lie about ‘rapid global cooling of the past seven years’ that The Sahara is greening.

Geographical, the academic journal of the Royal Geographical Society, says:

‘The semi-arid grasslands of the Sahel region, to the south of the Sahara, are now gradually retreating in the face of the ever-expanding desert.’

And the scientific journal Nature reported the desert has advanced 100 kilometres south.

Lie 7: In September 2014 and again in October 2017, Monckton claimed on Nights With John Stanley on Australia’s Macquarie Media:

“In Ben Nevis now, we have a glacier beginning to form for the first time in 9,000 years.”

But just weeks before the 2017 broadcast, it had been reported that Ben Nevis was snow-free. Summer snow expert Iain Cameron confirmed the last snow patch on the mountain had melted.

Geographical reported that snow had disappeared completely from the UK only six times in about 300 years — with three of those occasions being since 2000.

Lie 8: A year earlier, Monckton had told a Montana audience:

“So you don’t have to worry about the cuddly polar bear. They are going to be just fine. Because... global warming will not affect us for the next 2,000 years...”

Less than a month earlier, NASA had found that the annual minimum of Arctic ice aged four years or more had reached a record low, decreasing from 1.86 million square kilometres in 1984 to a mere 110,000 square kilometres.

The respected Polar Bears International organisation (headquartered in Montana) reported Canada's Western Hudson Bay population of polar bears had experienced a 30 per cent decline from 1987 to 2017, directly related to longer ice-free seasons on the bay.

It also found the Southern Beaufort Sea population had plunged by about 40 per cent from 2001-2010, dropping from about 1,500 bears to 900.

Lie 9: In New Zealand, Monckton claimed:

“In Greenland, the ice did not melt 8,000 years ago and it isn't melting today.”

Not only is it melting but the rate is unmatched in the last 12,000 years and is accelerating, according to a study in Nature. Satellite images emphasise the predicament.

Lie 10: In November 2009, Monckton alleged global temperatures had been fiddled, saying:

“In effect, the global temperature trends have simply been made up. Unfortunately, the British researchers have been acting closely in league with their U.S. counterparts who compile the other terrestrial temperature dataset... That dataset, too, contains numerous biases intended artificially to inflate the natural warming of the 20th Century.”

But Professor Richard Muller, a fellow climate sceptic, conducted his own independent research, funded in part by the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation, massive supporters of climate change denial.

He questioned the reliability of the IPCC findings. His team at Berkeley Earth assembled 1.6 billion temperature measurements, which were made publicly available.

The results matched the temperatures used by the IPCC and, in fact:

‘We draw a stronger conclusion here than does the IPCC.’

By far, the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice, he reported.

Lie 11: In alleging temperature rises are not accelerating, Monckton was adamant on 8 September 2014 in an interview with Steve Price archived on DeSmog:

“You will get 100-year records set with exactly the same frequency they always have… What you can’t say is that it is getting any worse.”

NOAA found that from 1880 to 1980, a new temperature record was set on average every 13 years. But from 1981 to 2018, a new record was set on average every three years.

Nineteen of the warmest years have occurred since 2000.

Lie 12: In August 2009, Monckton stated:

‘The Arctic was actually warmer in the late 1930s and early 1940s than it is today: it is actually some 4°F cooler now than then.’

The highly-respected Skeptical Science website reported:

‘...2010 was the warmest year the Arctic has experienced since instrumental records began. Out of the top ten warmest years, only two years predate the 2000s.’

According to NOAA:

‘...the 12-month period of October 2019–September 2020 was the second-warmest year on record. Only October 2015–September 2016 brought warmer temperatures.’

Lie 13: In January 2011, journalist Mike Steketee wrote in The Australian that the decade to 2010 had been the warmest on record, putting a bit of a dent in the argument that the world has been cooling since 1998.

Under the heading Monckton skewers Steketee, Monckton misrepresented Steketee’s statement by saying the journalist had said:

‘The world is not cooler compared to 1998.’

Monckton stated:

‘Actually, it is cooler.’

And on another site:

‘…he [Steketee] got it wrong, by saying that 2010 was warmer than 1998. No, it was cooler.’

It was Monckton who was skewered.

NASA found 2010 tied for the warmest year on record, which was confirmed by the World Meteorological Organisation.

Lie 14: In October 2009, Monckton claimed:

‘Sea‐ice extent in the Beaufort Sea has, if anything, increased somewhat over the past 30 years.’

NASA’s Earth Observatory has reported:

‘The Beaufort Sea... is the region where sea ice has been retreating the fastest.’

Lie 15: Monckton alleged the threat of damage to the Great Barrier Reef was imaginary and that:

“The Barrier Reef Authority has established that sea temperatures in the region of the reef have not changed at all over the last 30 years. I have the figures from the Barrier Reef Authority.”

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reports:

‘Mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has occurred with increased frequency in recent decades. Widespread bleaching occurred in 1998 and 2002, however over the last five years three mass coral bleaching events have occurred in 2016, 2017 and 2020.’

In 2016, sea surface temperatures on the Great Barrier Reef were the hottest ever recorded (1.03 degrees Celsius above the 1961–1990 average); a marine heatwave that led to the largest recorded mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

Lie 16: Monckton alleged that 20 years after Dr James Hansen, the director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, had warned Congress on 23 June 1988 that global warming had started, the June temperature in 2008 was actually cooler:

‘...and worldwide warming has happened at less than half the rate [Hansen] predicted.’

But NOAA reported:

‘Looking back to 1988, a pattern emerges: except for 2011, as each new year is added to the historical record, it becomes one of the top ten warmest on record at that time...’

This is despite 1988 being by far the hottest year on record at that time.

Lie 17: Monckton also alleged Hansen’s evidence to Congress contained a wildly exaggerated graph predicting global warming over the coming 20 or 30 years.

But in June 2018, Yale School of the Environment said of Hansen’s prediction:

‘Judgment on Hansen’s ’88 climate testimony: “He was right”.’

And environmental scientist Dana Nuccitelli judged:

‘Hansen’s 1988 global climate model was almost spot-on.’

Lie 18: Monckton alleged modern temperatures are cooler than medieval times:

‘...when we were growing wine grapes in Scotland and our Viking cousins were farming parts of south-western Greenland that remain under permafrost today.’

And he alleged:

‘Their graveyard in Hvalsey is under permafrost. It was frost-free when they were buried.’

Wine grapes are now grown in the Outer Hebrides and Fife.

A research paper reports that in south-western Greenland:

‘...in recent years crops, such as potatoes and turnips, have been grown commercially.’

And the Citizen’s Challenge website obtained three statements from Greenland saying the graveyard is not under permafrost.

Lie 19: In 2013, Monckton asked:

‘If you happen to know of a small Pacific Island that’s getting worried by the propaganda, tell them the good news [that there’s no warming].’

NOAA reports the village of Shishmaref on Sarichef Island in the Bering Strait on the northern edge of the Pacific:

‘...inhabited for 400 years, is facing evacuation due to rising temperatures, which are causing a reduction in sea ice, thawing of permafrost along the coast. The reduced sea ice allows higher storm surges to reach shore and thawing permafrost makes the shoreline more vulnerable to erosion. The town's homes, water system and infrastructure are being undermined.’

I asked Monckton what good news he would tell the villagers. He has not replied, neither has he responded to other questions I put to him.

Lie 20: In a 2018 speech in Canada watched 200,000 times on YouTube, he said there was no consensus among scientists about man-made climate change. (3:03 into the video.)

Proof of consensus is overwhelming. Nearly 200 worldwide scientific organisations hold the position that climate change has been caused by human action. Confirmation of the consensus can be found here, here, here and here.   

Bonus lie

Who is lying here? Is it Monckton the warmist, who said in 2011: “Temperatures indeed rose from 1988 until 2009”; said in 2007: “...for a few years, the temperature will continue to rise”; said in 2016: there had been “real-world, observed warming” from 2001 to 2016; and said in 2019: “we now are experiencing a period of warming”?

Or is it Monckton the coolist, who makes it plain that he believes the world is cooler now than it was in 1996, saying there was “no warming at all” from September 1996 to September 2014; no warming at all from September 2014 to October 2015; and telling me in an email last month, ‘there has now been no global warming for about six years’ while stating there had ‘been a nine‐year period of rapid and statistically‐significant global cooling’ from 2001 to 2010?

I asked Monckton the coolist to explain why, if – as he says – temperatures are now cooler than 25 years ago:

  • records from the last five decades show that on average, spring snow is disappearing earlier in the year than it did in the past;
  • between 1952 and 2011, the length of summer in northern hemisphere midlatitudes increased from 78 to 95 days and that of spring, autumn and winter decreased from 124 to 115, 87 to 82 and 76 to 73 days, respectively;
  • birds in Europe and Canada are migrating south a week earlier on average than they did in 1959;              
  • trees are blossoming earlier in spring and Japan has had Its earliest peak bloom of cherry blossoms in 1,200 years;
  • grapes are now being harvested 13 days earlier than they were between 1354 and 1987;
  • the ski season at Breckenridge, Colorado, between 1981 and 2010 was five days shorter than it was between 1951 and 1980; and
  • there are 200 fewer ski resorts in Italy than in the 1960s and '70s.

Finally, here is Monckton putting the kibosh on the scientific consensus with a speech entitled “Global warming is a monstrous hoax” and in 2008, arguing that in a graph showing CO2 levels and temperatures over millions of years:

‘There is plainly no correlation between the two, and the absence of correlation demonstrates absence of causation.’

There you have it — Monckton’s graph shows that over millions of years, there is no link between CO2 and temperatures.

But that’s a lie, says a dissenter who uses the Latin “concedo” instead of “agreed” in this monologue:

‘Is there a greenhouse effect? Concedo. Does it warm the Earth? Concedo. Is carbon dioxide a greenhouse gas? Concedo. If carbon dioxide be added to the atmosphere, will warming result? Concedo. Are we adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere? Concedo. Is its concentration higher than for 20 million years? Concedo. Will some warming result? Concedo.’

Who is this contradicting Monckton, by saying man-made CO2 plainly does cause global warming?

It is none other than Christopher Walter Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. MA and diploma in journalism studies, who claims he was Margaret Thatcher’s “science policy advisor” despite having no science degree.

But a Guardian report says Thatcher wrote in her autobiography that it was a man named George Guise:

“...who advised me on science in the policy unit.”

John Gummer, a minister in Thatcher’s governments, has said:

“Margaret Thatcher... was the first major political figure to accept that climate change was happening and that mankind had caused it.”

On ABC radio, Gummer described Monckton as:

“...a bag carrier in Mrs Thatcher's office.”

Lord Monckton’s not taken seriously by anybody, said Gummer, now Baron Deben, who, unlike Monckton, is actually a member of the House of Lords:

“The idea that he advised her on climate change is laughable.”

Steve Bishop is a journalist and author. You can read more from Steve at stevebishop.net

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