A lord blesses Tasmania with his presence

Christopher Monckton’s self-assurance allows him to ignore inconvenient facts. [5 March 2013 | Peter Boyer]

The 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley fronts his Hobart audience

All those centuries of selective breeding and dealing with lesser mortals have taught the British aristocracy a thing or two about stamping their authority on the masses.

Take Christopher Monckton, who in 2006 inherited the title of Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. Last month he delivered his take on climate change to any Hobart commoners willing to part with $25 for the privilege.

“Your Lordship” were the opening words of his 3½-hour presentation. Pausing dramatically while a puzzled audience took that in, he added, “that’s me.” Just to let us all know.

Christopher Monckton isn’t just a lord, he told his audience, but a scientist and an economist who advised Margaret Thatcher on such matters when she was British Prime Minister. Who were we to disbelieve him?

And he’s a lord with class. As one of his 150-strong audience sitting behind me remarked to her younger companion, “he speaks with such beautiful diction.”

He’s also a snob. At various points in his Hobart meeting he recounted exchanges with opponents in which he interspersed his own “beautiful diction” with whining Cockney accents for his interlocutors, clearly meant to imply their lesser status.

He went further in the case of Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I heard Pachauri in Hobart early this year; he speaks English as clearly as you, me or Monckton. In the hands of the lord he got a syrupy, inarticulate, stereotype-Indian accent.

If you think I don’t take Monckton seriously, you’d be wrong. He has neither scientific nor economic qualifications, but he’s a skilled speaker with a habit of throwing his weight around.

“We are coming after you, we are going to prosecute you, and we are going to lock you up” was his warning to “bogus” climate scientists at a Sydney public meeting in 2011 — precisely his line with Dr Tony Press, who took issue with him in a Sunday Tasmanian article published on 24 February, three days after Monckton’s presentation.

He fired off a letter to University of Tasmania vice-chancellor Prof Peter Rathjen, accusing Press, head of the university-based Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC, of “serious professional misconduct and scientific fraud” in saying Monckton’s claims were unscientific and wrong.

“On any view,” Monckton’s letter concludes, “Press is not a fit and proper person to be employed in any capacity at the University of Tasmania. I hope that the University will investigate his misconduct and fraud and will dismiss him forthwith.” Ouch.

Press’s remarks in the Sunday Tasmanian article come across as reasonable and rational, the sort of language that you see every day in news media and the blogosphere in the give and take of public debate. His statements made perfect sense in light of what I know about climate science. But Monckton’s letter suggests something entirely different — something seriously amiss, sinister, even criminal.

Self-styled “Flat Earthers” with their letter to the Viscount seeking his endorsement

It seems an irrational response on Monckton’s part, but it’s consistent with the way he argues against the theory of human-induced climate change. His is a tale of conspiracies and dark deeds, in which “politicised scientists” and their green-socialist fellow-travellers plot to take over the world by means of “Agenda 21”.

Agenda 21 is the UN’s plan for sustainable development in the 21st century, agreed to by all countries, including Australia, at the Rio “Earth Summit” in 1992. It is a non-binding agenda for action which governments can choose to execute at local, national and global levels.

In the US, right-wing Tea Party activists have branded Agenda 21 as a UN conspiracy to deprive people of property rights. Their agitation led to the Republican National Committee passing a motion declaring that it eroded US sovereignty. Monckton has picked up on this and run with it.

Agenda 21, he told his Hobart audience, is part of a conspiracy to “put nature above man”, replace nations with a world government, ban farming and pesticides and ration fossil fuels, energy and mobility.

As he sees it, the UN is planning to “destroy the family and depopulate the planet”, indoctrinate children in “enviro-socialism”, nationalise or abolish property and confine humans to “settlement zones”.

All this in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which as Monckton tells it is a fool’s errand based on false evidence.

He made special play of “errors” in calculations of the impact of feedback mechanisms, where warming triggers climate events which can in turn add to the warming. His own calculations are that mainstream science has exaggerated feedback by as much as three times.

Asked why he didn’t submit his thesis for publication as a scientific paper, he said he’d sent it off to Richard Lindzen, a prominent “sceptical” physicist, who replied that he didn’t understand the calculations. So he sent off more information and was awaiting Lindzen’s response.

But anyway, said Monckton, satellite data is saying it hasn’t warmed for as much as 23 years — since 1989! Moreover, the oceans haven’t warmed either. He produced a graph to prove it.

But one graph doesn’t make a proof. His audience had only his word that no warming has occurred, or that it has stopped, against that of thousands of practising scientists accepting peer-reviewed science that says the opposite, that warming is continuing both on Earth’s surface and in the ocean.

At risk of getting a letter from his lordship, I’d say he’s wrong. Evidence cited in an October 2012 paper shows that since 1990 the ocean, which absorbs nearly 90 per cent of the sun’s energy that reaches our planet’s surface, has warmed considerably and continues to do so.

On the day of Monckton’s lecture the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released data showing that as of January 2013, every single month for nearly 28 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. If that’s not global warming, I don’t know what is.

Christopher Monckton is telling us what we would all love to believe: that humans can’t change the course of nature, that burning coal and oil hasn’t significantly affected our climate, and that we can sleep easy knowing our future is safe in the hands of free enterprise.

That is, so long as we keep the “communistic” United Nations and its green-left allies in their place. The way to do this, he says, is to vote Democratic Labor Party at the next election. Is this really the 21st century?

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