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Friday, July 23, 2010

John Abraham's takedown of Monckton's gibberish receives more press

Climate discussion heats up on the Web

A St. Thomas professor's response to a British climate change skeptic has bloggers and others all fired up

by Bill McAuliffe, Star Tribune, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, July 22, 2010

A University of St. Thomas professor's online rebuttal to a well-known British climate change skeptic [Monckton does not qualify as a real skeptic because he has done no actual research nor has he published anything at all in the peer-reviewed literature, but I doubt this journalist actually knows what a real skeptic is.] has touched off a cyberspace heat storm and activated the university's legal team.

In nearly half a million Google items (as of Thursday), Prof. John Abraham has been alternately praised as a long-needed factual voice on climate change and vilified for attacking [Wrong word!  Dr. Abraham did not "attack" Monckton, he showed calmly and politely how Monckton had misrepresented the work of others.  The "attacking" was done by Monckton with his ad hominem verbal abuse and empty threats of legal actions, not to mention promoting censurship.] Lord Christopher Monckton, a journalist, classics scholar [who says!?!], politician and hereditary peer also known as 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.  [Dr. Arthur Smith has already pointed out that Monckton has created his own laws of physics, apparently from an alternate universe.  Monckton does live in his own little world, making him an excellent useful idiot for the Climate Denial Machine funded by Koch Industries and others.] Monckton's critique of climate change science led him to testify before the U.S. Congress. [Oh yeah, right -- leaving out that he was invited to testify by Big Oil-sponsored Sen. Inhofe -- noted idiot.]

For his part, Monckton has fired back in a YouTube interview clip, calling Abraham "a wretched little man," the University of St. Thomas "a half-assed Catholic bible college," and its president, the Rev. Dennis Dease, "a creep." [This article leaves out how Monckton said that Dr. John Abraham looked like an over-cooked prawn.  LOL  In fact, it is Monckton who looks like an over-cooked prawn.  John Abraham is going on my climate scientist hunk of the week list -- other luminaries have been Arun Hubbard.]

St. Thomas officials have defended Abraham's efforts, and the school's lawyers have gone beyond that. In a letter to Monckton, St. Thomas attorney Phyllis Karasov threatened legal action if Monckton does not "immediately cease and desist making any further disparaging or defamatory comments about the University of St. Thomas, President Father Dease, Professor Abraham, the Archdioceses of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, or anyone else associated with the University." [Bravo!]

"Safe to say it's been a daily activity for the past two months," Abraham said of dealing with the reaction to the online confrontation with Lord Monckton.

It began with Bethel speech

The back-and-forth began with Monckton's October appearance at Bethel University in Arden Hills, sponsored by the Minnesota Free Market Institute, a nonpartisan group advocating limited government and market competition.

In his 90-minute talk, Monckton, dressed in a three-piece suit and dropping Latin phrases ad infinitum, criticized much of climate change research as "pseudo-scientific gibberish" [an interesting choice of words, because that is exactly what he spouts] and warned that environmentalists from former Eastern Bloc countries are about to establish a Communist world government.

"There is no problem with the climate," he said. "The scare is over." [See what I mean?]

Abraham, a professor of mechanical engineering and expert on heat transfer who has lectured on climate change, watched Monckton's talk on YouTube and decided to address what he called "misstatements." He began working in January on his own time and by March had self-produced a 126-slide, 73-minute counterpoint, asserting that Monckton had misrepresented and misunderstood research.

A fitting war for the Web

The uncappable Internet well break that followed is no surprise to Matthew Nisbet, associate professor of communications at American University in Washington, D.C., who studies political reactions to controversies in science, the environment and health.

Like evolution before it, climate change is an issue that electrifies groups on the extremes of the political spectrum, and is "a smoke screen for an underlying debate about values," Nisbet said. These days, he noted, those groups have the Internet.

"Online forums are where they can find like-minded voices, and really experience an emotional release," he said.

Nisbet said that scientists often are courted as the ultimate arbiters of controversies, but Abraham didn't seem willing to wear that mantle. While most scientists agree on the major dynamics of climate change, Abraham said, they haven't conveyed to the wider public that the outcomes are still uncertain. [Journalist obviously does not understand that as of now all outcomes are bad -- the only uncertainty is just how bad.]

"It's really too bad that the discussion of this particular issue is carried on in such a polarizing way," he said. "Scientists have to embrace the fact that there is uncertainty, yet communicate to the public about the potential impacts. It's a tough road."

Asked what he viewed as a key point of disagreement with Monckton, Abraham zeroed in on carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, known to trap warmth. Monckton noted that the buildup from about 280 to 390 parts per million since preindustrial times is still only a small percentage of the atmosphere.

[Dear Readers,  yes, the article ends here.  WTF?  (Sorry about my French.  Apologies to my French readers.) Well, all I can say is that it could have been worse. ] 


These materials are at the heart of a heated online exchange about climate change:

Lord Monckton power point:

Monckton presentation at Bethel University:

Prof. John Abraham's slide presentation (with audio) rebutting Monckton's presentation:

John Abraham

Viscount Monckton


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