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Monckton's letter to Snowe, Rockefeller on global warming

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Published: Monday December 18, 2006
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To: The Honourable Senator Olympia Snowe (Republican, Maine) The Honourable Senator John D. Rockefeller (Democrat, West Virginia)

Madame, Sir,

Uphold Free Speech About Climate Change Or Resign

The US Constitution guarantees the right of free speech. It is inappropriate for elected Senators such as yourselves to suggest that any person should refrain from exercising that right, as you have done in your letter of October 27 to the CEO of ExxonMobil. That great corporation has exercised its right of free speech -- and with good reason -- in openly providing support for scientists and groups that dare to question how much the increased concentration of CO2 in the air may warm the world. You must honour the Constitution, withdraw your letter and apologize to ExxonMobil, or resign as Senators.

You defy every tenet of democracy when you invite ExxonMobil to deny itself the right to provide information to "senior elected and appointed government officials" who disagree with your opinion. You are elected officials yourselves. If you do not believe in the right of persons within the United States to exercise their fundamental right under the world's greatest Constitution to petition their elected representatives for the redress of their grievances, then you have no place on Capitol Hill. You must go.

Your letter says climate change is "a matter of urgency for all mankind". It is not. The UN's 2001 report estimates our greenhouse effect compared with 1750 AD as 2.43 watts per square metre. Its new report will cut that figure to 1.6 watts, little more than 1 per cent of the 150-watt natural greenhouse effect. The UN will also reduce its high-end estimate of sea-level rise to 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches.

Morner (2004), a lifelong student of sea level changes, says: "There is a total absence of any recent 'acceleration in sea level rise' as often claimed by IPCC and related groups. ... our best estimate of possible future sea-level changes is +10 +/- 10cm in a century, or, maybe, even +5 +/- 15cm." That is a maximum of 8 inches in 100 years. See also Morner (1995); INQUA (2000).

All other imagined consequences of climatic warming are more likely to be beneficial than harmful. Warmer is better than cooler. An unusual heatwave in France a couple of years ago killed 3,000 old people. As is now customary, global warming was blamed, though the real cause was a naturallyoccurring "blocking high". Last winter's cold snap in the UK killed 25,000. The former event attracted many times more publicity than the latter.

There is no evidence that further warming will cause malaria or yellow fever to spread. Climatic warmth is not an important habitat signifier for the anopheles or Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. But when the US administration sought to appoint Paul Reiter, a world expert on the mosquito, to the UN's climate change You defy every tenet of democracy when you invite ExxonMobil to deny itself the right to provide information to "senior elected and appointed government officials" who disagree with your opinion.

panel, the panel vetoed his appointment because they knew he disagreed with the alarmist view that they were determined to purvey. It is easy to claim a "consensus" if scientists who disagree are excluded.

There is no evidence that global warming causes more frequent hurricanes. Neither the three previous UN reports nor the forthcoming report argues for this. There are a few papers, hotly contested, that suggest a slight increase in the intensity of some hurricanes, but that is all. New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen, not a climate-change victim. Yet last year Kevin Trenberth, a leading member of the UN's climate change panel, publicly participated in a press conference advocating a connection between hurricanes and global warming. Hearing this, Chris Landsea, whom Trenberth had appointed to draft the forthcoming UN report's section on Atlantic hurricanes, resigned. He wrote: "I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns."

There is no evidence that today's temperatures are warmer than during the mediaeval warm period 1,000 years ago. Yet in 2005, the palaeoclimatologist David Deming wrote that after he had published a paper in Science [Deming, 1995] "I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. One of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said, 'We have to get rid of the Mediaeval Warm Period.'"

The UN's second assessment report, in 1996, had had a 1,000-year graph showing that temperature in the Middle Ages was warmer than today's. But the 2001 report contained a new graph showing no mediaeval warm period. It concluded that the 20th century was the warmest for 1,000 years. That graph, recently condemned by the US National Academy of Sciences as "having a validation skill not significantly different from zero" -- i.e. as being useless -- was repeated six times in the UN's 2001 report, each time in full colour. In the UN's forthcoming report, there will be no apology for the erroneous graph, from which data showing the existence of the mediaeval warm period had been excluded.

Why should ExxonMobil, or anyone, place the slightest credence in a body that, in the three examples cited above, has manipulated or ignored the truth, has suppressed the participation of dissenters, has failed to address scientists' legitimate concerns about the declared bias of its lead authors, and has failed to apologize even for its most blatant errors? Lord Lawson of Blaby, a distinguished former Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, has called for the outright abolition of the UN's climate-change panel. I concur. We need honest science. Therefore we do not need the UN.

You suggest that ExxonMobil should "promote technological innovation" to address what you call the "global problem" of climate change. If you regard the increasing concentration of CO2 as a "problem", which it is not, the quickest way to get the world to address the problem is to disband the UN's lavishlyfunded climate change panel and get the science right. Sceptics and those who have the courage to support them are actually helpful in getting the science right. They do not, as you improperly suggest, "obfuscate" the issue: they assist in clarifying it by challenging weaknesses in the "consensus" argument, and they compel necessary corrections such as the impending and highly significant more-than-50% cut in the UN's high-end projection for the increase in sea level to 2100.

You commend Britain's Royal Society, once a learned body and now a mere Left-leaning political pressure-group, for having clumsily attempted to interfere with ExxonMobil's funding of groups that are sceptical of what you inaccurately call a "consensus" to the effect that climate change is a "global Sceptics and those who have the courage to support them are actually helpful in getting the science right. They do not, as you improperly suggest, "obfuscate" the issue: they assist in clarifying it by challenging weaknesses in the "consensus" argument, and they compel necessary corrections to the problem". The Royal Society, by the intervention to which you refer, goes beyond its remit. The Society's long-standing funding by taxpayers does not ensure any greater purity of motive or rigour of thought than industrial funding of scientists who dare to question whether "climate change" will do any harm.

You acknowledge the effectiveness of the climate sceptics. In so doing, you pay a compliment to the courage of those free-thinking scientists who continue to research climate change independently despite the likelihood of refusal of publication in journals that have taken preconceived positions; the hate mail and vilification from ignorant environmentalists; and the threat of loss of tenure in institutions of learning which no longer make any pretence to uphold or cherish academic freedom.

You say, "While deniers can easily post something calling into question the scientific consensus on climate change, not a single refereed article in more than a decade has sought to refute it." Far from it. In rebuttal I could cite hundreds of refereed articles, but need cite only one: the recent paper by Khilyuk and Chilingar (2006) On Global Forces of Nature Driving the Earth's Climate -- Are Humans Involved? The authors answer the title-question decisively in the negative. A brief summary of their paper is attached.

Like hundreds of similar papers in the scientific journals, it casts doubt upon your assertion that there is "an insurmountable scientific consensus on both the problem and causation of climate change ... in almost every country of the globe". Given the major downward revisions of the UN's estimate of the human impact on the climate and of the future rise in sea levels between its 2001 and 2007 reports, the "consensus" that you pray in aid does not even agree with itself.

There is a consensus that there is more CO2 in the air than there was; that humankind may be to blame; and that some warming may result. That is all. There is no consensus on how fast the world will warm, or when or even whether any "disastrous" consequences will ensue. If, in any area of this debate, you hold that the peer-reviewed literature is unanimous in going beyond the limited extent which I have described, please notify me in your reply and, in each such area, I shall point you to peer-reviewed science that casts strong, reasonable, reasoned and well-founded doubt upon what you imagine is the "consensus".

In the circumstances, your comparison of Exxon's funding of sceptical scientists and groups with the former antics of the tobacco industry is unjustifiable and unworthy of any credible elected representatives. Either withdraw that monstrous comparison forthwith, or resign so as not to pollute the office you hold. The Society's long-standing funding by taxpayers does not ensure any greater purity of motive or rigour of thought than industrial funding of scientists who dare to question whether "climate change" will do any harm.

You acknowledge the effectiveness of the climate sceptics. In so doing, you pay a compliment to the courage of those free-thinking scientists who continue to research climate change independently despite the likelihood of refusal of publication in journals that have taken preconceived positions; the hate mail and vilification from ignorant environmentalists; and the threat of loss of tenure in institutions of learning which no longer make any pretence to uphold or cherish academic freedom.

You invite ExxonMobil publicly to "acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it". Earlier this year, 61 leading climatologists and scientists in related fields, among them tenured professors, wrote to the Canadian Prime Minister as follows:

"'Climate Change Is Real' is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate change catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes, and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from the natural 'noise'."

You demand that ExxonMobil should stop funding independent debate on climate change, which you excoriate - without citing evidence - as "pseudo-science". And you demand that Exxon should spend the money instead on "global remediation", which you describe as "especially important in the developing world, where the disastrous effects of global climate change are likely to have their most immediate and calamitous impacts." One of the UK's leading "consensus" scientists (Hulme, 2006) has this to say about exaggerated rhetoric of the sort which you use here:

"Over the last few years a new environmental phenomenon has been constructed - the phenomenon of 'catastrophic' climate change. It seems that mere 'climate change' was not going to be bad enough, and so now it must be 'catastrophic' to be worthy of attention. The increasing use of this pejorative term - and its bedfellow qualifiers 'chaotic', 'irreversible', 'rapid' - has altered the public discourse around climate change. This discourse is now characterized by phrases such as 'climate change is worse than we thought', that we are approaching 'irreversible tipping in the Earth's climate', and that we are 'at the point of no return'. I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric. It seems that it is we, the professional climate scientists, who are now the (catastrophe) sceptics. How the wheel turns!"

You say you are ready to work with ExxonMobil, inter alia to "expand the use of clean, alternative and renewable fuels". The scientific consensus is that the only such fuel that could satisfy projected global energy demand in the absence of fossil fuels is uranium, of which proven supplies will last thousands of years. Anyone who believes in the supposed "consensus" on climate change and yet is not willing to countenance the immediate reintroduction and widespread development of nuclear energy as the most important and essential mitigative measure available to us cannot expect to be taken seriously. Windmills and waterfalls, on their own, are costly and environmentally damaging. They cannot come close to replacing fossil fuels. Only nuclear power can give us the energy we need.

Finally, you may wonder why it is that a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature, wholly unconnected with and unpaid by the corporation that is the victim of your lamentable letter, should take the unusual step of calling upon you as members of the Upper House of the United States legislature either to withdraw what you have written or resign your sinecures.

In the circumstances, your comparison of Exxon's funding of sceptical scientists and groups with the former antics of the tobacco industry is unjustifiable and unworthy of any credible elected representatives. Either withdraw that monstrous comparison forthwith, or resign so as not to pollute the office you hold.

Anyone who believes in the supposed "consensus" on climate change and yet is not willing to countenance the immediate reintroduction and widespread development of nuclear energy as the most important and essential mitigative measure available to us cannot expect to be taken seriously.

I challenge you to withdraw or resign because your letter is the latest in what appears to be an internationally-coordinated series of maladroit and malevolent attempts to silence the voices of scientists and others who have sound grounds, rooted firmly in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, to question what you would have us believe is the unanimous agreement of scientists worldwide that global warming will lead to what you excitedly but unjustifiably call "disastrous" and "calamitous" consequences. Let me give just two examples from this side of the Atlantic:

The Institute for Public Policy Research, a Leftist pressure-group, has stated that public bodies should act henceforth as though there is no debate among scientists and should assume that "disastrous" and "calamitous" climate change will be a fact.

The British "Foreign Secretary", one Beckett, responded to a recent newspaper article by me that questioned the science behind the soi-disant "consensus" on climate change by demanding – during an otherwise paralyzing speech on terrorism – that the news media should treat climate sceptics as though they were spokesmen for Islamic terrorism and should deny them column inches or air time. Al Gore, who was Vice-President when the Senate declared 97-0 that it would not ratify any treaty that did not bind fast-growing, heavily-polluting nations such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil because without them no action by the West would make any difference, wrote a reply to my article saying that I should not be discussing these matters in the Press. He said I should rely on peer-reviewed research in journals such as Science, Nature and Geophysical Research Letters. Within 12 hours, I had published a 24-page refutation of his scientifically-inaccurate article, citing more than 60 references in learned journals.

Twenty-five of the citations were from the three journals he mentioned.

You will rightly deduce from Beckett's sinister remark that after a decade of Socialist government freedom of speech does not figure in our constitution. But let me quote the First Amendment to yours: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the Press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I call upon the pair of you to live by those great words, or to leave.

Yours truly,

MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY cc: Mr. Rex W. Tillerson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ExxonMobil Corporation
I challenge you to withdraw or resign because your letter is the latest in what appears to be an internationally-coordinated series of maladroit and malevolent attempts to silence the voices of scientists and others

References
DEMING, D. 1995. Climatic warming in North America: analysis of borehole temperatures. Science 268: 1576-1577.
DEMING, D. 2005: Global warming, the politicization of science, and Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear'. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 19: no.2.
HULME, M. 2006. Chaotic world of climate truth. BBC News Viewpoint, 4 November 2006. Available from the Internet at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6115644.stm.
INQUA. 2000. Sea Level Changes, News and Views, The Maldives Project. Homepage of the commission on sea level changes and coastal evolution, http://www.pog.su.se/sea.
KHILYUK, L.F., and G. V. Chilingar. 2006. On global forces of nature driving the Earth's climate. Are humans involved? Environmental Geology, 50, 899–910: DOI 10.1007/s00254-006-0261-x, or available for download from the Internet at http://www.springerlink.com/content/t341350850360302/. See the attached executive summary.
MORNER, N.-A. 1995. Recorded sea level variability in the Holocene and expected future changes. In: Eisma, D. (Ed.), "Climate Change: Impact on Coastal Habitation", CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 17-28.
MORNER, N.-A. 2004. Estimating future sea level changes from past records. Global and Planetary Change 40: 49-54.