Monday, August 6, 2012

Gore Versus Monckton

In a recent post on climate deniers, one showed up in the comments.  I made a comment about Monckton's status as a leader of the climate denier movement, and how any group that would take him seriously cannot be taken seriously.  In reply, the anonymous denier threw a comment about Al Gore at me.  It occurred to me that the two have more in common than merely being the most prominent spokespeople for their viewpoints, but that Monckton is actually a kind of bizarro-Al Gore, a goatee universe evil version of him.  Usually, climate realists shy away from embracing Gore since he's not an actual climate scientist, and of course he's a politician with plenty of legitimate baggage, but really, if deniers want a side by side comparison, I'm game, let's play:

  Christopher Monckton
Albert Gore Jr.

(source: Wiki Commons)
(source: Wiki Commons)
Legislative Experience:

None.  Repeated claims to be a member of the upper chamber of the UK legislature.  The Clerk of the House of Lords published an open letter stating explicitly he is not and never was.

Defeated four times in running for election to the House of Lords, receiving zero votes each time (he didn’t even vote for himself!).

Ran for election to the Scottish Parliament, not elected.
Actually was a member of the upper chamber of the US legislature, the Senate.  Elected by the voters of Tennessee, twice. 

Also elected to the US House of Representatives numerous times.
Executive Branch Experience:

Member of Margaret Thatcher’s policy advisory team.  Claims to have advised the PM on science and climate change.  Thatcher’s autobiography never mentions him, and names someone else as her science advisor.  Thatcher’s Environment minister calls him a “bag carrier” and the idea that he advised Thatcher on climate policy “laughable.”
Twice elected Vice-President of the United States with President Bill Clinton.  Noted for his especially strong relationship with Clinton, described as his “indisputable chief advisor. Described by Clinton as “the most powerful Vice-President in history.”  Promoted information technology extensively in the Executive branch, and across the US economy.

Won the 2000 Presidential election popular vote, lost in the Electoral College.
Policy Effects on Head of Government:

Margaret Thatcher famously surprised the UN with a 1989 speech calling for action on climate change.  Thatcher, with an actual science education evidently did not take Monckton’s dubiously claimed advice on the subject.

Thatcher’s government did implement Monckton’s social housing privatization ideas, which now even prominent UK Conservatives regard as having failed.
At Gore's urging, Bill Clinton signed the domestically unpopular Kyoto treaty even though ratification in the Senate was impossible.  While the US did not implement Kyoto, it did achieve full ratification and remains the only formalized global greenhouse gas emissions reduction treaty. 

B.A. , M.A. in Classics from Cambridge
Diploma in Journalism studies from University College, Cardiff.
B.A. in Government from Harvard.
Studied Law (incomplete, left to run for Congress)
Remarkable claims:

Also claims the treatment is effective against influenza, Multiple Sclerosis and Herpes.

No evidence of these claims has ever been supplied.

Accused NASA of crashing a weather satellite on purpose so to suppress data that would refute climate science.

Is apparently an Obama-born-in-Hawaii denier too.
“I took the initiative in creating the Internet”

He did say the words once in an interview, but clearly was speaking about the multiple legislative efforts he started, supported and lobbied to fund research, investment into multiple areas of information technology.  Newt Gingrich admits of all members of Congress Gore “most systemically” worked to support the technology that would become the internet.  A multitude of internet pioneers credit Gore explicitly for his legislative advocacy and he has won awards relating to the work.  The 1991 “Gore Bill” was credited by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen for creating the first browser, Mosaic. It's really more of a gaffe  than a ridiculous claim. 
Beyond the Pale:

Called for forced life internment of AIDS patients in 1987 in a published article.  Article also advocated mandatory monthly AIDS blood tests for the entire population of UK.  Has defended the article in recent years.   

Claims to have suggested to Thatcher that she employ biological weapons against Argentine forces in the Falklands war, and that she did so.  No evidence of UK use of biological weapons in that conflict has ever emerged.
There’s nothing really remotely like this on Gore’s record.  

On these two topics, Gore co-sponsored a 1990 bill to fund health care for AIDS patients.  The Clinton administration oversaw the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997.
Political Ideology:

Too right wing for the Conservatives, left the party for the anti-EU, anti-immigration UK Independence party, and briefly served as Deputy-Leader.
Self described “raging moderate.”  A Democrat elected in Tennessee, Gore took numerous moderate and even conservative positions on multiple issues.  As Vice-President he led a major bureaucracy reduction effort within government.  His solutions to climate change are market centric and supportive of businesses finding ways to profit creating and selling the technology needed to transform the energy system.  One of 10 Democrats to vote for the 1991 Gulf War.  Picked noted hawkish conservative Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate.
Climate Science Credentials:

It’s difficult to find any actual source of claims calling him an “expert.”  Member of the Christian cult “The Family” Senator James Inhofe does list Monckton as a “climate researcher” doubting the consensus (the report is billed as containing 700 doubting “scientists”).   Monckton has no peer reviewed published papers. 

Still, he is employed as a climate science “expert” or “advisor” by numerous Climate sceptic think-tanks and has been invited to testify by Republican majority committees as an “expert” witness a number of times.  I suppose by now he’s become an expert of some sort by virtue of playing one for this long, but the original source of this “expertise” seems to be his out-of-nowhere 2007 rebuttal movie to Gore’s  2005 “An Inconvenient Truth”, titled “Apocalypse? No!” – which apparently makes such a splash I can’t find it on IMDB and never heard of it before seeing it listed in his UK Independence Party profile.
Studied under one of the first scientists to study anthropogenic climate change, Roger Revelle while at University.  Held the first congressional hearing on Global Warming in 1976.  Long history of government advocacy and policy in climate science.  Gore makes no claim to any scientific expertise but has a long public track record of detailed policy involvement on the issue.

Would go on to make the most popular and successful documentary on climate change,  the Oscar winning, “An Inconvenient Truth” based on his self-devised multi-media climate science presentation. 

Gore would also be awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (along with the IPCC) in relation to his work to promote public understanding of the climate crisis.

It’s difficult to summarize the rampant litany of egregious false claims, lies, mistakes, mischaracterizations and logical fallacies that characterizes all of Monckton’s work on climate change.   But perhaps the best is this excruciatingly detailed fisking of Monckton’s bizarro-Gore slideshow by engineer/scientist Prof. John Abraham at reputable private school, the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).  Monckton was so incensed by Abraham’s work that he had a little tantrum and even threatened to initiate academic misconduct procedures against Abraham.
An Inconvenient Truth was actually tested in a UK court due to its inclusion in school curricula.  The Judge eventually found 9 errors, but still ruled the movie was “broadly accurate” and “substantially founded on scientific research.”  He ruled the movie could be shown to school children as long as additional material noting the nine errors was distributed with it.  Aside from one UK Judge, in general, actual climate scientists were generally impressed with the accuracy and currency of the science in the movie. 
Major Criticisms:

Aside from a quasi-fascist plan for dealing with infectious disease and making up ridiculous things like curing multiple diseases without any scientific background, a complete lack of credibility and repeatedly twisting, distorting or misquoting the climate science he is responding to, none worth mentioning here.
Gore’s biggest crime is apparently that he doesn’t practice what he doesn’t preach.

He lives in a big house and flies in planes, which apparently makes him a hypocrite because climate sceptics imagine that in advocating for action on climate, one must move to a cave, eat kelp and travel only by low-emission donkey.     Thing is, Gore says no such things.  His solutions to climate change are market centric, with some kind of price on carbon, and some neoliberal subsidies for clean energy.   None of this requires individual personal zero emission living.

He also pays carbon offsets for his flights, his homes are outfitted for efficiency and he opts for more expensive green energy to power them.  Meaning Gore already voluntarily pays a carbon price even without the laws he advocates that would compel him to.  Where is the hypocrisy?

He’s also frequently accused of seeking to profit from the climate issue which is a bizarre companion to the frequent denier claims that global warming is an excuse for global socialism.  Gore has put his money where his mouth is, and this is a bad thing?

The main point here is not that Gore is super-perfect and should be canonized, he's a politician, there's plenty to criticize in his public service record, but on the climate issue, he has a long track record of leadership and sincerity.  Monckton is in my opinion a shameless huckster who jumped into the issue around 2006 and was welcomed by the denier movement because they really have no one more credible to carry their message.  If deniers want to compare the two, I'm fine with that.  It's an indirect way to assess the sincerity of each movement, but it does bear out.  If there was a more credible climate denier, she or he would already be in Monckton's shoes.  The AIDS thing alone should disqualify him from ever being taken seriously by anyone on anything, but for deniers it is any internment camp proponent in the storm.


  1. Hmm, I looked at your side by side comparo and concluded that it is Monckton who, on the climate issue, has a long track record of leadership and sincerity. Not Gore the huckster.

    You obviously reside on a planet which which we are unfamiliar.


    1. Under what calculus is 6 years a "long track record"? Has Monckton done a single verified thing on the climate issue prior to 2006?