Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, is easily one of the most entertaining advocates for climate realism, as well as being one of the most knowledgeable. When he speaks, his clipped accent makes one think of a machine gun, spraying facts and figures at his audience with a mix of humor and matter-of-factness that not only elicits laughter, but makes his audience think. He has a special gift for simplifying complex information — boiling off the extraneous and unnecessary until he has reduced his subject matter to bite-sized nuggets that are easily digested. His logic is impeccable. His command of the subject, complete. It’s no wonder he makes mincemeat of warming advocates whenever any one of them makes the mistake of accepting his invitation to debate.
Monckton addressed a luncheon crowd on Tuesday at the 7th annual Climate Change Conference in Chicago sponsored by the Heartland Institute.
Monckton is controversial for many reasons, but perhaps most of all because, as he freely admits, he is no scientist. This has outraged global warming scientists who take a dim view of anyone challenging the priesthood of science who hasn’t been ordained at an institution of higher learning. No matter. Monckton plows ahead with wit and charm, offering a dizzying array of facts and proving his worthiness by his grasp of climate change research on both sides of the issue.
Lord Monckton’s appearance at the conference brought demonstrators to the streets in front of the Hilton Hotel where the event was taking place. About 50 of the scruffiest looking protestors one could imagine banged their drums and chanted silly things like “Hey Hey. Ho Ho. Corporate science has got to go.” (One of the major topics of cocktail conversation was asking an attendee if they knew where all that money from oil and gas companies was going and if they could get some.)
One protestor wearing a black wading boot on his head bellowed into a megaphone that Monckton was a “troll.” Another middle-aged hippe carried a sign that read “The Earth is flat. Join the Heartland Institute.” The protestors unfurled a banner from a 20th story window and, not familiar with Chicago’s nickname as the “Windy City,” immediately saw their handiwork ripped to shreds in the gale.
But Monckton is used to this sort of thing. James Taylor, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, told the story of Monckton’s arrival that day. On his way into the hotel, he struck up a conversation with one of the protestors — a student at MIT as it turned out. For over an hour the two engaged in a polite, but intense, dialogue. Taylor says that at the end, the young man was even agreeing with some of Monckton’s conclusions.
And why not? Monckton may not be a scientist, but he is a student of rhetoric. This makes him deadly in a debate. During his presentation, he listed Aristotle’s logical fallacies and applied them to the alarmists’ talking points. A few of these included:
1. Fallacy of reputation where we must believe the holy men of science because of their “superior” knowledge.
2. Fallacy of argument from ignorance. “We don’t know why the earth is warming, but it must be man-made.”
3. Red herring fallacy. “Warming is accelerating so we must be the cause.”
4. Fallacy of inappropriate pity. “Oh, those poor polar bears!”
5. Begging the question fallacy. “We tell the models that man is causing global warming and that’s what the models tell us back.”
6. Fallacy of accident. Increase in the severity of hurricanes and other severe weather events.
7. The fallacy of the ad hominem attack where the opponent’s reputation and character are smeared rather than dealing with the substance of his argument.
Many of these fallacies we are all familiar with. And as Monckton points out, fallacious arguments are not challenged, largely because warming advocates control the debate. It should be noted that the Heartland Institute has issued invitations each year the conference has been held to prominent climate scientists on the other side to make presentations, participate in panels, or debate the issue. None so far have accepted.
Could it be that they know that open debate would expose that fallacies in their arguments? Certainly that is one reason. But it is probably also true that climate scientists who advocate human-caused global warming do not want to give climate realists any legitimacy. They want to deny the skeptics oxygen that would give them momentum as policymakers, legislators, world leaders, and especially the general public are beginning to ask questions for which they have no good answers.
Lord Monckton’s talk was the highlight of the conference for many. His passion, logic, confidence, and good humor will no doubt hold him in good stead as he continues to proselytize among the heathen and spread the skeptical argument far and wide.