Interview with the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

We recently talked about Christopher Monckton who has found 35 errors in the Al Gore’s movie An inconvenient truth. This scientist answers to a few questions.

Onirik : Can you describe yourself in a few words, who you are and your qualifications in the subject of « global warming »?

C.M. : I am an experienced policy analyst. Until ill health forced me to retire last year, for 20 years I ran a specialist consultancy giving technical and economic advice to Governments, corporations and individuals wealthy enough to afford my monstrous fees. Before I established my business, I had the honour of working with Margaret Thatcher during her time as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. For four years from 1982 to 1986, I advised her on a number of technical questions in both science and economics, ranging from whether the UK should join the exchange-rate mechanism of the European Monetary System to whether the hulls of warships could be redesigned to make them go faster with less power.

At the end of my time in 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s official residence in London, it had become clear to me that the question of manmade “global warming” needed to be investigated. I wrote two major pieces in the London Evening Standard in 1988 drawing attention to this new potential problem, and I also appeared on a leading network television programme, in which I gave one of the earliest explanations in Britain of how the “greenhouse effect” works. At that time Margaret Thatcher, who was herself a scientist and shared my concern that we should find out whether there was a serious problem, made a speech to the Royal Society, a scientific pressure-group in London, in which she announced that funds would be made available to establish the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research.

My degree is in classical languages, literature and science. I have had formal training in higher mathematics and in the scientific method, and have had a lifetime of practical experience in the evaluation of scientific results. My own results establishing that the GIEC’s estimate of the effect of additional atmospheric carbon dioxide on temperature is at least twice as high as it should be have been published in the peer-reviewed UK Quarterly Economic Bulletin. I was also an Expert Witness for Stewart Dimmock, a school governor who recently challenged the UK Government in the High Court over its decision to distribute Al Gore’s climate-change movie to every high school in England. The judge declared that in Al Gore’s film there were nine departures from the mainstream of scientific opinion that were so serious that the film could not be shown to schoolchildren unless the nine errors were first clearly pointed out.

Onirik : Why did you take the time to do such hard work to find those 35 mistakes in Al Gore’s movie? In fact, was it such a hard work or this mistakes are quite obvious for a scientist?

C.M. : Your question is in two parts. First, why does scientific accuracy matter? Secondly, was it hard work to identify the errors in Al Gore’s movie?

I begin with the first part of your question: why does scientific accuracy matter? It matters because when governments allow science to be overtaken by politics driven by extremist pressure-groups, they get major decisions wrong. When governments get major decisions wrong, tens of millions die. That is why doing the science properly matters. Let us look at just two previous global scares – one genuine, one false, both disastrous. Why disastrous? Because pressure-groups, not science, dictated policy, and tens of millions needlessly died.

The HIV scare: Shortly after HIV was first discovered, the US Army’s senior disease control specialists, who had been among the first to study the disease, strongly recommended to the US Surgeon-General that it should be treated just like any other fatal infection. All previous fatal infections had been treated in the same way – all carriers of the fatal infection were isolated immediately, compulsorily and permanently, but humanely. That is how smallpox was eradicated from the Earth. The Surgeon-General, fiercely lobbied by homosexual pressure-groups, did not make HIV a notifiable disease. Result: 25 million have died worldwide in just 20 years; 40 million more are infected; in sub-Saharan Africa, one in 12 are infected; and in South Africa 1,000 a day are dying before their time. How many more will die because my small voice in support of the US Army’s disease-control specialists was not loud enough to be heard 20 years ago?

The DDT scare: Thirty years ago DDT was banned as a result of pressure from the same environmental lobby that now hypes “global warming”. Yet DDT is the only effective agent against malaria, and it is so safe that humans can eat it by the tablespoonful without harm. Result: global malaria deaths rose from 50,000 a year to 1 million a year, and 30 to 50 million people have died who would have lived if DDT had never been banned. On 15 September 2006, after representations by me and others, the World Health Organization reversed the ban and now once again recommends interior spraying of houses with DDT. The environmental lobby are furious that the ban on DDT which they caused has at last been reversed. Environmentalists do not care about the tens of millions they have killed, or about objective, scientific truth. However, Dr. Arata Kochi of the WHO said on the day the DDT ban was at last lifted:

“Quite often in this field politics comes first and science second. We must take a position based on the science and the data.”

Dr. Kochi is right. We must get the science right or we will get the policy wrong. And if intergovernmental agencies get the policy wrong they will kill tens of millions again, just as they have twice done in the past 30 years. This time they will kill poor people who will be denied the fossil-fuelled opportunity to become less poor. Instead, the wider, general interest of us all must prevail over the narrow vested interests of single-issue pressure-groups such as the environmentalists whose policies have killed before and will kill again. There is a direct correlation between carbon dioxide emissions per capita and economic prosperity, and a terrible inverse correlation between carbon dioxide emissions per capita and mortality in children under five.

If, in the name of bogus science, we bully the Third World into curbing among its own suffering peoples the carbon emissions which have powered the economic prosperity that has given us the means to stabilize our own populations, then Third World populations will continue to rise beyond the capacity of their nations to sustain and feed them. Result: Still more tens of millions dead, and, paradoxically, a continuing increase in Third World populations and hence a far heavier aggregate human impact on the environment than if no restrictions had been placed on carbon emissions.


The suffering children of Africa, Asia and South America, imploring us with their hopeless, hopeful eyes, are our people. They look to us. We have failed them and failed them before. We must not fail them again.

The second part of your question is whether it was hard work finding the 35 errors in Al Gore’s movie. In fact I have been working on the errors in An Inconvenient Truth for several months, in order to put forward my testimony as an expert witness against the UK Government’s decision to send a copy of the film to every high school in England. It would not have been proper for me to publish the 35 errors while the judge was still hearing the case, but I was free to publish the list of errors once he had given his judgment that the film was inaccurate, misleading and exaggerated. I should also point out that, though the environmentalists have publicly accused me of having funded the court case, I did not do so. Since I was an expert witness, it would have been improper for me to contribute to its expense.

To anyone familiar not only with the reports of the GIEC but also with the peer-reviewed scientific articles on climate that are regularly published in the learned journals, it was obvious that Al Gore was misquoting or exaggerating the science very badly all the way through the film. To take one example, he says that the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice Sheets will soon cause the sea to rise by more than 6 m. However, from the GIEC’s 2007 report it is easy to calculate that the combined total contribution of these two ice sheets to sea level over the whole of the next 100 years will be just 6 cm. Gore exaggerated the supposed rise in sea level by close to 10,000 per cent. He scared millions of people with this and other exaggerations, and for this he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

O : Al Gore seems to be working with the GIEC. How come they did not see those errors?

C.M. : Though several scientific contributors to the work of the GIEC are financially linked with Al Gore, he has no scientific qualifications or experience whatsoever, and fundamentally misunderstands both the science of radiative transfer and the formal process of searching for scientific truth that is now known as the scientific method. Since Gore is not a qualified scientist, he could not play a direct part in the deliberations of the GIEC. However, the agenda of the GIEC is the same as that of Al Gore–to get rich and enhance its own status by scaring the world into believing that the supposed threat from climate change is far worse than it is in reality. Therefore the GIEC had a vested interest in ignoring the sheer quantity and seriousness of the errors in Al Gore’s film. It looked the other way.

The GIEC was of course busy making a string of errors of its own. Here is an example. To check the fundamental exaggerations that are being made by the GIEC, you may like to invite your readers to do a direct calculation for themselves. One of the key assertions in the Summary for Policymakers of its 2007 report, very widely quoted by journalists, is this –

“The CO2 radiative forcing increased by 20% during the last 10 years (1995-2005).”

So let us check whether this extreme and alarming assertion is true. First, we go to the excellent record of carbon dioxide concentrations maintained by the diligent Charles David Keeling and his team at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii. The CO2 concentration in 1995 was 360 ppmv, rising to 378 ppmv in 2005. We do not need a computer to tell us that the increase in CO2 concentration over the ten-year period in question was not 20% but 5%.

To derive the radiative forcing – i.e. the change in temperature in response to the stated change in CO2 concentration – we shall need either a scientific calculator or a computer. The necessary formula is given in the GIEC’s 2001 report –

dF = 3.35[g(C) – g(C0)]
g(C) = ln(1 + 1.2C + 0.005C2 + 0.0000014C3)

Let C = 378 ppmv; C0 = 360 ppmv: then dF = 0.28 Wm–2. From Kiehl & Trenberth (1997), one may deduce that the total contribution of CO2 to the greenhouse effect shortly before their paper was published was around 27 Wm–2. So the additional CO2 radiative forcing of 0.28 Wm–2 between 1995 and 2005 was just over 1% of total CO2 radiative forcing, not 20%.

Numerous journalists round the world were taken in by the GIEC’s drastic and baseless exaggeration. They wrote agonized articles declaring that immediate, panic measures were essential to prevent what the UK Conservative Party, in a recent policy document riddled with scientific errors of the most extreme fatuity, described excitedly as “runaway climate change”. Runaway climate change is possible on the planet Venus, but is for fundamental reasons impossible on Earth.

How, then, did so gross an exaggeration arise, and at so central a point in the GIEC’s calculations? The shameful answer is that the GIEC’s definition of “radiative forcing” contains a hidden element which is not clearly explained anywhere in the Summary for Policymakers, and is certainly not explained at the point where the exaggeration occurs. The GIEC makes an assumption that humankind had no discernible impact on the climate until 1750, when the Industrial Revolution began. Therefore its calculations for the radiative forcing from CO2 are in truth calculations for the minuscule anthropogenic fraction of the radiative forcing. Unfortunately the GIEC is extremely careful not to say so plainly, and has refused my requests that it should come clean on the point by amending the report so as not to mislead policymakers and the media.

Exaggerations and dishonesties of this kind abound all the way through the GIEC’s documents, successfully misleading casual readers (such as the average journalist) into believing that the imagined “problem” is many, many times worse than it can possibly be.

O : Recently the High Court in London has recognized several of the mistakes you have also pointed out. We can only wonder what is left in the movie after removing all mistakes?

C.M. : You are quite right. Almost every scientific “fact” in Al Gore’s movie is inaccurate. And every single one of the 35 inaccuracies or exaggerations or misquotations from scientific papers or falsifications of scientific results in the movie points in the same direction – towards extreme and unjustifiable alarmism. The probability that as many as 35 errors would all fall in the same extreme direction by accident is less than 1 in 34 billion.

Some of the inaccuracies are rooted in Al Gore’s near-total ignorance of elementary science. But the vast majority of his errors are in a single category – false exaggeration of the effects of climate change on our planet, so that even the smallest effect (whether real or, usually, imaginary) is presented as a catastrophe. Some of the exaggerations are childish in the extreme. All are serious. All are unnecessary and morally wrong. This is a crude propaganda film worthy of Dr. Goebbels at his worst. It has no place in any school classroom and must not be shown to children.

O : Do your conclusions about this movie shows that in fact there is no general agreement between scientists despite what the mainstream media are saying?

C.M. : First, Al Gore’s movie has nothing to do with science. It is nonsense from start to finish. The question whether there is a scientific “consensus” about climate change is a question quite separate from Al Gore’s movie. Recently Schulte (2007) reviewed 539 scientific papers about “global climate change” published since the beginning of 2004. He found that only one of these papers described climate change as being even potentially “catastrophic”. There is a near-unanimous consensus, therefore, that there is no good reason to suppose that climate change will be catastrophic. There is a consensus that some warming of the climate has resulted and will from adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, but there is no consensus about how much warming will result. The GIEC’s figures are little better than guesswork.

O : How did you react when the Peace’s Nobel prize was given to Al Gore and the GIEC?

C.M. : I have not stopped laughing since the Norwegians told me some weeks ago that Al Gore and the GIEC would be sharing the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, I have been laughing ever since Gore’s movie about climate change was given the Oscar for Best Sci-Fi Comedy Horror. These awards show that the Hollywood Academy and the Nobel prize committee have a great sense of humour. Here is one commentator’s list of the people who should have won the prize:

The prize could have been, but was not, awarded to the Burmese monks whose bravely suffered for their defiance of the country’s military junta.

It was not awarded to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and other Zimbabwean opposition leaders who were arrested and in some cases beaten by police earlier this year while protesting peacefully against dictator Robert Mugabe.

Nor to Father Nguyen Van Ly, a Catholic priest in Vietnam arrested this year and sentenced to eight years in prison for helping a pro-democracy group.

Nor to Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Uyyouni, co-founders of the League to Demand Women’s Right to Drive Cars in Muslim Saudi Arabia.

Nor to Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, who has fought tirelessly to end the violence wrought by terrorists and drug lords in his country.

Nor to Gary Kasparov, nor to the hundreds of Russians who were arrested in April 2007, and are continually harassed, for resisting President Vladimir Putin’s slide toward authoritarian rule.

Nor to the people of Iraq, who bravely work to rebuild and reunite their country amid constant threats to themselves and their families from terrorists who deliberately target civilians.

Nor to Presidents Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Shakashvili, who, despite the efforts of the Kremlin to undermine their young states, stayed true to the spirit of the peaceful revolutions they led in Ukraine and Georgia and showed that democracy can put down deep roots in Russia’s backyard.

Nor to Britain’s Tony Blair, Ireland’s Bertie Ahern and the voters of Northern Ireland, who in March were able to set aside decades of hatred to establish joint Catholic-Protestant rule in Northern Ireland.

Nor to scholar and activist Saad Iddin Ibrahim, jailed presidential candidate Aiman Nur and other democracy campaigners in Egypt.

Nor, posthumously, to lawmakers Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, Rafik Hariri, George Hawi and Gibran Tueni; journalist Samir Kassir; and other Lebanese citizens who have been assassinated since 2005 for their efforts to free their country from Syrian control.

Nor to the Reverend Philip Buck; Pastor Chun Ki Won and his organization, Durihana; Tim Peters and his Helping Hands Korea; and Liberty in North Korea, who help North Korean refugees escape to safety in free nations.

These men and women put their own lives and livelihoods at risk by working to rid the world of violence and oppression. Let us hope they survive the coming year so that the Nobel Prize Committee will consider them for the 2008 award.

O : Do you consider yourself has a sceptic about global warming? Sceptics are often said to be working for strong lobbies for the big oil companies. Have you faced that kind of problem?

C.M. : The great 19th century scientist Thomas H. Huxley once wrote: “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.” I am sceptical of all sides of every scientific argument, since the correct stance of a true scientist is to believe nothing and to verify everything. Above, we checked the GIEC’s calculations on the central question of the effect of CO2 on temperature and found them inaccurate and exaggerated. That is how science is done – not by believing one side or the other just because it seems politically expedient, but by checking both sides to see whether either is right.

My small earnings from climate change to date are entirely from one source: fees from newspaper articles or broadcasts. I have not received a sou in fees from any oil company or fossil fuel interest. More importantly, I have not received a sou in fees from the taxpayers through State funding. It is not sufficiently appreciated that the atheistic-humanist, bureaucratic-centralist State is the most powerful of all vested interests. To the State, and, these days, to the supranational bureaucracies that are even more corrupt and even less accountable, even more inept and even less democratic than national governments, climate change is seen as the most powerful of all methods to deceive the people into paying ever larger taxes and enduring ever more intrusive regulation.

Some $50 billion has been spent by the US Government alone on research that supports the frankly alarmist arguments which my own researches have proven defective. Only $20 million has been spent by fossil fuel companies on independent research questioning the alarmist point of view. The question you should have asked is why there is so little scrutiny of the very substantial sums now spent by the State on science. Some 99% of all science these days is State-funded. Do you think that this severe imbalance in funding is likely to lead to good, independent, honest scientific research? If you do, think again.