Opinion: The tangled tale of Lord Christopher Monckton

If you haven’t found yourself walking out of a presentation and asking, “did that really just happen?,” you haven’t heard Lord Christopher Monckton speak about climate change or how he refers to people who care about stopping it. 

It’s almost beyond belief that a California legislator has invited the world’s best-known climate skeptic to give two “talks” today in Sacramento. It is surprising given that his regularly cited factoids and assertions have been refuted by innumerable actual scientists, and that he calls those who disagree with him “Hitler Youth.”

Here’s what we find the most ironic about this. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), who invited Monckton to Sacramento to advance her political agenda, co-authored a bill last year establishing California Holocaust Memorial Week. It proclaimed, “We must always remind ourselves of the horrible events of the Holocaust and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution, and tyranny lest these atrocities be repeated.” Why would she of all people give a State Capitol platform to a bully who openly uses hate speech—“Nazis,” “fascists,” and “Hitler youth”—to chew out those disagreeing with him? 

It is also difficult to know where to begin putting together a scientific response to a person who has “no expertise in climate science or any science training whatsoever;” someone with a misleading résumé who uses inaccurate facts to make his flawed case that “global warming is bullsh*t.”

On his presentation style, it’s difficult to fault Monckton for responding to critics that find his methods fraudulent, distasteful and offensive.  On the science front, it hardly makes sense to respond to his dubious claims by providing facts since the words ‘Monckton’ and ‘debunked’ have been placed side-by-side in almost as many articles, letters, blogs and websites as the words ‘peanut’ and ‘butter.’

Responding to any one of his scientific statements—such as the “glaciers aren’t melting”—would somehow legitimize them, if only for rebuttal purposes.  Therefore, the best and most popular response is to see Monckton’s assertions for what they are: ridiculous.

That is unless you ask those who pay him. Let’s start by considering the source and noting that he advises the right-wing Heartland Institute. The sponsor behind his Sacramento visit is also a polluter-funded organization: the California Coalition of Energy Users (CEU). This group is operated by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which has received $580,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.

While he may have found receptive audiences at industry dinners and conferences, he now finds himself in California. Our state is world-renowned for cutting-edge environmental and climate policies that voters overwhelmingly support, and that have delivered indisputable economic rewards.

Studies and projections show that California will be hit hard by climate change. By acting aggressively to fight climate change and putting a price on carbon, California has built the largest clean economy in the country. We are creating green jobs that are growing at a rate 10 times faster than other economic sectors.  Since California passed its primary climate policy (AB 32) in 2006, it has received more than $15 billion in clean tech venture capital. This money is funding innovative companies that are helping us compete in the $2 trillion global market, increase our energy independence and improve our national security.

Who do you believe when it comes to climate change? The more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field who agree that climate change is real and human caused, or a front man who speaks for oil companies that put profits before people?

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