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Debate on climate heats up online: Skeptic is no member of the House of Lords, prof says.
[April 10, 2010]

Debate on climate heats up online: Skeptic is no member of the House of Lords, prof says.


Apr 10, 2010 (The Salt Lake Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Brigham Young University scientist and the world-renowned climate skeptic never did debate face to face.

Instead, Lord Christopher Monckton and BYU geochemistry professor Barry Bickmore have sparred online.

And, while Monckton has declared that he has dropped out of the discussion, Bickmore is preparing to publish his findings on the climate science Web page RealClimate.org. Among his conclusions: Monckton is no member of the United Kingdom's House of Lords as he sometimes claims and that his key graph debunking climate science is "pure fantasy." "The moral of the story is not that amateurs should stay out of the debate about climate change," writes Bickmore, who noted that he is a geologist rather than a climate scientist.

"Rather, the moral is that when you see a complete amateur raising objections about a highly technical subject, claiming that he or she has blown the lid off several decades of research in the discipline, you should be highly suspicious." Monckton did not respond to requests for comment. Nor did Bob Ferguson, president of the Science and Public Policy Institute, which sponsored Monckton's recent appearance at Utah Valley University.

But, in their emails to Bickmore over the past few weeks, Monckton and Ferguson accuse the scientist at LDS Church-owned BYU of personal attacks, and both threaten him.


Ferguson ends a Thursday e-mail by hinting there might be repercussions through their shared faith.

"I trust you are gentleman and Christian enough to not bear such false witness," Ferguson concludes. "If not, I will seek both professional and ecclesiastical redress for 'conduct unbecoming'." In an exchange a week earlier, Monckton said that Bickmore's "unjustifiable and gratuitous remarks about my habitual mendacity are to be drawn to the attention of the President of the University... to be investigated as a disciplinary matter." Monckton also said he had spoken with "some of the University's leading supporters" about Bickmore's role in the university's decision not to host Monckton's climate-change speech.

"This, too, I understand, is to be referred to the University as a disciplinary matter, since the University prides itself on allowing academic freedom," Monckton wrote.

Bickmore said Friday he is not aware of any investigation or disciplinary action. And university spokesman Michael Smart said none was in the works.

"Barry Bickmore is not and has not been under academic investigation," Smart said. "There is no basis for any accusation that he is." Meanwhile, the information office at the British House of Lords responded to Bickmore's inquiry about a question that had been dogging him: Why does Monckton, the 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, describe himself as a member of the House of Lords? He'd made the claim to members of the U.S. Congress and also in an April 1 e-mail to Bickmore, where Monckton asserted: "I am a member of the House of Lords, though without the right to sit or vote, and I have never suggested otherwise." The official response on Thursday said: "Christopher Monckton is not and has never been a Member of the House of Lords. There is no such thing as a 'non-voting' or 'honorary' member." The false claims undermine Monckton's credibility in a way that is easy for anyone to understand, said Bickmore. They open a window onto the skeptic's scientific claims, like his assertion that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is wrong about global warming.

The BYU scientist analyzed a key graph developed and presented by Monckton that challenges the mainstream science linking growing CO2 concentrations and rising temperatures. After checking it against data from peer-reviewed literature and the IPCC, Bickmore concluded, the graph is "fallacious." To see more of The Salt Lake Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sltrib.com. Copyright (c) 2010, The Salt Lake Tribune Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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