Friday, May 7, 2010

Is This the Best That Republican Climate Change Deniers Can Do?

Yesterday, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming of the House of Representatives held a hearing on “The Foundation of Climate Science”. According to the press release that announced the hearing, one purpose of the hearing was “to address the claims of deniers head-on”. To that end, the witnesses called by Committee Chair Rep. Edward D. Markey (D-Massachusetts) included the following:

  • Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, and member of the “Oxburgh Inquiry” panel
  • Dr. Chris Field, Director, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of new IPCC report due in 2014
  • Dr. James McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University, past President and Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, co-chair of “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” portion of IPCC report published in 2001
  • Dr. James Hurrell, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, contributor to IPCC reports

Who did the Republicans select to offer testimony in opposition to Dr. Graumlich, Dr. Field, Dr. McCarthy, and Dr. Hurrell? The Republicans called Lord Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. I wanted to take a moment to provide a bit of background on Lord Monckton. And remember, this is who the Republicans chose to testify at the hearing (and the only person they chose).

First, it is important to understand that though he is called Lord Monckton, he is not, in fact, a member of Britain’s House of Lords (though he has been known to suggest otherwise). More importantly, recall that Lord Monckton is testifying in opposition to a group of scientists. But Lord Monckton is not a scientist; he is a journalist and Classics major. Ah, but that is only the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg.

Indeed, Lord Monckton really is a bit of a crackpot. After all, who else would refer to environmentalist students engaged in peaceful (though inappropriate) protests as “Hitler Youth” and then, when questioned on that reference, would not only stand firm in his claim but go so far as to say that the number of people killed by the “misplaced belief” in climate change is greater than the number of people killed by Hitler. He even claims that “coal and oil are just as clean as any other form of energy”. Here’s the video:

Lord Monckton continued to stand by his statement. After being confronted by a student protestor who took umbrage at being called a “Hitler Youth” and said to Lord Monckton, “As a Jew I'm not really sure how I should take that”, Lord Monckton simply replied: “I'll tell you how you should take it. You should take it”. Classy guy, hm? Of course when asked about his “Hitler Youth” comment by Associated Press – you know, the comment that he acknowledges making in the video above – Lord Monckton denies having said it (claiming instead the comment came from “three Germans and a Dane in the audience"). Of course, the fact that there is video of him saying it, not once, but twice, is apparently meaningless. Then again, as I’ve demonstrated in the past, to modern right, facts are meaningless.

(For the record, I don’t condone protests like this one that prevent a speaking from speaking. That is not the way to get the point across. But that isn’t the point of this post.)

So Lord Monckton is clearly a climate change denier who has no trouble with calling those with whom he disagrees “Hitler Youth”. OK. Fine. But guess what? He’s also a birther. At a tax day tea party protest, Lord Monckton (um, if he’s a British “climate expert” why was he speaking at an American tax protest?) opened his speech by saying, “America! Land of opportunity! You can be born in Kenya and end up as president of the United States!” Lord Monckton previously told a Wisconsin Republican county group that President Obama is a “monster”.

Finally, and I think that I’ve saved the best for last, here is what Lord Monckton had to say about HIV/AIDS in a 1987 article in The American Spectator (unfortunately, only available to subscribers):

.... there is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month ... all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently.

So, with all of this in mind, one does have to ask of the Republicans who chose Lord Monckton to be their witness at yesterday’s hearing: Is this the best you can do? Or, said differently, is this a person with whom you really want to be associated?

Oh, one more thing: As to the actual issue of climate change and Lord Monckton’s views (with a little bonus revisiting of some of the foregoing), here are some great smackdowns from Peter Sinclair:

Yikes.

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