by James Bascom
If anyone has any doubts about the true nature of the green environmental movement, they should talk to Lord Christopher Monckton. This inspiring Catholic English lord has been challenging the movement for years. He even challenged Al Gore to a debate but the inconvenient truth is that the famous environmentalist has not responded.
TFP member James Bascom was in the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil last June and had the following interview with Lord Monckton.
James Bascom: What are your hopes or fears for this Rio+20 Conference?
Lord Christopher Monckton: I think the main difficulty that I have with these conferences, is that what we are really seeing is predatory, greedy, government bureaucracy, leeching upon the taxpayer in new ways. They thought they had found the magic formula with global warming until they realized that a small but determined group of scientists were able to demonstrate that they had more than somewhat “over-egged the pudding,” and now the vast majority of the world’s population is frankly cynical about the more absurd and extreme claims of 20-foot sea level rises, 3 Celsius temperature changes over the next hundred years. These things are no longer believed as once many did believe, and all that is happening is that the UN has shifted from “climate change” to so-called “sustainable” so-called “development,” which in practice is unsustainable development that shuts down of capitalism, while at the same time expecting the capitalists to go on paying the bills for the UN.
Now the UN is a corrupt institution. Here at this conference for the first time in the series of conferences that I have been coming to, it has accredited the likes of me to become an official delegate to a non-governmental organization, but we've been denied access to the plenary session, the delegates and access to the latest version of the negotiating text. Clearly they have become frightened that if we saw what they were up to, we would expose it, as we have so often and so successfully done in the past and they have made very determined efforts here to stop us or anyone else from finding out what is going on. So you have the pseudo appearance of transparency, but the reality of impenetrability and secrecy to an extreme degree.
What this points to is an attempt by the UN to effectively turn itself into a sort of world government. In May of last year, Ban Ki-moon who is the head of the UN, held a meeting with his senior officials to discuss ways of undermining national sovereignty so that the global sovereignty of the UN as a governing power could begin to be asserted in a major way. This is the aim. Of course the mainstream media will not talk about it but that is the UN’s agenda. It was very clear in the September 15th, 2009 draft of the Copenhagen treaty. That draft failed, but in Cancun the following year, they had reintroduced many of the measures that were dropped at Copenhagen, including the establishment of a thousand new bureaucracies, not bureaucrats, bureaucracies, which were to form the nucleus of what was effectively to become a world government. This process here is in furtherance of that overriding objective. Nowhere in the 182 pages of that Copenhagen treaty draft which was the blueprint for this global government (and the word “government” was actually used in that context in the treaty, I’m not making this up, that’s what they have asserted), not one of those 182 pages at any point mentioned democracy, ballots, elections or voting. This was to be, and still is, a global self-perpetuating dictatorship by the bureaucratic and governing class. That is what I am most afraid of.
James Bascom: You famously challenged Al Gore to a public debate about man-made global warming a few years ago. Did anything ever come of that? What happened?
Lord Monckton: The challenge was delivered personally in writing to his enormous mansion in Tennessee in March of 2007. We have now waited more than 5 years since that challenge was made. We are still waiting, and I’m not holding my breath. This is just as well given the length of time since the challenge was made. Of course Al Gore knows perfectly well that he dare not debate this issue with anyone. He specifies that no journalist, nor person participating in any meeting in which he speaks be allowed to ask any unscripted question because he won’t necessarily know the answer. This is why he is terrified of a debate; and the challenge remains open. You can run but you can’t hide and I’m coming to get you!
James Bascom: Does global warming have any basis in science?
Lord Monckton: Yes. It is true that if you add CO2 to the atmosphere, then it will at the mere infrared interfere with outgoing radiation from the earth’s surface which is almost entirely in the near infrared or peaks in the near infrared, and it peaks very close to the characteristic absorption band of CO2 for instance. So if you add CO2 to an atmosphere like ours, you will get global warming, and we must thank God that we do, because otherwise this would be an ice planet. This is because there is CO2, water vapor, a little bit of methane, a little bit of nitrous oxide and ozone in the atmosphere, that we are as warm a planet as we are given our quite large distance from the sun. So yes, if we increase the concentration of carbon dioxide by, shall we say, doubling it over the next century and a half which is roughly what will happen regardless of what they are talking about at these conferences, then one would expect to see perhaps one Celsius degree of global warming.
Is this a problem? No, because the temperature at present is two or three Celsius below (as best as we can reconstruct it, and there are uncertainties), what has been the long run mean temperature going back over the last 750 million years. You’re too young to remember, but roughly speaking, it’s mainly been around three or four Celsius above today’s temperature, and it only fluctuates by 8 degrees Celsius, or 3% either side of the long run mean and we’re still quite a bit below the long run mean at the moment, so if it were to rise by a Celsius or even two or three Celsius, surely we wouldn’t do very much harm. But I don’t expect to see that much warming, I think we’ll see one Celsius for a doubling, and that doubling won’t occur for 150 years, but there are other greenhouse gases which will make some contribution, but my best estimate is that we might see one degree Celsius of warming over the coming century, 1.2, absolute maximum 1.5 as a result of man’s activities. Is this a problem? Frankly, no it isn’t.
James Bascom: Are the polar ice caps melting, and the sea rising as a result of that?
Lord Monckton: That is one of the many items they like to whip up scare stories about. The satellites began measuring the extent of sea ice at both poles around 1979. That happened to be a peak in the last century in the extent of sea ice. In the North Pole, there has been a definite loss in sea ice, a quite considerable loss, around 10-15% over that 30-year period. This has been almost entirely made up for, not quite but almost entirely, by a growth in sea ice in the Antarctic. So globally the amount of sea ice has really not changed very much over the last 33 years, a little bit of a decline over the last few years, but really nothing to write home about, nothing beyond what we might regard as the natural variability of the climate. There are two large ice masses on earth.
One is Antarctica where 90% of the world’s ice is, and the other is Greenland, where 5% is. Now Antarctica has been cooling for the last 30 years since the satellites have been watching, and therefore has been quite a substantial accumulation of ice on the land there.
In Greenland it’s been a patchy story. In the twelve years from 1992 until 2003 there was a net growth of around two feet in the total average thickness of the sea ice, all except the coastal trenches. About six inches of that increase, which equals about twenty five percent, went back into the oceans from 2003 to 2008, and a paper in 2009 said that since 2003 there had been 273 billion tons of ice had gone from Greenland into the ocean. I did a calculation on that based on the volume of ice and its known specific gravity and calculated that that 273 billion tons even if it hadn’t been simply ice that is going back into the ocean having accumulate there in the previous decade, would only have caused sea levels to rise by 0.7 mm, and this illustrates a rather interesting point, a due sense of proportion in looking at scientific questions. 273 billion tons sounds a lot, until you realize that if you melt it and then average it over the vast oceans, which cover 71% of the planet, it doesn’t actually amount to very much. Getting this due sense of proportion back into the scientific and economic debate about climate change that has been my main road. I don’t want to lose the age of reason, the use of reason, in coming to scientific conclusions. If we lose that, then we lose the West, and if we lose our ability to reason, then we lose one of the three great pillars of the soul, or one of the great powers of the soul as they would call it in traditional Catholic theology, where the three powers of Almighty God I should say, the Creative power, the Conservative power and the Concurrent power; the three powers of the soul, the memory, the understanding, and the will. Understanding and the use of reason is what most clearly separates us from the rest of the visible creation and most closely unite us with the Divine. If we lose the use of reason, we lose our humanity and lose also our link with the Divine; both of those losses would be profoundly undesirable.
James Bascom: That’s a good point. Linked to that, how do the environmentalists use fear, because there is a lot of fear, anxiety and trepidation if you will, in the environmental movement and they use fear to promote their cause? If you don’t do something, this apocalypse is going to happen, etc. etc. Do you have any good examples of that?
Lord Monckton: Well, this has been going on since the Druids, hasn’t it? If you want to whip up support for a governing class that doesn’t really justify that support, then getting a good scare going is a very good method for attracting large amounts of money from the citizens of the world. It’s been done throughout history. It’s being done now, this time by the left under the guise of the environmental movement. How do they get away with it? They get away with it precisely because the standard of scientific education in particular and of education in the right use of human discourse and rational thought in general has been so abysmally poor, in fact I know most schools, certainly in the state owned sector in the United Kingdom where I come from, teaches courses in how to think. Therefore, the vast majority of the population are not taught that the notion that there is a “consensus” about the climate or anything else is the Aristotelian fallacy of the argumentum ad populum as the Medieval schoolmen were later to call it, the argument from head-count. Well, that is not a rational argument. Just because you’re told there is a consensus about something doesn’t mean there is one, and even if there were one, it doesn’t mean the matter about which the consensus is said to consent is true. It tells you nothing.
Then they say, “Oh, there is a consensus of experts!” Well, then you come into another Aristotelian logical fallacy which is the argument from authority, the argument from reputation, the argumentum ad verecundiam in Latin and that too is an ancient shopworn logical fallacy. If people were properly instructed at school in the right use of logic and reason, then fear would be much diminished, because anyone who tried to scare would not succeed because their minds would be trained to resist exactly those kinds of blandishments. So we have to get back to something which the Jesuits once used to try to instill, at least among the Catholic population, and that was a proper education precisely so that those who were educated properly would be proof against these attempts by the governing class and its allies to induce panic for the sake of saying only we can solve this panic give us your money and we can make it go away.
James Bascom: What ideologies or doctrines are behind the environmental movement? Because it is clear that it is not just about the environment.
Lord Monckton: It’s not about the environment at all anymore. The environmentalists are merely watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside, or I call them the traffic light tendency: Greens too yellow [afraid] to admit they are really red. You may think this is just rhetoric but I used to know one of the founders of Greenpeace, the late Eric Ellington, then whom nobody less political could be found. He was genuinely concerned that nobody should mess up the planet, and so he and his fellow founders all had rather idealistic notions about what they would like to achieve. Within a year or two, he said, they had all had to leave because they weren’t political. When the Marxists moved in, and in his words, “Took the movement over,” they were unable to stop it because they didn’t know how. They weren’t political. So they were politically outmaneuvered by the hard left.
James Bascom: So it was hijacked.
Lord Monckton: Yes, yes. Greenpeace was completely taken over by the Marxists and it has been run by them ever since and many of the other environmental organizations are similarly driven by people on the very far left. So of course there is that ideological concern, and then there is also a kind of statism, a desire that the state should run everything, which of course is part of left-wing philosophy, but there is also a kind of selfish statism among the bureaucrats and politicians who want to be made to feel useful, who want to have a reason for existence, a reason for taxing people “until the pips squeak.” The environment to them, is a magical way of extracting vast amounts of a nation’s money through taxes on fossil fuels, carbon trading, etc. etc., and there is the straightforward financial motive on the part of many people who are getting, frankly, inordinately rich as a result of this scare.
James Bascom: Even further, you could say, the environmental movement shows many signs of being a new type of religion. Gorbachev has said, for example, that the Earth Charter needs to replace the Ten Commandments as the basis of our society. Do you have any examples, or could you comment about that?
Lord Monckton: I always think that the correct replacement for the Ten Commandments is the Two Commandments of the New Testament, both of which begin with the words, “Thou shalt love” and that is the whole of the law. In Latin and Greek this is only one word. Imagine that, a statute but one word long. That is the ideology that I submit to you would be the better ideology.
The idea that environmentalism can be a credible religion has already been demonstrated to be false by the global warming scare, where the zealots climbed onto the global warming bandwagon whereupon the wheels immediately began to fall off and everybody can now see that they were wrong, so why should they be right about anything else they talk about? Now that of course is slightly an illogical approach; they could be wrong on one thing and right on another, but they have, if you like, a track record of being wrong and wrong and wrong. Again, they were wrong on the ozone layer for instance, where it has recently been discovered that the impact of Chlorofluorocarbons on the thin layer of stratospheric ozone, which to some extent shields us from the more harmful rays from the sun, was overstated ten-fold. We’re not talking about a minor error, this was overstated ten-fold. Without that overstatement, there would have been no, and indeed there is no justification for the Montreal Protocol, which by the way, closed down thousands of perfectly respectable industries all over the world producing and using chlorofluorocarbons. They were wrong on HIV where they said that you shouldn’t make it a notifiable disease, you shouldn’t test people and you shouldn’t isolate those who have it. As a result, 33 million people have died, 33 million people are infected and are going to die and there is no sign of it stopping yet, all because the left yet again, captured the issue at the early stage and then got it hopelessly wrong. So they have a terrible track record.
They were wrong on global warming. There has been none for at least fifteen years, none at all despite record increases in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere and this suggests that the warming that should have occurred which would have been fairly small anyway has been easily overshadowed by the natural cooling resulting from a decline in solar activities since a 10,000 year peak in around 1960. So once again, they have got it wrong, and they are now trying to predict that the rate of warming over the next hundred years will be three times the rate of warming we’ve seen over the last 60 years, but there is no basis in science for any such huge jump in the rate at which the world will warm.
So because they have been wrong so often in the past, and I mean completely diametrically wrong on just about everything, it must raise the question whether they are making even the slightest attempt to get the science correct objectively speaking. In scientific questions, it is not appropriate to do what the left does or the environmentalists do and take a political stance effectively. Instead, one should stand back and look at it dispassionately and try to work out “Is there a problem or what extent is there a problem? How do we know?” Even then, can we do anything about it, is it going to be cost-effective or would it be cheaper to do nothing even if the problem were as big as they say it is, which it isn’t.
So this particular quasi-religion has failed precisely by trying to latch onto science itself. Religion and science operate in different fields. They are both directed towards the truth, but it’s religion that starts, a priori as they say, there is a Creator, and the Big Bang happened because the Creator intended it to happen whether by direct agency or by some indirect method, but that was an event which we didn’t create and we are allowed to believe that there was some Divine origin for the universe. There is no way any science can prove us wrong in that. Of course, the laws of physics didn’t come into being until a few micro seconds after the Big Bang happened, therefore we have no way of measuring why the Big Bang happened, so we are entitled to believe that was a Divine agency without being unscientific. We cannot prove it was a Divine agency, but they can’t prove it wasn’t. Our beliefs there are different.
To try to believe things that are scientifically proven to be false, which is what the environmentalists do, there is no future in that, as can be seen by the action of many of the wiser ones such as James Lovelock recently, Fritz Vahrenholt, Bjorn Lomborg who have recanted their earlier positions on global warming They know it has been oversold and they know that making a ridge band of something that science has contradicted is a hopeless task.
James Bascom: How does environmentalism affect private property and agricultural rights around the world?
Lord Monckton: The danger is that, as has already happened in places like Australia and Uganda, people are displaced from their land, often held for generations, in the name of some environmental concern or another, and the state in the name of saving the planet, (of course the planet was saved 2,000 years ago and doesn’t need to be saved again) will increasingly, arrogantly exercise eminent domain which is of course in direct contradiction to the rights of individual property. That is why it is very important that we should get the science right. If we get it wrong, we start going around confiscating people’s land without good reason. That is an end to property rights and ushers in an era of socialism, which is what I suspect this environmental movement is really, chiefly intended to bring about.