MEMBERS of London's famous gentlemen's club Brooks's have no doubt cooked-up a few bizarre plots, plans and wagers over the years as Britain's gentry and ennobled upper class sipped on glasses of port in their smoking jackets.
In 1785, for example, there was an agreement between two Lords to hand over 500 guineas if one of them managed to have sexual intercourse with a woman in a balloon “one thousand yards from the Earth” . There's no record to suggest that the arrangement, recorded in the club's Betting Book, was ever paid.
The exclusive men-only enclave lives on and still attracts high-profile figures, although Rupert Murdoch's son James' application ran into trouble over the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Club member and climate science denier Lord Christopher Monckton put Brooks's famous address to good use this week for a letter sent to the University of Tasmania.
Lord Monckton is currently on a tour of Australia. One of his appearances was in a rented room at the University of Tasmania (UTAS) where he told the audience that global warming has stopped - which it hasn't.
When The Mercury newspaper in Hobart asked Dr Tony Press, the CEO of the UTAS-based Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, about this claim, he had the temerity to point out that Lord Monckton was being misleading (careful, he's a member of Brooks's you know.. and a Viscount).
Lord Monckton was piqued and wrote the letter to UTAS Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen - return address the Brooks's club - accusing Dr Press of “serious professional and academic misconduct and scientific fraud”, calling for an investigation and for him to be “dismissed, forthwith”.
The letter was hosted by climate skeptic blogger Joanne Codling (aka JoNova) and promoted by News Ltd columnist and blogger Andrew Bolt. Lord Monckton claims he has a “senior Australian police officer” on the case.
In a post-midnight radio interview with Sydney radio host Brian Wilshire, Lord Monckton complained people had been writing to universities to try and stop him from speaking (which they are within their rights to do, by the way). But the head of the Scotland branch of the right-wing political party UKIP apparently didn't see or didn't care about his own hypocrisy in demanding another academics be fired and investigated. He told 2GB's Wilshire:
The VC has acknowledged it (the letter). He has got a month to get back to me substantively after which the police will be called in and, in fact I have already got a senior officer of the Australian police who is interested in this and he has said yes, this is fraud, and yes - you tell tell us the word and we will investigate. I will give the university the chance to investigate so, Mr Vice-Chancellor, if you are listening then know this. You have that month and the clock is ticking and after that the police will be coming and feeling your collar too because the arrangement I have is that if he doesn't have this properly investigated then the university will also be investigated by the police for fraud as accessories after the fact.
Wilshire's response? “Wow - fantastic stuff”.
A likely unfased Dr Press told me: “I find this ironic as I was prompt and public in advocating Viscount Monckton's right to to speak on campus when some in the university were campaigning to have him banned.” I say unfased, because Lord Monckton tends to hand out threats such as this in the same way that glasses of sherry and nibbles might get passed around at Brooks's. The threats very rarely come to anything.
Lord Monckton has threatened to sue The Guardian columnist George Monbiot, Professor Scott Mandia, Associate Professor John Abraham and Australia's public broadcaster the ABC, to name a few. Professor Barry Bickmore lists several others on his blog. Lord Monckton has also accused the chair of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, of “fraud” and threatened to report him to authorities. Hot Topic's Gareth Renowden also notes that threatening academics is a pattern of behaviour for the Viscount.
He consistently calls for them to be “locked up”. Lord Monckton's interview with Wilshire, along with a second on 2GB with top-rating host Alan Jones, was riddled with accusations that climate scientists are fraudulent, that global warming is a hoax, that climate science is a way for communists to instal a world government and that academics who “believe” CO2 emissions are causing dangerous climate change are only in it for the money. None of these claims were challenged by the hosts, who merely acted as cheerleaders.
Neither asked him if Lord Monckton still thinks Barack Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate was forged. They didn't ask him about his public endorsement of a political party fronted by a Melbourne pastor who is anti-Islam, anti-abortion, anti-Darwin and who claims to have brought people back from the dead. Nor did they ask him about his many misrepresentations of the science, documented at Skeptical Science.
In one late-night interview segment, Lord Monckton revealed it had been astrophysicist Dr Wille Soon, whose recent career has been almost entirely funded by the fossil fuel industry, who had first alerted him to a leaked draft of what later became the United Nation's Copenhagen Accord. Rather than a weak non-binding agreement to make modest cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Lord Monckton categorised the document as an attempt by the UN to instal world government. He told Wilshire:
I first got warned of this when Dr Willie Soon of the Harvard Smithsonian Institute of Physics first got hold of me in a panic in 2009. Willie Soon lives in a permanent state of panic becuase he reads all the stuff the other side writes. Poor fellow he will committ suicide one day because he reads all this horrifying fascist stuff that they churn out. He says you have got to read this one and it was the draft treaty of Copenhagen. It was 186 pages long. When Willie says you have got to read this, then you have got to read it becuase Willie knows what you have to read and what you don't. I read the whole thing. I was in Canada at the time and I was giving a talk to the 25 richest men on the planet - it was at the Petroleum Club of Calgary and I was giving a short presentation where I said climate change was a load of rubbish. And I said by the way, they are using this as a Trojan horse to try to put in a world government.
But here's my wager, which if I was a member of the Brooks's club I'd be happy to stick into their Betting Book. The climate fraud police will not be coming within a frisky balloon's flight of the offices of UTAS any time soon.
Picture credit: Flickr/Matthew McDermott