Monckton vs. Littlemore: A Debate in the Waiting

Update: Roy Green and Christopher Monckton's have accepted
The debate airs on Sunday, Aug 17, 2008, at 3:05 EDT on the Corus Entertainment radio network

The tireless British nobleman, Christopher Walter, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, has been ever on the hunt for debating partners, triggering Roy Green, (host of the Roy Green Show, heard on the Corus Radio Network, Saturdays and Sundays, 2-5pm Eastern) to ask David Suzuki to join Monckton for an on-air confab.

Well, David Suzuki has better things to do. But I don't. I'd love to chat with Chris about the public relations of climate change. Accordingly, I have responded to the Roy Green challenge, per the letter below:

Dear Mr. Green,
It's come to my attention that Christopher Walter, the Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is looking for a debating partner for an upcoming show, and I would like to confirm that I am available.
I know that the Viscount Monckton has been trying to line up an argument with Al Gore or, in a pinch, David Suzuki - and I personally would rather debate Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper - but I think you'll have to agree that Monckton and I are a more appropriate match.
Monckton is a journalist with political aspirations and a smattering of scientific knowledge. I spent 20 years in the Canadian newspaper business, ending by writing editorials and editing the Opinion and, for a time, Editorial pages of the Vancouver Sun. Politically, I was an elected member of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors. I was vice-chair of its Air Quality Committee and was delegated by the Metro Vancouver Board to sit on the Chretien government's (laughably entitled) Kyoto Implementation Process. (In that role, I suppose you could call me a one-time science adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, but I'd rather you didn't.) I also wrote the Suzuki Foundation's first public education package on climate change in 1996 and have been an avid fan ever since of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As to my scientific credentials, they are pretty similar to Monckton's (which is to say, I haven't any). I won a national magazine award from the Canadian Science Writers' Association (for a piece on prostate cancer, not climate change), but for the most part, my expertise (like Monckton's) is in communications and public relations. In particular, I am Editor of, a climate change website that specializes in covering the “debate” about global warming, and which endeavors to sort out which parts of that debate are rooted in science and which parts are rooted in PR.
The Viscount Monckton has made much in the last year or so of the refusal of people like Al Gore or James Hansen to debate him. I suggest that this is mostly self-promotion, that Monckton's principal goal is to be seen on the same stage as these, rather-more-accomplished individuals. If I am wrong, if Monckton sincerely wants a debate, if he believes that he can go toe-to-toe with someone of a similar background and put a superior argument before your listeners, well, again, I'd be happy to accommodate.

Richard Littlemore

[email protected]


Unlikely. Challenges from the illiterate (scientifically speaking) are issued to the top of the totem pole precisely because they will not be accepted; this way Monckton’s errors will never actually be exposed by those who really know the subject.

Mr. Littlemore says he wants to indulge in “self-promotion” by debating the “public relations” of climate change with me. Flattered though I am that he considers that a debate with me will assist in his “self-promotion”, unlike Mr. Littlemore, on Sunday I shall debate not the “public relations” but the science behind the now-discredited “global warming” scam.

I note Mr. Littlemore’s admission that he has no “scientific credentials” and understand, therefore, that he will be compelled to confine himself either to repetition of what scientists congenial to his “public relations” viewpoint have said or to mere partisan generalities.

Unlike Mr. Littlemore, I have not the slightest need to engage in “self-promotion” myself, having retired long ago through grave ill health, and having had the great good fortune to have become one of the world’s few millionaires who have made their pile by the application of higher mathematics - in my case, by exploiting inter alia a hitherto-uninvestigated property in probabilistic combinatorics.

I also advised the UK Prime Minister for many years on technical subjects, including modeling the UK tax and benefit systems; projecting the epidemiological evolution of retroviruses with long periods of asymptomatic latency; and the application of hydrodynamic principles to the design of hull-forms for warships.

For 20 years I ran a successful international technical consultancy, advising clients on everything from the causes and prevention of structural failure in historic buildings via the use of propositional calculus in devising railway timetables to the modeling of the international futures markets.

I have lectured extensively on climate to university faculties and to government representatives, and will be debating the climate with the Environment Minister of Spain in the Fall, when I shall also be touring Canada to lecture on climate.

A recent technical paper by me entitled “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” was published in “Physics and Society”, a learned newsletter of the 50,000-strong American Physical Society.

My “scientific credentials”, therefore, are not altogether insubstantial.

My climate-sensitivity paper achieved widespread international circulation when the President of the American Physical Society, some ten days after publication, ordered a disclaimer to be posted above my paper, to the effect that the Society’s Council “disagreed with the paper’s conclusions”, when in fact the Council had not met to consider my paper. Hundreds of the Society’s members protested at the President’s unfortunate, mendacious, and surely discourteous conduct.

Mr. Littlemore says I have been seeking a debate with one Suzuki. I have a motor-cycle of that name but do not know and therefore have not attempted to debate with anyone called Suzuki, though I suppose it may be that others have suggested to someone of that name that he should debate with me.

I have indeed offered Al Gore the chance to debate with me again: but, after the disastrous failure of his first attempt, culminating in a UK High Court judgment that identified numerous “errors” in his sci-fi comedy horror movie, he has understandably been reluctant to enter a second round.

Mr. Littlemore also says I have tried to get one Hansen to debate with me. I have done no such thing. I have, however, asked NASA’s administrator to investigate the financial and political links between Hansen and Al Gore, John Kerry, and Kerry’s wife, following a public statement by Hansen - who, I understand, is a paid official of a US Government agency - condemning a then-forthcoming address by me to a committee of both Houses of the Kentucky State Legislature. Hansen had unwisely and with characteristic lack of scientific rigor or integrity issued his public criticism of my address before he had made himself aware of its contents. I am told that Hansen’s conduct, which seems to me to fall rather short of the standards of probity and of impartiality that are normally expected of public servants, is indeed under investigation.

The conclusion of my paper on climate sensitivity summarizes the current state of the climate debate thus -

Even if temperature had risen above natural variability, the recent solar Grand Maximum may have been chiefly responsible.

Even if the sun were not chiefly to blame for the past half-century’s warming, the IPCC has not demonstrated that, since CO2 occupies only one-ten-thousandth part more of the atmosphere than it did in 1750, it has contributed more than a small fraction of the warming.

Even if carbon dioxide were chiefly responsible for the warming that ceased in 1998 and may not resume until 2015, the distinctive, projected fingerprint of anthropogenic “greenhouse-gas” warming is entirely absent from the observed record.

Even if the fingerprint were present, computer models are long proven to be inherently incapable of providing projections of the future state of the climate that are sound enough for policymaking.

Even if per impossibile the models could ever become reliable, the present paper demonstrates that it is not at all likely that the world will warm as much as the IPCC imagines.

Even if the world were to warm that much, the overwhelming majority of the scientific, peer-reviewed literature does not predict that catastrophe would ensue.

Even if catastrophe might ensue, even the most drastic proposals to mitigate future climate change by reducing emissions of carbon dioxide would make very little difference to the climate.

Even if mitigation were likely to be effective, it would do more harm than good: already millions face starvation as the dash for biofuels takes agricultural land out of essential food production: a warning that taking precautions, “just in case”, can do untold harm unless there is a sound, scientific basis for them.

Finally, even if mitigation might do more good than harm, adaptation as (and if) necessary would be far more cost-effective and less likely to be harmful.

It is these and suchlike scientific issues that I shall be presenting on Roy Green’s show this Sunday. I regret the length of this comment: however, a number of characteristic inaccuracies and infelicities in Mr. Littlemore’s letter to Mr. Green needed correction.

Although I appreciate and am grateful for Fern’s faith that no one could actually be THIS pompous, there actually are people like this. I have met a few, all of whom while in Oxford, quite its own alternative universe but still full of many very clever folks. The brightest, however, don’t use this sort of language. They don’t have time for such silliness or self-serving rhetoric - they seem to prefer to prefer effective communication to sophistry.

Take, say, Lord May of Oxford. Rather accomplished fellow but very, very direct. In fact, I think our dear Viscount might find him quite … unmanageable. Bob, by the way, is a legitimate peer, appointed by merit not birth. He said it best (in my view): these deniers are few in number and resemble the cast of a circus sideshow. The same clowns keep showing up to every debate, on the deniers’ side, because there are so few of them, while there are legions of practising scientists who find reality more convincing than the deniers’ sophistry and make believe. Just for fun, try to find a recording of his 2005 Presidential address to the Royal Society. Very pithy stuff, full of direct communications and lacking the tiresome pomposity of this faux Victorian.

BTW, newsletters really don’t qualify as scientific contributions. If they do start to count, however, please let me know and I will start one of my own to pad my CV similarly. It’s important to remember that the disarmingly nitwitted Viscount keeps very distinguished company: Tim Ball (Professor of… what was it?… climatology? Oh right…), Fred Singer (whose serial dependence on paid naysaying might legitimately beg comparison with prostitution), and a host of other even less impressive blokes. Or, I mean, gentlemen.

Rather than take the deniers’ nonsense seriously, why not just treat it as entertainment? It’s not quite as witty as, say, Rambo XXIV, but it’ll help you sleep. It’s important to remember that nearly none of them are trying to do anything except enrage and obfuscate. By engaging with them, you lose.


Lord Monckton

Fantastic to see your post here, we are privileged.

I note that the high priest Gore will avoid debate like the plague - I assume he knows he will likely lose.

It appears from Richard’s blog that there are plenty of acolytes, including himself, ready to engage in a climate debate. That’s progress.

Does this mean that the acknowledged alarmist tactic of refusing to debate is abandoned under (evidential) pressure?

I hope so. TimM

Christopher Walter claims ‘I have not the slightest need to engage in “self-promotion” myself’ and then, without even drawing breath, meanders through the next seven (7) paragraphs engaging exactly in self-promotion.

Ironic self-parody lies beneath the tissue-thin surface…

Christopher, such strutting is generally regarded as the mark of a little man, and your mendacious twisting of the events of the APS affair are a sign of an apparently dishonest man, or perhaps a deluded one.

Oh, and I note that you forgot to mention that you share the Nobel Prize with Al Gore…

Dear Discount Monk of Bletchville (sorry I always get confused by these cheesy aristocratic titles) you claim to be a science adviser to Margaret Thatcher and her government.

You offer three examples of the “advice” you have given to her. I assume that these are the best you have on file, otherwise you would have mentioned the better ones. Surely one of the qualities of scientific advice (and any type of advice for that matter) is that it be accepted by the person to whom it is offered.

You claim to have given advice on the response to retro-viruses. Your “advice” was to put everyone testing positive for HIV into permanent quarantine.

You offered advice during the Falklands War to the effect that the Brits should use biological warfare against the Argies. You claim to have given advice on the “hydrodynamics of warships”.

I cannot find any evidence of this “advice” ever being accepted, in fact most of it was trashed in the popular press. The Royal Navy built 16 type 23 (Duke Class) frigates when you and your group were supporting the S90 type.

So, please tell me how you can call yourself a “science adviser” when it appears that none of your “scientific advice” was ever accepted.

In fact your position was never “Science Adviser” but was “Policy Adviser” in charge of “housing and parliamentary affairs” (heck, checking on parliamentary “affairs” would be a full time job) (The Times November 6, 1984).

Since both Journalism and Science should be operated on an honest and truthful basis you are ill-suited for either.

Ian Forrester

this is the real Viscount Brenchley, I am asking you to reconsider taking him on on the grounds of compassion, Richard. The man clearly needs help. For one thing, he seems incapable of understanding what you wrote.

I suspect, however that this is a clever send-up. Nobody actually writes (let alone thinks) like this… DO they? Come to think of it, it could be mistaken for the written part of the Upper Class Twit of the Year Competition. (

Fern Mackenzie

Viscount Monkton is not as they say “from around here” and typical speech from the “colonies” would likely sound odd to him as well.
You really should get out more.
The Kings English is really quite different from what us yokels speak.

Here I must take you to task.

I am a writer by trade, an historian by profession, and, it may surprise you to find, quite highly regarded in my field (architectural history). I am familiar with The King’s/Queen’s English in all its forms going back several centuries, so don’t give me any “not from around here” or “colonial” nonsense. I have studied the English language and literature from its origins in Celtic, Germanic and Romantic languages, through Chaucer, Shakespeare, Walpole, Blake, Eliot,and a whole lot of other authors you’ve never even heard of to its present form.

If you want to go toe-to-toe with me on matters of the English language, I’ll take you up on it. YOU WILL LOSE, and make no mistake.

Fern Mackenzie

I am sooo hurt.
To be scolded by such an important person of such high standing.
I am shamed. 

I am not trying to puff myself up, you idiot – I am merely trying to point out that there are people with bona fide qualifications, who specialize in things, as I do, that might, MIGHT POSSIBLY have greater knowledge about things than you do. Do you really think that you have thought of everything? Do you really think that the scientists who have spent their entire professional lives looking at climate change have overlooked something that you noticed from your effing armchair??????

Fern Mackenzsie


Is it an alarmist trait to use lots of italics, capitalisation and multiple question/ exclamation marks to show your indignation? It’s a sign of having a chip on your shoulder you know.

Just saying. TimM

we have put up with a lot of moronic commentary here from people who figure that actual, formal education, research and writing in a given field (in this case, climate science) is meaningless, and that any couch potato who has ever noticed it’s raining outside is qualified to claim that the entire scientific community has got it wrong about AGW, and to be taken seriously. A chip on my shoulder? No, not really. I have just finally had enough of it.

Fern Mackenzie

I’m with you, Fern.

It is wearying to continually have debates with unarmed opponents.

Tim is engaging in a debate tactic that I’ve noticed repeatedly on global warming message boards… Unable to deflect the evidence, they finally resort to arguing the fine points of debating styles, trying to get under your skin.

I recently had a long, back-and-forth debate on a Clean Technology site with one of the anti-global warming acolytes who ridiculed my education, suggested that the scientific studies (and scientists) that I cited were flawed, and accused me of every dirty trick in the book. And he kept hammering away at a study by Braithwaite et al which suggested that the glaciers aren’t melting. Until I could speak to Braithwaite, the very best glacier study, he wasn’t buying any of my arguments.

So I looked into the Braithwaite study, only to discover that I would need $40 to download it (which is a problem for me… I just returned to working world after a very long illness, and I’m trying to get free from mountains of debt). I noted that Braithwaite’s study ended in 1995, and made that point, but again my parentage was questioned.

So I tracked down Dr. Braithwaite, and asked him to tell me about glaciers and global warming. And lo and behold! It turns out that he’s furious at global warming skeptics, especially those who use his studies to make points that are factually incorrect. And his later studies confirm that the glaciers are disappearing, and rising temperatures are the cause.

And that ended our debate.


If you keep sucking the lemons your face will stay like that. TimM

you were the one waiving your bona fides and telling your oponent that he ‘WILL LOSE’ (your capitalisation) in an English contest. You’ve got to expect some mild ribbing surely?

“and that any couch potato who has ever noticed it’s raining outside is qualified to claim that the entire scientific community has got it wrong about AGW, and to be taken seriously.”

Why do you assume that people without your great faith in their ‘betters’ are ignorant couch potatoes? And ‘the entire scientific community’ endorse AGW? Really? That’s a ridiculous statement I’m afraid. And I think you probably know that. TimM

Actually, her definitive statement about the entire scientific community isn’t so ridiculous.

Folks like you and Gary suggest that 31,000 scientific experts signed a petition suggesting that Kyoto not be implemented in the US, which is a different thing from saying that global warming isn’t true, but I’ll save that argument. A very low bar was set for the expert scientific qualifications, as more than 15,000 engineers are included in the 31,000, and most come with a humble bachelor’s degree. Hardly experts, by my definition, or by most reasonable definitions, wouldn’t you agree? (If you believe they are experts, then I should also be considered a climate expert by virtue of my bachelor’s degree in biology, including study in oceanography).

But even if — simply for argument’s sake — we accept that all 15,000 engineers are climate experts, that represents less than one percent of all the engineers practicing in the US. If you look down the list of 31,000 scientists, you’ll also find 3,603 medical professionals among the 31,000. Alas, that represents less than 0.3 percent of US medical professionals.

And so it goes.*

So perhaps you wish to nitpick further, but I would suggest that since far fewer than one percent of so-called US climate experts — by the deniers’ own incredibly loose definition — have signed the famous 31,000-signature Petition, then Fern’s post is accurate, and your description of her comment as “ridiculous” is hyperbolic.

* (Thanks to More Grumbine Science for the facts).

The IPCC “honour” roll includes lots of people for varying professions.
Of the 2500 (paltry number in itself) some 600 are actually climate scientists (active climate scientists may be much lower)
Of the 600 only 52 were among the elite that signed off on the chapter 9 statement declaring they were “very sure” that “most” of the warming in the later half of the “20th century” was caused by man.
So…. What percent is that of all the climate scientists in the world.
Your analogy was dumb.

You Know………
You guys never seem to dismiss James Hansen and his outrageous claims.
You know that he is not a climate scientist right? He is a physicist.
He really should not be listened to.

Gary, cut out the dishonest crap.

“…He obtained a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics with highest distinction in 1963, an M.S. in Astronomy in 1965 and a Ph.D. in Physics, in 1967…”

“…he started focusing on planetary research that involved trying to understand the climate change on earth that will result from anthropogenic changes of the atmospheric composition.

One of Hansen’s research interests is radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres, especially interpreting remote sounding of the earth’s atmosphere and surface from satellites. Such data, appropriately analyzed, may be one of the most effective ways to monitor and study global change on the earth…”

And by your own standards He has NO business sticking hsi nose into climate science where he has not credible credentials.
Your standards not mine.

We also have to put up with moronic commentary here from people who figure that just because you have a PHD it makes you infallible.
History (of which you should be familiar) is full of learned people being completely sure of the truth of their theories and completely wrong as well.
I am really tired of hearing that only the small number of alarmist climate scientists that are on side with the ideology of AGW have any right to express an opinion on the subject.
That for me defines Moronic Commentary.

equations are the basis of climate science, among other fields in physics.
They are well validated and these (rather complicated) equations are what yield the result that increasing greenhouse gases is dangerous.
So you don’t have to have a PhD to know this but you ought know something. Sigh.

If I have learned nothing else here I have learned that only Climatologists can make pronouncements on AGW.
Not my rule.
But clearly it is the rule.
Take it up with the cult clergy.

If you want to label anything as religion, try climate change inactivism.

No matter how often the position is debunked, the acolytes insist it has to be the One True Position. They claim that the temperature trend is skewed by the urban heat island effect. Numerous studies show this is not credible. Move on to the next argument. Global warming stopped in 1998. It’s easy to show that this is only supportable by bogus data analysis. So move on and say global warming ended in 2002: also bogus. But of course any warming is actually caused by the sun. When the evidence shows that doesn’t fit, point out a small increase in Antarctic sea ice, ignoring the much bigger reduction in Arctic sea ice. Increased cloud cover will magically stop warming when no such effect has ever been demonstrated (and it didn’t prevent warming in past interglacials). The climate is actually controlled by cosmic rays – even though no credible study actually supports that claim. And on and on.

And then there are the bogus claims of authority, like labelling yourself an “IPCC expert reviewer” as if this is a qualification. In fact the review process is open, and anyone can volunteer.

In an area as complex as this there is bound to be the odd data point that doesn’t fit the models. It would be bizarre if this were not the case. If you use a new instrument, there will often be calibration errors, and there will occasionally be errors of measurement that sneak through the review process. Subsequent measurement checking for errors has generally fixed the problem. Name one case where inactivists have claimed they have overthrown the whole model of global warming that has actually stood up to independent investigation. Just one.

If you have an argument, back it up with science, not ad hominem attacks.

If you are claiming to be only interested in the science, you should be prepared to be wrong, which the inactivist camp certainly will not entertain. I for one would love it if the inactivists were right. I followed the “tobacco isn’t harmful” and “HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” “debates” closely. They were exactly the same. A handful of respectable scientists shadowed by a vast army of ignoramuses who for whatever reason wanted to discredit science banged on about these issues for years, and they not only were wrong, but did immense harm. But the point is, they delayed action for years, possibly decades by these tactics, and that’s the big problem with climate change. If the mainstream position is right, we don’t have decades to turn around our energy practices. So if the inactivist position was right, it would be a huge relief. What a pity I have not seen a shred of evidence from their side that actually stands up.

I was kidding you!!
I was also pretty much tongue in cheek about the first comment as well.
You need to get a sense of humour. Gee!!

It is easy to gauge.
Look at how outrageous or sill the base statement of the thread is or the comment I am replying to and it will tell you how likely it is that my comment is in jest or just trying to equal the silliness of the preceding.
You will find it difficult to find any comments from me that are directed at a particular individual and are openly insulting. Playful yes…. Irreverent, definitely.
But I try not to indulge in insults to any actual people. Groups are another thing.
Besides, you are one of the few here that actually deserves some respect.

Are you familiar with Poe’s Law?

Which is why I questioned Monckton in the first place … Fern Mackenzie

The problem with idiots like Gary, is that they don’t realise how mind-numbingly idiotic their arguments are!

Please can I assure you that that is not typical speech from the UK. Perhaps from a few pretentious aristocrats but the rest of us don’t adopt such a haughty, condescending air, believe me.


It seems there is little value in engaging someone like Monckton - he has demonstrated in his ‘papers’ that he is detached from scientific reality and continues to add evidence of that with the comment here. Black is white, up is down and the moon is made of green cheese.

He must know that his latest offering has been eviscerated, and yet ploughs on as though he was some scientific colossus:

One imagines he will simply roll out the same thoroughly refuted, tired fallacies that all the other deniers use. He’s already given us a small sample here, all of which were buried long ago, e.g.

Well, the debate should be amusing if not enlightening. Good luck.


As the old curse goes: “Beware of what you wish for. For you may actually get it”.

Remember that he suffers from a couple of serious medical afflictions.

See here for details:

I hope I have not breached doctor patient confidentiality.

Ian Forrester

I am impressed!
Didn’t really think anyone would step up to the plate.

We will all be listening (I will anyway), Best of luck to you.

Wow. Talk about Littlemore’s mouth writing a cheque his ass can’t cash.

Sadly, Monkton will not have accomplished any great feat in this. I mean, what’s the point of publicly humiliating a completely forgettable failed journalist – now a mendacious PR company lackey for the Suzuki death cult? But, hey, if that’s what it takes …

Richard is firm in his conviction and quite knowledgeable on the subject. So in Monkton.
Both have spent years in the field.
While my view is with Monkton’s I am very much looking forward to a good debate.
A civil one too I hope.
May the bet man win.
(actually a winner is unlikely due to the uncertainty of the topic but one of them will be more convincing.)

You just nailed the reason that any debate between Al Gore, David Suzuki James Hansen or anybody else is no place to “settle” the science: a winner is unlikely due to the uncertainty of the topic but one of them will be more convincing. Well done, although I suspect you are hedging your bets because Richard is very likely to tie Monckton in knots.

Fern Mackenzie

I believe in the scientific method.
I believe any and all theories must be attacked with vigour to expose error.
Theories that withstand attack are accepted and those that don’t are rejected.
Only religious doctrines are accepted without the above rigor.
Therefore I look forward to Richards attempts to show Monktons positions to be false.
I want to know the truth about this stuff. Whatever that is. Whether I like it or not.
Just so far, I have not seen convincing evidence and therefore side with the “overwhelming Concensus” until better arguments are presented.
I say; go for it.

My Money is on Monckton, he is extremely accomplished on the subject and is one class act, and gentleman.
I doubt Mr. Littlemore will stand a chance. I believe he would need be Alotmore to win against Christopher Walter.

Why is it that deniers are so often semi-coherent and semi-literate? They can never quite manage to produce an entire post without some grammar, punctuation, spelling or semantic butchery.

As for ‘class act’, I’d be more inclined towards ‘windbag’.

becaus this damn little laptop keyboard is too small and partly because the subject at hand (AGW) is not really very important in the overall scheme of things.
So why be too perticular about spelling or syntax.
The climate will do what it will do dispite anything we say or do anyway, so this is just entertainment.