Sceptic's ire amuses, but views retain sting

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 13/04/2013

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Prominent climate change sceptic Viscount Christopher Monckton has demanded Victoria University rein in three professors who dismissed his views as rubbish.

The formal complaint was met with hilarity by the accused academics yesterday, none of whom appeared concerned about disciplinary action.

In a letter to Victoria University vice-chancellor Pat Walsh, the British aristocrat claimed the professors had been dishonest and brought the university into disrepute.

He claimed professors James Renwick and David Frame, both accomplished climate scientists, had insulted him in the media by calling his views harmful with no scientific basis.

"In saying I have 'no training' he [Professor Renwick] has lied. I have a Cambridge degree in classical architecture."

Professor Jonathan Boston, who specialises in public policy, was upbraided for refusing to host Lord Monckton at the university.

Lord Monckton demanded apologies from all three men and the removal of a graph detailing the link between carbon emissions and climate change from the university's website.

Yesterday, none of the professors were contemplating an apology.

Associate Professor Renwick said the letter was nothing new and Lord Monckton regularly attacked his critics to garner publicity for his views.

"I understand he has threatened to contact the British authorities and have degrees from Victoria University deregistered. It is an empty threat. He threatens people all over the place."

While it was easy to dismiss Lord Monckton's views, it was more difficult to dismiss the damage they caused, he said.

"I'd say it was amusing, but there is nothing amusing about his comments."

Professor Frame said Lord Monckton was trying to bait scientists into a debate on climate change.

"But I am not under an obligation to debate with Lord Monckton because he has no credibility and no expertise in this field."

Professor Boston confirmed he had been contacted about hosting Lord Monckton at the university, but declined.

"I thought I would be doing the public and the university a disservice by in any way supporting an event involving Lord Monckton."

Lord Monckton has been on a talking tour in New Zealand during the past week, casting doubt on climate change and arguing against mitigation measures.

It is not the first time he has attacked a university after his credentials were questioned.

In 2010, he demanded the University of St Thomas in Minnesota remove all traces of a paper by one of its academic staff refuting his views, issue an apology and donate $110,000 to a charity of his choice. The university declined.

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Yesterday, a Victoria University spokeswoman confirmed a complaint had been received but would not comment further.

WHO IS LORD CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON?

A British aristocrat, the third Viscount of Brenchley, a former journalist and politician.

In the 1980s he was an adviser to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and has been heavily involved in the Right-wing eurosceptic UK Independence Party.

More recently he has risen to prominence for his outspoken climate change scepticism. He has been accused by scientists of "misrepresenting science". He has no qualifications specifically relating to climate science.

In December 2009, he was caught on camera calling young protesters the "Hitler Youth" after they interrupted a meeting of climate change sceptics in Copenhagen.

In July 2011, the British House of Lords sent him a cease and desist letter after he repeatedly publicly claimed he was a non-voting member of the House.

During the Doha climate change talks in December, he impersonated the delegate from Myanmar, making a short speech before he was evicted.

- The Dominion Post

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