Scientist challenges denier: denier threatens suit

In a column this past week, George Monbiot pointed to a meticulously detailed take-down of the English Vicount Monckton's scattered attack on climate change science by an American professor specializing in heat transfer named John Abraham. Abraham went through a presentation by Monckton and surgically took it apart, point by point.

It's a devastatingly convincing talk. Abraham not only points out fundamental flaws in Monckton's attack (failing to cite references, that sort of thing) but he has the temerity to contact scientists that Monckton does reference, and ask them if they agree with his point.

For instance, Monckton cites a paper that he claims shows that as temperatures rise, polar bears will thrive; when Abraham contacts the scientists, they say no, it's just the opposite, rising temperature means less Arctic ice, which threatens the polar bears way of life.

This tactic outrages Monckton. On the popular denier site Watts Up With That? he writes:

At several points in the new version [of the talk], Abraham rashly persists in
misrepresenting me to third-party scientists, getting hostile
quotations from them in response to what I had not said, and using them
against me.

"Hostile quotations" — that is, they thought Monckton was wrong! For this Monckton darkly threatens a libel suit. He goes on to ask the denier community to write Abraham's employer, the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, to request that they take the criticism off the Internet, and discipline Abraham. 

Obviously, as Monbiot says, Monckton can dish it out, but he can't take it. But what makes Abraham's analysis so utterly convincing is not the science he cites, nor even the flaws in Monckton's reasoning (if you can call it that). It's the fact that Monckton doesn't even agree with himself. Monckton cites charts, for instance, on recent temperatures, so crudely manipulated, they don't even match.

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A New Zealand site called Hot Topic has responded by asking people to send messages of support to the administration of the University of St. Thomas. They've logged nearly a thousand so far. Care to add yours

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