It is Important to Call Foul on One's Allies as Well, and This From Christopher Monkton is Bad Stuff

Christopher Monkton has been a very public supporter of the climate skeptic position.  I think he sometimes gets his science wrong, but he is glib and entertaining and by his position as peer of the realm he gets media space not available to many of us.

But this is bad, bad, bad.  He is calling for using British libel law against an alarmist who merely disagrees.  I have not problem with most of his factual defenses of Richard Lindzen.  But the points he labels "lies" are more accurately described as areas where people disagree on data source and interpretation.  Turning this into libel, under the egregiously onerous British libel laws, is a terrible precedent.

The climate debate is already over-full with vilification and ad hominem attacks.  The last thing we need is to throw British courts into the equation.


  1. jdgalt:

    Where British libel law is objectionable it's because (1) it gives defendants the burden of proving truth, rather than plaintiffs that of proving falsehood as here; (2) it punishes opinions, not just alleged facts; (3) it punishes people who repeat something, not just the original slanderer; and (4) it's much too willing to award "damages" where little or no real economic damage was done (not to mention accepting cases with little or no connection to Britain). (Aside: US libel law shares at least problem 4, of which Carol Burnett v. National Enquirer was a prime example.)

    But Monckton (correct spelling) makes a good case that Nuccitelli is lying, and that Lindzen has actually been damaged.

    You seem to be asserting (as being libertarian) a principle that even someone who publishes a deliberate and damaging lie ought not be held liable, merely because he is a political opponent of the victim. I can't buy such a principle.

  2. Curtis:

    I concur with jdgalt. It is long passed time that the Law become involved in this warfare of untruth waged by people who are damaging the world's economy with their lies and myths. The climate scarers are winning the lawfare so far because they are the only ones that are mobilizing to write new laws about their "science." The only way to counter it now is to throw them back on the defensive and force them to start to lay out their facts in a rational and provable manner as we do with any hypothesis. I'm sick of this matter being allowed to fester only in the court of popular opinion.

  3. OMMAG:

    The warmists have already attempted to do this to their opponents .... I believe that Lord Monkton is making a point.

  4. None:

    Monkton is one of these people I am embarassed to be on (roughly) the same side with concerning to the climate science debate. He has no scientific education, and has been frequently wrong and even more frequently very inaccurate. In my estimation he's anti AGW more due to his political inclinations than anything else. I do not trust anything he says really, without triple checking it. McIntyre and McKitrick for example are analytical, detail oriented and mathematically/statistically extremely competent and very conservative in what they say. Monkton is everything but.

  5. FelineCannonball:

    Stuff like this should make everyone cringe:

    "Results (Fig. 3) show that the Central England record, which began in
    1659, is indeed a respectable proxy for global temperature change in
    the period before the global instrumental record began in 1850."

  6. mesaeconoguy:

    AGW is now a fundamentally political movement, colorfully described as green on the outside (ecomentalists) and red on the inside (marxist/socialist).

    Monckton’s position is perfectly defensible, since the debate has now almost completely transitioned to the political arena.

    If you don’t like the change in tone, fine, but do understand that you’re no longer watching a tennis match – it’s now rugby (with a lot of argy-bargy).

  7. mesaeconoguy:

    Sorry Warren, can't go with you on this one.

    As I predicted long ago, this would become a political movement, ensnared in legal action.

    As others have stated, Monckton is simply playing on their turf.

    Given all the fraudulent misrepresentation by warmists at public expense, and construction of an enormously destructive worldwide socioeconomic agenda, it is time for consequences.

  8. herdgadfly:

    Richard Lindzen, who will be 74 in about three weeks is willing to bet that "global average temperatures in 20 years will in fact be lower than they are now." There was a number thrown around of $10,000 AUD.

    Like much of his utterances, his hyperbole in this instance can best be kindly described as "disingenuous." I would be think that the odds are slim that Dr. Lindzen will be alive in 2033 - and my standpoint is my birth-date in 1939 which makes me a year older than the good doctor.

  9. Q46:

    For it to be slander or libel, it must be something attributed to a living person that is not true. It is not about differences of opinion.

    Amendments to defamation statute (UK) include defence for truth, for matters of public interest, for honest opinion and for privilege.

    If A says B likes to have sex with children, how could A prove that not to be true? The burden then falls on B to prove it is true, just as in a criminal trial where the accused is presumed innocent unless and until their accuser can convince a jury of their guilt... Common Law.

    Plaintiffs seeking damages must mitigate their loss, which is why in some successful cases, plaintiffs have been awarded damages of one penny, although they may also be awarded costs of tens of thousands of Pounds.

    As I understand it, Lindzen is credited with making forecasts including a graph which he did not in fact do, and these are being used to say he was wrong.

    I doubt Lindzen would be able to show sufficient loss to secure damages that would make it worthwhile going to Court.

  10. MS61:

    Monkton has little credibility with me. His rhetoric is as overblown as that of the climate alarmists and he has at times employed the same intellectually dishonest trick as the climate alarmists of selectively picking starting and ending dates on trendlines to best support his points. I'll take Climate Audit and McIntyre (and McKittrick) any day in preference to him as an advocate. Hope he doesn't sue me for these remarks!

  11. kidmugsy:

    "egregiously onerous British libel laws": come, come, they're English laws, or Anglo-Welsh if you prefer. Nobody much sues for defamation in Scotland because they order these things better there. You ought to remember that in spite of many references to "UK law", on most topics there is no such thing.

  12. Brad Keyes:

    The hit piece on Lindzen doesn't just make some disputable scientific claims.

    It also gravely insults Lindzen's character and intellect by making the objective claim that he is a lung-cancer denier:

    "The Weekly Standard's Lindzen article was puffier than a drag from a
    cigarette – which Lindzen also denies cause cancer. ...
    Lindzen is an outlier whose arguments have been disproved time and time
    again, including about the link between smoking and lung cancer."

    AFAIK there is zero evidence to support this (obviously) damaging accusation. If Lindzen denies the carcinogenicity of smoking there is, AFAIK, no trace of this fact anywhere.

    Unless I've missed it...

    ....Dana wrote a falsehood not because he had any reason to think it was true, but simply in order to make Lindzen look obtuse and immoral.

    He libelled Lindzen.