Cambridge alum Lord Monckton attacked over his claim that Architecture degree equips him to discuss climate change

Louise Ashwell - Deputy News Editor 22 November 2012

Leading science blog attacks Cambridge alumnus for climate change denial as Lord Monckton claims his Architecture degree equips him to discuss climate change.

A Cambridge alumnus notorious for his controversial social views has come under renewed fire this week, this time in a respected science blog. Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, a former political advisor for Margaret Thatcher and now member of UKIP, has been ridiculed in press circles in recent years for all number of contentious claims.

The latest view to come in for questioning is his scepticism regarding the existence of manmade climate change. This forms the subject of science writer Mark Hoofnagle’s latest ‘denialism’ blog, a feature on one of the web’s most visited sites, ScienceBlogs. The blog aims to highlight the flaws in the arguments of denialists, spanning Holocaust deniers to evolution.

The blog questions to what extent the Cambridge Classical Architecture graduate and alumnus of Churchill College can claim to have sufficient scientific understanding to term himself a climate change expert. Monckton claims that his course ‘included instruction in mathematics’, to which Hoofnagle has responded that “just because you had a course or two in mathematics while getting a degree in classical architecture doesn’t make you a mathematician”. More serious a flaw in his climate change denial, Hoofnagle argues, is that Monckton’s claims to have had papers published in peer reviewed literature are false.

Though he did indeed write a paper published in a 2008 issue of the American Physical Society newsletter, the Society have made no secret of the fact that their newsletter is in fact not peer reviewed. His claims to have received endorsement from other scientists, Hoofnagle suggests, are void. Finally, his claim to be an appointed reviewer for the IPCC is undermined by the response that the IPCC do not appoint its reviewers; anyone can register online to review publications.

Monckton’s climate change scepticism is just one of many controversial statements he has publically aired. These range from stating in a 1987 article that the only way to stop AIDS ‘is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life’, to declaring that the pharmaceuticals company of which he is director had found cures for multiple sclerosis and herpes.

Last year, Parliament had to write a letter to Monckton to ask that he cease capitalising on his peerage, claiming to be a Member of the House of Lords. Most recently, he has joined the ranks of the American birther movement who claim that Barack Obama is not a naturalised citizen of the United States, and that the birth certificate he released to the press in 2011 reaffirming the details of his birth in Honolulu is a forgery.

Monckton’s response to the latter was the submission of an affidavit. The result is that the polemicist’s statements will now be open not just to scientific questioning from writers like Hoofnagle, but potentially the legal profession.

Louise Ashwell – Deputy News Editor