John Abraham Takes a Stand
While his kids were having the time of their lives, the St. Thomas associate professor of mechanical engineering unfortunately had other things on his mind. Between carousel
rides, Abraham kept checking his cell phone for messages. Headlines like this one - not only in the United States but in Europe, Australia and New Zealand - explain why: “The Monckton Files: Bombshell!!! John Abraham to be Sued!!!”
Abraham had tangled with Scotland’s Christopher Monckton, one of the world’s most prominent global-warming skeptics and a sought-after speaker by the kind of organizations that share his skepticism.
In fact, what became a global confrontation between Abraham and Monckton can be traced to an invitation that the Minnesota Free Market Institute extended to Monckton in October 2009 to speak on the Bethel University campus in Arden Hills. In his talk (not sponsored by Bethel), Monckton maintained that scientists are wrong about warming temperatures, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and even problems facing polar bears. At last count, a YouTube video of that talk had received 259,517 views.
“I knew I needed to respond,” Abraham recalled. “I could not let that go unanswered,
and I asked myself, ‘If I don’t, who will?’” He spent that winter researching Monckton’s
statements to the Minnesota Free Market Institute.
“I thought, man, this guy is a great speaker and he is very convincing. If I didn’t know the science, I would believe him. Frankly, the nonscientists in the audience didn’t have a chance. They had no way of knowing what he said was not true. I felt Monckton took advantage of them and he knew he was taking advantage of them.”
As part of his research, Abraham wrote to the authors or the directors of organizations
that had published papers that Monckton referenced in his Bethel lecture. In case after case, the scientists wrote back to say that Monckton had it wrong.
If you believed Monckton, Abraham said, you would believe that: the world is not warming, sea levels are not rising, ice is not melting, the ocean is not heating, scientists
are lying and there’s a conspiracy.
Abraham’s calm and cerebral response took the form of an 83-minute video that he
made available on the web in late May 2010. And there the point-by-point rebuttal sat
for some weeks, for the most part unnoticed. That changed, and dramatically so, when
George Monbiot, a reporter for the Guardian newspaper in England, wrote about Abraham’s work.
“Viscount Monckton’s assertions have been comprehensively discredited by professor of mechanical engineering John Abraham, at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota,” Monbiot wrote. “Abraham, like the other brave souls who have taken on this thankless task, has plainly spent a very long time on it.
“The results of Abraham’s investigation are astonishing: not one of the claims he looks into withstands scrutiny. He exposes a repeated pattern of misinformation, distortion and manipulation. Some of Monckton’s assertions are breathtaking in their brazen disregard of facts.”