Lord Monckton Responds to Climate Alarmist

On March 13, 2014, an assistant professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology published an opinion piece asserting that imprisonment should be the fate of scientists and organizations that dispute the “scientific consensus” that man-made climate change will lead to catastrophe. [ref]

Lawrence Torcello is typical of desperate climate change alarmists who would rather silence opposition that argue inconvenient facts and defend hopelessly flawed models and wildly inaccurate predictions.

British Lord Monckton of Brenchley wrote a brilliant open letter to officials at the Rochester Institute of Technology, debunking Torcello’s claims and calling Torcello out for conduct contradictory to the ideals of free speech espoused by the US Constitution and the college, and for violations of the college’s academic standards.

Here is Lord Monckton’s letter in its entirety:

14 March 2014
The Provost and Senior Vice-President for Academic Affairs
Eastman Hall
Rochester Institute of Technology
New York, New York, United States of America


Breaches of Principles of Academic Freedom (Policy E2.0) and of the mission statement of the Institute by Assistant Professor Lawrence Torcello

Principle of public law relied upon

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States applies to all. It says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Principles of private law relied upon

The Institute’s policy on academic freedom applies to all faculty members, including Assistant Professor Torcello. The Institute declares that its policy is “guided” by the principles of academic freedom promulgated by the Association of University Professors in 1940, and, in particular, by the third such principle:

“3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.”

The Institute’s mission statement includes the following paragraph:

“Respect, Diversity and Pluralism: Provides a high level of service to fellow members of the RIT community. Treats every person with dignity. Demonstrates inclusion by incorporating diverse perspectives to plan, conduct, and/or evaluate the work of the organization, department, college, or division.”

Alleged breaches of the said principles of law

On 13 March 2014, Assistant Professor Lawrence Torcello published a blog posting[1] entitled Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent? at a tendentious propaganda website, “The Conversation”. In that posting, he committed the following breaches of the Institute’s policies:

1. Mr Torcello describes himself as “Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology” and makes no effort to comply with the explicit requirement of the principles on academic freedom by indicating that he writes neither on behalf of the Institute nor in his capacity as an assistant professor there but as a private citizen.

2. Mr Torcello offends against the requirement of accuracy stated in the principles of academic freedom in that his posting falsely said “the majority of scientists clearly agree on a set of facts” about “global warming” on which they do not in fact agree. Mr Torcello links his cited statement to a reference to three papers each claiming a “97% consensus” to the effect that most of the global warming observed since 1950 was manmade. However, as Legates et al. (2013)[2] have demonstrated, a review of 11,944 papers on climate published in the 21 years 1991-2011, the largest such review ever published in the scientific literature, had marked only 64 papers, or 0.5% of the sample, as explicitly endorsing that proposition. Though it may well be that 100% of scientists publishing in relevant fields accept that – all other things being equal – our returning CO2 to the atmosphere from which it once came will be likely to cause some global warming (though the record amounts of CO2 we have emitted recently have not caused any warming at all for up to 17 years 6 months[3]), legitimate scientific doubt remains about the quantum of future global warming that may be expected, with an increasing body of peer-reviewed papers moving towards a climate sensitivity of only 1-2 Celisus degrees per CO2 doubling[4], and the IPCC itself drastically reducing its predictions of global warming over the next 30 years.

3. Mr. Torcello offends not only against the Institute’s requirement to treat every person with dignity, including those persons with whose views he disagrees, but also against the Constitution’s assertion of the right of free speech, which includes the right to fund those who wish to exercise it in opposition to what he falsely regards as the prevailing scientific opinion, when he says: “We have good reason to consider the funding of climate denial to be criminally and morally negligent. The charge of criminal and moral negligence ought to extend all activities of the climate deniers who receive funding as part of a sustained campaign to undermine the public’s understanding of scientific consensus” – a “consensus” which, as the three papers on the subject that Mr Torcello has linked to his posting define it, does not in fact exist.

4. Mr Torcello offends against the requirement of accuracy stated in the principles of academic freedom in that he links the statement in his posting that “public uncertainty regarding climate science, and the resulting failure to respond to climate change, is the intentional aim of politically and financially motivated denialists” to an allegation, long demonstrated to have been fabricated by one Peter Gleick, a climate change campaigner, that the Heartland Institute had circulated memorandum stating that Heartland intended to persuade schoolteachers that “the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science”. In the interest of accuracy Mr Torcello ought to have made it plain, but did not mention at all, that Gleick had been suspended from his post at an environmental campaign group for several months as a result of this incident, in which he had corruptly posed as a member of Heartland’s board so as to obtain access to its private documents, to which he had added documents of his own when the private documents he had obtained proved to be disappointingly innocent.

5. Mr Torcello shows no respect for Constitutional freedom of speech, or for the principles of academic freedom for those with whom he disagrees, when falsely alleges that all who fund those who dare to question what we are (inaccurately) told is the “consensus” position on global warming are “corrupt”, “deceitful”, and “criminally negligent in their willful disregard for human life”.

6. Mr Torcello, in perpetrating his me-too hate-speech about the alleged “loss of life” from “global warming’, fails yet again to comply with the requirement of accuracy in the principles of academic freedom, in that he departs from the “consensus” to the effect that a global warming of up to 2 Celsius degrees compared with 1750, or 1.1 degrees compared with today, will be not only harmless but net-beneficial to life on Earth. He also ignores the fact that the very heavy additional costs of energy arising from arguably needless subsidies to “renewable” energy systems make it impossible for poorer people to heat their homes. These energy price hikes may, for instance, have contributed to the 31,000 excess deaths in last year’s cold winter in the UK alone – 8000 more than the usual number of excess winter deaths.

7. By looking at only one side of the account, and by threatening scientists who disagree with him with imprisonment for criminal negligence, Mr Torcello offends fundamentally against the principles of academic freedom that he will himself no doubt pray in aid when he is confronted with the present complaint, and against the principle of tolerance of diverse opinions – including, horribile dictu, opinions at variance with his own – that is enjoined upon him by the Institute’s mission statement, and by common sense.

The academic senate will, no doubt, wish to consider whether Mr Torcello is a fit and proper person to hold any academic post at the Institute, and whether to invite him not only to correct at once the errors of fact that he has perpetrated but also to respect in future the academic freedom of those with whom he disagrees as though it were his own freedom – a freedom that, in his shoddy little posting, he has shamefully and ignorantly abused.

Yours faithfully,

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley

[1] https://theconversation.com/is-misinformation-about-the-climate-criminally-negligent-23111

[2] Legates, D.R., W.W.-H. Soon, W. M. Briggs, and C.W. Monckton of Brenchley, 2013, Climate consensus and ‘misinformation’: a rejoinder to ‘Agnotology, scientific consensus, and the teaching and learning of climate change’, Sci. & Educ., August 30, DOI 10.1007/s11191-013-9647-9.

[3] Least-squares linear-regression trend on the RSS monthly global mean lower-troposphere temperature anomaly dataset, September 1996 to February 2014 inclusive.

[4] See e.g. Lindzen, R.S., and Y.-S. Choi, 2011, On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implications, Asia-Pacific J. Atmos. Sci., 47:4, 377-390, doi:10.1007/s13143-011-0023-x.

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