Guest opinion by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
University College, London, one of the constituent colleges of what was once a respectable and serious academic institution, has declared open, vicious war on academic freedom. In doing so, it has forfeited the right to be taken seriously as a seat of learning.
Last month Professor John Butterworth, the useless bureaucrat in charge of the College’s department of Physics and Astronomy, learned – no doubt via the coven of paid hacks who routinely menace vice-chancellors and heads of department at any university at which those of us who ask questions about “settled” science are scheduled to speak – that one of his faculty, Profess Athem Alsabti, had booked a lecture theatre for a conference on the forbidden topic of climate change on 8-9 September.
Did Professor Butterworth react as the Vice-Chancellor of Louisiana State University had reacted a couple of years ago when the Professor of Economics there had invited me to give a lecture to his faculty on mitigation economics, whereupon he, the Dean of his Faculty and the Vice-Chancellor had been subjected to weeks of threatening letters and phone calls from this poisonous, over-funded PR machine?
The Vice-Chancellor, after receiving one nasty threat too many, called in the Professor of Economics and said, “The last time I looked, this university was committed to academic freedom. The lecture is to go ahead. No doubt those on campus who disagree with Lord Monckton will feel free to attend his lecture and raise questions. That is how science advances. We hear both sides. We are proud to do so. Come one, come all!”
When I arrived down south to give my lecture, the Professor of Economics, hopping nervously from one foot to the other, said he had had the worst few weeks of his academic career. Yet he was delighted that his university was still one of the few that heard both sides of an academic discussion and not just the currently fashionable dogma. He was proud of his Vice-Chancellor, and rightly so.
The true-believers and freedom-haters, as they increasingly do, simply stayed away. None dared to turn up and ask what they hoped might be difficult questions. They now know they are in the wrong scientifically and still more in the wrong economically. Instead, those who came (it was a packed house) wanted to learn, and there were several intelligent and constructive questions after my lecture. Everyone had a good time.
Did Professor Butterworth stand up to the totalitarian bullies when they tried to do to his university what they had tried to do to Louisiana State and countless others? Um, no. This is what – to his eternal shame – he wrote to his distinguished academic colleague Professor Alsabti:
“It has been brought to my attention that you have booked a room at University College, London, for an external conference in September for a rather fringe group discussing aspects of climate science.
“If this event were to go ahead at UCL, it would generate a great deal of strong feeling, indeed it already has, as members of the UCL community are expressing concern to me that we are giving a platform to speakers who deny anthropogenic climate change while flying in the face of accepted scientific methods. I am sure you have no desire to bring UCL into disrepute, or to cause dissension in the UCL community, and I would encourage you to think about moving the event to a different venue, not on UCL premises.”
The same day, Professor Alsabti, who felt menaced and degraded by this shameless and unprincipled bullying and harassment on the part of a senior academic who should have known better, canceled the booking.
Now, who are the members of this “rather fringe group” that might have caused the “UCL community” to go into the corner, turn its back to the room, suck its thumb and blub?
They include not only Professor Alsabti but also Professor Nils-Axel Mörner, who has published more refereed papers on sea-level rise than Professor Butterworth has had hot dinners; Professor Ole Humlum of the University of Oslo, who publishes a widely-circulated monthly data update on global temperatures and related matters; Professor Jan-Erik Solheim of Norway; members of the Swedish Polar Institute, of the Asociacion Rural de Paraguay; of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, of the U.S. Geological Survey; of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the former president of the Italian National Research Council; the Professor of Paleobotany at the Sapienza University, Rome; a world-leading physicist from the François Rabelais University in Tours; an analytical expert from the Laboratoire Analyse at the University of Paris; the brother of the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in the House of Commons; dozens of doctors of science; and a sprinkling of IPCC expert reviewers, including your humble servant.
If this is a “rather fringe group”, then the academic mainstream must – as many of us have long suspected – have been reduced to a thin, dreich, terrified, narrow, narrow-minded, insignificant trickle, confined deep within the gloomy and inspissate canyon of its own no doubt profitable but increasingly discredited prejudice.
Will Professor Butterworth ever pay heed to the inexorably-growing evidence that the world is warming at a rate many times below the central estimate predicted with “substantial confidence” by IPCC in 1990? That temperature feedbacks are net-negative? That the CO2 radiative forcing has been overestimated? That the Sun has something to do with the climate, while CO2 has little to do with it? That sea level is barely rising? That global ice loss is barely significant? That hurricanes hardly ever happen? That droughts are declining? That the cost of mitigation today is orders of magnitude greater than that of adaptation the day after tomorrow? That tens if not hundreds of millions have died because the billions of dollars that could and should have been spent on building coal-fired power stations to give them life-saving electricity have instead been squandered on lavish taxpayer subsidies to ineffectual, muddle-minded, academic profiteers of doom, and to the installation of over-priced 13th-century solutions to an overstated 21st-century non-problem?
For as long as places like University College, London, are allowed to gobble up taxpayers’ largesse unsupervised and unscrutinized, they will continue to think it acceptable to bully and harass innocent colleagues. Professor Butterworth owes Professor Alsabti an abject apology.
Well, the London Climate Conference is going ahead notwithstanding Professor Butterworth’s intolerant and menacing attempt to stop us. It will begin at 9.00 am sharp on 8 September and 9 September 2016. Come to the Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL. This will be the most high-powered academic conference on the climate question ever to have been held in Britain, and arguably in Europe too.
Will you hear some things you are likely to disagree with? Almost certainly. Though my own presentations will be concerned strictly with mainstream science, as will nearly all of the presentations by the distinguished contributors to the conference, there will of course be some ideas that are not yet accepted, for they are too new.
How much more valuable is our open-minded approach than that of a recent climate conference that I attended in the Mathematics Department at Cambridge University, my alma mater? Nothing but regurgitated pap from IPCC. None of those present, except the handful of skeptics who got in, raised any of the scientific questions that would have been raised by active, enquiring minds in my day at the university.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity of giving a blackboard seminar on the mathematics of climate sensitivity to two of the world’s foremost mathematical logicians the following day. One found the seminar “extremely interesting”. The other, as I was reaching for the duster to wipe off the equations with which I had covered the blackboard, said, “No, no: please leave them. I want to think about this, and I want the president of the faculty to see it.”
Despite all that the totalitarians have tried to do, there are still some open minds in powerful academic positions. It is they, not the likes of the forgettable Professor Butterworth, who will carry the torch of truth to coming generations, whether the current establishment likes it or not.
The more of you come to the conference, the more you will send a clear message to academe that the money is about to run out. I have already written to the Universities Funding Council and to the official scrutineering body for universities to invite them to investigate this serious incident of professional misconduct, and to invite them to remove the Provost of the college for failing to reply to correspondence from us. No doubt he was too embarrassed.
They will do nothing, of course. But in the end, if we keep the pressure up, as the ever-widening discrepancy between prediction and observation becomes impossible to conceal, they will eventually realize that money spent on making global warming go away is money entirely wasted, and they will find something else to waste it on.
It will be an excellent conference. Be there or be square!
The conference volume of extended abstracts is available at:
Update: Link expired, here is a direct download link: london-conference-volume (PDF)
Note: While I carry this story on WUWT for informational purposes, that should in no way imply that I endorse the topics of the conference itself or the speakers – Anthony Watts
UPDATE: Professor Butterworth has penned a response here: https://lifeandphysics.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/for-the-record/