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British lord demands senators “honour the Constitution”

Posted by Richard on December 20, 2006

It’s a sad indicator of the sorry state of American politics in general and the U.S. Senate in particular that a British lord has to remind American senators that the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, and that attempts by senators to silence ExxonMobil, accompanied by thinly-veiled threats, violate their oath of office. Bravo, Lord Monckton!

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 /PRNewswire/ — Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, has sent an open letter to Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Snowe (R-Maine) in response to their recent open letter telling the CEO of ExxonMobil to cease funding climate-skeptic scientists.
(http://ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/20061212_monckton.pdf)
.

The entire Monckton letter (link above is to PDF) is well worth reading. It begins (emphasis added):

The US Constitution guarantees the right of free speech. It is inappropriate for elected Senators such as yourselves to suggest that any person should refrain from exercising that right, as you have done in your letter of October 27 to the CEO of ExxonMobil. …

You defy every tenet of democracy when you invite ExxonMobil to deny itself the right to provide information to “senior elected and appointed government officials” who disagree with your opinion. You are elected officials yourselves. If you do not believe in the right of persons within the United States to exercise their fundamental right under the world’s greatest Constitution to petition their elected representatives for the redress of their grievances, then you have no place on Capitol Hill. You must go.

Your letter says climate change is “a matter of urgency for all mankind”. It is not. The UN’s 2001 report estimates our greenhouse effect compared with 1750 AD as 2.43 watts per square metre. Its new report will cut that figure to 1.6 watts, little more than 1 per cent of the 150-watt natural greenhouse effect.

The UN will also reduce its high-end estimate of sea-level rise to 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches. Morner (2004), a lifelong student of sea level changes, says: “There is a total absence of any recent ‘acceleration in sea level rise’ as often claimed by IPCC and related groups. … our best estimate of possible future sea-level changes is +10 +/- 10cm in a century, or, maybe, even +5 +/- 15cm.” That is a maximum of 8 inches in 100 years. See also Morner (1995); INQUA (2000).

All other imagined consequences of climatic warming are more likely to be beneficial than harmful.

The seven-page letter, which includes references for the studies cited, goes on to provide an excellent, readable summary of the state of knowledge — and misinformation — about climate change, and to deliver a fine verbal thrashing to Senators Rockefeller and Snowe. It closes with (emphasis added):

Finally, you may wonder why it is that a member of the Upper House of the United Kingdom legislature, wholly unconnected with and unpaid by the corporation that is the victim of your lamentable letter, should take the unusual step of calling upon you as members of the Upper House of the United States legislature either to withdraw what you have written or resign your sinecures.
 
I challenge you to withdraw or resign because your letter is the latest in what appears to be an internationally-coordinated series of maladroit and malevolent attempts to silence the voices of scientists and others who have sound grounds, rooted firmly in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, to question what you would have us believe is the unanimous agreement of scientists worldwide that global warming will lead to what you excitedly but unjustifiably call “disastrous” and “calamitous” consequences. Let me give just two examples from this side of the Atlantic:

The Institute for Public Policy Research, a Leftist pressure-group, has stated that public bodies should act henceforth as though there is no debate among scientists and should assume that “disastrous” and “calamitous” climate change will be a fact.

The British “Foreign Secretary”, one Beckett, responded to a recent newspaper article by me that questioned the science behind the soi-disant “consensus” on climate change by demanding – during an otherwise paralyzing speech on terrorism – that the news media should treat climate sceptics as though they were spokesmen for Islamic terrorism and should deny them column inches or air time. Al Gore, who was Vice-President when the Senate declared 97-0 that it would not ratify any treaty that did not bind fast-growing, heavily-polluting nations such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil because without them no action by the West would make any difference, wrote a reply to my article saying that I should not be discussing these matters in the Press. He said I should rely on peer-reviewed research in journals such as Science, Nature and Geophysical Research Letters. Within 12 hours, I had published a 24-page refutation of his scientifically-inaccurate article, citing more than 60 references in learned journals. Twenty-five of the citations were from the three journals he mentioned.

You will rightly deduce from Beckett’s sinister remark that after a decade of Socialist government freedom of speech does not figure in our constitution. But let me quote the First Amendment to yours:

“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.”

I call upon the pair of you to live by those great words, or to leave. Yours truly,

MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY

Outstanding. I wish we had some Moncktons in the United States Senate.
 

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