And In This Corner ...

In July, I was a bit player in a media frenzy – and it’s not over yet.

It all started when Professor John Abraham in our School of Engineering posted a rebuttal to the claims of climate change skeptic Viscount Christopher Monckton of Scotland.

Mr. Monckton took umbrage. A professional on the speaker circuit, he accused John of everything from fraud to defamation to incivility. He threatened a libel suit and said that he had engaged a very good firm of Minnesota lawyers, name not disclosed. Well, we have yet to hear from those lawyers, but we certainly heard plenty from email correspondents of the viscount.

John’s rebuttal is still on his web site. It’s very thorough, a model of academic civility and quite convincing.

The viscount called John a parboiled shrimp. If you’ve never seen John, he is, by my standards, tall and not at all red. Mr. Monckton also called the University of St. Thomas a “half-assed Bible college.” I’d say pardon my French, but the way things are going Nicolas Sarkozy might threaten to sue. For the record, our derriere is as big as anyone could wish for.

The university and our attorneys (Moore, Costello and Hart) told the viscount to cease and desist. Then the Guardian, a British newspaper, picked up the story. The Guardian suggested that John’s supporters contact Father Dease or me and gave email addresses to facilitate that correspondence.

You’ll be glad to know that John has myriad supporters – colleagues at St. Thomas, meteorologists in Chicago and scientists from all over the world – Toronto, Australia, New Hampshire, Utah, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Arizona, Italy, New Zealand. . .One New Zealand supporter very efficiently started a petition. Signatories now number 900 and counting. A man identifying himself as atheist nonetheless contributed $20 to the “half-assed Bible college” in gratitude for its “principled and calm, yet firm, response to Lord Monckton of Brenchley.”

In addition to the Guardian, the dispute has been covered in, the Pioneer Press, the Star Tribune and the Associated Press wire service. I really liked the Strib article best. It gave me the last word. Those of us in media frenzies just love to get the last word.

Well, there have been a lot more words since then. The BBC even flew John to London to interview him for a documentary on climate skeptics – coming soon to a cable channel near you. For now, you can catch the latest Strib story.