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Until a few months ago, nobody ever heard of John Abraham, an engineering professor at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. Maybe you've never heard of him. But he's shaping up to be perhaps the biggest hero of the fight against global warming, evah.

On Tuesday, John was a guest of Jake Judd, radio host and climate skeptic on KDLM-AM in Detroit Lakes, MN. But in less than half an hour, Judd was waving the white towel.

"All right, all right," Judd said. "No matter what side you are on, most people agree that Earth is warming and we have to do something about it."

John Abraham, climate hero

John Abraham didn't start out to be a climate hero. He was your typical mild-mannered college engineering professor, with a particular interest in heat transfer and fluid flow. Then about a year ago, world-famous climate skeptic Christopher Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, gave a lecture and PowerPoint at nearby Bethel University in Arden Hills.

Abraham was in the audience, and he was educated enough to see through Monckton's charade. When he got home, he set out to debunk it. The result was a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal of Monckton's Bethel lecture. Calmly and rationally, Abraham showed how Monckton misconstrued, misunderstood, and misused his sources, got his numbers wrong, and overstated his conclusions. Abraham's video rebuttal was nearly as long as Monckton's lecture, and was fully supported by citations all along the way.

Abraham's rebuttal was posted on the St. Thomas University website. It's worth listening to just to hear the understated calmness that is the hallmark of Abraham's style.

Sadly, nobody ever used words like "understated" or "calmness" to describe Monckton. His Lordship went ballistic when Abraham's rebuttal began to attract wide attention.

Monckton is a risible hack who burries fact in a lather of language, and who appears to care for nothing so much as the promotion of his own dubious reputation. If you doubt it, take the 90 minutes to watch Monckton's rude, sophomoric and objectionable presentation and then take another 80 minutes to watch John Abraham's remarkably respectful response.

Abraham made himself a rep, but he didn't stop there. Earlier this month (as diaried here, here, and here) he announced the formation of a new Climate Rapid Response Team: a group of several dozen scientists with a mission to combat the climate denial noise machine with "rapid, high-quality science information." The idea was that the Rapid Response Team would be available for media interviews whenever a climate story hit the news.

The Rapid Response Team scored its first significant victory last week when they debunked a Washington Post editorial op-ed by the backpedalling climate skeptic Bjorn Lomborg.

And with this radio interview, it's clear that Abraham isn't resting on his laurels: he's fighting the good fight whenever and wherever he can find it.

The mild-mannered scientist has put on his red cape.

Originally posted to The Numerate Historian on Fri Nov 26, 2010 at 02:10 PM PST.

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