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  1. Thanks. I’ve been looking for a good debunking of this article. I knew the numbers were wrong but my climate science knowledge wasn’t up to proving it. I have got used to the usual bunkum (like urban heat islands, water vapour, medieval warm period etc.) but quoting Stefan-Boltzmann equations was new to me.
    Worth noting that Viscount Monckton lost a fortune (and his house) offering a million pound prize to solve a puzzle he’d set….it was solved fairly quickly. A case of ego and intellect out of equilibrium!

    Comment by Roly Gross — 9 Nov 2006 @ 8:57 AM

  2. What follows is intended ad rem as the issue is as much semiotics as science.Viscount Monckton can rival Smullin when it comes to designing puzzles- he has published some that offer large rewards to the first brilliant enough to solve them. As a general rule the winners are not the editors of The Daily Telegraph.

    I suspect you are right as to the appearance of dimensional analysis giving rise to seemingly plausible confusion, but nowadays one expects to find a bad lawyer behind an attempt to merchandise a worse hypothesis . Is there yet a compendium naming the top ten rhetorical ruses trial lawyers use and their more famous applications to scientific advocacy ?

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 9 Nov 2006 @ 8:59 AM

  3. Isn’t this the standard way to put across the agenda for global doom?

    Comment by James — 9 Nov 2006 @ 10:13 AM

  4. Gavin,

    Your statement that “Thus it is natural to look at the real world and see whether there is evidence that it behaves in the same way (and it appears to, since model hindcasts of past changes match observations very well)” seems to indicate that you think there will be no changes in ocean circulation or land use trends, nor any subsequent changes in cloud responses thereto or other atmospheric circulation.

    Just because models have been tuned to hindcast, can we assume they can forecast as well? Would you post a link to these model runs matching hindcasts?

    Also, you say that land use changes (decreasing flora) are a negative feedback. When the sun is overhead, is not the Sahara hotter than the jungle? It seems to me it would be the other way around.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 9 Nov 2006 @ 10:19 AM

  5. I noticed that most of the arguments in Monckton’s piece are the same-old-same-old faulty reasons. But one of them puzzled me. On page 15 he displays a graph of temperature for the last 1000 years based on borehole temperature reconstructions (from Huang). I know that his graph is erroneous, because the error envelope shrinks to size zero in the year 1600! Borehole temperature reconstructions necessarily exhibit dramatically increasing error ranges the further back in time one goes, so this cannot possibly be right.

    However, I tracked down the Huang paper (1997, GRL 24, 1947), but only got the abstract, and it does seem to indicate that they conclude that temperatures were higher in the not-too-distant past than at present. I can’t find anything by Huang since then that addresses borehole reconstructions beyond the last 500 years or so. Any comment?

    [Response: That is a curiousity that I have noticed as well. Most of the recent complations of borehole temepratures don’t go back more than 500 years – presumably because of data quality and signal-vs-noise issues (but maybe someone could enlighten me?), and the fact that no-one has followed up on Huang et al (1997) in almost a decade might imply that those are significant issues. That isn’t to say that improvements aren’t possible now…. – gavin]

    Comment by Grant — 9 Nov 2006 @ 11:05 AM

  6. Steve,

    I would agree that unforeseen changes in ocean circulation could throw off model predictions, there are surely other wildcards too, but uncertainty like that is not your friend if you want to argue against avoiding climate change. As for models predicting land use changes, this is in the realm of human choice, so hardly a modeling issue.

    See the TAR for hindcasting comparisons:

    Regardless of how hot the Sahara may feel when you stand in it, the difference in radiative effect between it and rainforest is in its higher albedo, reflecting more direct sunlight, the darker forests absorb more heat.

    Comment by Coby — 9 Nov 2006 @ 11:33 AM

  7. Looking at Dr Huang’s later work on temperature reconstructions from borehole data indicates that (as Gavin says) he hasn’t followed up the 1997 study, but instead has focussed on more accessible reconstructions from the last 5 centuries. These (judging by a perusal of his abstracts reproduced below) seem to accord more or less with the temperature reconstructions from other studies (including other borehole data).

    So perhaps the earlier reconstructions are flawed. After all Huangs statement from his 1997 GRL paper that ” Temperatures were also warmer than present 500-1,000 years ago, but then cooled to a minimum some 0.2-0.7 K below present about 200 years ago.” seems to be incompatible with the statement from his Annual review paper from 2000 (see abstract below) that: “The average surface temperature of the continents has increased by about 1.0 K over the past 5 centuries; half of this increase has occurred in the twentieth century alone.”


    Title: Climate change record in subsurface temperatures: A global perspective
    Author(s): Pollack HN, Huang SP, Shen PY
    Source: SCIENCE 282 (5387): 279-281 OCT 9 1998

    Abstract: Analyses of underground temperature measurements from 358 boreholes in eastern North America, central Europe, southern Africa, and Australia indicate that, in the 20th century, the average surface temperature of Earth has increased by about 0.5 degrees C and that the 20th century has been the warmest of the past five centuries. The subsurface temperatures also indicate that Earth’s mean surface temperature has increased by about 1.0 degrees C over the past five centuries. The geothermal data offer an independent confirmation of the unusual character of 20th-century climate that has emerged from recent multiproxy studies.

    Title: Climate reconstruction from subsurface temperatures
    Author(s): Pollack HN, Huang SP

    Abstract: Temperature changes at the Earth’s surface propagate downward into the subsurface and impart a thermal signature to the rocks. This signature can be measured in boreholes and then analyzed to reconstruct the surface temperature history over the past several centuries. The ability to resolve surface temperature history from subsurface temperatures diminishes with time. Microclimatic effects associated with the topography and vegetation patterns at the site of a borehole, along with local anthropogenic perturbations associated with land use change, can obscure the regional climate change signal. Regional and global ensembles of boreholes reveal the broader patterns of temperature changes at the Earth’s surface. The average surface temperature of the continents has increased by about 1.0 K over the past 5 centuries; half of this increase has occurred in the twentieth century alone.

    Title: Merging information from different resources for new insights into climate change in the past and future
    Author(s): Huang SP
    Source: GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS 31 (13): Art. No. L13205 JUL 8 2004
    Abstract: An understanding of climate history prior to industrialization is crucial to understanding the nature of the 20th century warming and to predicting the climate change in the near future. This study integrates the complementary information preserved in the global database of borehole temperatures [Huang et al., 2000], the 20th century meteorological record [ Jones et al., 1999], and an annually resolved multi proxy model [ Mann et al., 1999] for a more complete picture of the Northern Hemisphere temperature change over the past five centuries. The integrated reconstruction shows that the 20th century warming is a continuation to a long-term warming started before the onset of industrialization. However, the warming appears to have been accelerated towards the present day. Analysis of the reconstructed temperature and radiative forcing series [Crowley, 2000] offers an independent estimate of the transient climate-forcing response rate of 0.4-0.7 K per Wm(-2) and predicts a temperature increase of 1.0-1.7 K in 50 years.

    Comment by Chris — 9 Nov 2006 @ 11:56 AM

  8. I have a somewhat off-topic question / request for comment. I came up with it while thinking up ways to try to explain to lay persons the effect CO2 has on temperatures.

    In short: You are on a particular place on Earth and the sun has just set. Let’s imagine that in an instant, the CO2 concentration in the entire atmosphere doubles. What difference would this make by morning? (Let’s say for the sake of argument that winds overnight will be very light, the skies are clear and other sources for “noise” during the relevant period are low)

    Based on my understanding, it would be correct to say that the effect of doubling CO2 while there is no sunlight is for the temperature drop during the night to be slower – meaning, the minimum and average temperature will be higher than it would have been otherwise. (A bit like adding double-glazing to your house). In addition, this temperature difference would be measurable and dependable. (Side-note: I’m not attempting to put a number on this)

    The secondry idea behind this thought experiment is help explain the difference a rise in CO2 causes compared to an increase in output from the sun – both increase average temperatures (during the day and the night) but there are differences. And the differences can be detected and measured.

    From a scientific perspective, looking at the temperature for just one night is probably not very useful. However, I think the explanation above would be more easily absorbed by the lay person.

    Maybe there’s a better way to help explain the effects of CO2 to the lay person though – particularly how it compares with solar forcings. Any thoughts?

    Comment by Chris Rijk — 9 Nov 2006 @ 12:42 PM

  9. Re #6,

    Coby, you misunderstand me still. I am not arguing against avoiding climate change. I am arguing that we don’t know enough one way or the other yet, since CO2 is the base of the food chain and there are a lot of other forcings out there. If I were to frame it from your statement, I would have to say that *all* uncertainty is my friend – not that I personally would consider that to be the case.

    As far as the TAR, the graphs you point to are not impressive. Further, they don’t impress the TAR scientists either, who write “the instrumental record is only marginally useful for validating model estimates of variability on the multi-decadal time-scales that are relevant for detection”

    Regarding your statement on albedo, perhaps Chapter 12 would clear that up for you. Also, there is the question (unresolved to my knowledge) of how much of that reduced albedo goes into biochemical reactions rather than sensible heat.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 9 Nov 2006 @ 2:42 PM

  10. Differentiating SB eqn. and solving for dT/dQ, then solving for T=288 K (average surface temperature), I get dT/dQ=0.18W/m2. If I use T=255K, I get the 0.27W/m2. Also, literature I have seen gives an average surface emissivity for earth of close to 1.0 for the far IR, so a blackbody is probably a reasonable assumption, no? So for 3.7W/m2 additional forcing from C=2*C0 (calculated from IPCC formula), I get only about 0.67K for change in T, neglecting feedback and emissivity. Most sources I have seen (other than junkscience) report about 1-1.2K. Is the difference emissivity? Or maybe how I am interpreting the definition of radiative forcing?

    [Response: If the Earth was a blackbody, the surface temperature would be 255K (so therefore it can’t be). Greybody is slightly better, but it still isn’t correct. You really need to account for the vertical structure of temperature (the lapse rate ), and if you want your model to get a number of basic things right you need to include spectrally grey absorbers – plus the additional mixing in the troposphere (which depends on convection, and hence affects water vapour feedbacks) etc…. The basic answer is that there isn’t an extremely simple model for how it works. Radiative-convective models are pretty good (but they still need a lot of assumption built in) and so we end up needing GCMs pretty quickly. The ~1 deg no-feedback case comes from radiative-convective models that are a little more sophisticated than just SB – (but 0.27*3.7 = 1 C anyway). But everything is in the feedbacks. – gavin]

    Comment by Warren Hendricks — 9 Nov 2006 @ 4:00 PM

  11. Steve says:
    “Also, you say that land use changes (decreasing flora) are a negative feedback. When the sun is overhead, is not the Sahara hotter than the jungle? It seems to me it would be the other way around. ”

    And when the sun goes down, what happens then?

    At the risk of talking out of my ass, I think the main effect of razing tropical rainforest is to decrease transpiration, which decreases relative humidity, which decreases overnight temperatures. Think of it was a negative water vapour feedback.

    Comment by C. W. Magee — 9 Nov 2006 @ 6:24 PM

  12. Re #5 and 7, I think I have traced through the issue of Huang and Monckton. As usual Michael Mann is in the middle of it.

    The short is that the funny graph is a blow up of a long term borehole reconstruction which has “”some problems””. The three lines are not the average and two error limits, but the results of using three different priors. Moreover that reconstruction is incompatible with Huang and Pollack’s 500 year reconstructions (and the various MBH etc hockey sticks including Esper.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 9 Nov 2006 @ 11:01 PM

  13. Re #11,
    “And when the sun goes down, what happens then?”

    Good point. What is the average summer temperature of the Sahara etc.? I can’t seem to find it. I find dozens of “trends” and “anomalies” but no actual temperatures…

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 9 Nov 2006 @ 11:21 PM

  14. >a compendium naming the top ten rhetorical ruses trial
    >lawyers use and their more famous applications to scientific advocacy ?


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Nov 2006 @ 11:43 PM

  15. re 14

    Where has Volokh ( For Gavin’s benefit, V is a politically savvy policy blogger) elaborated on this?

    The first thing that comes to mind is the Phillips gambit- the post hoc assertion that dimensional analysis notwithstanding, legaland scientific evidence are interchangeable . Therefore , if truncating or throwing out scientific evidence ( limine is the legal term of trial lawyerly art) leads to a jury concluding that , say, evolution isn’t so, all good men and true must concede that the Discovery Institute has won and Darwin has lost the case.

    It is tactically shrewd , insofar that nterposing just one said-to-be ‘expert’ with contrarian views in any science case can prevent ajury from reaching consensus , because absent expertise of their own, they tend to equate the existence of ‘expert’ dissent, however dubious , with reasonable doubt

    Comment by Russell Seitz — 10 Nov 2006 @ 2:20 AM

  16. Google: night temperature Sahara

    Daytime temperature about 25/35°C (77/95°F), night temperature about 8/15°C (46/59°F).

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Nov 2006 @ 2:37 AM

  17. Speaking of Cuckoo Science, Piers Corbyn (of Weatheraction and “I won’t take James Annan’s bet” fame) got a letter into the Guardian today that appears, to this dilletante, to be a prime example of the genre.

    The main claims of fact he makes in support of his contention that Global Warming science is an ‘idealogy, underpinned by false assumptions’ are:

    o Ice core and sea-bed sediment measurements show no evidence that changes in CO2 drive world temperatures or climate.
    o 8000 of the 10000 years since the last ice age were warmer than now and generally had less CO2 and lower sea levels
    o For 3000 years (from 5000 BP to 2000 BP) world temperatures were falling whilst CO2 levels were rising
    o Manâ??s CO2 is only worth 1% of the total greenhouse effect
    o Human CO2 and itâ??s effects are absorbed or negated by feedback mechanisms of plants and sea

    Does anyone here care to take a crack at these?


    Comment by Luke Silburn — 10 Nov 2006 @ 4:58 AM

  18. Monckton is everywhere on the blogs and I had planned to catch up on him.
    I found his notes (he calls them a paper) very odd and a bit baffling. Your article above makes a good start but the first part of it , which I managed to work out from Monkton is really only about terminology. Without going back to check, it appears to me that the the substantive discussion only begins when Monckton tries to justify that the black body sensitivity is roughly the same as the observed sensitivity which, if it were true,would imply that the sum of the feedbacks must be small.

    Your answer so far is that his estimate of the observed sensitivity ignores time delays. Have I got that right ? Is that the whole story or could there be any other contributions?

    I noted that his covering article started very politely (“gentle reader”) but soon led to some extremely aggressive implications for example:

    1. He argues that the solar and anthropogenic forcing have not been treated equally i.e that only the latter has been boosted by feedback in the TAR. This appears to me extremely unlikely but since I have neither written nor read a climate model code I cannot go around making that assertion. Of course there are other arguments against the simple solar hypothesis (e.g stratospheric cooling which has been covered in RC).

    2. That the climate models (which he labels as UN) must have double counted the feedbacks. Sounds like libel to me but I’d like to hear your views.

    Incidentally I spent some time last year trying to expose this sort of thing (including the more naive versions) and wrote it up in a few essays at :
    It will need up-dating (possibly correcting?).

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 10 Nov 2006 @ 6:35 AM

  19. Re: #12


    Comment by Grant — 10 Nov 2006 @ 8:10 AM

  20. Re #16, that doesn’t get anything worthwhile. March is not summer for one thing.

    Secondly – on further thought, we’re talking about insolation which is daytime anyway. I did find that the world’s highest temperature was 136 deg F and was in the Sahara…

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 10 Nov 2006 @ 9:53 AM

  21. Google, Steve. Decide on your question, use the search. Lots of info available.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Nov 2006 @ 11:15 AM

  22. Whilst I’m delighted to read a scientific rebuttal of the Monckton and Milloy articles, I’m dismayed by the personal attacks and tone it has taken. It is perfectly reasonable, not to say absolutely necessary, to say chapter and verse how and why they are wrong. However, it is of no use at all to have this arsenal of information undermined by cheap shots. Let the science do the talking?

    Also many thanks, Geoff for the URL for trumpington. Very helpful.

    Comment by Serinde — 10 Nov 2006 @ 11:48 AM

  23. >14, 15, Russell — I meant “volokh” as the weblog, not the person sponsoring it; look back at the Judith Curry hurricane thread for a visit here by a lawyer who’s active at volokhconspiracy, that will show in the search — he’s the gentleman who was arguing that an increase in force 4 hurricanes (based on statistics, there are lots of 4s) can’t possibly be the basis for expecting an increase in force 5 hurricanes (there are so few 5s that the statistics don’t suffice, if you consider them separately). Lawyerly argument was, a 4 is completely different than a 5, you can’t say 5s increase with warming just because 4s do. To the hurricane scientists, big heat engines and slightly bigger heat engines are both going to change the same way when heat increases. I asked in the thread if he thought expectations about increases in forest fire size would be comparable; don’t think the gentleman has been back to comment further.

    Search here isn’t working for me right now, FF 2.0/OSX bug, or I’d find it for you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Nov 2006 @ 12:54 PM

  24. Tell you what Steve, show me that you’ve donated $100 US to Greenpeace (send the receipt to my Email) and I’ll tell you how to find that data. If you want to play a long game of why, I know several charming three year olds who will entertain you for hours.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 10 Nov 2006 @ 12:58 PM

  25. Gavin, I’m disappointed that Roger Pielke, Sr. has not commented on the points you raise here, given that his calculations are used in the Junkscience article

    [Response: ‘ab’-used would be closer to the truth. But RP Sr. makes his own choices about what to comment on…. – gavin]

    Comment by andrew worth — 10 Nov 2006 @ 4:11 PM

  26. >14, 15, 23 re sources of
    “rhetorical ruses trial lawyers use and their more famous applications to scientific advocacy”

    Here’s another resource:

    “… It is a typical (but very thorough) example of what advocacy groups on both sides do: they behave like lawyers who are paid to start with either the innocence or guilt of their client, then proceed to present evidence that supports the verdict they have already decided they want….”

    — Dr. Judith Curry, in a comment made 11 September 2006 @ 7:11 pm at /

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Nov 2006 @ 5:32 PM

  27. With reference to comment no.18. (2nd. paragraph).
    I’m sorry for being in a hurry before. I missed the remark in the main essay about Monckton having neglected the aerosols in his estimate of the forcing. Quite a serious point. Instead of an error, this is beginning to look like a “conspiracy of errors”.

    When you experts get some spare time it might be worth your while submitting a letter to the Sunday Telegraph. It might be accepted. This is of some importance because of the supposed status of the paper. There are many influential people in the UK who regard it as a reliable paper (you only have to listen to the presenters on the BBC who refer to what they have “seen in the Telegraph”).

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 10 Nov 2006 @ 8:35 PM

  28. Monckton’s article (he is a journalist after all) covered a broad spectrum of issues which collectively have been pushing the AGW argument one way. By addressing these issues he is simply attempting to push it back the other way.
    In short, as a ‘reader’, I find the article to be concise, clear and supported with lots of analysis and data. What I, as reader want to see is a simple annotation of this original article with your explanatory facts as to why you disagree – in the same ‘language’, at the same journalistic level. Too much to ask? If this request leaves you feeling ‘defensive’ you need to ask yourself why? After all – all us lay-people are asking for is a clear representation not of the facts, but of the arguments.

    [Response: The issue is not that we are defensive – we have covered these issues over and again – but these points are not new. They are used all over the place. As working scientists, we don’t actually have time to annotate every single piece that comes out that rehashes these same talking points. Thus we generally only address points that we feel haven’t been covered before and that actually have some interest. Pick any of the substantive points and I’ll point you to a good rebuttal (check the index, or the guide on ‘A few things ill-considered’ (see sidebar)). Be careful not to be persuaded on its scientific merits by it’s length or seeming erudition – as in the examples I use above, it’s very easy to give a superficial psuedo-scientific description of something without it making any actual sense. – gavin]

    Comment by Jon Sims — 12 Nov 2006 @ 6:50 AM

  29. Perhaps Coby could be persuaded to assign a unique number to each of the ill-considered arguments.

    Then readers could Bingo on the arguments simply and easily — and anyone could submit to RC a copy of the article with the Bingo numbers inserted next to each ill-considered argument.

    They do repeat themselves, don’t they?

    When doing any writing or comment, one request again:

    –>add paragraph breaks between major ideas in your responses.
    Oh, please.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2006 @ 11:37 AM

  30. Re #28…You perhaps don’t have the particular knowledge of this subject (one doesn’t have to be an expert ‘though!) to see that Mr. Monckton’s Telegraph piece is a disgraceful (and presumably wilfully so) misrepresentation of the science on this subject. Unfortunately that’s the point and the problem – Monckton knows that he can effectively tell untruths since he is relying on a lack of knowledge on the part of the general reader. And sadly he’s allowed to do this in a National newspaper. The latter seems part of the unfortunate modern editorial practice in the media (TV and print) in which every subject of real or potential sociopolitical interest has to be given a veneer of “balance”. But in what manner does an article constructed of “untruths” provide a balance to the “truth”?

    I have no connection with climate science. But even so I can identify the myriad misrepresntations in Monckton’s piece that are objectively wrong as matters of fact, not opinion. Thus leaving aside the points highlighted in the introductory article by Gavin “Cuckoo Science” the following are easily identified “howlers”

    1. Monckton makes the standard attack on the Mann “hockey stick” temeperature reconstruction and then asserts that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was “up to 3 oC warmer than now”. However the temperature reconstructions in the proper scientific literature show that the MWP was significantly cooler that now. So even in a paper entitlied “Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data” [Moberg A et al. 2005, Nature 433, 613-617â??], the MWP is around 0.6-0.7 oC cooler than now. The same conclusion applies to the data of Osborn and Briffa (Science 311, 841, 2006), Bradley et al (Science 302, 404, 2003), Mann and Jones (Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, CLM 5-1 (2003), Crowley (Science 289, 270, 2000) etc. etc.

    Now if one is going to use past temperature reconstructions to make a point to the reader in a newspaper, what is the point of not representing what the science says on this issue? This isn’t a matter of opinion, or of “balancing the argument”. It’s a question of telling the truth or not about the science. If Monckton wishes to write an op-ed piece then he should be honest with his readers and say that his piece isn’t actually based on science.

    2. Monckton says “The Antarctic, which holds 90 percent of the world’s ice and nearly all its 160,000 glaciers, has cooled and gained ice-mass over the past 30 years, reversing a 6,000-year melting trend.”

    This is (a) untrue and (b) a misrepresentation of the real issue.

    a) The Antarctic isn’t gaining mass. Some parts are but overall the evidence indicates that it’s losing mass. A pair of satellites (GRACE) were launched several years ago to determine mass balance in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. These (and other studies) indicate that Antarctica is losing mass. The relevant papers are [Velicogna and Wahr 2006 Measurements of time-variable gravity show mass loss in Antarctica Science 311, 1754-1756 and Rignot and Thomas “Mass balance of polar ice sheets” Science 297, 1502-1506]

    b)b) notice that Monckton rather hides away from addressing the real issues. First, the loss of mass in the Antarctic ice sheet is actually somewhat unexpected. In no models or predictions of future warming scenarios does the Antarctic ice mass melt to any significant extent. The reason is that if an ice sheet is at a temperature of say ~20 oC where it never undergoes a seasonal melt, then even a very large temperature increase (say 10 oC) isn’t going to make it melt either! Secondly, and more importantly the concern is the Greenland ice sheet which Monckton conveniently chooses not to mention. This is the real concern. This ice sheet is losing mass at a rather larger rate (around 220 cubic kilometres per year) and it will take only another 1-2 oC world warming to raise the summer melt zone to the top of the Greenland ice pack after which point, in my understanding, the ice sheet will go into irreversible melt.

    3. Monckton says: “First the UN implies that carbon dioxide ended the last four ice ages” [This is actually untrue the “UN” implies no such thing, nor does any competent scientist!] “It displays two 450,000-year graphs: a sawtooth curve of temperature and a sawtooth of airborne CO2 that’s scaled to look similar. Usually, similar curves are superimposed for comparison The UN didn’t do that. If it had, the truth would have shown: the changes in temperature preceded the changes on CO2 levels.”

    Monckton must know full well that his discussion on this point is ludicrous. No one says that there is anything mysterious about the relationship between raised CO2 levels and warming/cooling during glacial/interglacial cycles. These cycles are caused by variations in the Earths orbital properties around the sun. Clearly any changes in CO2 levels HAD TO follow changes in temperature, at least initially, and this is obvious, well understood in general terms and no one is trying to hide the fact, for goodness sake, as Monckton implies. Equally obvious is the fact that raising CO2 levels (as we are doing) will raise temperatures independently of any changes in the Earths orbit/suns effects.

    So it’s very obvious again that Monckton is cheating his readers here by making what must surely be wilfully misrepresentational descriptions of the issue. He’s playing the tired game of pretending that because CO2 levels clearly followed temperature changes in glacial/interglacial transitions, at least initially, that ergo CO2 levels can ONLY follow temperature changes. He’s surely doing this deliberately.

    4. Monckton says: “The number of temperature stations round the world peaked at 6000 in 1970. It’s fallen by two-thirds to 2000 now: a real ‘hockey stick’ curve, and an instance of the UN’s growing reliance on computer guesswork rather than facts”

    Again, Monckton must surely know full well that for the last 25-30 years satellite temperature measurement of sea and land surface have replaced terrestrial temperature station measurements in many cases since these give a much greater coverage (70% of the surface of the Earth is water…it’s difficult to put weather stations on top of ice sheets etc.!), are accurate [I presume!] and don’t suffer from any urban heat contributions etc.. One can only guess why Monckton pretends that there is something wrong with contempory temperature measurements by pretending that the coverage has plummeted.

    etc. etc. I actually came up with a list of about 12 of these. They are very easy to spot, but depressingly tedious to “refute” in a manner that doesn’t look like one is just countering one piece of propaganda with another. It takes a bit of time to hunt down the relevant papers that address the specific points.

    And therein lies the problem. If a newspaper isn’t going to do a proper editorial job of assessing the accuracy of what goes into their paper, then the general reader is (as we say in the UK) stuffed!

    Comment by chris — 12 Nov 2006 @ 1:13 PM

  31. Thanks for the BBC link Hank. Here’s one on the equator in the jungle for comparison:

    As you can see, with the sun overhead the desert is around 10 deg C warmer.

    However, this doesn’t really mean a lot as not only is there biochemical production as an enthalpic reaction using up energy, but there is also latent heat of evaporation.

    Eventually the latent heat will return to sensible heat when clouds are formed through convection. But, what do clouds do to albedo?

    Also, increasing CO2 holds more heat to the surface. More heat near the ground will increase convection, since as we all know, hot air rises. How much has increasing CO2 increased convection in the last 100 years? I have only seen it treated as a constant. Maybe you can help me out there…

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 12 Nov 2006 @ 1:16 PM

  32. Steve, formulate your question, type it into the Google search box, or ask your reference librarian for help. I’m just reading this the same way you are and trying to give you examples of how to find this stuff yourself. Any good librarian, public or school, will be glad to help you.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2006 @ 2:35 PM

  33. >increasing CO2 holds more heat to the surface.
    Where are you getting that? What’s your source, why do trust that source for what you believe?

    > More heat near the ground will increase convection, since as we all know, hot air rises.
    > How much has increasing CO2 increased convection in the last 100 years?
    > I have only seen it treated as a constant. Maybe you can help me out there..

    Sure can. There’s this empty rectangle near the top of your screen. It may have a big letter “G” in it, or the word “Google” in or near it. Copy your questions off the screen and paste them into that box.

    You’ll find a long, quite recent, prior discussion, with reference, on exactly the same questions you’re repeating here.

    Funny how that happens.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Nov 2006 @ 4:39 PM

  34. Lot of latent heat of evaporation in the Sahara. More in the Pacific. You had a point Steve?

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 12 Nov 2006 @ 8:24 PM

  35. Sure did Eli – I was wondering what the magnitude of the negative feedback due to increased convection was, especially considering that increasing convection increases cloudiness. Can we reasonably quantify that?

    Final note to Hank – yes, increasing CO2 increases the lapse rate, which holds more heat closer to the surface. Try Google.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 12 Nov 2006 @ 8:56 PM

  36. Re: #30.
    Thanks Chris you have been doing some useful hunting. There are two kinds of global warming theory contrarians i.e. skeptics and misinformers. I’m wondering how you might classify the material mentioned in comment #17?
    (Luke is referring to The Guardian Letters page on at Friday Nov.10th. )

    The author is a private meteorologist and the letter includes a subtle form of advertising . I have no objection to that , except that he seems to suggest to the reader that a one year forecast does not need CO2, and that by implication a long range forecast might also be better without bothering with CO2. He asserts that “mankind’s CO2 is of no consequence in climate change”.

    As far as I can see his alternative is the solar/magnetic/cosmic ray/cloud /hypothesis (hard to test but a genuine skeptical alternative?) together with some of the old recycled stuff . I should imagine that his model is not in the public domain. Is this just a question of betting?

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 13 Nov 2006 @ 6:19 AM

  37. Just in case you were wondering why ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ has devoted two whole pages over the last couple of weeks to Monckton’s amateur re-interpretation of the data, rather than inviting somebody with a track record in climate research to write about the issue, I think I might be able to shed some light on the issue.

    Christopher Monckton’s sister, Rosie, is married to Dominic Lawson, former editor of ‘The Sunday Telegraph’. Lawson himself had a crack at climate researchers a couple of months ago in ‘The Independent’ newspaper describing them as alarmists. Monckton’s father-in-law is Lord Lawson of Blaby (Nigel Lawson, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer), who has contributed many times to the public debate on climate change, most recently in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies, in which he drew parallels between climate researchers and Islamic fundamentalists.

    The director of the Centre for Policy Studies is Ruth Lea, who has a weekly column in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ (the sister paper of ‘The Sunday Telegraph’), which she has used no fewer than nine times in the last six months to present her own novel views on climate research and accuse climate researchers of all sorts of misdemeanours, including Lysenkoism.

    I think there might be some sort of connection here. I guess the proof will be if Nigella Lawson, celebrity supercook and sister-in-law to Monckton, is given space in a future edition of ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ to explain how her analysis too shows that climate researchers have got it wrong.

    Comment by Bob Ward — 13 Nov 2006 @ 9:33 AM

  38. Steve, I can’t figure out what’s new in your question. It’s a difficult area. Did you read the prior discussion?:
    That’s been revisited several times and isn’t done yet, and a good example of how hard it is to deal with this. The geocities link might be where you’re getting your questions?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2006 @ 11:28 AM

  39. Steve, I’d assumed you were reading here last August but don’t see any questions in the thread here from you — but the answers to your questions are here. Why not refer specifically to what’s already posted? It might make clear what it is that you don’t understand.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2006 @ 11:48 AM

  40. Re 31

    As was repeatedly pointed out in the long conversation in How Not to Attribute Climate Change, starting at comment 126, convection is not a constant in GCMs. Googling gcm convective feedback amply demonstrates that.

    Re 35

    In that same conversation you asserted, The observed lapse rate is the wet adiabat. Think about it. How could it be otherwise? That suggests negative feedback on the lapse rate (see NAS 2003). A smaller temperature gradient suggests weaker convection, though there’s a lot going on though so “all else equal” arguments don’t prove much. Still, the small scale of convection in the overall energy budget suggests that it’s a weak feedback (see comment 187 in How Not to Attribute Climate Change).

    In any case it seems at best optimistic to pin hopes on negative convective cloud feedback, because getting clouds takes water vapor, and the water vapor feedback is unambiguously positive – unless you’re an adaptive iris adherent.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 13 Nov 2006 @ 11:50 AM

  41. In other news…

    “… being considered by the US Air Force and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,… using very low frequency radio waves to flush particles from [the Van Allen radiation] belts and dump them into the upper atmosphere over either one or several days.

    “…. The disruptions result from a deluge of dumped charged particles temporarily changing the ionosphere from a ‘mirror’ that bounces high frequency radio waves around the planet to a ‘sponge’ that soaks them up,” Dr Rodger says.

    “The researchers also calculated the likely effect of remediation on the ozone layer, but found that ozone depletion would be short-lived and similar to that resulting from natural processes such as large solar storms and volcanic eruptions.”

    The original paper is available online at

    Rodger, C. J. , Clilverd, M. A., Ulich, Th., Verronen, P. T., Turunen, E., and Thomson, N. R., The atmospheric implications of radiation belt remediation, Annales Geophysicae, Page(s) 2025-2041, 2006.

    Hey, what could go wrong, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Nov 2006 @ 3:41 PM

  42. Tom –

    Along the lines of what I was thinking. However, you have not actually quantified convection. Trenberth et al say it’s a constant, others totally disregard it:

    I take it then you disagree with that.

    Also, you have to remember that a part of convective feedback is cloudiness. If there is an equivalent to the iris effect, I would think it would be changing albedo.

    But you have not answered the question. I’ll make it easier to start. When was convection 24 w/m^2 as Kiehl and Trenberth say, and what was it including cloud feedbacks?


    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 13 Nov 2006 @ 10:41 PM


    Results … about 138 for convection 24 w/m^2 Kiehl Trenberth.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2006 @ 1:16 AM

  44. Re ” I should imagine that his model is not in the public domain.”

    If it isn’t, then it’s not science he’s doing, but something else. Modern science depends on peer review and science in general has always required the ability of other scientists to duplicate your results.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Nov 2006 @ 5:44 AM

  45. Steve, search Google on your own name +cloud +feedback +uncertainty. You’ve been making the point that there’s cloud feedback uncertainty at least since

    I find no one disagreeing with you. Yes, there’s uncertainty, and maybe more uncertainty now than then, considering positive cloud feedbacks.

    Is there something more than this? Something you believe that you want to lead others to by a Socratic dialogue?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:03 AM

  46. 2006’s “Upper Class Twit of the Year” nominee Cristopher Monckton responds to the RC challenges in 1 paragraph in this ‘article’.

    His carefully considered response to the techinical issues raised here:
    “I received emails saying I’d wrongly assumed the Earth was a “blackbody” with no greenhouse effect at all (I hadn’t). The website, run by two of the “hockey-stick” graph’s authors, said the same in a blog entitled “Cuckoo science”.”


    1) Unsubstantiated denial, “I hadn’t”.

    2) An ad-hominen, “run by two of the “hockey-stick” graph’s authors”.

    3) er,

    4) that’s it.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 14 Nov 2006 @ 7:18 AM

  47. An earlier post refers to the ‘Huang’ graph on page 15 of the Monkton paper.
    I would be interested in your comments regarding the content of this February 2006 posting in physicsforums:

    A link is available from the poster to the Huang et al original 18000 yr graph, but he could find no link to the original paper submitted to Nature and declined, which included it. Including the Huang website.

    He is able to provide a link however to their later, accepted paper, which includes the 500 year graph, but no reference to their earlier paper (or graph).

    It is quite clear that the two graphs create opportunities for opposing conclusions, hence the concern of the poster (and Deming) that Nature might be selectively publishing papers which support a particular view.


    Comment by seamus chapman — 14 Nov 2006 @ 7:29 AM

  48. I’m not an expert on this. My doctorate is in logic and philosophy, as you see from my website.

    The Monckton article seemed perfectly reasonable to me, and the attacks on him here are mostly ad hominem. So what if he is a journalist, or a peer (though maybe not the peer-review sense)? It’s not enough to say it is ‘cuckoo science’. Why? Chris says ‘Monckton makes the standard attack on the Mann “hockey stick” temeperature reconstruction and then asserts that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was “up to 3 oC warmer than now”. However the temperature reconstructions in the proper scientific literature show that the MWP was significantly cooler that now.’ That begs the question. Monckton cites numerous papers that suggest ‘northern-hemisphere evidence’ for the mediaeval warm period, and cites a dozen studies from the southern hemisphere. He cites McIntyre et al. (2003, 2005) who apparently demonstrated that the erasure of the mediaeval warm period in the 2001 graph had been caused by inappropriate data selection and incorrect use of statistical methods (rReliance upon bristlecone pine data). He cites numerous experts as saying the Mann study was flawed.

    I’m sure all these citations are flawed, but would someone like to say why? Stick to the ‘hockey stick’ one.


    Comment by edward — 14 Nov 2006 @ 7:56 AM

  49. re: 48. It is quite simple to look at and then view the numerous listings/discussions under “Paleo-Climate”. The numerous “flaws” in McIntyre et al are specifically discussed.

    As for Monckton’s credentials, they are as a journalist, period. Not as a scientist, let alone a peer-reviewed scientist. That a journalist with no climate science research background could attempt to seriously refute peer-reviewed research is simply ludicrous. It is certainly not within the realm of following the scientific method.

    Comment by Dan — 14 Nov 2006 @ 10:29 AM

  50. I’m sorry but I just don’t get the point of this article. I’ve read it a couple of times – and read some of the links it references – but it says nothing. Milloy and Monckton (whoever they are) have used the S-B formula to provide a decent “back of the envelope” estimate to the temperature increase in response to more CO2. We all know there might be uncertainties such as feebdback effects (positive or negative) which the article talks about but makes no attempt to quantify. And as for any justification why these effects produce 3 times more warming than the S-B calculation – forget it. It’s just a piece of sneering waffle that hides behind the complexities of General Circulation Models – or computer programs to the rest of us. Aren’t the GCMs developed by humans? How are their results validated? Tell us why the GCMs are right and Milloy and Monckton are wrong.

    There might be something I’ve missed but the only piece of evidence seems to be the ‘forcings’ in the last ice age i.e. the ~7 w/m2 reduction mainly due to lower GHGs and more ice sheets. Water Vapour is not included because it’s a feedback apparently. But lower GHGs in the last ice age were also a feedback – weren’t they? Or are you actually saying that lower levels of GHGs brought on the last ice age? Tell us more – I’ve not heard this before.

    To all this who have been complimentary to Gavin’s article: I challenge you to explain the huge discrepany between Milloy’s “back of the envelope” calculation and the results obtained by the GCMs.

    Anyway I’m going to read up on all the referenced posts again, but it would be useful to have a bit more clarity.

    [Response: This is a subject we’ve dealt with more carefully in the past and in order to not spend time repeating ourselves, we left the explanations as links. If you can’t find what you are looking for in here or here, let me know and I’ll try again. – gavin]

    Comment by Cazzy — 14 Nov 2006 @ 10:32 AM

  51. Re: #47

    The important thing to note about Huang’s 1997 result regarding the last 1,000 years or so is that it is thoroughly contradicted — by Huang! Looking at the graph on pg. 15 of Monckton, note that the original Huang reconstruction has temperature in the year 1600 equivalent to today. This is not only completely contrary to *all* other available evidence (and thoroughly denied in the recent NAS report), it’s also completely contrary to subsequent research by Huang himself (see e.g. Huang et al. 2000, Nature 403, 756, and Huang 2004, GRL 31, L13205).

    Re: #48

    It seems to me that the attacks on Monckton’s results *on this site* were *not* “mostly ad hominem.”

    Monckton offers a lovely graph on pg. 12 showing numerous proxy reconstructions for the last 1,250 yr. He states in the caption that, “In three of the studies (Esper, Briffa and Moberg), the mediaeval warm period is shown to have been as warm as, or warmer than, the current warm period,” and his graph seems to support that conclusion. What Monckton doesn’t mention is that most of the proxy reconstructions only go as far as about 1980. Take the Moberg reconstruction (last in Monckton’s graph), probably the one most favorable to his case. Then *add the last 25 years* from actual thermometer data. It becomes absolutely evident that the medieval warm period is *nowhere near* as warm as today.

    There’s a name for Monckton’s tactic: cherry-picking. Of course we can’t expect the general reader to see the Monckton piece as anything but “perfectly reasonable.” But a lot of the regulars here have studied both proxy reconstructions and the thermometer records in detail, so we see right through this subterfuge. And it’s not the only one.

    Re: #49

    I disagree. Monckton’s lack of scientific credentials are grounds for *skepticism* but not for rejection.

    Comment by Grant — 14 Nov 2006 @ 11:04 AM

  52. >>> As for Monckton’s credentials, they are as a journalist, period.

    More ad hominem. What is wrong with his argument? I am an ordinary member of the public who wants to hear arguments ad rem.

    >>> That a journalist with no climate science research background could attempt to seriously refute peer-reviewed research is simply ludicrous

    This not a reply to Monckton’s arguments. More ad hominem. In any case, Monckton’s article is essentially a review of papers which have gone through the peer review process, i.e. McIntyre & alia.

    >>> It is quite simple to look at and then view the numerous listings/discussions under “Paleo-Climate”. The numerous “flaws” in McIntyre et al are specifically discussed.

    I have looked at these archives which appear to be dated 2004, and found a paper which is dated 2003. One of the authors is Mann. Monckton cites papers dated 2005.

    The key argument of the 2003 paper appears is here: “It should be noted that some falsely reported putative ‘errors’ in the Mann et al. (1998) proxy data claimed by McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) are an artifact of (a) the use by these latter authors of an incorrect version of the Mann et al. (1998) proxy indicator dataset, and (b) their misunderstanding of the methodology used by Mann et al. (1998) to calculate PC series of proxy networks over progressively longer time intervals. In the Mann et al. (1998) implementation, the PCs are computed over different time steps so that the maximum amount of data can be used in the reconstruction. For example, if a tree-ring network comprises 50 individual chronologies that extend back to AD 1600 and only 10 of those 50 extend to AD 1400 then calculating one set of PCs from 1400 to 1980 (the end of the Mann et al. (1998) calibration period) would require the elimination of 40 of the 50 chronologies available back to AD 1600. By calculating PCs for two different intervals in this example (1400-1980 and 1600-1980) and performing the reconstruction in a stepwise fashion, PCs of all 50 series that extend back to AD 1600 can be used in the reconstruction back to AD 1600 with PCs of the remaining 10 chronologies used to reconstruct the period from 1400-1600. The latter misunderstanding led McIntyre and McKitrick (2003) to eliminate roughly 70% of the proxy data used by Mann et al. (1998) prior to AD 1600, including 77 of the 95 proxy series used by Mann et al. (1998) prior to AD 1500. This elimination of data gave rise to spurious, anomalous warmth during the 15th century in their reconstruction, sharply at odds with virtually all other empirical and model-based estimates of hemispheric temperature trends in past centuries (see e.g. Jones and Mann, 2004).

    That is not my understanding of McIntyre and McKitrick (2003).

    Comment by edward — 14 Nov 2006 @ 12:12 PM

  53. Re 42

    I don’t disagree with Trenberth’s figure because it’s merely a summary of the average state of today’s atmosphere; it’s neither a model nor an assertion of constant convection. Some others may disregard convection in small energy balance models as an analytic convenience, but still others treat it endogenously (GCMs).

    The answer to when is roughly now, on average. Probably some of the latent heat transport should also be attributed to convection. The average state of clouds is doubtless included in the estimate since their radiative effects are shown, but the diagram doesn’t really show feedback at all.

    You might find this paper to be of interest.

    Comment by Tom Fiddaman — 14 Nov 2006 @ 12:14 PM

  54. Re #48

    Edward, your request highlights the problem not only with Monckton’s “stuff” but the general problem with having to address wilfully misleading pseudoscience. The pseudoscience is easy to write (I imagine it takes a certain chutzpah!), and one can scatter references throughout to give it a “faux-respectable” appearance. But it’s extremely tedious to go back and hunt down that papers and see whether the particular point (of Monckton’s in this case) is properly suported by the reference Moncknton cites in support.

    However, I’ve spent two hours of my valuable time doing that for the specific point you raise (out of the 4 that I included in my original post, #30).

    I said:

    “‘Monckton makes the standard attack on the Mann “hockey stick” temeperature reconstruction and then asserts that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was “up to 3 oC warmer than now. However the temperature reconstructions in the proper scientific literature show that the MWP was significantly cooler that now.”

    you responded with:

    “That begs the question. Monckton cites numerous papers that suggest ‘northern-hemisphere evidence’ for the mediaeval warm period, and cites a dozen studies from the southern hemisphere.”

    So let’s look at the references that Monckton cites in the sentence that jumped off the page at me and which I referred to in my post.

    Here’s what Monckton says:

    (page 5 of the supplementary ‘brief’ that Monckton url’s in his Telegraph article)

    Monckton: “According to Villalba (1990, 1994), and Soon and Baliunas (2003), the mediaeval warm period was warmer than the current warm period by up to 3C. From c1000 AD, ships were recorded as having sailed in parts of the Arctic where there is a permanent ice-pack now (Thompson et al. 2000; Briffa 2000; Lamb 1972a,b; Villalba 1990, 1994).”

    Let’s look at the papers that Monckton cites in justification of these statements:

    1. Villalba (1990) “Climate Fluctuations in Northern Patagonia During the Last 1000 Years Inferred From Tree Ring Records” Quaternary Research 34, 346-360.

    In summing up the variation in temperature during the period under study Villalba says (and this is the only point in the entire paper where Villalba discusses absolute temperature variations):

    “The temperature departure mean for the coldest interval (1520-1670) is 0.33 oC lower than for the warmer interval (1080-1260)” [see page 354, 2/5ths down second column of the page]

    2. Villalba (1994) “Tree Ring and Glacial Evidence for the Medieval Warm Epoch and the Little Ice Age in Southern South America” Climate Change 26, 183-197.

    As in his article above (1.) Villalba makes one statement about absolute temperature variations from his analysis. He says:

    “The mean temperature departure for the coldest interval (A.D. 1520-1660) is estimated to be 0.26 oC lower than the warmest interval (A.D. 1080-1250)” [see 186, 1/2 way down the page]

    Notice that these variations between the Medieval Maximum and the Little Ice Age (no more than 0.3 oC or so) are not that different to what Mann showed in his ‘hockeystick’ curve. Why Monckton cited this work in support of his assertion that the MWP was up to 3C warmer than the current warm period is extremely difficult to fathom. After all there’s no question that the N. hemisphere temperature is now at least 1 oC warmer than the Little Ice Age. That would put the MWP around 0.7 oC cooler than now using the very data that Monckton cites in support of his assertion that it was “up to 3C warmer” than now.

    3. I can’t access Soon and Baliunas’s paper. I’ll leave someone else to discuss this one. However I did read some of the papers that, themselves, cite Soon and Baliunas’s work and it it’s clear that the latter is highly flawed. [Read for example Osborne and Briffa (2006) Science 311, 841-844.]

    4. Thompson et al (2000) “A High-Resolution Millennial Record of the South Asian Monsoon from Himalayan Ice Cores” Science 289, 1916-1919.

    This paper bears no relationship to the sentence to which it is attached in Monckton’s “piece”. It’s about hydrology on the Tibetan plateau from analysis of a high-resolution ice core from Dasuopu, Tibet. It seems an odd paper for Monckton to cite in support of his “notion” that it’s not that warm now relatively speaking since the very last sentence of Thompson et al’s paper is:

    “For the 20th century, the isotopically inferred temperatures on both Dunde and Dasuopu are the warmest of the millennium, and the recent warming is most pronounced at Dasuopu, the highest elevation site.”

    Just to be absolutely clear, Monckton is using as a justification that the MWP was much warmer than now a paper that concludes that (in Tibet at least) the 20th century is “the warmest of the millennium”!

    5. Briffa (2000) [I forgot to write down the title of this review] Quaternary Science Reviews 19, 87-105.

    This is a general review of analysis of tree ring proxy data for reconstructing past climate. Again there is nothing in this review that in any way is supportive of Monckton’s statements. In describing the work in this field Briffa several times notes the unusual warmth of the 20th century inferred from the tree ring data. For example he says “The authors of this work again stress the ‘unusual’ nature of the apparent 20th century warmth.”, and there are several similar statements about the particluar warmth of the 20th century, especially that later parts.

    Briffa has prepared and shows a couple of relevant Figures. In His Figure 2 he shows a composite figure of “Southern Hemisphere Temperature Reconstructions for Tasmania and Northern Patagonia” Each of these shows that the MWP was cooler than the present day temperature by this proxy data. In his Figure 5 under a section entitled “A New Northern Hemisphere Summer Temperature Record” he shows that the mid to late 20th century temperature as determined from tree ring analysis is far warmer than any period in the past that his analysis includes (this only goes back to 1400 AD).

    I wonder if you’re beginning to get the point. At least in these two sentences Monckton is just saying “stuff” and “supporting” this with “apparent” citations to research that either has nothing to do with the point heâ??s trying to make, or which has been grossly misrepresented. Now perhaps some of the other stuff that Monckton says is better supported. But I’d rather you pointed it out to me, than that I spend hours and hours hunting down the papers, reading them, comparing what they say to what Monckton pretends that they say etc. That’s really the job of an editor. Sadly, the editorial process in the Telegraph has gone massivly awol in this case.

    Comment by Chris — 14 Nov 2006 @ 1:11 PM

  55. I just wanted to say that at least one good thing has come from Monckton’s article… that it has encouraged debate based in science.

    I am not a simpleton, and I know for a fact that calling official climate change data in to disrepute in the public arena, as Monckton has done, can only be bad news.

    BUT, think of it this way – it means that the rest of us have to pipe up our voices to argue that which we already know, and strive to find clearer evidence to support our predictive arguments that will silence our critics.

    Whether we like it or not, we need people like Monckton to keep fighting us – thesis v. antithesis = synthesis. Good science tells us that you can never prove good hypotheses (ones that appear to fit the data), only DISPROVE bad ones (i.e. that mankind ISN’T effecting climate).

    The debate should never be closed, no matter how infuriating it might become – for if there is no debate, we would be in danger of becoming indoctrinated in a way that could lead us to ignore contrary evidence that may arise in the future.

    Well done everyone though – it’s good to know so many people out there actually know what they are talking about!


    Comment by Mark — 14 Nov 2006 @ 2:59 PM

  56. Re #55

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with you there Mark. I agree that there should be debate in science. Of course there should be. And actually there is huge debate in science (other than politics and bickering with one’s spouse, there probably isn’t another arena in life where there is more debate!).

    But debate should be based on truth. Monckton isn’t adding to the debate by telling untruths and misrepresenting the science. The real debate has passed Monckton by and he is attempting to drag the debate back to a point that is favourable to him (for whatever his reasons).

    And it’s all very well to applaud the debaters on this comment thread. But unfortunately the debate here isn’t being engaged on the pages of the Sunday Telegraph. So, for whatever he feels it’s worth to him and his “supporters”, Mr. Monckton has scored his point. Of course the Sunday Telegraph might realize that they’ve been duped and might allow a proper debate in their pages. Then Mr. Monckton’s piece will perhaps have served a productive purpose.

    And the notion that we might be “indoctrinated in a way that could lead us to ignore contrary evidence that may arise in the future” is also, I think, misguided. It’s contrary to everything we know about modern science. There isn’t a scientist out there who doesn’t want to make his/her mark, and will be only too pleased to find strong evidence of anything, whether it’s contrary or otherwise, and write a nice plump juicy paper about it. The idea that scientists have some sort of vested interest in a false prognosis concerning the climate and our influence upon it is one that I can’t relate to. In fact I would like someone to explain this odd notion to me.

    Comment by chris — 14 Nov 2006 @ 4:10 PM

  57. re 52. Gee, I provided a specific link that could have been easily found by anyone using the search feature on this page to peer-reviewed information and discussions. The scientific method is quite rigorous. A journalist without a scientific background cherry-picking information for an article to suit their beliefs is not. Pretty simple. And sadly, grossly misleading to layman readers of his article.

    Comment by Dan — 14 Nov 2006 @ 6:26 PM

  58. Re 17, it was stated that there was less ppm CO2, therefore lower ocean levels and (assuming) more radical temperature fluctuations. A very much higher ppm would tend to average out temps such that even if the global temp was lower, the glaciers would still melt. I like to argue this point to the non-concerned and to those who point out facts like “it was warmer then”. All of the ways humanity could reflect more (or block) sunlight is of little use after understanding this basic function of the GHG unless such changes in the albedo included massive reforestation efforts.

    Comment by Robert — 15 Nov 2006 @ 12:51 AM

  59. I have nothing to add to the discussions of the science but I thought I’d chime in to respond to the “ad hominem” posts. (48 and 52 primarily) I just wanted to point out that “ad hominem” is not a criticism of an argument, it is a description. Like any other argument, an ad hominem argument must be judged on its merits. In this care the merits are:

    1) The subject in question is complex and requires years of study and training to develop proficiency.
    2) Monckton has almost no training or experience in this field.

    Thus the conclusion that we should treat his climate science with skepticism is pretty well justified.

    “Ad hominem” is often treated on the Internet as a de facto fallacy, but it is not. Only if it is the sole response to a factual statement is it fallacious. But qualifying the source as part of (or prior to) a larger response is just good sense.

    Anyone taking logic should also consider a class in literary critical theory, where the author’s context and motives are fair game. This applies to real life because people speak not only in factual arguments (the realm of logic), but also in fictions. Distinguishing between the two is aided greatly by a critical analysis of the source. We can’t naively accept all statements as true, and we don’t all have time like chris to trace every statement back to primary sources and debunk.

    Comment by James — 15 Nov 2006 @ 2:06 AM

  60. To 59.

    >>> “Ad hominem” is often treated on the Internet as a de facto fallacy

    Logically, it is a fallacy. I agree it is often useful to point out that someone has no credentials, but you still need to point out the actual fallacy in the person’s argument.

    >>> We can’t naively accept all statements as true, and we don’t all have time like chris to trace every statement back to primary sources and debunk.

    Yes you do, absolutely, at least in a case like this. Monckton’s piece has made a huge footprint. You need to deal with it better than you have done. You have halfway convinced me, at least on the points I raised, but I know 50 other educated people who were convinced by Monckton and, to quote you ‘don’t have time â?¦ to trace every statement back to primary sources and debunk’.

    >>> The subject in question is complex and requires years of study and training to develop proficiency.

    Not really. I’m capable of understanding the simple point that the references Monckton provided do not in fact support his assumptions. Why ‘years of study’ bit? As I understand, the hockey stick argument relies on PCA, which is a relatively simple concept to understand.

    Can I also say that many of the postings here make the usual confusion between arguments that are invalid, and arguments that are unsound. An invalid argument is one whose premisses do not support its conclusions. Many of Monckton’s arguments seem perfectly valid to me. However, it is clear some of his arguments are unsound, i.e depend on assumptions that are false. You damage your case when you accuse him of being illogical or confused, when any casual reader can see that the arguments are well presented and have a clear thread, unlike anything I see here.

    Comment by edward — 15 Nov 2006 @ 5:52 AM

  61. To Chris. First of all, thank you for taking time to address the point I raised. I have no further questions on that score. However, you talk about ‘ the general problem with having to address wilfully misleading pseudoscience’.

    You probably mean that (a) scientists have to spend hours replying to the stuff. (b) this is something probably not worth doing because the general public won’t understand the reply.

    On (a), surely it is worth spending hours on refuting the stuff? Monckton’s piece has appeared. He is a well connected person who has great influence in the British establishment, he writes eloquently, and his arguments are logically valid (i.e. premisses support conclusion) even if not logically sound (i.e. premisses true). So why isn’t it in the interests of scientists to present a carefully reasoned argument that addresses exactly the points Monckton raises. All I see here are a series of ad hominem arguments (Monckton is a journalist, he is not a scientist, he is an aristocrat blah blah), all guaranteed to confirm the suspicions of non-scientists there is a cabal or conspiracy of scientists to fool and beguile the general public.

    On (b), as an ordinary educated person, I understand your reply perfectly. You have made the simple point that the claims made by Monckton are not in fact supported by the papers he cites. Why not say all that in the first place?

    I understand all this is tedious, but in this case you (or the scientists) have to do it, in the shape of a carefully written piece that carefully addresses all the points made. I don’t see that here. Otherwise what is the point of a website intended as a public forum. Who else is it for, but people like me?

    So far, the contrarians seem to be making all the ground, because they understand elementary public relations (don’t treat members of the public as stupid or foolish, go into as much detail as necessary, but in the order of the generic followed by the particular, i.e. from the top down â?? the problem with scientific and academic literature is it persists in taking everything from the bottom upwards, and so from the most difficult to the most easy).

    Monckton’s piece nearly convinced me, and it certainly convinced many of my colleagues (all of whom hold some kind of higher degree beyond BSc). I took the trouble to do some further work, but it was difficult.

    And on the subject of ‘burden of proof’. The burden of proof is not on me to root out the facts presented in a public forum like the Telegraph. The burden (given that this has happened) is on the scientists to present their case to the public in a way that is clear and cogent, and in a way that is not condescending. I don’t see this happening here. There was a helpful FAQ on this site, but it has ‘dummy’s guide’ on it, and is presented ‘in a way even your parents can understand’. OK, so I’m a dummy, and so are my parents? THIS IS NOT GOOD PUBLIC RELATIONS.

    Comment by edward — 15 Nov 2006 @ 5:54 AM

  62. Thanks to Chris for doing the long posts (although I’ll have to read 54 before seconding it). The oft repeated 1970s ice age obfuscation seems to have been missed.

    With regards the unevidenced contention that “science” predicted an ice age in the 1970s: This has been nicely de-bunked by William Connelly –

    The 1970’s Ice Age scare was yet another media circus, which was not supported by peer-reviewed science. A bit like Mr Monckton’s wrong-headed opinion piece.

    By the way,

    I am an amateur – an ex-sceptic who in Jan 2005 decided I had to sort out why I felt unease about my scepticism. So I embarked upon a programme of learning, from the physics up. My degree in electronics has been a help in some of the maths. In short, I can see no reason to doubt the role of CO2 in the last 30 years of warming.

    Mr Monckton is in no way protected by the amateur defence, he is wrong on the science to a seemingly wilful degree.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 15 Nov 2006 @ 7:32 AM

  63. I note no-one has commented on his new article (in response by an attempt by Monbiot to debunk his telegraph article) at the guardian:,,1947724,00.html

    Theres no point having the debate here. It needs to be through the media where the general public will read about why he is wrong. If people don’t respond then the public will conclude he is telling the truth.

    Comment by Mark Walker — 15 Nov 2006 @ 7:44 AM

  64. Re #45

    Okay Hank, one more time. First off, convection doesn’t just “stir stuff around” as you say back here:

    Discounting conduction which is weak with gases, the two ways energy goes through the troposphere out of the system are radiation and convection. If you increase the lapse rate by increasing ghg’s, convection will increase. How much? Nobody seems to have that sensitivity nailed down, in w/m^2. All kinds of numbers float around out there, but nothing on this. Hmmm. With no ghg’s, there is no convection. Why would there be? LW radiation would leave as easily as visible radiation. With x ghg’s we have y convection. If we have 2x ghg’s, how much convection do we have? Certainly not 2y due to a lot of things, but could it be 1.1y? That would be 2.4 w/m^2 Maybe 1.2y? No consistent numbers from models though. Also, increasing convection increases cloud formation. How much does that increase albedo? A subsequent unknown.

    As far as your link:

    I am surprised you would fall for that. The link is effectively saying that some models, despite the fact that white reflects light, say clouds are a positive feedback, and that this proves the original thought wrong. That is the modelers fallacy. Models do not “prove” anything, nor produce data, despite what modelers say:
    Arguments abound about whether models produce predictions or projections, but sometimes they call them “data.” Where’s the Cuckoo Science here?

    As far as ad hominem attacks, I’m not sure how calling Monckton an “”Upper Class Twit of the Year” nominee” can possibly be called anything *but* an ad hominem attack.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 15 Nov 2006 @ 9:53 AM

  65. RE 57. >>> re 52. Gee, I provided a specific link that could have been easily found by anyone using the search feature on this page to peer-reviewed information and discussions. The scientific method is quite rigorous. A journalist without a scientific background cherry-picking information for an article to suit their beliefs is not. Pretty simple. And sadly, grossly misleading to layman readers of his article.

    1. If the points made by Chris are correct, then Monckton was not cherry picking. He was citing papers published in peer-reviewed journals as evidence for the assumptions that underlie his argument, when they don’t apparently support his argument. That is different from cherrypicking.

    2. Indeed, if he was cherrypicking, that would still help the contrarian case. Cherrypicking is only possible when there is no consensus, and one of the contrarian arguments is, of course, that there is no consensus.

    3. Again this reference to the ‘scientific method’. What is the ‘scientific method’. (My degree was in the history of science, by the way).

    4. In any case, I don’t see the key points of the Monckton debate as being about experimential science as such. Monckton has not done any experiments. He was simply reviewing the climate change literature. The question is whether the literature supports his assumptions or not. At least Chris seems to have grasped the point I am making, at any rate.

    Comment by edward — 15 Nov 2006 @ 9:59 AM

  66. > With no ghg’s, there is no convection.

    Oh really. This is nonsense.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2006 @ 10:14 AM

  67. No, Monckton’s piece most certainly has not made a “huge footprint”. It is a simple collection of gross misinformation. It is a non-science journalist’s article/opinion, not peer-reviewed science. The simple fact that it was published in a newspaper and not in a peer-review scientific journal should speak volumes as to its credibility and validity. It is quite absurd that a layman journalist’s opinion on a scientific topic such as climate change would be “convincing” while literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers and the IPCC reports would not be.

    Comment by Dan — 15 Nov 2006 @ 10:25 AM

  68. Re #66,

    I’m quite sure you understood that to mean vertical convection removing heat from the system through the troposphere. There would certainly be convection due to the coriolis effect.

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 15 Nov 2006 @ 10:45 AM

  69. No, “cherrypicking” is picking and choosing comments or information that are completely out of context. It is not a reflection of lack of consensus at all! Again, look at the IPCC reports on line. The scientific consensus on global warming is unwavering. Every major scientific instituion dealing with climate, meteorology or atmospheric science throughout agrees with the consensus on global warming.

    As for the “scientific method”, there is nothing more fundamental to science and to the understanding of the process involved in any scientific research! Type “scientific method” in any search engine to learn about it. One can not perform a serious scientific experiment without it. In a small nutshell, the method which every scientist follows involves a hypothesis, gathering data to test that hypothesis, running *repeatable* experiments to test that hypothesis (in other words, others can run the same experients to attain the same or similar results), drawing conclusions based upon the data and results, publishing the data in peer-reviewed journals (for critical analysis by peers), and proposing further hypothesis. If you read any scientific article in a peer-reviewed journal you will see that this is the method that is followed. It is quite rigorous.

    Comment by Dan — 15 Nov 2006 @ 10:45 AM

  70. Re: #61

    Edward has given us one of the best posts I’ve seen here. I don’t think the public debate is going quite as badly as he suggests — Al Gore has done at least as much for “our side” as Monckton did for the opposition — but his point is valid, that the opposition is doing a better job in the “public relations war” than we are. If it weren’t for the fact that truth is on our side, they’d be kicking our butts.

    The Monckton piece has generated a great deal of doubt, and it’s very well-crafted (not unlike Michael Crichton’s State of Fear). As to the claim in #67 that, “It is quite absurd that a layman journalist’s opinion on a scientific topic such as climate change would be “convincing” while literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers and the IPCC reports would not be,” I agree — it’s absurd. But that’s the way public opinion works. Monckton has indeed had no effect on the scientific debate, but has left a big footprint in the public mind. And those like Edward, who don’t just take a newspaper editorial at face value but are willing to expend the effort to seek out better information, are the rare exception.

    We have an opportunity to undo the damage, and perhaps even show the opposition for what it is, by an equally well-crafted (as well as honest and correct!) rebuttal. But we can’t foist the burden onto the moderators of RC; they’re busy enough!

    As I’ve said before, there are a lot of “wicked smart” people here. Most of us are not climate scientists, but a fair number of us are scientists, and almost all the regulars here are well-informed on the issue. Clearly we’re interested in the subject and most of us care a great deal.

    So, I wonder what my fellow regulars think of this idea: let’s accept the challenge ourselves. Let’s (as a group) coordinate our efforts to take the Monckton essay apart, piece by piece, not only illustrating its scientific incorrectness, but also the underhanded tactics at work. Yes, it’s a *lot* of work. But if we care so much about the future health of the planet, isn’t it worth it? Some of the work has already been done here:

    *** The original post points out his misuse of calculations of climate sensitivity.

    *** #7 points out that Huang’s borehole reconstruction showing higher temperatures 500-1000 yr ago is contradicted by Huang’s later work.

    *** #30 points out the lack of evidence for Monckton’s claim that the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) was “up to 3 oC warmer than now,” that his statements about Antarctic ice mass are incorrect, that his argument about CO2 increase preceding temperature rise in ice core records is faulty and irrelevant, as is his statement about the decline in the number of weather recording stations.

    *** #51 reiterates the contradiction of Huang’s early work by Huang’s later work, and points out one of Monckton’s episodes of cherry-picking.

    *** #54 illustrates that many of Monckton’s references are irrelevant to, or directly contradict, his own claims.

    My apologies to anyone I missed.

    If we put our heads together and work in a coordinated fashion, it won’t be too great a burden for any single contributor. I would also invite Edward to participate, not as a researcher into the scientific evidence, but as supervisor of the presentation itself. Perhaps he’d be willing to begin by dissecting the Monckton piece into its various logical arguments and evaluate their persuasiveness, after which we can tackle them in sequence. He seems to have a keen awareness of effective logical arguments. I would further invite the RC moderators, not to do most of the *work*, but to edit the “final draft” to ensure that it meets the highest standard of scientific correctness, and to use their standing in the climate science community to get it published in a very high-profile forum. Perhaps we can change Monckton’s editorial from a persuasive denialist essay into a genuine embarrassment for his case.

    Opinions please?

    Comment by Grant — 15 Nov 2006 @ 10:52 AM

  71. Re #68, you are correct in that there is consensus in the actual work that ghg’s contribute to gw. However, there is no consensus on other contributors or feedbacks, nor even whether or not it will be catastrophic or even a net “bad.”

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 15 Nov 2006 @ 10:57 AM

  72. 67 & 69
    >> No, Monckton’s piece most certainly has not made a “huge footprint”.
    I meant, it has made a huge impression in the lay community. You disagree?

    >> “cherrypicking” is picking and choosing comments or information that are completely out of context.

    That is not the definition of cherrypicking. It means, selecting things that are favourable to your point of view, ignoring things that are not, and does not mean “choosing comments or information that are completely out of context”.

    >>> As for the “scientific method” â?¦

    >>>> Type “scientific method” in any search engine to learn about it [scientific method].

    Sadly the first hit that comes up is Wikipedia, from which, being Wikipedia, you will learn very little. In any case, the scientific method is not relevant here, being is typically applied when attempting to make predictions, or to test or formulate scientific laws. Monckton was arguing that the available evidence from the literature does not support the conclusions, i.e. it was meant as a review of the literature.

    Comment by edward — 15 Nov 2006 @ 11:00 AM

  73. RE 67: Dan, I wish this were so, but both non-scientific people like myself as well as scientists outside climate research have been bringing these articles to my attention. Like it or not middle England reads The Telegraph and they will believe what is published there. Engaging with their readership must be a priorty to counter bad science.

    RE 59: To pick up a point. I have to take everyone at their word here, not being scientifically trained, and also reject the idea that you are all part of some grand conspiracy (yes, there are quite clever people out there who hold this position). However, you dismiss Monckton’s agenda at your peril because it is central to his stance. It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics, for he makes it very clear: anti UN, anti EU, nationalistic, small government conservative, with all that those positions imply.

    RE 63: Absolutely. You guys have got to stop talking amongst yourselves, and start a dialogue with all the confused people ‘out there’ or what use is your expertise to the rest of us?

    Comment by Serinde — 15 Nov 2006 @ 11:14 AM

  74. re: 70. Okay, this discussion serves no purpose whatsoever if you truly believe that “the scientific method is not relevant here”. You are referring to a non-scientist’s (a journalist’s) collection of cherry-picked information. That is not a “review” simply because he has no basis. Stick to the peer-reviewed analysis. And I suggest you read about “cherry-picking” at, specifically the part about leaving out important information (thus information taken out of context) and that it is inappropriate for journalists.

    Yes, I disagree that Monckton has made an imprint on the layman community as well. It is a blip in the overall reporting on the issue.

    Comment by Dan — 15 Nov 2006 @ 11:23 AM

  75. Re “Cherrypicking”

    Monckton does a lot of cherrypicking as defined by your definition Edward.

    Just to give one example. In my post above (#54) I wondered whether Monckton had just made a mistake with his citation of Thompson et al (2000). After all his reference list contains a Thompson et al (2002) and a Thompson et al (2003), so he could have clumsily referrred to Thompson (2000) when he meant Thomoson (2003) etc..

    So I had a look at these. Neither of the other two Thompson et al papers is relevant to the point I was addressing in post #54. However a comparison of how Monckton interprets the data in Thompson et al (2003) is a classical bit of cherrypicking of the most audacious kind. For he is not merely choosing one paper that supports his point of view, out of several or many that don’t. Here he is dismantling a composite of data used by Thompson et al (2003) to make a point about warming in low latitudes, to pull out and discuss just one of the component data sets of the composite. This single data set in isolation supports Monckton’s view (the latter being completely contrary to the conclusion of Thompson et al (2003). It goes something like this:

    In the sections in which Monckton makes short precis of individual papers (see bottom of page 13 of the supplementary information that Monckton urls in his telegraph “article”), he says the following:

    Monckton: “Thompson et al, 2003: These authors analysed decadally-averaged D18O records [this is delta, superscript 18 Oxygen in ice cores] derived by them and their colleagues from 3 Andean and 3 Tibetan ice cores, demonstrating that “on centennial to millennial time scales atmospheric temperature is the principal control on the D18Oice of the snowfall that sustains these high mountain ice fields”, after which they produced “a low latitude D18O history for the last millennium” that they used as a surrogate for air temperature. For the Quelccaya Ice Cap (13.95 oS, 70.83 oW), this work revealed that peak temperatures of the mediaeval warm period were warmer than those of the last few decades of the 20th century.”

    Now look at Thompson et al 2003:

    Thompson LG, Mosley-Thompson E, Davis ME, et al.
    Tropical glacier and ice core evidence of climate change on annual to millennial time scales
    CLIMATIC CHANGE 59 (1-2): 137-155 JUL 2003

    Here’s the “conclusion” part of their abstract:

    “Decadally averaged D18Oice from three Andean and three Tibetan ice cores are composited to produce a low latitude D18Oice history for the last millennium. Comparison of this ice core composite with the Northern Hemisphere proxy record (1000-2000 AD) reconstructed by Mann et al (1999) and measured temperatures (1856-2000) reported by Jones et al. (1999) suggests the ice cores have captured the decadal scale variability in the global temperature trends. These ice cores show a 20th century isotope enrichment that suggest a large scale warming is underway at low latitudes. The rate of isotopically inferred warming is amplified at higher elevations over the Tibetan plateau while amplification in the Andes is latitude dependent with enrichment (warming) increasing equatorward. In concert with this apparent warming, in situ observations reveal that the tropical glaciers are currently disappearing….”

    In their Figure 7 Thompson et al display their overall conclusions. They compare the regional composites (Andes or Tibetan, or Andes + Tibetan as a crude low latitude history) with the Mann 1999 Northern Hemisphere reconstruction. The total composite looks rather like the Mann et al 1999 NH reconstruction – the Medieval Warm periods (MWP) and Little Ice Ages (LIA) are barely perceptible and the temperature proxy skies upwards (a bit like a “hockey stick”!) through the 20th century. They don’t directly convert their 18O enrichment data into a temperature, but instead represent is as ‘Z score’ with positive values being warmer and negative cooler than a base line. Their MWP averages around plus 0.2 on this score and the LIA around minus 0.3. The curve reaches a value of 2.3 by the year 2000. This is the “low latitude D18O history for the last millennium” of which Monckton speaks.

    So how has Monckton managed to take this straightforward data from Thompson et al (2003) whose conclusion concerning their “low latitude D18O history for the last millennium” is that in low latitudes (as judged by a composite ice core oxygen isotope enrichment analysis as a temperature proxy), the temperature has followed a pattern similar to that of the NH reconstructions with a little bit of a MWP, a small LIA and a very large late 20th century warmth…

    …and concluded (Monckton) “….peak temperatures of the mediaeval warm period were warmer than those of the last few decades of the 20th century”?

    Simple, he’s taken just one data set of the composite (the Quelccaya Ice Cap) which can justifiably support his statement….and he’s ignored all the rest.

    Notice also how Monckton has worded his short precis in such a manner that there are no absolute errors of fact. He’s just selected one out of the six data sets of the composite, and juxtaposed facts to come to a conclusion that is diametrically opposite of what Thompson et al (2003) concluded.

    Comment by Chris — 15 Nov 2006 @ 12:03 PM

  76. If the sun were “turned off,” the temperature of the atmosphere would be with only 28°C above absolute zero, viz.-245°C. With the sun and the “greenhouse gases”, but without water, the average temperature on earth would be of- 11°C (resulting from a daytime mean temperature of approximately +135°C and a nighttime temperature of approximately-175°C). The moon provides such conditions at night. CO2 would delay the cooling towards the absolute minimum only for a short time. Its functioning on earth is not so much different.

    Comment by Angi — 15 Nov 2006 @ 12:16 PM

  77. Steve H.:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 15 Nov 2006 @ 1:20 PM

  78. “Think Tank Will Promote Thinking”

    Appropos to the issue of science policy and science reporting, this is excellent news:

    Comment by Dan — 15 Nov 2006 @ 2:53 PM

  79. Concerning Dan’s comment in #67:

    It is quite absurd that a layman journalist’s opinion on a scientific topic such as climate change would be “convincing” while literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers and the IPCC reports would not be.

    I’m sure this is absurd in some circles, and probably among the friends and co-workers you hang out with. But I’m not sure it is absurd in the larger world, and probably not at all among a large percentage of the Guardian’s readers, for the simple reason that the article is readable and conveys some information about a topic of interest.

    I agree completely with Edward that scientists have a responsibility to debunk this kind of article (and over and over again, I am sorry to say), but they also have to do it in forums that people will read. Some of us non-climate types will read the literature, but not many. It is a chore and immensely time-consuming (even for those of us who don’t have real jobs). To reach us, you have to put the information in the newspapers and magazines we read, in a language we understand. Is this a chore? You better believe it! You will have to learn to write (and think) like a journalist, probably, or you are unlikely to get published. The ability to attract eye-balls is the ultimate peer-review process in the non-scientific world.

    I suggest what might be absurd is comparing the circulation figures for Climate Change verses the Guardian and then thinking that a thousand more scientific articles are going to be any more “convincing” than the last thousand.

    Comment by David Fanning — 15 Nov 2006 @ 3:06 PM

  80. re: 79. I disagree that it is not absurd in the larger world. There are many good science-writing journalists. Furthermore, any good journalist knows how to research the actual facts for a story. The lazy ones do not. As for the general public, most are smart enough to determine what is being fed to them as fodder. A little critical thinking and analysis goes a long way. Of course that does not apply to those who just want to read what they want to believe from the start. Those are the ones who simply regurgitate misinformation and have no interest in learning more.

    Comment by Dan — 15 Nov 2006 @ 3:35 PM

  81. re: 80. I’m not at all certain of Lord Monckton’s motives, but I’m pretty sure he is not lazy. Lazy journalists do not cobble together 42 pages of notes and references related to their story. He can, it seems, tell a compelling story, even if it is not accurate.

    I wish I had your optimistic view of the general public. I used to. And I am thrilled my children still do. But I guess I have voted in too many elections to be much of an optimist anymore. In fact, I’m more likely to believe that the general public can be convinced to do almost anything if you promise lower taxes and a life of ease. That’s why climate change is such a struggle.

    Comment by David Fanning — 15 Nov 2006 @ 4:11 PM

  82. RE: 81. Yes, he is certainly lazy in his research with respect to thoroughness and scientific accuracy. He specifically cherry-picked his information to meet his agenda as others here have clearly shown.

    As for your second paragraph, I hear you loud and clear. :-)

    Comment by Dan — 15 Nov 2006 @ 5:46 PM

  83. RE: 81. I feel like I am on the set of the Princess Bride:

    Dan (as Vizzini): “Lazy”
    Dave (as Inigo Montoya): You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    In some professions you can make a great deal of money by skillfully cherry-picking facts and making compelling arguments. If you want to argue whether Lord Monckton has motives that are not obvious in his article, then we might have something to argue about. But this is not, I’m certain, the work of a lazy man. Journalists are no different from environmentalists (or scientists, now that I think about it) in sometimes succumbing to a selection of facts that support their argument. Mis-characterizing your sources, though, is a serious problem and thanks very much to Chris for pointing that out to us. But I think even that would fall into the category of “sneaky”, not “lazy”.

    Comment by David Fanning — 15 Nov 2006 @ 6:40 PM

  84. Re #63. I tried to add a comment (twice in fact) and it wouldn’t allow me to do so. Seems like Monckton doesn’t like criticism.

    Here is the response I wanted to make:

    “So Christopher Monckton, you are correct in everything you say? Well perhaps you should read the NAS report on the Mann papers. This report, written by scientists working in the field of climate science essentially agreed with everything written by Mann et al. Instead, you chose to believe pseudo-science written by two non-scientists who are working on an agenda not undertaking research as it is supposed to be conducted. Shame on you”.

    I posted this comment on desmogblog earlier.

    Comment by Ian Forrester — 15 Nov 2006 @ 6:44 PM

  85. re: 70


    I think you have it exactly right: It’s entirely appropropriate to fight the PR battle on the turf where it is happening, rather than to hide back in the “groves of academe” shaded by superior knowledge.

    I and one or two other people have been doing that at IMDb, a website devoted to discussion about movies, at the “board” on Gore’s movie, since about May 2006: . The discussion doesn’t need to be as high-level as it is at RealClimate. It gets tiresome at times to keep dealing with the same questions over and over again; but every once in awhile, you actually do change someone’s mind. In any event, you prevent the skeptical view from going unchallenged, so the curious but untrained reader will not be left with the impression that Monckton has successfully photographed the emperor’s new clothes…

    I would think that it would be a really good idea to generate a team willing to work together on this topic. It would probably be overwhelming to think you could be an all-encompassing anti-disinformation team: Instead, pick one venue, such as The Telegraph, and agree to respond to all such unedifying editorials in its pages. Let someone else deal with other papers. Get one of the RealClimate members to do final-draft technical quality-control.

    It really shouldn’t be that hard: You already have enough people, talent and time to have already knocked a bunch of holes in Monckton’s articles. All you really need is an individual with writing and editorial skills to pull it into one article, and the courage to take the battle public.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 15 Nov 2006 @ 7:17 PM

  86. From page 21 of Monckton’s pdf.

    Mr Monckton uses the ACRIM composite (Willson & Mordvinov 2003) However with reference to “SOLAR IRRADIANCE VARIABILITY SINCE 1978 Revision of the PMOD Composite during Solar Cycle 21”, C. FROHLICH. Available from here

    Frohlich (on page 10) compares PMOD, ACRIM and IRMB with the Kitt Peak Magnetogram data from Wenzler 2005. The PMOD composite explains, 83% of the variance, whereas ACRIM is 62%. Frohlich attributes the ACRIM deficiency to corrections applied during a gap in the ACRIM data.

    I quote (page 3) “The ACRIM composite neglects the corrections of the HF during the gap and this is the main reason for the claimed upward trend of TSI over the last 25 years.”

    So why does Mr Monckton prefer to use ACRIM rather than PMOD? Could this be because PMOD does not show that trend, whereas ACRIM does?

    I quote from Frohlich’s conclusions;
    “Overall, the changes are small and do not change the earlier conclusions about a non-existing long-term trend or the amplitudes of the cycles. A detailed error analysis shows that the PMOD composite has a long-term uncertainty of less than about 90 ppm per decade (Frohlich, 2004), which makes the observed difference between the minima not significantly different from zero. The close agreement with the reconstruction from Kitt-Peak magnetograms by Wenzler (2005), and with the 3-component proxy model supports the PMOD composite as the most reliable representation of the solar irradiance variability for the last 25 years.”

    In any case, with reference to page 20 of Monckton’s pdf, TSI reconstructions. If the small change since 1950 accounts for the temperature increase since then, where is the proportionate response before 1950? i.e. GISS

    Mr Monkton of course avoids such detail by focussing on the IPCC’s overall trend from their 2001 report of 0.6degC over the last century. And focussing on overall solar trends over the last century. Thus avoiding drawing too much attention to the last 30 years.

    One could of course mention hindcasts…

    But I think you can argue out the Sun without needing models (for those averse to such things) for the last 30 years.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 16 Nov 2006 @ 5:25 AM

  87. On the idea of a critique of Monckton, that is a very good idea. Taking the steps in order.

    1. Some very good points have already been made, but they are in this very unfriendly medium (i.e. postings in this rapidly expanding comments box, which will soon get lost. Chris made two postings, Grant made one. First step: move these to a medium where all these points can be collected together with an accompanying page where they can be discussed. I’m happy to put them on
    . However it is a website dedicated to the history of logic, and hitherto unsullied by scientific matters such as climate control, so I’d rather that was a last resort. Also it is not designed for shared access, though there is a comments facility. Another possibility is Wikipedia, where you can set up project pages â?? one page of the project is for the source material, the other is a discussion page. It’s easy to join Wikipedia as an editor. Not so easy to set up a project page, but I know many of the scientists here (e.g. William Connolley are involved in WP. Just leave a message on his talk page. Note the result of the project needs to be a WP article. Perhaps someone else

    2. On the logical structure of the article, the first step is just to list, as above, the main points that Monckton raises, with a point by point rebuttal. Avoid any emotive language or ad hominem. Simply take the points, one by one. If the article has to be in WP, it must address the ‘Neutral Point of View’ policy. This, in effect, means that any claim has to be referenced, and therefore verifiable. Look at any of the points that Chris makes (e.g.), and they would be OK, because I can look at the articles he cites. Note WP prefers online references, but offline will do. Many peer-reviewed publications.

    3. I’m happy to help with structure, thread, grammar, spelling, all that kind of thing. I have no view whatsoever on the outcome. I’m a sceptic about everything.

    Comment by edward — 16 Nov 2006 @ 5:43 AM

  88. I have to agree with the comments on Monckton’s paper that say it was persuasive. Scientists don’t have much of a vote on public policy; the public in general does, and an argument that convinces the public will sway policy more than an argument that convinces scientists. Like it or not, science writing for the public is absolutely necessary to counter those who would deliberately misinform the public. Carl Sagan, Steven Jay Gould, even (shudder) Richard Dawkins have done a great deal of good by explaining scientific issues clearly in a way that excites public interest. We have to counter a Monckton simply because we (not necessarily me, I’m speaking editorially here) have the knowledge to do so, and very few other people do.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 16 Nov 2006 @ 7:14 AM

  89. re#40
    About this discussion with Raypierre concerning Cenozoic CO2-induced climate change, I tried to get precise data on the period. But in Pearsonn and Palmer (2000) from boron isotope, there’s a big gap between 40 and 23 My BP, and no more from Zachos et al (2001), that is no alkenone evaluation before 25 My. Geocarb III is quite imprecise (“because of the nature of the input data which is added to the model as 10 my or longer averages”). Any reference of a more accurate estimation for the whole period 62-0 My BP ? Thanks.

    Comment by Charles Muller — 16 Nov 2006 @ 2:39 PM

  90. 87: Edward,

    1) Based on what you say about Wikipedia, it sounds as though using them for this purpose would be a bit restrictive. All that is really needed is a site that allows the editor to post the current draft and receive postings on it.

    2) I agree with your points.

    3) It might make the most sense for someone with a clear point of view to be the editor, and someone like you to be the “devil’s advocate” – to make sure the article is really unimpeachable.

    88: Barton,

    I agree.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Nov 2006 @ 3:57 PM

  91. ARGO is giving some interesting results. Has the ‘smoking gun’ backfired?

    Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean
    John M. Lyman, Josh K. Willis, and Gregory C. Johnson.

    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L18604, doi:10.1029/2006GL027033, 2006

    Comment by Robert Ellison — 16 Nov 2006 @ 5:42 PM

  92. Thanks to Edward….

    …and a question

    First, let me thank Edward for inducing me to look into Monckton’s references in more detail. On first reading Monckton’s “article” I made the sort of generalised critique (post #30 above) that most individuals that follow the literature in this area might make. These aren’t “killer” critiques, in much the same way that Monbiot’s (I think rather limited) critique in the Guardian is easily “rebutted” (as Monckton did rather successfully in the Guardian yesterday-he basically said that, no, he (Monckton) was right and that, sorry, Monbiot was wrong, and that’s that!).

    The gross misrepresentation of the scientific literature in specific terms is a far more serious matter. I really didn’t expect to discover such a craven misrepresentation of specific papers..I assumed that Monckton would be “cherrypicking” in the classical style, since there is enough marginal, dodgy and valid but non-representative, research in the scientific literature to create an “authoritative-sounding” “thesis” on just about anything, let alone climate research. It’s also possible that I’ve inadvertently stumbled across only the more disgraceful of Monckton’s misrepresentations of the scientific literature. I’m going to try to find out whether Monckton’s entire supplementary “essay” is constructed along these lines, or whether it’s mostly based on a standard “cherrypicking” of scientific “outliers” that is rather more difficult to counter.

    Here’s the question:

    I plan to spend some time over the weekend doing some further comparisons of the interpretations that Monckton gives to specific papers, with the data presented and the interpretations and conclusions the authors, themselves, make. I find this morbidly fascinating to do, and if I wasn’t so busy right now I’d probably spend all day doing it!

    My question is, how does one go about transmitting this information to, say, the editor of the Sunday Telegraph? Does one write to the editor or to the science editor? Does one prepare a covering letter and accompany this with several pages of carefully edited and organised point-by-point critique? If the Editor or Science Editor receives a multi-page critique from Joe Public (me), is he or she likely to assume that Joe Public (me) is a nutter, and bin this? On the other hand if s/he were to receive a sort of collective effort contributed on behalf of (say) RealClimate might s/he think “O.K., it’s that lot of “hockey-stick” advocates again; I’m not going to bother reading their self-justifications again”…and is there a time limit on this? Is there a point at which they won’t bother considering responses to Monckton’s “article”?

    That’s my question(s). What are the productive strategies for communicating a robust (hopefully) critique to the right quarters? Perhaps those at RealClimate with experience in the public communication of science might comment.

    Comment by chris — 16 Nov 2006 @ 6:02 PM

  93. Re: #87, #92

    Gentlemen, I’ll gladly join the effort. Edward, as soon as you can enumerate the points we can begin in earnest to investigate them.

    Perhaps we can communicate more effectively by email. If you wish, you can go to my blog (via the link) and leave any comment on any post; that’ll give me your email addresses (confidentially) and I’ll send mine along.

    And Chris, I must say: outstanding work so far.

    Comment by Grant — 16 Nov 2006 @ 6:44 PM

  94. re: 92


    Why not contact the editor of the Telegraph and tell him/her upfront that you are preparing a careful article that responds fully to Monckton’s, and that it will be prepared in collaboration with other interested parties? and then go into the details as needed? I think that that would be much easier for the editor to deal with than an unsolicited manuscript. You might get very helpful suggestions about what they would be looking for, that could forestall heavy-handed editing later.

    I think it would be easier to negotiate this by telephone than by letter. But you may have to make an appointment for the telephone call.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 16 Nov 2006 @ 6:58 PM

  95. > Argo, Robert Ellison
    Try the Search box at the top of the page; Argo found cooling surface waters along with continuing sea level rise, which agrees with the reports of faster melting of icecaps than expected. Does cold fresh water stay on the surface for a while?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Nov 2006 @ 7:58 PM

  96. Can somebody please help me out here?

    I’ve had some discussions on climate change issues with my father, who lives in the UK and reads the Telegraph (Daily & Sunday). He recently said some things that struck me as rather strange, and I strongly suspect that they came from the various op-ed pieces from that paper (including, but not limited to, the Monckton pieces). The next time I talk to him I’d like to have some facts straigtened out, and I’m hoping that the posters here can help.

    Just one thing for now: the whole issue of climate sensitivity (ie that which Monckton refers to as “lambda”, helpfully eliminating any opportunity for readers to fact-check).

    If I understand my physics correctly, the black body emitter case (ie the idealized S-B case) would be necessarily the lower bound for climate sensitivity. Do I have that right, or is there something else to be considered?

    Many thanks in advance for any clarifications or suggestions…

    Comment by Millimeter Wave — 17 Nov 2006 @ 12:32 AM

  97. Just in case you all find these observations of use.

    #The Antarctic and Greenland.

    It is not correct to assert that GW means rises in temperature everywhere. GW implies a rise in the average temperature, and ‘average’ change in a data series is not the same as a change in every individual element of that series.

    Mr Monckton tries to challenge the global pattern of glacial retreat by referring to the localised exceptions of Greenland and Antarctica. This is self-evidently fatuous. Processes local to the interior of Greenland and Antarctica do not automatically challenge the otherwise widespread pattern of low latitude and tropical glacial retreat. Likewise local exceptions due to local factors do not challenge a wider trend.

    The heavier oxygen isotope ratio varies dependent upon the difference in vapour pressure due to the different atomic weights of normal and heavy oxygen based water. Therefore Mr Moncktonâ??s entire argument based on local conditions in Greenland and Antarctica undermining past temperature assessments using dO18 is wrong. It is based on the misconception that the factor preferring isotopes is at the ‘precipitation/freeze’ end of the process when it is actually at the evaporation end, i.e. not dependent on local conditions on the ice sheet. And as the measure is a ratio it should not be affected by absolute amounts of precipitation(as far as I’ve read).

    #What role has the Sun played?

    My main observation here is based on the lack of trend in TSI since at least 1978 and neutron counts since the 1950s

    Estimates of temperature cover the instrumental record, estimates of TSI are based on using sunspots as a proxy. THAT is why estimates of forcing go earlier than temperature.

    See my post above re Willson / Frohlich and the lack of trend #86. The stated 0.68 Wm^2 trend is very likely an artefact of Willson’s processing.

    If past changes, MWP / LIA are caused by variation in TSI, then that makes the recent 30 years at ~0.6degC all the more odd, because there has been no change in TSI or CRF to account for that. YET things like ice melt in the Arctic and Global average temperature seem to be continuing to increase at least at the same rate as before. Were this a ‘lag’ effect from a previous increase of TSI these effects should be reducing in intensity.

    Mr Monckton concludes that the Sun is responsible for the recent warming. Yet he singularly avoids the last 30 years because there is no evidence for a solar influence yet we have warming. Which of course proves a problem for his ‘case’.

    I don’t get involved in adding and subtracting forcings type arguments. As far as I’m concerned that sort of argument of quantity as opposed to quality is only amenable to modelled attribution studies.

    #How much will temperature rise?

    Dr Schmidt’s piece above otherwise one observation.
    If models are ‘double counting’ how do attribution studies provide agreement? The models donâ??t work simply by adding forcings. If the degree of forcing and feedbacks are wrong then the models will not be able to reproduce the global average temperature resulting from the complex interplay of factors throughout the 20th century. E.g.

    I came to the conclusion a while back that our species will do nothing about this (e.g. no change of behaviours in my office or social circle â?? despite my talk about it, and a general acceptance of the reality of AGW). So I’m happy to let the contrarist’s claims be answered by the physical reality of the process, which will continue. Therefore, sorry but I don’t intend to waste any more time on Mr Monckton’s self-aggrandising claptrap. This sort of stuff will continue to come out regardless of the evidence, just look at other conspiracy stuff out there. Best of luck to anyone taking up ‘the challenge’.

    Hello Millimeter Wave,

    The Black Body case will not necessarily be the lower bound.

    Think of this planet suspended in space. The sun’s energy comes in, some of that is absorbed some reflected back into space. The Earth is not a black body, but Boltzmann’s equation is the starting point for this issue because the Earth sits in a vacuum therefore can only lose energy by radiation.

    Feedbacks that cause deviation from black/grey body behaviour can be positive (increasing the changes) or negative (making the changes smaller). And by increasing albedo (the amount reflected into space) the Earth’s temperature can go down because more energy is reflected into space.

    Comment by CobblyWorlds — 17 Nov 2006 @ 5:16 AM

  98. OK I realised my user page would be perfect for this. The address is here

    You can edit directly, but beware your IP will show. I would prefer if you register as a Wikipedia user, which takes about two seconds, and also familiarise yourself with the basic editing conventions, which are not difficult. All URL’s must be enclosed by single [] brackets. I’ll clean up in any case.

    If you could also identify your credentials on your user page if you register, thanks.


    Comment by edward — 17 Nov 2006 @ 8:06 AM

  99. I’ve put two of the posts by Chris into the page.
    These need copy-editing to remove irrelevant context.

    Over the weekend I will do some more editing to give thread and structure to the whole thing. Everyone is welcome to put in comments so long as they are fully referenced, i.e. the claim made by Monckton is identifed by a quote and a page number, and the critique is referenced by an appropriate citation.


    Comment by edward — 17 Nov 2006 @ 8:13 AM

  100. Note if you hit the Wikipedia link from here, you get stuck in the Realclimate box. Better to cut and paste the link into your browser, then add to your favourites

    Comment by edward — 17 Nov 2006 @ 8:18 AM

  101. Edward, are you comfortable referring to the “ill-considered” answers (top link under ‘Other’ in the sidebar on each RC page).

    I urge you to link to those where possible, to avoid retyping and a plethora of variations on each answer. And to directly quote them as well. They’re known good info. That’s why they’re listed here at RC as a source. And the list keeps being improved.

    Why? Because online, people find a whole lot of twisty little answers, all alike — some real and some bogus. The more people retype and vary, the better the chance of confusing later readers — to the point nobody coming to the Web for info will be able to tell good from almost-good from fake-good information.

    Rule one of good database: one source and many pointers, rather than many copies.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2006 @ 12:09 PM

  102. Logged on to this site, for the first time.
    Had a whale of a time reading the bitchy comments on Lord Monckton’s articles, especially those written from the lofty, and rather precious, heights of the climate scientists amongst your contributors. On one point at least there appears to be near-consensus; as a viscount, Monckton cannot possibl know anything about climate science.
    I do hope, by the way, that Edward (who appears to have undergone a metamorphosis from twerp to guiding light in the course of just a few days) retains some objectivity on this matter. It is quite clear that the temptation to conform to majority opinion is tremendous.

    Comment by Bob Ramage — 17 Nov 2006 @ 1:00 PM

  103. Hi Edward,

    Grant has also started up something in parallel, which can be found here:

    1) It would be great to coordinate/merge these efforts somehow. There is no reason for duplicate effort.

    2) I have suggested to Grant that it would be best to create separate sections for each point of Monckton’s articles, so that individuals can contribute to the specific points they’re interested in. Also, since in the end, I think the form of the output needs to be one article for each of Monckton’s, that addresses his points in order and not a bunch of separate responses that each cover several points in different ways; if you have separate sections, it’ll be easier for the editor to focus on one point at a time: all the input on that point will be in the same section. However, if you are going to be the one to generate the overall output, by all means arrange matters to make it convenient for yourself.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 17 Nov 2006 @ 1:44 PM

  104. re: 101


    I respectfully disagree with your advice. Here’s why:

    – My understanding is that the final output is to be an article for publication in the same venue (in order to reach the same audience) as Monckton’s: The Sunday Telegraph. I think that means it has to be completely accessible on the medium of paper: we shouldn’t assume that the reader will be online or able to link to anything at the time s/he’s reading the article. (Perhaps later on…). This is for a newspaper article, not for a new website, so database issues are off the point.

    – I enjoy reading the “a few things ill-considered” blogspot. But the author of the site is NOT a climate scientist, so if the case rests on citations to his site, that is a weak point. Likewise, I wouldn’t even cite RealClimate as an authority: Why should the un-informed reader give more credence to the folks here than to, for example, Lindzen at MIT?

    – What I suggest instead: As much as possible, make the reasoning transparent. You don’t need a Ph.D in mathematics to explain that 1 + 1 = 2, and you can expect a reader to accept that without too much fuss. A lot of the specious argumentation can be countered by credentials-free reasoning of that nature: they are errors of logic or of selective presentation, not deep matters of expertise. Some of it, of course, depends upon real data that are not known to the “man in the street” (or even the typical “man in the non-atmospheric-sciences lab”), and for this, you need to cite sources. It should still be possible to cite sources that are as obviously bias-free as possible: it needs to be as hard as possible for the opponents to say, “Why should you care about what those guys think? Why do you think they know what they’re talking about? And how do you know they’re not just protecting their own jobs?”

    – I’ll give an example: If someone argues that human emissions of CO-2 are unimportant, because volcanoes produce CO-2 anyway, my response would be: “According to the the U.S. Geological Survey (, the annual amount of CO-2 produced by humans is about 150 times that produced by volcanoes globally. So the impact of volcanoes on this question is actually negligible.” The point is: I don’t need to have the reader believe anything about me to see the reasoning; and the referenced authority is one that, being a part of the U.S. governmental agency under the Bush administration, is less likely to swing out in favor of global-warming concerns. I do provide the reference, so it can be checked; but the reader need not check the reference to get the point.

    – Likewise, when pointing out that Monckton is citing an article in contradiction to its actual conclusion, it’s important to a), quote enough of the article to make it clear what its intent is (to avoid the “he said / she said” problem); and b), to give a link directly to the article for later use (so the reader can verify if interested).

    Comment by Neal J. King — 17 Nov 2006 @ 2:26 PM

  105. Not sure it’s been noted here already, but Christopher Monckton’s descriptive entry on Wikipedia has been edited to include a comment about his Nov contribution on AGW, with rather a lot of editing after. It might be an appropriate place for a short summary of the followup response that appears to be in the works here.

    Comment by cat black — 17 Nov 2006 @ 4:17 PM

  106. Put it this way — I am urging you to list all your sources on an accessible web page– and tell people where, in the newspaper. None of the appropriate footnotes will fit in the newsprint.
    But even newspapers will print one web page cite.

    We all know many of these claims have been answered, links provided, by people who’ve done recognized good work finding primary sources. You’ve got to check the primary sources yourself, of course.

    But you’ll have createed your own list of existing good secondary sources — far more than will fit in the newspaper. Newspaper editors and writers don’t assume they owe their readers their sources — but fact checkers, which is what you’re doing for them, really should.

    Your example: volcanos — you suggest answering with one USGS link, for the 150:1 ratio.
    Good, I agree, that fits two lines of newsprint (if they’ll print the link at all, eh?)

    That’s a link also noted at

    The ratio information is more accessible at Coby’s summary than at the original USGS page — he’s boiled that down already.

    Yes, point to the USGS page in the newspaper– all the news that fits they print! They won’t have room for footnotes. But I’m arguing that for your own credibility you should make a web page available saying where you got your primary sources, so others can look at the good compilations.

    On the volcanos example, if someone naive has only that one USGS number, the’ll be hit with the next argument in line and have no source.

    Followup arguments like “The Yellowstone Caldera explosion must have dwarfed any human CO2 releases!” — are also answered on Coby’s page. I’m sure you know the answer to that one —- but many won’t.

    No doubt you’ve found other good compilations — but I will bet you’ve found no more than a handful that are reliable and that have cites that check out. I’m urging you to provide your sources, the places you found good info, to support the few lines of info that will fit a newspaper article.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Nov 2006 @ 5:08 PM

  107. Re 101 and others. No objection to wherever this appears. I would urge the Wiki (which Grant & I are already working on) because it allows multiple editing, has footnotes facility and typesetting, which blogs aren’t designed for.

    On the links to a single database of FAQ’s, I absolutely agree. Link to these wherever possible.

    On being a Devil’s Advocate, that’s what I do best. I have given a list of reasons why I find (as a stupid layman) Monckton’s article convincing on the discussion page of the Wiki.

    On the layout: yes, the main page needs sorting out into sections per specific points made by Monckton, with succinct replies (or links to FAQs here). I would have done this, but so little time …. Besides, I am Devils Advocate …

    Comment by edward — 18 Nov 2006 @ 4:57 AM

  108. Note also the Wiki supports jpg images. I haven’t used this in a long time, but the instructions are in the FAQ section.

    I have done some more editing around the structure of the argument. I note that Grant has approached this from the point of view of the list of questions that Monckton begins with. However, his paper does not itself follow that closely. His main negative argument is about the Medieval Warm Period. His main positive argument is the second half, which I ignored completely, because it was too technical for laymen.

    [Response: I’ve been pretty quiet on this topic up to now, but I should probably say that this is a very interesting idea. I’ve been toying with how to set up a ‘Wiki-debunk’ site that could use our collective efforts to efficiently critique these kinds of pieces and this seems like a good scheme. One other technique could be to use ‘Trailfire’ notations to set up trails of annotated critiques on the page itself. Don’t know how practical it would be… Anyway, keep up the good work. -gavin]

    Comment by edward — 18 Nov 2006 @ 5:05 AM

  109. Re “Had a whale of a time reading the bitchy comments on Lord Monckton’s articles, especially those written from the lofty, and rather precious, heights of the climate scientists amongst your contributors.”

    Well, the way to counter “bitchy comments” is certainly to make bitchy comments about the commentators. Thanks for the exercise in hypocrisy.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Nov 2006 @ 6:08 AM

  110. Impressed that you guys are making a concerted effort to respond to Monckton’s article. Has anyone had a look at this “challenge”, notwithstanding the rather (ahem) ad hominum point that he is (was) a lobbyist?


    Comment by jules defelices — 18 Nov 2006 @ 9:35 AM

  111. the “Challenge” is this link i forgot to include:


    Comment by jules defelices — 18 Nov 2006 @ 9:42 AM

  112. To all I have enjoyed all the arguments about global warming or the lack thereof. All I want is the truth and not policical agenda.I will keep reading and watching for that proof and cause of global warming.Keep up the great writings.

    Comment by Bob Purton — 18 Nov 2006 @ 12:08 PM

  113. More on cloud feedback:
    GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 33, L21811, doi:10.1029/2006GL027403, 2006
    “… based on observations extending over a period of six years (2000-2005) from …(MODIS) and…(CERES) over the Tropics (25°S-25°N). The cloud radiative effect (CRE) shows a positive sign for optically thin cirrus …, their net effective CRE (net CRE – cloud amount) is roughly twice as strong as that of thicker clouds…”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 18 Nov 2006 @ 12:57 PM

  114. So, apart from the accusations of cherry-picking and ad hominem attacks, can we conclude that the ME warm period was not as warm as today? And on what basis are people rejecting the graphs shown in the Monckton article? Have more accurate studies been made? Is the statistical analysis more rigorous?

    Comment by EP — 18 Nov 2006 @ 1:41 PM

  115. These pieces look scientific to the layperson (they have equations! references to 19th Century physicists!), but like cuckoo eggs in a nest, they are only designed to look real enough to fool onlookers and crowd out the real science.

    Such as this particular comment that the S-B law is so approximate it isn’t used by climate scientists?

    I think Monckton’s article is discussing the variation in the parameter used to describe solar forcing, he isn’t saying the S-B law is the be-all and end-all of climate modeling.

    Comment by EP — 18 Nov 2006 @ 1:58 PM

  116. EP,

    I’m going to be looking at Monckton’s argument more carefully. However, a point that I will certainly be paying attention to is the following: the Stefan-Boltzmann law applies to the total radiation from a blackbody, or, with minor modification, to a gray-body: a body that absorbs an equal and constant fraction of the energy that shines upon it, independent of frequency. The Earth + atmosphere system is certainly not a gray or blackbody, or else we wouldn’t be talking about a greenhouse gas effect to begin with. That being the case, the S-B law doesn’t apply to the Earth + atmosphere system.

    I think Monckton is trying to make some mileage from applying it to the Earth alone. The Earth alone is also not a blackbody or gray-body, but it also doesn’t have too many regions dominated by spectral line absorption and emission, so the S-B law might be useful in certain delimited contexts. But then in these contexts I wonder if you can apply the concept of radiative forcings anyway: this is really an Earth + atmosphere application.

    As I said above, I plan to look over his argument in more detail. I hope it’s not too confusing to be un-fun.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 18 Nov 2006 @ 2:32 PM

  117. Re 70:

    You talk about taking Monkton’s article apart and demonstrating its falsity. I thought that was what science was about. Is that no longer true? Anyone who followed the Guardian’s comment is free response to a defence of his article and who cares about science as truth as opposed to science as religion should be appalled.

    While you’re about it…

    If overnight I cut the world’s CO2 emissions from a rate of 8 Gt per annum to 5 Gt, what will be next year’s increase in ppm CO2?

    The Mauna Loa graph (how nice to have actual measured data!) should help us understand and answer this question.


    Comment by Julian Flood — 18 Nov 2006 @ 4:42 PM

  118. In discussing AGW with AGW Conservatives I quite often come across the claim that 95% of the GH effect is due to water vapour with CO2 making only a 3-4% contribution.
    The above site states “Given the present composition of the atmosphere, the contribution to the total heating rate in the troposphere is around 5 percent from carbon dioxide and around 95 percent from water vapor. In the stratosphere, the contribution is about 80 percent from carbon dioxide and about 20 percent from water vapor.
    The site also has the “Efficiency of Heat Trapping by Greenhouse Gases and Clouds table” from V. Ramanathan and J.A. Coakley, Jr., “Climate Modeling Through Radiative-Convective Models”,

    Can someone please confirm that the statement that water vapour makes a 95% contribution to the GH effect in the troposphere is consistent with the information in the table?

    [Response: The Table is correct (and is consistent with calculations I did for a previous post: ). However, I do not see how the statement in the text is consistent with that. CO2 is between 12 and 26% of the heating, and water vapour between 36 and 66% – clouds and aerosols make up the rest and the spread is related to the overlaps in the spectrum. The heating rate in the stratosphere is almost all due to ozone, not CO2 or water vapour so I don’t know where that comes from either. I will investigate…. -gavin]

    Comment by andrew worth — 19 Nov 2006 @ 1:18 AM

  119. Time for Monckton et al., to Shift Tactics?

    On Friday morning, Sen. James Inhofe was interviewed on MSNBC. He trashed the Nairobi Kyoto meeting as a “big party” and then told David Shuster of MSNBC that more people every day are coming over to his side that this stuff they are talking about is wrong. And which stuff was that? You would think it was climate science. But no, he was referring to cap and trade, an economic mechanism to reduce emissions. He said that even in the minority, he would, if necessary, filibuster any cap and trade bill and that McCain-Lieberman would never get more than 53 votes, hence the cloture vote (takes 60 to shut off debate) would fail. Inhofe didn’t name any of these people who have recently defected to the side of cap and trade skeptics. Nevertheless, I think this development- Sen. Inhofe admitting, implicitly, that climate change is occurring, but cap and trade is the real enemy of America (he said it would bankrupt the country) warrants immediate action. That’s why I am today starting a website called to deal with the cap and trade skeptics that are no doubt gathering at this very moment and waiting for the signal from the Sen. from Oklahoma to attack. Oops. I just realized something. I’m not an economist. Never mind.

    Comment by Alvia Gaskill — 19 Nov 2006 @ 7:18 AM

  120. On Monckton’s view of the importance of solar variation:

    In preparing a response, I would really like to have someone walk through pp. 20-22 of Monckton’s backgrounder. This is the section, “What role has the Sun played in recent warming?”

    CobblyWorlds has taken shots at specific points, but I could use a coherent walk-through of that section.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 19 Nov 2006 @ 9:17 PM

  121. I forgot to mention above: Monckton’s backgrounder can be found at:

    Comment by Neal J. King — 19 Nov 2006 @ 9:21 PM

  122. re: 92

    Any progress on talking to the Sunday Telegraph about placing an article in response to Monckton’s?

    [Response: See Al Gore’s op-ed today. -gavin]

    Comment by Neal J. King — 19 Nov 2006 @ 9:29 PM

  123. Just to say again that there is a concerted effort going on

    to gather material against (and for, conceivably) Monckton’s claims.

    Comment by edward — 20 Nov 2006 @ 3:46 AM

  124. re: 122,


    Thanks for pointing that out. At a quick glance, it looks strong.

    However, I agree with Edward on the need for a fully documented point-by-point rebuttal of what is likely to be most convincing to the non-expert reader. Otherwise, it’s a case of “he said / she said” – and Monckton has real equations (well, sort of real equations) in his backgrounder.

    Chris, any progress?

    Comment by Neal J. King — 20 Nov 2006 @ 4:35 AM

  125. Re Al Gore’s op-ed:

    Al Gore: ‘There is a reason why new scientific research is peer-reviewed’.

    Viscount Monckton: ‘But, but, but.. _I’m_ a peer! Doesn’t that count?’

    (Sorry ’bout that. I tried to resist, honest I did :-))

    Comment by James — 20 Nov 2006 @ 12:47 PM

  126. It was also funny that the good Viscount prides himself on having been an adviser to “Margaret Thatcher, FRS” on scientific scams and scares.

    I guess the title is intended to give them impression that someone who is a member of the Royal Society viewed him as an expert. Of course, it is highly unlike that Prime Minister Thatcher was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for her scientific contributions or expertise!

    Comment by Neal J. King — 20 Nov 2006 @ 2:57 PM

  127. Re Gore; the cold, hard facts:

    Comment by Steve Hemphill — 20 Nov 2006 @ 4:41 PM

  128. Two out of three.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Nov 2006 @ 6:29 PM

  129. Re #126 and “Of course, it is highly unlike that Prime Minister Thatcher was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for her scientific contributions or expertise!”

    Margaret Thatcher is qualified in chemistry and was instrumental in getting the CFC accords through. She’s one of very few world leaders who can follow reaction equations right down to the kinetic constants.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 21 Nov 2006 @ 6:09 AM

  130. re: 129: Margaret Thatcher


    I’m aware of her role in the CFC accords, which is to be commended. I wasn’t aware of her training in chemistry, although when I look her up in Wikipedia, they mention it. However, what they mention would not normally qualify for being a Fellow of the Royal Society, which I believe is a fairly rare distinction (only 44 elected per year, for substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge): “Thatcher performed well academically, attending a girls’ grammar school (Kesteven) and subsequently going up to Somerville College, Oxford in 1944 to study Chemistry. She became President of the Oxford University Conservative Association in 1946, the third woman to hold the post. She graduated with a second-class degree and worked as a research chemist for British Xylonite and then J. Lyons and Co., where she helped develop methods for preserving ice cream. She was a member of the team that developed the first soft frozen ice cream. She was also a member of the Association of Scientific Workers.”

    Under the Wiki article on the Royal Society, they mention: “Prior to the creation of the position of Honorary Fellow in 2000 non-scientists would sometimes be elected as Fellows; examples of this are the British Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, and Margaret Thatcher.”

    In any event, I’m not knocking her particularly. I’m not even knocking Monckton’s pride at having been in a position to advise her on something. I’m knocking his having added “FRS” to her name in this context, as if it reflected more credibility on his own expertise, because he was being asked to advise a Fellow.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 21 Nov 2006 @ 7:58 AM

  131. Christopher Monckton has a new article, responding to Gore. Page 7 claims that current climate models cannot well simulate 20th-century climate. Is that true? I.e. is there no model (coupled, without flux adjustments!) that can do a reasonable job simulating the 20th century? (If there is, can you specify a reference?)

    Monckton says that if there is no good model for the 20th century, then we should not pay too much attention to what the models predict for the 21st century. That seems reasonable, if his claim is correct.

    [Response: Ay, there’s the rub. Try this, or any equivalent figure from any other major model center’s IPCC AR4 simulations… Meehl et al for instance. -gavin]

    Comment by Sara Chan — 22 Nov 2006 @ 1:38 PM

  132. I am curious about what sort of modeling has been done involving the tail end of the past warming periods or simply has any attempt to simulate what forcing might be involved causing CO2 and temperature to start to decline. I understand about the CO2 to temperature lag at the start of a warming period and that we are not really sure what causes the temperature to kick start its incline and that it is not overly important because the high CO2 levels are what is dangerous. In these past warming periods the CO2 levels went back down eventually, have any modals taken a stab at reducing the CO2 levels similarly or is just related to the increased plant life uptaking more CO2?

    Comment by Geordie — 22 Nov 2006 @ 9:47 PM

  133. Geordie,

    Do a search under “biological pump”: the carbon is deposited in the depths of the ocean.

    Unfortunately, it takes a bit of time.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 23 Nov 2006 @ 3:35 AM

  134. Re: All of the above.

    Well, at least we can now agree there is no “consensus” so we can get back to arguing scientific facts.

    Comment by Peter — 23 Nov 2006 @ 7:53 AM

  135. RE: #129 and #130

    Margaret Thatcher was indeed elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, under the same statute as David Attenborough, the distinguished broadcaster. Of course Monckton appears not to appreciate the irony of him flaunting this affiliation. Thatcher as Prime Minister was a supporter of the IPCC’s work (see: and made a high profile speech to the Royal Society in 1988 in which she called for policy-makers to take the scientific evidence on climate chnage seriously – the first time a British Prime Minister had acknowledged the environment as an important issue:

    I haven’t seen anything since about her views on climate change – it might be that they have changed but I rather doubt it.

    I would also like to make a couple of corrections to an earlier posting (#39) I made about Viscount Monckton’s family ties. His sister’s name is Rosa, not Rosie, and Lord Lawson is her father-in-law not the Viscount’s.

    I agree with the postings that suggest the Viscount’s musings should not be dismissed just because he is not a scientist. But he is also not really a journalist, either. Which raises the question of why he was given a public platform to reach millions of people with his views on climate change, since he has, to my knowledge, never published anything before on this issue.

    There appear to be three factors here: It looks like he had the right family connections to persuade the comment editor at the newspaper to devote so much space to him despite lacking any previous track record on this issue. Secondly, the newspaper clearly did not bother to ask its science correspondent, or anybody else, to check that Monckton’s article was neither inaccurate nor misleading (one of the terms of the Press Complaints Commission’s code of practice). And finally, it fits a pattern of the way in which the Sunday Telegraph is covering climate change – I can’t remember the last time it published something that represented the ‘consensus view’ on climate change. Some may remember that it published a similarly dodgy article by Bob Carter earlier this year (apparently global warming ended in 1998!)

    In effect, the Sunday Telegraph is running a campaign on climate change that has a lot of similarities with that by the Sunday Times in the 1980s when it tried to persuade its readers that HIV was not the cause of AIDS. But with the present case it looks a bit like the campaign position is politically motivated ie right-wing proponents of the free market are ideologically opposed to the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and misrepresent the evidence to justify their position.

    Sorry to bring politics into it, but I think it might be a mistake to view the publication of Monckton’s article by ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ purely as an attempt to inform the public about the science of climate change.

    Comment by Bob Ward — 23 Nov 2006 @ 8:45 AM

  136. Monckton states that there were Viking settlements under what is now the Greenland permafrost, thus proving that Greenland was warmer in the past than in the present. I used your search engine to find your response to this claim, but I was not successful. Please provide me with that reference, or provide a new response, if needed. Thanks.

    Comment by Stephen Bodner — 23 Nov 2006 @ 11:22 AM

  137. made a high profile speech to the Royal Society in 1988 in which she called for policy-makers to take the scientific evidence on climate chnage seriously – the first time a British Prime Minister had acknowledged the environment as an important issue:

    I haven’t seen anything since about her views on climate change – it might be that they have changed but I rather doubt it.

    I don’t think you can criticise Monckton for not taking the issue of climate change seriously. He’s certainly taking it more seriously than Thatcher did in a speech. Thatcher was using the science known at the time. No doubt Callaghan would have made a speech about the upcoming ice age, in the 70s, had he also taken an interest in current climate theories!

    Comment by EP — 23 Nov 2006 @ 1:47 PM

  138. Re #136: I used Google Scholar and so can you! It took me about half an hour to turn up this soil survey paper stating that there is presently no permafrost in the agricultural areas that were used by the Norse settlements in Greenland. I faintly recall seeing such a claim made on the so-called CO2Science site, which has been identified as the source for some of Monckton’s other false claims, so if you’re quoting it correctly (and in future an exact quote with a link so others can see the context would be much appreciated) it seems likely that this one came from the same place.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 23 Nov 2006 @ 7:20 PM

  139. Can I get a sanity check on this quote? I emailed its editors suggesting “transforms … into ozone” should read “oxidizes to CO2 and H20” a few days ago; no response, no change. Is there a way this makes sense?

    “… each molecule of CH4 in the atmosphere traps 23 times as much heat as carbon dioxide and it transforms in the atmosphere into ozone, yet another greenhouse gas.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 23 Nov 2006 @ 8:17 PM

  140. Re #138. Thanks. I will have to learn how to use Google Scholar.

    Comment by Stephen Bodner — 23 Nov 2006 @ 8:41 PM

  141. Re #139: Google Scholar works more or less like any other search engine, but only accesses scientific information (mainly peer-reviewed papers). Just enter your search term(s) and off you go. IMHO far and away the most useful feature is the “cited by” link.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 23 Nov 2006 @ 9:21 PM

  142. Re current #139: Hank, as I understand it a) methane does degrade into CO2 but b) they have the ozone connection reversed. For one thing, absent alchemy methane can’t be turned into ozone. :) IIRC the problem with methane is that it reacts with oxygen to form water vapor (I don’t recall if this is part of the same reaction that produces the CO2, but the constituents add up correctly for that to be the case), and the water vapor in turn reacts with other things (I recall these details not at all) to degrade ozone. Since water vapor has a hard time with transport into the stratosphere, methane is the main way it gets there. So methane is an all-round bad actor!

    [Response: There’s a relatively good schematic of the chemistry (here) and an explanation in Schmidt and Shindell (2003). Methane, CO and NOx are considered ozone precursors, and increasing CH4 will lead to increased O3 as well. See Shindell et al (2005) as well for discussions on how the different species add up. – gavin]

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 24 Nov 2006 @ 4:03 AM

  143. The decomposition starts by attack of OH radicals on methane

    CH4 + OH –> H2O + CH3 followed by
    CH3 + O2 + M –> CH3O2 + M (M is anything, mostly O2 ans N2)

    and then it gets complicated depending on whether NOx is around. In either case the oxidation scheme passes through formaldehyde, which can be a precursor to smog, not ozone, which may have been what Monckton was thinking of. Eventually you get down to CO2 and H2O. Eventually can be a while.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 24 Nov 2006 @ 9:48 AM

  144. RE:# 118, Gavin, any progress with your investigation? I was referred to the Energy Information Administrations Paul McArdle and emailed him on the 21st but have had no reply. The EIA site does give a reference to S.M. Freidenreich and V. Ramaswamy, â??Solar Radiation Absorption by Carbon Dioxide, Overlap with Water” I don’t know though if this is the source of the 95% water vapor contribution claim. Thanks.

    Comment by andrew worth — 25 Nov 2006 @ 3:57 AM

  145. A general comment for what it is worth from a professional journalist who frequently covers science, biology and the environment. When a scientific topic has obvious political and economic ramifications it is obvious that those who believe they have a political/economic stake in the “outcome” of a scientific investigation will wade into the fray in some shape or form. As an analogy, think of a defense attorney or prosecutor standing behind a coroner as she conducts an autopsy. Presumably, the coroner adopts no preconceived conclusions as she begins and conducts the autopsy. And presumably, the defense attorney or prosecutor already has a preference for what they wish the “facts” to reveal or suggest and vice versa. Prosecutors and defense attorneys, are by definition, not “neutral” actors during the unfolding of a criminal investigation. A coroner is, or should be. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are “outcome” based actors — they wish or hope the evidence to point to a particular, conclusion that is independent of the empirical evidence. A coroner or forensic scientist operates on exactly the opposite principle. The evidence shapes the conclusion — not the other way around.

    This is why good journalists use the general maxim of “follow the dollar.” If a particular person stands to materially gain from a scientific investigation reaching a certain conclusion, it is only logical to presume they may attempt to skew the evidence or conclusions therefrom in favor of the outcome that will provide them with material gains and away from the conclusion they perceive as unfavorable. The publishing, editing and peer review process in science is an explicit and fairly effective mechanism to identify and prevent observer bias from coloring research. There is no direct analog to this process in journalism, in part, because many journalists, editors and publishers do not consider this to be “their job” — and often they perceive “their job” to be increasing readership, circulation, audience size etc. for the sole purpose of increasing revenue and profitability to the company for whom they work. If an Apollo Moon Hoax story helps to increase circulation, then it is viewed as favorable, regardless of how intellectually vacuous the story is.

    Lastly, if scientists are caught lying and deliberately skewing results they lose their jobs or at least their professional standing and stature. There are very real and serious personal consequences for a scientist caught cooking the books. There are very few, if any, such negative consequences for journalists, editors and publishers doing the same — and there may be very real positive rewards for doing so. In the corporate realm, lying and skewing evidence to enhance the company’s wealth is considered a good thing. Trying to tell the truth, if it hurts the company’s profitability, is grounds for punishment by demotion or dismissal. So the value and reward/punishment systems for scientists and journalists and corporate folks are completely different and this greatly influences behavior, motivations and product.

    As a journalist myself, I do not trust journalism at all. The tangible rewards for skewing and slanting information are far too strong and pervasive to be discounted; and the quality control process is pretty much non-existent. Caveat emptor.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 27 Nov 2006 @ 11:09 AM

  146. I would like to add one more thought for folks here from the perspective of a working reporter/journalist that may be useful.

    Journalists should be competent professionals. Journalists who write stories about scientific facts, theories and issues must have some proficiency in science and the particular field of science which they are covering. This is non-debatable — just as an electrician or plumber must have a demonstrated and tested proficiency in electrical wiring or plumbing and the physical principles underlying them. Journalism, however, is a completely haphazard occupation with no explicit standards or metrics of proficiency, culpability or responsibility. Except for libel laws, there are no rules implied or explicit. For this reason, journalism cannot be called a profession in the sense of a scientist, an electrician, a civil engineer, a nurse or a plumber. There are no standards, no tests, no licensing, no peer review, no sanctions, no periodic review, no continuing education, no nothing. Journalism is nothing but convincing someone to pay you to type words. That’s it.

    This fact is problematic for journalism which purports to cover issues of science. It is not problematic for the journalist or their employer. It is problematic for the reader. Most (but not all) journalists who occasion to cover science are scientifically illiterate. They believe their job is to string quotes together from other people so that the story “looks” like a story. So long as this construction technique satisfies their bosses, they seek no further. Contemporary journalism operates on the idea of “teaching the controversy” or “covering the controversy.” This often produces perverse and nonsensical products, especially with science. Put simply, if 100,000 trained scientists all reach conclusion X, then the journalist considers it their solemn responsibility to find one person to state otherwise so as to provide “balance.” This results in a story where the statement of the one contrarian scientist or non-scientist (it doesn’t matter) is given 100 percent equal weight to the 100,000 scientists and all of their published research and work. And thus, the illogical and internally contradictory goals of “balance” and “objectivity” are achieved.

    I know this sounds stupid, but it is in fact the way most journalism is approached, prepared and published.

    This construction technique is exacerbated by a scientifically illiterate reporter (and editor) who is not even equipped with the base knowledge of the subject matter to identify a potentially spurious and easily refutable claim. Instead, the default position is just to print the claim verbatim and “let the readers decide.” This, of course, is a lazy cop-out.

    Not unexpectedly, this process creates a product which is massively flawed and as a whole contributes little useful information to the reader. Instead what is called a story is actually just a randomly redacted stenography of whatever and whomever the reporter spoke with while preparing the story.

    This is the way most journalism is prepared, including much journalism dealing with science.

    I hope the above provides some useful information for scientists who have the occasion to speak to reporters as well as everyone who relies upon journalistic products to learn about things we do not have direct involvement or knowledge in.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 27 Nov 2006 @ 2:46 PM

  147. Re #146, Doug, What you say maybe true for some journalists, however, it seems to me that the primary consideration for what most journalists write is to say things that bring them the most profit and the most status amongst those that identify with.

    The “Balance” line is just one of their ways of justifying the rubbish they publish. It may also be a stick that editors and owners use to keep junior (or maybe more truthful) journalists in line!

    Comment by Lawrence McLean — 28 Nov 2006 @ 9:49 PM

  148. I am also interested in the claim about 95% water vapor contribution to troposphere greenhouse effect given on this page (

    This doesn’t seem to fly with the table they provide, and the figures found elsewhere which show that removal of water vapor and clouds cause a drop of about 60% in heat trapped, not 95%.

    They say “Freidenreich and colleagues [106] have reported the overlap of carbon dioxide and water absorption bands in the infrared region. Given the present composition of the atmosphere, the contribution to the total heating rate in the troposphere is around 5 percent from carbon dioxide and around 95 percent from water vapor”

    But is the second part of this their own deduction, or something mentioned in the paper they cite? I can only track down the abstract for S.M. Freidenreich and V. Ramaswamy, “Solar Radiation Absorption by Carbon Dioxide, Overlap with Water, and a Parameterization for General Circulation Models” Journal of Geophysical Research 98 (1993):7255-7264.

    They give a loss of 12% of heat trapped if co2 is removed, and also say
    “By itself, however, carbon dioxide is capable of trapping three times as much radiation as it actually does in the Earth’s atmosphere”

    Could it be that they are wrongly dividing that 12% by 3? (and concluding 5% attribution to co2?)

    Then again they specifically distinguish between the stratosphere and troposphere. They claim “the contribution to the total heating rate in the troposphere is around 5 percent from carbon dioxide”

    What do they mean by the total heating *rate* though?

    Comment by cthulhu — 29 Nov 2006 @ 1:31 PM

  149. Google for that particular page — it’s being asked about a lot of places, including an earlier posting at realclimate. Odd how popular these obscure questions can be, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2006 @ 2:04 PM

  150. Well I can assure you it isn’t all the same person, so So at least two people are simultaneously all being presented with this site as evidence for the 95% claim and are investigating it.

    There is good reason to think the claim of 95% attribution of water vapor to the greenhouse effect is wrong, but while I expect that claim to continued on various sites of ill repute, I don’t expect the claim to crop up on a DOE page (an old one though), especially when most of the discussion on that page looks correct and it has no clear contrarian agenda. So it cannot just be written off as nonsense made up from something Singer said, for example. Is it just a simple mistake perhaps? Or are they citing something genuine which should be taken a little more seriously?

    Their specific division into stratosphere and troposphere is interesting. Tracking down the full copy of that paper the source would probably solve this as the figure is probably derived from there, but online I can only find the abstract. I want to figure out how they came by that claim.

    Comment by cthulhu — 29 Nov 2006 @ 7:43 PM

  151. I struggle to see the point you are trying to make Hank, someone fired the 95% contribution by water vapour at me on the nam (nation association of manufacturers) site, I checked Gavins articles on this site, traced back to the EIA page that was given as a reference, Asked Gavin about it, he hasn’t come up with anything, emailed the Energy Information Administrations Paul McArdle, no reply. So I asked “Framo” on the NZ CSC site; Unfortunately after all that I still don’t no where the EIA got the 95% figure from.

    You state that “it’s being asked about a lot of places” please could you advise me where all these other places are as perhaps someone asking the question at those places will find the answer.

    Comment by andrew worth — 29 Nov 2006 @ 8:12 PM

  152. Update on the DOE page.

    As speculated above, the key reference for the DOE statement is Freidenreich and Ramaswamy (JGR, 1993). However, the appendix authors appear to have made an understandable but significant error. FR93 are discussing the absorbtion of downwelling SOLAR Near-IR by H2O and CO2 – that is the shortwave part of the spectrum (the 4.3, 2.7 and 2 micrometer bands). The key factor for the roles of H2O and CO2 as greenhouse gases is of course the long wave spectrum (i.e. 12-18 micrometers, 10 and 7.6 micormeters). The problematic statement regarding the relative roles:

    Given the present composition of the atmosphere, the contribution to the total heating rate in the troposphere is around 5 percent from carbon dioxide and around 95 percent from water vapor. In the stratosphere, the contribution is about 80 percent from carbon dioxide and about 20 percent from water vapor.

    refers ONLY to the solar radiation absorbtion, not the long wave absorbtion (which is much larger), and doesn’t take into account ozone in any case, which is by far the dominant term in the stratosphere (particularly between 15 and 20km). Thus, I am inclined to stand by my calculations in the water vapour post which concur with the Ramanathan and Coakley (1978) results. I will email the DOE website and see if I can’t get a correction made.

    Comment by Gavin — 29 Nov 2006 @ 8:25 PM

  153. More Problems with Monckton’s M-model:

    If one knows anything about the Stefan-Boltzmann theorem (total integrated radiated power is proportional to T4), it is obvious that it does not apply to the Earth + atmosphere (E+a) system: the S-B equation is not a fundamental starting point, but an equation derived from the Planck blackbody radiation formula – and the derivation only works if the emissivity is independent of frequency. This is blatantly not true of the E+a, so S-B doesn’t apply.

    What has taken me longer to realize is that, if you were to assert the S-B equation to be true without proof, as Monckton does in his M-model, you end up with a negative value of lambda, the climate sensitivity!

    Why? According to the M-model, higher temperature is related to higher energy-flux, and likewise, lower energy-flux is related to lower temperature – no ifs, ands or buts. So if I’m considering the effect of CO2 on temperature, I would have to say: the extra CO2 reduces the outwards energy flux, so this corresponds to reduced temperature. Therefore, the more the CO2, the lower the temperature must be. So the M-model predicts a negative lambda.

    What’s going on here? In a realistic analysis, we recognize the outgoing energy flux as a cooling mechanism, so a reduction in IR flux (from the pre-industrial equilibrium) has a heating effect: It results in net energy income to the E+a. This means that a negative delta in the energy flux is still a positive forcing. But in the M-model, a negative delta in the energy flux is tied to a negative delta in temperature, or else the equation is simply not true.

    Could this mean instead that our standard understanding of E+a is wrong? No. What it rubs home again is that results that are true for systems in thermal equilibrium are not true for systems that are not in thermal equilibrium. In trying to apply the S-B equation to E+a, a system that is manifestly not in thermal equilibrium, Monckton has committed a fundamental error. Once that is done, anything can be derived: garbage in, garbage out.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 29 Nov 2006 @ 10:17 PM

  154. Andrew, here’s the Google search, but the only answer is Gavin’s in this thread.
    Results … about 251 for +cneaf +appd_d.html

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 29 Nov 2006 @ 11:27 PM

  155. Re “If one knows anything about the Stefan-Boltzmann theorem (total integrated radiated power is proportional to T4), it is obvious that it does not apply to the Earth + atmosphere (E+a) system: the S-B equation is not a fundamental starting point, but an equation derived from the Planck blackbody radiation formula – and the derivation only works if the emissivity is independent of frequency. This is blatantly not true of the E+a, so S-B doesn’t apply.”

    I think your discussion of the Stefan-Boltzmann law leaves out a crucial point — the role of emissivity. The full Stefan-Boltzmann law is:

    F = epsilon sigma T^4

    where F is the outgoing flux, epsilon the emissivity, sigma the Stefan-Boltzmann constant (5.6704 x 10^-8 in the SI, I forget the units but you can work them out from dimensional analysis), and T of course the absolute temperature (K in the SI). You can apply S-B to nearly any radiator if you assign the appropriate emissivity. Depending on what kind of spectrum you’re using, you can even alter the exponent. It’s a very flexible law.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 30 Nov 2006 @ 8:49 AM

  156. re: 155, Barton Paul Levenson:

    I don’t agree with you about the flexibility. Certainly, for any spectrum, and any one temperature, you can define an epsilon such that:

    flux = epsilon * sigma * T**4;

    Just set: epsilon = flux/(sigma * T**4)

    But it will only be true at that specific value of T ! There’s no significance to a “law” like that. The entire point of the S-B law is that it says that the flux is proportional to T**4, with a CONSTANT proportionality factor. This will simply not be true if the real emissivity, which is a function of frequency, is not a constant.

    Check this out:

    (There are other derivations, but this is the most explicit. He doesn’t use the emissivity, but you would just stick in a factor of epsilon(f).) The point is that, only if the emissivity is constant over frequency can you pull out the factors of T and get a definite integral for which the limits of integration don’t depend on T. Then you easily get T**4. Indeed, for a graybody (where epsilon(f) = constant), you get a numerical value for the constant. It’s all quite definite.

    But if you’re willing to allow the “constant of proportionality” to vary with T, and even the exponent, why bother calling this a “law” at all? To the best of my knowledge, the fact that the blackbody flux (and therefore the blackbody energy density) is indeed T**4 is an important fact of the thermodynamics of radiation; the constant of proportionality could only be fixed after Planck’s radiation formula was found, in the context of quantum theory. I don’t at all agree that you could say that a statement such as:

    “flux = constant * T**a
    where a is about 4, but changes a little bit as you change T”

    is the Stefan-Boltmann law/theorem, or anyone else’s law either. I certainly wouldn’t want it named after me!

    Comment by Neal J. King — 30 Nov 2006 @ 12:39 PM

  157. I think that Neil’s point is of interest but it goes too far. I have written it up on the other web site. Roughly speaking you get the ”(SB-lambda) model” result by assuming hat am additional greenhouse gas = a small reduction in emissivity determined by the forcing. I shall also send in a rather long winded critque of Moncton’s M1 etc. (Needs checking).

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 30 Nov 2006 @ 1:26 PM

  158. re: 157, Geoff Wexler:

    For those who might be interested in following this side-line on Monckton’s M1, it can be found at:

    Comment by Neal J. King — 1 Dec 2006 @ 3:40 AM

  159. Monckton , Neil King and SB

    I have been long winded on the other site and shall try to summarise.

    Have some of the comments above, over-emphasised the significancde of the errors which might be made in Monckton’s use of the SB grey body law?

    Has anyone tried testing THE T^4 law with a climate model?
    (here T= surface temp. and the dep. variable is OLR)
    Whatever the answer to that question I think that Gavin’s other criticisms are decisive on their own. This is why I think so:

    Monckton uses a simple energy balance equation to estimate the so called negative feedback from radiation (see e.g. Hartmann’s book p.231 but I’ll try to explain it). It is sometimes given this name because :
    energy input > energy output, leads to warming leads to more energy output and hence involves a trend to restore energy balance.
    Using this balance you can estimate one contribution to lambda.
    The results provide zero information about the other feedbacks and the time delays because this model, does not contain time and is only designed to estimate the one thing (negative feedback arising from extra radiative loss) and deliberately excludes all other effects. The actual estimate is of course based on an approximation to the radiation (single temperature = surface value) , T^ 4 dependence and so on. But that is not the main point.

    Monckton’s conclusions depend implicitly on claims he makes about the other feedbacks and about the time dependence. These claims are based on zero evidence and must be ignored. To find out about these phenomena you have to leave Monckton and return to the climatologists. This is more or less the drift of the lead article above which refers to the neglect of the delay and of the other feedbacks. The only difference is a reduced emphasis on black or grey bodies. Gavin has said sufficient anyway, (invalid comparison with observations because of neglect of time delays and aerosols; inconsistent treatment of solar).

    According to Neil King there may be still more problems with Monckton (reported on a “Wiki” wherever that might be)

    [Re: # 153 ; (negative lambda; I was surprised at first, but I now think this is just a faulty way of solving the energy balance equation i.e.
    R(T) = S
    where R is the outgoing long wave radiation expressed as a function of surface temperature (there are many other variables which I have omitted). We can write the solution of this equation as
    The only thing we need to assume about the functions R and r is that they are monotonic (warm bodies radiate more than cold ones and conversely a body which radiates more is warmer).
    An addition of greenhouse gas reduces the radiation by f say where f<1.
    The energy balance equation is now fR(T)=S . (A)
    with solution r(S/f) > r(S)
    demonstrating the warming. An alternative starting point is to add bit of forcing to S. You get the usual answer not the one in #153 which violates the equation we need to solve; I see no problem here]

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 3 Dec 2006 @ 12:32 PM

  160. Second thoughts about my #159.
    I�m sorry but I am having second thoughts; I made it too simple last time.
    The energy balance equation contains no time. That point remains. It only applies to the final temperature. Therefore it is impossible to anticipate anything about time delays from such an equation. So you cannot easily check the output against observed temperatures. Gavin�s other criticisms about aerosols and inconsistent method of treating solar forcing remain. BUT that leaves the question of other feedbacks. To answer that , you do need to go into the details of the radiation equation. If the exact equation is k(T)T^4 then an assumption that k is independent of T removes the other feedbacks (apart from the albedo). If you take k=constant you have no right to claim that your result includes the feedbacks. Monckton does make this
    claim (factor of 2.7).

    Comment by Geoff Wexler — 3 Dec 2006 @ 3:30 PM

  161. I am somewhat curious about the figure for climate sensitivity of 0.75 degrees w/m2. If we were to apply this to the UK one would expect that the seasonal variation would be slightly more than 100 degrees, whereas it is only 11 degrees.
    In mid-summer the UK gets appr 88% 340 w/m2 *(0.7 Albedo) and in mid winter approx 25% 340 w/m2 *(0.7 Albedo. Why doesn’t a calculation for forceing apply to the temperature changes that occur seasonally?
    More over, given that from the seasonal data we find that delta 150 w/m2 causes a change of 11.5 degrees, why sould a 4 w/m2 give us a change of three degrees?

    And then there is this heating lag I don’t understand. Would the authours of this site care to guess the amount of forcing a cold or mild winter will have on the following summer? If for instance a winter was 3 degrees hotter than normal, what do they predict, from their models, the following summer average temperature to be?

    Comment by DocMartyn — 5 Dec 2006 @ 2:07 PM

  162. Re: 161: Temperature in a given locale is dependent on a lot more than local solar forcing. Look at temperature variations from day to day: the 10 day forecast for my region has high temperatures varying by almost 10 degrees C from one day to the next, with no solar changes at all. This shows how easily heat is carried from one region to another by air movements. And indeed, you get heat transport from the equator to the northern latitudes, larger in the winter, smaller in the summer.

    The UK in particular is a very poor place to look at seasonal temperature variations because it is an island, and therefore the water mass around it serves to dampen temperature oscillations by a lot. It is well known that continental interiors display much larger temperature swings from summer to winter because of this effect.

    Even on the global level, a change of 1 w/m^2 does not lead to an instant 0.75 degree temperature change: because of the inertial heat sink that is the ocean, plus slow feedbacks like arctic ice and glacial retreat, it takes decades to centuries to fully realize a temperature change from a forcing change.

    I’m not sure about your heating lag question: I would think the correlation between a winter heating anomaly and a summer heating anomaly to be small, once you remove the overall climate trend. You can check this on a global level yourself by going to the giss temperature records – I’d be curious about the answer…

    Comment by Marcus — 5 Dec 2006 @ 3:19 PM

  163. I have checked out the Lag, for both the UK and for Alcie spring in Oz. I just wonered what the modlers think the answer would be.
    If find the idea that heat is moved horizontally a little unconvincing, and the idea that the sea acts as a heat sink in summer, but a heat delivary system even less so, given the difference in delta T in both conditions.

    Comment by DocMartyn — 5 Dec 2006 @ 3:25 PM

  164. I’m sorry that you find my arguments unconvincing. Tell me – what is a “cold front” except horizontally shifted heat? In New England, it is hard not to notice whenever the jet stream shifts our weather changes drastically.

    And on the role of the ocean: Is it coincidence that the all the coldest temperatures in the northern hemisphere are inland?

    Heck, you live in the UK – don’t you ever wonder why your winters are so much milder than, say, Canada at the same latitude? It is because you are next to an ocean, and the prevailing winds are blowing east!

    And a final mental bone for you to chew on: think about the north pole. It has ZERO sunlight for weeks on end in the middle of winter. If there is no forcing, why isn’t it at zero Kelvin? In contrast, look at the Moon, and the temperature differential between the lightside and the dark side. The atmosphere does a wonderful job of transferring heat from hot regions to cool regions.

    Comment by Marcus — 6 Dec 2006 @ 11:48 AM

  165. Marcus — an interesting proxy for what you describe above are the plant zone charts of the U.S. included in all of the seed catalogs people get in the mail. My brother, for example, lives in Wareham, Mass. less than 10 miles from the ocean and is in a different plant zone from my mother, who lives approx. 30 miles from the ocean in North Easton, Mass.

    Comment by Doug Watts — 6 Dec 2006 @ 12:48 PM

  166. What component of the air is transfering the heat?
    I find it hard to believe that it is direct transfer of molecular motion.
    Air inland is drier than costal air, and water vapor in the air above the sea saturates the air, as this air moves inland in traps IR radation.
    Moving wet air from the sea to land transfers a vaporized water molecules and associated latent heat inland; the IR tapping ability will also helpe heat the ground.
    My guess is that it is the water vapor transfer, rather than the air (N2/O2) itself which heats the ground.
    This would explain why the South pole is so much cooler than the North, the south being a desert (altitude helps as well).
    With regard to the winter temperature at the poles, the North pole drops to minus 35 and the south to minus 68. In your sarcastic question you wander why the North pole does not fall to zero K. A better question would be is what is the expected temperature of the South pole and how far off from that is it. It is very interesting that the summer peak is very short, yet the winter trough very shallow. This would suggest that the pole is very hard to heat and easy to cool. The heat transfer from the bedrock in winter shows the rate of heat transfer maximium is about 98.5 w/m2. Wether the heat transfer rates in the north and south determine the winter temperature I very much doubt, my guess would be that the difference is mainly due to IR trapping by water vapor.
    Of course if CO2 sensitized water trapping is going to have big effects, it would be on the poles. The winter temperature would be elevated. The effect would be greatest in the South, compared with the north. even 1-2 watts/m2 would standout like a sore thumb.

    Comment by DocMartyn — 8 Dec 2006 @ 3:31 PM

  167. I don’t understand why you can’t believe that air can transfer heat. Have you ever used a blowdryer? How about forced air central heating for a house? Thermoses and dewars use vacuums for insulation, because air transfers heat.

    And again, on the large scale, think about warm and cold fronts – you can get mid-day temperatures varying by 10 degrees C from one day to the next.

    Comment by Marcus — 10 Dec 2006 @ 11:36 AM

  168. Calculate temperature effect of radiative forcing thus: sum all forcings; use SB eqn. to find dT(forcings); sum all feedbacks in wm-2K-1 & allow for mutual amplification; multiply by dT to get feedbacks in wm-2; add feedbacks to forcings; use SB eqn. to find dT(forcings+feedbacks). CM does it this way. He’s right, surely? And he rightly doesn’t assume Earth as a blackbody. Also, he rightly allows for the difference between transient and equilibrium response. CM got it right: real climate got it wrong. Why has no prev. post pointed this out?

    Comment by Walt — 21 Dec 2006 @ 6:51 PM

  169. 168, Walt:

    Because Monckton is wrong. The Stefan-Boltzman equation simply doesn’t apply when the emissivity is a function of frequency, as is very much the case with the atmosphere-Earth system. So he starts off wrong, and builds from there.

    Garbage In, Garbage Out.

    (Interestinglyl, in one of his follow-up rebuttals to an article in The Guardian, he grudgingly says “The atmosphere is a badly-behaved graybody.” as a defense of his use of S-B. This is nonsense: It’s not a graybody at all.

    Comment by Neal J. King — 22 Dec 2006 @ 2:51 PM

  170. I’ve been debating with an AGW sceptic who brought up Monckton’s article. He (the sceptic) claims that this site (RealClimate) is “is trying to dismiss the very notion of a mediaeval warm period”. Another link to a letter by Monckton is put forward, by this sceptic, to further reinforce his position. I’m not really qualified to argue but, as he directly accuses RealClimate of some kind of cover up, I thought I’d try to get a RealClimate response.

    [Response: The question to ask your friend is why he thinks the MWP is important. I imagine that he isn’t particularly interested in early medieval responses to climate anomalies, and so it’s probably related to whether he thinks the current warming is unprecedented or not. Well, in that case, it is completely moot. It was warmer than today 120,000 years ago (the Eemian), it was warmer in the Pliocene (3 million years ago) and much warmer during the Eocene or Cretaceous periods. The arguments for current climate change thus do not depend on any notion of ‘unprecendented’ warmth. The issue instead is whether the changes in the past can be explained and whether those explanations provide any insight into the current situation. For the older periods greenhouse gases and plate tectonics seem to have been key, for the Eemian it was orbital forcing – either issues that either aren’t relevent on the current timescale or supportive of the GHG forcing idea.

    So the issue for the MWP is not how warm it was relative to today, but are the reasons why it was as warm (or not) as it was understandable and relevant to today? Unfortunately, our information about solar and volcanic forcings 1000 years ago are rather uncertain and those uncertainties preclude any clear estimate of what we expect the MWP to have been like. For today of course, we have a very good idea about what solar and volcanic activity is doing (not very much), and so our expectations for what climate should be doing now are dominated by the GHG change. When you then go and look at the data (this paper was simple and straightforward), you find that medieval anomalies aren’t as regionally coherent as anomalies today, and different records have maxima at different times. This was noticed decades ago (and way before the ‘hockey stick’ paper), and continues to be true. So even if new data shows that the MWP was clearly wamer globally than than the late 20th century it wouldn’t effect our estimates for why temperatures are rising today. If this is a ‘cover-up’, we must be reading from very different dictionaries. -gavin]

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 24 Dec 2006 @ 11:44 PM

  171. Thanks, Gavin. I think this sceptic was saying that early IPCC graphs showed the MWP but later ones removed it. I can’t verify this, personally, but what you say makes a lot of sense. What drives some of this scepticism is the “argument” that today’s temperatures are the highest for the last x years, so something is going on. The sceptics take this statement, find data (of think they find data) that refutes the “argument” and so AGW is wrong. But yours is a great point; it’s not so much the fact of temperature variations, but how can those be explained. I think that the fact that climate has always changed in the past (d’uh!) means that the current warming is natural (i.e. not induced by human behaviour), according to many sceptics.

    However, it looks like Monckton even got the temperature record wrong, in that the MWP, on current data, was not as warm as present.

    Comment by Tony Weddle — 25 Dec 2006 @ 6:04 PM

  172. Mr. Wade, if your sceptic was talking about what they usually talk about, an early assessment report (can’t remember whether it was 1 or 2) had a SKETCH of what was thought to be previous global temperature. This was not a proxy or multiproxy study result, but an expert opinion, with all of the vauguaries such things carry. One of the important areas of progress in the last decade has been the emergence of proxy/multiproxy based data allowing us to trace climate back through the centuries

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 26 Dec 2006 @ 9:58 AM

  173. I remember this the same way Eli does, from the Barton hearings (the transcript for those is overdue, for now you’d have to watch the video to find where this came up). Someone held up an IPCC page and pointed to a bump on the line, I think it was Dr. Wegman, and said he’d digitized the line and worked backward to get numbers that must have been used to create the chart, then criticized the accuracy of the numbers. And someone else, I think Dr. North, said no, there were never any numbers, that was a picture of what we thought at the time was sort of what happened.

    That whole exchange really illustrated the dangers of data mining, Dr. W’s area of expertise, where the great risk is being sure there _is_ something, and so convincing yourself you’ve derived proof of its existence by doing an analysis from spotty sources and coming up with a certain, but wrong, conviction that you have proved the existence of WMD, er, MWP.

    Remember, someone says “MWP” they aren’t referring to any actual real _thing_ — they’re referring to someone’s publication, of their study of some selected group of temperature records as estimated by things written down in many places over many years by many people using many different criteria. Each person publishing something about temperature change over time and location has to go back to the original records.

    What they found eventually was that there was no “MWP” worldwide —- there are spots during the Medieval when some areas were warmer and others were not, around the world. That’s said in the hearings, explicitly.

    I’m looking forward to listening to the hearings again with the Barton committee’s transcripts in hand. I want to see if they really do a verbatim transcription as they promise, with all the words as they were spoken.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 26 Dec 2006 @ 11:30 AM

  174. interesting your piece about climate forcing. In a book by Phillip Eden, (a British climatologist and not a greenhouse sceptic) he points out that all things bieng equal the total warming for a doubling of co2 concentrations is 1degC. The Stefan-Boltznman must be where he gets that from. The greater forcings quoted in the models depend on feedbacks.

    While nobody now doubts a man made warming trend a legitamate question is how much. how reliable are the models?, given the complexity of the climate is such that even supercomputers can not comprehensivly cover them.
    One query I have always had is that the models assume that the feedbacks are net positive. However I would have thought that some negative feedbacks must be built in to climate, otherwise any change in global temperature either way would cause a runaway forcing. Can you enlighten me on this?

    Comment by David Price — 27 Dec 2006 @ 1:26 PM

  175. >all things being equal
    That means — without considering any feedbacks. Magically double C02, with no other change.

    >how reliable are the models
    You can look this up, for each model, but do it now, don’t rely on some old information because this changes. For one example, check how this one developed (picked out of a Google search, do your own for more examples):

    >feedbacks are net positive
    That means — after adding and subtracting. Run the model out to a few hundred years in the future and feedbacks will differ. That’s why you don’t see the Venus scenario predicted here.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 27 Dec 2006 @ 3:34 PM

  176. Re #174

    Can anybody point point me to any known predictions made by a GCM and subsequent measurments of predictive accuracy? I’m not looking here for either “hindcasting” or holdout / validation sets, but actual forecasts made on date X for some date after X with subsequent measurments of accuracy (something like an empirical skill measurment).


    Comment by Dana Johnson — 28 Dec 2006 @ 12:38 AM

  177. Re: #176

    In 1988, James Hansen testified in Congress about predictions of future global average temperature, based on GCM runs at GISS. His predicted temperature for 2005 is “right on the money.” You can find out about how denialists have *distorted* this to discredit global warming here.

    Comment by Grant — 28 Dec 2006 @ 2:07 PM

  178. Hansen’s is indeed a classic, as is the pointer to how it’s been misreported. You should always check anything you find someone claiming against the actual sources, there is a whole lot of “Public Relations/Advocacy science” available arguing only one side or story, that can fool you into thinking you’re learning facts when you’re being fed fiction. Look for original research articles, to support any claims made at ‘advocacy’ sites.

    Google will help as well, try especially the Scholar articles:

    From that search, searching within results narrows down just one particular prediction, that the upper atmosphere would be cooling. It is:

    You can also type ‘prediction’ into the Search box at the top of the main page.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Dec 2006 @ 2:22 PM

  179. On problem is that over the ages climate forcing agents such as solar radiation, Co2 concentration, and the position of continants has changed greatly yet the earths temperiture has varied only within a 10degC range. There seems to be some mechanism that acts against forcings. Something unknown to the modelists. If so the warming from a doubling would be less than 1degC. Has anybody any theories on this?

    Comment by David Price — 28 Dec 2006 @ 5:39 PM

  180. Ten degrees C is not trivial.

    And we’re already off the scale of past experience; note how old this is:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 28 Dec 2006 @ 8:10 PM

  181. while the 10degC covers all ranges of climates on the warming side the upper limit appears to be 4deg above present, whatever the co2 level. However sources suggest that a doubling will be 3deg.
    What has passsed unnoticed is the weired assumpions of some doom mongers. For one thing more than a doubling of co2 levels is impossible unless vast new source of fossil fuels is discovered somewhere.
    Also I have seen it assumed that we will still be using fossil fuels in 2100. Surely by that time burning coal, oil etc will be seen as incredibly primative.

    Comment by David Price — 30 Dec 2006 @ 6:02 PM

  182. David, you’re neglecting coal: fairly pure carbon, a fossil fuel. You may be thinking that hydrocarbons (petroleum) are the only “fossil fuel” — that’s an argument, but not a fact.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Dec 2006 @ 9:04 PM

  183. Well, now that we induce the ionosphere to emit radio waves,
    isn’t there a signal that would excite it to emit infrared, and so pump heat off the planet?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 Dec 2006 @ 11:57 PM

  184. When I mentioned fossil fuels I was refering to all of them, not just oil. Even if we burn all the coal I doubt if a doubling of co2 could happen. Reservres of coal are less extensive than is believed, and oil and gas will soon have passed their peak.
    Within a few decades renewables could be made to work on a large scale. I doubt if we will burn something as dirty as coal if we have any alternative.

    Comment by David Price — 31 Dec 2006 @ 7:18 AM

  185. Have you found that scenario anywhere? I don’t know of anyone who’s published a possible way to avoid at least 2x CO2 even making the most optimistic assumptions. Have you any numbers?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 31 Dec 2006 @ 11:49 AM

  186. I’m surprised that no-one has pointed out another spectacularly silly claim of Monkcton’s that a Chinese Naval Squadron circumnavigated the artic in 1421,

    “”There was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none.”

    and which seems to have come from this book:,

    I’m only surprised he didn’t include Eric von Daniken in his list of ‘references’. The nobel lord clearly has too much time on his hands ( in fact he’s admitted as much) – and he’s clearly delighted how how clever he can make himself seem to his chums at the Telegraph, armed only with Google and a scientific calculator.

    No doubt someone will challenge this as an ‘ad hominem’ attack – if so they don’t understand the meaning of the term. Examination of Monkcton’s ‘work’ shows him to be incompentent, unqualified, scientifically illiterate, and happy to use all sorts of tricks aimed to deliberately mislead a naive reader. He would never have been published if it hadn’t been for his personal connections with the newspaper involved.

    No doubt the ‘Telegraph’ is highly delighted at all the rumpus it has caused – even if this was at the expense of lowering its journalistic standards.

    Comment by Dean Morrison — 31 Dec 2006 @ 2:01 PM

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