Our favorite contrarian, the potty peer Christopher Monckton has been indulging in a little aristocratic artifice again. Not one to be constrained by mere facts or observable reality, he has launched a sally against Andy Revkin for reporting the shocking news that past industry disinformation campaigns were not sincere explorations of the true uncertainties in climate science.
The letter he has written to the NY Times public editor, with its liberal sprinkling of his usual pomposity, has at its heart the following graph:
Among other issues, it is quite amusing that Monckton apparently thinks that;
- trends from January 2002 are relevant to a complaint about a story discussing a 1995 report,
- someone might be fooled by the cherry-picked January 2002 start date,
- no-one would notice that he has just made up the IPCC projection curves
The last is even more amusing because he was caught out making stuff up on a slightly different figure just a few weeks ago.
To see the extent of this chicanery, one needs only plot the actual IPCC projections against the observations. This can be done a number of ways, firstly, plotting the observational data and the models used by IPCC with a common baseline of 1980-1999 temperatures (as done in the 2007 report) (Note that the model output is for the annual mean, monthly variance would be larger):
These show clearly that 2002-2009 is way too short a period for the trends to be meaningful and that Monckton’s estimate of what the IPCC projects for the current period is woefully wrong. Not just wrong, fake.
Even if one assumes that the baseline should be the year 2002 making no allowance for internal variability (which makes no sense whatsoever), you would get the following graph:
- still nothing like Monckton showed. Instead, he appears to have derived his ‘projections’ by drawing a line from 2002 to a selection of real projections in 2100 and ignoring the fact that the actual projections accelerate as time goes on, and thus strongly over-estimating the projected changes that are expected now (see here).
Lest this be thought a mere aberration or a slip of his quill, it turns out he has previously faked the data on projections of CO2 as well. This graph is from a recent presentation of his, compared to the actual projections:
How can this be described except as fake?
Apart from this nonsense, is there anything to Monckton’s complaint about Revkin’s story? Sadly no. Once one cuts out the paranoid hints about dark conspiracies between “prejudiced campaigners”, Al Gore and the New York Times editors, the only point he appear to make is that this passage from the scientific advice somehow redeems the industry lobbyists who ignored it:
The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential for a human impact on climate is based on well-established scientific fact, and should not be denied. While, in theory, human activities have the potential to result in net cooling, a concern about 25 years ago, the current balance between greenhouse gas emissions and the emissions of particulates and particulate-formers is such that essentially all of today’s concern is about net warming. However, as will be discussed below, it is still not possible to accurately predict the magnitude (if any), timing or impact of climate change as a result of the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. Also, because of the complex, possibly chaotic, nature of the climate system, it may never be possible to accurately predict future climate or to estimate the impact of increased greenhouse gas concentrations.
This is a curious claim, since the passage is pretty much mainstream. For instance, in the IPCC Second Assessment Report (1995) (p528):
Complex systems often allow deterministic predictability of some characteristics … yet do not permit skilful forecasts of other phenomena …
or even more clearly in IPCC TAR (2001):
In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states….
Much more central to the point Revkin was making was the deletion of the sections dealing with how weak the standard contrarian arguments were – arguments that GCC publications continued to use for years afterward (and indeed arguments that Monckton is still using) (see this amendment to the original story).
Monckton’s ironic piece de resistance though is the fact that he entitled his letter “Deliberate Misrepresentation” – and this is possibly the only true statement in it.