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Monckton makes it up

Filed under: — group @ 7 August 2010

Guest commentary by Barry R. Bickmore, Brigham Young University

If you look around the websites dedicated to debunking mainstream climate science, it is very common to find Lord Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount of Brenchley, cited profusely. Indeed, he has twice testified about climate change before committees of the U.S. Congress, even though he has no formal scientific training. But if he has no training, why has he become so influential among climate change contrarians? After examining a number of his claims, I have concluded that he is influential because he delivers “silver bullets,” i.e., clear, concise, and persuasive arguments. The trouble is his compelling arguments are often constructed using fabricated facts. In other words, he makes it up. (Click here to see a number of examples by John Abraham, here for a few by myself, and here for some by Tim Lambert).

Here I’m going to examine some graphs that Lord Monckton commonly uses to show that the IPCC has incorrectly predicted the recent evolution of global atmospheric CO2 concentration and mean temperature. A number of scientists have already pointed out that Monckton’s plots of “IPCC predictions” don’t correspond to anything the IPCC ever predicted. For example, see comments by Gavin Schmidt (Monckton’s response here,) John Nielsen-Gammon (Monckton’s response here,) and Lucia Liljegren. Monckton is still happily updating and using the same graphs of fabricated data, so why am I bothering to re-open the case?

My aim is to more thoroughly examine how Lord Monckton came up with the data on his graphs, compare it to what the IPCC actually has said, and show exactly where he went wrong, leaving no excuse for anyone to take him seriously about this issue.

Atmospheric CO2 Concentration

By now, everyone who pays any attention knows that CO2 is an important greenhouse gas, and that the recent increase in global average temperature is thought to have been largely due to humans pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases (especially CO2) into the atmosphere. The IPCC projects future changes in temperature, etc., based on projections of human greenhouse gas emissions. But what if those projections of greenhouse gas emissions are wildly overstated? Lord Monckton often uses graphs like those in Figs. 1 and 2 to illustrate his claim that “Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the air at less than half the rate the UN had imagined.”



Figure 1. Graph of mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations contrasted with Monckton’s version of the IPCC’s “predicted” values over the period from 2000-2100. He wrongly identifies the concentrations as “anomalies.” Taken from the Feb. 2009 edition of Lord Monckton’s “Monthly CO2 Report.”



Figure 2. Graph of mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations contrasted with Monckton’s version of the IPCC’s “predicted” values over the period from Jan. 2000 through Jan. 2009. Taken from the Feb. 2009 edition of Lord Monckton’s “Monthly CO2 Report.”

It should be noted that Lord Monckton faithfully reproduces the global mean sea surface CO2 concentration taken from NOAA, and the light blue trend line he draws through the data appears to be legitimate. Unfortunately, nearly everything else about the graphs is nonsense. Consider the following points that detail the various fantasies Monckton has incorporated into these two graphics.

Fantasy #1.
Lord Monckton claims the light blue areas on his graphs (Figs. 1 and 2) represent the IPCC’s predictions of atmospheric CO
2 concentrations.

Reality #1.
The IPCC doesn’t make predictions of future atmospheric CO
2 concentrations. And even if we ferret out what Lord Monckton actually means by this claim, he still plotted the data incorrectly.

The IPCC doesn’t really make predictions of how atmospheric CO2 will evolve over time. Rather, the IPCC has produced various “emissions scenarios” that represent estimates of how greenhouse gas emissions might evolve if humans follow various paths of economic development and population growth. The IPCC’s report on emissions scenarios states, “Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold.” Lord Monckton explained via e-mail that he based the IPCC prediction curves “on the IPCC’s A2 scenario,which comes closest to actual global CO2 emissions at present” (2). In his “Monthly CO2 Report” he added, “The IPCC’s estimates of growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration are excessive. They assume CO2 concentration will rise exponentially from today’s 385 parts per million to reach 730 to 1020 ppm, central estimate 836 ppm, by 2100,” which is consistent with the A2 scenario. In other words, Monckton has picked one of several scenarios used by the IPCC and misrepresented it as a prediction. This is patently dishonest.

Monckton’s misrepresentation of the IPCC doesn’t end here, however, because he has also botched the details of the A2 scenario. The IPCC emissions scenarios are run through models of the Carbon Cycle to estimate how much of the emitted CO2 might end up in the atmosphere. A representative (i.e., “middle-of-the-road”) atmospheric CO2 concentration curve is then extracted from the Carbon Cycle model output, and fed into the climate models (AOGCMs) the IPCC uses to project possible future climate states. Figure 3 is a graph from the most recent IPCC report that shows the Carbon Cycle model output for the A2 emissions scenario. The red lines are the output from the model runs, and the black line is the “representative” CO2 concentration curve used as input to the climate models. I digitized this graph, as well, and found that the year 2100 values were the same as those cited by Monckton. (Monckton calls the model input the “central estimate.” )



Figure 3. Plot of atmospheric CO2 concentrations projected from 2000-2100 for the A2 emissions scenario, after the emissions were run through an ensemble of Carbon Cycle models. The red lines indicate model output, whereas the black line represents the “representative” response that the IPCC used as input into its ensemble of climate models (AOGCMs). Taken from Fig. 10.20a of IPCC AR4 WG1.

Now consider Figure 4, where I have plotted the A2 model input (black line in Fig. 3), along with the outer bounds of the projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations (outer red lines in Fig. 3). However, I have also plotted Monckton’s Fantasy IPCC predictions in the figure. The first thing to notice here is how badly Monckton’s central tendency fits the actual A2 model input everywhere in between the endpoints. Monckton’s central tendency ALWAYS overestimates the model input except at the endpoints. Furthermore, the lower bound of Monckton’s Fantasy Projections also overestimates the A2 model input before about the year 2030. What appears to have happened is that Lord Monckton chose the correct endpoints at 2100, picked a single endpoint around the year 2000-2002, and then made up some random exponential equations to connect the dots with NO REGARD for whether his lines had anything to do with what the IPCC actually had anywhere between.



Figure 4. Here the black lines represent the actual A2 input to the IPCC climate models (solid) and the upper and lower bounds of the projected CO2 concentrations obtained by running the A2 emissions scenario through an ensemble of Carbon Cycle models. This data was digitized from the graph in Fig. 3, but a table of model input concentrations of CO2 resulting from the different emissions scenarios can be found here. The red lines represent Monckton’s version of the IPCC’s “predicted” CO2 concentrations. The solid red line is his “central tendency”, while the dotted lines are his upper and lower bounds. Monckton’s data was digitized from the graph in Fig. 1.

John Nielsen-Gammon also pointed some of this out, but Lord Monckton responded:,

[Nielsen-Gammon] says my bounds for the 21st-century evolution of CO2 concentration are not aligned with those of the UN. Except for a very small discrepancy between my curves and two outliers among the models used by the UN, my bounds encompass the output of the UN’s models respectably, as the blogger’s own overlay diagram illustrates. Furthermore, allowing for aspect-ratio adjustment, my graph of the UN’s projections is identical to a second graph produced by the UN itself for scenario A2 that also appears to exclude the two outliers.

It is fair enough to point out that Fig. 10.26 in IPCC AR4 WG1 has a plot of the projected A2 CO2 concentrations that seems to leave out the outliers. However, Monckton’s rendition is still not an honest representation of anything the IPCC ever published. I can prove this by blowing up the 2000-2010 portion of the graph in Fig. 4. I have done this in Fig. 5, where I have also plotted the actual mean annual global CO2 concentrations for that period. The clear implication of this graph is that even if the A2 scenario did predict atmospheric CO2 evolution (and it doesn’t,) it would actually be a good prediction, so far. In Figures 1 and 2, Lord has simply fabricated data to make it seem like the A2 scenario is wrong.



Figure 5. This is a blow-up of the graph in Fig. 4 for the years 2000-2010. I have also added the annual global mean atmospheric CO2 concentrations (blue line), obtained from NOAA.

Fantasy #2.
Monckton claims that “
for seven years, CO2 concentration has been rising in a straight line towards just 575 ppmv by 2100. This alone halves the IPCC’s temperature projections. Since 1980 temperature has risen at only 2.5 °F (1.5 °C) per century." In other words, he fit a straight line to the 2002-2009 data and extrapolated to the year 2100, at which time the trend predicts a CO2 concentration of 575 ppm. (See the light blue line in Fig. 1.)

Reality #2.
It is impossible to distinguish a linear trend from an exponential trend like the one used for the A2 model input over such a short time period.

I pointed out to Lord Monckton that it’s often very hard to tell an exponential from a linear trend over a short time period, e.g., the 7-year period shown in Fig. 2. He replied,

I am, of course, familiar with the fact that, over a sufficiently short period (such as a decade of monthly records), a curve that is exponential (such as the IPCC predicts the CO2 concentration curve to be) may appear linear. However, there are numerous standard statistical tests that can be applied to monotonic or near-monotonic datasets, such as the CO2 concentration dataset, to establish whether exponentiality is being maintained in reality. The simplest and most direct of these is the one that I applied to the data before daring to draw the conclusion that CO2 concentration change over the past decade has degenerated towards mere linearity. One merely calculates the least-squares linear-regression trend over successively longer periods to see whether the slope of the trend progressively increases (as it must if the curve is genuinely exponential) or whether, instead, it progressively declines towards linearity (as it actually does). One can also calculate the trends over successive periods of, say, ten years, with start-points separated by one year. On both these tests, the CO2 concentration change has been flattening out appreciably. Nor can this decay from exponentiality towards linearity be attributed solely to the recent worldwide recession: for it had become evident long before the recession began.

In other words, the slope keeps getting larger in an exponential trend, but stays the same in a linear trend. Monckton is right that you can do that sort of statistical test, but Tamino actually applied Monckton’s test to the Mauna Loa observatory CO2 data since about 1968 and found that the 10-year slope in the data has been pretty continuously rising, including over the last several years. Furthermore, look at the graph in Fig. 5, and note that the solid black line representing the A2 climate model input looks quite linear over that time period, but looks exponential over the longer timeframe in Fig. 4. I went to the trouble of fitting a linear trend line to the A2 model input line from 2002-2009 and obtained a correlation coefficient (R2) of 0.99967. Since a perfectly linear trend would have R2 = 1, I suggest that it would be impossible to distinguish a linear from an exponential trend like that followed by the A2 scenario in real, “noisy” data over such a short time period.

Temperature Projections

Atmospheric CO2 concentration wouldn’t be treated as such a big deal if it didn’t affect temperature; so of course Lord Monckton has tried to show that the Fantasy IPCC “predictions” of CO2 concentration he made up translate into overly high temperature predictions. This is what he has done in the graph shown in Fig. 6.



Figure 6. Lord Monckton’s plot of global temperature anomalies over the period January 2002 to January 2009. The red line is a linear trend line Monckton fit to the data, and the pink/white field represents his Fantasy IPCC temperature predictions. I have no idea what his base period is. Taken from the Feb. 2009 edition of Lord Monckton’s “Monthly CO2 Report.”.

FANTASY #3. Lord Monckton uses graphs like that in Fig. 6 to support his claim that the climate models (AOGCMs) the IPCC uses to project future temperatures are wildly inaccurate.

REALITY #3.
Monckton didn’t actually get his Fantasy IPCC predictions of temperature evolution from AOGCM runs. Instead, he inappropriately fed his Fantasy IPCC predictions of CO
2 concentration into equations meant to describe the EQUILIBRIUM model response to different CO2 concentrations.

Monckton indicated to me (5) that he obtained his graph of IPCC temperature predictions by running his Fantasy CO2 predictions (loosely based on the A2 emissions scenario) through the IPCC’s standard equation for converting CO2 concentration to temperature change, which can be found here.

The problem is that the equation mentioned is meant to describe equilibrium model response, rather than the transient response over time. In other words, they take the standard AOGCMs, input a certain stabilized CO2 concentration, and run the models until the climate output stabilizes around some new equilibrium. But it takes some time for the model systems to reach the new equilibrium state, because some of the feedbacks in the system (e.g., heat absorption as the ocean circulates) operate on fairly long timescales. Therefore, it is absolutely inappropriate to use the IPCC’s equation to describe anything to do with time evolution of the climate system. When I brought this up to Lord Monckton, he replied that he knows the difference between equilibrium and transient states, but he figures the equilibrium calculation comes close enough. But since the IPCC HAS published time-series (rather than just equilibrium) model output for the A2 scenario (see Fig. 7,) why wouldn’t he just use that?


Figure 7. Ensemble AOGCM output for the A2 emissions scenario, taken from Fig. 10.5 of IPCC AR4 WG1.

The answer is that if Lord Monckton had used the time-series model output, he would have had to admit that the IPCC temperature projections are still right in the ballpark. In Fig. 8, I have digitized the outer bounds of the model runs in Fig. 7, and also plotted the HadCRUT3 global annual mean temperature anomaly over the same period. The bottom line is that Monckton has put the wrong data into the wrong equation, and (surprise!) he got the wrong answer.



Figure 8. The blue and green lines represent the upper and lower bounds of the global average temperature anomaly from AOGCM output for the A2 emissions scenario during the 2002-2010 period. The black line represents the HadCRUT3 global temperature anomalies for that timeframe, normalized to the same base period.

Summary

I have shown here that in order to discredit the IPCC, Lord Monckton produced his graphs of atmospheric CO2 concentration and global mean temperature anomaly in the following manner:


  1. He confused a hypothetical scenario with a prediction.
  2. He falsely reported the data from the hypothetical scenario he was confusing with a prediction.
  3. He plugged his false data into the wrong equation to obtain false predictions of time-series temperature evolution.
  4. He messed up the statistical analyses of the real data.

These errors compound into a rather stunning display of complete incompetence. But since all, or at least nearly all, of this has been pointed out to Monckton in the past, there’s just no scientifically valid excuse for this. He’s just making it up.


665 Responses to “Monckton makes it up”

  1. 101
    tamino says:

    Regarding the linear-vs-exponential increase of atmospheric CO2, Chris Monckton comments that

    It is suggested that we did the test incorrectly, because a climate-extremist performed a similar test on the Mauna Loa CO2 concentration dataset and came up with a different result. However, as our detractors ought to have realized, the Mauna Loa dataset, taken from a single location intermittently perturbed by regional volcanic activity, is not the same dataset as the NOAA global dataset that we used. Accordingly, we are unimpressed by their reliance upon an entirely different dataset.

    Gee, Chris. Did you really think I wasn’t going to analyze the NOAA global dataset?

    Oh but I did. It gives the same result as the Mauna Loa dataset. The data confirm that CO2 increase has been faster than linear, even using your own test. Deal with it.

  2. 102
    tamino says:

    P.S.

    For those who are actually more interested in the CO2 growth rate than in the ravings of lunatics — CO2 increase hasn’t just been faster than linear, it’s actually been faster than exponential.

  3. 103
    Robert says:

    Hello Mr. Monckton,
    I was wondering if you could clear up something for me. You see there are several papers and presentations which seem to empirically show an increasing greenhouse effect and measured CO2 radiative forcings similar to model predictions. Please clarify this for me?

    Nature 410, 355-357 (15 March 2001) | doi:10.1038/35066553; Received 17 May 2000; Accepted 15 January 2001
    “Increases in greenhouse forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth in 1970 and 1997″
    John E. Harries, Helen E. Brindley, Pretty J. Sagoo & Richard J. Bantges

    “Comparison of spectrally resolved outgoing longwave data between 1970 and present”
    Proc. SPIE, Vol. 5543, 164 (2004); doi:10.1117/12.556803
    Online Publication Date: 9 November 2004
    Jennifer A. Griggs and John E. Harries

    “Measurements of the Radiative Surface Forcing of Climate”
    W.F.J. Evans, North West Research Associates, Bellevue, WA; and E. Puckrin
    18th Conference on Climate Variability and Change

    JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 114, D19101, 12 PP., 2009
    doi:10.1029/2009JD011800
    “Global atmospheric downward longwave radiation over land surface under all-sky conditions from 1973 to 2008″
    Kaicun Wang, Shunlin Liang

    I look forward to your response.

  4. 104
    M says:

    \It may also be that there are inconsistencies between the IPCC’s published methodology for determining time-series of temperature response and its published time-series.\

    Um. The IPCC’s published methodology is that it uses CLIMATE MODELS. See the CMIP archive. Have you used climate models? No. You’ve used a couple simple equations which the IPCC has included on climate sensitivity (in equilibrium) and forcing due to greenhouse gases (but not aerosols) and, apparently, assumed that those were the published methodology. That is WRONG.

    \depend first upon its predictions of future (exponential) growth in CO2 concentration\

    The IPCC does not predict exponential growth of CO2 emissions. The IPCC projects emissions into the future (under a number of scenarios) and uses carbon cycle models to determine how those emissions will translate into concentrations. There are a number of non-linear factors involved, and even if current concentrations were rising linearly, that would not, by itself, mean ANYTHING with regards to future concentration growth. (For example, we could pass climate legislation in 2 years that requires an 80% drop of emissions… and then concentration will not continue to increase linearly). But, also, CO2 concentrations in the past decade have risen at a higher rate than CO2 concentrations in the 1990s, which rose faster than in the 1980s…

    \using the functions provided in Myhre (1998) … go figure. That is how real science is done\

    Actually, that’s how back-of-the-envelope calculating with approximations is done. Real science occasionally uses back-of-the-envelope calculations to identify interesting questions or to double check answers, but the real results come from much more complex calculations that take into account many more factors… but apparently you have trouble realizing that your Excel-based chicken-scratchings aren’t the be-all and end-all of climate science.

  5. 105
    Edward Greisch says:

    92 Doug Bostrom: Thanks Much. Reading it now. But it doesn’t tell us how to change the minds of the dismissive.

  6. 106

    Well, with denialists like Monckton going around preaching Hummer love, we’ll probably be exceeding the IPCC’s worst-case scenario. So eventually he should completely and utterly be disproved.

    Do the IPCC projection scenarios adequately account for releases from melting of permafrost and ocean clathrates?

  7. 107
    Deech56 says:

    RE: Edward Greisch @103: The idea is to influence lurkers and bystanders who may be attracted to the scientific argument.

  8. 108

    I would say that I’m astonished by Lord Monckton’s response here, but that kind of reaction has long past. Here are some of my favorite comments.

    \Furthermore, the notes accompanying our monthly graphs make it quite explicit that we are plotting predictions of equilibrium rather than transient temperature, so any reader of our reports can make allowance for that fact. We justify this decision by noting that, on the A2 scenario, by 2100 the transient warming predicted by the IPCC is 3.4 K, while the equilibrium warming generated by the IPCC’s own formula based on its central estimate of CO2 concentration growth on the same scenario is not a great deal higher, at 3.86 K. Also, it may or may not be true that any distinction between transient and equilibrium warming actually exists. A change to plotting the IPCC’s transient-warming predictions, which we make this month, will still show the long-run temperature trend since 1980 scraping along the bottom of the IPCC’s range of predictions.\

    1. The key is that you are plotting equilibrium temperature values vs. TIME, which is inappropriate. You claim that it’s close enough because the transient projection for A2 isn’t that much lower than the equilibrium at the year 2100, but is the equilibrium value ALWAYS similar enough for EVERY purpose? I actually went to the trouble of digitizing the outer bounds of the IPCC’s plot of transient model output for A2, and plotting the global mean temperature along with it. It turns out that during the period of your graph in Fig. 6 above, the equilibrium calculation is NOT ‘close enough’. Your plot shows the IPCC projections as too high, when in fact the transient projections are right in the ballpark. So what’s the problem? Did I digitize the IPCC’s graph of transient projections incorrectly? If not, I cannot fathom why you can’t admit your method was inappropriate for the period 2002-2009, no matter what the case is in 2100.

    2. It is, of course, true that you note you are plotting equilibrium values in your CO2 report, though I don’t believe you did so when you perjured yourself before Congress. It strikes me that most of your readers would not appreciate the difference, however. (You certainly don’t seem to.) So I have given them a little help. ;-)

    It is additionally legitimate to add a third stage to the calculation, making an adjustment for the (actually small) difference between transient and equilibrium climate sensitivity, and we shall be applying this additional stage to the calculation of the IPCC’s prediction zones from this month onwards. We do not simply lift the IPCC’s time-series predictions and treat them as though they were holy writ: that would not be scientific. If our use of the IPCC’s own predictions of future CO2 growth on the A2 scenario, and its own equation for converting those predictions to equilibrium temperature, leads to predictions of temperature response that are different from those of the IPCC, then it may be that we are doing the sums wrong, in which case a true scientist would point out what we are doing wrong. It may also be that there are inconsistencies between the IPCC’s published methodology for determining time-series of temperature response and its published time-series.

    3. So it goes against your scientific scruples to simply lift the IPCC’s time-series projections for the purpose of plotting what the IPCC says are its… um… time-series projections? Of course, you want to calculate them yourself–so you can be ‘scientific’! But wait! There isn’t some simple equation to calculate time-series projections, like there is for equilibrium. For that, you have to actually run the AOGCMs on a computer with the appropriate scenario as input. Does this mean that Your Lordship will be running climate models, now? If so, please make sure to get the input scenario right, as I have shown that so far you have totally botched that (see Figs. 4 and 5 above.)

    \The zones of prediction on our graph and on that of the IPCC for the A2 scenario (excepting only differences in the aspect-ratio) are manifestly near-identical. We do not propose to engage in semantic quibbles about whether the word ‘projection’ would be better than the word ‘prediction’ when describing the IPCC’s predictions: the captions on our graphs make it sufficiently clear that the basis of our graphs is the IPCC’s A2 emissions scenario, which we reasonably use because it is closest to actual emissions over recent years.

    4. Ah, but the core of the issue is not just semantics, is it? I said that you a) ignored all the other emissions scenarios so you could use A2 as the IPCC’s sole ‘prediction’, and then b) plotted the A2 scenario incorrectly. Look at Fig. 5, for Pete’s sake. If your plot of A2 is ‘near-identical’ to your graph, why doesn’t the A2 model input (or ‘central tendency,’ if you like) appear within your envelope? If you want to make sure I haven’t fudged the graph, try this little exercise. Take your CO2 graph, and using a pencil and ruler, draw in the actual A2 values from the following table:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg1/531.htm

  9. 109
    Didactylos says:

    Dear scientists:

    Please don’t allow Monckton to suck you into his vortex of time-wasting crazy. You won’t ever change his mind. Some commentators claim that he is deliberately mendacious; I don’t think he is. He genuinely believes he has cured HIV, and knows more than every other climate scientist combined, and that he is entitled to a seat in the House of Lords.

  10. 110
    PhilC says:

    It might be worthwhile to take an equally close look at the IPCC reports. Of what use is a sentence like “Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold.” As any science fiction write will tell, you science fiction, which this is, is nortoriously poor at predicting what actually happens. Any “image” fo the future that has not been prepared by rigourous forecasting principles has no place in a scentific compendium. The IPCC’s predictions are notoriously bad in this respect. Since they are clearly “images of the future” Lord Monckton’s interpretations of them are as useful and valid as anyone else’s. You can’t fault anyone for their own interpretation of an “image of the future” since they are all simply personal opinions. The IPCC is as guilty as anyone of “making it up”.

    The presentation at http://brneurosci.org/co2.html, particularly the section of Linear Climate Projection, shows the difficulties in reconciling any of the IPCC scenarios with the current temperatures. Back casting from estimated future temperatures gives some really nonsensical results for what the current temperatures would have to be. And, of course, none of these “images of the future” take any sort of notice of the fact that the earth has maintained temperatures in a very narrow range for multi millions of years despite ice ages and huge variations in solar activity and CO2.

    [Response: The IPCC scenarios are not just 'made up' - they are attempts to put together coherent storylines for what might happen in the future. You might not like their conclusions or their assumptions but they are what they are. You don't get to reinterpret what they were, make up some new climate theory, compare your fantasy climate theory output that used your fantasy scenario to the real world and conclude that IPCC is wrong. Well, not if you want to retain any intellectual credibility. As for the Nelson site, this is just nonsense. You can't extrapolate linearly to 0% greenhouse gases, and the fact the the planet has gone from Snowball Earth to Cretaceous Hot house should give no-one any comfort that climate sensitivity is negligible. - gavin]

  11. 111
    flxible says:

    @97 “out-of-context extracts”?? Rather a distillation of the core message. Good lord!! [just a figure of speach] You [with much help obviously] really can make this stuff up – if I hadn’t read Mr ChrisMofB’s “full speech” [rant actually] I would have thought Gavin’s link to rankexploits a bizarre parody.

  12. 112
    sod says:

    i think it is important to tackle Monckton. the abni-scientific plan of those with a wish to delay action against climate change, is based on the (well tested!) tactic/hope, that no real scientist will want to waste his spare time to dismiss the false claims.

    what happens then, can be seen by this (thankful mostly false) claim by Monckton:

    These regular reports, now widely cited on television, in universities, and in Congress, have proven highly embarrassing to climate extremists.

    so special thanks to Barry for another detailed reply. which of course will not make Monckton admit a single error, though. sad stuff.

  13. 113

    Comparing Monckton’s and Gavin’s writing, I get much more irked by Monckton’s use of the name “extremist” to label mainstream scientists than with Gavin’s sarcasm.

  14. 114
    Ray Ladbury says:

    MoB, The fallacy of your argument that CO2 is not rising exponentially is evident to anyone who has ever used the first term of a Taylor Series as an approximation. And just what is that first term in a Taylor series for an exponential? Why it’s linear in x. Thus, if the period involved is sufficiently short, an exponential will in fact look linear.

    As to the rest of your argument, might I suggest you learn the difference between weather and climate.

  15. 115
    Radge Havers says:

    Edward Greisch @ 103

    “…how to change the minds of the dismissive.”

    Not merely dismissive, how about intractable? History is littered with the crusty remnants of people willing to die for dumb ideas. It’s a ridiculous problem.

    Tic toc.

  16. 116
    Mac says:

    How many people are satisfied with the statement, “Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold.”?

    A phrase such ‘alternative images’ does not strike me as being in anyway scientific. Codifying a choice in this way smacks of black and white morality.

  17. 117

    62

    I think that it creates confusion

    94 (Geoff)

    Likelihoods of a scenario coming true? Please provide the page number within the AR4 where you saw such estimates or data which depend on such likelihoods.

    Inline response (Gavin)

    [Response: It's not in any IPCC report since they specifically state that you can't do that.

    I’d like to propose that next time around, the IPCC produce two more sections, a Summary for Journalists and a Summary for the General Public, in an effort to alleviate the confusion that seems to arise, or be purposefully generated, by trying to extract the relevant details from a thousands plus page set of reports.

  18. 118

    A suggestion:

    Before we engage him futher here at RC, Monckton should apologize to Dr. Abraham and his University for his unprofessional and childish insults. Until he does so, he does not deserve the professional courtesy we are extending him here.

  19. 119
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Must be a slow day in Brenchley.

  20. 120
    JM says:

    So, after being nailed to the wall for lying (again), Mr. Monckton comes over to lie some more, and then objects to the tone of his dismissal?

    How tedious.

    Mr. Monckton has earned the treatment he’s receiving, and he regularly abuses actual scientists in a way he, a phony scientist, would never tolerate. For this reason, his appeals to propriety are just another kind of lie.

    Are there any denialists without such damaged personalities and low character? I certainly have never encountered any.

  21. 121
    MapleLeaf says:

    Ray @112,

    Good point. The reason for cherry-picking short windows as shown in Figs. 2 and 6 above is clear (and ,as pointed out by others here and elsewhere, the cherry-picking is not the worst of the errors made in the offending graphs). Alas, it is not necessarily clear to his gullible audiences (which, alas, includes Senators).

    IMO, Monckton is here hunting for ammunition. See how he has twisted Gavin’s words already? It is a technique that I have seen contrarians use before on threads– barge in making ridiculous claims, then sane and rational people get frustrated and then you cut and paste their comments out of context and say– see how mean tow “extremists” are.

    What Christopher does not realize is that no scientist of repute would consider engaging him in a rational and scientific discussion. In fact, so absurd are his beliefs on AGW/ACC, that even the “skeptics” have started to distance themselves from him. So keep up the “excellent” performance Chris!

    Anyhow, let us not play this little game that Christopher wishes to play.

  22. 122
    Fred Moolten says:

    Monckton’s fallacies have been adequately refuted by Barry Bickmore, Tamino (#99, #100, and link in the original post), as well as others. I would add one further thought to Tamino’s analysis showing that when CO2 concentration increases are evaluated on a longer timeframe than 7 years, so that linear and exponential increases can be distinguished, and when the proper analytic method (log transformation) is used to make the distinction, the rise is actually greater than exponential, much less linear.

    My point would be that it is theoretically possible that the later part of the 2002-2009 interval did in fact decline from the earlier rates of exponential increase due to a serious economic recession that started in the U.S. in late 2006 and had spread globally by 2008. The timeframe is too small for meaningful analysis, but it would reasonable to predict a reduction in the rate of increase of fossil fuel consumption due to reduced demand. Once the global economy improves, it would be equally reasonable to predict that the long term trend will continue.

    I also noticed an interesting comment on one of Tamino’s blogs. It made the point that if Monckton wanted to belittle the role of CO2 in mediating the observed warming, it would be to his interest to overstate rather than understate the rate of CO2 increase. However, my sense is that he is primarily interested in attempting to identify imperfections, real or imaginary, in some of the IPCC claims, most of which seem to be holding up quite well.

  23. 123
    Fred Moolten says:

    Here is more on the very recent decline in global fossil fuel consumption, due mainly to the economic recession but also perhaps to efforts in some nations toward climate change mitigation:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6581CR20100609

    Given the substantial growth of energy consumption in China, it seems likely that when the global economy improves, the rate of CO2 emissions may grow even faster than projected in some of the middle range scenarios.

  24. 124
    Hank Roberts says:

    The process makes clear the value of publishing something along the lines of a science paper — and why sniping from blogs is much safer to do.

    If the rest of the prominent skeptic bloggers would do the same, their claims could be examined in the same way.

    I wonder why they don’t take the chance?

  25. 125
    Russell Seitz says:

    30: “where did Monckton learn his math”

    Certainly not engineering-oriented Churchill College Cambridge, where he shunned the science tripos , but starred as cricket captain.

    He seems to have been grounded well at Harrow, which improbably produced Lord Rayleigh, and to have sharpened his numeracy as a puzzle designer, and , wait for it,

    Sudoku Editor of the Daily Telegraph.
    which is run by his sister’s father in law, Lord Lawson.

    Since economist Lawson has written a comparatively sober book on climate policy, this must make for some interesting dinner table conversation. As Lord Lawson’s son used to edit The Spectator, it also explains that once admirable journal’s ongoing War on Republican Scientists , in alliance with the Discovery Institute loons who have taken over neoconservative op-ed pages in America.

  26. 126
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Doug Bostrom: “Must be a slow day in Brenchley”

    Is there any other kind… Oh, you didn’t mean in an intellectual sense.

    Maple Leaf–I’m sure MoB will quotemine for all he’s worth. I’m sure he’ll be decrying the manners at RC and shedding real, true crocodile tears. It is a strategy for high-school debaters and not for those acutally interested in the truth.

  27. 127
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Edward Greisch says: 9 August 2010 at 8:43 AM

    But it doesn’t tell us how to change the minds of the dismissive.

    Perhaps it’s better to think not of “changing minds” but of allowing facts to click together with values.

    This should not have to happen only as a result of personal experience with disaster. A tendency to refuse to fasten seatbelts because one does not like to think of having a car accident should not require being projected through a windshield for correction. Indeed it does not, seatbelt use in the U.S. climbed from ~15% in the early 1970s to >90% today. Relatively few of those wearing seatbelts have direct experience with the consequences of failure to fully integrate their cognition.

    Seatbelt use is not a perfect analogy with the present case but it may tell us how one kind of dissonance may combat another. Here in the U.S. unlike many other countries we went through a long exploration process of psychological methods to promote seatbelt use short of coercion. The result was failure and we eventually adopted mildly punitive incentives to wear seatbelts, leading to stunningly large increases in seatbelt use and the commensurate reductions in societal costs of refusal we enjoy today. It’s not unreasonable to hypothesize and indeed research suggests that given a conflict between not wanting to think about accidents versus being a scofflaw, people allow themselves to accept factual reasons to wear seatbelts as a way of justifying going along with coercion.

  28. 128
    tamino says:

    Chris Monckton wants to use the NOAA global dataset to characterize atmospheric CO2 concentration, rather than the Mauna Loa data.

    Here you are.

  29. 129
    SecularAnimist says:

    JM wrote: “You really ought to read before commenting.”

    When someone intends to comment by posting rote regurgitation of generic, canned talking points, there is little purpose to reading the article first.

  30. 130

    Seems that a Lord, no less, can correct the work of 2000 scientists, by “re-arranging” their graphs, while he certainly couldn’t predict 2010, nor explain it, nor understand what it means. Perhaps a tour of Moscow would be in order? I wonder if a Baron or a Viscount could do better ?

  31. 131

    Mac @ 114 wrote:

    How many people are satisfied with the statement, “Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold.”?

    A phrase such ‘alternative images’ does not strike me as being in anyway scientific. Codifying a choice in this way smacks of black and white morality.

    Well, Mac, I am, for one. It seems a pretty clear thumbnail designator of internally consistent working assumptions developed to provide realistic bases for numerical modeling. And given that there were 40 different scenarios, the idea that the scenarios “smack of black and white morality” is just bizarre.

    (We might also want to note in passing this from the IPCC: “Each storyline [used to develop scenarios] represents different demographic, social, economic, technological, and environmental developments, which may be viewed positively by some people and negatively by others.”)

    For an official account of the process of developing the scenarios, see this:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/spm/sres-en.pdf

  32. 132
    Ray Ladbury says:

    You know, with everyone saying “My Lord!” everytime he opens his mouth, it’s easy to see how Monckton has developed some of his delusions!

  33. 133

    #123–Ray, you anticipated me on the “slow day” quip. However, I disagree with your prediction vis a vis the crocodile tears–to shed them (much less admit to them) the MoB would have to shed his cloak of aristocratic superiority as well.

    And that ain’t happening.

  34. 134
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Bob #115,

    …and a Summary of What We Didn’t Say, for thusly impaired readers.

  35. 135
    Edward Greisch says:

    113 Radge Havers: Let me rephrase that: How do we get to 60 votes in the US senate for a law that actually does something? The paper from http://www.climatechangecommunication.org/
    does tell us things that politicians should be interested in. The dismissives are only 7% of the population, but they are the richest 7%. But if you look at http://environment.yale.edu/climate/
    you see different percentages.
    The Russian wheat embargo should be a “teachable moment” because the price of all grains has gone up. [AgDay on TV] Anybody who buys bread should notice the difference soon.

    Monckton: Since I don’t have one of Joe Romm’s head vices/head explosion preventers, I’m not reading what Monckton says.

  36. 136
    Wheels says:

    Since Lord Monckton is posting here, I thought I’d get a question in on the SPPI CO2 reports.
    Why are the land-based instrumental temperature records being discarded over the course of time as your reports are put out? You reference “Climate-gate,” but what specifically impugns the utility of the instrumental records? What qualifies them as “near-universally discredited as unreliable,” to use the reports’ wording?

    Also, “a Lord whether you like it or not?” Has anybody actually disputed your title? No? What did that poor straw man ever do to you?

  37. 137
    MapleLeaf says:

    I highly recommend following Tamino’s link at #125, that includes you Christopher.

    Tamino’s post really does, once again, highlight the stupidity and vacuity of this particular argument being advanced by those in denial about AGW/ACC.

  38. 138
    Fred Moolten says:

    On a point of probably minor interest but worth mentioning to avoid confusion, there is a disparity between the 2002-2009 CO2 data cited by Monckton (see Figure 2 reproduced by Barry Bickmore in his post above), which are consistent with a linear increase, and the data graphed by Tamino (#125), which show a \supra-exponential\ rise even within the past few years. The disparity refects Monckton’s plotting of actual CO2 concentrations as opposed to Tamino’s plotting of 10-year moving averages advanced one year at a time. Tamino’s method is appropriate for long term trends. Plotting the actual year-to-year data, as Monckton did, is not wrong, but simply inadequate for drawing conclusions about these trends. If he had plotted the data Tamino used covering multiple decades, the lack of linearity would have been apparent even if plotted on a year-to-year basis.

  39. 139
    Steve Missal says:

    Mr. Monckton is something of a mystery to most Americans who follow climate. My comments were from a newbie’s point of view. Perhaps a more direct question for this gentleman would be apropos, since he has chosen to enter the discussion:
    I always ask this question of people facing potential life threatening situations (which I have faced myself and thus had to ask myself the same question), and that is this: given the sum of expert opinion on the condition at hand, and given the clear potential for disaster (dying, diminished life-span, crippled etc.) what would you rationally choose? No spinning or skipping out on this. I got second/third expert opinions on three desperate situations health-wise, and then acted to prevent/cure the situation at hand. All successfully I might add. We are in the same situation now…97% of those who actually qualify as experts think we are in trouble. Are they extremists as a result? Nope. They are like the oncologists who looked at my data and said, kiddo, you need an operation and radiation. Period. So, are you actually willing to dive into the future, dragging the whole of humanity and other living things with you, on the basis of the 3%? Are the 3% sufficient for you to take the risk? This is simple risk management for humans. I’d like a direct answer, something simple and easy to understand. Based upon your answer, I think all the other argumentation will be moot.
    I know this is semi-OT but perhaps not so much.

  40. 140

    131 (Martin Vermeer),

    …and a Summary of What We Didn’t Say, for thusly impaired readers.

    Goodness, me, yes, why didn’t I think of that?

    In fact, we quite possibly and sadly need one of those tailored for each flavor of nut that wants to find fault where he can.

    But can you imagine the size of one such tome? The set of all knowledge not in the set of all knowledge represented by the IPCC report?

    And even then, they’d just say “see what they said in the IPCC report?” by presenting and misrepresenting quotes from the document of what explicitly wasn’t said.

    [Walks away, shaking head, mumbling, nearly driven to dementia...]

  41. 141
    Didactylos says:

    PhilC: The fact that reality has, so far, fallen neatly within the envelope of IPCC scenarios neatly illustrates that they are, in fact, doing a reasonable job of depicting future scenarios.

    Isn’t that the first thing you should check before talking nonsense about science fiction?

    Gavin: you may want to reconsider allowing PhilC’s link (now at #108). It is a truly scary bit of anti-science masquerading as the real thing. Where do you draw the line for linking to disinformation sites like this?

  42. 142
    tamino says:

    Re: #135 (Fred Moolton)

    I didn’t plot “10-year moving averages advanced one year at a time.” I plotted trend rates from linear regression over moving 10-year time frames, because that’s exactly the “test” which Monckton suggests. Nowhere did I plot, or use, moving averages.

    Later in the post I also plot annual averages (not 10-year moving averages) over the entire time span of the NOAA data.

    Perhaps Monckton used monthly data rather than annual, and perhaps he’ll reappear to claim that this is the reason my result contradicts his claim. If so — he’ll be wrong. Again.

  43. 143
    tamino says:

    Your system is misbehaving a bit. Combined with the extremely difficult ReCaptcha task, it makes for an extraordinarily unfriendly blog experience. But I’ll try one more time, anyway.

    [Response: Everyone please get in the habit of copying your post before attempting posting.]

    Re: #135 (Fred Moolton)

    I didn’t plot “10-year moving averages advanced one year at a time.” I plotted trend rates from linear regression over moving 10-year time frames, because that’s exactly the “test” which Monckton suggests. Nowhere did I plot, or use, moving averages.

    Later in the post I also plot annual averages (not 10-year moving averages) over the entire time span of the NOAA data.

    Perhaps Monckton used monthly data rather than annual, and perhaps he’ll reappear to claim that this is the reason my result contradicts his claim. If so — he’ll be wrong. Again.

  44. 144

    RE #114 Mac, &

    “How many people are satisfied with the statement, “Scenarios are images of the future, or alternative futures. They are neither predictions nor forecasts. Rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future might unfold.”?

    A phrase such ‘alternative images’ does not strike me as being in anyway scientific. Codifying a choice in this way smacks of black and white morality.”

    See, the situation is this: scientists don’t have a good handle on one important feedback — people and human behavior. Even social scientists can’t help much in this.

    You’d think that given a brief summary of the possible AGW harms that could happen if we don’t mitigate, people surely would go all out and mitigate to their upmost abilities, esp since it can be done in rich countries down to even a 75% or more reduction without lowering productivity or living standards. Of course that is based on the assumption of the rational, maximizing, economic man (the foundation of economics), without taking into consideration the dark and twisted subconsious of irrationals fears and perverse motives, or the strength of irrational cultural traditions or hell-bent ideologies.

    Anyway, the point is, they just don’t know if and by how much people will reduce their GHGs in the future, or whether they will just continue emitting at higher and higher levels in exponential fashion, untill we run out of all fossil fuels.

    So they have solved that problem by figuring it could be anywhere from: Scenario One–PEOPLE ARE REALLY GOOD (and smart), and us drastically reducing (and saving vast sums, helping our economies); to Scenarios Two and Three–PEOPLE ARE SORT OF GOOD AND BAD; to Scenario 4–PEOPLE ARE REALLY PRETTY BAD AFTERALL, and us reckelessly increasing our GHG emissions through obstinate inefficiencies and proligacies, totally ignoring the problem, lacking any concern about life on planet earth(or even our own finances).

    ((There’s a good Indian saying, akin to a Mexican saying, “If you spit up into the sky, it will land in your face.” Unfortunately we in the developed world don’t have that saying.))

    So anyway, to cover the wide range of possible human behaviors on this issue, they have suggested the higher and lower possibilities or scenarios, if you will, and a few in the middle.

    So that’s it. Except the IPCC may have underestimated the how REALLY REALLY BAD PEOPLE ARE.

  45. 145
    Chris Colose says:

    Chris Monckton:

    Your religious faith that global warming is a lie and your consistent defense of an indefensible graph is rather disturbing.

    It has been unequivocally demonstrated that you have made up a fake graph and have used it to fool general audiences who do not know better. I knew it was a fake as soon as I seen it purely out of experience (although I never bothered to do the detective work on exactly how you constructed it, I’m glad someone did) and presumably anyone else paying attention would look at it as suspect as well. Your eloquence in speaking is quite convincing to the lay public, but it can’t penetrate scientific facts. The fact is that there is no inconsistently in observed CO2 rise or temperature that would threat to undermine our knowledge about future projections, climate sensitivity, etc. In fact the Mauna Loa or global CO2 rise is much faster than linear… the differences between the mauna loa/global are negligible for the purpose of radiative transfer, and the difference in average CO2 concentration between an ‘average global’ data-set and the Mauna Loa record since 1980 (for monthly values) is only 0.65 ppm (and with a correlation coefficient r greater than 0.99) indicating that the Mauna Loa record is representative of global-scale CO2 concentration as you’d expect with a well-mixed gas. The difference of half a ppm arises from an altitude effect which scientists are fully aware of, which is why Mauna Loa is not used as a station in say, the NOAA/GMD network.

    I’d also note that CO2 trending a bit behind a specific scenario does not affect sensitivity of climate to radiative forcing, only the sensitivity to a specific date.

    Finally, this graph is just one of many errors in your speeches, the most popular (while being recent) is the one which John Abraham responded to. You have not rebutted this work (you have a lengthy response, but not a rebuttal, only more seemingly eloquent dodges). It has been shown that you do not understand the literature on climate sensitivity, historical paleo-temperature reconstructions, and many others and none of this has stopped you from declaring the IPCC 2001 and beyond ‘hockey stick’ graphic a lie, misrepresenting Dr. Pinker, misrepresenting the science of deep-time paleoclimatology (notably the reference to the Ordovician), and many others. If you had any sense of shame you’d publicly retract all of these statements.

  46. 146
    David B. Benson says:

    Vendicar Decarian @89 — Please read Professor Rutledge’s essay on peak coal over on TheOilDrum.

  47. 147
    Doug Bostrom says:

    <i[Response: Everyone please get in the habit of copying your post before attempting posting.]

    Or don’t post from the popup comments window, use the “main” page instead and then simply use your browser back button to have another go if there’s a flub. Alternatively, pump the “reload” button on the captcha tool until something friendly or fun pops up.

    Captcha is a nice minimum hurdle to cut down on “drive-bys,” an alternative to YARP (Yet Another Registration and Password).

  48. 148
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan says: 9 August 2010 at 2:03 PM

    ((There’s a good Indian saying, akin to a Mexican saying, “If you spit up into the sky, it will land in your face.” Unfortunately we in the developed world don’t have that saying.))

    We’ve got a handy version of our own. It’s called “pissing into the wind” and leads to the phenomenon of “blowback.”

  49. 149
    flxible says:

    C Colose @145
    “If you had any sense of shame you’d publicly retract all of these statements.”
    Actually if he had any sense of shame he’d crawl in the hole he’s dug for himself and pull the grass back over it. Publicly admitting such miscreancy would be quite unlikely for someone with such a pompous sense of entitlement.

  50. 150
    Russell Seitz says:

    Don’t ever forget the great British rhetorical institution behind Monckton’[s rhetoric of motives .

    One watches Question Time in the House Of Commons not in the expectation of hearing questions answered , but to applaud the Prime Minister’s magisterial evasion of the inconvenient truths flung against him.

    This mode of rhetoric is clearly Monckton’s metier, but while it may properly ornament the goings on in Westminister or the Oxford Union, it becomes an affront to the honor of the scientific profession when practiced out of bounds.


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