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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.

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.


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. 301
    Edward Greisch says:

    253 Barton Paul Levenson: 2037. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ Thanks, sort of. I’ll call my senators tomorrow. Recommend everyone else do the same.

    recaptcha: what is a grempraw?

  2. 302
    CM says:

    Gavin, Bob (Sphaerica), re: Hansen ’88, my #288

    Oops, I missed Gavin’s update. (And failed simple arithmetic: the error range on the Scenario B trend ’88-09 should indeed be ±0.05ºC, not 0.04.)

  3. 303
    Conner63 says:

    from 295: “That CO2 sensitivity exceeds 2.1 degrees per doubling is a matter of 95% confidence. That implies a likely warming this century of more than 4 degrees C, and that without any fancy model.”

    Placing hotly contested educated guesses (read “approved consensus”) in the same paragraph as “proven facts” such as those which proceeded that quote, is why critics claim this site is propaganda and not science.

    Would you like me to provide a list of peer-reviewed papers which cast serious doubts on those supposed “facts”?

    I’m not just picking on you, I could have chosen a dozen other assertions from this thread alone that would fit the same pattern.

    [Response: These issues are only ‘contested’ because people do not want them to be true. Unfortunately the real world doesn’t care anything for our wishes. – gavin]

  4. 304
    John Mashey says:

    I had a good go-around with the Viscount a few years ago.

    It was public years ago that he had endocrine problems, as many had suspected from appearance (the eyes). He has recently confirmed that he has Grave’s disease, as referenced in that Wikipedia article.

    Read the section “Neuropsychological manifestations”, especially the latter part of that section:

    “Reported symptoms vary from mild to severe aspects of anxiety or depression, and may include psychotic and behavioural disturbances:

    * Varying degrees of anxiety,[18] such as a very active mind,[3]irritability,[18] hyperactivity, agitation, restlessness, nervousness, distractible overactivity[28] and panic attacks.[29] In addition patients may experience vivid dreams and, occasionally, nightmares.
    * Depressive features of mental impairment, memory lapses,[18] diminished attention span,[18] fluctuating depression[28][30]
    * Emotional lability and in some patients, the emotional pattern is that of hypomania,[31] or pathologic well-being (euphoria) or the hyperactivity may produce a state of exhaustion, and profound fatigue or asthenia chiefly characterizes the picture.[3]
    * Erratic behaviour may include intermittent rage disorder, mild attention deficit disorder[32] and some patients become hyperirritable and combative, which can precipitate accidents or even assaultive behaviour.[3]
    * In more extreme cases features of psychosis,[33] with delusions of persecution or delusions of reference.[34] pressure of speech…”

    Combining some of those possibilities with being a hereditary Lord may not be a felicitous mixture.

    Of course, as an odd loose end, one does wonder about his endocrinologist Schulte’s odd excursion into climate anti-science with Monckton in 2007.

    Anyway, I would suggest that as much fun as it is, it may well be more appropriate to tell those who support Monckton that:

    1) He has stated that he has this disease, which is a nasty one, and deserves sympathy. So, there may be medical reason for some of this.

    2) But that in supporting his views, they may well be supporting those of someone whose known disease can include serious mental illness.

  5. 305
    HAS says:

    Deech56 #294

    Thanks, yes a gather they are partners.

    Ray Ladbury #295

    We now have reached the point where you agree that parameter estimation is part of climate models, and now statistical inference is too.

    Let’s see if we can move you another step along the way.

    You say: “The dataset used to determine the parameters is different and distinct from the verification dataset. Indeed, the physical system may be different.”

    I suspect what you are trying to assure me here is that the model verification procedures are independent of the input parameters, so there is no circularity in the model (if you pardon the pun). This is a difficult condition to demonstrate in a complex model; probably relies upon statistical models to do; but it is neither here no there in terms of whether the model itself might be statistical. It is simply a precondition for the model verification to be taken seriously.

    Putting that aside then, I suspect that the critical point you are not addressing is that a climate model itself produces outputs that are statistical in nature i.e. they contain uncertainty. Not just between runs, within them too. This is a straightforward consequence of the variability in the parameter estimation (not to mention measurement errors in the various observations). The statistical models that legitimate the estimations of the outputs are an integral part of the model. I think all this is trivial, but you seem at pains to avoid acknowledging this.

    Climate models are therefore deeply tainted by the statistical models within. Sorry.

    As to the rest of your post I’d just say that I do appreciate that belief is often easier to rely on than empiricism.

    [Response: This is a nonsense claim. You apparently think that since a model produces numbers, and numbers are statistical, and since statistics involve uncertainty, all models are ‘tainted’. This ‘logic’ condemns every calculation everywhere (since they all involve numbers at some point). It’s relevance to anything is zero. – gavin]

  6. 306
    andrew adams says:

    Sambo #273

    I read that piece you linked to. It starts

    I believe the IPCC was set up with intent to provide an exaggerated science for the unstated purpose of increased government control over the global economies, to repress capitalism, and promote social istic ideals under the guise of environmentalism.

    As I see it if anyone is actually crazy enough to actually believe that then a few “alarmist” headlines aren’t to blame, nor would it make any difference if the media started reporting climate change in a more “moderate” way – this kind of attitude comes from a deep rooted idealogical opposition to government action and environmentalism.

    The responsible thing to do is to report the dangers of honestly and accurately, which means noting the uncertainties where they exist but also being frank about the potential dangers. Yes, choice of language is important because people are naturaly skeptical about what they may percieve to be “scare stories” but the dangers of AGW are very real and possibly, yes, catastrophic and it would be irresponsible to play down this risk in order to make more palatable reading.

    You talk about the “political” considerations surrounding the use of such language, but don’t forget the political motivations of those who object to it – the writer you linked to being a prime example. In my view what we are seeing is a concerted attempt by the “skeptics” to portray themselves as the voice of moderate opinion instead of the fringe group they actually are by trying to persuade people that the use of strong language to describe the risks we face is de facto an indication of an extreme(ist) opinion. Admittedly they are helped by the tendency of some people in politics and the media (and in discussions on the internet of course) to use dramatic, alarmist even, language when faced with relatively mundane issues but I don’t see any realistic or responsible alternative to telling it how it is.

  7. 307
    Ray Ladbury says:

    HAS, your post #305 is just flat ignorant. First, of course there are uncertainties. If you don’t have uncertainties, you aren’t doing science. However, the main source of uncertainty is the internal variability of the climate system itself, not the parametric estimation. I do not know where you are getting your information on climate models–or on scientific modeling in particular–but you are just plain wrong about how it is done, how it is validated and even what its purpose is.

    You seem to be saying that science is impossible in the face of uncertainty. NO! It is knowing the uncertainties that makes science possible! You have a choice. You can keep arguing against straw men of your own construction, or you can actually try to learn something about the subject. Right now, all your arguments do is demonstrate to anyone who has ever done scientific modeling that you are ignorant.

  8. 308

    286 (SecularAnimist),

    I believe that the difficulty of the renewable energy transition has been grossly exaggerated

    I agree, but the point I’m making doesn’t have to do with the technology, but rather the time that it will take to replace billions of cars and machines, all made of iron and plastic and intricate bits. Cars have a limited lifespan, so they must be “recycled”, and if replaced with more efficient vehicles, that’s great. Other things such as ships, planes, factory tools and such have longer lifetimes. This expense is vary, very far from minimal. You could have the perfect technology today, and it would still take more than three decades to deploy it.

  9. 309

    Let us not overlook the fact that Lord Monckton has effectively claimed (predicted and/or projected) that in spite of the evidence, the earth will enter an ice age within 200 years. I’m anxious to see his supporting evidence for his claim, but let’s take a look at his assertion (prediction):

    Notice his claim in Figure 6 (see above) that \The observed cooling trend is equivalent to 2 C/century\

    Of course in a previous version of his chart he only showed 1C/century of cooling, until of course he figured out that if you eliminate the previous years data you could show 2C/century cooling. Brilliant!

    Fee & Dividend: Our best chanceLearn the IssueSign the Petition
    A Climate Minute: The Natural CycleThe Greenhouse EffectHistory of Climate ScienceArctic Ice Melt

  10. 310
    Rod B says:

    SecularAnimist, along with quite a few others (but certainly not all) in the circle, sees the global energy conversion effort through deeply rose-colored glasses — always has, always will. It will obviously take some work, they say, but nothing very strenuous, and even the process will approach nirvana for all. IMO, they conflate their belief ‘must do’ with ‘therefore is easy to do,’ or their belief that not doing the effort will approach Armageddon, ergo doing the effort will be a snap (always leaving out the word “relative”).

  11. 311
    msc says:

    This is OT, but … from

    Stott and NASA’s Gavin Schmidt at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, said it’s better to think in terms of odds: Warming might double the chances for a heat wave, for example. “That is exactly what’s happening,” Schmidt said, “a lot more warm extremes and less cold extremes.”

    Hurray for Gavin for getting a quote in that so succinctly states something so important.

  12. 312
    Rod B says:

    re #295, Conner63 at 303, and Gavin’s response: not meaning to beat an OT horse (on this thread), but merely trying to keep the horse alive, Conner63’s opinion regarding Ray’s words is not simply wishful thinking. Forcing has not been irrefutably explained for the current future global environment. 95% confidence is in fact a gut feel by admittedly very smart people based on the belief that statistical projections can explain physics.

    BTW, this only applies to Ray’s words (295) on forcing and sensitivity, quoted in 303 by Conner63, and not to Ray’s other comments.

  13. 313
    MR SH says:

    HAS #305
    You seem to neglect the physical relationships already established. Climate models are not defined by only the statistical analysis but mainly based on the theoretical equations unlike the time series analysis in econometrics. Your comment seems to be the latter case.

    Even if uncertain factors such as undefined dynamics remain, so long as they are stationary, the long term prediction with certain uncertain range is different from unpredictable random series.

    I am a bit surprised that the difference between the “prediction” on the natural phenomena and the “projection” for the decision making is not well understood yet. The former talk about the single future (like the dynamics of planet) while the latter compares the multiple possible assumptions involving behaviour of others (like chess game). IPCC-SRES deals with the latter and then climate models do the former.

    By the way, SRES-A2 assumes 15 billion world population in 2100 with relatively weak economic globalization while those of SRES-A1 and B1 are around 8.5 billion with strong economic growth. All of scenarios have been developed to generate the long term anthropogenic GHG emissions mainly focusing on the second half of this century rather than the near term emissions influenced by the short term economic variability.

  14. 314
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., The 95% CL for climate sensitivity has been established in a large variety of ways–whether you understand them or not. But, hey, Rod, prove me wrong. Produce some peer-reviewed evidence for once rather than simple bold assertions.

  15. 315
    Didactylos says:

    How is it that drilling kilometers deep into the earth’s crust on some of the least hospitable places on Earth to extract oil, or levelling mountains simply to get at a coal seam presents no problem at all, yet installing a wind turbine or solar panel is fraught with “difficulty”?

    Of course Rod B’s arguments are silly. The only “difficulty” is the vested interests at play.

    My wish is that environmentalists, nuclear and renewable energy proponents stop crapping on each other’s technology in a vain effort to promote their own. We need them all. We need them yesterday.

    Treading on our own toes does not help matters.

    Humans can achieve amazing things when we try.

  16. 316
    SecularAnimist says:

    Rod B wrote: “SecularAnimist, along with quite a few others (but certainly not all) in the circle, sees the global energy conversion effort through deeply rose-colored glasses …”

    With all due respect, Rod, I see the ongoing transition to clean renewable energy sources through paying very close attention to what is actually going on in the real world, including for example the fact that for the last two years, in both the United States and Europe, more renewable power capacity was added than coal, gas and nuclear combined.

    Worldwide, solar and wind continue to be the fastest growing sources of new energy, both are growing at record-smashing double-digit rates every year, both set records for new generation capacity added in 2009. The technologies are advancing rapidly, deployment is skyrocketing, and costs are plummeting as the technologies scale up.

    I would suggest that you start paying attention to the real world as well, instead of engaging in laughable pop psychology and content-free bromides.

  17. 317
    tamino says:

    Monckton is so obviously wrong, so obstinately wrong-headed, and such an embarrassment to his “cause,” that it’s no surprise even die-hard denialists are distancing themselves from him. What denialist would be so foolish as to support this guy?

    Why, Anthony Watts of course.

  18. 318
    Deech56 says:

    RE msc #311: The Charles Hanley article was good all around. The comparison between the predictions and the recent events was a nice touch.

  19. 319
    JM says:

    Placing hotly contested educated guesses (read “approved consensus”) in the same paragraph as “proven facts” such as those which proceeded that quote, is why critics claim this site is propaganda and not science.

    Not only is the first part of this statement wrong, people claim this site is propaganda because they’ve already lost the debate.

  20. 320


    WUWT has reached a new low with that post. Monckton’s claims are indefensible by any scientific or professional measure.

  21. 321
    Septic Matthew says:

    286, Secular Animist:

    [edit – another argument about renewable energy is OT. Thanks]

  22. 322
    Rob Honeycutt says:

    tamino… I think this is an excellent sign. What is that MLK quote? “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Ultimately it will become obvious to everyone that Monckton, Watts and co are mucking up the science. Or I should say they’re “Moncking up the science.”

  23. 323

    It sort of occurs to me that this whole dickering between Monckton and others re what the IPCC projected is a big fat moot point, a side show, a derailment.

    If one takes more recent discussions seriously — a conference, so not at the level of peer-review — then the IPCC has probably underestimated the worst case.

    You can virtually attend the conference, 4 Degrees & Beyond, Oxford, Sept 2009 at

    Of course, that conference was more focused on temp increase and harms that would cause than CO2 increase, but it sort of leaves the IPCC behind in the dust, and adds chili peppers to the denialist hooping and hollering against “climate alarmism.”

    But what kind of alarm clock will it take to wake up people zonked out on the opium of consumerism? Even Hansen’s end of all life on planet earth scenario falls on deaf, clogged ears (see STORMS or ).

  24. 324

    RE renewables, here’s something I just read re spray-on solar film, and how one day our homes may be able to generate all the energy they need:

    The enviro techies never weary, they never slumber nor sleep. Good job, fellows and gals.

  25. 325

    RB 312: 95% confidence is in fact a gut feel

    BPL: No. It is inherent in the data set, being derived by an equation from the standard error of estimate. It is, in fact, 97.5% likely that the Charney sensitivity is greater than 2.1 K, since the 95% confidence level is two-tailed.

  26. 326
    Doug Bostrom says:

    tamino says: 12 August 2010 at 11:42 AM

    Why, Anthony Watts of course.

    Of course, of course.

    Watts on Monckton:

    He is in constant contact with a vast network of leading scientists throughout the world.

    In the manner of invisible things on doorknobs.


    So often I am ashamed of being British, our politicians, media and “scientists” are so often second rate. It is good to have someone to be proud of.

    Yeah, second-rate wannabes, like Churchill, or Maxwell, or Disraeli, or Darwin. The list of inferior climbers trying to reach the feet of Monckton is so depressing.

  27. 327
    dhogaza says:

    WUWT has reached a new low with that post.

    The responses have brought it even lower …

  28. 328
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Science fiction: CM Kornbluth.

    Reality: “That’s a good, smart conversation. I thank you for having it with our viewers.”

    SANCHEZ: Okay. Is there anything from your perspective — and I know you are one of many scientist experts out there — that would lead you to believe that because these three things are happening right now we’re more apt to be able to prove or somebody out there is able to prove that there is a consequential global warming caused by man? That’s the big part of this question.

    MYERS: Is it caused by man? Yes. Is it 100% caused by man? No. There are other things involved. We are now in the sun spot cycle. We are now in a very hot sun cycle. there are many other things going on. But, yes, a significant portion of this is caused by greenhouse gases keeping heat on the shore, on the land, in the atmosphere that could have escaped without those greenhouse gases, so, yes, it’s warmer.

    As seen at Climate Progress.

    A “scientist expert” incapable of discriminating between the importance or relevance of things he’s repeating spews an incoherent narrative containing substantial factual errors to an audience of millions of viewers unable to discern they’re wasting their time watching, arguably the most important information embedded in the presentation.

    Does CM Kornbluth’s imagination of the world of his future trump the null hypothesis?

  29. 329
    Septic Matthew says:

    The current heat wave in Russia and flooding in Pakistan (mentioned above) do not seem to be support for AGW:

    [edit – did you read the article? It in no way supports your statement above]

  30. 330
    HAS says:

    Gavin in response to my post at 305#

    I can see that being sardonic is something some Americans don’t get either.

    This all started when Ray Ladbury started telling me that climate models were not “statistical models but physical models” and that “Climate science is NOT and [sic} exercise in curve fitting”.

    [edit – leave out the ad hom and inflammatory language if you want to comment here]

  31. 331
    Jacob Mack says:

    I am actually watching John Abraham’s presentation right now. Eye opener.

  32. 332
    JM says:

    And now Monckton has a series of videos ‘refuting’ Abraham, or so WUWT says.

    Time to get out the pooper scooper, I guess, and find out what he’s lying about this time.

  33. 333
    Septic Matthew says:

    200, Secular Animist: A few weeks ago, I posted a comment here asking climate scientists what sort of event they might consider to be an “oh-my-god-the-sheet-has-really-hit-the-fan-now” sort of “Climate 9/11″ event.
    new P
    I am not a climate scientist of course, but it seems to me that we have seen several such events since then, with the situation in Russia being the most horrific.
    new P
    Given the effects we are already seeing from the warming that has already occurred due to the GHGs we have already emitted, at this point it is very difficult for me to imagine any plausible course of events which does NOT result in the collapse of human civilization under the onslaught of AGW within a few decades at most.

    Civilization has survived many catastrophes already, the great flu pandemic of 1918 being among the worst, and the Great Plague being possibly the worst, at least in Europe. In Russia, civilization survived the sequence: WWI, Russian Revolution, Russian Civil War, Collectivization, World War II. Chinese civilization survived the Communist Revolution, though at first confined to Taiwan. Civilization has died sometimes (as among ancient Khmer), but it has survived many catastrophes. Why Bejing, Shanghai, Guandung, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Istanbul and Bangalore should all disappear has never been explained, only why they should not all be expected to do well in worst-case scenarios.

    To your first point, catastrophes happen all the time. Right now HIV/AIDS and TB have acquired multiple drug resistance. I don’t know whether those processes count as “catastrophes”, but there are also tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires (every year in California and most of the American West), wars, malaria. AGW does not predict a small set of killers to wipe out everything at once, it predicts that the heat-related disasters like hurricanes will increase in frequency and intensity. Right now there are hundreds of forest fires burning in Washington State to accompany the fires in Russia; and there is great flooding in China to accompany the flooding in Pakistan. But you can’t say (as the “Left Behind” crowd wants to say) “This is it! These are the exact signs that were foretold!” All you can really say is that weather this bad (and worse, worse than the 30s) will become more frequent. Right now a bunch of the deniers are predicting that Aug 2010 to Aug 2011 will have much below average temperatures; if they are proved right, it will be incorrect to say “That shows AGW is not happening”; and it is not right to say now that this summer is definitive proof of AGW

  34. 334
    Septic Matthew says:

    328 edit: [edit – did you read the article? It in no way supports your statement above]

    The scientist quoted says that there is no way to know whether AGW has predicted this jet stream “blocking event” or not. That’s why I wrote the following: The current heat wave in Russia and flooding in Pakistan (mentioned above) do not seem to be support for AGW:

    The jet stream blocking event does not contradict AGW either, but I didn’t say it did.

  35. 335
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    re: 334

    I have no idea what you’re saying except that you like putting negative words and AGW in propinquity. “Does not seem” means nothing. It’s just a weasel phrase.

    AGW predicts an increase in extreme rains, extreme droughts, and heat waves.

  36. 336
    David B. Benson says:

    Septic Matthew (333) — As much as many in Washington State might wish it, British Columbia is, last I knew, still a Canadian province.

    And by the way, you really ought to read a book or two on societies which have collapsed, some surely with an assist from climate changes.

  37. 337
    sambo says:

    andrew adams (#306)

    I think we agree on quite a bit, but I’d like to hightlight the areas that I’m genuinely in disagreement with you.

    First, being right wing politically does not mean you are opposed to all things environment. I’m canadian (I know, cue the canadian jokes) and a few years ago there was a dinner to praise the greenest prime minister. That prime minister was Brian Mulroney (a conservative) who was doing irish jig’s with Ronald Ragean.

    That being said, conservatives are more likely to be opposed to the policies being proposed (I would say tacitly supported by IPCC). That does not mean that they would be opposed to any and all actions, just the current Kyoto/Copenhagen style agreements. That is what is motivating their questioning the science. The argument that they see is “science proves that thus we must do “. This is the argument that I’m saying is not working and is instead swelling the ranks of those opposed to action on climate change. If you don’t believe me, well let me ask you if the US is making any progress on the issue (at least in congress)?

    What I would like to see is an argument in the form of what B. Hart called an indirect approach (military terms). By using the argument above, conservatives are more likely to become more and more entrenched in their ideas. This is the compression that Hart describes through many examples in his book. What is required is that the root of the opposition is dislocated from conservatives. As you correctly observe, that opposition stems (in many instances) from an opposition to the policies. That is why the policies should be targeted and not just following the argument structure above. That is also why it is important for the science to be policy prescriptive (ie if we don’t do anything this is what happens, if we reduce GHG by 70% here is what happens, with no “scary” scenarios). By using scary scenarios, you’ll only entrench conservative opposition. Think how Bush used scare tactics and that is a pretty good analogy here.

    Once the problem is acknoledged with a policy prescriptive type science, then it becomes a political problem of how to deal with it. FWIW, I’m a moderate conservative in canada (probably right in the middle if I was in the states). I sincerely think there are policy options that are palatable to conservatives that address climate change in a significant way, but I don’t find the Kyoto/Copenhagen options all that palatable and I’m very moderate. Imagine someone like Beck!

    Here is a link to Indirect approach, but the best way to understand it would be to ready his book “Strategy”

  38. 338
    sambo says:

    Sorry, the argument was “science proves that ~insert scary scenario here~ thus we must do ~insert Kyoto Copenhagen style policy here~”. I had it enclosed by < and I now realize that it thought it was html tags.

  39. 339
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Septic Matthew says: 12 August 2010 at 4:16 PM

    [Argument to the effect that “some people survive head-on collisions, continue aiming for between the headlights and let’s see what happens]

    Oops, the tape just reached the beginning again.

    Meanwhile, back in the land of circumspect reality, the people who actually know what they’re talking are not latching onto blind optimism.

    Current extreme weather events

    “This is it! These are the exact signs that were foretold!”

    Yes, that’s in effect what the WMO says. They don’t use the exclamation points, granted. So does NASA GISS: July 2010 — What Global Warming Looks Like

    History is leaving a lot of people behind on the platform, still reciting from their silly talking points.

  40. 340
    Anne van der Bom says:

    sambo 12 August 2010 at 4:56 PM,

    ie if we don’t do anything this is what happens, if we reduce GHG by 70% here is what happens, with no “scary” scenarios

    Some scenarios are scary and “scary” is not a synonym for “exaggerated” or “fabricated”.

  41. 341
    Rob Honeycutt says:

    I think it would be a worthwhile effort to quickly create a series of response videos to Monckton’s new rebuttal to Dr Abraham videos. Watching the first video I estimate that he runs about one lie or misrepresentation per minute.

  42. 342
    deconvoluter says:

    #317 Tamino

    Yes, and Watts is accompanied by that other weather-man in the UK (see #54).

  43. 343
    HAS says:

    Moderator has snipped my post #330 on account of ad hom and inflammatory language. Readers can only imagine how vitriolic my comments must have been to get edited given the comments that have been allowed about me :)

    Seriously, apologies if my heavy handed attempts at humour cause offense. The edit did cut a point of substance which I’ll see if I can reframe:

    This all started when Ray Ladbury started telling me that climate models were not “statistical models but physical models” and that “Climate science is NOT and [sic] exercise in curve fitting”.

    However it is very pleasing to see that he has now shifted his position to the point where in #305 he’s stopped arguing about if there is uncertainty and moved to discussing the relative importance of the sources.

  44. 344
    J Bowers says:

    Interesting definition of dynamics from Monckton in one of his videos responding to John Abraham.

    Around 5:40: “…there may be certain, what they call, dynamical effects. That means very sudden and very dramatic losses of … sea ice…”.

    Would I be correct in saying that’s something of a whopper for someone claiming to know an awful lot about physics?

  45. 345
    Ray Ladbury says:

    HAS, [edit – lets watch the ad hom] I in no way suggested that climate models were statistical models. The fact that you might have some parameters that are fit to OTHER DATASETS, distinct from the verification dataset. You might as well contend that charge transport models are statistical because Millikin determined electronic charge based on a best-fit to oil-drop data.


    The types of models under discussion here:

    1)statistical models–parameters are allowed to vary until a best-fit to the data is found
    2)dynamical model–parameters are fixed by the best available science (physics, etc.) regardless of how this makes the model fit the data.

    Statistical models and dynamical models have very different pitfalls. For instance, statistical models are prone to overfitting, leading to spurious agreement with the data, but poor predictive capability. This is virtually impossible with a dynamical model. [edit]

    Or as Recaptcha says much more succinctly: explains stoogery

  46. 346
    samspade10 says:

    Can I just point out to the few confused posters on here (probably Americans) that being a ‘lord’ does not automatically constitute membership of the House of Lords. Someone can be a lord without being a member of the upper house.
    But I guess that once again you’ll refuse my comments in the good name of scientific rigor.

  47. 347
    flxible says:

    Sambo – as another Canadian I have to say your understanding of your conservative [minority] prime minister is sadly lacking. There is absolutely no policy acceptable to him that would have any appreciable impact on climate change. Alberta’s tar sands income is too vital to federal finances.

  48. 348
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    “How is it that drilling kilometers deep into the earth’s crust on some of the least hospitable places on Earth to extract oil, or levelling mountains simply to get at a coal seam presents no problem at all, yet installing a wind turbine or solar panel is fraught with “difficulty”? – 315

    Some people are hopelessly confused by spinning things.

  49. 349
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    “This all started when Ray Ladbury started telling me that climate models were not “statistical models but physical models” – 343

    He told you correctly. You don’t seem able to understand how a physical model can produce a statistical result.

    You might ponder the shape of a pile of ball bearings that are rolled down a slope fitted with an equally spaced series of pins.

    For research I suggest you watch reruns of “The Price is Right”.

  50. 350

    RE #339 & the WMO link, I was wondering about their phrase, “While a longer time range is required to establish whether an individual event is attributable to climate change,…” (referring to the extreme weather events around the world today).

    I sort of thought that no extreme single event could be attributed to GW, bec GW is at a more macro statistical level, and I suppose there is a long tail in non-GW weather event possibilities in which such an event could have occurred under non-GW conditions. Though I suppose there might come some single events that have a .00000001 probability under the null hypothesis…once things really get bad in a century or so.

    Is this a correct understanding of it?

    I even told some skeptics on another blog, who were yammering about the cold spell this past winter or the supposed “pause” (decrease in the increase) disproving GW, that single or short term events or stats do not disprove AGW, nor does these terrible summer events prove AGW, but one has to look at the entire world global average temps over at least several decades (and at all the other factors that may be contributing, such as the solar minimum, aerosols, etc).

    I instead like to focus on mitigation strategies now that would hopefully reduce the probability of extreme events in the future. So when Katrina damaged a friend’s home, I wrote to him in 2005 that I’d been reducing my GHGs over the past 15 years with the hope that would in some way help reduce such risks (probabilities) of events as Katrina.

    Now if we ALL (including Monckton & co.) could think about reducing risks of future harms, r/t debating about how bad those risks/probabilities might be….