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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. 51
    G. Thomas Farmer says:

    How do I get in touch with Eric? I have information on membership in the House of Lords that he should know. Mr. Monckton is not and never has been a member of the House of Lords, is not qualified to be a member, never will be a member, the House of Lords does not recognize him. Check he names of the 740 members of the House of Lords. You will find he is not listed.
    For the information of your readers:

    Membership in the House of Lords, U.K.

    For a brief description of:
    • the changing membership of the House of Lords
    • the different categories of Members
    • the routes by which Members are appointed to the House
    • the process of becoming a Member, Letters Patent and Writ of Summons
    See The Membership of the House of Lords ( PDF 543 KB) – a Lords Information Office briefing paper.
    Alphabetical and party membership lists are available in MPs, Lords and Offices.
    Information on the composition of the House of Lords is available in Lords by party and type of peerage.
    Information on changes to membership can be found on the list of new Members in the Lords and Lords who have died since 1 January 2010.
    Recent stories on House of Lords Members are available from Parliament News.
    Further information on Members of the House of Lords is available from the House of Lords Information Office.

    Two events have changed the way Members of the House of Lords are appointed: the 1999 House of Lords Act, which ended hereditary Peers’ right to pass membership down through family, and the introduction of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. There are now a number of routes to becoming a Member of the House of Lords.
    House of Lords Appointments Commission
    Set up in May 2000, this independent, public body recommends individuals for appointment as non-party-political life peers and vets nominations for life peers to ensure the highest standards of propriety.
    Dissolution Honours
    Takes place at the end of a Parliament, when peerages can be given to MPs – from all parties – who are leaving the House of Commons.
    Resignation Honours
    Resigning Prime Ministers can recommend peerages for fellow politicians, political advisors or others who have supported them.
    Political lists/’working Peers’
    Lords appointed to boost the strengths of the three main parties. Regular attendance in the House is expected, usually on the frontbench as a spokesman or whip. The media has dubbed these Members ‘working Peers’.
    Ad hoc announcements
    Used to announce someone appointed as a Minister who is not already a Lord.
    Archbishops and bishops
    The number of bishops in the House has been limited to 26 since the mid-nineteenth century. If a vacancy comes up the most senior serving bishop is appointed. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York usually get life peerages on retirement.
    Traditionally, peerages are awarded to former Speakers of the House of Commons.
    Life Peers
    Appointed for their lifetime only, these Lords’ titles are not passed on to their children. The Queen formally appoints life Peers on the advice and recommendation of the Prime Minister.
    Archbishops and bishops
    A limited number of 26 Church of England archbishops and bishops sit in the House, passing their membership on to the next most senior bishop when they retire. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York traditionally get life peerages on retirement.
    Elected hereditary Peers
    The right of hereditary Peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords was ended in 1999 by the House of Lords Act but 92 Members were elected internally to remain until the next stage of the Lords reform process.
    “Lord” Monckton is no Lord!

  2. 52
    Steve Missal says:

    re: James:
    “I agree with the new tack being taken by many environmental activists, lets deal with the facts we are sure of and make policy based on that. Protect forests, reafforestation projects, reduce particulate pollution, sulphates and methane emissions, maximise renewable energy and so on.”

    What new tack? Did I miss the memo? Has there been a public consensus that I overlooked while shooting pool? Who are these people? From your post(s), I have gathered that you are quick to make generalizations and unresponsive when asked to produce specifics. This particular pattern is off-putting when trying to have any dialogue; you make these verbal gestures that hint at large chunks of information, but I never get to actually see them in any form. It is not only frustrating, it is tiresome. I’d love to see you actually wade through some real data.
    As for ‘Lord’ Monckton, we seem to have a stiff-upper-lip version of a quasi-educated American talk show host. Why he, and others, are absolutely ok with ‘creative’ facts, when the reality is not only otherwise but very disquieting, still deeply puzzles me.
    I’m an American, but I admit it made me laugh to read about the flat-earthers and the IKEA capitol.

  3. 53

    If you want to understand people like Monckton and more importantly why he has so many devoted followers, then I would suggest reading the following:
    The Author is Bob Altemeyer PhD a psychologist at the Univ. of Manitoba.

    I used to think crackpots like Moncton were basically harmless. Altemeyer changed my mind. Altemeyer also seems to explain why some people become more convinced of their beliefs even when shown in black and white they are wrong.
    Google it and the book is a free pdf on his website.

  4. 54
    deconvoluter says:

    This is evidence that the left/right model does not always work in climate change:

    For the record I concur fully with Christopher Monckton and his conclusions

    Thats from an allegedly left wing person Peirs Corbyn here:


    who also likes to threaten his critics with legal action. Monckton is of course a right winger with much influence (at least until recently) with the right wing press. And to-day’s critique is from a conservative.

  5. 55
    deconvoluter says:

    More on Corbyn’s comment.

    Piers Corbyn’s theory is different from Monckton’s. The fact that Corbyn can nevertheless give Monckton unqualified support illustrates the ‘tribal’ (or party) mechanism at work on the contrarian side.

  6. 56

    My favorite Moncktonism is the “Earth is cooling, but other planets are warming at the same rate as Earth is” stuff:

    “. . .warming has recently been observed on Mars, on the surface of Jupiter, on the largest of Neptune’s moons and even on distant Pluto. All those SUVs in space, one supposes. Or could the guilty party, perhaps, be the Sun, which has been more active in the past 70 years than at almost any similar period in at least the past 11,400 years?”

  7. 57
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Hmm, I notice that in James LENGTHY justification of his previous comments, he still could not find room to list names from his “swath” of dissident climate scientists. Could it perhaps be because there are so few qualified scientists on the list? Could it be that the list contains the names of prominent wackaloons such as Ian Plimmer, G&T, Miskolczi…

    Yes, James, scientists who have not published in the climate realm are capable of reaching their own conclusions AFTER JUDICIOUS STUDY OF THE SCIENCE!!! I would note that not one professional or honorific scientific organization has dissented from the consensus. Sorry, James, you will find no buyers for your “sell the controversy” argument here. Among those who have actually studied the matter, the proposition that we are warming the planet is not controversial.

  8. 58
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Oops! Almost forgot plug the Rabbet’s limerick contest on Monckton:

    I believe voting is still open.

  9. 59
    Didactylos says:

    James said:

    Where have you analysed ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and separated fact from fiction? Or attacked the many outrageous claims made regarding possible sea level rise, extreme weather events and the like?

    No comment.

  10. 60
    Didactylos says:

    G. Thomas Farmer:

    We know Monckton isn’t a member of the House of Lords (although he himself is a little fuzzy on the concept). However, he does hold a hereditary peerage. The appellation “Lord” attaches to the peerage, not the membership of the House. However, you should feel free to refer to him however you please – but if you want to play his game of retro-pomp, then you can look up the correct form of address.

  11. 61
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Kevin McKinney, Richard Lindzen has made exactly the same arguments when appearing in front of lay audiences–though never in a scientific forum. Lindzen knows better. Monckton, one is not quite so sure. In either case, that they make such arguments at all makes anything they say highly suspect.

  12. 62

    Perhaps if the IPCC scenarios are just that, then the IPCC should remove the likelihoods of them coming true. I think that it creates confusion in the minds of the political classes, who are not so expert in the finer semantics of the science.

  13. 63

    In Dr. Powell’s video (available and discussed here) he summarizes observed warming by stating if increases in CO2 are not causing modern day global warming then two things must be true:

    1) Something unknown is suppressing the well-understood greenhouse effect and doing so during massive increases in GHGs.
    2) Something unknown is causing the warming that mirrors the GHE.

    So we can accept what we know to be true (AGW) or we accept two unknowns. A pretty simple and straightforward defense of the science.

  14. 64


    There are a few important things to note about the graph where I plotted the outer bounds of the model runs and the HadCRUT temperature anomaly.

    1) The caption to Fig. 7 in the IPCC report (Fig. 10.5 in the report itself) says that the curves were subjected to a 3-point smoothing routine. I couldn’t find anywhere where they said there was originally 1-point per year, or 1 per month, or whatever. But if it was 1 point per year, it is not significant that the temperature dribbled out of bounds for one year. It may just be an artifact of the smoothing.

    2) AOGCMs exhibit the kind of inter-annual temperature variability that we see in Nature, so it’s reasonable to say they are \realistic\ in that way. But they stink at predicting exactly which year the temperature is going to swing up or down. Therefore, the fact that the temperature trend popped out of the envelope for 1 year isn’t significant in any case. The important thing (in terms of testing the models with respect to what they’re actually supposed to be good for) is whether the prediction envelope basically follows the trend over multiple decades. Here’s a useful rule of thumb I use. Whenever I see someone making sweeping statements about what the \climate\ is doing based on a decade or less of data, I can usually dismiss that person as incompetent or worse.

    3) The predictions plotted were based on the A2 emissions scenario, which is close to, but not exactly the same as, the real CO2 evolution.

    4) Humans affect the climate in more ways than just emitting greenhouse gases. Aerosols also affect the climate, but I have no idea whether the aerosol emissions in the A2 scenario have been pretty close to reality, or not. (I don’t even know if the A2 scenario includes aerosol emissions at all, when it comes down to it.)

    Finally, I honestly have never watched Al Gore’s movie, and you may be surprised to find out that I didn’t vote for him.

  15. 65

    James 13: The pro-AGW camp didn’t seem to have a problem with the college drop-out unqualified Al Gore taking a prominent position on climate change

    BPL: Al Gore was one of Roger Revelle’s students in the ’60s, so he has taken at least one more climatology course than YOU have.

  16. 66

    Barry’s point #2 (and Icarus’ comment #14) should be repeated.

    Here’s a useful rule of thumb I use. Whenever I see someone making sweeping statements about what the \climate\ is doing based on a decade or less of data, I can usually dismiss that person as incompetent or worse.

    P.S. I did not vote for Gore either (nor Bush).

  17. 67
    James says:

    #65 – your assumption is not correct, and I passed all the courses I ever sat.

    Gavin, I am disappointed but not surprised that you chose to edit so much from my response. You talk about staying on topic, but I was merely responding to questions raised in this thread which you chose to let through. Therefore I deserved a right of reply. You deleted the links to the errors in “An Inconvenient Truth’ which were supported by the UK court and not appealed by Al Gore, the Dept of Ed or any climate scientist. You deleted a further link to additional errors raised about Gore’s movie. You deleted the link to a list of 800 peer reviewed papers sceptical of the AGW hypothesis in some way. You deleted my references to a range of outrages claims made by the pro-AGW camp. You can’t hide this stuff from your readers forever. I can’t help but wonder what else you have edited at this site to shield your readers from anything you don’t agree with.

    [Response: The links you gave are standard contrarian tripe (no offense intended). Every single thread that comes along somewhere links to these and we are all supposed to take them seriously again, and again, and again. If you want to have a substantive discussion about issue X, then stick to issue X. Making lists about stupid things that have been said somewhere by someone and thinking that is an argument is just a waste of everyone’s time. I could do exactly the same for stupid statements made by Delingpole, Booker, Watts etc. Does that somehow trump any substantive discussion about issue X? No. So we have a choice, do we spend all the time pointing out that silly things have been said on every side of every issue under the sun? Or do we try and focus on specific issues that might actually be resolvable. Here, we are trying to focus. Please respect that. – gavin]

  18. 68

    James @48 points to a list of 94 “gates,” then declares he’s not going to defend all of them while avoiding mentioning ANY of them that he would defend. This amounts to throwing buckets of turds at the wall hoping some of them stick, and pretending in the meantime that such hand waving amounts to a logically cogent argument.

    If you cannot name even a single specific fact that supposedly supports your case, then your entire stream of groundless assertions is legitimately dismissed as vacuous.

  19. 69
    frflyer says:

    James @ 13

    “In fact it is a real pity that Bickmore and his ilk didn’t critique Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ because that had more holes in it than a Swiss cheese. Had they done so, they may well have earned themselves some credibility. Instead, many pro-AGW scientists kept quiet simply because Al Gore was supporting ‘their side”

    For analysis of Gore’s movie, see these links.

    Monckton was behind the effort to have Al Gore taken to court in Britain, to challenge the movie being shown in public schools, demanding that “The Great Global Warming Swindle” be shown in schools also, if Gore’s movie was allowed. The judge allowed the showing of “An Inconvenient Truth”, with the caveat that a few uncertainties about impacts were mentioned. He saw no reason to show “The Great Global Warming Swindle”. But skeptics go around claiming that a judge in England condemned Gore’s movie. More proof to them, that AGW isn’t real.

    And here’s the judge’s conclusion. “Al Gore’s presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate” and “substantially founded upon scientific research and fact.”

    Or perhaps you would prefer to compare Gore to Lomborg, another non scientist and prominent skeptic voice.

    Ok, then lets compare them.

    Comparison of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Lomborg’s work.

    Al Gore´s film: 2 errors, 8 flaws, 10 in total.
    Al Gore´s book: 2 errors, 11 flaws, 13 in total.
    Film and book together: 2 errors, 12 flaws, 14 in total.

    Chapter 24 on global warming in “The Skeptical Environmentalist”: 22 errors, 59 flaws, 81 in total.
    (This is more than one distortion per page).

    “The Skeptical Environmentalist” in total (up to now 12/9/09):
    117 errors, 219 flaws, 336 in total.

    “Cool it!”, British edition: 48 errors, 111 flaws, 159 in total (up to now, with about 40 % of the book investigated).
    (This is nearly two distortions per page)..

  20. 70
    James says:

    #57 “Hmm, I notice that in James LENGTHY justification of his previous comments, he still could not find room to list names from his “swath” of dissident climate scientists. Could it perhaps be because there are so few qualified scientists on the list?”

    No Ray, it is because Gavin chose to edit a great deal of my response!

    [Response: There was no list, swath or not. If you think that the ‘800’ contrarian papers’ link qualifies you are sorely mistaken. Please do not get sidetracked down this path. – gavin]

  21. 71
    Fred Moolten says:

    Anyone looking for a detailed refutation of Monckton can find ample evidence on the sites Barry Bickmore linked to in his article above, as well as many of the details in Art Smith’s comprehensive analysis at

    One reason why I suspect his credibility has peaked and is in serious decline relates to his persistent claim that the Earth is cooling rather than warming since 1998. Two years ago, that claim might have resonated with audiences unfamiliar with the short term variations in climate. Today, one need only quote Monckton and then cite the recent MSU and surface data demonstrating that the climate has resumed a significant warming phase, and indicating the possibility that this year will either be the warmest since temperature recordings began, or very close to it.

    Needless to say, neither the current 1-2 years of warming nor the previous few years of cooling or level temperatures proves what the long term trend will be, but it undercuts the “cooling” argument that has been so central to the efforts of contrarians to sway the public.

  22. 72
    James says:

    Gavin I repeat I was responding to questions RC let through. If those questions were not ‘on focus’ then you should have censored them. I was asked to name scientists, I was asked to detail the errors in Gores film, I was asked to give examples of outrageous claims made by the pro-AGW camp. Clearly some of your readers are not aware they exist yet you edited my responses to these challenges out. At #68 you decided that all those links were worthy of printing, but you claim material I provided consists of ‘stupid lists’. So now I understand your approach is to simply list anything you disagree with or can’t respond to as ‘standard contrarian tripe’ and not print it.

    [Response: I don’t do all the moderation, or I would have said that Al Gore was OT when you first raised it. It is, and remains so. My larger point that bringing up a silly statement by person A in response to a critique of a silly statement by person B is not any kind of logical argument regardless of the who the people are. Just stick to the point please. – gavin]

  23. 73
    Ike Solem says:

    Quote: “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.”

    With all due respect, note that anyone can see this for themselves, simply by holding a ruler up to the graph and noting the increasing slope. I really don’t understand why realclimate is bothering to engage a few rabid denialists in any kind of debate on these issues.

    However, projecting the behavior of the non-anthropogenic carbon cycle into the future is fraught with complications. As warming progresses, for example, Northern Hemisphere carbon reserves, from forests to permafrost zones to shallow marine sediments, will likely decrease in size. This effect is ecological in nature and is mediated by microbial activity, and is thus harder to model than simpler physical processes, like glacial melting or ocean warming. Clearly, water – drought in Russia, flooding in Pakistan – are going to be the most important issues for predicting regional ecosystem responses. Major agricultural impacts are already being seen, right? Russia banned all wheat exports, for example.

    The IPCC, by the way, neglected such carbon-cycle feedback processes in its estimates, correct? Hence, their emission scenarios are really nothing more than guesses – they need more comprehensive ecological modeling, and that means carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, and hydrology modeling. Of course, this still leaves future human behavior as the #1 variable in climate projections, by far.

    P.S. Readers might be interested in a discussion of this related Science article on Arctic methane.

    Aug 6th, 2010 ‘Arctic Armageddon’ Needs More Science, Less Hype
    Richard A. Kerr

    Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and the ongoing global warming driven by carbon dioxide will inevitably force it out of its frozen reservoirs and into the atmosphere to amplify the warming. Such an amplifying feedback may have operated in the past, with devastating effects. If the modern version is anything like past episodes, two scientists warned earlier this year, it could mean that “far from the Arctic, crops could fail and nations crumble.” Yet, with bubbles of methane streaming from the warming Arctic sea floor and deteriorating permafrost, many scientists are trying to send a more balanced message. The threat of global warming amplifying itself by triggering massive methane releases is real and may already be under way, providing plenty of fodder for scary headlines. But what researchers understand about the threat points to a less malevolent, more protracted process.

    Hype? Why not focus on the central questions: What’s the estimated size of the Arctic carbon reservoir that’s susceptible to warming, and what’s the maximum estimate rate of leakage to the atmosphere? What fraction will leak as methane, and what fraction will leak as carbon dioxide – and what about N2O? Notice that these carbon sources are also fossil, but of much younger age than petroleum, coal or natural gas – they were formed via photosynthesis tens of thousands of years ago, not tens of millions of years.

    If more people were aware of the specifics of the carbon cycle, they’d understand why the EPA effort to equate biofuel emissions to fossil fuel emissions is little more than a scam by fossil fuel interests:

    In a letter to U.S. House and Senate leaders last week, 114 of the nation’s leading environmental scientists express concern over the proposed U.S. EPA’s Tailoring Rule equating biogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with fossil fuel emissions. It’s “incorrect and will impede the development of renewable biomass energy sources,” the letter says. . . The EPA’s final Tailoring Rule defines what stationary sources will be subject to greenhouse gas emission controls and regulations during a phase-in process beginning Jan. 2, 2011.

    Why? If you take CO2 from the atmosphere to make biofuels one year, and then burn the fuel the next, atmospheric CO2 is unaffected. This is quite different from either ‘natural’ permafrost carbon or ‘anthropogenic’ fossil fuel carbon.

  24. 74

    48, 67 70 (James),

    If I may, and please take this in the sincere, honest and helpful way that it is intended… I do wish that Gavin had not edited your response, but it seems that you got carried away with its length, and in any event in the end it wasn’t necessary, because you were “tilting at windmills” by arguing things that people here really don’t even blink at (such as outrageous claims by fools in the media which are mere misunderstandings or distortions of the actual science, which is what the people here know and pay attention to).

    When I asked you to list outrageous claims, it went unsaid but was assumed that you would reference the IPCC report or actual scientific studies, not any media nonsense. I live in America where I see very little such MSM distortions, except in the other direction from Fox News (oh, and apologies for the “sic”, it’s a professional/editorial habit merely meant to highlight the fact that the “error” wasn’t my own, but you’re right, with international participation it’s not accurate or appropriate).

    It would seem that you’ve studied and are invested in the issue, which is good, but you have been distracted and annoyed by the noise (such as Monckton, or outrageous claims of dangers). It has struck a nerve with you, which causes you to become emotional about the arguments from one side (but not the other? Why no such indignation at Monckton’s nonsense?).

    My advice… as much as you think you understand the science, and the issues, you probably don’t because you have been too distracted by the noise. You have to learn to ignore and dismiss the noise from both sides. If you read an article that says that all coastal cities will be underwater by 2040, don’t get angry and think “those evil climate scientists, they’re fools.” The scientists don’t think any such thing, and even if the words showed up somewhere, somehow, the reality was far more nuanced. Just roll your eyes and dismiss it, or better yet, trace it back to the actual scientific paper that inspired the absurd and distorted claim and find out what the scientists really think.

    It’s amazing how much real, important information is out there when you subtract the emotion from your reaction and always, always, always follow the thread back to its source.

    If you turn yourself into a true skeptic, if you say “wait a minute, maybe this is more complicated than it seems at first,” if you do that and you put your energy into learning instead of anger, you may be surprised at what you find.

    No one is going to convince you of the truth of ACC. You have to convince yourself. But right now you aren’t qualified to do so, because you are too angry, and too distracted by the nonsense.

  25. 75

    re: #53, Dan Satterfield wrote:

    “If you want to understand people like Monckton and more importantly why he has so many devoted followers, then I would suggest reading the following:


    The Author is Bob Altemeyer PhD a psychologist at the Univ. of Manitoba.

    I used to think crackpots like Moncton were basically harmless. Altemeyer changed my mind. Altemeyer also seems to explain why some people become more convinced of their beliefs even when shown in black and white they are wrong.

    Google it and the book is a free pdf on his website.”

    Bob Altemeyer’s free pdf book “The Authoritarians” is a must read for all.

    He first published the book online in 2006, and has updated it to cover the current situation.

  26. 76
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Amazing how often we hear of this court decision regarding “Inconvenient Truth” with various imaginative interpretations added, yet we so rarely are pointed to the court’s own summation and judgment on the case.

    That’s probably because the truth of what the court said is very inconvenient.

    Mr. Justice Burton tells us what actually happened.

  27. 77
    bluegrue says:

    One more observation on Monckton’s graphs. When he plots RSS or UAH he also shifts them such that the minimum value of the plotted period is zero, the same way as he does with his “SPPI index”. So the data he plots are no longer the well defined anomalies with respect to the base period and in this sense can no longer be regarded as RSS or UAH temperature anomalies.

  28. 78
    msc says:

    I think you left blood on the floor with this one. Good. It’s about time we lost patience with the amoral denialists.

  29. 79
    David B. Benson says:

    James — Please study “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    before coming back.

    Thank you.

  30. 80
    MapleLeaf says:

    Mosher @33,

    “Some of us at CA have repeatedly criticized Monkton for his bad work.”

    Good to hear that you and at least a few (of the many) people posting at CA feel that way– I’ll let RomanM confirm whether or not he has openly condemned Monckton’s antics.

    That said, I’m sorry, a few people critiquing Monckton at CA and other “skeptical” blogs is simply not good enough for something this important. What counts is whether or not the self-proclaimed “citizen auditor” is going to make a public point of not only unequivocally condemning (and auditing) Monckton but also condemning those who insist on supporting and aiding Monckton (e.g., WUWT, Morano etc.). Fulfilling the latter point is especially important.

    WUWT (i.e., Watts) has been aggressively promoting and supporting Monckton. So, for your condemnation of Monckton here to be convincing, you would need to extend your condemnation to also include anyone who is openly supportive of Monckton.

    PS: My original comment was directed at RomanM and CA.

  31. 81
    D. Price says:

    As regards CO2 emissions in the 21st century Monckton may be right for the wrong reason. firstly the IPCC assumes that fossil fuel reserves are much more abundent than they really are. Oil is peaking and coal may be much less abundent than is commonly assumed. Secondly it auumed no tecnical innovation. By the later part of the 21st century regardless of fears about climate change fossil fuels will seem very primative and outdated.

  32. 82
    Adam R. says:

    James — Please study “The Discovery of Global Warming” by Spencer Weart:
    before coming back.

    How many here have suggested to deniers that they take this elementary step to enlightenment? How many have ever seen one of the benighted take this step?

    The ratio, I suspect, is depressingly high.

  33. 83
    HAS says:

    Back at #46 Gavin said in relationship to Hargreaves “Skill and Uncertainty in climate models” (and the Wiley site is now available):

    “They looked at ‘no change’ and also linear trend extrapolation over various time periods. The ‘no change’ model was the best predictor of changes in the historical data, and so would have been the best naive model in 1988. But the hansen simulation still has higher skill than any justifiable linear fit of the earlier data.”

    The interesting point is the criteria they use to decide what is acceptable/justifiable as a naive model. They limited this to two models. One where you simply use the latest observation to forecast, and the other where you use a recent trend (over some period). Regrettably we never see the test of the skill of the Hansen model against the latter (it clearly has greater skill than either Hansen or the prediction based on the latest observation) because in the past this model hasn’t been a good predictor of the future.

    [Response: Huh? The calculation of skill is specifically made to determine that. Perhaps you’d care to mention what linear trend you would have predicted in 1988 and why? And then we can calculate the skill (and no cheating!). – gavin]

    This does lead to a useful discussion about what we are doing here and what constitutes the naive counter factual (which I hope isn’t straying too far OT).

    The first point to make is that if asked to forecast the next twenty years observation from temperature anomaly time series most of us would do as Tom Scharf suggests – lay down a ruler over the recent past and extrapolate. Something instinctively tells us this trend is likely to continue in the short-term. If however we were asked to forecast the next century’s anomalies we might well be more circumspect and perhaps predict no trend. We do know that Tom would have more skill than Hansen in the short-term even if this isn’t really what interests us in climate models. Regrettably we can’t know about the long-term.

    The second point that follows is that in our naivety we do better than following the kind of mechanistic trend model Hargreaves requires, we instinctively recognize patterns and incorporate those into our assessment of the likely future trends. Analytically my understanding is that ARMA models provide the best naive (i.e. using no more than the data itself) fit to these time series. It would be interesting to see the skill test used to compare Hansen with these.

  34. 84

    They do protest too much

    Extremist blogs unfairly criticize SPPI’s Monthly CO2 Reports

    by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

    SPPI’s authoritative Monthly CO2 Reports have been providing hard, real-world data about changes in CO2 concentration, temperature, sea ice, hurricane activity, and many other climate indicators for two years. These regular reports, now widely cited on television, in universities, and in Congress, have proven highly embarrassing to climate extremists. Our graphs show that the climate is responding normally, and that neither CO2 concentration nor temperature is rising anything like as fast as the UN’s climate panel had predicted.

    [Response: They are embarrassing to anyone with a shred of scientific integrity. If you think that is ‘extreme’, I feel sorry for you. – gavin]

    Now the extremists are seeking to dismiss our CO2 concentration and temperature graphs as incorrect in various respects. This short note answers some of the inappropriate criticisms currently circulating on the extremist blogs.

    Allegation 1: The light-blue zones on the SPPI CO2 concentration graphs, which we say are a fair representation of the IPCC’s predicted path for CO2 concentration growth on the assumption that emissions continue to increase in accordance with the A2 emissions scenario, are said to be incorrect in that they do not match the IPCC’s prediction, which in any event ought to be called a “projection”.

    Answer: 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.

    [Response: CO2 concentrations are going up almost exactly as predicted, and well within the bounds of the A2 set of projections – Your graph is fake. – gavin]

    Allegation 2: It is said that we unreasonably say that because CO2 concentration has been rising in a straight line for a decade it may continue to rise in a straight line for the rest of this century, and that over a period as short as a decade or less it is impossible to distinguish a linear trend from an exponential trend such as that predicted by the IPCC on the A2 scenario.

    Answer: Our detractors admit that on our CO2 concentration graph we correctly plot the least-squares linear-regression trend on the actual NOAA data, which we also correctly plot. However, they say we should not draw the conclusion that the data are trending towards mere linearity. In fact, we performed a simple but powerful statistical test before drawing that conclusion: we calculated the linear-regression trends over successively longer periods to see whether the slope of the trend progressively increased (as it must if the curve is genuinely exponential); but, in recent years, the trend has ceased to increase. 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.

    [Response: Whoosh, see those goal posts move…. – gavin]

    Allegation 3: It is said that we use graphs showing that global temperatures have been falling since 2001 to support what is called our “claim that the climate models are wildly inaccurate”, and that we have plotted predictions of equilibrium temperature change rather than of the lesser transient temperature change that the IPCC actually predicts.

    Answer: As any edition of the Monthly CO2 Report will show, we produce graphs starting not only in 2001, at the turn of the millennium (which have until recently shown temperatures on a falling trend) but also in 1980 (which show temperatures rising at about 1.5 K/century). Nor do our Monthly CO2 Reports usually draw any conclusions about whether “climate models are wildly inaccurate”: for the purpose of the reports is simply to present the data. Of course, there is considerable evidence in the literature that the models unwisely relied upon by the IPCC do tend heavily to over-predict future “global warming”. 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.

    [Response: Perhaps you’ll actually show what the IPCC actually predicted this time instead of making it up. We can but hope. – gavin]

    Finally, we do appreciate that climate-extremists find our graphs uncomfortable. Since we first began to produce the Monthly CO2 Reports, the extremists have not been able to get away with the suggestion, often made before, that “global warming is far worse than predicted”. As our graphs have compellingly and accurately demonstrated, warming is far less severe than predicted. That, whether the extremists like it or not, is the truth, and our graphs will unashamedly continue to demonstrate it, for as long as it remains true.

    [Response: Truth, meet Monckton. Monckton, please meet truth. We trust you will get along better in the future. In the meantime, please continue to use your powers of entertainment as widely as you possibly can. It livens up our otherwise dull days. – gavin]

  35. 85
    ccpo says:

    #45 PaulW: Wouldn’t it just be simpler if the IPCC was clear about what the predictions are.

    There are no IPCC predictions. I thought that was made abundantly clear.

    Almost everyone has different impression about what the models (together with the assumptions) are predicting – short and long-term.

    They aren’t predicting.

    Credibility could be achieved by meeting a 2015 prediction for example.

    Scientists have been seeing their scenarios proved correct for a hundred years now. And you are setting up a straw man: There are no predictions to have come true, only scenarios, the accuracy of which help to refine models further in the future.

    The Methane assumptions are also too high since it looks to reach a plateau soon.

    Oh? The clathrates in the sea bed and permafrost have stopped melting or something?


  36. 86

    Several people have mentioned that they don’t think RC should be addressing commentators of Monckton’s (extremely low) caliber. I can’t speak for RC–I just told them I was working on a piece about this and asked if they wanted it. However, I agree with those who have pointed out that people do need easy-to-access critiques of Monckton’s material, if only because some very powerful people DO take him seriously.

    I think there’s one other point to consider, as well. This particular topic (Monckton’s graphs) wasn’t particularly high-brow, but that may be an advantage. That is, practically anyone, regardless of scientific training, is capable of understanding that 1) Monckton claimed the IPCC predicted X, but 2) the IPCC said they did no such thing. Furthermore, they can understand that 3) several scientists have already pointed this out to him, and he never corrects his mistakes. If the goal is to clear the way for a reasonable public discussion of climate change, somebody has to take the chances that come to offer concrete and easily understandable evidence that certain people are incapable of participating in such a thing.

  37. 87

    Fie on Monckton; the graphs in this article are very confusingly labeled. I don’t know who did what.

  38. 88

    D. Price (#82),

    If we choose to extract it, we can still get quite a bit of oil from oil shales.

    In any case, this would still not make Monckton “right for the wrong reasons,” because A2 is on the high end of the scenarios the IPCC uses. How this translates into a “prediction” is beyond me.

  39. 89
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    \How many here have suggested to deniers that they take this elementary step to enlightenment? How many have ever seen one of the benighted take this step?\ – 82

    I have been in this \business\ for 30 years, and have never seen a denialist change it’s spots.

    They are incapable of rational thought or argument. Their denial is based on conservative ideology alone, and they reject any fact that contradicts that ideology while embracing any Q.u.a.c.k.T.a.r.d theory – or lie – that lends any support to it.

    Scientists who are generally reasoned people and who are trained to accept evidence above all else, are typically incapable of comprehending the situation they are in.

    Scientist think that if they just explain things a little better that the denialists will respond to their reasoned, scientific arguments as rational men and women should.

    But these are not resonable men and women and these are not reasonable times with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Faux news driving and enabling the underlying neo-dark era ideology.

    Victory will ultimately come to the scientists of course, but that is a half century away.

    In the mean time Americans in the next election cycle will elect a more extreme conservative government than ever before, and that will halt any movement on climate change for the next decade at least, not to mention increase the already untold damage they have already caused the American state.

    So…. As a Scientist… What are your plans? As a rational man… What are your plans?

    I do agree, the following link, links to an excellent expose.

  40. 90
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Oil is peaking and coal may be much less abundent than is commonly assumed.” – 81

    Oil has already peaked, but coal reserves are essentially infinite in the sense that the amount available can never be consumed without extinguishing the human species.

    From whence comes your misinformation regarding coal?

  41. 91
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Several people have mentioned that they don’t think RC should be addressing commentators of Monckton’s (extremely low) caliber.” – 83

    From a tactical standpoint the Monckton K.O.O.K.T.A.R.D should be destroyed in the public eye first, along with other low hanging fruits.

    But this must be done in a forum that is on the radar of the common man, and not limited to RealClimate.

    It is clear that well motivated and funded conservative groups have set up fast response spammer clubs to monitor for and post Conservative K.O.O.K.T.A.R.D. nonsense to any major forum in which the topic of Climate Change is reported.

    These minor players will continue to drive public discourse until they are exposed to the general public.

  42. 92
    MapleLeaf says:

    Re #84,

    Was that really Monckton? It is hard to distinguish between parody and the real thing….

    Anyhow, at least one error to correct right off the bat:

    “SPPI’s authoritative Monthly CO2 Reports have been providingfudging/fabricating hard, real-world data about changes in CO2 concentration, temperature, sea ice, hurricane activity, and many other climate indicators for two years.”

    There fixed. And wow, two whole years? I am impressed.

    Anyhow, so as to not spoil the fun for others I’ll stop there….

  43. 93
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Regarding Vendicar’s remarks, Hank Roberts has alluded many times to the underlying psychology of denial, that is to say the formal notion of denial as it relates to cognitive dissonance. Folks interested in innovating communication methods not already shown to be completely ineffective (such as bashing people repeatedly over the head with facts when facts are not actually the real matter of concern to the unreceptive) might do well to spend time trawling Google scholar on cognitive+dissonance+climate+communications and variations thereof.

    Taking a look at the “Six Americas” reports of Leiserowitz, Maibach and Light will help to bring clarity of understanding to what is otherwise a frustrating situation leading to ill-founded conclusions such as that contrarians are necessarily “incapable of rational thought or argument.” In fact, these effects are confined only to certain topics. It’s all quite interesting.

    It’s hard to imagine there’s any way to effectively deal with the problem in venues such as RC. It’s probably reasonable to say that those contrarians sufficiently motivated to pursue counterfactual arguments on websites such as this one are likely the most difficult cases to deal with.

  44. 94
    HAS says:

    Gavin response at #83

    “Huh? The calculation of skill is specifically made to determine that. Perhaps you’d care to mention what linear trend you would have predicted in 1988 and why? And then we can calculate the skill (and no cheating!)”

    I’m not sure I understand – the calculation of skill compares two models based on RMSE of their forecasts. In Hargreaves the skill test for Hansen is only reported against the forecast based on latest flat line observation, not for any other models.

    Let me take you through this.

    I’ve pulled down what I think is Hadcut3 anomalies, stuck a regression through the 20 years (as used by Hargreaves)from 1969 – 1988. Get Anomaly = 0.0151 * year – 29.9. Forecast that through 1989 – 2008 to match Hargreaves. Calculate the skill against what reading from figure 1 of Hargreaves seems to be the null hypothesis of 0.15 over the forecast period, and get a skill score of .53, not much shy of the .56 of Hansen. I don’t have the output from Hansen that Hargreaves used but skill as defined here is transitive and anyway able to be calculated from the skill score and the actual data.

    This is rough as guts and I’m sure a more sophisticated naive person could do better:) As to Gavin’s “and why?” my rationale for just picking the recent trend follows Gavin’s comment in my comment at #83.

    What I was questioning here initially was why models were being excluded that on quick glance one could see was going to do better than the null hypothesis actually used (and were a natural for a naive person to try e.g. exactly Tom Scharf’s suggestion).

    Having now spent 20 minutes looking in more detail I have a further question – why wasn’t the sensitivity of the result to the level of null hypothesis explored?

    [Response: But let’s explore this further. Why did you choose a start date of 1969? Is there any evidence (that was available prior to 1988) that a trend based on the previous 20 years was a skillful null hypothesis? (note that I can’t quite match your trend calculation – I used the HadCRUT3v data annual mean data and I get 0.12 deg C/dec for the 1969-1987 (inclusive) trend). The problem is that now you already know what the answer is, and so there is a possibility of looking through the data to find something that fits better. So to be fair, you have to either use a null hypothesis that was actually proposed at the time (no change certainly was), or come up with a scheme which you could justify using data available the time. Technically that would preclude HadCRUT3v, but that is a minor issue.

    Curiously, the earliest reference I have ever found to the linear extrapolation as a serious prediction in this issue was in 1992 by Bill Nierenberg, and he used the whole 20th Century to predict a trend of 0.1ºC/decade over the 21st Century. Even given the later date of this prediction, it still has less skill than the Hansen result. – gavin]

  45. 95
    Toby says:

    Monckton is a consumate salesman. His presentations are models of excellence in terms of technique, and anyone could learn from him.

    It is a pity that such skills are used to disseminate lies.

    I checked out James’ list of “climate-gates” (he is right – whoever christened the list was not encouraging discussion). The vast majority are not linked to cliamte science at all, but are just political talking points e.g. “Spain night-time solar energy gate”. My advice: don’t bother.

  46. 96
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re #62 i.e.

    Perhaps if the IPCC scenarios are just that, then the IPCC should remove the likelihoods of them coming true. I think that it creates confusion

    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. It would not be climatology so I bet that its not in the working groups which matter (1 and 2).

    [Response: It’s not in any IPCC report since they specifically state that you can’t do that. Some people have subsequently tried to interpret them probabilistically (Wigley and Raper for instance), but that is a little controversial. – gavin]

  47. 97

    Perhaps readers will have noticed the difference in style and tone between my commentary above and Gavin Schmidt’s attempts to undermine it, each of which I reproduce in parentheses and answer below. Note that most of his arguments are ad hominem rather than ad rem:

    [Schmidt Response: They are embarrassing to anyone with a shred of scientific integrity. If you think that is ‘extreme’, I feel sorry for you. – gavin]

    That response is mere yah-boo. Should there not be a rational and scientific rather than an ad-hominem approach at RealClimate?

    [Schmidt Response: CO2 concentrations are going up almost exactly as predicted, and well within the bounds of the A2 set of projections – Your graph is fake. – gavin]

    On the A2 scenario, which comes closest to today’s actual CO2 emissions, the IPCC predicts (or, if you prefer, “projects”) that CO2 concentration will rise exponentially. CO2 concentration, however, is no longer rising exponentially towards the IPCC’s central estimate of 836 ppmv by 2100, but linearly towards just 570 ppmv by 2100. It is not yet clear whether this linearity will continue: but, if it does, all of the IPCC’s predictions (or, if you prefer, “projections”) of future global warming will require substantial downward adjustment on this ground alone.

    [Schmidt Response: Whoosh, see those goal posts move…. – gavin]

    This, too, does not seem to be a scientific response. I had pointed out, surely reasonably, that a (non-peer-reviewed) attempt by a climate-extremist to refute my statistical analysis indicating the transition from exponentiality to linearity was unimpressive because the extremist had analyzed a CO2 concentration dataset other than that which I had used. A scientist genuinely interested in the truth would perhaps have analyzed the same dataset that I had analyzed. It was not I but the climate-extremist who analyzed the wrong dataset who had moved the goalposts.

    [Schmidt Response: Perhaps you’ll actually show what the IPCC actually predicted this time instead of making it up. We can but hope. – gavin]

    Yah-boo again. A true scientist should surely approach these questions with an open mind, not an open mouth. It is surely not particularly difficult to understand that the IPCC’s temperature predictions, on the A2 scenario, depend first upon its predictions of future (exponential) growth in CO2 concentration, and secondly upon its estimates of the quantum of equilibrium warming to be expected in response to its predicted increase in CO2 concentration. Our graphs, whose accompanying notes plainly state that it is equilibrium warming we are displaying, follow these two steps accurately. 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.

    [Schmidt Response: Truth, meet Monckton. Monckton, please meet truth. We trust you will get along better in the future. In the meantime, please continue to use your powers of entertainment as widely as you possibly can. It livens up our otherwise dull days. – gavin]

    Yah-boo yet again: not very impressive. In fact, global temperatures since 1950 have been rising at well below half the transient warming rate that the use of the IPCC’s central estimates would predict. Take the half-dozen most influential greenhouse gases, look up their concentrations in 1950 and again today, determine the consequent radiative forcings using the functions provided in Myhre (1998) and cited with approval in the IPCC’s 2001 and 2007 reports, and go figure. That is how real science is done: not by pusillanimous name-calling.

    If anyone asks how he can tell whether I or the climate extremists are right, I refer him to any of RealClimate’s blog postings about me, and invite him to decide whether the tone of those postings indicates that an objective, rational, scientific approach is being taken. Most honest observers, seeing the bossy, shrieking, almost hysterical tone that is presented on this blog, are capable of drawing the correct conclusion.

    Tone it down, Gavin. Go through your blog and remove every yah-boo you have perpetrated, and see how much more authoritative it will begin to look. At present, the difference between us is this. You are taken seriously only by climate-extremists who share your own narrow and politicized viewpoint. Those of us who have none of your financial or political interests in this question and are merely trying to find out whether and to what extent there really is a “climate crisis” are taken seriously by everyone except the climate extremists, who are increasingly ignored precisely because they will not engage in calm, rational, and above all scientific argument. It’s your call.

    [Response: For anyone who would like to look up Monckton’s idea of a calm rational argument, I would direct them here. Please carry on. – gavin]

  48. 98
    Jeanette says:

    As always simply follow the money –

  49. 99

    Gavin Schmidt, as usual, directs his readers to out-of-context extracts from a speech by me rather than to the full speech, which will be found at

    [Response: You think the context makes it better? Ha. – gavin]

    [edit – for someone apparently studying libel laws, you really should know better]

  50. 100
    Øystein says:

    It does seem to me that the 3rd Viscount of Brecthley (or wherever) confuses eloquence with fact.

    Too bad. He may someday realize his error.