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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. 151
    Geoff Wexler says:

    A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing ..

    but it can be much more dangerous if mixed with garbage. Whereas almost every line in the Swindle TV programme was wrong, Nelson has a few bits of real physics. But the dodgy bits are placed strategically in places which matter.

    I think that it obtains its the main result by using a trick similar to that employed by Lindzen a few years ago in a non peer reviewed article. This estimated the climate sensitivity by dividing the observed warming by an excessively large estimate of the forcing. The latter is supposed to be uncertain because of the contribution of aerosols. His solution was to disregard them. In addition he and Nelson ignore all time delays.

    Nelson has numerous other flaws, not least of which is its theory of Venus and its sympathetic reference to Gerlach and Treuschner who have revised thermodynamics.

  2. 152
    Fred Moolten says:

    I believe many thanks are due Barry Bickmore as well as others who commented for the essentially thankless task of refuting Monckton’s claims through an unsparing but dispassionate and detailed description of valid evidence. Monckton probably thrives on being called names, but he can’t escape facts, as rigorously aired here.

    To Tamino (currently 142, 143, but the numbers have been shifted from their original slots and may change again) – I think your contributions have been extraordinary. I’m sorry if my ambiguous use of the term “average” was deceptive, but Monckton was referring to slopes and I thought it would be obvious to anyone visiting your site that you too were referring to slopes (rates of increase in CO2 averaged over 10 year intervals by linear regression), and not to average increases during 10 year intervals. What concerned me was that a casual reader viewing his 2002-2009 data might notice that CO2 increased less from 2008 to 2009 than in the few previous years, or that the 2006-2009 increase was less than the 2002-2005 increase, and might conclude that the recent rate of increase was at best linear (or worse) as he claimed.

    As long as the long term trends you describe clearly show that the rates themselves have been increasing, readers can see these very short term variations as noise, but I thought the point deserved some attention, particularly because of prominence of Figure 2 in Barry Bickmore’s post, and tbe NOAA data for the past few years.

    To Gavin – Rather than have the numbers shift because of new comments interpolated into the thread, could those comments be given letter extensions – e.g. 100a, 100b, etc.?

  3. 153
    D. Price says:

    re 90

    There was athread on Theoildrum about this. Recent reaeach has found coal reserves to be massively exagerated. Far from lasting 200 years as is commonly stated usable coal reserves will peak around 2025. Also the calorific content of coal is declining as high grade coal is used up and much lower grade coal is mined.

  4. 154
    deconvoluter says:

    In line response to #67

    stupid statements made by Delingpole,Booker, Watts etc…..

    James Delingpole is on BBC Radio 4 Any Questions again this Friday evening and Saturday lunch time.

    That will be the third time, he has appeared in a few months. So far, it looks as if there will not even be a pretence of balance, having on the team a person with knowledge, who avoids using libellous attacks on his opponents. James D has things in common with Chris M but without the imagination.

  5. 155
    Jacob Mack says:

    Monckton and the usual suspects:

    As my aerodynamacist and physicist friend pointed out to me: Wikipedia got the most important compressibility relation wrong when expplaining Theodore Von Karman and the Karman- Tsien relation. Von Karman is important to climate science, physics and aerodynamics, in the light of compressibility, so I urge all scientifically literate persons please steer clear of wiki > 95% of the time. It is bad enough misrepresent climate research and physics, and others just do not want to understand anything they comment on… we all make mistakes, clearly I have too, but come on, a little dignity when you reference and study please.A little physics and math (okay maybe not so little, but even 4 years is enough!) shows why Monckton,Spencer and Miskolczi are all wrong:)

    It is more than an HS explanation and more than wiki can adequately provide, believe it or not it takes some effort to wrap your head around this stuff unless you can accept the graphs on faith which obviously RC is not expecting people to do.

    Nor being a climate scientist I almost went that route before a career change, but I have been studying these works for quite a few years now, so either:

    1.) Accept the data.

    2.) Get a natural/phsyical science/math degree and wade deep into the water to understand what goes into the research and what the uncertainties are and how we know what we know at this time.

    I, myself have rushed a few posts and got it all wrong, so I am not exempt of errors… but reading sub-par material with a degree in the humanities does no service to anyone except those who would cloud the scientific findings, and since we are all here presumably to engage in thoughtful and honest discussion, the basics need to be thoroughly understood first. Now while us non-climare scientists are not sitting behind those computers we can with patience and background appreciate some the finer points of the methods used and the findings thereof.
    I noticed some serious AGW and P-chem errors in Wiki (major ones) as well… that is all.

  6. 156
    Jacob Mack says:

    And no I am not bashing anyone who has a degree in the humanities either.

  7. 157
    sidd says:

    Lord Monckton makes flawed analyses, true. But please, can we discuss real science again, instead ? I note the last three posts are about people talking about the science, rather than the science. When did realclimate go postmodern ?

  8. 158
    Jacob Mack says:

    Sidd # 157:

    Let’s start with Aa and Ed not being exactly equal… then equlibrium between the atmosphere and oceans.

  9. 159
    Fred Moolten says:

    To Jacob Mack (#155) – I haven’t visited the Wikipedia Global Warming article for a while, but I recall that I found it largely accurate, and I’ve recommended it to some readers seeking a starting point for understanding climate change. Is that wrong? Can you cite examples of what you refer to as major errors in that article (or were you referring to errors elsewhere on Wikipedia in regard to AGW)?

  10. 160
    Jacob Mack says:

    This is well constructed:

    I take issue when readers want to understand more about the physics and chemistry in detail and in a meaningful manner. Again when wiki gets compressibility and fluid dynamics wrong, it is not good.

    There are some other articles related to AGW on wiki that are far too brief as well, but yes that one is decent for a start, although I see several instances where people may misinterpret it, but that may me being pedantic.

  11. 161
    Jacob Mack says:

    The measurements taken in the 1800’s were acceptable but not as reliable and valid as the wiki article potrays, as evidenced by the still significantly off measurements and predictions made in the 1950’s, although these facts do not undo past measurements completely, I take issue with the brief and under stated remarks about the 1800’s and shying away from calibration issues. I see that more thorough and accurate references are provided, so I cannot be too hard on the article… then again it takes some study to get to what I am talking about precisely.

    RC Wiki is useful too, but it should not end there as to the truly inquisitive mind it will create more questions, but that is part of what science is about… at any rate let me slow my posts down for now so others can have their piece…

  12. 162
    flxible says:

    Jacob Mack – If you don’t find Wikipedia articles accurate, complete, or long enough, feel free to improve them, that’s what it’s all about …. and not to worry about messing things up, no doubt Stoat will be watching. :)

  13. 163
    Radge Havers says:

    Edward Greisch @ 135

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

    That’s a good question. I wish I knew. It would be great if the issue of global warming could be pried apart from other issues when it comes to politics. As it is, I’m afraid it’s been bundled into (ahem, dare I say it?) an overall obstructionist strategy. The impetus behind the apparent dismissive attitude may be more aggressive and less nonchalant than the term implies.

    A while back we had a local radio station promoting a campaign to turn on all your lights and run all your engines, etc. to protest a push for sustainability awareness. Apparently doing things like using compact florescent lighting is an attack on Freedom ™

  14. 164
    Jacob Mack says:

    # 162 good advice I will follow.

  15. 165
    Randy says:

    I find it astonishing that someone like Mr. Monckton is treated with any iota of credibility. He has published nothing peer-reviewed that is even remotely related to climate change, he isn’t a scientist, he has little or no training in the sciences and, either deliberately or accidentally, he completely misrepresents the published literature. Is there any other field of science where people like this aren’t simply dismissed as cranks or ideologues?

    Speaking of cranks, here’s how the late Martin Gardner defined them (you can make your own comparisons):

    (1) “First and most important of these traits is that cranks work in almost total isolation from their colleagues.” Cranks typically do not understand how the scientific process operates—that they need to try out their ideas on colleagues, attend conferences and publish their hypotheses in peer-reviewed journals before announcing to the world their startling discovery. Of course, when you explain this to them they say that their ideas are too radical for the conservative scientific establishment to accept. (2) “A second characteristic of the pseudo-scientist, which greatly strengthens his isolation, is a tendency toward paranoia,” which manifests itself in several ways:

    (1) He considers himself a genius. (2) He regards his colleagues, without exception, as ignorant blockheads….(3) He believes himself unjustly persecuted and discriminated against. The recognized societies refuse to let him lecture. The journals reject his papers and either ignore his books or assign them to “enemies” for review. It is all part of a dastardly plot. It never occurs to the crank that this opposition may be due to error in his work….(4) He has strong compulsions to focus his attacks on the greatest scientists and the best-established theories. When Newton was the outstanding name in physics, eccentric works in that science were violently anti-Newton. Today, with Einstein the father-symbol of authority, a crank theory of physics is likely to attack Einstein….(5) He often has a tendency to write in a complex jargon, in many cases making use of terms and phrases he himself has coined.”

    Martin Gardner did leave out anything about threatening to sue scientists who disagree with him.

  16. 166
    Veidicar Decarian says:

    “There was athread on Theoildrum about this. Recent reaeach has found coal reserves to be massively exagerated. Far from lasting 200 years as is commonly stated usable coal reserves will peak around 2025.” – 153

    If by peak you mean consumption will outstrip the ability to mine the stuff, that conclusion is based not upon the amount of coal available, but estimates on the willingness of society to pay for the production.

    Vast quantities of coal – proven to exist – remain in the ground – but not included on the reserve tally because they are not economically recoverable at current prices – in part due to the availability of oil and natural gas.

    The availability of these choice fuels removes productive pressures and prevents the classification of known seams in the reserve category.

    Several thousand gigatonnes of coal are recoverable and global consumption is less than 10 gigatonnes per year.

    A few hundred years worth of coal are therefore available.

    They will never be burned of course, since atmospheric CO2 levels can not be allowed to be driven to the levels that such consumption would produce.

    Peak Oil has already been reached.

    Coal will reach it’s peak through environmental limits rather than economic limits or limits of availability.

    Neo-Classical economics of course runs on the assumption of limitless resource availability through resource substitution in blind and ignorant defiance of the real world.

  17. 167
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Updated, problem-free emblem artwork now available for his Lordship:

    Revised and resubmitted

  18. 168
    HAS says:

    Some years ago back at #90 I had been looking at “Skill and uncertainty in climate models” J Hargreaves, because I’d earlier made the general point that the errors terms in the forecasts used by IPCC were so wide that arguments about “what proved what” with Monckton was like angels on a pin head (I wasn’t that succinct in my earlier comments).

    Gavin had suggested that Hargreaves showed that Hansen’s 1988 “had substantial skill compared to any naive model”. In comment #90 I made the point that a quick analysis using the linear trend from 1969-1988 to predict 1989 – 2008 of Hadcut3 in fact has about as much skill as Hansen.

    Gavin responded by saying:

    “ 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.”

    I had explained in #90 that I had used 1969-1988 (20 years data) simply because that was what Hargreaves had used, and back at #83 gave a rationale for choosing a linear trend for a short-term forecast (and no trend for long-term forecast), but noted that since the time series is probably ARIMA, this would be the ultimate naive model (i.e. just using the time series data). I rather suspect that the ARIMA structure of the time series would validate the human instinct to follow the recent trend if you want a short-term forecast and go for the mean if you’re going long-term.

    But Gavin’s persistence here got me to have another think and another look.

    First I realised that Hargreaves deals with a very weak form of validation. It doesn’t test whether Hansen can skilfully forecast Hadcrut3 over 1989 – 2008, only if it can forecast the trend. The skill statistic reported in Hargreaves (0.56) compares Hansen’s trend with no trend (the null hypothesis model). [If this statistic is >0 then the model has greater skill than the null hypothesis model.] I can now reproduce this result, having previously been bemused as to how Fig 1 of Hargreaves showed the zero trend heading off at an anomaly of 0.15 rather than the 20 year average over 1969 – 1988.

    In the 20 year linear trend test I had done earlier that returned about the same skill as Hansen I had looked at the skill in actually forecasting Hadcrut3, not just the trend. If I limited the test to forecasting the trend only and use the linear trend from 1969 – 1988 (0.15 per decade) as the null hypothesis to compare with Hansen’s trend the skill of Hansen is –1.76 i.e. just sticking a line through the last 20 years is much more skillful. If I use Gavin’s result from HadCRUT3v (0.12 per decade) Hansen’s skill increases to -0.33 (still less skillful), and even if I use the Nierenberg figure Gavin quotes (0.1 per decade) Hansen only breaks even.

    From this point I got thinking about the process Hargreaves had used to narrow the null hypothesis down to the one with such limited skill. Rather than looking at the dataset available in 1998 and using standard time series analysis techniques (available in 1998) to establish its underlying structure and hence the null hypothesis, the choice in null hypothesis was limited to a couple of options (trend vs no-trend) that were particularly naive (probably more naive than human instinct) and a selection process was established that appears to use the skill criteria (exactly what was done is unclear from the text) and inappropriate multiple use of the dataset.

    If Hargreaves had been seeking the best naive null hypothesis from the dataset that assumed a linear trend with time (of which “no trend” is just a special case) why didn’t she just do the tests?

  19. 169
  20. 170
    Billy t says:

    Jacob Mack – instead of complaining about Wikipedia, just create yourself an account and fix the errors already…

  21. 171
    Chris O'Neill says:

    [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.

    Obviously, “you’re graph is a fake” is not scientific response. No wonder no-one can get through to him.

  22. 172

    PhilC 110: As any science fiction write will tell, you science fiction, which this is, is nortoriously poor at predicting what actually happens.

    BPL: They’re not predictions, they’re stories. Nonetheless, as any science fiction writer (like me) will tell you, SF has a pretty good record of predicting what actually happens. SF writers have predicted:

    The first manned flight to the Moon, from Florida, with a three-man crew (Verne, “De la Terre a la Lune,” a century before it happened)

    Tanks as combat vehicles (Verne, “The Steam Elephant;” Wells, “The Land Ironclads”)

    Bioengineering new plants and animals (Stapledon, “Last and First Men,” 1930)

    Nuclear reactor accidents at commercial power stations (Del Rey, “Nerves;” Heinlein, “Solution Unsatisfactory,” ’40s)

    Personal computers (Leinster, “A Logic Named Joe,” 1946)

    Pocket calculators, right down to the size, gray-plastic case, and red-glowing numbers (Asimov, “The Feeling of Power,” ’50s)

    The collapse of the Soviet Union (Sprague de Camp, “Brown’s Date,” ’50s)

    Professional female combat soldiers (Heinlein, “Tunnel in the Sky,” 1956)

    A larger US Muslim population (Heinlein, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” 1961)

    That Ronald Reagan would become president of the United States, at a time when he was thought to be a crazy-right, washed-up has-been (Firesign Theatre, “I Think We’re All Bozos on This Bus;” Brunner, “The Sheep Look Up,” early ’70s)

    Need I go on?

  23. 173

    The best response to the likes of Monckton is to ask why the wealthiest industry in the world has to defend its interests using unqualified cranks and retired scientists. If climate science was really fatally flawed, the fossil fuel industry could easily afford to pay for a definitive study that would overturn the alleged fraud. Here in Australia, the mining industry threatened the government with an A$100-million advertising campaign just to reduce a proposed new tax on profits. They won. With that sort of money to throw around the fossil fuel industry (wealthier than general mining) could fund world-class science to defend their interests. Instead, at best, they are funding world-class clowns.

    The only logical explanation is that they have already done the world-class science, and found it didn’t help their case. Some evidence on my blog (see reference to 1995 NY Times article).

  24. 174

    163 (Radge), 135 (Edward),

    Some observations about “…how to change the minds of the dismissive.”:

    1) There is a certain arrogance in some people which requires that they be right. Those people can only convince themselves. Efforts by other people to do so trigger negative emotional rather than rational responses and have the opposite effect.

    Put another way, these types of people will always put their energy into winning the game (i.e. proving themselves right) rather than trying to determine the truth, so they will hear, but won’t listen.

    2) Many deniers have a good versus evil view of the debate, as well as the world as a whole (and debates on most other issues). People that disagree with them don’t simply hold a differing opinion, but instead are classified as evil and villainous. A perfect example of this is the way relatively private and out-of-the-limelight people like Jones and Mann are vilified in blogs, while caricatures who never stop shrieking hysterics like McIntyre and Monckton are applauded as heroes.

    Put another way, these types of people will casually dismiss the “proclamations” of the other side as they would the preachings of a foreign religion, so they won’t even hear, let alone listen.

    3) Many deniers begin with a completely different frame of reference as a foundation (and foundations cannot be easily changed). Their first thought is about security, as defined by a minimized world view (themselves, their family, their region, their job, their financial prospects, their immediate future). Emotionally, distant places, peoples and times do not enter into their thinking as a tangible factor, except as an afterthought. Verbally they may claim this is not true, but in fact it is.

    Put another way, the everyday and the present are too tangible to them, while the foreign and future are too abstract, so they’ll listen, but internally they’ll weight arguments with a wildly wrong imbalance.

    * * *

    It would be interesting to cross reference people’s stance on climate change with their Meyers-Briggs ratings.

  25. 175
    Brian Dodge says:

    Monckton of Brenchley (a Lord, whether you like it or not) — 8 August 2010 @ 5:36 PM “Our detractors admit that on our CO2 concentration graph we correctly plot the least-squares linear-regression trend on the actual NOAA data, “GLOBALVIEW-CO2 is derived from measurements but contains no actual data. To facilitate use with carbon cycle modeling studies, the measurements have been processed (smoothed, interpolated, and extrapolated) resulting in extended records that are evenly incremented in time. Be aware that information contained in the actual data may be lost in this process. Users are encouraged to review the actual data in the literature, in data archives (CDIAC, WDCGG), or by contacting the participating laboratories.”

    Perhaps Lord Monckton would like to graph the NOAA “data” and point out ” …a single location intermittently perturbed by regional volcanic activity”? I’ve plotted a few locations at

    I wonder if yer Lordship picked a “processed (smoothed, interpolated, and extrapolated)” “dataset” which only goes back to 1979, instead of the data at, which goes back to 1959, because that makes the curve look flatter.

  26. 176
    Geoff wexler says:

    #168 and #83 (not #90)

    Linear extrapolation ‘model’. In my view, its only ‘naive’ if you can’t or won’t explain it (and the slope) in terms of the underlying science.

  27. 177
    Ray Ladbury says:

    HAS, you seem not to understand that Hansen’s model is not a statistical model, but rather a physical model. He does not use temperature data to get a best-fit slope, but rather estimates a slope from the physics. Thus, getting the trend as close as he does demonstrates significant skill in the model.

  28. 178
    Dan says:

    re: 163. “1) There is a certain arrogance in some people which requires that they be right.”

    In addition, there have a very large amount of insecurity and an astounding inability to admit when they are flat out wrong. Even when the science does not support them. Thus, they can’t follow the scientific method and either lie or make things up. For example, Monckton.

  29. 179
    PhilC says:

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

    Nice debate technique Gavin- I have no likes or dislikes about the IPPC conclusions or assumptions. They are what they are: the opinions of small groups of people The point about the IPCC “images of the future” is that they are not scientific predictions. Putting together a coherent story line is making things up, by definition. The resulting science fiction stories have no place in a presentation about what may happen to the climate in the future. What is needed are sound forecasts based on the data.

    [Response: Please look up the process that the Integrated Assessment Groups use to develop these scenarios. There is plenty of data used. The problem with any of this is that somethings are just inherently unpredictable – technology development, societal development, wars, etc. and so you are never going to have ‘predictions’ of human societal development decades into the future. If you think otherwise, please point me to any that you find – along with your reasons to imagine that they will be correct. – gavin]

    :With apologies to Lewis Carroll:

    “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
    That alone should encourage the crew.
    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
    What I tell you three times is true.”

    If Monckton’s presentations are fantasy, so are those from the IPCC.

    [Response: You misunderstand completely. Monckton’s fantasy is that he is talking about anything that is relevant to what the IPCC said. He is not. He is of course perfectly at liberty to construct his own scenarios, use his own climate ‘models’ to calculate the impact on climate, and then evaluate his projections against the actual data. But he is claiming that his scenarios are those of the IPCC – they are not. That his climate models are those used by the IPCC – they are not. And that his incorrect evaluation methods demonstrate something about the the IPCC scenarios and projections. They do not. This really isn’t a very difficult point to grasp. – gavin]

    The fact that the earth appears to have gone through huge changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration over geologic eras, while the estimated temps went from 12degC to 22 deg C regardless of “Snowball Earth” or “Cretaceous Hot House” with both hot and cold periods occurring during both high and low CO2 regimes and both with and without ice caps argues very strongly that we do not understand the climate mechanism at all. I have never seen any climate modelling that even includes the fact that ice ages occur or that while they occur the earth doesn’t freeze down to -175 C. If the science can’t address that, its ability to estimate what will happen in 10, 20, or a 100 years is nonexistant.

    [Response: Odd comment, there are many simulations of ice age conditions and they show quite neatly that the configuration of large ice sheets, low GHGs, changes in vegetation and cooler overall temperatures are stable. – gavin]

    I highly recommend “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll ( as a sterling example of irrational thought. I wish he were alive today to write some new tales.

    As far as Nelson’s site, apparently you didn’t read the graph. The temperature scale starts at Odeg temperature increase at 0% increase from the current level of CO2. That is patently correct. The temperature at the current level of CO2 is the same as the temperature at the current level of CO2 so the difference is zero. Once you realize that, the rest of it follows in a straightforward fashion. 5deg-9deg temp. rise for a doubling of CO2 are taken from the IPCC scenarios. Since neither one fits back to the current temp data, something has to be wrong in the 5-9deg. increase prediction.

    [Response: No. Something is wrong with a linear extrapolation in a very non-linear situation. – gavin]

    The obvious candidate is that the CO2 feedback is not positive as all the climate models assume, but negative as shown by the ERBE and CERES experiments. A negative feedback also neatly fits in with the fact that the earth’s temperature doesn’t fluctuate over wide ranges because the ocean and atmosphere act in concert to stabilize the temperature around a median level.

    [Response: Net negative feedback (i.e. climate sensitivity less than 1 deg C ) is completely inconsistent with the ice ages that you quoted above. Please be a little consistent. – gavin]

  30. 180
    SecularAnimist says:

    I cannot help but feel that given the extreme and terrible effects of anthropogenic global warming that we can see going on all over the world at this very moment, that it is utterly appalling that good people are spending so much time focused on the absolute garbage that frauds, liars and cranks like Monckton are cranking out.

    What will it take? Canada burning from coast to coast like Russia is burning now, with hundreds of people dying every day in major US cities from the heat and toxic smoke like people are dying in Moscow now?

  31. 181
    SecularAnimist says:

    BPL wrote: “Personal computers (Leinster, ‘A Logic Named Joe,’ 1946)”

    That was a particularly prophetic story. I heard a radio adaptation of it, on a recording of a 1940s program called “X Minus One”. It not only predicted personal computers; it predicted something like the Internet, and not only that, it predicted many of the Internet-era problems with privacy, and universal access to sensitive and potentially dangerous information, that we are dealing with today.

  32. 182
    Didactylos says:

    HAS: You haven’t explained how a linear trend can be justified as a null hypothesis. In the short term, a positive linear trend is what we expect from global warming. So, using what you expect to see as your null hypothesis is kind of…. wrong. Utterly wrong.

    Once you have made the wrong decision to use a linear trend, you then have to decide which linear trend to use. And your results will be completely dependant on the choices you make at that point, making a mockery of the whole exercise.

    Note that choosing “no trend” as the null doesn’t (and shouldn’t) stop us from asking how closely the model trend matches the observed trend. But comparing the model trend from one time interval to the observed trend from an earlier time interval simply doesn’t make sense.

    Oh – and your “alternative model” of drawing a straight line through the last 20 years…. you may get lucky in the short term, but it looks like an uncomfortable future, since you are predicting an eternally warming world regardless of greenhouse gases or anything else. Even a naïve model needs justification.

  33. 183
    PhilC says:

    RE: #173 and sciene fiction successes

    Sciece Fiction has also had many more bloopers”

    Asimov’s Psychohistory, the three laws of robotics,
    Alien invaders of many sorts- good, bad, and indifferent
    SETI equation
    The Dean Drive
    Faster than light drive
    Using wormholes
    Going through an event horizon
    You forgot the A bomb, predicted a couple years before the first one was used. At the time it was akin to predicting that cars wouild get bigger and faster.
    Laumer’s Bolo tank
    Nano machines that can do anything, including violating the laws of thermodynamics
    Time Travel
    Anti-gravity in many various forms
    Heinlein’s later stuff,like the 4 dimensional trunk of the car in “the Number of the Beast”
    Intelligent machines
    The Turing Test
    Vernor Vinge Technological Singularity vs David Weber’s Elizabethan navies in space

    piling missed prediction on missed prediction.

    Which brings us back to the point, why is the IPCCusing science fiction as a serious method for making predictions about global climate in the first place?

    Back to the article:
    “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. “ So the good Lord is taken to task for accurately reproducing a graph of CO2 concentration increase and an accurate trend for the IPCC predictions. The point is the legitimate IPCC trendline is significantly different than the actual data. Why??? There is nothing at all dishonest about taking one of the IPCC’s non-predictions, noting that it fairly closely matches the data and drawing the conclusion that of all the non-predictions this one seems to be closest to the mark and the others are way off base.

    The whole argument that scenarios and “images of the future” and projections are not predictions is specious. When someone looks at some data, makes some assumptions and does some statistics, and draws a line past the end of the data, that is a PREDICTION- evaluating data, making some assumptions, and then predicting what is going to happen. It’s just that other disciplines seem to have much better data, a much better understanding of statistics, and much better understanding of the underlying processes that are assumed to be in play.

  34. 184
    Didactylos says:

    Don’t get hung up on sci-fi. For every correct prediction, there have been dozens of wildly inaccurate predictions, from Jules Verne’s ballistic cannon to the moon, through all the many 20th century moonbases (and beyond), to the more wild speculations about all kinds of things. We still can’t do AI. Hover cars remain utterly impractical. We haven’t even got as far as Mars.

    I’m digressing just a little from the topic because it relates to a wider theme: confirmation bias. Just as you are conveniently remembering the large handful of correct sci-fi predictions and ignoring the rest, so Monckton remains firmly blinkered and oblivious to everything that contradicts him. Psychics rely on this phenomenon. Scientists should be wary of it.

    Of course, PhilC is also suffering from confirmation bias by conveniently forgetting those times when sci-fi got it right. Confirmation bias can always cut both ways.

  35. 185
  36. 186
    Ray Ladbury says:

    PhilC says, \I have never seen any climate modelling that even includes the fact that ice ages occur or that while they occur the earth doesn’t freeze down to -175 C.\

    Apparently you have not looked very hard. The glacial/interglacial cycle is one of the stronger constraints on climate sensitivity, and so on CO2 sensitivity.

    So the question must be asked: Since it is clear that you do not know the science, why do you persist in arguing against FICTIONAL straw men of your own (or others?) construction?

  37. 187
    Didactylos says:

    PhilC said: “The resulting science fiction stories have no place in a presentation about what may happen to the climate in the future. What is needed are sound forecasts based on the data.”

    Bwahahahahaha!! If the IPCC had been more specific, you would accuse them of wielding a crystal ball instead of doing science. And you would be right.

    But they didn’t. They used the available data to construct a range of futures that must almost certainly bound the actual future, and that can be compared meaningfully with the observed future as it happens.

    How can you “forecast” whether strict CO2 controls will be imposed and enforced? You can’t! So the IPCC studies both alternatives.

    This isn’t complicated. Climate science often gets very technical and nuanced, but the IPCC scenarios just aren’t. They are easy to understand, easy to interpret, and are explained in detail.

    So far as I can see, the only reason you don’t like them is because they do cover every eventuality so well. You would prefer the IPCC to have made one forecast, then you could have crowed about how they got it wrong when reality inevitably diverged. Perhaps it is time you considered the possibility that climate scientists actually know what they are doing?

  38. 188
    dhogaza says:

    PhilC shows an amazing lack of credibility when he says stuff like:

    I have never seen any climate modelling that even includes the fact that ice ages occur or that while they occur the earth doesn’t freeze down to -175 C.

    Um, PhilC baby, ya gotta LOOK if you expect to SEE. Your ignorance of the state of climate modeling does not prove that climate models suck. It only proves that you’re ignorant.

    The obvious candidate is that the CO2 feedback is not positive as all the climate models assume

    They don’t *assume*, PhilC, they *compute*. It’s an outcome, not an assumption.

    Again, your ignorance proves nothing other than the fact that you’re ignorant.

    Go do some studying and come back when you’ve learned something. If you think ignorant statements such as this are going to impress people around here, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

    Where did you learn about climate models? By attending a lecture by Monckton?

    For those of you having trouble with reCAPTCHA, I find that hitting the widget to give a new one (the circle-arrow widget) a few times eventually yields something legible.

  39. 189
    SecularAnimist says:

    Given what is happening in Russia and Pakistan at this very moment, and the highest temperatures ever recorded being observed all over the Earth, not to mention the recently observed ongoing die-off of oceanic phytoplankton, just to mention a few “current events”, arguments about “forecasts” seem surrealistic.

  40. 190
    Doug Bostrom says:

    PhilC says: 10 August 2010 at 9:46 AM

    Possibly because he’s preoccupied w/fear and confusion about anthropogenic climate change, Phil has apparently missed the fact that GCMs are employed to explore various “what ifs” quite apart from the unfolding case being dealt with by the IPCC etc. Stepping away from AGW and looking at GCM applications to other questions is a useful calming exercise.

    Phil has also apparently been infected by an article from American Thinker. Anybody following this thread and tempted to imagine Phil’s remarks on “negative feedback” are useful should read the following articles before forming any conclusions:

    American Thinker – the Difference between a Smoking Gun and a Science Paper


    American Thinker Smoking Gun – Gary Thompson’s comments examined

    It’s notable that the term “smoking gun” itself implies the discovery of some sort of crime as opposed to an error, quite in keeping with Randy’s remarks on cranks earlier in this thread.

  41. 191

    179 (PhilC),

    If I may, Phil, intense emotion comes through in your post. You obviously intently believe what you are saying, but I think this is obscuring your judgment. Instead of trying to make a point, for a moment consider that the person with whom you are arguing has made a career of climate science, and pretty much risen to the pinnacle of his field. This does not by default make him right, but it does imply that you should maybe step back and consider what he says a little more thoroughly, and perhaps do more research (a lot more research).

    Your position is fraught with errors, with things that you think you understand because you’ve seemingly listened to the denialsphere echo chamber without bothering to skeptically say \wait, is that true?\

    [First hint: the IPCC conclusions or assumptions, and their Assessment Reports, are not remotely the \opinions of small groups of people.\]

    Suggestion… play devil’s advocate with yourself. Try as hard as you can to beat yourself at your own game. No one here can convince you, but if you are intelligent and you invest the time (which your level of emotion suggests you are motivated to do) then you should be able to persistently and ruthlessly try to prove yourself wrong.

    If you are honest with yourself, and in the end come off merely affirming your original position, so be it. If you are dishonest with yourself, and stop as soon as you can affirm your current position without too much discomfort, that is your choice. And if you are honest with yourself, and change your position, then you get to be a part of an effort to help do the right things.

    But please understand, everyone here is reading your posts and thinking \wow, this guy just doesn’t get it, does he?\ When you think you are scoring direct hits, the actual effect is quite the opposite.

  42. 192
    Brian Dodge says:

    Monckton – quoted by Bickmore
    “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.”

    Summary for Policymakers:
    Monckton’s statements about the “flattening” increase in CO2 are self refuting, an error.[1]

    [1]*Spock: “Ah! Mr. Scott. I understand you’re having difficulty with the warp drive. How much time do you require for repair?”
    Scotty: “There’s nothing wrong with the bloody thing.”
    Spock: “Mr. Scott, if we return to Space Dock, the assassins will surely find a way to dispose of their incriminating footwear, and we will never see the Captain or Dr. McCoy alive again.”
    Scotty: “Could take weeks, sir.”
    Spock: “Thank you, Mr. Scott. Valeris, please inform Starfleet Command that our warp drive is inoperative.”
    Valeris: “A lie?”
    Spock: “An error.”

  43. 193
    Doug Bostrom says:

    When people like Monckton reach into people’s brains and stir them:

    The theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world.[1] Here is a list of 24 counterexamples: any one of them shows that the theory is incorrect.

    Conservapedia: The theory of relativity is a liberal plot

    When somebody purposely infects our culture with intellectual rot the damage doesn’t stop where commercial interests end.

  44. 194
    Radge Havers says:

    Bob (Sphaerica) @ 174

    Insightful and well said.

    This is apt:

    “…these types of people will always put their energy into winning the game…”

    Political strategy is part science, part art, part philosophy, and part crazy-pants.

    I think it’s in “The Art of War” somewhere that you want to avoid cornering your opponent when you can give them an avenue of retreat. In the current situation, it’s a little hard to communicate with people who purposely lead their followers into a corner for the sake of making them fight more viciously, and who see little reward in cooperating with the ‘enemy.’

    Part of that calculation certainly involves planners’ views of political gaming and risk management: ker-pros-soun.html (close the spaces).

  45. 195
    Dave L says:

    Yeesh, Phil! You sure you want to bring the “predictions” of science fiction (SF) into this? Fiction is an imaginative tool humans use to model different social and physical situations that the writers feel might be possible. However, “what might be possible” in SF does not necessarily refer to the physical science and technology. For example, when Heinlein wrote The Puppet Masters, he wasn’t thinking about the probability that mind-melding extraterrestrial aliens might be a real and present danger. He was thinking about Commies invading the US and turning everyone into mindless robots (something like present day Wall Street). If you bring SF into this, you’re also bringing allegory into the mix. You might as well bring religion in at that point. It wouldn’t be outrageous to argue that most technological imaginings in SF are used merely to allow particular social experiments to take place (ala Le Guin, Delaney, even Kim Stanley Robinson, though KSR at least tries to get it right). Suggesting that the IPCC is a massive SF collective, given the volume and quality of the actual math and the measurements, >suggests< a lack of integrity on your part, or perhaps integrity toward an agenda that hasn't yet been disclosed.

    For Monckton, though, this seems to be all just a game that has nothing to do with climate science. I'd be interested to see a diagnosis from a psychologist, but, alas, it wouldn't be publishable (unless Monckton agreed to it . . . hrmmmm . . . Mr. Publicity might just be up to it. Quality entertainment: Dr. Phil talks with CM about his childhood).

  46. 196

    This doesn’t help us solve the uncertainties in the human factor that led to the various high and low emission scenario projections, but it might help with understanding other aspects of the AGW process (tho I don’t really know what they’re saying myself) —

    Quantifying uncertainty in climate change science through empirical information theory
    Andrew J. Majda1 and Boris Gershgorin

    Abstract: Quantifying the uncertainty for the present climate and the predictions of climate change in the suite of imperfect Atmosphere Ocean Science (AOS) computer models is a central issue in climate change science. Here, a systematic approach to these issues with firm mathematical underpinning is developed through empirical information theory. An information metric to quantify AOS model errors in the climate is proposed here which incorporates both coarse-grained mean model errors as well as covariance ratios in a transformation invariant fashion. The subtle behavior of model errors with this information metric is quantified in an instructive statistically exactly solvable test model with direct relevance to climate change science including the prototype behavior of tracer gases such as CO2. Formulas for identifying the most sensitive climate change directions using statistics of the present climate or an AOS model approximation are developed here; these formulas just involve finding the eigenvector associated with the largest eigenvalue of a quadratic form computed through suitable unperturbed climate statistics. These climate change concepts are illustrated on a statistically exactly solvable one-dimensional stochastic model with relevance for low frequency variability of the atmosphere. Viable algorithms for implementation of these concepts are discussed throughout the paper.

  47. 197
    wili says:

    A bit OT but picking up on a comment by SecularAnimist at 189, I am hoping against hope that there is some basic flaw in the recent article about a 40% drop in phytoplankton over the last 50 years.

    If this were true, wouldn’t we expect a considerable drop in atmospheric O2 levels, rather than the tiny drop observed?

    Does this inconsistency alone refute the article? (I’m assuming not, or wouldn’t have gotten published in the first place–so where is the flaw in my argument?)

  48. 198
    wili says:

    Here’s a link to the phytoplankton article. Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

  49. 199
    wili says:

    Here is the link to the recent phytoplankton paper. Why no great decrease in atmospheric levels of O2 if so much of the phytoplankton population has collapsed?

  50. 200
    SecularAnimist says:

    When can we stop engaging in the phony, bogus, endless, repetitive “debate” with the deniers and their corporate-scripted, copied-and-pasted, boilerplate drivel, and start engaging with the real scientific debate as to whether or not it is already too late to prevent catastrophic warming even if we ended all anthropogenic GHG emissions tomorrow?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    To paraphrase the Cowardly Lion, the only thing I ask of you climate scientists is “talk me out of it”.