When Christopher Monckton debated at the National Press Club in Canberra last July, he showed exactly why the fans of a man-made catastrophe are so frightened of free speech and open debates. With no slides or other images, in a single hour, he still changed the opinions of fully 9% of the audience , including influential journalists who had expected nothing of the kind. The Roy Morgan polling organization tracked the moment-by-moment opinions of a representative sample of 350 people throughout the debate, and Gary Morgan, the CEO, announcing the result, said that in his long experience of polling he had never seen a swing like it in opinion on any subject in so short a time.
John Cook of un-SkepticalScience tried to rescue something from the event for the “cause”, but here Monckton shows how the claims that Monckton was “confused”, “lying” and “misrepresenting evidence” all come to naught, and if John Cook only had the manners (or curiosity) to ask Christopher first, he would have found that out before airing his poor research and logical errors in public. Monckton quotes peer reviewed references ad lib, and does calculations off the top of his head. Cook makes out that he is baffled by Monckton’s sources, which is odd because Monckton quotes the IPCC, Garnaut and other “consensus” documents, which we might have thought Cook would know well.
As usual, the point of the alarmist rebuttals is not to understand the science, or to find common ground to build a better understanding, it’s to put the words, “myth”, “lies”, “bizarre”, ‘trick” and ‘distort” into the same paragraph as the words “sceptic” and “Monckton” even if there is nothing to substantiate those terms. In other words, it’s just policy-driven PR dressed up as science.
What most disturbs me is that Cook underlies his entire reasoning with the logical fallacy that “consensus” is science, and that only the Chosen Ones are allowed to form an opinion. The attitude “Thou shalt not question our experts” belongs in a religion not in science, and shows that Cook is not even slightly skeptical – what skeptic starts with the position “the experts are always right?”. Hailing consensus ought be anathema to any scientist in the quest for understanding.
The University of Queensland employs Cook now, so what does that “center of higher education” make of his low standards of reasoning or evidence and his anti-science values? It supports him, evidently. (The Quest for Knowledge being trumped by the Quest for Grants and Peer-Group Approval). The vice-chancellor has failed to answer a question from Christopher Monckton about why the university provides cover for Cook’s crude propaganda.
Cook claims the lesson for him is that “verbal debates are a mistake”. Which is true when you can’t reason and don’t have the evidence. Like any sore loser he tries to blame the loss on something else — claiming Monckton lies, yet here we can see that if Cook had stood up in the National Press Club, and made these claims with Monckton present, Monckton would have had no trouble refuting them, and quite possibly even more of the audience would have been converted. Open debate is the only way the truth gets tested.
Cook himself has been asked to post up Monckton’s rebuttal of his mistaken accusations on his website, but apparently lacks the intellectual honesty to do so. It is our pleasure to do for him what he should have done for himself in the interest of fairness and balance and the search for the truth.
Cooking the books
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Cook: “Monckton launched his Gish Gallop by arguing that climate cannot be predicted in the long-term because it’s too chaotic because, [Monckton says],
‘the climate is chaotic…it is not predictable in the long-term…they [the IPCC] say that the climate is a coupled, non-linear, chaotic object, and that therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.’
… It’s really quite self-evident that Monckton’s statement here is incorrect.”
Reply: Paragraph 18.104.22.168 of the IPCC’s 2001 report says:
“In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
My quotation from the IPCC, given from memory, was in substance accurate. Here and throughout, I shall ignore Mr. Cook’s numerous, disfiguring, ad-hominem comments.
Reply: A consensus can be bought (as Jo Nova pointed out). Fashions in opinions come and go. Dr. Denniss had said he was satisfied with the science because there was a consensus. He had appealed repeatedly to consensus. Yet in the Aristotelian canon the argumentum ad populum, or headcount fallacy, is rightly regarded as unacceptable because the consensus view – and whatever “science” the consensus opinion is founded upon – may or may not be correct, and the mere fact that there is a consensus tells us nothing about the correctness of the consensus opinion or of the rationale behind that opinion.
Adding carbon dioxide to an atmosphere will cause warming, but we need not (and should not) plead “consensus” in aid of that notion: for it is a result long proven by experiment, and has no need of “consensus” to sanctify it. However, the real scientific debate is about how much warming extra CO2 in the air will cause. There is no “consensus” on that; and, even if there were, science is not done by consensus.
Mediaeval warm period
Reply: The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mr. Cuccinelli, issued a press statement on May 28, 2010, repeating an earlier statement that –
“The revelations of Climategate indicate that some climate data may have been deliberately manipulated to arrive at pre-set conclusions. The use of manipulated data to apply for taxpayer-funded research grants in Virginia is potentially fraud. … This is a fraud investigation.”
Fraud, in the Commonwealth of Virginia as in most jurisdictions, is a criminal offence. The Attorney-General’s investigation is being conducted in terms of the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act 2000.
Is there a human fingerprint?
Reply: The scientists’ final draft of the 1995 Report said plainly, on five separate occasions, that no evidence of an anthropogenic influence on global climate was detectable, and that it was not known when such an influence would become evident.
However, a single scientist, Dr. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, rewrote the draft at the IPCC’s request, deleting all five statements, replacing them with a single statement to the effect that a human influence on global climate was now discernible, and making some 200 consequential amendments.
These changes were considered by a political contact group, but they were not referred back to the vast majority of the authors whose texts Dr. Santer had tampered with, and whose five-times-stated principal conclusion he had single-handedly and unjustifiably negated.
We now have the evidence of Prof. “Phil” Jones of the University of East Anglia, in one of the recently-released Climategate emails, that the warming of the past century falls well within the natural variability of the climate – consistent with the conclusion that Dr. Santer had negated.
The IPCC’s fraudulent statistical technique
Reply: Mr. Cook is here accusing me of lying. Yet my email address is well enough known and Mr. Cook could have asked me for my evidence for the fraudulent statistical technique before he decided to call me a liar. He did not do so. Like the hapless Professor Abraham, he did not bother to check the facts with me before making his malevolent and, as I shall now show, baseless accusation.
The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, 2007, carries in three places a graph in which the Hadley Center’s global mean surface temperature anomaly dataset from 1850-2005 is displayed with four arbitrarily-chosen trend-lines overlaid upon it. At each place where the altered graph is displayed, the incorrect conclusion is drawn that because trend-lines starting closer to the present have a steeper slope than those starting farther back, the rate of warming is accelerating and that we are to blame.
I wrote both to Railroad Engineer Pachauri (in 2009) and to a lead author of the 2007 report (in 2011), and visited both of them in person, to report this defective graph. They both refused to have it corrected, though neither was able to argue that the technique was appropriate. I have now had the data anonymized and reviewed by a statistician, who has confirmed that the technique is unacceptable. In the circumstances, the refusal of the two senior IPCC figures to correct the error constitutes fraud and, when the statistician has been shown the context of the data that he saw in an anonymized form, the police authorities in the relevant nations will be notified and prosecution sought.
Carbon pricing economics
Cook: “Monckton proceeds to claim that abrupt climate change simply does not happen:
‘Ask the question how in science there could be any chance that the rate of just roughly 1 C° per century of warming that has been occurring could suddenly become roughly 5 C° per century as it were overnight. There is no physical basis in science for any such sudden lurch in what has proven to be an immensely stable climate.’
The paleoclimate record begs to differ. A stable climate is the exception, not the norm, at least over long timescales.”
Reply: Mr. Cook displays a graph of temperature changes over the past 450,000 years. At the resolution of the graph, and at the resolution of the proxy reconstructions on which it was based, it would be quite impossible to detect or display a 5 C° warming over a period of as little as a century.
Global temperatures have indeed remained stable over the past 100 million years, varying by just 3% either side of the long-term mean. That 3% is around 8 C° up or down compared with today, and it is enough to give us a hothouse Earth at the high end and an ice age at the low end.
However, very extreme temperature change can only happen in a very short time when conditions are very different from what they are today. For instance, at the end of the Younger Dryas cooling event, 11,400 years ago, temperature in Antarctica rose by 5 C° in just three years, according to the ice cores (which, over that recent period, still have sufficient resolution to allow determination of annual temperatures). No such lurch in temperatures has happened since, and none is reasonably foreseeable.
We now have confirmation from the UK Met Office that there has been no “global warming” to speak of for 15 years. That is hardly the profile of an imminent 5 C° increase in global temperature. Bottom line: a stable climate is the rule, not the exception: and nothing that we can do to alter the climate can cause a major change such as that which terminates ice ages. Remember Canute: our power is limited.
Human influence on the climate
Reply: I did not say that the climate will behave “exactly” as it has in the past. We are capable of exerting some influence over it, but not very much. The notion that we can exercise a large influence is based on the mistaken idea that the initial warming from a doubling of CO2 concentration (which might be about 1 K) will be tripled by net-positive temperature feedbacks. This unfortunate assumption is what truly separates the IPCC from scientific reality. The IPCC makes the mistake of assuming that the feedback mathematics that apply to an electronic circuit (Bode, 1945) are also applicable to the climate. In two very important respects that the models are tuned to overlook, this is not so. First, precisely because the climate has proven temperature-stable, we may legitimately infer that major amplifications or attenuations caused by feedbacks have simply not been occurring.
Secondly, the Bode equation for mutual amplification of feedbacks in an electronic circuit has a singularity (just above the maximum temperature predicted by the Stern report, for instance, or by Murphy et al., 2009) at which the very strongly net-positive feedbacks that reinforce warming suddenly become just as strongly net-negative, dampening it. I have not yet heard of a convincing physical explanation for any such proposed behaviour as applied to the climate. But if we must use the Bode equation then it necessarily follows from the climate’s formidable temperature-stability that the feedback loop gain in the climate system is either zero or somewhat net-negative. A climate subject to the very strongly net-positive feedbacks imagined by the IPCC simply would not have remained as stable as it has.
Has Earth warmed as expected?
Reply: Central England is at a latitude suitable to take the long-run temperature record as a fair proxy for global temperatures. However, if Mr. Cook were unhappy with that, he could and should have contacted me to ask for an independent verification of the 0.9 C° warming since 1750. Hansen (1984) found 0.5 C° of warming had occurred until that year, and there has been 0.4 C° of warming since, making 0.9 C°. Indeed, in another article on Mr. Cook’s website he himself uses a value of 0.8 C° in the context of a discussion of warming since 1750.
The significance, of course, is that the radiative forcings we have caused since 1750 are equivalent to those from a doubling of CO2 concentration, suggesting that the transient sensitivity to CO2 doubling is around 1 C°.
Reply: Warming from 1950 to date was 0.7 C°. Net forcings since 1950 were 1.8 Watts per square meter, using the functions given in Myhre (1998) for the major greenhouse gases and making due allowance for aerosols and other negative anthropogenic forcings. The transient climate-sensitivity parameter over the period was thus 0.4 Celsius degrees per Watt per square meter, consistent with the 0.5 derivable from Table 10.26 on page 803 of IPCC (2007) on each of the IPCC’s six emissions scenarios. In that event, the transient warming in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration over the present century would be 0.4(5.35 ln 2) = 1.5 C°, again using a function from Myhre (1998). Interestingly, the IPCC’s implicit central estimate of warming from CO2 this century, derivable by two distinct methods, is also 1.5 C°.
In short, even if the IPCC is right about the warming this century from CO2, that warming is simply not going to be enough to cause damage.
Monckton has responded to his critics in detail many times:
Don’t mock the Monck on the House of Lords question (WUWT)
Monckton responds to “potholer54” on those obsessive video compilations (WUWT)
Monckton answers a troll (WUWT)
The Monckton v Deltoid (Tim Lambert) debate (by Jo Nova)
Lambert’s Pinker-tape “ambush”: PR stunt (by Jo Nova)
All my posts tagged Christopher Monckton
Monckton has had an open challenge out to Al Gore for years
(Presumably Al knows he can’t win).