Over a week ago Christopher Monckton sent this letter below to the Editor of Copernicus Publications, suggesting they reconsider their hasty decision to close the journal, and informed Martin Rassmussen that unless he heard from him about that or about copyright issues within 7 days, Monckton would take over the title Pattern Recognition in Physics and relaunch the journal. There was no response from Copernicus, so Monckton is now free to pursue this. I think it is a good development, and hope it will lead to a dispassionate discussion of the scientific ideas that were raised.
The scandal remains that Copernicus did not close the journal because of any scientific flaws. They first and foremost closed the journal because it “doubted” the IPCC, as they baldly declared in their original emails and official statement. That Copernicus then post hoc claimed there was a fault with the reviewing process doesn’t change the fact that a major scientific publishing house took the extraordinary decision that the IPCC can not be questioned and naively admitted it, as if it was acceptable. It reveals the utterly unscientific mindset of the gatekeepers of Peer Review.
My position is that Peer Review is a bureaucratic process so corrupted with this poisonous attitude, that the most important aim of any skeptic is not to try too hard to play an inherently crooked game, or to pander to its dictats, but to tell the world how crooked it is. Peer or Pal is not the point. The point is that science is done by evidence and reason not by private review.
Whether or not the papers lead on to fruitful developments in our understanding of the sun is another matter entirely. It was no concern of Copernicus Publication when they terminated the journal.
On another point, curve fitting (as speculative as it is) is a form of pattern recognition, and thus speculation about curves is would seem appropriate in a journal called Pattern Recognition. Most new theories in science, both the successes and the failures, start out as curve fitting. (Some later progress to a model whose elements are based on physical observations or theories, and some finally progress to a further stage where the curve can be calculated from the known physics of the elements of the model.)
Monckton also makes the rather savage point that while the journal was axed because it doubts the “accelerated warming” of the IPCC, the IPCC itself doubts the accelerated warming it once predicted, and no longer predicts any acceleration in the next 30 years.
Selected excerpts below, Monckton’s full letter here.
From: The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley 20 January 2014
Martin Rasmussen, Esq.,
Dear Mr. Rasmussen,
Closure and reopening of the learned journal
Pattern Recognition in Physics
My kind friend Professor Niklas Mörner of Stockholm, who in close to 50 years has published approaching 600 papers in the reviewed and general scientific literature, is an internationally-renowned expert on sea level and is one of the most gifted instructors of students I have ever had the pleasure to work with, has copied me in on your sad and, indeed, bizarre decision to bring to an end the excellent learned journal Pattern Recognition in Physics, less than a year after its first publication in March 2013.
Professor Mörner, who is usually the most genial and even-tempered of scientists, is plainly furious not so much at your decision to axe this promising journal, which was already galloping towards the forward frontiers of research in the physical sciences, as at the extraordinary reason you have given for your decision.
The Professor, who is highly active in the worldwide scientific community, attended the Fifth Space Climate Conference in Oulu in June 2013 and realized that the hypothesis that the relative positions of the major planets of the solar system may influence solar activity in accordance with a detectable pattern was now ready to be elevated to a theory. In his own specialism, sea-level rise, the question was of more than purely academic significance, since the influence of the major planets not only influences the Sun but causes perceptible variations in the period of the Earth’s rotation (i.e. the length of the day) and hence, via the Coriolis force over time, in global sea level.
I quote you verbatim, enumerating four passages selected from your two emails of 17 January 2014 to Professor Mörner, arranged in accordance with the sequence of events you describe:
- “Copernicus Publications started publishing the journal Pattern Recognition in Physics (PRP) in March 2013. The journal idea was brought to Copernicus’ attention and was taken rather critically in the beginning, since the designated Editors-in-Chief were mentioned in the context of the debates of climate skeptics.” And why should taking part in scientific debate debar an editor?
- “Before the journal was launched, we had a long discussion regarding its topics. The aim of the journal was to publish articles about patterns recognized in the full spectrum of physical disciplines. PRP was never meant to be a platform for climate sceptics.” It should be a platform for science, wherever it leads.
- “Recently, a special issue was compiled entitled “Pattern in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”. Besides papers dealing with the observed patterns in the heliosphere, the special issue editors ultimately submitted their conclusions in which they “doubt the continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project” (Pattern Recogn. Phys., 1, 205–206, 2013).” On what scientific ground, if any, do you dare to dispute their scientific conclusion?
- “While processing the press release for the special issue “Patterns in solar variability, their planetary origin and terrestrial impacts”, we read through the general conclusions paper published on 16 December 2013. We were alarmed by the authors’ second implication stating “This sheds serious doubts on the issue of a continued, even accelerated, warming as claimed by the IPCC project”. And why were you alarmed? What scientific reason for alarm was there?
There is only one reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the above passages, all taken from your two emails of 17 January 2014 to Professor Mörner: that personally you have – for whatever reason – adopted so fervent a position on the catastrophist side of the climate science debate that you (or, more probably, the shadowy figures behind you) are regrettably intolerant even of the mildest, passing question – however well supported scientifically by the very latest evidence from outside the climate sciences – as to whether the IPCC’s previous predictions of very rapid and potentially catastrophic global warming may perhaps be incorrect, at least in the medium term.
So, how much of the special issue was devoted to the question of global warming? Here is a summary of the issue’s contents:
Preface: nothing on climate, except in the reviews of the individual papers.
In reaching the decision I now call upon you to reverse, you may not have been aware of some relevant factors.
First, mainstream solar physicists have themselves been predicting an imminent and sharp decline in solar activity. A physicist at NASA contacted me about this as far back as 2006, pointing out that there had been a recently-unprecedented slowing to walking pace of the magnetic convection currents beneath the solar surface. When a solar cycle is much prolonged, as the last one was, records of previous solar cycles show that subsequent cycles tend to be pronouncedly inactive. What is interesting, therefore, about the papers you have tried to kill is that they posit an admittedly unexplained link between cyclical variability in the planetary orbits and cyclical variability in solar activity, which in turn may have an impact on the climate.
Secondly, though you may consider it implausible that the gravitational influence of the great planets on the Sun could be at all significant, for gravity attenuates as the square of the distance between two mutually-attracting astronomical bodies, it is possible that very small influences exercised over very long timescales may establish harmonics – they have been called “the music of the spheres” – that might have detectable effects.
Thirdly, it is now known that small influences can exercise disproportionately large influences over time in any object – such as the solar system – that exhibits chaotic behaviour. You may care to read Edward N. Lorenz’s landmark paper of 1963 (in a climate journal) that founded chaos theory, and also Sir James Lighthill’s paper of 1998 on chaos in the oscillation of a pendulum. It is not altogether impossible, therefore, that – for instance – the 60-year planetary cycles mentioned by Scafetta and the 60-year cycle of the Pacific and other ocean oscillations may be more than merely coincidental.
I do not know whether any of these three points may eventually be proven, but there is evidence for all three of them in the literature.
Fourthly – and this may well come to you as a great surprise – thee IPCC itself, though it still predicts a “continued” warming, is now, in effect, no longer predicting an “accelerated” warming for at least the next 30 years.
The IPCC’s graph from the pre-final draft of the Fifth Assessment Report comparing its predictions with those of the models is shown above, together with its heavily-revised graph from the final, published draft, where you will see that it has substituted what it calls its “expert assessment” for the models’ extravagant predictions.
You will see just how drastic has been the IPCC’s downward revision of its previous projections: indeed, its current best estimate of near-term warming, at 0.13 Cº/decade, is its lowest ever, by a comfortable margin. Inch by inch, the skeptics against whom you show such hateful prejudice are being shown to have been correct all along. For they, unlike the canting profiteers of doom, have no financial or other vested interest.
You must appreciate the gravity of what you have done. You have killed a learned journal in a field only peripherally connected with the climate because you have decided – or you have cravenly obeyed others unknown who have decided – to take a lamentably unscientific and aprioristic stance on the global warming question, a stance so uncompromising that you will not countenance even a single, passing question about whether the IPCC’s previous predictions are likely to prove correct, even though the IPCC has itself now abandoned its former predictions. And you will not – indeed, cannot – offer a single shred of scientific justification for your viewpoint.
Your challenge to a surely temperately-expressed but serious and by no means illegitimate doubt about the IPCC’s near-term predictions is not itself expressed in the usual scientific manner by a reviewed paper or comment responding to the scientific conclusion that – on no stated ground – you purport to dispute, but by a petulant and irresponsible decision to shut the entire journal down.
This decision of yours, taken without the slightest regard for the scientific method or for the usual canons of disciplined enquiry, logical discourse or peer review, is one too many of its kind. It is not acceptable. I do not propose to accept it or to tolerate it.
Let me tell you, therefore, what will happen next.
First, I shall give Copernicus seven days to reconsider its ludicrous decision to abort the journal for a nakedly political reason and without offering anything that even makes a serious pretense at being a scientific justification.
Secondly, if after seven days I shall not have heard from you that the journal is to continue, I shall invite all of the contributors to the special edition to participate with me in a relaunch of Pattern Recognition in Physics, to take effect immediately. If you or Copernicus object to this course of action on copyright or any other grounds, you will no doubt be sure to let me know within the next seven days. Otherwise, you will be presumed to have forfeited all interest in producing the journal and you will leave the journal to me.
I shall invite Professor Mörner to be the lead editor. The journal will be published online and, I hope, may eventually be taken under the wing of one of the scientific publishing houses with which I have connections.
Thirdly, the first editorial in the relaunched journal will perforce have to address the reasons why Copernicus decided to try (unsuccessfully, as you will by now have realized) to kill the journal. You will come in for some justifiably severe personal criticism in this editorial, for on any view you have not behaved as a senior executive of a reputable scientific publishing house should have behaved. You have taken a corrupt, anti-scientific decision, inferentially because you believed (or perhaps were menaced into believing) that if you did not toe the Party Line on the climate you would be financially or socially disadvantaged.
Fourthly, as the editorial and the press release relaunching the journal will have to point out, you have also, through ignorance, put yourself outside the emerging mainstream of climate science. For, as far as global warming is concerned, that mainstream is now flowing in a far less catastrophist direction than ever before. As you have seen above, even the IPCC, after many strongly-worded representations from expert reviewers such as me, has been forced to abandon its former naïve and imprudent faith in the expensive computer models that have so relentlessly failed to predict global temperature with sufficient conservatism since the 1980s.
In the Fifth Assessment Report, between the pre-final draft reviewed by us and the final draft, the IPCC cut its best estimate of global warming by almost half, from 0.7 Cº over the next 30 years to about 0.4 Cº. That rate is equivalent to 0.13 Cº/decade, or little more than a third of the 0.3 Cº/decade near-term warming the IPCC had predicted in 1990.
In the past 30 years, 0.14 Cº global warming per decade was measured, so the IPCC’s new prediction of 0.13 Cº/decade entails no “accelerated” global warming over the next 30 years. And that, as you will now realize, is in line with the scientific conclusion to which you object so strongly on partisan grounds that you have attempted (and failed) to shut down this promising new journal of rational thought.
Fifthly, if you are determined to allow a disgracefully narrow-minded and rankly partisan political view to dominate the editorial decision-making at Copernicus, I shall send out worldwide a warning that Copernicus is not henceforth to be regarded as a scientific publishing house at all, but merely as an arm of the international political and environmental-extremist academic cabal, unworthy to be considered a truly scientific publishing house at all. Copernicus will henceforth be boycotted by all serious scientists, who will snigger at it behind their hands, and will regard it as a publisher not of science but of children’s comics.
Sixthly, if within seven days you have not notified Professor Mörner that your decision to attempt to stop the journal – a decision that is the modern equivalent of book-burning – has been rethought and withdrawn, copies of this letter will be circulated widely. This is not the early Middle Ages: it is the 21st century. Your attempt at scientific censorship will, therefore, be widely publicized and universally condemned (except among true-believers in the New Superstition, who on this as on all else will tend to put extremist politics before sound science).
For the time being, to spare your blushes, I am not circulating this letter beyond the recipients of Professor Mörner’s email to me. After seven days, however, I shall without hesitation circulate it widely. I shall then be entitled to assume that neither you nor Copernicus have any objection to my taking over the journal without fee, whereupon it will be administered and edited on scientific principles only, and not on the basis of any mere superstitious, anti-scientific, catastrophist, Druidical credo.
Whether you like it or not, this is not the Dark Ages: it is the Age of Enlightenment and Reason. Get used to it, and withdraw your silly and intellectually immature decision to shut down Pattern Recognition in Physics on the most fatuously insubstantial ground ever advanced by even the most vicious of dictators as a pretext for suppressing the freedom to think and to write.
You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.
Viscount Monckton of Brenchley