Monckton’s More Complete Response–With Some Comments and Questions, Part 1

Update 2: Viscount Monckton was kind enough to respond to my further questions. They appear below my questions in italics. I will probably break this discussion up into separate posts if it continues–it’s getting a bit unwieldy here.

Update: At Viscount Monckton’s request I have added some charts that he sent with his response. He is confident the addition of these charts clarifies his points. (For all these charts, click to ’embiggen’.)

Viscount Monckton’s reply to my questions about recognizing the potential for human caused climate change was a 10-page Word document. I previously showed snips of his answers here. In this post I will put his full response to the first RAMA statement and add some of my own comments and questions in bold.

To what extent do you agree with the following propositions?

  1. Global surface temperatures have warmed by about 0.8 K over the past century or so.

(VM): Since 1900, global mean surface temperature as measured by the three longest data series – GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC – has risen by approximately 0.9 K, a rate equivalent to 0.8 K century–1.

One Global Mean Temperature Change 1900 2015

However, these results should be interpreted with caution, for each of the three datasets has been tampered with to depress artificially the temperature measurements recorded in the early 20th century and to increase them in the late 20th century, with the effect of increasing the apparent warming rate by 0.3 K, or about half, compared with the measured and recorded values.”

Difference between measured and adjusted tempepratures

(TF) I assume from what follows that you don’t think the results have been interpreted with caution by some others. May I ask what your interpretation is? Do you think there has been global warming since 1945 and if so, how much?

(VM) I do not speak for others. However, of 0.9 K global warming since 1900, 0.3 K arose from adjustments to the terrestrial datasets; 0.2 K arose from uncorrected urban heat-island effects on poorly-sited thermometers; and an unknown amount – perhaps another 0.2 K, perhaps more – arose from natural influences before our influence on the climate became even in theory detectable in 1950. That does not necessarily leave much room for CO2-driven warming. No surprise, then, that of 11,944 climate papers published in the reviewed journals over the 21 years 1991-2011 only 64, or 0.5%, were marked by global-warming enthusiasts as stating that recent global warming was mostly manmade. There is no scientific “consensus” on that point and, even if there were, the head-count and argument-from-authority fallacies are no less fallacies today than they were when Aristotle first codified them 2350 years ago.

 Nor is it a question of whether I “think” there has been global warming since 1945. The HadCRUT4 dataset shows 0.7 K warming since 1945, but one must make some allowance for data tampering and also the urban heat island effect. It is not clear either how much warming has occurred or who or what caused it. However, the rate of warming since 1945 is equivalent to only 1 degree per century. Since the IPCC’s first report in 1990, the rate has been scarcely greater, though the IPCC’s 1990 predictions were equivalent to 2.8 [1.9, 4.2] degrees per century.
Therefore, even if one assumes, for the sake of argument, that all of the warming shown by the datasets occurred and was manmade, it is clear that the rate of warming predicted by the IPCC in 1990 as its central estimate was at least two and a half times greater than  observation over the past quarter of a century. For these and suchlike reasons, caution is appropriate.

GISS, which depends on the NCDC dataset for its own record, also shows very substantial adjustments to what was actually measured – again with the effect of greatly increasing the apparent rate of warming compared with the true, measured rate:

Three GISS US Temperatures 1999Four GISS US Temperatures 2008

(VM) “The U.S. Historical Climate Network, on which all three terrestrial datasets rely, has also been tampered with, to create a warming where the original measurements showed a cooling.”

Five USHCN BeforeSix USHCN After

“Here are examples from Australia and New Zealand. Many other nations have done similar tampering:”

Seven Darwin Airport Temperatures and AdjustmentsEight NZ temperatures before and after adjustment

(TF): ‘Tamper’ is an emotionally charged word. Do you think the adjustments that have been made were deliberately made to either lower past temperatures or increase more recent temperatures to show a higher rate of warming than has actually been the case?

(VM) The scale of the “adjustments” goes well beyond the routine technical corrections that are normally made in the year or two following the original measurements. The relentless reduction in early 20th-century temperature data, combined with the relentless boosting of late 20th-century temperature data, means that – whether or not the tamperings at both ends of the record were justifiable – a considerable fraction of the warming of the 20th century has arisen from the tampering. Caution is appropriate.

(VM): “Nor can it be safely said that the underlying warming rate in recent decades reflects the record increases in CO2 concentration that have occurred despite all the rhetoric about making reductions. The two satellite lower-troposphere datasets show no global warming for 18 years 6 months. As Dr Isaac Held, an IPCC lead author, has rightly stated, if that record goes to 20 years then the entire basis for the models’ predictions will require urgent re-examination.”

Nine Pause

(TF): During the twentieth century there were two pauses in warming that lasted even longer than the 18 years 6 months that you note. Following each pause, warming resumed. Is there a reason you don’t expect such a resumption at the end of the current pause?

(VM) Again, caution is advisable, particularly in light of the fact that the current pause of 18 years 6 months, unlike the previous pauses over the 20th century, is occurring at a time when CO2 emissions and concentration are rising at record levels. To anyone with a clear eye, that is surprising. 

Also, the length of the pause is now great enough to make a lasting impact on the long-run rate of warming, even if it were to resume.
Furthermore, as the first draft of the IPCC’s 2013 synthesis report admitted, 111 of 114 models did not predict so long a pause; the 2008 NOAA State of the Climate report said a pause of 15 years or more would indicate a “discrepancy” between prediction and observation; and Dr Isaac Held, right at the heart of the IPCC process, has recently said that if the pause endures for 20 years very serious questions will have to be asked.
Even if global warming were to resume – and theory would lead us to expect that to occur not later than the end of the current negative PDO phase in 10-15 years’ time – it is becoming increasingly implausible to maintain that the long-run rate of warming will ever be as high as the IPCC’s central long-term projection.
The IPCC has already all but halved its medium-term projection interval from [0.2, 0.4] K/decade to [0.1, 0.2] K/decade. If the pause continues for very much longer, it will no longer retain any credibility if it fails to reduce its long-term projection interval for global warming as well.
In this analysis I take no account of Karl (2015), who purports to have abolished the pause, much as Mann (1998, 1999), followed by IPCC (2001), purported to abolish the inconvenient medieval warm period. The satellites show the lower troposphere has not warmed during the 15 years 2000-2014; the ARGO floats show the upper ocean has not warmed either; the terrestrial datasets, even after tampering, only show warming at 0.3-0.6 K/century equivalent over the period; Karl defies the laws of thermodynamics by positing 1.2 K/century equivalent; and, even if he were right (which, on the evidence, he is not), that warming rate is well below half of the IPCC’s central prediction in 1990. Even if Karl were right, therefore, there would be little cause for concern and still less for action.

(VM): “Furthermore, the published datasets, satellite as well as terrestrial, do not take sufficient account of the urban heat-island effect. Michaels & McKitrick (2006) analysed the temperature records and found a highly significant correlation between regional rates of economic growth and regional rates of warming – a correlation that should not exist at all if proper allowance for increased urban development near temperature sensors had been made. They determined that in recent the warming rate over land had been overestimated by double.

Therefore, it is likely that the 1930s were warmer than the present in the United States, and that the warming since 1900 may have been little more than half the rate shown by the terrestrial datasets.”

Ten ARGO temperatures

(TF): There have been numerous attempts to quantify the effect of UHI and they downplay any impact on global totals, given that urban areas do not comprise a significant percentage of the total land area and that land area is only 30% of the earth’s surface. Rural stations unaffected by UHI show similar rates of warming.  How important is this issue to your overall view of global warming?

(VM) The advantage of the McKitrick & Michaels approach is that it provides an independent examination of the extent to which urban heat-island effects have been allowed for. There should not have been any significant correlation between regional rates of warming and regional rates of industrial or population growth if the urban heat-island effect had been properly corrected for. There was a significant correlation. No one has yet provided a convincing answer to the M&M analysis. 

And it is puzzling that the US Climate Reference Network, which has 114 ideally-located rural stations with a respectable and uniform standard of quality monitoring, still does not publish a monthly temperature anomaly for the whole network. Until it does, it is difficult to establish whether properly-sited stations will show warming at the same rate as the inadequately-sited stations.
I do not have an “overall view of global warming”. I remain open to the evidence, whichever way it leads. At present, the evidence is manifestly insufficient to justify any action to mitigate CO2 emissions; and, even if it were sufficient, the peer-reviewed literature of economics is near-unanimous in sharing the IPCC’s conclusion that it is costlier to mitigate today than to allow global warming to happen, even at the overblown rate predicted by the IPCC, and then to adapt to its consequences the day after tomorrow.
Who benefits from the global warming storyline? The governing class; the rich; the powerful; the corporate and landowning interests; the public sector. Who pays? The poor, and not just in treasure but in lives. In one recent very cold month in the UK, there were 7000 excess deaths over and above the excess deaths that are normal every winter. Many of those who died probably did so not so much because the weather was cold as because their homes were cold. Owing to the staggering increases in the cost of fuel and power that have arisen directly because of ill-considered and uncosted policies intended (however piously) to mitigate global warming, they could not afford to heat their homes. In that winter a neighbour found one close to me lying on the floor of her unheated house, unable to move.
But the real losers are the poor in the third-world countries, whose children die of smoke inhalation from dung and wood fires in unventilated shacks. They have no refrigeration, no lighting, no air conditioning, no heating: none of the life-changing and life-sustaining conveniences that electricity brings. Look at the satellite image of Africa at night. There are hardly any lights across the center of that vast and heavily-populated continent. It is the Dark Continent in every sense. Instead of installing coal-fired power – the cheapest and most low-tech base-load electricity – we are instead squandering trillions on making non-existent global warming go away. That is not merely a failure of priorities: it is a crime against humanity. Global warming policies are already having consequences more severe than those predicted by the canting profiteers of doom, whose victims – as ever – are the poor.
Herr Jean Ziegler, the UN’s right-to-food rapporteur, said in 2007 that the conversion of crops to biofuels was – his words – “a crime against humanity”. It led to a doubling of world food prices over the past decade. In Haiti, even the mud pies made with real mud on which the poorest subsisted doubled in price from 3 to 6 cents each. Any accounting of the costs and benefits of CO2 should, therefore, take account of the costs of ill-considered mitigation strategies and the benefits of CO2 fertilization and the consequent increase in the net primary productivity of trees and plants worldwide, as well as the advantages of universal electricity and the boon of cheap transport. The debate on the climate has been immature. It is those who most need our help who have paid the price of our immaturity.

(VM): “Given the conflicting and much-altered testimony, one should look for an authoritative method of measuring change in global mean surface temperatures, such as sufficiently well-resolved measurements of ocean temperature, for the ocean heat capacity is two or three orders of magnitude greater than that of the atmosphere. However, the ARGO bathythermographs, the first global uniform dataset, have been operating for only 11 full years, and each of the 3600 buoys takes only three temperature and salinity profiles from 0-1900 m depth every month over 200,000 square kilometers. For the record, though, the warming rate over the 11-year run of data is equivalent to little more than 0.2 K century–1.”

(TF): Apart from agreeing with your assessment of the utility of better measurements of ocean temperatures, I have no questions here.


19 responses to “Monckton’s More Complete Response–With Some Comments and Questions, Part 1

  1. VM comes across much more informed and reasonable in this format than in others. His answers are specific, fact-driven and thoughtful.
    This is shaping up to be an interesting series.

  2. Rural stations unaffected by UHI show similar rates of warming

    Has anyone isolated the rural stations that have had (almost) no development in the last half century? For instance, those in national forests?

    I visited our local (rural) station in Zumbrota, Minnesota. It is located in a sewage treatment plant, yards from a parking lot, and surrounded by concrete. Google: 44°17’57″N 92°39’59″W. It is rather hilarious.

    But how about the pristine stations? How much land has been converted to farmland around them? How much land has been drained, tiled and cleared. How about something as simple as hue changes to the color of corn and soybean fields?

    I was attracted to the climate issue by the citizen science of Anthony Watts’ Surface Station Project. After looking at his documentation and having a look myself (at Zumbrota) I was appalled at the state of the USCN. I understand that the climate reference network has improved the surface temperature data sets, but have they really been able to accurately account for land use changes?

    • Hiya AI

      Well, the point is that even if temperatures are artificially elevated by location, poor paint on the screen, cutting down a branch that gave it shade, etc. etc., we’re more interested in the change, not the level. So if the base reading is mistakenly 10 instead of 9, if it climbs to 11, that 1 degree change is of interest. Assuming it would have climbed from 9 to 10 had the siting issues not existed, the 1 degree change is all we care about.

      • rogercaiazza

        I agree that the change is the issue but the point is that the changes to the monitoring location are the issue. If the paint is poor then the reflectivity of the shelter changes over time and whenever it is repainted the trend is affected.

        I think that the station problems affect the magnitude of the warming trend, not enough to say it is not warming but enough to wish there was some generally accepted way to incorporate more station quality aspects in the trends.

      • I have to wonder if land-use changes account for the growing divergence between satellite and land based datasets

      • What I’m worried is the balance in adjustments. Paint gets dirty, temps go up. Station is painted white, temps jump down at that station and are adjusted up – but in reality other stations and this station before painting should be adjusted down.

        Very elementary, but can be overlooked when sophisticated statistical methods are used. Confirmation bias rules.

  3. Tom, I pleasantly surprised to read that Anthony Watts and Bill McKibben had a beer together. See My one on one meeting with Bill McKibben

    • Yeah, I saw that. I would have liked to be a fly on that wall. A couple of years ago the Konsensus Kiddies were giving me stick because I went to dinner with Anthony and many of those working on WUWT. I wonder if they’ll call out McKibben?

      Anthony Watts is a very good human being.

    • Almost Iowa,
      If McKibben publicly admits to the meting and returns the respect and good manners I will be pleasantly surprised.
      I see no reason from his actions and history to believe McKibben is a nice or honest person. I am open to contrary evidence.

  4. is the above properly edited? It doesn’t look like he is responding to any of your questions?

  5. Re the statement “And it is puzzling that the US Climate Reference Network, … still does not publish a monthly temperature anomaly for the whole network.” check the following:

  6. Pingback: More From Monckton | The Lukewarmer's Way

  7. Pingback: Monckton’s RAMA Responses, part 3 | The Lukewarmer's Way

  8. Pingback: Monckton’s RAMA Responses, Part 4 | The Lukewarmer's Way

  9. Pingback: Monckton’s Final Response–And My Thoughts | The Lukewarmer's Way

  10. Pingback: Viscount Monckton (almost) Gets The Final Word | The Lukewarmer's Way

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