More From Monckton

Update: Viscount Monckton has replied to the questions I posed him. I have inserted them here in italics.

This is another post providing you readers with more complete responses to my Climate Change Recognition questions to Viscount Monckton. As before, I will add questions or comments below his replies in bold. Previous posts in this series can be found here, here and here. Remember that the purpose of this is not for me to persuade Viscount Monckton that Lukewarmerism is the true belief for everyone–nor for him to convince me that skepticism is the order of the day. I am trying to determine how much of a struggle it would be to get opponents of the consensus to agree on the existence of first, recent rapid climate change (well, not counting the pause…), second, human contributions to climate change and third… well we’ll see. I want to understand if different parties can work from the same set of ‘facts’

2. Humans have the capacity to change the climate through our actions. (VM) “This statement is trivially true. Every living thing on Earth has the capacity to change the climate. Nearly every plant takes CO2 out of the atmosphere; every volcano and fire and nearly every animal adds CO2 to the atmosphere every time it breathes out. The ocean takes CO2 out of the atmosphere when it cools and adds it to the atmosphere when it warms. The greenhouse effect has been posited hypothetically, demonstrated empirically and explained theoretically. Its existence is no more in doubt than the theorem of Pythagoras. The question is whether but how much our emissions influence the climate. The answer to that quantitative question is very far from being settled science. Svante Arrhenius, for instance, published a paper in 1896 estimating that a doubling of CO2 concentration would cause 4-8 K global warming. By 1906, however, he had come across the fundamental equation of radiative transfer and was able to determine that the warming would be more like 1.6 K. Monckton of Brenchley et al. (2015) thought 1 K at equilibrium (of which only half would occur within 100 years) was correct; Lindzen & Choi (2009, 2011) and Spencer and Braswell (2010, 2011), recently supported by Professor Ray Bates, think climate sensitivity is well below 1 K. So far, at any rate, events are proving the low-sensitivity case to be correct. The IPCC in 1990 predicted with “substantial confidence” that by now two and a half times as much warming would occur as has occurred:”

(TF): Isn’t it also true that Arrhenius actually published four different values for climate sensitivity, including two that were higher than the one you cite that were published later? More broadly, isn’t it also correct to state that there a large number of estimates for climate sensitivity? Certainly the past two years have produced a number of observation-based estimates that are significantly lower than those drawn from computer model runs, but some good scientists have noted issues with them and counsel what you yourself might term ‘caution’ in evaluating the results.

(VM Reply): You do not say what subsequent values Arrhenius published: nor do you provide references. However, any additional values he published tend to confirm the point I made in citing his two very different values: The answer to the quantitative question how much warming our enrichment of the atmosphere with CO2 may cause is not settled science.

Our own reasons for concluding that climate sensitivity is low are set out in some detail in Monckton of Brenchley et al. (2015) Why models run hot (Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 60(1), January: go to, click on “Most Read Articles” and ours is the all-time no. 1). Further testing of the simple climate-sensitivity model therein presented by comparing its hindcasts based on IPCC estimates of net anthropogenic radiative forcings from 1750-1950, 1750-1980 and 1750-2012 with observed temperature change over these three periods, carried out for a follow-up paper currently under review by the journal, show the model’s predictions as very close to observation on all three timescales. Our simple model, using a choice of parameters that reflects the underlying physics better than those of the more complex models, predicts that the equilibrium response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration will be 1.0 [0.8, 1.3] K per CO2 doubling,

Nor are we alone in concluding that climate sensitivity will be small. The following is a non-exhaustive list of papers in the reviewed journals of climate and related sciences concluding that climate sensitivity will be less than the canonical interval 3.0 [1.5, 4.5] K (Charney, J., Nat. Acad. Sci., 1979; IPCC, 2013):

(TF) Viscount Monckton provided a number of citations in support of this. I have placed them at the bottom of the post.

Eleven (VM) “Indeed, the observed rate of warming since the IPCC’s First Assessment Report is very considerably below even the lower bound of the IPCC’s predicted interval (orange in the graph).

(TF) Don’t we have observational evidence that temperature rises have occurred in stairstep fashion? Haven’t temperatures risen quite quickly over two decade periods followed by pauses of about the same length of time? Isn’t it mirroring the mistake of  the alarmists to say this pause will be permanent as opposed to their saying the previous rise would be monotonic and last for a century?

(VM): The “escalator” pattern of global warming periods between periods of hiatus is indeed evident in the temperature record. It is perhaps no accident that the two warming periods since the first identifiable ~60yr PDO cycle began in about 1890 coincide precisely with positive or warming phases within the cycles. Dates for the negative and positive cycles are provided by JISAO, which maintains the PDO index.


From the graph you will at once see that temperature change over the past century and more has not been “monotonic”, so that we have no particular reason to suppose it will be monotonic in future. Nor do the alarmists say there will merely be a continuation of the 20th century’s 0.9 K warming rate in the 21st century: they say there will be up to 4.8 K warming. Our analysis shows such fanciful and extreme predictions to be highly unlikely.

At present, we are about halfway through a negative or non-warming phase of the PDO. However, there is a rather obvious difference between the current non-warming phase and its two predecessors: this time, CO2 emissions and concentration are at levels not inferred in 810,000 years (Jouzel et al., 2007); yet there has been no flicker of global warming for 18 years 6 months (RSS, 2015, based on Mears & Wentz, 2009). Even if the next two positive PDO phases were to show warming as great as that in the past two, the warming over the 21st century would be the same as it was in the 20th – around 0.9 K, which is exactly the 21st-century warming that our simple model of the climate predicts. Would so small a warming matter? No: even the IPCC concedes that warming at that slow a rate would be harmless and beneficial.

The first draft of IPCC’s Synthesis Report for 2013 admitted that 111 of 114 models had not predicted the absence of warming from 1988-2012, which was below the lower 95%-confidence bound in those 111 models. This illustrates a crucial point: the case for climate alarm is based on the relentlessly exaggerated predictions of very nearly all climate models (our own being an honourable exception). The case for climate scepticism is based not on predictions but on observations and data. Predictions are for astrologers: measurements and data are for scientists: and that is one of many reasons why I for one have never predicted that the pause will be permanent.”

(VM): The most comprehensive survey of peer-reviewed opinion in climate-related papers in the learned journals considered 11,944 such papers published over the 21 years 1991-2011. It found just 0.3%, or 64 papers, stating that recent global warming was mostly manmade (or, equivalently, that at least one-third of a Kelvin of warming since 1950 was manmade).”

(TF): Citing the Cook study is unhelpful–it is garbage, as Tol and others have pointed out. But von Storch, Bray et al 2008 and Verheggen et al 2013 both found very respectable percentages–66% in each study–of published climate scientists who attribute half or more of warming since the mid–twentieth century to human emissions of greenhouse gases. I go into some detail on that here.

 (VM): The definitive dismissal of Cook et al. is in Legates et al. (2015), of which I was a co-author. We obtained Cook’s own data file listing 11,944 papers in the reviewed literature over the 21 years 1991-2011. Cook and his co-authors had themselves marked only 0.5% of the papers – just 64 out of 11,944 – as stating that recent warming was mostly manmade. We read all 64 papers and only 41 of them, or 0.3%, had said what Cook et al. had said they had said.

TF: Yes, we both agree that Cook is not good.

The significance of the absence of supposed “consensus” in the Cook paper is that all of the papers evaluated had been peer-reviewed. Under the rigorous conditions for peer review, speculation about how much warming we may see, however fashionable, is not science: it is astrology, and reviewers will nearly always disallow it. On the other hand, the headcount surveys you mention were of non-reviewed opinions. At present, the climate extremists are vicious in their personal, ad hominem attacks on anyone in academe who dares to question the Party Line. There is a palpable atmosphere of fear in the universities on the climate question: indeed, when I am invited to give faculty-level presentations, a team of pseudo-academic thugs menaces deans and vice-chancellors to try to get me disinvited. About half the time they succeed.

TF: You seem to be making one of the many mistakes Cook made–thinking that a published paper speaks for anything beyond the subject of the paper. Cook thinks he can divine a consensus from this. Do you really think you can divine a lack of consensus from it? I believe asking climate scientists what they think is far more effective.

Besides – and we have found by experience that this point is extremely difficult for those on the Socialist or totalitarian wing of politics to grasp – science is not, repeat not, repeat not, done by consensus. Aristotle made it perfectly plain 2350 years ago in his Refutations of the Sophists that argument by headcount and argument by appeal to the authority or reputation of experts are both logical fallacies – unsound forms of argument from which no rational conclusion may be drawn except that those who persist in relying upon them are feeble-minded (Aristotle says as much). As Feynman said, “If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong.” It does disagree with experiment. So it’s wrong, however many terrorized scientists may have been cowed into declaring their undying belief in it.

TF: Blind belief in a consensus has often led to grievous error in the past and I do not advocate it. Ignoring it seems just as fraught.

It requires a new and exceptional degree of intellectual vapidity to believe in and parade a “consensus” of “experts” when not only is any such belief an instance of not one but two logical fallacies injudiciously conflated but also no such consensus exists in fact in the reviewed journals where, like it or not, science is done. The vapidity is doubled down upon where it is insisted that peer review is the yardstick of true science and yet head-count studies based on non-reviewed opinions are cited with approval, and is doubled down upon again where those studies are not conducted after careful randomization of the sample in accordance with the established norms of opinion polling.

This, too, is a fundamental divide. Just as the climate extremists rely upon predictions while the skeptics rely upon data, so the climate extremists rely upon an imagined (and, as Cook et al. inadvertently demonstrated, imaginary) “consensus” of “experts” while the skeptics rely upon peer review, which, with all its faults, is the least bad method we have at present for groping towards the truth in science.

TF: I find that some skeptics do repeat the errors of those most alarmed by climate change. They fixate on papers that support their point of view and ignore those that do not. I also think that climate scientists are not instructed on how to think nor do they agree on talking points among themselves. I believe that about two thirds of all climate scientists honestly think that humans have caused much of the warming experienced since the mid-twentieth century. I have no more use for the Konsensus alarmists than do you–but strip away the Joe Romms and the Eli Rabetts from the conversation and you are left with a solid consensus. The informed minority report that should be commissioned, from luminaries such as Freeman Dyson, John Christy and others, should not be ignored. But it is a minority viewpoint.

Here are the papers cited by Viscount Monckton:

  • Michaels PJ, Knappenberger PC, Frauenfeld OW et al (2002) Revised 21st century temperature projections. Clim Res 23:1-9
  • Douglass DH, Pearson BD, Singer SF (2004) Altitude dependence of atmospheric temperature trends: climate models versus observation. Res. Lett. 31:L13208, doi:10.1029/2004GL020103
  • Landscheidt T (2003) New Little Ice Age instead of global warming? Energy & Envir 14:2, 327–350 
  • Chylek P, Lohmann U (2008) Aerosol radiative forcing and climate sensitivity deduced from the Last Glacial Maximum to Holocene transition. Res. Lett. 35:L04804, doi:10.1029/2007GL032759 
  • Monckton of Brenchley C (2008) Climate sensitivity reconsidered. Phys Soc 37:6–19 
  • Douglass DH, Christy JR (2009) Limits on CO2 climate forcing from recent temperature data of e Energy Environ 20:1–2 
  • Lindzen RS, Choi Y-S (2009) On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data. Geophys Res Lett 36:L16705, doi:10.1029/2009GL039628 
  • Spencer RW, Braswell WD (2010) On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence of unknown radiative forcing. J Geophys Res 115:D16109, doi:10.1029/2009JD013371 
  • Annan JD, Hargreaves JC (2011) On the genera­tion and interpretation of probabilistic estimates of climate sensitivity. Clim Change 104:324-436 
  • Lindzen RS, Choi Y-S (2011) On the observational determination of climate sensitivity and its implica­tions. Asia-Pac J Atmos Sci 47:377-390 
  • Monckton of Brenchley C (2011) Global brightening and climate sensitivity. In: Zichichi A, Ragaini R (eds) Proceedings of the 45th annual international seminar on nuclear war and planetary emergencies, World Federation of Scientists. World Scientific, London 
  • Schmittner A, Urban NM, Shakun JD et al (2011) Climate Sensitivity Estimated From Temperature Reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum. Science334:1385-1388, doi:10.1126/science.1203513 
  • Spencer RW, Braswell WD (2011) On the misdiagnosis of surface temperature feedbacks from variations in Earth’s radiant-energy balance. Remote Sens 3(8):1603-1613, doi:10.3390/rs3081603 
  • Aldrin M, Holden M, Guttorp P et al (2012) Bayesian estimation of climate sensitivity based on a simple climate model fitted to observations of hemispheric temperature and global ocean heat content. Environmetrics 23(3):253-271, doi: 10.1002/env.214 
  • Hargreaves JC, Annan JD, Yoshimori M et al (2012) Can the Last Glacial Maximum constrain climate sensitivity? Geophys Res Lett 39:L24702, doi:10.1029/2012GL053872 
  • Ring MJ, Lindner D, Cross EF et al (2012) Causes of the global warming observed since the 19th century. Atmos Clim Sci 2:401-415, doi: 10.4236/acs.2012.24035 
  • van Hateren JH (2012) A fractal climate response function can simulate global average temperature trends of the modern era and the past millennium. Clim Dyn 40(11-12):2651-2670, doi:10.1007/s00382-012-1375-3 
  • Lewis N (2013) An objective Bayesian improved approach for applying optimal fingerprint techniques to estimate climate sensitivity. J Clim 26:7414-7429, doi:10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00473.1 
  • Masters T (2013) Observational estimates of climate sensitivity from changes in the rate of ocean heat uptake and comparison to CMIP5 models. Clim Dyn 42:2173-2181, doi:101007/s00382-013-1770-4 
  • Otto A, Otto FEL, Boucher O et al (2013) Energy budget constraints on climate response. Nature Geosci 6:415-416, diuL19,1938/ngeo1836 
  • Spencer RW, Braswell WD (2013) The role of ENSO in global ocean temperature changes during 1955-2011 simulated with a 1D climate model. Asia-Pac J Atmos Sci 50(2):229-237, doi:10.1007/s13143-014-0011-z 
  • Lewis N, Curry JA (2014) The implications for climate sensitivity of AR5 forcing and heat uptake estimates. Clim Dyn, 10.1007/s00382-014-2342-y 
  • Loehle C (2014) A minimal model for estimating climate sensitivity. Ecol Modelling 276:80-84, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.01.006  
  • McKitrick R (2014) HAC-robust measurement of the duration of a trendless subsample in a global climate time series. Open J Stats 4:527-535, doi:10.4236/ojs.2014.47050 
  • Monckton of Brenchley C (2014) Political science: drawbacks of apriorism in intergovernmental climatology. Energy & Envir. 25(6-7):1177-1204.

5 responses to “More From Monckton

  1. VM is at his best when focused on the facts of the luke warming case.
    In a battle of anonymized ideas I think he would prevail. The ad-hom nature of the climate community makes that sort of unemotional discussion unlikely.

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

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

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

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

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