APS Editor Reverses Position on Global Warming- cites "Considerable presence" of skeptics

Viscount Monckton gives a presentation during the 2007 Conference on Climate Change

From Mike Asher at the DailyTech:

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming.  The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science.  The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming “incontrovertible.”

In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,”There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.”

The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity — the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause — has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling.   A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.

Complete article here

(h/t Fred)


UPDATE: 7/18/08 9PM PST It appears there is some discord at the APS over the issue.

The higher ups at the American Physical Society, apparently do not agree with the editor that made the initial post and reaffirms the statement on human caused global warming, posting this statement on their web site www.aps.org:

The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007:

“Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate.”

An article at odds with this statement recently appeared in an online newsletter of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, one of 39 units of APS. The header of this newsletter carries the statement that “Opinions expressed are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APS or of the Forum.” This newsletter is not a journal of the APS and it is not peer reviewed.

There has certainly been a lot of argument and rhetoric surrounding this issue, and I’ve taken a fair amount of criticism for even posting it, with one commenter exclaiming that I was “popping champagne corks” while another said that “I couldn’t wait to talk about it as a major hole in the case for doing something to clean up air pollution.” which is curious, since I never made any comments about “celebrating with champagne”, “air pollution” or “major hole in the case”.

What this story does is demonstrate how politically and emotionally charged the issue has become. And when politics, emotions, and science mix, the outcome is never good.


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retired engineer

Fractures are beginning to appear. How much press coverage will this get?

Daryl Ritchison

May this be the beginning of many more dominoes falling in the future. Open debate, what a concept, maybe there is hope.

Bob B

Wow–this is great. I believe this is due in part the this and other skeptic blogs. The skeptics have finally begun voicing their thoughts pretty vocally lately.

Phillip Bratby

Let’s hope this is a true open debate and get’s full and impartial media attention.


The Lysenkoists have already “moved on”, as is their way, as they ever have done. It’s no longer a scientific question, but a political question.
We can only hope that the questions about the science are able to catch up before anything really stupid happens.

Robert Wood

Wow, the political edifice is cracking.

Dodgy Geezer

No, this can’t be true – the Wiki clearly states that ALL major scientific bodies have agreed that Global Warming is man-made and a grave danger – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Scientific_consensus
Someone had better phone the APS and either tell them that they are wrong, and all American physicists DO believe in Global Warming, or that they aren’t really a major scientific body…..

Robert Wood

Great timing. This is the day Big Al-mer Gentry is to make a “High energy prices is the cost of global warming” speech in a bid to force congress to do stupid things.

Following on the heels of the Heartland Conference, this may be the break we’re all looking for!
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project

Wow….Finally people are starting to get whats really going on here!


But… but… the Consensus! The precious CONSENSUS!

Steven Hill

Great news, start drilling asp and get gas prices down. Than work on other energy solutions for the future.

[…] APS Reverses Position on Global Warming- cites “Considerable presence” of skeptics « Watts Up W… American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming. The APS is also… […]

Global Warming Consensus Eroding…
The support for human-caused global warming continues to erode. Anthony Watts is reporting that the American Physical Society, an association of 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its member…


Did I just see a pig fly?

Funny how a bunch of scientists are paying attention to Lord Monckton, who really isn’t a scientist at all.
REPLY: Neither is Al Gore, and millions of people have foolishly paid attention to him? Gore can’t even work the equations to feedbacks, Monckton has. All Gore can do is put on a slide show and charge admission.
I doubt APS would pay any attention at all to Monckton if he simply put together a multimedia blitz and said “the earth doesn’t have a fever” He’s published a paper.
Sorry, but your point fails.

loki on the run

[snip] no slander allowed


Is this an official position of APS? I’m only finding this statement from editors of one of the APS journals.
REPLY: As stated in the post and original article from Daily Tech, it was a statement from the editors, and they are opening debate on the topic.

loki on the run

I can only conclude that Anthony cannot tell satire when he sees it.
Bit like the brouhaha over the turban etc in the New Yorker … 🙂
REPLY: equating the president to “a nazi leader” usually doesn’t point to satire, and even if it was satire, I don’t want that sort of commentary on this forum.


Wow! This is about 2 years earlier than I thought we would see anything like this. Only one newspaper in Austrailia reporting on this yet.

loki on the run

That is the sort of over-the-top rhetoric that many in the AGW camp and their fellow-travelers employ …
It was intended as a preemptive strike to demonstrate the sort of statements that we might see coming from the lunatic fringe of the AGW movement.
REPLY: Yes but we still don’t need it voiced here. Let them say it.


I am a life member of the APS, and have yet to run into another APS acquaintance who agrees with the IPCC conclusions on climate sensitivity. The members I know are mostly experimentalists, who know how to look at data and calculate error bars. They know the limitations of any computer model, usually based on bitter past experience. I find it incredibly embarrassing that the NASA climate model team appears to mainly be populated by physicists. APS has a monthly magazine (Physics Today) that has published articles by Gavin Schmidt on climate models, Kerry Emanuel on hurricanes as a Carnot cycle, Sir John Houghton on the end of the world, and most recently Scaffetta and West on how half of the 20th century warming may be due to solar activity.
I saw that Al Gore is proposing to switch all electricity generation in the US to wind and solar within the next ten years for as little as $1T. HAA!!! The outrageousness of this claim is highlighted by the December 2007 article in Scientific American where the Grand Solar Plan was described as moving us to solar electricity by 2050, at a cost of at least $15T.

Paul Shanahan

*Closes Eyes, Taps Head, Counts to 10*
Just checking I wasn’t dreaming this article up…


Amazing…….is it just me or is this HUGE news?
Tell everyone you know!

Bill Marsh

Blasphemers!! They have fallen into heresy and shall be dealt with by the inquisition. Hopefully not in the same way that Pope innocent III and Arnaud Amalric dealt with the Cathars.
“Tuez-les tous; Dieu reconnaitra les siens” loosely “Kill’em all, God will know his own.”


I don’t see anything the editor’s comments that indicate that this public policy statement has been reversed: http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm
I think it is a mistake to characterize the editor’s statement as a reversal of the APS official stance on climate change. In fact, I am concerned that making such a claim will make life difficult for this open-minded editor. For that reason, I think it would be best to tone down the claims in your post.
That said, the editor’s statement is still significant because it is an admission that the consensus is not as solid as the alarmists would like us to believe.


Wow. This could be hugely important and a major turning point. The APS is a very influential organization. OK, these are only the comments of one journal editor so far, but it can’t be just him on his own. It will be very interesting to see how the APS community responds.

Richard deSousa

Did the APS formerly agreed with the IPCC? In reading this newsletter I get the impression they are just opening this issue to debate:

Oh Please. These are just physicists, and like fellow physicist Freeman Dyson, they are not qualified and do not have the expertise to comment on the complex science of climate. Why, the are barely more qualified that the lowly meteorologist!!!!! 🙂


A scientist is someone who does science.
You don’t need a degree to do science. (Though it does help.)

Stan Needham

Here is the money line in the article:

In an email to DailyTech, Monckton says, “I was dismayed to discover that the IPCC’s 2001 and 2007 reports did not devote chapters to the central ‘climate sensitivity’ question, and did not explain in proper, systematic detail the methods by which they evaluated it. When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method.” (emphasis added)

Now where have we heard that before?

PS. Lubos Motl also feature this a couple of days ago. But he’s not a climatologist either.

Martin Johnston

> bigcitylib (09:55:16) :
>Funny how a bunch of scientists are paying attention to Lord Monckton, who really >isn’t a scientist at all.
Is his data correct? Do his equations work? Is the empirical evidence properly collected and presented. Is his work transparent? Can it be re-evaluated by additional people? If so what he has presented is science.
If you have a degree in a certain field or from a prestigious college you are an Authority or Expert. “Appeal to Authority” is a logical fallacy and citing his lack of credentials is an “Ad Hominem” argument neither is a valid position to argue from. Sometimes a motivated amateur does better science since they are not looking for the approval of their peers. Authorities and experts are not always wrong, but it is disheartening how often they are.

Ken Westerman

It is obvious that if, AGW is brought down, that blogs such as Dailytech and Wattsupwiththat were the begining of the end.
And in my mind the internet will be heralded as the ‘great equalizer’ in mass communication and thought…overthrowing the most wealthy from power…and returning things back to common sense and its natural state.
I’m so glad that regular people, and even scientists (myself included), are finally having an effect on the people.
REPLY: It is way to early to make any such claims, and this blog is just a flyspeck compared to the reach of mass media.

Paul Shanahan

Does this mean Al Gore will have to give his Nobel Prize back?


Skeptics are desperate indeed if they are relying on Monckton to save them. He repeats in this paper his misreading of the IPCC report claiming that “The fingerprint of anthropogenic greenhouse-gas forcing is a distinctive “hot-spot” in the tropical mid-troposphere.”
But he is wrong. Any warming would cause a tropical tropospheric hot spot. He has misread the figure of forcings from the past century that shows CO2 as the dominant 20th century forcing. If solar were the dominant 20th century forcing, then it would have a hot spot. (In fact it does, but it is not pronounced because solar forcing was relatively small in the 20th century.)
As for the APS changing its position.,They have neglected to update their web page:
And based on the junk from Monckton, it’s a safe bet they won’t.

“Wow–this is great. I believe this is due in part the this and other skeptic blogs. The skeptics have finally begun voicing their thoughts pretty vocally lately.”
Took the words out of my fingers!


RE: AnonyMoose
Anthony, are you sure this is the entire APS? In your article, which as stated you take from DailyTech, you use the phrase “In a posting to the APS forum…”, but there is no “APS forum”. The forum that is hosting the debase is in fact a division of the APS, calles the FPS, for Forum on Physics & Society.
There are several forums, see
There are also divisions, sections, and topical groups which from the website appear to be at the same level as the FPS.
From the posting on the APS website,
“We, the editors of P&S, invite reasoned rebuttals from the authors as well as further contributions from the physics community.”
I would like to see a reversal of this statement before I organize a big party at my place:
Maybe my mouth dropped open too far when I saw this headline, and I am finding it difficult to believe this:
“The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change…”
REPLY: like I said in the post and is clear from the Daily Tech article, the EDITOR has changed position. But the DT verbage that I copied may imply the whole organization. That too may come to pass with the allowance of open debate on the issue at APS.

Gary Hladik

Dishman: “We can only hope that the questions about the science are able to catch up before anything really stupid happens.”
Too late.


Those *beep*ing *beep*ers over on Wikipedia are busy taking down anything that might disagree with a ‘consensus’. There was a chunk added that just mentioned that the APS was opening a debate because of the
considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution.
They took it down because “the single opinion of an editor doesn’t make a ‘scientific debate'”.
So, the editor is stating that the organization is opening a debate with the magazine.
With this issue of Physics & Society, we kick off a debate concerning one of the main conclusions of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
But yet, that is just the ‘single opinion of an editor’????? WTF?!!

Bill in Vigo

In posting the article on another blog i used the terms The APS has or is about to change it’s position on global warming.
Irregardless this is such good news. Maybe now we can begin to focus on real problems and get our economy back in order. First order is to get fuel prices back in line using our own resources. (drill and refine in the US) when that happens you will find great strides in our national health.
I am so trying to stay our of politics.
Bill Derryberry


So does this mean the rabid, wounded wild animal that is AGW will finally be put down by the holidays?


Boris says “Skeptics are desperate indeed if they are relying on Monckton to save them.”
We are not relying on Monckton. He is one of many messengers. We are relying on the science and therein lies the problem for the believers and alarmists.
Science always self-corrects in the end. As science self-corrects on AGW the alarmist believers will be exposed as frauds and incompetents. Give it up Boris, you’re neo-pagan “science” beliefs have been falsified.

Leon Brozyna

Looked at in another light, I doubt the APS would change their position without a careful examination of all the facts. With this editor’s stance to open debate, the APS can, in time, reconsider its official position. From such small beginnings do great changes happen.
I would also suspect that he’s not doing this solely on his own. This may represent a trial balloon, with the editor serving to ultimately provide the APS the justification they may be seeking to reconsider their position.
In any case, with yet another voice added to the chorus of skeptics, it’s only a matter of time before such acts become newsworthy enough for the Drudge Report — Global Warming Consensus Collapses!

Be sure to take a look at the competing article published in the APS journal, arguing against Monckton. By David Hafemeister & Peter Schwartz, it opens with:
“Put a blanket over a light bulb, and you will have a fire. For the full power of the light bulb to pass through the blanket, the inner temperature must rise considerably. The atmosphere is not a mere thermal resistor, but the analogy is illuminating.”
I think it’s fair to say round 1 in the APS Jounal debate goes to Monckton. Woo hoo!

David Gladstone

Wow! As Gomer Pyle used to say, ” Surprise, surprise!”

Slightly OT (since comments are already closed on the last “solar activity” post):
Many people, assuming Cycle 23 has still not reached minimum, have commented on the length of Cycle 23. The cycle started in 1996 and reached maximum in 2000. A still-to-be reached minimum would make Cycle 23 now over 12 years long. Most of the comments in this area work with the idea that such a long cycle is indicative of a reduction in solar activity and a potential weak or very weak Cycle 24.
Less attention has been paid to the length of the half cycles, the rise time and the fall time of cycles. And there are details here that are missed when one only focuses upon the total cycle time.
For example, there is a fairly clear correlation between a rapid rise to maximum in a cycle and the intensity of that cycle. For example:
Cycle 3:
Rise time: 2.9 yrs
Fall time: 6.3 yrs
Sunspot Max: 158.5
Cycle 8:
Rise time: 3.3 yrs
Fall time: 6.3 yrs
Sunspot Max: 146.9
Cycle 19:
Rise time: 3.6 yrs
fall time: 7.0 yrs
Sunspot max: 201.3
and so on. Unfortunately, this isn’t very useful for predicting an intense cycle since you only really see the rapid rise as it’s happening. On the other hand, there are other patterns that are interesting.
If one accepts that Cycle 23 has just reached or is yet to reach minimum then the fall time for that cycle has now exceeded 8 yrs. If one looks at the data for the 24 numbered cycles we see that that has only happened 2 other times:
Cycle 11, ending in 1870
Rise Time: 3.4 yrs
Fall time: 8.3 yeras
Sunspot max: 140.5
And, Cycle 4, ending in 1788
Rise time: 3.4 years
Fall time: 10.2 years
Sunspot Max: 141.2
Compare this to a just ended or soon to end Cycle 23:
Rise time: 4.0 yrs
Fall Time: 8.2 + yrs
Sunspot Max 120.8
Both Cycle 4 and Cycle 11 were followed by 3 significantly lower activity cycles (i.e. around 33 years of time). Cycle 11 was followed by cycles with maximum numbers: 74.6, 87.9, and 64.2. Cycle 4 was followed by the Dalton Minimum with maximum sunspot numbers: 49.2, 48.7, and 71.7. Then the 4th cycle in both cases increased dramatically.
Just an observation.
Sunspot cycle data can be found here:

“Anthony’s REPLY: It is way to early to make any such claims, and this blog is just a flyspeck compared to the reach of mass media.”
Don’t underestimate your influence. You’ve opened the eyes of many, and the word is passed on to many more. Disillusionment with the corporate-owned mass media is more evident every day. It’s obvious to all that journalistic ethics at corporate HQ’s have gone down the toilet, and their one and only rule is to make money, and they’ll say anything to do it. This is the inevitable result when the accountants take over management.


From the competing article….
The pre-industrial CO2 level was 280 ppm in 1800. By 1959, the level had grown to 316 ppm. We can estimate total change in concentration by integrating
backwards in time. Using a rate of 0.9 ppm/yr in 1959 and a global carbon rate growth rate of about l = 3%/year, the increase in CO2 concentration between 1800 and 1959 should be about
DcCO2 = (0.9) elt dt = 0.9(e0 – e∞)/l = 0.9/0.03 = 30 ppm. (5)
Subtracting this from the 1959 value of 316 ppm gives a pre-industrial CO2 level of 285 ppm, close to the accepted”
Why are global warming “experts” only looking at the last couple of centruries for C02 levels and temperature correlations / assumptions…? Am I missing something, or are they?


“Give it up Boris, you’re neo-pagan “science” beliefs have been falsified.”
Not to be a hardass, but leave the “neo-pagan” comment out and you’re ok. It would be a shame to blemish some of the nice pagans I know with directly associating them to AGW.
To the story:
Glad to hear it. I don’t understand why people seem to be so bothered by Monckton. He seems to be doing a solid job of researching stuff before he puts it out unlike some political figures which I shall not speak of. If we could “win over” such a large group of people it would go a long way towards blasting the “consensus” argument which seems to be relied on so heavily.