American physicists warned not to debate global warming

Published Monday 21st July 2008 16:04 GMT

Bureaucrats at the American Physical Society (APS) have issued a curious warning to their members about an article in one of their own publications. Don’t read this, they say – we don’t agree with it. But what is it about the piece that is so terrible, that like Medusa, it could make men go blind?

It’s an article that examines the calculation central to climate models. As the editor of the APS’s newsletter American Physics Jeffrey Marque explains, the global warming debate must be re-opened.

“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 the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion,” he wrote (http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/editor.cfm).

American Physics invited both believers and sceptics to submit articles, and has published a submission by Viscount Monckton questioning (http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/monckton.cfm) the core calculation of the greenhouse gas theory: climate sensitivity. The believers are represented (http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200807/hafemeister.cfm) by two physicists from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who state that:

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”

But within a few days, Monckton’s piece carried a health warning: in bright red ink.

The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions.

Not so much Medusa, then, as Nanny telling the children what not to think.

“The first sentence is nothing more or less than a deliberate lie,” writes (http://numberwatch.co.uk/2008%20July.htm) Professor John Brignell on his Numberwatch blog. “The second is, to say the least, contentious; while the third is an outrageous example of ultra vires interference by a committee in the proper conduct of scientific debate.”

Monckton has asked for an apology. In a letter to the APS President Arthur Bienenstock, he writes:

“If the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, may I ask with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed when it had; secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no evidence) to be the “overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community”; and, tertio, that “The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions”? Which of my conclusions does the Council disagree with, and on what scientific grounds (if any)?”


Believers and sceptics have spent the past few days examining the value of “peer review”, and the weight of validity that should be placed on “publication”. Monckton is a classics scholar and former journalist, which believers maintain is enough to disqualify him from holding an opinion.

(Whether it’s science is not in question – whether it’s “good science” or “bad science” is the question. An earlier presentation by Monckton examining questioning climate sensitivity received was examined (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/11/cuckoo-science/) by NASA’s Gavin Schmidt on the believers’ blog, RealClimate.org.)

But for anyone without a dog in this race, and perhaps not familiar with the “state of the science” there may be a couple of surprises in Monckton’s paper.

One is how small the field of “experts” really is. The UN’s IPCC is tasked with producing a summary of the “scientific consensus” and claims to process the contributions of some 2,500 scientists. But as Monckton writes:

“It is of no little significance that the IPCC’s value for the coefficient in the CO2 forcing equation depends on only one paper in the literature; that its values for the feedbacks that it believes account for two-thirds of humankind’s effect on global temperatures are likewise taken from only one paper; and that its implicit value of the crucial parameter κ depends upon only two papers, one of which had been written by a lead author of the chapter in question, and neither of which provides any theoretical or empirical justification for a value as high as that which the IPCC adopted.” [our emphasis]

Another eye-opener is his explanation of how the believers’ climate models are verified:

“Since we cannot measure any individual forcing directly in the atmosphere, the models draw upon results of laboratory experiments in passing sunlight through chambers in which atmospheric constituents are artificially varied,” writes Monckton. “Such experiments are, however, of limited value when translated into the real atmosphere, where radiative transfers and non-radiative transports (convection and evaporation up, advection along, subsidence and precipitation down), as well as altitudinal and latitudinal asymmetries, greatly complicate the picture.”

In other words, an unproven hypothesis is fed into a computer (so far so good), but it can only be verified against experiments that have no resemblance to the chaotic system of the Earth’s climate. It is not hard to see how the scientists could produce an immaculate “model” that’s theoretically perfect in every respect (all the equations balance, and it may even be programmed to offer perfect “hind-casting”), but which has no practical predictive value at all. It’s safe from the rude intrusion of empirical evidence drawn from atmospheric observation.

The great British-born physicist Freeman Dyson offered an impertinent dose of reality which illustrates the dangers of relying on theory for both your hypothesis and the evidence you need to support it. Since 8 per cent of atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the planet’s biomass every year, notes Dyson (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21494), the average lifespan of a carbon molecule in the atmosphere is about 12 years. His observation leaves the “climate scientists” models as immaculate as they were before, but suggests a very different course of policy action. It suggests our stewardship of land should be at the forefront of CO2 mitigation strategies. That’s not something we hear from politicians, pressure groups and, yes … climate scientists.

Comments welcome

(mailto:andrew.orlowski@theregister.co.uk?Subject=aps_monckton)

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John Riddell

How did the Council of the American Physical Society determine that the “conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community”?
Did they do a survey?

Leon Brozyna

This story just refuses to go away. If the APS had never uttered a peep, there would have been a great deal of buzz for a day or so and then it would have sunk to obscurity, left to continue on in the depths of APS, on one of its newsletters that no one knew existed. Now, here we are a week later and the story continues with this third post on the blog. Saturday I posted a comment on the second post about an email I was sending, in which I tried to keep the tone as neutral as possible. I just received a reply a few moments ago which I share here with you:
On 7/19/08 4:28 PM, “LeBroz at aol dot com” wrote:
I applaud the bold initiative of Jeffrey Marque, one of the editors of the newsletter of the Forum of Physics and Society, for opening the pages of the newsletter to an open public debate on the scientific merits of different views on anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
At a time when science is being dangerously corrupted by dogmatic politicization in which differing views of AGW are viciously attacked through appeals to authority and ad hominem attacks, this move represents the truest spirit of scientific inquiry. In placing this discussion in the pages of the newsletter, the public, both scientist and layman, can see the purest expression of peer review over the coming issues as opposing views on the significance of man’s influence on the changing climate are presented and reviewed on their scientific merits.
Regards,
Leon Brozyna
Thank you for your note.
Our job is to promote discussion – if necessary by occasionally telling the emperor that he is not adequately dressed. Hopefully we have done that. As far as I know, the issue of anthropomorphic impact upon climate is not as well settled as the flatness or roundness of the Earth; more discussion may help bring the issue to that state. (Occasionally, it is very difficult to get alternative viewpoints; we go with what we can get.) We read submitted papers for clarity, not for content – so we do not claim that we are a peer reviewed journal, nor do we only publish stuff that we agree with – as is clearly stated in the “boilerplate”in each issue. (Speaking personally, I am much more in agreement with Hafemeister than with Monckton, though I do not claim to be a peer reviewer.) We would welcome a contribution from you pointing out to our readers some of Monckton’s errors. All of us would benefit from such rejoinders.
Alvin M. Saperstein
Dept. of Physics
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
313/577-2733
ams@physics.wayne.edu
Co-editor: Physics and Society
Quarterly journal of APS Forum on Physics and Society-
See us on the web: http://www.aps.org/units/fps/

Todd

It seems that it is now officially politically incorrect to debate – god forbid doubt – man-made global warming theory. All Hail Mr. Gore!

Jeff Alberts

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”

The problem with this statement is that no one has been able to show that any warming has occurred that is outside natural variability. The statement does more than just put the cart before the horse.

Pierre Gosselin

American physicists will have to decide for themselves whether bullying debate out of science is tolerable. I hope more and more will stand up and realise what a bunch of madmen charlatans like Gore and Hansen really are.
This may sound harsh, but what else can you label people who demand we live in a fantasy world?

counters

“The first sentence is nothing more or less than a deliberate lie,”
This sentence actually does a better job of representing this article, not the APS disclaimer. The bottom line is that Monckton’s paper was not peer-reviewed. Peer-review involves the work being sent to reviewers who are either employed by the Journal involved or are considered experts in their field, and then analyzed for accuracy and screened for error. The process typically takes a while, and optimally, a paper will be scrutinized quite in depth. If the paper is up to snuff, it may be accepted for publication; if not, it will be rejected, and occasionally notes from the reviewer will be passed back to the author for consideration.
Monckton had a Physics professor look over his paper for errors. Having a professional proof-read your paper is not peer-review. It’s as simple as that. And, even with good, professional help going into the paper, Monckton still manages to screw it up.
This is getting ridiculous. Mr. Orlowski’s other comments are the same old skeptic arguments we see time and time again, but the big picture here is the APS meme, which is ridiculous.
The fabled “debate” over global warming is still going to continue at this APS newsletter. Monckton’s flawed paper and politicking aside, you skeptics are going to get your debate.
The APS has done nothing wrong. If you all are so convinced with your evidence, then submit papers to the newsletter in question and persuade more people. Quit attacking the APS.
MODERATORS DISCLAIMER: The above comment stating that “Monckton still manages to screw it up” has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the majority of participants of this forum. The moderator disagrees with this comments conclusions.

The idea that one would tell people with degrees in physics not to read an article lest they be deceived . . . how funny is that. If the administration of the APS had stood back and tried to visualize how that looks to the bystander, or to people belonging to the APS who hold MAs or Phds in physics . . . it just maks me shake my head.

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”
I realize that in science, a theory stands until it is replaced by one that better fits the observations. However, the theory in standing can still be just as wrong when it does not match the observed data.
One does not go charging off, changing the world on a theory that has simply not yet been replaced by a better one.

Leon Brozyna

And for anyone who may have missed it in my comment above, in his reply, Saperstein refers to an anthropomorphic effect rather than the correct term of anthropogenic, two rather different concepts.

counters

Moderator:
Normally I’d appreciate a bit of wit, but not at this moment. I applaud you on your rhetorical strategy; I blundered and you exploited a pivotal weakness in my post. Congratulations; you’ve successfully diffused the point of my comment based on a single sentence that I neglected to edit out (I changed the direction of my post twice before submitting it).
I ask for you to please remove your comment as well as the sentence in question. In return,you can edit this comment to be comprised of simply the sentence in question so that you may still have your tongue-in-cheek comment.
I’ll admit – I want a debate just as bad as skeptics do, although I have different motives for it. If the skeptics continue the behavior shown at this site – an utter cynicism towards the peer-review process and the scientific establishment as well as a stubbornness to let go of a non-issue – then we will all lose this opportunity to have a legitimate debate. This was the point of my comment.
Please consider my proposal. If you disagree to it, then please delete this comment.
REPLY: I don’t need to forge bargains. In making this request, you are doing exactly as Monckton has requested, removal of a disclaimer that negates your writings from the get go.

Richard deSousa

So now the APS is doubting the intelligence of their members? That they don’t have the brains to distinguish between fact and fantasy so they shouldn’t read Monckton’s paper? What a hoot and an insult to the APS’s members.

counters

Richard deSousa:
Nowhere does the APS direct its readers to not read the paper.

MarkW

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”
The problems with this statement is that while everyone agrees that increasing CO2 will cause an increase in temperatue, nobody agrees on how the feedbacks will play. The AGW’ers assume that there are strong positive feedbacks that will dramatically increase the affect of CO2 increases. However, nobody has demonstrated the existence of these proposed feedbacks. A number of recent studies have concluded that H2O feedback is negative, not positive.
Finally, regarding the crack about correlation not equaling causation. I wish the AGW’ers would apply that logic to their own theory.

evanjones

Andrew: Good show. It is a great shame when invitation to open debate gets the backhand shot. One might even begin to suspect that the emotions are rooted more deeply than in the scientific facts of the case and the normal channels of free and open inquiry.
But what is it about the piece that is so terrible, that like Medusa, it could make men go blind?
Just buff up the trusty old Shield +1 and bask in the reflection.
But for anyone without a dog in this race
Well, as it is the human race, I will admit to having a dog in it.
“radiative transfers and non-radiative transports (convection and evaporation up, advection along, subsidence and precipitation down), as well as altitudinal and latitudinal asymmetries, greatly complicate the picture.”
When it rains, it pours.
That’s the point. CO2 won’t do it alone. There have to be hugely magnifying positive feedbacks involved. But the Aqua satellite data says no. So what if they ain’t? AGW is a bit of a wet firecracker, that’s what.
Dyson has a good point–if natural absorption can be enhanced, the whole question could be made moot. But I do wonder about the ins and outs of the persistence factor of atmospheric CO2. I have heard too many reasonable-sounding answers that badly conflict.
(BTW, I’ll be back to you today.)

Peter

John Riddell:
“How did the Council of the American Physical Society determine that the “conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community”?”
And how would the world scientific community know that they disagreed with the conclusions, unless they had all read the paper?
Oops, I forgot – they’re not allowed to 😉

Richard deSousa

Counters:
My, aren’t we being picky… reading Monckton’s paper is essential to debating… the APS wouldn’t dare to tell it’s members not to read Monckton’s paper. You obviously failed to get my sarcasm.

So this is what science has become … political, no truth. I wonder, do the scientists involved realize the damage they are doing to their own chosen field by this politicization of science?
Still there remains no verifiable proof of AGW, just computer models, which can prove anything you program them to say — So where is the beef? Why not just offer up the proof? AGW has been declared to be going on for 100+ years, there must be proof. Well, except for the recent years … It’s getting complicated.
Meanwhile, the sun does not seem to be responding to NASA’s proclamation.

James Burnham

I too appreciated the wit of the moderator’s rejoinder to “couters” original post. “Counters” made a thoughtful and resonable point with regards to the manner in which constructive debate should be conducted and the spirit of his post is commendable. The moderator’s rejoinder detracts from “counters” good intentions moves this blog in an undesirable direction. Therefore, I fully support “counters” request for an edit of the post and removal of the moderator’s comment.

evanjones

Mr. Orlowski’s other comments are the same old skeptic arguments we see time and time again, but the big picture here is the APS meme, which is ridiculous.
Actually, “Mr. Orlowski” is an agnostic on the issue. He questions both sides. He advocates and encourages open debate in order to help clarify the issue.
Things have come to a pretty pass when a call for debate and fairness is considered to be “the same old skeptics arguments we see time and time again”.
Well . . . ?

RHFrei

Is it me or are the Global Warmists starting to act like four-year olds sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming at the top of their lungs, “I can’t hear you!”? Geesh. People who don’t want to debate know that the facts aren’t on their side. Those that have the facts on their side are more than willing to debate. Unless, of course, they are debating four-year olds with their fingers in their ears.

evanjones

an anthropomorphic effect rather than the correct term of anthropogenic
It makes my blood boil and steam shoot out of my ears, thus contributing to positive feedback loops.

Stefan

Disclaimers in advertising are usually so that the company can make a claim which they otherwise would not be able to uphold.
I see this disclaimer more as a means of getting the article published and noticed, rather than an attempt to stop it being read.

counters

James, I appreciate your support. Apparently, though, the current moderator here is not interested in debate, but rather in playing “gotcha.” My post was not meant to be published publicly – hence the address to “Moderator” prior to it. However, since we’re having this discussion in the open let us continue it:
Moderator, you conflate separate issues in your reply to my request. Specifically, as I’ve already stated, your comment on my first post is disingenuous in nature; it does not address the substance of my comment, and instead opts to hit an Achille’s heel within the post itself. You refuted my post by knocking down a strawman. In the case of Monckton’s paper, there was no “refutation” involved. Rather, the disclaimer was a clarification of the APS’ official policy which had been lost during the heavy dissemination and politicization of the issue at hand. The disclaimer was not meant to address Monckton’s paper – it was meant to dismiss the legions of skeptics on the internet who were being guided to the paper under the false pretenses that the APS had reversed its official policy.
You’re entitled to not honor my request as this is your own webspace. However, it speaks quite vividly of your intentions with this blog and the subsequent promotion of this story, which is at heart and motive dishonest.
REPLY: I think the object lesson is clear, Monckton disliked the disclaimer conditions that were added after the fact. Under the same situation, you’ve reacted identically, to the same type of disclaimer, but at the same time maintain that you’ve been wronged and that I’ve been disingenuous. That that I say: BUNK. If you don’t want a comment published, put up NOT FOR PUBLICATION on it. I can’t read your mind.
The disclaimer and subsequent comment stand.
BTW if I was “not interested in debate” as you assert, none of your comments would be published. Thus, your assertion fails. If you want one sided debate, go to RealClimate.

anomdebus

James Burnham,
Is ad hominem what passes for “good intentions” these days?

Stan Needham

Finally, regarding the crack about correlation not equaling causation. I wish the AGW’ers would apply that logic to their own theory.
Pretty hard to do, Mark, since the only close correlation between increases in atmospheric levels of C02 and temperature existed briefly during the 80’s and 90’s and has virtually vanished during the last decade.

silencedogood

It would seem that the APS significantly miscalculated both the size and the sign of the “feedback” that would result from their disclaimer.

Joe S

Evan, close those italic tags every chance you get. Maybe it’s just my poor old eyes. But, reading italic on more than a string of a few words is difficult.
Please don’t take this suggestion badly. I enjoy reading all of your posts. I’ll skim others while trying to read every word of yours.
[Hesitantly clicks “Submit Comment”]

Mike Pickett

I think many are missing Dyson’s point, but making it at the same time in this discussion. Environmentalism has become a major religion. The debate of religion is usually fruitless.
I, for one, prefer Magellan’s view, The church said the earth was flat. He saw its shadow on the moon and chose to believe in the shadow more than the church.
I’ve been a “student” of Solar Dynamics for over 40 Years, having studied it
under Sydney Chapman and others. There are still no sunspots. I believe the
sun more than Gore. I also believe Estabrook’s data more than Gore.

Alvin M. Saperstein, in his response to Leon Brozyna, states:

“(Occasionally, it is very difficult to get alternative viewpoints; we go with what we can get.)”

That obviously ad hominem attack on Lord Monckton is a mendacious statement. There are mountains of opposing points of view. Here’s just one: click

CodeTech

The red disclaimer essentially said “no need to read or consider this, it’s probably rubbish”. Pretending otherwise is being dishonest.
Where is the credible mechanism for ice ages and their subsequent end? Surely CO2 forcing is not the answer… so let’s hear the credible explanation.
You see, what I and other “skeptics” want is an end to the ridiculous hyperbole and a return to science. Computer models are not credible to me, and the “code” in my nickname stands for my specialty.

counters

Moderator, you’re still not getting it. I invited you to include your comment – however, the comment should line up with its subject matter. Your comment referred to a single sentence in my post. Although I can not read minds either, it is apparent that you posted it to diffuse my argument in its entirety – an argument which was only tangentially related to the veracity of Monckton’s paper.
As of yet, no one has responded to my argument, so I’ll re-iterate it:
The bottom line is that Monckton’s paper was not peer-reviewed. Period. The APS’ disclaimer was not meant for Monckton’s paper as much as it was meant to serve as a course-correction for the legions of misinformed skeptics who were spreading a false meme around the blogosphere. At the very beginning, it was a false and bunk argument that the APS had reversed their stance on global warming. It is still false to suggest that they are shutting down debate by sticking a disclaimer on Monckton’s paper.
REPLY: I think you are the one missing it. This was a test that was counter to the published opinion of APS. That is the story. It truly is a reversal to open a debate on an opinion for which the organization has already issued a pro forma policy statement.
If you have ever been a part of a union, perhaps you can draw from that experience to help understand the disclaimer issue. The union leadership issues an “opinion” on a proposal, then distributes it with that opinion attached. The rank and file then typically will not vote to accept the offer unless leadership approves it ahead of time. APS is much like a union in that regard.
In the case of APS, the leadership qualifies the paper with an opinion of their own thus tainting its ability to succeed or fail on it’s own merits. If APS had not done that, there would be no issues. APS made a mistake, a huge one. Their “damage control” is compounding that mistake and drawing attention to the issue far more than if they’d just let the paper stand or fail on it’s own like any other science paper.

M White

A programme called ‘The great global warming swindle’ was shown on British television last year. Anyone not seen it goto
http://www.moviesfoundonline.com/great_global_warming_swindle.php
There were complaints made to the telecommunications regulator and a judgement has just been made. After the debate on the British media I would say the complaints were just an attack on free speach
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7517509.stm

Peter

I think it’s incorrect to assume that the greenhouse effect of water vapor acts as a positive feedback for the greenhouse effect of CO2. It seems to me that the two act separately but in tandem, and the total greenhouse effect is a sum of the two – before any feedback is considered.
After all, water vapor has always existed in the atmosphere over the major part of the planet, since the beginning when the earth was still a molten sphere. As an aside, at that time the atmosphere consisted almost wholly of CO2, methane and water vapor – but despite this, it still cooled down from its molten state, and didn’t go ‘Venus’ on us.
The point is, water vapor has always co-existed with CO2 in the atmosphere and, for at least the most recent 100 million years, has been in somewhat greater concentrations. So, far from the water vapor in the atmosphere having been ‘manufactured’ by the warming effect of CO2, it’s level is governed principally by the action of sunlight on the oceans. There has never been a time when we had a ‘snowball earth’ which had little or no water vapor, and which relied on the presence of CO2 to raise its temperature above -18, or whatever it was.
As far more IR is absorbed by water vapor than by CO2, it creates its own warming, which far exceeds that of CO2, and temperatures would be close to what they are now in the complete absence of CO2 – except, perhaps, over deserts and other extremely dry areas at night.
The negative feedbacks of precipitation etc act on the overall warming effect and, therefore, much more on the warming effect of water vapor than that of CO2. If not for those negative feedbacks, this planet would probably be far too hot to support life as we know it, even if CO2 didn’t exist.
It seems to me that the effect of CO2 forcing is only a tiny part of the overall warming effect (that of water vapor and CO2 taken together) and so is much less than it would be in the absence of water vapor.

Gary Gulrud

The fallacy behind this ‘peer-review’ shibboleth is so obvious that a plurality here question the bona fides of any who seriously, or otherwise, raise its alarm.
None should be able to criticise Astrology if that criticism should fail to pass review by some chosen few authorities of that discipline.
Candidly, emphasis placed on ‘peer-review’ is credible only from the publisher of a journal maintaining a profit margin by means of good reputation.

Peter

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”
I have a plausible mechanism (I think):
The oceans are gradually warmed by the direct action of sunlight but, because of their huge thermal inertia, this process takes a long time (decadal timescales, at least). As they warm, more evaporation takes place and so water vapor builds up in the atmosphere. All other things being equal, the more water vapor, the more cloud formation. The more cloud formation the higher the albedo and the less sunlight available to warm the oceans further, so they start the long process of cooling again – to the point where the cycle starts over. This process would, of course, be modified/amplified/diminished by solar cycles, cosmic rays, Milankovich cycles, etc etc. And, of course, lets not deny that CO2 may have a tiny part to play.
Does this sound plausible? Maths isn’t one of my strong points, so don’t ask me to prove it 😉

Peter

counters:
“Nowhere does the APS direct its readers to not read the paper.”
In fact, by their actions, they are practically begging to have it read by all and sundry – talk about an ‘own-goal’
BTW, I’ve read your critique on Monckton’s paper and, whilst I don’t agree with much of what you say, it’s nice that you’re doing your bit to keep the debate alive – which cannot be a bad thing.

Stefan

counters,
the criticism of the “disclaimer” isn’t that the disclaimer is factually wrong–as you say, it wasn’t peer reviewed, and APS is free to state their own view. That’s not the problem.
What is being criticised is the manner in which the disclaimer was “slapped” onto the article afterwards. Say you are a local artist and I run an art gallery, and I invite you to have your own paintings hung in my gallery. At first you welcome the opportunity to show off your work, and have the public see it. But then you turn up at the gallery and discover that I have placed a big sign across the top that reads “DEGENERATIVE ART”.
This is simply lacking in common respect and honesty. The APC can very well be criticised for not deciding for itself before hand how and what to publish. Why did they publish it at all?
The bottom line is that they made a mistake in a rather delicate political arena. They publish an article, and then afterwards try to label it as essentially wrong. This implies that people who hold the views expressed by the article are wrong; “this article is degenerate”, or words to that effect.
What is evident is that the scientific community is at odds with much of the general public who normally approach things with “common sense”. If anything the disclaimer seems aimed not at the general public but at scientists who would only care about peer review.

anomdebus

Nota bene: I had not checked the site before, however at this time, the disclaimer is the same color as the article and I saw the same disclaimer at the top of the “believers'” page.

james_h

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”
Wouldn’t another “basic” model that did not exhibit the same prediction be sufficient? What basic physical mechanism has the model proved? Some assumptions had to be made about the sensitivity. With models, they say, garbage in = garbage out. Since the climate models have not statistically matched the actual behavior of the planet (rankexploits.com/musings), it seems that they really aren’t such a strong metric anyway.

Person of Choler

If peer review works so well in getting at truth , why don’t we get rid of the Securities and Exchange Commission and let the Chief Financial Officers of each listed company audit each other’s books?

radar

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”
As has been posted earlier, this statement is mind blowingly insane.
“CO2, Guilty until proven innocent.”
We have 150 years of data – at least 30 years of which are beyond reproach – on a planet that’s been around for millions of years so our modelers know exactly how it all works. I have a pseudoname for the APS – We shall call them “Gavin”. – AW, snip the last if you must.

Rod Smith

It seems to me that if a “guest” author is invited to publish an article in a scientific journal, it would be appropriate to mention in the invitation that all (not some, but all) non peer-reviewed articles will be tagged with a prominent disclaimer. To do otherwise is, at best, very rude.

Russ R.

How come Mr. Saperstein is only interested in a critical analysis of Monckton’s paper, and fails to request the same treatment for Hafemeister’s.
I think we all know the answer to that question.
Hafemeister glossed over everything anyway, and basically said “Ignore the man behind the curtain”.

Joel Shore

Andrew Orlowski and the readers of this forum are missing the main reason why the disclaimer was added. It had nothing to do with telling the physicists who normally read that newsletter (such as myself, who is a member of the APS’s Forum on Physics and Society) what we should think of the paper. (I have little doubt that most of my fellow physicists will have no trouble determining that it is very poor scientifically.)
Rather, it has to do with clarifying things for outsiders who don’t normally read that newsletter but were directed there by deceptive press releases (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/press/proved_no_climate_crisis.html) or news articles (http://www.dailytech.com/Myth+of+Consensus+Explodes+APS+Opens+Global+Warming+Debate/article12403.htm). In other words, it was when Monckton and his associates attempted to use the publication of this article in the newsletter to make many false claims, such as that the article was peer-reviewed or that its publication represented a shift in the APS’s position on AGW, that it was necessary to issue a disclaimer. Basically, Monckton is using the APS in a propaganda war to lend credibility to his views. And, this is what needed to be prevented.
Also, by the way, I don’t think the APS Executive Council or the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society are “bureaucrats”. I believe that they are professional scientists who volunteer their time to serve in this capacity (and are elected by the members of the APS or the forum).

The peer review issue is grasping at straws. It is a red herring argument, intended to change the subject because the climate is not cooperating with the AGW/disaster alarmists. The Earth is cooling, not warming. Screams of “peer review!” are intended to distract the public from that central fact. The cooling planet is the matador; the cries of “peer review” are the cape.
Albert Einstein’s 1905 manuscript Annus Mirabilis wasn’t peer reviewed, either. If Einstein were here today and submitted a paper that contradicted the UN/IPCC, the same individuals would be making the very same ad hominem, appeal to authority, and red herring arguments attacking Albert Einstein.
Had Lord Monckton jumped through every peer review flaming hoop set up by his venomous detractors, they would simply shift the goal posts again, as they have done so often in this issue, and they would attack him because he had been a journalist, or had a friend who received a stipend from an oil company, or didn’t hold a specific doctorate in climatology [as if they themselves did], or spoke with a different accent. Anything but face the fact that the planet is cooling.
Despite the empirical facts, they are True Believers, and they view Monckton as an apostate who must be destroyed at any cost and by any tactic, no matter how disreputable. Because for them, Monckton’s science is in the way; AGW orthodoxy must remain unchallenged. Because money is at stake. Big money. Other branches of science are being starved of funds, because of the $billions being shoveled into the coffers of those pushing the AGW panic scam.
The undeniable fact, as shown in the Wegman Report to Congress, is that the current peer review process has become extremely political and self-serving, and is tightly controlled by a relatively small number of people who stand to greatly enrich themselves by perpetuating the AGW scare. With a wink and a nod, the same researchers review each others’ papers uncritically. Climate peer review is now all about funding, and who gets it. What bothers the AGW true believers more than anything else is the fact that the Sun and the Earth contradict their falsified hypothesis: the climate is cooling, not warming as they so confidently predicted that it would.
The impartial judgement of our planet contradicts the demonstrably wrong predictions of James Hansen, the UN/IPCC and the AGW/disaster purveyors. That is what is causing the current panic among the alarmists, who are now desperately trying to contain the argument. But the real world is not cooperating.

tty

The APS council should have heeded the advice of a great physicist, R. V. Jones, head of RAF Scientific Intelligence during WW 2. He notes that the best way to ensure that a report is read is to write it in such a manner that it is recalled by higher authority. This guarantees that every recipient will read every line of it to find out what it is he is not supposed to know.

Bill in Vigo

I am not a scientist! I do believe in good courtesy. It is one thing to ask comment and print the comment and then put the disclaimer on it. That should have been issued with the invitation. It was not. I believe also that with the disclaimer being issued after the fact that they are now required to answer Lord Monckton’s reply. They are the ones that have now set the rules and must by their own description of the rules must abide by said rules. The point being that while the review being done may not have been true peer review it met the requirements of the editors for acceptance and was printed. Now it must be challenged and by more than a statement of disagreement with the conclusions. They have put themselves in the position to now have to logically and empirically disprove the said conclusion.
Counters you are correct in that the debate is now opened. The point now is that the APS in its method of disclaimer have put themselves in the position of having to prove their position or to disprove the position of Lord Monckton.
I look forward to the debate with relish.
Bill Derryberry
PS I have also been derided to that “common sense” has no place in climate science. IMHO that is pure bunk.

Peter

Joel Shore:
“Rather, it has to do with clarifying things for outsiders who don’t normally read that newsletter but were directed there by deceptive press releases”
Really? So ‘outsiders’ are people who are incapable of making up their own minds, and therefore must be told what they should or shouldn’t believe?
I find that patronizing in the extreme. It’s not only those who inhabit the hallowed halls of the APS who are capable of understanding scientific arguments.
If they felt it necessary to add that disclaimer then they should have added a similar disclaimer to all the other ‘non peer-reviewed’ papers published in their newsletters.

Joel Shore

I am amazed that so many people here feel compelled to lecture the APS about courtesy when in fact it is Monckton who deserves the lecture. This is the first sentence of the press release that the organization that Monckton serves as chief policy advisor on released when the paper appeared: “Mathematical proof that there is no ‘climate crisis’ appears today in a major, peer-reviewed paper in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 10,000-strong American Physical Society, SPPI reports.” That whole sentence is a downright lie and it lays bare the fact that Monckton’s motives had very little to do with convincing physicists (which, frankly, his ridiculous article is not going to do) and everything to do with using the prestige of the APS, along with considerable misrepresentations regarding the paper and its appearance in the newsletter, to further his own propaganda campaign.

randomengineer

“Basic atmospheric models clearly predict that additional greenhouse gasses will raise the temperature of Earth. To argue otherwise, one must prove a physical mechanism that gives a reasonable alternative cause of warming. This has not been done. Sunspot and temperature correlations do not prove causality.”
This is little more than variant #456 of the smackdown delivered to creationists attempting to invalidate evolution, which is directly and indirectly supported by a plethora of unrelated disciplines — e.g. geology, biology, etc.
On the other hand you’re referring to a MODEL, meaning that all I have to do is provide a MODEL that doesn’t agree.
And as a bonus, if I’m doing the Mann or Hansen thing, I get to make decent scratch on the taxpayer’s back in the process and then refuse to let you or the taxpayers see the code. And if you’re impertinent enough to disagree with me, all I have to do is recycle your quote and redirect it at YOU.