UPDATE: Below is Peter Hadfield’s response in entirety, submitted Feb 7th, 2012. I’ve made only some slight edits for formatting to fit. Comments are open. – Anthony
By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
Various You-Tube videos by a former “science writer” who uses a speleological pseudonym “potholer54” sneeringly deliver a series of petty smears about artfully-distorted and often inconsequential aspects of my talks on climate change. Here, briefly, I shall answer some of his silly allegations. I noted them down rather hastily, since I am disinclined to waste much time on him, so the sentences in quote-marks may not be word for word what he said, but I hope that they fairly convey his meaning.
For fuller answers to these allegations, many of which he has ineptly and confusedly recycled from a serially mendacious video by some no-account non-climatologist at a fourth-rank bible college in Nowheresville, Minnesota, please see my comprehensive written reply to that video at www.scienceandpublicpolicy.org. The guy couldn’t even get his elementary arithmetic right – not that the caveman mentions that fact, of course.
The allegations, with my answers, are as follows:
“Monckton says he advised Margaret Thatcher on climate change. He didn’t.” I did.
“Monckton says he wrote a peer-reviewed paper. He didn’t.” The editors of Physics and Society asked me to write a paper on climate sensitivity in 2008. The review editor reviewed it in the usual way and it was published in the July 2008 edition, which, like most previous editions, carried a headnote to the effect that Physics and Society published “reviewed articles”. Peer-review takes various forms. From the fact that the paper was invited, written, reviewed and then published, one supposes the journal had followed its own customary procedures. If it hadn’t, don’t blame me. Subsequent editions changed the wording of the headnote to say the journal published “non-peer-reviewed” articles, and the editors got the push. No mention of any of this by the caveman, of course.
“Monckton says the Earth is cooling. It isn’t.” At the time when I said the Earth was cooling, it had indeed been cooling since late 2001. The strong El Niño of 2010 canceled the cooling, and my recent talks and graphs have of course reflected that fact by stating instead that there has been no statistically-significant warming this millennium. The caveman made his video after the cooling had ended, but – without saying so – showed a slide from a presentation given by me while the cooling was still in effect. Was that honest of him?
“Monckton says Greenland is not melting. It is.” Well, it is now, but for 12 years from 1992-2003 inclusive, according to Johannessen et al. (2005), the mean spatially-averaged thickness of Greenland’s ice sheet increased by 5 cm (2 inches) per year, or 2 feet in total over the period. The high-altitude ice mass in central northern Greenland thickened fastest, more than matching a decline in ice thickness along the coastline. Since 2005, according to Johannessen et al. (2009), an ice mass that I calculate is equivalent to some six inches of the 2 feet of increase in Greenland’s ice thickness over the previous decade or so has gone back into the ocean, raising global sea levels by a not very terrifying 0.7 millimeters. According to the Aviso Envisat satellite, in the past eight years sea level has been rising at a rate equivalent to just 2 inches per century. Not per decade: per century. If so, where has all the additional ice that the usual suspects seem to imagine has melted from Greenland gone? Two possibilities: not as much ice has melted as we are being told, or its melting has had far less impact on sea level than we are being invited to believe.
“Monckton says there’s no systematic loss of sea-ice in the Arctic. There is.” No, I said that the 30-year record low ice extent of 2007 had been largely reversed in 2008 and 2009. The caveman, if he were capable of checking these or any data, would find this to be so. In fact, he knew this to be so, because the slide I was showing at that point in his video, taken from the University of Illinois’ Cryosphere monitoring program, shows it. Of course, the slide was only in the background of his video and was shown only for a few seconds. Since that particular talk of mine the Arctic sea ice has declined again and came close to its 2007 low in 2011. But it is arguable from the descriptions of melting Arctic ice in 1922 that there may have been less sea ice in the Arctic then than now.
“Monckton says there has been no correlation between temperature and CO2 for the past 500 million years. There has.” Well, there has in the past few thousand years, but the correlation since the Cambrian era has been spectacularly poor, as the slide (from a peer-reviewed paper) that the caveman fleetingly shows me using at that point demonstrates very clearly. For most of that long period, global temperatures were about 7 Celsius degrees warmer than the present: yet CO2 concentration has inexorably declined throughout the period.
“Monckton says a pre-Cambrian ice-planet shows CO2 has no effect on climate. It doesn’t.” No, I cited Professor Ian Plimer, a leading geologist, as having said that the formation of dolomitic rock 750 million years ago could not have taken place unless there had been 300,000 ppmv CO2 in the atmosphere: yet glaciers a mile high had come and gone twice at sea-level and at the Equator at that time. Professor Plimer had concluded that, even allowing for the fainter Sun and higher ice-albedo in those days, the equatorial glaciers could not have formed twice if the warming effect of CO2 were as great as the IPCC wants us to believe. At no point have I ever said CO2 has no effect on climate, for its effect was demonstrated by a simple but robust experiment as long ago as 1859. However, I have said, over and over again, that CO2 probably has a much smaller warming effect than the IPCC’s range of estimates. The caveman must have known that, because he says he has watched “hours and hours” of my videos. So why did he misrepresent me?
“Monckton said there had been no change in the Himalayan glaciers for 200 years. There has.” No, I cited Professor M.I. Bhat of the Indian Geological Survey, who had told me on several occasions that the pattern of advance and retreat of these glaciers was much as it had been in the 200 years since the British Raj had been keeping records. That is very far from the same thing as saying there had been “no change”: indeed, it is the opposite, for advance and retreat are both changes. Why did the caveman misrepresent me?
“Monckton says only one Himalayan glacier has been retreating. Many have.” No, I mentioned the Gangotri and Ronggbuk glaciers as being notable examples of glacial retreat in the Himalayas caused by geological instability in the region. To discuss one or two retreating glaciers is not the same thing as to say or imply that only one or two glaciers have been retreating. Why did the caveman misrepresent me? It is this kind of intellectual dishonesty that permeates the caveman’s cheesy videos. He has not the slightest intention of being accurate or fair. If he had, he would surely have mentioned that the IPCC tried for months to pretend that all of the glaciers in the Himalayas would be gone by 2035. The IPCC’s own “peer-reviewers” had said the figure should be “2350”, not “2035”, but the lead author of the chapter in question had left in the wrong figure, knowing it to be unverified, because, as he later publicly admitted, he wanted to influence governments.
The caveman says I misquoted the lead author who had left in the erroneous date for the extinction of the Himalayan glaciers, but here is what that author actually said in an interview with the Daily Mail: “We thought that if we can highlight it [the erroneous date], it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” For good measure, he said I had misquoted Sir John Houghton, the IPCC’s first science chairman, who had said that unless we announced disasters no one would listen.
Sir John, too, tried to maintain that I had misquoted him, and even menaced me with a libel suit, until I told him I had a copy of the cutting from the London Sunday Telegraph of September 10, 1995, in which he had said, “If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we’ll have to have a disaster”, and that I also had a copy of an article in the Manchester Guardian of July 28, 2003, in which Sir John had luridly ascribed numerous specific natural disasters to “global warming”, which he described as “a weapon of mass destruction” that was “at least as dangerous as nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, or indeed international terrorism”. Perhaps the caveman didn’t know any of this, but here’s the thing: I do not recall that he has ever bothered to check any of his “facts” with me (though, if he had, I wouldn’t have known because he lurks behind a pseudonym and, even though I am told he has revealed his identity I have no time to keep track of the pseudonyms of people who lack the courage and decency to publish under their own names).
“Monckton says Dr. Pinker found that a loss of cloud cover had caused recent warming. She disagreed.” No, I drew the conclusion from Dr. Pinker’s paper, and from several others, that cloud cover does not remain constant, but waxes and wanes broadly in step with the cooling and warming phases respectively of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. I did not misrepresent Dr. Pinker’s paper in any way: I merely used it as a source for my own calculations, which I presented at the annual seminar on planetary emergencies of the World Federation of Scientists in 2010, where they were well received. Less cloud cover, particularly in the tropics, naturally warms the Earth: the point is surely uncontroversial. If one removes the influence of this natural warming phase from the record since 1976, it is reasonable to deduce that climate sensitivity based on that period is much lower than the IPCC thinks. Strictly speaking, one should study temperature trends in multiples of 60 years, so as to ensure that the warming and cooling phases of the PDO cancel one another out.
Frankly, that’s quite enough of these dull allegations. There are others, but they are all as half-baked and dishonest as these and it would be tedious to deal with each one. You get the drift: the caveman is a zealot and we need not ask who paid him to watch “hours and hours” of my YouTube videos to realize from these examples that his videos are unreliable. More importantly, it would interfere with my research: I hope shortly to be in a position to demonstrate formally that climate sensitivity is unarguably little more than one-third of the IPCC’s central estimate. My objective is to reach the truth, not to distort it or misrepresent it as the caveman has done.
He concludes by challenging his small band of followers to check the scientific literature for themselves to establish that the Earth has been warming and that CO2 is “largely responsible”. Of course the Earth has been warming since 1750: I have at no point denied it, though that is the implication of the caveman’s statement.
And of course there are scientists who say CO2 is “largely responsible” for the warming: that is the principal conclusion of the IPCC’s 2007 report, reached on the basis of a fraudulent statistical abuse: comparison of the slopes of multiple arbitrarily-chosen trend-lines on the global-temperature dataset falsely to suggest that “global warming” is accelerating and that it is our fault. Not that one has ever heard the caveman utter a word of condemnation of the IPCC’s too-often fictional “science”. But it is also reasonable to mention the growing band of scientists who say CO2 may not be “largely responsible” but only partly responsible for the warming since 1950. Would it not have been fairer if the caveman had pointed that out?
Climate skeptics have come under intensive attack from various quarters, and the attacks have too often been as unpleasantly dishonest as those of the caveman. Also, there is evidence that someone has been spending a lot of money on trying malevolently to discredit those who dare to ask any questions at all about the party line on climate.
For instance, after a speech by me in in the US in October 2009 went viral and received a million YouTube hits in a week (possibly the fastest YouTube platinum ever for a speech), a Texan professor who monitors the seamier side of the internet got in touch to tell me that someone had paid the operators of various search engines a sum that he estimated at not less than $250,000 to enhance the page rankings of some two dozen specially-created web-pages containing meaningless jumbles of symbols among which the word “Monckton video” appeared.
These nonsense pages would not normally have attracted any hits at all, and the search engines would normally have ranked them well below the video that had gone platinum. The intention of this elaborate and expensive artifice, as the professor explained, was to ensure that anyone looking for the real video would instead find page after page of junk and simply give up. The viral chain was duly broken, but so many websites carried the video that more than 5 million people ended up seeing it, so the dishonestly-spent $250,000 was wasted.
At one level, of course, all of this attention is an unintended compliment. But no amount of sneering or smearing will alter two salient facts: the Earth has not been warming at anything like the predicted rate and is not now at all likely to do so; and, in any event, even if the climate-extremists’ predictions were right, it would be at least an order of magnitude more cost-effective to wait and adapt in a focused way to any adverse consequences of manmade “global warming” than it would be to tax, trade, regulate, reduce, or replace CO2 today.
The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley
Note: for anyone who wishes to see what this is about, you can see “potholer54” aka Peter Hadfield on Monckton at YouTube here – Anthony
UPDATE: Here is Peter Hadfield’s response in entirety, submitted Feb 7th, 2012. I’ve made only some slight edits for formatting to fit. – Anthony
Response from Peter Hadfield:
In January, Christopher Monckton criticized me on WUWT after I made a series of videos exposing errors in most of his claims. I have asked Anthony Watts for the opportunity to respond in kind, so that we can put Mr. Monckton’s verbatim assertions up against the documentary evidence he cites.
At first I was puzzled as to what Mr. Monckton was responding to in his WUWT guest-post, because he failed to address any of the rebuttals or the evidence I showed in my five videos. Then I realized he must have watched only the last video in the series, including a light-hearted 30-second ‘mistake count’. So in this response I am going to deal with what Mr. Monckton actually said, as shown and rebutted in my videos, rather than what he thinks I think he said, and what he thinks I rebutted.
Mr. Monckton doesn’t claim to be an expert, and neither do I. All I can do is to check and verify his claims. So the question is whether Mr. Monckton has reported the sources he cites accurately in order to reach his conclusions. I have made it very easy for you to check by playing clips of Mr. Monckton making these assertions in my videos, then showing images of the documentary evidence he cites. Since this response is text I will write out Mr. Monckton’s assertions verbatim and quote the documentary sources verbatim (with references in the body of the text.) References to the relevant video (linked at the bottom) and the time on the video where they are shown, will be shown in square brackets.
ON THE COOLING EARTH:
Since Mr. Monckton failed to address the evidence, but implies I was duplicitous in my timing, let’s see what my video actually showed. In a speech given in Melbourne in February 2009, Mr. Monckton said: “We’ve had nine years of a global cooling trend since the first of January 2001” [Ref 1 – 4:06] — and St. Paul in October 2009: “There has been global cooling for the last eight or nine years” [ibid.].
So in my video, the period Mr. Monckton was talking about was clearly identified in his own words, as well as in the graphs he showed, and I showed the dates the speeches were made, and the studies I cited covered the same period.
[“Waiting for Global Cooling” – R. Fawcett and D. Jones, National Climate Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, April 2008]
[“Statisticians reject global cooling” — Associated Press 10/26/2009 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33482750/ns/us_news-environment/]
ON THE MELTING OF GREENLAND:
Again, let’s deal with what Mr. Monckton actually said, which is what I rebutted. In a speech in St. Paul in 2009, Mr. Monckton cited a paper by Ola Johannessen, and told the audience: “What he found was that between 1992 and 2003, the average thickness of the vast Greenland ice sheet increased by two inches a year.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbW-aHvjOgM 11:40)
No, he found no such thing. Johannessen said he only measured the interior of Greenland above 1,500 metres [1 – 11:59] In fact, he specifically warns that the very conclusion Mr Monckton reaches cannot be made: “We cannot make an integrated assessment of elevation changes… for the whole Greenland Ice Sheet, including its outlet glaciers, from these observations alone, because the marginal areas are not measured completely…. ” [“Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland” Ola M. Johannessen et al, Science November 2005]
ON THE LOSS OF ARCTIC ICE:
Mr. Monckton claimed there is no long-term systematic loss of ice in the Arctic, and I rebutted this with studies showing a decline in Arctic summer sea-ice extent since satellite measurements began in 1979. [1 – 8:20 onwards]
Mr. Monckton’s response: “I said that the 30-year record low ice extent of 2007 had been largely reversed in 2008 and 2009.”
So, as I said, he did not tell his audience there had been a 30-year decline. Quite the opposite – he said there was no long-term decline. Mr. Monckton showed his audience a slide covering just three years, referring to the 2007 low as a “temporary loss of sea ice” which had recovered by 2009. Then he told them: “So we’re not looking at a sort of long-term systematic loss of ice in the Arctic.” [1 – 8:27]
ON THE CORRELATION BETWEEN CO2 AND GLOBAL TEMPERATURES SINCE THE CAMBRIAN:
Mr. Monckton’s conclusion about a lack of correlation rests entirely on a graph showing CO2 concentration and temperature over the last 500 million years [3 – 0:04]. The graph uses temperature data from Scotese and CO2 data from Berner. Neither researcher supports Mr. Monckton’s ‘no correlation’ conclusion. On the contrary, Berner writes: “Over the long term there is indeed a correlation between CO2 and paleotemperature, as manifested by the greenhouse effect.” [“Geocarb III: A revised model of atmospheric CO2 over Phanerozoic time” — R. Berner and Z. Kothavala, American Journal of Science, Feb 2001]
How so? Because paleoclimatologists have to factor in solar output, which has been getting stronger over time [3 – 4:45]. If the rising curve of solar output is compared to global temperatures over the phanerozoic (500 million years) there is a similar lack of correlation. But it would be absurd to draw the conclusion that the sun therefore has no effect on climate.
So when gradually rising solar output is taken into account there is a very clear correlation between CO2 and global temperatures, and the source of Mr. Monckton’s data points that out. So does another senior researcher in the field [“CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate” — D. Royer et al, GSA Today, March 2004].
ON THE PRE-CAMBRIAN ICE PLANET:
Again, let’s look at what I showed in my video, which was a clip of Mr. Monckton himself, speaking in a debate:
“750 million years ago, a mile of ice at the equator, ice planet all round, therefore at the surface 300,000 ppm of CO2. Will you tell me how that much CO2 could have been in the atmosphere and yet allowed that amount of ice at the equator?” [3 – 5:17]
Since Mr. Monckton thinks this is a puzzle for climatologists, let’s go through the well-understood explanation step by step.
Mr. Monckton agrees with the experts that the frozen planet was due to very weak solar output (about 8% less than today.) And he agrees that the high albedo (reflectivity) of this white surface would have reflected most of what little solar warmth the Earth did receive.
But he doesn’t seem to accept that volcanoes would have continued releasing CO2 into the atmosphere of this frozen planet over millions of years, and that this eventually warmed the planet enough to unfreeze it [“CO2 levels required for deglaciation of a ‘near-snowball’ Earth” T. Crowley et al, Geophysical Research Letters, 2001]. He cites no peer-reviewed research showing why paleoclimatologists are wrong. (No, the opinion of “a leading geologist” is not the same thing.)
ON HIMALAYAN GLACIERS:
Mr. Monckton writes in his WUWT response: “the pattern of advance and retreat of these glaciers was much as it had been in the 200 years since the British Raj had been keeping records. That is very far from the same thing as saying there had been “no change””
Then let’s look at what Mr. Monckton actually said to his audience in St. Paul:
“The glaciers are showing no particular change in 200 years. The only glacier that’s declined a little is Gangoltri.” [3 – 10:20]
So is it a pattern of advance and retreat? Or no particular change? Or only one glacier retreating? Which?
In his WUWT resp onse, Mr. Monckton went on to say: “To discuss one or two retreating glaciers is not the same thing as to say or imply that only one or two glaciers have been retreating.”
But you DID say it, Mr. Monckton. Here it is again: “Only one of them [Himalayan glaciers] is retreating a little and that’s Gangoltri.”
ON MISQUOTING MURARI LAL:
Speaking about Murari Lal, the man behind the IPCC’s 2035 disappearing glaciers fiasco, Mr. Monckton told his audience there was: “….an admission that he [Lal] knew that figure was wrong but had left it in anyway because he knew that the IPCC wanted to influence governments and politicians.”[4 – 3:50]
This is not even borne out by Monckton’s own source, cited in his response, which is a quote from Lal in the Daily Mail about the 2035 date: “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” Nowhere does Lal say he knew the figure was erroneous.
MISQUOTING SIR JOHN HOUGHTON:
Mr. Monckton claims Houghton wrote this in the Sunday Telegraph of September 10, 1995: “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.” [4 – 5:50]
And I maintain Houghton wrote: “If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.”
Who is right? Well, both Mr. Monckton and I have exactly the same source [Sunday Telegraph, September 10, 1995], but I actually show an image of it in my video [4 – 7:24]. Take a look. Even though it turns out my quote is correct and Mr. Monckton’s is clearly a gross misquote, he still insists in his WUWT response that he got the quote right.
ON HIS CLAIMS ABOUT THE ROLE OF THE SUN…
Mr. Monckton showed and quoted an extract from a paper by Sami Solanki: “The level of solar activity during the past 70 years is exceptional, and the previous period of equally high activity occurred more than 8,000 years ago. We find that during the past 11,400 years the sun spent only of the order of 10% of the time at a similarly high level of magnetic activity and almost all of the earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episodoes on to come.” [5 – 1:21 onwards]
That could suggest the sun is a likely culprit for recent warming. But why didn’t Mr. Monckton tell or show his audience what Solanki wrote in the very next line?
“Although the rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot numbers may indicate that the Sun has contributed to the unusual climate change during the twentieth century, we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades.” [“Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the last 11,000 years” — S.K. Solanki et al, Nature Sep 2004]
ON THE ROLE OF THE SUN IN RECENT WARMING:
Mr. Monckton said: “The solar physicists – you might take Scafetta and West, say, in 2008, they attribute 69% of all the recent global warming to the sun.” [5 – 3:48]
No, they don’t. In my video [5 – 4:32] I showed the actual document Mr. Monckton refers to (an opinion piece) where Scafetta and West wrote: “We estimate that the sun could account for as much as 69% of the increase in the Earth’s average temperature.” [“Is climate sensitive to solar variability?” Nicola Scafetta and Bruce J. West, Physics Today March 2008]
I hope we all understand the difference between “69%” and “as much as 69%.” But what about all those other “solar physicists” who purportedly support Monckton’s position? Well, they don’t. Solanki’s figure is up to just 30%, Erlykin less than 14%, Bernstad 7%, Lean ‘negligable’and Lockwood –1.3% [5 — 4:40]
[4:41 “Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?”– S. K. Solanki and N. A. Krivova, Journal of Geophysical Research, May 2003]
[“Solar Activity and the Mean Global Temperature”
A.D. Erlykin et al, Physics Geo 2009]
[“Solar trends and global warming” — R. Benestad and G. Schmidt, Journal of Geophysical Research” July 2009]
[“How natural and anthropogenic influences alter global and regional surface temperatures: 1889 to 2006” J. Lean and D. Rind, Geophysical Research Letters, Sep 2008]
[“Recent changes in solar outputs and the global mean surface temperature. III. Analysis of contributions to global mean air surface temperature rise” — M. Lockwood, June 2008]
Mr. Monckton then asserts that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) agrees with this conclusion (that the sun is largely responsible for recent warming.) After he had been confronted during a TV interview with the plain fact that it didn’t [5 – 5:49 “Meet the Climate Sceptics” BBC TV Feb 2011], Monckton gave a reason for the error in his WUWT response:
“I cited a paper given by Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov at the 2004 symposium of the IAU in St. Petersburg, Fla, but put “IAU” at the foot of the slide rather than Dr. Abdussamatov’s name.”
Maybe so. But that doesn’t explain why Mr. Monckton continued to make exactly the same claim elsewhere. At St. Paul he said:
“Most solar physicists agree [that the sun is largely responsible for recent warming]. The International Astronomical Union in 2004 had a symposium on it, they concluded that that was the case.” [Monckton rebuttal – WUWT 16:27]
And in his film ‘Apocalypse No!’ a slide headed ‘International Astronomical Union Symposium in 2004’ was shown to an audience, along with its main conclusions. Third on the list, Monckton read: “The sun caused today’s global warming.”
Monckton told the audience: “This is not my conclusion, this is the conclusion of the International Astronomical Union Symposium in 2004. This is what they said, this is not me talking here.” [Monckton rebuttal – WUWT 16:34]
Mr. Monckton has to accept that this claim is completely spurious. This is why he dislikes detailed examinations of his sources. While he takes every opportunity to debate on stage, where his speaking skills are essential and his assertions can’t be checked, an online debate is far tougher, because every paper and fact CAN be checked. So come on, Mr. Monckton, let’s debate this on WUWT to see which of us has correctly read your sources.
The rebuttals I made are not “inconsequential aspects of my talks” as Mr. Monckton claims; they include almost every major topic he covers, from the melting of Arctic and glacial ice, to the role of the sun and the correlation between CO2 and temperature. His only recourse in his WUWT response was therefore to call me names, attack my character and my competence, and question my financing and my motivation… anything but answer the documentary evidence I presented. And then he adds one more error — a ridiculous claim that I asked my “small band of followers” to “check the scientific literature for themselves to establish that the Earth has been warming and that CO2 is “largely responsible.”
Since I can’t establish that myself, I certainly wouldn’t advise other amateurs to have a go. So I ask Mr. Monckton to cite the source for this claim, sure in the knowledge that once again we will see a yawning gap between what the source actually says (in this case, me) and what Mr. Monckton claims it says.
References: (Hadfield’s own videos)