Why there cannot be a global warming consensus

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

In a previous post, I explained that many of the climate-extremists’ commonest arguments are instances of logical fallacies codified by Aristotle in his Sophistical Refutations 2300 years ago. Not the least of these is the argumentum ad populum, the consensus or head-count fallacy.

The fallacy of reliance upon consensus, particularly when combined with the argumentum ad verecundiam, the fallacy of appealing to the authority or reputation of presumed experts, is more likely than any other to mislead those who have not been Classically trained in mathematical or in formal logic.

To the Classicist, an argument founded upon any of the Aristotelian logical fallacies is defective a priori. Nothing more need be said about it. However, few these days are Classicists. Accordingly, in this post I propose to explain mathematically why there can be no legitimate consensus about the answer to the central scientific question in the climate debate: how much warming will occur by 2100 as a result of our sins of emission?

There can be no consensus because all of the key parameters in the fundamental equation of climate sensitivity are unknown and unknowable. Not one can be directly measured, indirectly inferred, or determined by any theoretical method to a precision sufficient to give us a reliable answer.

The fundamental equation of climate sensitivity determines how much global warming may be expected to occur once the climate has settled back to a presumed pre-existing state of equilibrium after we have perturbed it by doubling the atmospheric concentration of CO2. The simplifying assumption that temperature feedbacks are linear introduces little error, so I shall adopt it. For clarity, I have colored the equation’s principal terms:


Climate sensitivity at CO2 doubling (blue) equals the product of the CO2 forcing (green), the Planck parameter (purple) and the feedback gain factor (red).

The term in green, ΔF2x, is the “radiative forcing” that the IPCC expects to occur in response to a doubling of the concentration of CO2 in the air. Measurement and modeling have established that the relation between a change in CO2 concentration and a corresponding change in the net down-minus-up flux of radiation at the top of the climatically-active region of the atmosphere (the tropopause) is approximately logarithmic. In other words, each additional molecule of CO2 exerts less influence on the net radiative flux, and hence on global temperature, than its predecessors. The returns diminish.

To determine the radiative forcing in response to a CO2 doubling, one multiplies the natural logarithm of 2 by an unknown coefficient. The IPCC’s first and second Assessment Reports set it at 6.3, but the third and fourth reduced it by a hefty 15% to 5.35. The CO2 forcing is now thought to be 5.35 ln 2 = 3.708 Watts per square meter. This value was obtained by inter-comparison between three models: but models cannot reliably determine it. Both of the IPCC’s values for the vital coefficient are guesses.

The term in purple, clip_image004, denominated in Kelvin per Watt per square meter of direct forcing, is the Planck or zero-feedback climate-sensitivity parameter. This is one of the most important quantities in the equation, because both the direct pre-feedback warming and separately the feedback gain factor depend upon it. Yet the literature on it is thin. Recent observations have indicated that the IPCC’s value is a large exaggeration.

The Planck parameter is – in theory – the first differential of the fundamental equation of radiative transfer about 3-5 miles above us, where incoming and outgoing fluxes of radiation are equal by definition. The measured radiative flux is 238 Watts per square meter. The radiative-transfer equation then gives us the theoretical mean atmospheric temperature of 255 Kelvin at that altitude, and its first differential is 255 / (4 x 238), or 0.267 Kelvin per Watt per square meter. This value is increased by a sixth to 0.313 because global temperatures are not uniformly distributed. However, it is also guesswork, and the current Lunar Diviner mission suggests it is a considerable overestimate.

Theory predicts that the Moon’s mean surface temperature should be around 270 Kelvin. However, Diviner has now found the mean lunar equatorial temperature to be 206 K, implying that mean lunar surface temperature is little more than 192 K. If so, the theoretical value of 270 K, and thus the lunar Planck parameter, is a 40% exaggeration.

If the terrestrial Planck parameter were similarly exaggerated, even if all other parameters were held constant the climate sensitivity would – on this ground alone – have to be reduced by more than half, from 3.3 K to just 1.5 K per CO2 doubling. There is evidence that the overestimate may be no more than 20%, in which event climate sensitivity would be at least 2.1 K: still below two-thirds of the IPCC’s current central estimate.

If there were no temperature feedbacks acting to amplify or attenuate the direct warming caused by a CO2 doubling, then the warming would simply be the product of the CO2 radiative forcing and the Planck parameter: thus, using the IPCC’s values, 3.708 x 0.313 = 1.2 K.

But that is not enough to generate the climate crisis the IPCC’s founding document orders it to demonstrate: so the IPCC assumes the existence of several temperature feedbacks – additional forcings fn demonimated in Watts per square meter per Kelvin of the direct warming that triggered them. The IPCC also imagines that these feedbacks are so strongly net-positive that they very nearly triple the direct warming we cause by adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

The term in red in the climate-sensitivity equation is the overall feedback gain factor, which is unitless. It is the reciprocal of (1 minus the product of the Planck parameter and the sum of all temperature feedbacks), and it multiplies the direct warming from CO2 more than 2.8 times.

Remarkably, the IPCC relies upon a single paper, Soden & Held (2006), to establish its central estimates of the values of the principal temperature feedbacks. It did not publish all of these feedback values until its fourth and most recent Assessment Report in 2007.

The values it gives are: Water vapor feedback fH2O = 1.80 ± 0.18; lapse-rate feedback flap = –0.84 ± 0.26; surface albedo feedback falb = 0.26 ± 0.08; cloud feedback fcld = 0.69 ± 0.38 Watts per square meter per Kelvin. There is also an implicit allowance of 0.15 Kelvin for the CO2 feedback and other small feedbacks, giving a net feedback sum of approximately 2.06 Watts per square meter of additional forcing per Kelvin of direct warming.

Note how small the error bars are. Yet even the sign of most of these feedbacks is disputed in the literature, and not one of them can be established definitively either by measurement or by theory, nor even distinguished by any observational method from the direct forcings that triggered them. Accordingly, there is no scientific basis for the assumption that any of these feedbacks is anywhere close to the stated values, still less for the notion that in aggregate they have so drastic an effect as almost to triple the forcing that triggered them.

Multiplying the feedback sum by the Planck parameter gives an implicit central estimate of 0.64 for the closed-loop gain in the climate system as imagined by the IPCC. And that, as any process engineer will tell you, is impossible. In electronic circuits intended to remain stable and not to oscillate, the loop gain is designed not to exceed 0.1. Global temperatures have very probably not departed by more than 3% from the long-run mean over the past 64 million years, and perhaps over the past 750 million years, so that a climate system with a loop gain as high as two-thirds of the value at which violent oscillation sets in is impossible, for no such violent oscillation has been observed or inferred.

Multiplying the 1.2 K direct warming from CO2 by its unrealistically overstated overall feedback gain factor of 2.8 gives an implicit central estimate of the IPCC’s central estimate of 3.3 K for the term in blue, clip_image006, which is the quantity we are looking for: the equilibrium warming in Kelvin in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration.

To sum up: the precise values of the CO2 radiative forcing, the Planck parameter, and all five relevant temperature feedbacks are unmeasured and unmeasurable, unknown and unknowable. The feedbacks are particularly uncertain, and may well be somewhat net-negative rather than strongly net-positive: yet the IPCC’s error-bars suggest, quite falsely, that they are known to an extraordinary precision.

It is the imagined influence of feedbacks on climate sensitivity that is the chief bone of contention between the skeptics and the climate extremists. For instance, Paltridge et al. (2009) find that the water-vapor feedback may not be anything like as strongly positive as the IPCC thinks; Lindzen and Choi (2009, 2011) report that satellite measurements of changes in outgoing radiation in response to changes in sea-surface temperature indicate that the feedback sum is net-negative, implying a climate sensitivity of 0.7 K, or less than a quarter of the IPCC’s central estimate; Spencer and Braswell (2010, 2011) agree with this estimate, on the basis that the cloud feedback is as strongly negative as the IPCC imagines it to be positive; etc., etc.

Since all seven of the key parameters in the climate sensitivity equation are unknown and unknowable, the IPCC and its acolytes are manifestly incorrect in stating or implying that there is – or can possibly be – a consensus about how much global warming a doubling of CO2 concentration will cause.

The difficulties are even greater than this. For the equilibrium climate sensitivity to a CO2 doubling is not the only quantity we need to determine. One must also establish three additional quantities, all of then unmeasured and unmeasurable: the negative forcing from anthropogenic non-greenhouse sources (notably particulate aerosols); the warming that will occur this century as a result of our previous enrichment of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases (the IPCC says 0.6 K); the transient-sensitivity parameter for the 21st century (the IPCC implies 0.4 K per Watt per square meter); and the fraction of total anthropogenic forcings represented by non-CO2 greenhouse gases (the IPCC implies 70%).

Accordingly, the IPCC’s implicit estimate of the warming we shall cause by 2100 as a result of the CO2 we add to the atmosphere this century is just 1.5 K. Even if we were to have emitted no CO2 from 2000-2100, the world would be just 1.5 K cooler by 2100 than it is today. And that is on the assumption that the IPCC has not greatly exaggerated the sensitivity of the global temperature to CO2.

There is a final, insuperable difficulty. The climate is a coupled, non-linear, mathematically-chaotic object, so that even the IPCC admits that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. It attempts to overcome this Lorenz constraint by presenting climate sensitivity as a probability distribution. However, in view of the uncertainty as to the values of any of the relevant parameters, a probability distribution is no less likely to fail than a central estimate flanked by error-bars.

If by this time your head hurts from too much math, consider how much easier it is if one is a Classicist. The Classicist knows that the central argument of the climate extremists – that there is a (carefully-unspecified) consensus among the experts – is an unholy conflation of the argumentum ad populum and the argumentum ad verecundiam. That is enough on its own to demonstrate to him that the climate-extremist argument is unmeritorious. However, you now know the math. The fact that not one of the necessary key parameters can be or has been determined by any method amply confirms that there is no scientific basis for any assumption that climate sensitivity is or will ever be high enough to be dangerous in the least.


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I expect most readers of the alarmist variety will be unable to understand the meaning of “cannot” in the title.

Ken Methven

Concise and explicit. I’d like to hear the alarmist argument to knock it down?

Interstellar Bill

We cannot repeat it too much that the null hypothesis of weak CO2 response
is well supported by the entire Cenozoic climate record.
Even during the height of the Eocene Optimum, 12C warmer than today,
there was no thermal runaway, no mass extinctions (like those when the optimum ended),
and no ‘Earth crisis’. CO2 was in the thousands, driven as it was out of the warm oceans.
Since the Eocene hot-house, the Earth has been steadily cooling, which should be impossible.
Better yet, when the Earth’s orbital eccentricity goes high (over 5%) every 400 kyr,
the semiannual variation in sunlight is the square of (1+e)/(1-e) or, at e=5%
TWENTY TWO PERCENT! Shouldn’t that light off the greenhouse bomb?
Why didn’t the first such perihelion yield the runaway greenhouse
predicted by the IPCC ‘equation’?
(It’s as much an equation as Hansen is a scientist — not at all.)

The other Phil


“demonimated” … surely a typo, but wonderfully evocative.

Chris B

Lord Monckton cracks me up!
“sins of emission?”
Would those be diurnal or nocturnal?



You don’t need Classical training. Read the Book of Proverbs, or read any author who wrote before 1960, or listen to your grandmother.


I love this stuff!

Mike Smith

“Unknown and unknowable”.
Lord Monckton establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that climate alarmism is founded on little more than pure dogma — the antithesis of science.
Thank you for a wonderful and brilliantly succinct essay!


Christopher: You say: “Multiplying the feedback sum by the Planck parameter gives an implicit central estimate of 0.64 for the closed-loop gain in the climate system as imagined by the IPCC. And that, as any process engineer will tell you, is impossible. In electronic circuits intended to remain stable and not to oscillate, the loop gain is designed not to exceed 0.1. Global temperatures have very probably not departed by more than 3% from the long-run mean over the past 64 million years, and perhaps over the past 750 million years, so that a climate system with a loop gain as high as two-thirds of the value at which violent oscillation sets in is impossible, for no such violent oscillation has been observed or inferred”
Can I ask if the value of 0.64 in the second line might be ten times too high? That is, should it perhaps be 0.064? The reason I ask is that you go on to say that “a loop gain as high as two thirds of the value at which violent oscillation sets in is impossible”. But aren’t you saying that the latter value is 0.1, thus a number two thirds of 0.1 would be 0.064, not 0.64.
I would appreciate it if you could clarify this point. .


I have a serious problem with this bit.
“This value was obtained by inter-comparison between three models: but models cannot reliably determine it.”
How can comparing models show anything about deriving a constant such as CO2 forcings? This is backward. A model can only illustrate outcomes after such constants have been determined by real world observation and experiment. I think that Monckton may be pulling his punches a bit here. Models by definition cannot prove anything. The most they can hope to do is provide some verification for things discovered elsewhere.
And we see it in the next sentence:
“Both of the IPCC’s values for the vital coefficient are guesses.”
Meaning that the models are utterly worthless as evidence of anything.
This all reminds me of Drake’s equation for the number of civilizations in the galaxy. While interesting speculation in 1960, it was utterly meaningless because none of the constants were known then and are still not known to this day. Moreover this presumes that Drake had included all of the limiting factors which it’s now apparent he had not.
Feynman was right. This is cargo-cult science at its worst.

Policy Guy

I admit that I have not yet digested this article, but I observe that it appears that the central equation is untenable. That, in itself, should be grounds to walk away. Of course observations that the values predicted have not come to be should also carry some weight.
So this becomes a political equation expressed in terms that scientists might devourer for more research money?
I thought the holy grail of research was the cause of cancer, these idiots have turned it into finding the cause of anthropogenic warming when the earth is cooling. Lets declare victory and go home.


You can’t get a reliable answer to the standard of a logically sound argument with regards to the climate. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the information available or that you should not make a judgement call based on unreliable information. Judgement calls are often PROPERLY based on logical falacies and generalizations when there is not enough information to know for certain what is the right thing to do. For example, if a coal fired power plant is only in service for 5 years, the return on investment will not be repaid. Yet despite the fact that we have needed to build many power plants in the past, it is a logical falacy to conclude that we will certainly still need another one in five years from now. A wide variety of energy technology breakthroughs from fusion to super cheap solar and storage could make a coal plant built today obsolete. But that doesn’t mean it is a mistake to build a coal plant today.
It’s logical falacy to believe with certainty that it will freeze tonight just because the current weather patterns have often been followed by freezing, but you still might decide to expend resources to bring your potted plants in to protect them from the freezing, even though it might not freeze.
Probabalistic reasoning often properly relies on logical falacies.

Mondo asks for clarification of how the implicit closed-loop gain of 0.64 in the climate system is determined. I am happy to provide the requested clarification. The loop gain, in the climate, is the product of the feedback sum (the IPCC’s implicit central estimate is approximately 2.06 Watts per square meter per Kelvin) and the Planck parameter (0.313 Kelvin per Watt per square meter: IPCC, 2007, p. 631 fn).
The singularity in the Bode feedback-amplification equation occurs at a loop gain of unity. Process engineers designing electronic circuits that are intended to be stable usually set a design limit of one-tenth of this value – or 0.1 – to make absolutely sure that no operational circumstances sufficient to drive the circuit across the singularity arise. They would certainly not design in a loop gain as high as 0.64. That is far, far too close to the singularity.
In the climate, over at least the past 64 million years, the Earth has not seen the violent oscillations either side of the singularity that would be near-inevitable if the loop gain were anything like as high as 0.64.
Interestingly, the literature (e.g. Roe, 2009) says that at or above the singularity the climate sensitivity becomes undefined. Though the sensitivity is certainly undefined at the singularity itself, it is as certainly defined at loop gains above 1 as at loop gains below 1. In fact, at loop gains above 1 it is as strongly negative as it was strongly positive at loop gains below 1. In effect, the equation has the effect of rotating the climate-sensitivity curve by 180 degrees about the point (1, 0) as the singularity is crossed. It is this reversal that produces the violent oscillations that are sometimes deliberately designed into circuits that are not intended to be stable. Yet global temperature has not fluctuated by more than 3% either side of the long-run mean over the past 64 million years.
The conclusion is that feedbacks are extremely unlikely to be anything like as strongly net-positive as the IPCC’s climate-sensitivity estimates imply. To produce the formidable temperature-stability that the climate has exhibited over the past 64 million years, feedbacks cannot really exceed the process engineers’ limit of 0.1. And that, in turn, implies on this ground alone a maximum global warming of 1.3 Celsius per doubling of CO2 concentration – not the 3.3 Celsius imagined by the IPCC.

Thanks you for your post. Speaking as an electrical engineer who spent many years developing communications amplifiers, your assertion that the loop gain needs to be limited to about 0.1 when the feedback is positive to avoid oscillations is consistent with my experience. In EE-speak, we limit the feedback amplification to 1dB. When I give talks, I tell people that the standard climate model has 10dB of feedback amplification in it, and I have yet to find an EE who thinks that is plausible.

John West

Very good! I always enjoy your writings and agree with most everything except the climate being chaotic part. Yes, I realize that’s basically word for word from the IPCC’s description. I, however, see no compelling evidence that the climate behaves chaotically. It’s certainly massively complicated, but that does not equate to chaotic. Climate models, on the other hand, seem highly likely to behave chaotically.

Ethically Civil

I have a small nit with the logic.
You assert that there can be no legitimate consensus. It is tautological that a group sharing a common view has a “consensus.” The legitimacy of the consensus hangs only on the nature of the unanimity of the group on the matter — that agreement was unfeigned and not coerced.
However, you prove very nicely indeed there can be no *rational* consensus. You have thus further proven that the group holding this view is, ipso facto, irrational to the degree the consensus is legitimate.
Civilly and Classically Yours,


@ Monckton,
Being an Electronics and Process Control Engineer I can say you are outstandingly correct, anything with a loop gain of 0.64 is going to be unstable, it will ring in both directions, and we would see wild temperature fluctuations in response to changes in temperature or CO2 say the sunspot cycle, or Diurnal ranges. Also temperatures would overshoot, keep rising or falling in response to the feedbacks after the stimulii is removed.
I think however you should look a bit deeper, if you consider the emission (lapse rate) negative feedback is -0.84, then to acheive a total feedback factor of 1.8 (1 for CO2 and 1.8 for Feedbacks = 2.8 overall response) the positive feedback has to first overcome the negatives. If the lapse rate feed back is -0.84 then that equates to a loop gain of -0.455. The Positive feedback contribution is supposed to raise the loop gain to +0.64 – It’s been a while so excuse me if my math is wrong, but doesn’t this imply that the change in gain factor is over unity 0.64- (-0.455) = 1.095. If one could exclude emission in an experiment so the lapse rate feedback is not present but the positive feedbacks were, should not the environment within the experiment represent an oscillator? Clearly the real world doesn’t behave like this!
I also worry about other negative feedbacks that are omitted, for example as water is evaporated and raised to the Troposphere mgh Newtons is absorbed or about 30kN per kg when this inevitably rains out this is expended against the earth as kinetic energy or 1/2 mV(t)^2 at the terminal velocity of the rain. The energy is absorbed by the mass of the earth and is expended into the gravitational system. I would see this kinetic energy as being removed from the thermal system yet it is not represented in your equation. I have not looked at the magnitude. But given the capacity of Hydro power plants generating gigawatts of energy using a very small part of this precipitation one might guess it would be significant. If water represents a 1.8 x feedback then presumably the much larger amount cycling through the climate system must represent a significant negative feedback. This makes our analysis of the feedbacks above much worse.
Do you have any idea what this rain feedback might amount to?

Lord Monckton,
Thank you for far and away the most complete, understandable and convincing refutation of the raditive forcing equation I have read. You may not be a Climate Scientist, but you are an extraordinary climate scientist.

Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.


Thank you for your polite and informative response to my question. I now understand that point. Overall of course, I think you do an outstanding job of providing evidence and facts. I look forward to some of the “real” climate scientists giving us detailed reasoning as to why your conclusions are not valid. In the absence of receiving such response, I think that we can assume that your conclusions are unchallenged.


Thank you, Lord Monckton! And the Hockey Team laugh at this guy??


I wonder if someone would be kind enough to answer a sort of involved question, one that may be a little stupid. I feel like I must be missing something rather obvious.
In electronics, amplifiers with gain modified by positive feedback are required to have some kind of dividing network which make the input to the amplifier a different (smaller) value than the output of the amplifier. This is where the idea of “loop gain” or “feedback factor” comes from, and why in positive feedback amplifiers the loop gain is always less than 1, the loop is a physical structure that buffers input from output and cuts the magnitude. On the other hand, if the amplifier has any intrinsic gain at all prior to the loop, even the tiniest amount, and the input and the output are ever allowed to touch each other, to become the same quantity, there’s no chance of avoiding runaway. The output of an amplifier with gain can NEVER be fed directly to its input or disaster.
But, true enough, if you feed only a tiny proportion of the output back to the input, then you can increase gain and keep stability. Climate modellers call on this well known fact to back up their claim that the positive feedback conception of climate can remain stable — they seem to just stipulate that the feedback factor is less than 1. And then, I think, they proceed from there not to actually MODEL the feedback, but rather just assume a particular amplification of the direct forcing, that is they plug 3 into the forcing instead of 1 (or whatever) and thell themselves it’s okay, they don’t have to model the feedback to know what the amplification is, and they know it can be positive because, after all, the feedback equation allows it if the feedback factor is below unity. But from the feedback equation, in order for feedback factor to be below unity, the input must be isolated from the output. Output and input are completely different variables with completely different values, and they’re kept apart from each other by a mathematical, and if you want your amplifier to work, an equivalent physical divider.
So what I’d earnestly like to know is, in climate, where the input to the amplifier (evaporation of water, or melting of permafrost, or CO2 coming out of the ocean or whatever) is apparently always atmospheric temperature, and the ouput of the amplifier is ALSO atmospheric temperature, what physical mechanism is thought to provide the “divider” which buffers the output temperature from becoming the input temperature and allowing only a tiny portion of the output temperature from returning to the input of the process? I feel like the basic structure of the atmosphere, which doesn’t have wires or pipes or walls in it to provide isolation from output to input has no way of having a feedback factor that could be (effectively, after maybe time delays) anything other than 1. That would imply that the atomosphere could never have net “gainy” processes, but clearly I’m not understanding something. Help?

Hi Ned,
“I feel like the basic structure of the atmosphere, which doesn’t have wires or pipes or walls in it to provide isolation from output to input has no way of having a feedback factor that could be (effectively, after maybe time delays) anything other than 1.”
The input is the greenhouse forcing (W/m^2) at the top of the atmosphere and the output is surface temperature (K). Does that help?

With reference to the equation which he presents, Lord Monckton claims that:”…there can be no consensus regarding the cause of global warming because all of the parameters in this equation are “…unknown and unknowable.” This is to provide justification for Monckton’s conclusion.
Monckton describes the blue term on the left side of his equation as the “climate sensitivity at CO2 doubling.” While it is indeed the climate sensitivity at CO2 doubling, a different description is more revealing of logical error. Under this description, the blue term is “the rise in the equilibrium global average surface air temperature at CO2 doubling.” When Monckton’s description is replaced by this description, a feature of Monckton’s equation stands out. Unlike a temperature, an equilibrium temperature is not observable. It follows that Monckton’s equation is not falsifiable thus lying outside science.

Brian H

typo: “all of then unmeasured and unmeasurable” = them.
It’s clear that virtually all the factors and variables in that equation have been retro-fitted to generate the desired outcome. It’s a form of the Omitted Variable Frod. Loading all the variance onto a chosen “driver” by excluding or mis-weighting all the others.
(Misspelling above to avoid the verboten word filter; the real word is used in the linked article, another post here on WUWT.)

However, if one realizes that IR from CO2 as back radiation is incapable of heating the Earth’s surface and thus the atmosphere, then we find that the sensitivity is ZERO. NADA, NOTHING!
If the surface radiates IR outward and CO2 absorbs it and radiates it back down, the IR either resonates and is reflected back up, as the existing energy levels equivalent to the IR are full, or it is absorbed while another IR photon is emitted, making the exchange a flat wash. It is counter to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics for the atmosphere, which is almost always cooler than the Earth’s radiating surface, to warm the surface.
Of course, the situation of the models is that the Earth is flat and the sun shines 24/7, totally unrealistic. But, that makes the above description even more valid. At night, the atmosphere and the surface radiate IR out into space—here CO2 and water vapor simply act as heat to IR converters and aid in the nighttime cooling.
Atmospheric gases of any kind simply cannot warm the surface and cannot cause anything akin to a greenhouse effect—it simply does not exist.
Sensitivity is a cute idea, but it is flogging a non-existent, thus patently dead, horse, particularly as it lends worthless credence to the global warming junk science scam.


You are almost correct, except that there isn’t a need to physically isolate the output and input. If the gain of the feedback loop, IE the amplification of the product of all the negative and positive feedbacks is less than 1 the system will remain stable (After a fashion) its about the amplification factors, not the isolation.
The IPCC simply says this, if the Temperature goes up 1 degree the feedbacks will cause the temperature to go up another 0.64 degrees, which will cause the temperature to go up 0.64×0.64 degrees and so on, this geometric progression is asymptotic for all values below 1. It’s not about the Temperature, its about the response to a CHANGE in temperature.
If you consider we have a lot of Negative feedback to overcome due to the lapse rate before we even get into positive territory – (see my story above). The positive part of the feedback must be around a loop gain of one before the negative feedback is applied. I don’t think this is physically possible.
I have calculated this two ways I get 0.94 or 1.095 for the gains of the positive feedbacks depending on how I calculate it, but lets choose the only reasonable value for stability ( 0.94 ). A Gain of 0.94 results in about a 15.6 times amplification ( which is what it would take to overcome the 5 times reduction due to the lapse rate factor and get to a three times multiplication (3/0.2=15) ) . But now lets say something changes the gain by 1% to .95 this represents a 19 x multiplication a difference of 3.4/15.6 or 21% for a 1 in 100 change in the gain factor – The climate would be very very sensitive to the gain of the positive feedback system and Earth would be essentially unlivable.
The Math and observation clearly say the IPCC is wrong, if negative feedbacks effect are -0.84 then there is no way that the total system gain could get to an overall 3 times amplification and stay any way stable – Not a chance, zip, none.


Viscount Monckton:
I find that the warm-earther club is guilty of many more logical fallacies (as you must know). It is almost comical, if not so costly!
However, the primary fallacy from which these all emanate is well known and fundamental to the CAGW case:
onus probandi incumbit ei qui dicit, non ei qui negat (viz. the burden of proof is on the person who makes the claim, not on the person who denies (or questions the claim) is a subsumed fallacy within argumentum ad ignorantium. This informal logical fallacy has absolutely no place in science.
It shifts the burden of proof from the positor of the hypothesis. In science, an hypothesis must be proven in all parts, and any objections must be considered (nay, embraced!) by the generator of the hypothesis. Failure of one part is failure of all.


@ John West
The Climate is chaotic, this is not to say it is unstable, just that you cannot reliably predict the outcome (output) from the inputs. There are non-linear thresholds for example that prevent the sea temperature exceeding a limit, because the moment they do, storms arise and extract the heat. It is the non-linearities that make the climate chaotic.
This for example is why the weather can’t be accurately predicted beyond 4 days, and forecasts have a habit of being defeated by nature, because some unknown confluence of factors results in a storm. Perhaps a sea temperature difference of less than 0.5 degree might be the difference between a storm and no storm, or a pressure difference of 1 hPa, or a temp of 1 degree.

In my previous post, please replace the 1st paragraph by:
With reference to the equation which he presents, Lord Monckton claims that:”…there can be no consensus regarding the cause of global warming…” because all of the parameters in this equation are “…unknown and unknowable.” This is to provide justification for Monckton’s conclusion.

Darren Potter

“… or determined by any theoretical method to a precision sufficient to give us a reliable answer.”
That is all that need be said, when one sees pro-pundits of Global Warming making predictions of 0.039 deg C increases per year. Based on modern temperature readings, that have an average error of +/-1.96 deg C for over 92% of surveyed weather stations. Coupled with less accurate temperature reading devices of the past, along with guess-estimations of distant past temperatures based on wood pulp (RoFL), and you got utter lack of precision, that can only result in bogus predictions (aka Mann’s Hockeystick).


Lord Monckton it is always a pleasure to read your articles. I consider you a public servant in the ogiginal, complimentary sense, as one who dedicates his efforts to serving his fellow man. You serve us well. All the best to you Sir.

All of Christopher Monckton of Brenchley’s criticisms can be circumvented by simply defining “consensus” as meaning “what the majority of climate scientists” believe, and leave it at that.
The problem with “consensus” in a scientific context is that it has no precise meaning. Yes, there is a dictionary definition, but it not overly helpful. i.e.,
“a generally accepted opinion or decision among a group of people”
If Catastrophists fall back on a dictionary definition, then it is hardly possible to argue that held opinions are not in fact held. What is generally accepted? 51% ?


Did a back of the excel calculation that was enlightening
I asked before what effect rain has
Average rainfall for earth 1050mm
Volume of rain per cu m = 1.05
Density of water = 1000kg/cu m
therefore Mass of rain per square m 1050 kg
Terminal velocity of rain (about 7.5 m/s) median value
Energy per annum per square meter = 0.5*1050*7,5*7.5=29531 Joules per annum
Watts per Square m =Joules/sec/sq m = 29531/86400 =0.342 w/sq meter
Now this is direct impact, if we assume that rain doesn’t give back the portion of potential energy lost to air resistance all in the form of heat (friction with air) but some is expended in the displacement of the air, which is expended kinetically on the earth, the effect of rain is then greater – we can calculate an upper limit for this energy sink
As rain clouds occur at a height of between 2600m and 4200m (mean 3300m) we can calculate the potential energy of our mean 1.05 meter annual rainfall before it falls.
mxhxg =
1050x3300x9.8 = 33957000 J
Meaning rain absorbs at least 33957000/86400 or 393 W/sq meter in forming the clouds it rains from, not including the latent heat of evaporation which we presume it gives back to the atmosphere as it condenses.
Seems to me therefore that rain cooling by conversion to kinetic energy is significant at somewhere between 0.342 w/sq m and 393 w/sq m.
Now for a 1 degree rise at 25 deg C, evaporation increases about 5 % so that would suggest the forcing is somewhere between 0.342/20 (-0.017 W / per squre meter per degree C) to 393/20 (-19W / sqm per degree C) – well in the range that could completely offset CO2 forcing (1.46W/sqm)
I’d conclude this was a significant negative feedback factor that deserves research, One wonders how they can use models that don’t consider the hydrological cycle.


@ Christopher Monckton
The consensus is regarding anthropogenic climate change, are you basically saying that we are causing climate change but the consensus is now focused on how much?


Dave and Bob,
Thanks for taking the time to reply. I’m sure for most people this stuff is old and uninteresting, and, again, I’m sure I’m just being blind to something. I hope I’m not irritating anyone. But I’d really like to get a better understanding of what’s assumed to be going on, and so far I haven’t been able to find an answer to my specific hangup in anything I’ve been able to find and read. I’ve looked at skeptical science, and their discussion of feedback factor seems to completely ignore the input/output problem that I just don’t get.
“The input is the greenhouse forcing (W/m^2) at the top of the atmosphere and the output is surface temperature (K). Does that help?”
Sadly, not really. I’m still thinking the inputs to the *feedbacks* aren’t forcing at the top of the atmosphere, but temperature in their own vicinity. Is that wrong? If the inputs to the feedbacks are something other than temperature, then what other mechanism is there for CO2 to operate on them with?
The point is, I think isolation between output and input does matter. I understand your geometric series thing….1C caused .64C which causes .41 etc. My question is, on the “second iteration” (so to speak) how does the climate know to only respond to the .64 part of the total increase this time around? After the first iteration there’s definitely been 1.64C of total warming…so what’s the mechanism by which the climate parses out which fraction of that warming to respond to next? In an electronic amplifier the mechanism is resistors in the feedback loop. It knows to only respond to the fraction because it only gets a fraction of that fraction *back* — the input is isolated from the output. When the series eventually converges and the output of the amplifier is 3 (or whatever) the summed input to the amplifier is most definitely not 3, it’s about 1.82 or so. Clearly the input is isolated from the output because they’re not the same number. How does this work with global temperature? How does the output temperature not become the input temperature?
To put it a different way, in your series, once the total temperature rise is 1.64C, the next contribution is .41C. What if, instead of CO2 doubling to make a 1C initial forcing, it were increased so much (I guess about 3 times or a little more) that its direct effect already made 1.64C of average warming? Would the next step in the series be .41C, or would it be 1.64 x .64 = 1.05C? I mean, obviously anyone would say the second one, but my question is, why? In terms of average global warming, how does the climate know the difference between warming caused by CO2 and warming caused by something else? I think if someone can say by what means the climate parses out which heat it wants to respond to, that would be a sufficient sort of “dividing network” to fully answer my question. But without that dividing network, I don’t think the climate can have above unity gain and remain stable, yeah? Because with no dividing network the loop gain is 1. I’m just curious what the mainstream explanation for that analogous dividing network might be. Obviously it’s a big complex thing, and maybe I’m asking for too much stuff, and maybe I’m asking the wrong folks. But I’d love to understand this a little. I actually asked at skeptical science a while back and my question never got posted.

Gail Combs

CRS, DrPH says:
April 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm
Thank you, Lord Monckton! And the Hockey Team laugh at this guy??
If the Hockey Team did not laugh at Lord Monckton they might have to actually debate him. A situation they want to avoid at all costs.
Note how a debate between the Hockey team and any well informed “Denier” is avoided at all costs. Al Gore and Peter Gleick immediately come to mind as does the twisting and turning of Phil Jones and Mike Mann as they try to avoid FOIA requests and dodge people like Steve McIntyre.
Someone who truly believes what they are saying will use logic and data to defend their reasoning. From the Hockey Team we get “There is a Consensus” “Argument from Authority” or as seen here on WUWT, a call for contributors to have their posts placed in a “Peer reviewed” (Pal reviewed) journal before they will consider it.
Every single one of these tactics is used to avoid engaging in actual debate about the science.
The use of phrases such as “This study does not, in any way, undermine the widespread consensus in the scientific community about the reality of global warming” to get a paper into a peer reviewed journal also shows how down right frightened of true science these posers really are.

son of mulder

“The simplifying assumption that temperature feedbacks are linear introduces little error”, what is the basis for this assumption?

““This value was obtained by inter-comparison between three models: but models cannot reliably determine it.”
This is incorrect. the models used to estimate the forcing due to doubling ( 3.7w) are line by line radiative transfer models. These physical models and their lower resolution companions ( band models) are used every day. We use them to create satellite images. We use them to engineer radars and IRSTs. They were used in designing Reagans star wars. They are reliable. The have been tested against actual observation as well.

robert barclay

You’re right my head hurts. Try the proposition that because of surface tension the ocean does not obey the second law of thermodynamics. Don’t dismiss this out of hand, remember that when it comes to unpredictable behaviour water has form. Water cooling below 3.9deg C expands to make ice float. Heating water from above is not as easy as you might think, get a bucket of water and a heat gun and give it a try.

Kelvin Vaughan

The troposphere is 8.14 x 10^18 m3. The temperature of every cubic metre depends on the temperature of the 6 adjacent cu. m and many other factors such as the quantity of greenhouse gasses in each cu. m. The number mathematical formlae required to calculate the temperatre of a cu. m. are vast Each adjacent cu. m. depends partly on the temperature in the first cu. m.
By the time your computer model has worked out the temperature of the first cu. m.every thing has changed.
I used to work with a technician repairing radio equipment. The equiment was highly unreliable and kept going faulty. As the equipment failed, a fault document was written and placed in a clip awaiting repair. This tecnician had a personal objective to keep the clip empty. As a fault came in he would grab the document and rush off to repair the fault. This became so much of an obsession that one day the faults were coming in faster than he could repair the equipment which eventually ended up in him going insane.
Climate scientists beware!

When the sun delivers 4000 trillion kWh of energy onto the top of the earth’s atmosphere as sunshine in every 24 hours [Oliver Morton: Eating the Sun] I think we must here be close to resemble the arguments over how may angels could dance on the head of a needle – which is, of course, exactly what the IPCC propaganda would like to achieve. For an eyeopener, look at what IPCC officials actually are reported to have said – see http://cleanenergypundit.blogspot.com/2011/10/west-is-facing-new-severe-recession.html


Ned: “what’s the mechanism by which the climate parses out which fraction of that warming to respond to next?”
The climate is responding to all of the warming all the time. That is, the temperature T equals the open-loop gain lambda times the forcing F plus the feedback f times the temperature. Solve that equation for temperature, and you get Lord M’s relationship:


Lord Monckton: thank you for another excellent article. It’s an education in miniature and a reminder of the value of mathematics to distill (and expose) the ideas and the logic of what we all “think we’re talking about.”. So much of the popular debate is just hand-waving and, as you say, appeals to authority, consensus, or both. The value of your presentation is, for me, twofold. First, it is an independent attack on the extremists’ citadel of “science” and it leaves it in ruins. Second, it confirms the value of a priori dismissal of any argument suffering from a logical flaw on Aristotle’s list; because it saves us all so much time and effort. To engage on the merits with the proponent of a logically defective argument is to dignify the argument, exhaust oneself, and encourage fools.
Independently I want to thank BobI for his great comments on feedback and the negative feedback of the hydrological cycle. I have long had an interest in seeing just how big an effect this was, but hadn’t done even the simplest quantitative estimates. From the look of it, the negative-feedback effect of rain could very easily –forgive me– drown out the positive-feedback effect of CO2. Note also that the latter is only asserted to exist as a positive feedback; whereas the former is certainly known to be a negative feedback.
BobI, last thought on the heat transport of hydrologic cycle and return of latent heat to atmosphere when water vapor condenses out: yes, the heat goes back into the air, but it does so (1) a mile or three spaceward and (2) as part of an air column that (for cumulonimbus clouds, anyway) is moving upward, thus carrying the heat even farther spaceward. So it’s not just a wash, is it?


Mosher: “the models used to estimate the forcing due to doubling ( 3.7w) are line by line radiative transfer models. These physical models and their lower resolution companions ( band models) are used every day. ”
I would be grateful for a link to your support for this proposition. I have no doubt that radiation-physics calculations of the type that would go into such an estimate are indeed used everyday and that in principle they could be used to determine a reasonably accurate estimate. But it strikes me that the calculations would be exceedingly tedious, involving not only a large number of wavelength bands per gas to get the necessary resolution but also a wide variation in atmospheric composition among the various altitudes at various latitudes. Do you have confirmation that someone did indeed subject himself to the necessary tedium? Did he show his work?

Harriet Harridan

Dear Lord Monckton,
Beautifully written as always. I’m very glad to see the Diviner measurements getting a wider audience. These measurements must be more widely reported. They are crucial to demonstating why the IPCC are wrong. Strangely enough they were predicted by an elegant equation by Niklov and Zeller. Their equation also predicts the mean temperatures of several other planets, including the earth. Willis made a mistake with his algebra when he dismissed it on WUWT. The kicker is: there is no CO2 term in their equation. Their work deserves your interest.

Brendan H

Monckton of Brenchley: “The fallacy of reliance upon consensus, particularly when combined with the argumentum ad verecundiam, the fallacy of appealing to the authority or reputation of presumed experts, is more likely than any other to mislead those who have not been Classically trained in mathematical or in formal logic.”
The claim here is that those who lack a certain type of training in mathematical or formal logic are likely to be misled by logical fallacies, and even more so by the arguments from consensus and authority.
The underlying assumption is that those who have acquired a certain type of training in mathematical or formal logic are less likely to be misled by logical fallacies; that is, they are better placed to identify logical fallacies than those not so blessed.
And this, of course, is an argument from authority, where those who are “Classically trained” in mathematical or formal logic are considered to have a better understanding of the subject than those not so well trained.
Lord Monckton is attempting to use the argument from authority to rebut the argument from authority. Logically, this cannot be done.
The paradox can only be resolved by abandoning either:
1) The claim of superiority of a Classical training; or
2) The claim that argument from genuine authority is a logical fallacy.

Most people don’t understand the nuances of the speculative hypothesis of Global Warming. They do however understand self interest. “Experts” in fields where their conclusions directly impact thier funding are inclined to conclude they need more funding.
I spent a career as a military officer and national security affairs analyst. In my twenty some years in that business I never heard a defense department offical (expert) suggest the world was not on the brink and they were best served with less funding. On the contrary the world was always near Armageddon and the only way to salavation was a dramatic increase of the defense department’s budget.
The Greens have no problem criticizing defense experts in an extraordinary complex field but get all uptight when anyone not a certified climatologist makes a disparging remark concerning their religion.
It is perfectly clear that if the Climatology field in mass concluded today that climate change was not an issue or a factor of natural variation or solar variability they would lose their funding, media attention, probability of fame and fortune and academic positions in short order.
The Greens should not be overly surprised that the masses who don’t understand the complexities of the science are skeptical. They recognize self interest because they have seen it all before. What field doesn’t overstate the problem to ensure continued funding?