Christopher Monckton writes via email:
Dear Anthony, – Ivar Giaever and I were subjected to an unprovoked and more than usually scientifically illiterate personal attack at some length in the AGU’s Eos newsletter recently. I wrote the attached reply, which Eos are refusing to print. – Christopher
It appears that Eos has indeed refused to print this reply, as this according to the document properties, this document was created June 30th, when the early edition was available, and there’s been no response so far from Eos. -Anthony
Right of Reply
I am grateful to the editors of Eos for this right of reply to Corbin and Katz (Effective Strategies to Counter Campus Presentations on Climate Denial, Eos, 2012 July 3), an unjustifiable 1200-word personal attack on Dr. Giaever and me by way of a mélange or smørgasbord of the shop-worn logical fallacies of argument ad populum, ad verecundiam, and, above all, ad hominem.
The authors, arguing solely from consensus (ad pop.) among scientific experts (ad vcd.), say without evidence that speakers like us “intend to muddy the waters with respect to climate science” (ad hom.); they serially cite politicized websites and tendentious non-peer-reviewed presentations by non-climate-scientists against us as though they were authoritative (ad vcd.), while omitting to cite published rebuttals (e.g. Monckton of Brenchley, 2010) to these dubious sources (ad hom.); they accuse us of misrepresentation, distortion, and flawed analysis without adducing a single instance (ad hom.); they advance not a single scientific or economic argument; and they four times brand us as “climate change deniers” (ad hom.) – a hate-speech comparison with Holocaust denial. These allegations are serious and require a reply.
The authors also say we attempt to discredit their research when, as philosophers of science from al-Haytham via Huxley to Popper (1934) make clear, error-elimination by questioning of hypotheses is essential to the scientific method. They describe “strategies” to counter us – including “public displays” and “social media” – which surely belong more in the realm of political propaganda than of scientific discourse.
Our argument against the Party line they so uncritically espouse is that catastrophic manmade global warming has not been occurring at anything like the predicted rate; that there is no sound scientific reason to expect that it will; and that, even if it did, future adaptation would be at least an order of magnitude more cost-effective than heavy spending on attempted mitigation today.
Predictions of doom have failed. Envisat data show sea level rising in the eight years 2004-2012 at a rate equivalent to 3 cm/century. Growth in Antarctic sea-ice extent almost matches the decline in the Arctic over the past 30 years. Greenland’s land-based ice grew by a net 0.5 m in thickness from 1993-2008. Antarctica has cooled for 30 years, and has gained land ice. Northern-hemisphere snow cover reached a 30-year maximum in 2010/11. Tropical-cyclone activity worldwide was at a 30-year low over the past two years.
Above all, in the generation since 1990, the observed warming rate has turned out below the least estimate projected by the IPCC in that year. The models agreed with one another, but events have proven the consensus wrong. Despite rapidly-increasing CO2 concentration, there has been no statistically-significant warming for a decade and a half. The post-1950 warming rate, as the least-squares trend on the Hadley/CRU surface temperature series (HadCRUt3, 2011), is just 1.2 K/century. Yet IPCC (2007, table SPM.3, taken with fig. 10.26) implicitly predicts as the mean of all six emissions scenarios that Man’s influence, including an increase in CO2 concentration from 368 ppmv in 2000 to 713 ppmv by 2100, will cause 2.8 K warming by 2100 – 0.6 K previously committed, 1.5 K from CO2 emitted in this century, and 0.7 K from other greenhouse gases. This predicted (though unalarming) more-than-doubling of the post-1950 warming rate depends upon at least three implausible assumptions: that other gases augment CO2’s contribution to warming by as much as 43%; that as much as half of the warming caused by our past sins of emission has not yet come through the pipeline; and, above all, that unmeasured and unmeasurable temperature feedbacks will near-triple the small direct warming from greenhouse gases: thus, two-thirds of predicted consensus warming is guesswork.
The first assumption lacks credibility now that methane, the most significant non-CO2 greenhouse gas we emit, has stabilized: its concentration grew by only 20 parts by billion over the past decade. The second and third assumptions imply a volatility in surface temperatures that is belied by the paleoclimate record, which – allowing for great uncertainties –indicates that absolute temperature has not fluctuated by more than 3% or 8 K either side of the mean in the past 64 million years (Scotese, 1999; Zachos et al., 2001). That is enough to cause an ice age at one era and a hothouse Earth at another: but it is far too small to permit the closed-loop feedback gains of as much as 0.64[0.42, 0.74] that are implicit in the projected warming of 3.26[2, 4.5] K per CO2 doubling (IPCC, 2007, p. 798, box 10.2). In process engineering, where the mathematics of feedbacks adopted by climate science has its origins (see Bode, 1945; Roe, 2009), electronic circuits intended to be stable are designed to permit closed-loop gains of no more than 0.1. Given the Earth’s formidable temperature stability, the IPCC’s implicit interval of loop gains is far too close to the singularity in the feedback-amplification equation to be credible. For across that singularity, at a loop gain of 1, strongly net-positive feedback becomes as strongly net-negative: yet the inferred paleo-temperature record shows no such pattern of violent oscillation. Empirical evidence (e.g. Lindzen and Choi, 2009, 2011; Spencer and Braswell, 2010, 2011), though hotly contested (e.g. Trenberth et al., 2010; Dessler et al., 2010, 2011), indeed suggests what process-engineering theory would lead us to expect: that feedbacks in the temperature-stable climate system, like those in a well-designed circuit, are at most barely net-positive and are more likely to be somewhat net-negative, consistent with a harmless continuance of the observed warming rate of the past 60 years but inconsistent with the substantially greater (though not necessarily harmful) warming rate predicted by the IPCC.
Even if we assume ad argumentum (and per impossibile) that our unmitigated emissions will greatly accelerate the observed warming rate, the very high cost of measures intended to mitigate CO2 emissions exceeds the likely cost of climate-related damage arising from our failure to act now. To take a single topical and typical example, carbon trading in Australia will cost $10.1 bn/year, plus $1.6 bn/year for administration (Wong, 2010, p. 5), plus $1.2 bn/year for renewables and other costs, a total of $13 bn/year, rising at 5%/year, or $130 bn by 2020 at n.p.v., to abate 5% of current emissions, which represent 1.2% of world emissions (derived from Boden et al., 2010ab). Thus the Australian measure, if it succeeded as fully as its promoters intend, would abate no more than 0.06% of global emissions over its 10-year term. CO2 concentration would fall from a business-as-usual 410 to 409.988 ppmv by the end of the term. Forcing abated is 0.0002 W m–2; warming consequently abated is 0.00006 K; mitigation cost-effectiveness, which is the cost of abating 1 K global warming by measures of equivalent cost-effectiveness, is $2,000 trillion/K. On the same basis, the cost of abating all projected warming over the ten-year life of the policy is $300 trillion, or $44,000/head, or 58% of global GDP over the period. The cost of mitigation by such measures would exceed the cost of climate-related damage consequent upon inaction by a factor of approximately 50.
The very high costs of CO2 mitigation policies and the undetectable returns in warming abated imply that focused adaptation to any adverse consequences of such warming as may occur will be far more cost-effective than attempted mitigation today. CO2 mitigation strategies inexpensive enough to be affordable will be ineffective: strategies costly enough to be effective will be unaffordable. The question arises whether CO2 mitigation should any longer be attempted at all.
Readers of Eos may now decide for themselves to what extent the unsupported attack upon our reputations by Corbin and Katz was justifiable. True science is founded not upon invective and illogic but upon reason. Lose that: lose all.
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─ CHRISTOPHER MONCKTON OF BRENCHLEY, Chief Policy Advisor, Science and Public Policy Institute, Washington, DC, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org.