By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley
At The Conversation, a taxpayer-funded propaganda website based in Australia, Dr Rod Lamberts has suggested that in the climate debate those pushing the Party Line should disregard the mere facts and should advance their invaluable opinions instead.
He writes that Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, Andrew Bolt, Australia’s chief sceptic, and one Monckton, Australia’s honorary visiting sceptic, should not be heeded, for we are mere “deniers” (that hate-speech word again).
I wrote the following article in reply, but The Conversation refused to publish it.
Their ground was that a mere expert reviewer for the IPCC with several reviewed publications to his credit did not have sufficient academic qualifications to be allowed to reply to a personal attack accusing him by name of lying and inviting an odious comparison with Holocaust deniers.
They told me that the site was for academics who could not get the sort of publicity I can get. They pretend to believe it is easier for skeptics than for true-believers to air their point of view.
I have replied that, if The Conversation will not allow me to answer this or any of numerous other unpleasant and often libellous personal attacks, other than in comments under the head postings, the matter will have to be dealt with in different and more impartial forum.
In the meantime, here is the article The Conversation dared not print.
In science, facts are all, opinions nothing
Rod Lamberts argues that in the climate debate opinion should supplant fact: “The time for fact-based arguments is over”.
He echoes the chair of the Climate Change Authority in suggesting that sceptics – whom he implicitly compares with Holocaust deniers by labelling them “deniers” – are circulating “deliberate misinformation”.
He says: “Forget the Moncktonites, disregard the Boltists, and snub the Abbottsians. Ignore them, step around them, or walk over them.”
So much easier than answering us fact for fact.
Since Mr Lamberts names me, albeit in honourable company, let me reply with a dozen key facts.
Fact 1. There has been no global warming for up to 17 years 6 months.
True, one might argue that the mean of all five major global-temperature datasets shows no warming for only 13 years; or that no uncertainty interval is shown; or that the warming lurks in the deep ocean; or that natural cooling temporarily overwhelms manmade warming. Yet for well over a decade the atmosphere has not warmed, notwithstanding CO2 increases unprecedented in 800,000 years. No model predicted that as its best estimate.
Even Dr Pachauri, the IPCC’s climate-science chair, admitted the 17-year “pause” in Melbourne last year.
Fact 1 casts doubt on models’ predictive skill, leading to Fact 2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for which I am an expert reviewer, has explicitly substituted its own “expert assessment” for the models on which it formerly relied, cutting its predicted warming over 30 years by almost a third from 0.7 to 0.5 Cº. It has moved significantly towards the sceptics whom Mr Lamberts disfiguringly excoriates as “deniers”.
Fact 3. The uncertainty intervals in all the key climate datasets are uncommonly large. In physics, every measurement is subject to uncertainty. The uncertainty in the RSS satellite temperature dataset is so great that there may have been no warming for 25 years.
Fact 4. Likewise, we cannot measure ocean heat content precisely. Since the atmosphere is not warming, the ocean – 1000 times denser and right next door – is probably not warming much either. On such measurements as we have, it is warming at one-sixth the model-predicted rate.
Fact 5. By the same token, we cannot measure whether the ocean is becoming less alkaline. All we can say is that mean pH is 7.8-8.4, with still wider coastal variations. The acid-base balance cannot change much: the oceans are overwhelmingly buffered by the basalt basins in which they lie.
Given measurement uncertainties, any assertion that “the science is settled” is meaningless.
It is trivially true that returning CO2 to the atmosphere whence it came will – other things being equal – cause warming. But the central question in the climate debate is “How much?” The answer, so far, is “Very little”. The world has warmed by just 0.7 Cº in the 60 years since 1954.
Yet in the previous 60 years, when our influence was negligible, the world had warmed by 0.5 Cº. The supposedly massive influence of Man has pushed up the warming rate by the equivalent of a third of a Celsius degree per century, and that is all.
In central England, a good proxy for global temperature (over the past 120 years the warming rate in the region was within 0.01 Cº of the global rate) the warming rate was equivalent to 4 Cº per century from 1695-1735.
Fact 6, then: the rate of global warming since we might first have influenced it in the 1950s is far from unprecedented.
Fact 7: Two-thirds of the global warming once predicted by the now more cautious IPCC arose not from greenhouse gases directly but from “temperature feedbacks” – forcings that may arise in response to direct warming.
Though the IPCC once tried to claim that the values of these temperature feedbacks were well constrained, they are not. The most important feedback is from water vapour. By the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, the atmosphere is capable of carrying near-exponentially more water vapour as it warms. But just because it can there is no certainty that it will. On some measures, column water vapour is declining. Measurement uncertainty again.
Fact 8 follows. The equation by which models represent mutual amplification of the feedbacks they take as net-positive comes from electronic circuitry, where at a loop gain of unity the voltage transitions instantly from the positive to the negative rail.
However, this singularity has no physical equivalent in the climate. Accordingly, a damping term is required, to allow not only for the fact that positive feedbacks such as the water-vapour feedback cannot, as voltage can, suddenly reverse their effect when the loop gain exceeds 1 but also for Fact 9. Global temperature is remarkably homoeostatic.
For the past 420,000 years, absolute mean global surface temperature has varied by little more than 1% from the long-run average. It is very difficult to warm the world. Our changing 1/2500 of the air from oxygen to plant food on business as usual over the next 100 years may well prove irrelevant. Any realistic damping term in the feedback-amplification equation removes the global warming problem altogether.
So to Fact 10. An increasing body of papers in the reviewed literature is following my own 2008 paper in Physics and Society in finding climate sensitivity very much lower than the models: perhaps below 1 Cº.
Fact 11 follows. Climate scientists know these uncertainties. The widest survey of scientific opinion ever conducted found that only 0.5% of 11,944 climate papers published from 1991-2011 had said most global warming since 1950 was manmade. Given the uncertainties, Mr Abbot’s government should enquire whether it is cost-effective to mitigate today or to adapt the day after tomorrow.
Fact 12. The economic literature overwhelmingly concludes that it is vastly cheaper to adapt the day after tomorrow than to act today. Even if the science were settled, Dr Lamberts is wrong to say the ends justify the means. For the game may well not be worth the carb0n-emitting candle.