Monckton’s McLuhan Moment

You know that famous scene in Annie Hall where a bore is going on and on about Marshall McLuhan’s work and Allen produces McLuhan who tells the bore that he got McLuhan all wrong? Well, that’s kind of what happened in my debate with Monckton. Based on what he had identified as his most important argument in previous talks I was pretty sure he would argue that climate sensitivity was low based on his misunderstanding of Pinker et al Do Satellites Detect Trends in Surface Solar Radiation?. And sure enough, he did.

If you read the title of Pinker’s paper, you’ll see that it’s about changes in surface solar radiation, not climate forcing as Monckton would have it. In ideal world I could have had Rachel Pinker appear from behind the curtain to tell Monckton that he was wrong about her paper, but I was able to do the next best thing. I first played a recording of Monckton’s building up Pinker as good scientist who was not interested in the global warming debate, and where he got her gender wrong again and again. Then I played a recording of a female colleague with an American accent reading out Pinker’s message to me on how Monckton had misunderstood her work. It was as if she was there.

I finished off by correcting his climate sensitivity calculation by comparing the current climate with the last Ice Age. The fun bit here was that I got all the information about the Ice Age from “Heaven and Earth”. Plimer’s book + Monckton’s calculation proves climate sensitivity is about 3.

My slides are here and audio of the first part of the debate (our talks and questions to each other) is here. Update : Video is here.

The only new argument he had was that Snowball Earth proves that climate sensitivity is low because it was really cold despite high CO2 levels. Apparently Plimer had shown some rocks from that period earlier in the week. I think that if you showed Monckton a duck, he would argue that because the duck’s quack doesn’t echo, climate sensitivity must be low. I wasn’t ready for this argument (the Snowball Earth one, not the duck’s quack one), so I didn’t have the best counter. I pointed out that it didn’t make his case because the cooling from the huge ice sheets countered the warming frm the CO2. I should have pointed out that it proved that CO2 must have a strong warming effect, otherwise we would never have escaped from the snowball state.

The second part of the debate, questions from the audience, was, err, less focused. It wasn’t until well into it that I realized that answering the questions concisely was not the best tactic and you could get away with a wave at answering the question and then a speech on whatever you could connect with it.

The last part, our closing arguments is also available as video. Monckton went back to Pinker and claimed that her graph showed forcing and solar radiation. Fortunately, we each had a screen that we controlled, so I put up my slide of a direct quote from Pinker contradicting Monckton’s claim.

The folks I talked to afterwards (which may, perhaps, be a biased sample) say that I wiped the floor with him. Which is a pretty good result since I’ve never done anything like this before.

Debate with Monckton

Here’s Lotharsson commentry, lifted from comments in previous post:

So Monckton’s first point is that Haiti couldn’t feed its population turning into severe food riots because they converted to biofuel production.

And he’s turning that into “millions of deaths resulted” from “not applying the precautionary principle” to mitigating measures.

Apparently that may not be entirely true.

Now he says CO2 is beneficial for agricultural yields, and for power generation to lift people out of poverty.

And he claims CO2 emissions are correlated with life expectancy, and negatively correlated with child mortality.

Now the “if we shut down the CO2 emissions for a year it would forestall 0.02 degrees C of warming” argument that IIRC Tim showed was fundamentally flawed some time ago.

“Australia’s emissions would make virtually any difference because China is emitting so much”.

“Focused adaptation to climate change … is orders of magnitude more effective than trying to prevent it”.

“And he claims CO2 emissions are correlated with life expectancy, and negatively correlated with child mortality.”

Per capita emissions might, but so does pretty much anything that scales with per capita GDP. Pick anything that you find more of in developed countries than developing countries, and you can say the same thing. Though Europe has higher life expectancies and lower per capita emissions than the US, so it’s only useful for separating developed from third world.

Now the key scientific question – “How much warming will we get for a given level of CO2”.

Looking at a curly mallee (sp) tree in the Flinders Ranges, which grows only on a type of rock that is 40% CO2 (750M years ago), and there was a glacier there at 300,000ppm CO2.

UN is using a bogus graph to demonstrate that “acceleration in temperature” is occurring. (UK Government said to confirm no acceleration.) Some relatively rapid periods of warming; looking at satellite data; graph from Pinker et al 2005 (sp?) showing reduction in cloud cover leading to radiative forcing of 3.04 W/m^2 over 19 years. Compare with UN saying entire human effect from 1750’s is just over 1 W/m^2.

Climate sensitivity – his back of the envelope calculation gives him about 0.2 degrees C per doubling of CO2.

More detailed calculation “by a mathematician” gave even lower numbers.

Tim begins…I’m a computer scientist with my 1st degree in maths, as much an amateur at climate science as Lord Monckton.

1st thing to note – CO2 levels shot up from about the 1950’s. 2nd thing – radiative forcing. Incoming shortwave radiation; outgoing longwave radiation. If more energy coming in than going out, planet will warm. Difference in energy is “radiative forcing”.

Agrees with Monckton – climate sensitivity is most important question. But “in the long run” is the important caveat. Full amount of warming due to forcing may take a couple of hundred years. Low sensitivity, no big problem; high sensitivity gives us real problems.

Going through calculation of sensitivity from simple equation.

Does Monckton think climate scientists are fools?

Monckton breaks in [I think this was a recording from another Monckton presentation, can’t hear very clearly] – they made a fraud in order to ignore the implications of Pinker’s paper.

Monckton breaks in again – Pinker is a satellite nerd who only cares about that, not global warming.

Pinker speaks [recording] – you can’t compare these two numbers in the way Monckton does; the IPCC did it right.

Pinker’s detailed description will be up at the website.

Summary from Tim: clouds have two effects on radiative forcing. They block some incoming shortware radiation; they block some outgoing longwave radiation. Monckton’s mistake was only looking at blocking incoming radiation; not blocking outgoing.

Let’s look at last Ice Age – best way to get a handle on climate sensitivity is to look at a very different climate; bunch of factors (drawn from Plimer’s Heaven & Earth) – ice albedo, vegetation cover, dust, CO2, and so on…

Monckton’s 1st question: how can the 750M year-ago ice age have 300,000ppm in the atmosphere and still have huge mile thick ice sheets at the equator?

Tim Lambert: you have to do the calculation with all of the factors, not just CO2.

Tim’s 1st question: if Pinker’s correction is accurate, how will you correct the record?

Monckton: I will firstly check with Pinker and the IPCC, but her conclusion is to do with low clouds and theirs is high cloud. Let’s look at other ways to determine that we have low climate sensitivity. Argo buoys, ocean surface cooling over last 6 years.

Douglas and Knox 2009 (sp?) analysing last 68 years finds no accumulation of energy in the ocean. If that’s true, doesn’t that raise questions about the magnitude of the radiative forcing [?].

Tim: new papers need looking at; probably will turn out to be wrong; surface/air[?] temperatures clearly going up.

Looking at several lines on Monckton’s trend line graph.

[Jones: you didn’t say “lies” did you [hard to hear the rest]].

When you calculate trend lines you need to calculate uncertainty…as you go to shorter and shorter time period, the trend gets more and more uncertain.

Monckton: I’m calling the IPCC graphs “The Great Lie” because you may not apply multiple trend lines to a stochastic data set and then draw conclusions about an acceleration in the warming rate from the trend lines.

Look at this data set starting from 1993/1997/2001/2005; these four trend lines show we’re heading for a new ice age, so the method is wrong.

Could start in 1905 vs 1945 and show slowdown in warming.

[Can’t see the graph, but he’s saying 3 parallel warming periods, but no acceleration].

Between 1695 & 1735 central England went up 2.2 degrees C vs 0.7 degrees C in 20th Century.

Tim’s response: you’re statistically wrong. Need 20-30 years to have a statistically valid trend.

Monckton: there’s extreme uncertainty over the last 25 years [25 years’ data?]

Alan Jones: what percentage of CO2 present in atmosphere is naturally occurring vs manmade; given our piddling population isn’t our contribution infinitesimal?

Tim: About 30-40% is human activity. [Monckton?: 39%]

AJ: Does Monckton agree?

M: Up to a point. There used to be heaps (dolomite, curly mallee). But if you count the CO2 elsewhere (not in the atmosphere) the manmade level is tiny.

TL: The stuff in the ground is not relevant; it’s the level in the atmosphere.

M: Back to 750M years ago when that level of CO2 was in the atmosphere; that gives 22 degrees C.

TL: You’re ignoring every other forcing.

M: The ice albedo isn’t enough of a countervailing effect.

AJ: Manmade CO2 is infinitely less than 39%.

M & TL: agree in atmosphere it’s 39%.

M: repeats previous position to cut off debate

Q to TL: How much CO2 is in the ocean; [M: 70 times as much in the ocean as the atmosphere]. How much bearing does the CO2 in the ocean have on clouds and radiative forcing. [Somehow this is supposed to show that cloud factors are wrong.]

TL: [very confused with questioner who is not clear – who thinks clouds are formed from CO2(!)]

Q to M: Is it true CO2 in atmosphere in Mars is also increasing despite lack of industrial revolution.

M: Haven’t recently looked; some dry ice which probably evaporated – NASA SUVs 😉

Q to ?: Local council actually/preparing to spend money predicated on ETS (plus carbon market)

M: No. ETS can set so low a price that it makes no benefit to climate; or so high a price it shuts down industries all over Australia [what, no middle ground? Tut, tut – fallacy of the excluded middle.] If so you’ll be transferring your industries to China which is just not going to have an ETS (despite their letter to the Secretariat of the UN Convention).

EU Commissars now make “90%” of the laws in UK, mandated an ETS. Closing down a steel factory gives government carbon credits; industry will go to Pachauri’s India…

You’re going to shut down Australia’s economy for no climate effect.

Q: 1976 UN Treaty on weather modification technology; why aren’t we using it to deal with climate change?

AJ: Bit removed, anyone have a comment?

M: Very briefly, no 🙂

Q to TL: If ocean levels rise by several metre & glaciers melt, isn’t the good news that one of the first impacts will be the submersion of the desalination plant? 😉

Q: Skeptical about gov’t using environment for [can’t hear – extra tax?]

M: Extra tax goes to making pollies & bankers richer.

Q to both: 7 natural warming/cooling cycles since 1018[?]; why is this one the only one that’s attributed to man when natural cycles are ignored (based on sunspot cycle).

TL: Sunspot activity affects climate; right now lowest sunspot activity for 100 years. We should be “back to temperatures of 1900”. Last Jan warmest ever in satellite record.

M: Back 600M years (beginning of Cambrian). From then till now most of time temp has been up to 7 degrees C warmer than now.

Each of previous 4 inter-glacial periods; up to 6 C warmer than now; no SUVs or power stations.

Holocene (current interglacial) at end of Younger Dryas; optimum (warmest point) 6000 years ago [etc.] Hundreds of papers by lots of scientists from countries claim MWP was worldwide and warmer than now.

Hence today’s warming is nothing to worry about.

Q: GISS – that’s adjusted data. Compared to BOM[?] data. [Mackay?] Adjusted lower in ’30’s/40’s; higher in 80’s/90’s to make it look warmer.

TL: People used to complain about this graph because the data wasn’t adjusted (for UHI). Now they’re complaining that they are adjusting the data.

And you can do the whole graph without adjustments without significant change.

Looking at all the stations in total shows definite warming. Details all publicly available – data and code. A team has reimplemented it and it checks out.

M: Watts has checked 1200 US stations and adjusted data changed between 1999 and 2008 to match what questioner says. Major inquiry going on into this around the world (including Australian stations). To-be published paper says satellites more or less reliable, but [Joe Daleo[sp?]] concludes 1850-1980 ground records are unreliable.

TL: Watts’ group claimed number of stations is changing which is used to make it look warmer. Those guys made fundamental programming errors; don’t understand how it’s done.

Q: [hard to hear] data on rising sea levels over last 40 years? [T: 20 years, 3.2mm per year] I know from reliable sources that 40 year increase admitted by government has only been 1cm.

TL: Interesting, but this graph comes from CSIRO…

Q: [can’t hear] [When did authorities start saying humans were causing warming]

M: 1938, Calendar[sp?] 😉

TL: …

M: History…1958 onwards Mauna Loa CO2 measurements.

Q: I met people designing carbon credit package in 1985 who weren’t talking about global warming, so they were more concerned with money than science… [Not really a question]

Q to both: Since Copenhagen, can we limit global increase in temp to 2 C like pollies claim was agreed?

M: Canute.

Q to both: when can I buy a seaside house? How much is ocean going to rise [translation]?

TL: need to allow for 90cm this century

M: Hasn’t worried Gore.

TL: His > 90cm above sea level.

M: Central UN estimate 43cm over 100 years compared to 20cm last 100 years. Niklaus Merner [sp?] wrote a lot of papers and expects 10+/-10cm.

TL: UN did not say their estimate was 43cm; up to 59cm not counting accelerating icesheets – if they start to melt at much faster rate we don’t really know how much impact they will have.

Q: With M’s 300,000ppm -> 22C isn’t that implying a non-linear relationship.

M: Yes […] natural logarithm.

Q: I’m naval architect, freak waves are increasing frequency over 30-40 years. Moved from 100 year [?] to 200 year? What is reason for freak waves frequency increasing?

M: First largely thought to be mythical until too much evidence accumulated. Mathematicians have concluded Schroedinger wave equation predicts/models freak waves.

Q: Didn’t come here to primarily discuss climate; more concerned about totalitarian way governments treat discussion and suppress opinion. Spent my youth under very totalitarian government. Any government wants to get as much power as possible and take over media & education. My teacher friend doesn’t believe about CO2 but scared to tell it to his students…many others?

AJ: many Aussies concerned about failure to listen to alternative viewpoint; virtually an intellectual scandal that this is the only debate that has occurred on this issue in Australia.

Request was made to appear at National Press Club it was denied which gives validity to [censorship/suppression].

Worry about children being taught that CO2 is a pollutant.

Freedom that people died for to exchange views.

M: You come from Czech Republic – have seen Hitler & Communism, and Vaclav Klaus’s book Blue Planet in Green Shackles – “it’s not about climatology, it’s about freedom”.

Q: Pleased to see it’s not womankind being blamed for issues 😉 NY winter and London winter have been really cold, so where’s the global warming.

TL: Doesn’t mean we don’t get winter anymore. Difference between weather (day to day) and climate (long term average). Snowstorm is about precipitation (questioner interjecting). Can I speak? [Q: no! You’ve changed the terminology from global warming to climate change.]

Winter snow came from warmer weather in Manitoba; a big snow storm is because you have lots of precipitation.

M: Merely 3 miserable northern hemisphere winters in a row don’t make a climate trend, nor do several hot summers Down Under.

But there has been no statistically significant global warming for 15 years; begins to be long enough to raise questions of magnitude of climate sensitivity.

Global cooling for 9 years.

ClimateGate e-mail – can’t explain no global warming for decade and it’s a travesty.

El Nino 1998-2001; falling back since then; can’t read too much into it – but it does raise sensitivity questions; raise an eyebrow and keep watching.

Q to both: Ehrlich, Population Bomb, his view is humans are the problem so we need fewer humans. To M are you worried about the conflation of the two issues. To TL do you agree that population is a problem when my wife and I want to have lots of kids?

TL: Controlling population is bad idea, against human rights and nature. It’s an engineering problem – redesign our economy to have same lifestyle without the emissions.

M: If you stop people burning fossil fuels in poorer countries to have cheap electricity; that keeps them in poverty; population will increase beyond capacity of land to sustain them. So have to raise standards of living. Therefore the developing countries must burn as much fossil fuels as they need to stabilise population by lifting them out of poverty.

In 1990’s[?] UN predicted 16-18 billion by 2080; now thought ~9B in 2050 – but limiting poor countries – or limiting to the point of poverty in rich countries – will give us more people and more CO2 overall.

Q: economics; suggested Australia should wait for rest of world to do something. What happens if other countries have developed renewables later this century and we’re left to import it from them? Why shouldn’t we lead the world in these technologies?

TL: [garbled on my feed]

M: No. Every economic analysis but Stern shows that going to low-carbon economy is one of most destructive actions you can take.

More than 5% wind power means you have to turn it off because it’s destabilising the grid. Denmark stopped subsidising wind power…

Only as fossil fuel prices rise naturally without alternative subsidies, only then it makes sense. And wind farms damage wildlife. So subsidising alternative energy puts up electricity prices for everyone for no benefit.

Q: Tectonic plates shifting; does this impact sea level [and something I couldn’t hear]

TL: Yes, but only over (say) hundreds of millions of years.

M: Island of Lobna Chaura [sp?] suddenly disappeared a few years ago, so can get local effects. Bangladesh. Shifting makes it difficult to measure sea level; satellite altimetry, more accurate than tide gauges. Eastern Pacific basin gets clusters of undersea earthquakes which always seem to precede El Nino…

TL: [cut off by AJ]

Q: Seems that measurements are disputed; Lindzen; sea level rise; what confidence in them?

M: How good are our measurements? Lindzen & Choi vs “ClimateGate” researchers. Enormous disputes going on; staggering uncertainty in measurements. Tools woefully inadequate. Climate mathematically chaotic therefore long run prediction is impossible by definition. Can still take some view on relationship between CO2 and warming, but no consensus on sensitivity.

TL: Lindzen and Choi wasn’t about uncertainty in measurement. It was interpretation of data – their choice of cooling and warming periods seemed an artifact of an arbitrary choice [which wasn’t robust].

It’s a mistake to say chaotic system means you can’t predict it. Weather is unpredictable long term; climate is reasonably predictable. Initial value problems vs boundary condition problems. That is doable.

AJ: one consequence of debate is apologies for being skeptical; but better to be skeptical than gullible.

Q: Wouldn’t many places benefit from global warming?

TL: Sure, a little bit of warming – some places better, some worse. A lot of warming – the bad stuff outweighs the good stuff a lot. Sea levels & buildings; agriculture.

M: Warming is a good thing; the more (within reason) the better. Climate sensitivity. Until we know, making damaging and murderous decisions that we’ve already rushed into is an extremely bad idea.

Q to TL: If so much is driven by CO2, why did it go up so fast in 1910-1940 (down in 1970’s)…when there wasn’t that much CO2? And 1970’s warnings about ice age warnings?

TL: CO2 not the only thing to affect climate; remember my climate sensitivity calculations. Graph [can’t see it – IPCC model graphs showing natural factors only?] Talking about predictions/calculations using only natural factors and all factors…must look at all factors[etc]

Ice Age, don’t trust newspapers writing about science. Two schools of scientific thoughts back then – increasing CO2 vs increasing pollution; which one is stronger.

AJ: nothing’s changed in reporting.

M: These three warmings over the last 150 years can’t be CO2; must be chiefly natural. These ups and downs are natural events that overwhelm the overall trend. But CO2 isn’t doing much.

Ice Age – natural apocalypticism particularly in journalists – next might be the impossible issue of ocean acidification.

TL summing up:

Climate sensitivity is the important point. Unless you think Plimer’s book is wrong about the Ice Age, then the conclusion is pretty much that sensitivity is about 0.75 (2.8C/double).

Pinker’s graph heavily relied on by Monckton, but Pinker says his interpretation is wrong.

Ad for blog.

M summing up:

Pinker’s graph. Top left 90S -> 90N means she took satellite data from geostationary equatorial orbit plus polar orbital satellites. [Lost feed twice here] I think he’s saying the measurements allow you to determine shortwave and longwave, and graphs showing separate parts of the world. Overall effect – no point saying otherwise – is that you’ll get more sunlight on surface and temperature will increase. …which raises questions about climate sensitivity.

Other tests. Santer rewrote IPCC to say now discernible influence on human climate; his 2008 paper says atmospheric hotspot will come from ONLY anthropogenic forcing [I thought it was ANY warming?] Only one dataset shows this but the dataset is defective. Lindzen & Choi disputed by Trenberth; changing start dates/end dates criticism; Lindzen & Choi updating. Paper after paper demonstrating by measurement, not modeling, that climate sensitivity is low. UN models did not forecast 15 years without global warming. Huge departure from IPCC’s projections; they’ve revised projections downwards. Climate is responding as low climate sensitivity implies.

No sound conclusion that we’re causing serious problems. Spend money on deforestation, overfishing, rare wildlife habitat, better healthcare in 3rd world…wait and see.

No Copenhagen gives < 0.25C over next 10 years.


Thanks Tim for debate.

Apparently it’s an indictment of freedom of speech that we [somehow?] want to deny expression of them.

ETS architects have refused to come on AJ’s program. Variation of viewpoints (which is healthy [teach the controversy!]), therefore implies shouldn’t be legislating yet.

Thanks Monckton for sponsoring the debate (in the sense of his presence has triggered it to happen), and for going anywhere for an audience.

Monckton found himself at an Australia Day political function [sounds like AJ brought him] and was “treated as pariah”.

Claims atmosphere of suppression [what planet is he on? Read any newspapers lately?]

Smeed’s wife is introduced & presents a token gift to AJ for introducing Monckton & “preaching the word[?!]”. She’s horrified to see what’s going on in this country, because she comes from a Communist country.

FWIW, apart from his closing comments, for the most part I think AJ moderated reasonably well. And he did help weed out the rambling commenters and irrelevant questions from the audience.

On the video feed seems like Monckton is off to one side out of shot with camera flashes going off – sorry Tim, you don’t have the same celebrity cachet 😉


  1. #1 Neil
    February 12, 2010

    I have a different reading of the debate; one that reinforces my view that it is a mistake to give people like him oxygen. He was the better showman, whereas all you had was facts and arguments. My guess is that the undecided will be swayed by the show and merely bored by the facts.

  2. #2 Brian Schmidt
    February 12, 2010

    Very glad you did this Tim – I hope you consider repeating it with Monckton or other denialists. They shouldn’t be the only ones who get the benefit of practice and repeat experience.

  3. #3 John Cross
    February 12, 2010

    Neil: I disagree. I thought that Tim gave an excellent performance and that Monckton came across as a slicker who is very polished but doesn’t understand the issues.

    Tim: I thought you did wipe the floor with him and your McLuhan moment is an instant classic.


  4. #4 MapleLeaf
    February 12, 2010

    Tim, great job! You are a very brave man: Debating a liar, horribly biased moderator and a hostile crowd who at times were rude and refused to let you speak. You were in the lion’s den.

    So, IMHO the debate (from your perspective) went as well as we had all expected under the circumstances. You did a great job. I think you nailed it on the head when you say ” It wasn’t until well into it that I realized that answering the questions concisely was not the best tactic and you could get away with a wave at answering the question and then a speech on whatever you could connect with it.”

    An appropriate title for the talk would have been ‘Folklore meets science’. His is quite the court jester. But other than that, crickets.

    I am still blown away by Munchkin’s ludicrous and fallacious claim as to what causes El Ninos! OMG, he loses all credibility right there!

    Thanks for doing this.

  5. #5 bluegrue
    February 12, 2010

    @Tim: I think the link to the audio of the concluding remarks is wrong, it points to the second mp3.

    Here are direct links to the videos on SMH

    The Debate live feed (seems to be defunct, may or may not revive)

    The concluding remarks

  6. #6 bluegrue
    February 12, 2010

    Breaking Monckton’s reading of the Pinker paper was brilliantly done, Tim. 🙂 Using Plimer to discredit his low sensitivity, too.

  7. #7 Heretic
    February 12, 2010

    Score!! Can’t wait to watch the vid. You’re a brave man, Tim!

  8. #8 MarkB
    February 12, 2010

    On climate sensitivity, I wonder if the key chart from the Knutti & Hegerl review article would have been effective.

  9. #9 Bud
    February 12, 2010

    You just know there’s gonna be a big scandal when someone ‘discovers’ that wasn’t actually Rachel Pinker’s voice.

    Thanks to Tim, but also a huge thanks to Pinker as well, for providing such a clear and detailed explanation of her paper and of cloud forcing and radiative forcing. Very interesting and informative.

  10. #10 Phila
    February 12, 2010

    Absolutely brilliant! Hopefully, other people facing charlatans like Monckton will follow your lead, and line up experts to publicly reject pseudoscientific misinterpretations of their work.

    My guess is that Monckton was not at all happy with this turn of events. Well done!

  11. #11 Michael
    February 12, 2010

    My view from Scotland is you won by a mile Tim. On Moncktons concern for the third world I was in the Tory party back in the 80s, follies of youth I know but he was an advisor then. The concern he shows now was conspicuously absent then. All we have to do for him to change on the science is to wait a while, perhaps that is a hope too far?

  12. #12 Boris
    February 12, 2010

    Not to stroke your ego, but it was a pretty brilliant move. Kudos.

  13. #13 toby
    February 12, 2010


    Just watched the summing-up … you were much more effective. Congratulations. Monckton took about three times as much time as you and was therefore less effective in the same proportion. I was astonished at his brazen lying!!

    He should be careful going on about helping the poor of the developing world – he might piss off some of his rich backers. They won’t think that ending bilharzia or inestinal worms are very profitable investments.

  14. #14 toby
    February 12, 2010

    Monckton is really brazen with lies like these. I think he lost acquaintance with the truth (or with reality) some time ago. Maybe be believes this himself.

    “Paper after paper demonstrating by measurement, not modeling, that climate sensitivity is low. UN models did not forecast 15 years without global warming. Huge departure from IPCC’s projections; they’ve revised projections downwards. Climate is responding as low climate sensitivity implies.”

  15. #15 Steve L
    February 12, 2010

    Tim, can you get in on another stop of Monckton’s? Experience and practice can be useful (I agree with Brian Schmidt in #2), but also there are fresh droppings by Monckton that should be cleaned up in another debate.

  16. #16 Joseph
    February 12, 2010

    So Monckton didn’t know that a snowball earth would have a high albedo, which would require a substantial drop in emissivity to compensate?

    He must have read up on the hypothesis. Surely, he must be aware of the runaway cooling mechanism and so forth. Methinks he just hoped he could ‘get’ Tim with that question.

  17. #17 Paul UK
    February 12, 2010

    Just downloaded the mp3.

    erm Monckton got the upper hand at the start by suggesting he was in control and had invited Tim.

    1. First lie, biofuels mitigate climate change etc. The only truth put forward by Monckton was that governments wanted them. But he knows that environmentalists have campaigned against them because corn and wheat ethanol give a poor energy gain. Btw. I have just spent weeks on a top UK environmental message board, arguing about corn/wheat ethanol with a AGW skeptic (and a conventional arable farmer) who has the opposite view to Monckton.

    2. Second Monckton lie. Food shortages caused by biofuel production. erm there has been a world wheat surplus for the last 30 years! (as much as 4 months carry over. It can be handy having arguments with farmers, they make you do research to back your case). Good grief I have only listened to about 1 minute of the mp3. Any food shortage has been largely because of logistics, political and economics problems.

    I’m not a great fan of biofuels from food crops, but at least Monckton should get the facts right.

    I’ll listen to it some more and maybe post other responses.

  18. #18 Paul UK
    February 12, 2010

    Addition to my post @17

    Ironically, my data about wheat surpluses came from the Australian Government:

    Monckton was using environmentalist tactics in his opening point. Probably won brownie points for that. He was wrong with his data, but he was clever in using an environmentalist POV for making his ‘selfish’ ethical case.

  19. #19 Paul UK
    February 12, 2010

    Further in to the discussion Monckton does the usual crap of claiming CO2 is plant food and crops will improve.

    Well maybe not in Africa:

    Different species react differently to CO2, temperature, drought etc.

    But of course, spinning the positive about CO2, fits in with his myth about no warming. Your on a win, win situation if you can go around convincing people that increased CO2 has no negative impacts, you’re just left with positive outcomes.

  20. #20 Mercurius
    February 12, 2010

    Tim, yes, the McLuhan moment – well done.

    You definitely won the debate on the substance. Even on the question of style, your Australian accent and direct answers to questions suited an Australian audience. Monckton sometimes appeared too slick for his own good – more of a showman than a substantial debater. Monckton appeals to a certain kind of Union Jack boxer-shorts wearing lickspittle who still gets turned on mouthing the words “My Lord,” but everybody under 65 knows a smooth-talking, unctuous salesman when they see one.

    I think what impressed me most was the generally cordial atmosphere. Although the format of a ‘public debate’ about science is somewhat antiquated – sort of a 19th century roadshow with Powerpoint slides – perhaps it’s more effective at reaching certain kinds of people than the interwebz….

  21. #21 mb
    February 12, 2010

    Monckton sprinkles in jokes and populism, but he also drones on and on when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about to make it appear that he does. He sounds like a meandering dolt to me, but from the crowd’s reaction I can tell that he’s well-adapted to his niche. He seems to have three prongs to his attack: make things up and attribute support to anonymous experts, obscure any understanding of causality so he can wander around the timeline, and sow the idea that when it warms (always incrementally) it’s for the better anyway. To this he sprinkles in some red meat about free dumb, think-of-the-poor-foreigners, and piss-your-pants-the-foreigners-will-steal-your-jobs.

    If you spent too much time with Monckton eventually he would convince you that, because of ice ages, you can’t be sure your freezer is why your meat is cold. A little longer and he would have you believing that our understanding of physics prevents you from knowing how long to cook an egg or bake a cake.

  22. #22 lenny
    February 12, 2010

    Well done Tim, and thanks for doing this!
    Now I’d like to see Monckton hounded with questions wherever he goes about whether he’s talked to Pinker yet about her paper as he claimed he would.

  23. #23 Dano
    February 12, 2010

    Hapless fish in a barrel.

    One wonders how the fish will spin it.



  24. #24 PB
    February 12, 2010

    You certainly clobbered him with the science and I think he came across as a pompous arrogant bore, but oh, those questions… particularly that madman who prattled on about CO2 in the oceans… Rather you than me Tim.

    I think you are right about how to deal with the questions. It’s the old “Yes Minister” approach. Answer the question you want to answer, not the question that the person is asking, particularly when the questioner is that incoherent.

    I’m looking forward to your next appearance. It would be great if it could be in Melbourne next time 🙂

  25. #25 sod
    February 12, 2010

    congratulations Tim, really well done.

  26. #26 chek
    February 12, 2010

    Well done Tim – both on the debate and correctly anticipating that the Pinker moment would happen.
    That was a real matador’s sword-through-the-neck occurrence.

    I have to say I was ambivalent about the value of the event – after all, science isn’t a stand up debate, yada yada yada – but you showed unequivocally that these buffoons can be shown up as the frauds they are right there, live on stage, for all to see. That you have to have the eyes to see was the problem with the live audience.

    Given that the audience would have been mostly Munchkinesque fans, it’s a pity it wasn’t televised in order to reach out over their pointy little heads to a larger audience comprising normal, reasonably informed people.

    I think we can safely predict that The Viscount (remember, pronounced ‘discount’ – how telling) won’t be requesting a repeat performance, no matter what His Grovelship’s supporters may try to imply otherwise.

    I hope a full version will be available at some point (c’mon you streaming receiver guys – get that .flv file uploaded to Youtube soon, please)!

    I don’t know if you’d do it again Tim, but short of getting Robert de Niro up there with cogent, quick witted and super well-informed answers (and debate tactics), I’d be perfectly happy for you to be recognised as a spokesperson, based on your live performance today.

  27. #27 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 12, 2010

    You’re a brave man, Tim. Debates like this are usually a lose-lose situation for the guy with the facts, whether it be in evolution vs creationism or AGW vs pseudoskeptics/denialists. Well done in such a hostile situation (heck, that’d be well done in a friendly situation too).

    That Pinker moment was fantastic, btw.


  28. #28 carrot eater
    February 12, 2010

    So his source for the snowball earth/30% CO2 thing was something Plimer showed him last week? Is it even published anywhere?

    If you had a do-over on that, it would have been neat to reprise some of the information in Richard Alley’s lecture, or Royer’s work. I don’t think either goes back as far as snowball earth (?), but as far back as they go, things fit nicely.

    And somebody could tell him that the orbital forcing is different from interglacial to interglacial. All else being equal, the previous interglacial would indeed be warmer than this one.

  29. #29 davidk
    February 12, 2010

    Well done!

  30. #30 MIke
    February 12, 2010

    Great stuff Tim.

    I have no doubt that the conflicts you exposed in Monckton’s arguments will be totally lost on the largely unintelligent and uncritical audience (which includes the moderator). However, perhaps people who are a bit brighter and were fence-sitting might at least have cause to re-examine what Monckton is saying.

    I can’t wait to see the video either.

  31. #31 James
    February 12, 2010

    Hi Tim. Congratulations on having the marbles to participate in yesterday’s debate. Seriously.

    I am wondering if you would care to debate David Suzuki on the effects of Global Warming on precipitation.

  32. #32 Paul H
    February 12, 2010

    Using Pinker’s own words like that was a genius move. All of my colleagues who watched agreed too. What an ace that was to play.

  33. #33 Marcus
    February 12, 2010

    On your “Hot Spot” slide: is the picture on the left warming due to an arbitrary amount of GHG forcing, and the picture on the right warming due to similar amount of solar forcing?


  34. #34 Ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    I was there also. Lambert’s fatal mistake from the start was not to address the question and instead go for cheap points. The question, skillfully constructed, was this “Does AGW endanger mankind?” Monckton condensed this at the start to three points – Moral questions, Economic issues and Scientific issues and provided good points and data for all. Lambert did not address the question throughout the debate, indeed his closing argument was to advertise the Deltoid blog. (Well that worked I’m briefly back). Monckton was full of facts while Lambert was full of farce. The attempt to use audio from Monckton’s previous lectures and Pinker’s audio failed due to audio feedback and was barely audible. And Powerpoint 101 states “avoid large chunks of text” no one read the slides! Monckton effectively nullified the argument in his summation. At about 13:12 Lambert shows a graph that confirms Monckton’s contention of bias by the IPCC in showing accelerating warming. The audience gets this but Tim misses the point. At numerous stages Tim forgets questions from the audience and had to be prompted from the chair. Lambert stumbled over Monckton’s use of recent work by Douglas and Know 2009 on ocean heat build up, apparently unfamiliar with it. One of the killer moments for Monckton came when he quickly came up with a figure of 39% for the amount of CO2 from anthropogenic CO2 while Tim was apparently fumbling in his pockets for a calculator. Not a great look when at the start you claimed expertise in mathematics. Another stumble came in trying to explain adjustments in temperature data. People around me scoffed at Tim’s attempted explanation. The problem is the way gross generalisations about station citing end up producing adjusted results that bear little relation to observed reality…the audience was certainly not convinced. Slides showing IPCC models that do not match the 1940 warming another blunder that many in the audience picked up on. The question was specifically about the 1940 temp rise and none of the IPCC charts Tim displayed show a match to observations.A nice black triangle visible above model projections for all charts!

    As stated in the previous post I think Tim needs some public speaking lessons and based on his performance today I dare him to disagree. I don’t mean to be mean but face the facts, maybe David Karoly could have had a better chance.

  35. #35 Chris O'Neill
    February 12, 2010


    The attempt to use audio from Monckton’s previous lectures and Pinker’s audio failed due to audio feedback and was barely audible.

    None so deaf as those who will not hear.

  36. #36 Mercurius
    February 12, 2010

    @34 Oh dear, Ilajd you posted the same entry on the previous thread, where everything you said there was comprehensively rebutted. So you post the same guff here again? I hate to be the one to tell you this, but when your argument is refuted, it *stays* refuted. Re-posting the same guff a second time doesn’t work like hitting the ‘reset’ button.

    But since denialists specialise in re-posting discredited arguments without elaboration, I guess mindless repetition is all you’ve got.

    Since you’ve already forgotten that everything you’ve said has been rebutted, here’s my reply again…

    Nit-picking at Tim over rhetorical mis-steps is meaningless: the substance of his scientific presentation was spot-on, whereas Monckton hadn’t even investigated the paper upon which his entire (flawed) scientific calculation rested well-enough to know that the author happened to be female.

    Monckton was pwned on his scientific thesis; he has independently calculated a variable measurement for climate sensitivity with which not one other working scientist in the world agrees, and even Monckton’s mathematician mate said he’d got the number wrong.

    Monckton’s moral and economic points were also a false dichotomy – it is not an either/or choice between lifting the developing nations out of poverty and reducing carbon emissions. That chart correlating high per capita carbon-emissions with high life expectancy was spurious. One could make the same argument that we should lift taxes, because countries with high income tax rates are correlated with high life expectancies. It’s nonsense on both counts.

    Lambert’s audio recordings were perfectly audible, you need to get your hearing tested.

    As for ‘Powerpoint 101′, since you seem to be in the mood to nit-pick, Monckton’s slides looked like they’d been composed by an 8 year old girl. Complete with brightly coloured 3-D effect typefaces, different fonts all over the place, and that ridiculous faux House-of-Lords logo that looks more like it’s from an album cover for Ministry of Sound. And that bloody coronet/crown thing on the front slide. What kind of clip-art travesty is that? Lambert’s slides were clear, clean, and if you had trouble reading the words perhaps you need to get your eyes tested too.

    Finally, there were three occasions on which Lambert asked to be prompted for a reminder of what was the second part of double-barrelled questions he’d been asked. So what? Mate, they had 90 minutes of open questions from the floor, and there were dozens of questions thrown at both speakers from all directions. Do you know what it’s like going on the spot like that and having questions thrown at you? Alan Jones as moderator was gracious enough to thank Tim for making himself available for the debate, you would do well to emulate Jones’ courtesy. I’d like to see you get through that barrage without asking the moderator for a reminder, especially since you seem to have difficulty with both your hearing and your eyesight.

  37. #37 Brian D
    February 12, 2010

    Inactivist headline:

    Aussie Computer Scientist’s Recorded Testimony Faked, Agrees Ian Plimer Credible Source

    Anyone want to bet when that, or something like it, shows up? It is, after all, part of the chart.

  38. #38 Trevor Wilson
    February 12, 2010

    Brilliant effort, Tim. Naturally, Monckton was proven wrong to those who can understand the nuances of your argument. Unfortunately, Monckton is a very impressive speaker and the audience was clearly IQ challenged (probably Jones’ listeners), so you did not come off all that well.

    Keep it up and please attend some public speaking classes.

  39. #39 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    Nice to see you cherry picked Pinker’s response Tim.
    5. While our work dealt only with the variability of solar radiation reaching the ground at a global scale, it is legitimate to interpret the results in a new direction, as was
    attempted by Mr. Monckton.

    Why no re-enactment with cheesy accent of this section?

  40. #40 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    Nice to see Tim’s echo chamber reverberating with the usual suspects. As some are wont to say Stay safe and enjoy the interglacial!

  41. #41 Tim Lambert
    February 12, 2010

    Hey Iljad, got a calculator? CO2 is about 388 ppm, now, and was about 285 in pre-industrial times. Calculate (388-285)/388 and tell us what percentage that is.

  42. #42 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    Gee Tim, It only took you 12 hours to come up with that one! And you the maths PHD. Pity the room is empty now…make sure you stack the chairs on your way out, mate!

  43. #43 guthrie
    February 12, 2010

    Ilajd – our work? Do tell.
    If you are really involved in the work, perhaps you could comment on the relevance of Moncktons take on it?

  44. #44 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    Guthrie old chap they are Pinker’s words, not mine.

  45. #45 Phil M
    February 12, 2010

    Tim, I think you did a really good job considering you havent been put on the spot with forums such as that before, whereas its the main forum in which Monckton operates.

    It would be good if we could have some more debate here in Australia with a 2 on 2 or 3 on 3 panel with a moderator that is agreed by both sides that is non partisan. It was good that you spoke up & interjected at points of obvious error like the Anthony Watts surface stations debarcle. I like guys like Barry Brooks, but in my opinion, he tries to get TOO scientific & he is also too polite & not willing to interject at obvious points of error. Like other debates staged for Monckton, Allan Jones gave him more air time, let him have the last word & even backed him up in certain places “some of the stations didnt even exist” chimes in Jones.

    David Karoly would be a good partner in another debate as he will interject if he hears nonsense & has lots of TV & radio exposure, so is used to those on the fly questions.

    Karl Kruszelnicki is another one that is getting great exposure on radio & tv. While he is not as polished on the facts & history as Tim, Barry or David. Karl does have the ability to break things down into laymans terms by using logic & analogies to transcend that scientist/layman barrier.

    We need more people like Tim out there on the radio, joining Barry, David & Karl in heading off the endless rounds of misinformation tours that people like Bob Carter & Ian Plimer seem partake in on Australian AM radio. The more exposure you get to these mediums, the more polished & responsive your performances will become. Maybe if we write to the various AM stations to get them to call you for an interview, might help.

    Hearing some of the questions people asked in the Lambert debate makes you realise how little the average public knows & how badly they get it wrong & why people like Monckton, Carter & Plimer are able to capitalise on this by inserting into the debate things the public WILL understand. “Its all a communist plot, the government wants to take over everything, they want to raise taxes & need an excuse, governments want to redistribute the wealth, they want to bring down capitalism, deindustrialise the west” etc etc.

    The average joe six pack might not be able to get his head around climate science, but he CAN understand “its a big new tax” & “a plot to deindustrialise the west”. The lack of basic logic & simple googling was illustrated with the suggestion from the guy in the crowd that the oceans are full of Co2 & a lot of evaporation occurs on the oceans so isnt it plausible that the Co2 is getting sucked up with the water vapour? I bet scientists never realised what me joe six pack was able to conceptualize from my back porch.

    You could hear the incredulity in Tims voice, haha. Congrats.

  46. #46 Dibble
    February 12, 2010

    I have to admit, I was skeptical.
    Not of the scientific basics of AGW, far from it, but skeptical about the wisdom of engaging in a debate with Monkton.
    I think you did well and I think, on reflection, that we need more of the same. The deniers and concern trolls are dictating the terms of the public debate and there needs to be more authoritative and sober input from people like yourself to balance the rhetoric and blatently political advocacy.
    Well done and thanks.

  47. #47 Nick
    February 12, 2010

    Ilajd, if you had a brain of your own and accessed the Pinker paper,you can see Monckton has deliberately misread it. This is not a matter of opinion,simply a fact establishable by comparing Monckton’s claims with Pinker’s paper. ‘legitimate to interpret the results in a new direction’ is only saying Monckton can try,not that he has succeeded.

  48. #48 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    #46 “Allan Jones gave him more air time” … only because Tim was apparently reluctant to contribute. He didn’t take the opportunities when they arose. I mean in the end Tim couldn’t even be bothered rising up out of his chair to answer questions. This was in stark contrast to Monckton who was enthusiastic throughout. Tim’s reply to a question regarding plate tectonics was a classic. Yes virtually zero effect on human timescales. Tim dismissed the question with an impolite wave of the hand but Monckton produced an answer that showed how it could produce regional climate effects. Tim left Monckton’s left Monckton’s assertions of links between El Nino and submarine volcanism which came from Plimer’s Heaven and Earth unchallenged.

    It’s clear Tim’s ego got ahead of him on this one.

  49. #49 Ian Forrester
    February 12, 2010

    Poor old ilajd, he does not have the scientific ability or moral upbringing to distinguish between Monckton’s lies and scientific facts. Monckton’s initial presentation was full of lies (I will not call them mistakes because they have been pointed out numerous times before).

    I got a kick out of him saying that rogue waves can be explained by the Schrodinger wave equation. As far as I am aware SWE refers to quantum mechanical properties of energy not macroscopic waves found in the seas. However, it sounded very knowledgeable and imposing to a scientific illiterate audience. No wonder his ideas about warships for the Royal Navy were dismissed as wrong. Can you imagine warships floating along Schrodinger waves:-)

  50. #50 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    49. Gee Ian Forrester even wikipedia suggest use of Schrödinger equation to explain rogue waves. What was that you said about scientific ability?

    Nonlinear effects — It seems possible to have a rogue wave occur by natural, nonlinear processes from a random background of smaller waves.[7] In such a case, it is hypothesised, an unusual, unstable wave type may form which ‘sucks’ energy from other waves, growing to a near-vertical monster itself, before becoming too unstable and collapsing shortly after. One simple model for this is a wave equation known as the nonlinear Schrödinger equation (NLS), in which a normal and perfectly accountable (by the standard linear model) wave begins to ‘soak’ energy from the waves immediately fore and aft, reducing them to minor ripples compared to other waves. The NLS can be used in deep water conditions. In shallow water, waves are described by the Korteweg–de Vries equation or the Boussinesq equation. These equations also have non-linear contributions and show solitary-wave solutions.

    Given Tim was so quiet in response to Monckton’s nuanced answer i guess Tim was aware Monckton was correct. If not he must be lacking a certain moral up-bringing.

  51. #51 chaostica
    February 12, 2010

    @34 I was there too, and, judging by his comments, Iljajd was in a different universe. The audio of the disCount was clear if a bit too loud and the Pinker slap-down was so effective that even a couple of the rabble might have been a bit uncomfortable with it. Monkton himself just grinned his pasted-on grin a little bit wider and his eyes popped out just a little bit more. He’s a pro.

    The most telling moment of the debate came in Monkton’s summation. Even after his Pinker evidence was completely demolished he came back to use exactly the same “evidence” to finally “prove” that there is very little sensitivity. He clearly decided that he and his mystery mathematician understood Pinker’s data on a deeper level than Pinker and the IPCC ever could and so there. He clearly demonstrated the difference between a skeptic and a denier. A skeptic looks at the evidence and is willing to change his position if the evidence leads her there. A denier is never persuaded by anything as mundane as evidence.

    Iljajd was right that Tim didn’t persuade the audience, but the audience was, on the whole, unpersuadable. They could not hear anything that didn’t confirm the opinion they arrived with. For much of the audience Tim didn’t really exist. For me and anyone who actually listened to what was being said, Tim Lambert is a hero.

  52. #52 chek
    February 12, 2010

    What ilajd pretends we don’t already know is that, just like the McIntyre and McKitrick performing circus, we know that The Fraud Squad are … um … “incentivised” to come up with ludicrous interpretations of the data.

    That a minority like ilajd are fully prepared to contort themselves into impossible positions to accommodate the spin from their like, says enough.

  53. #53 Ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    51..Tim is a hero…has all the credibility of a T-shirt slogan. I guess Monckton’s could read “I’m with Stupid”. You know where the arrow is pointing, and it ain’t at Alan Jones.

  54. #54 Chris O'Neill
    February 12, 2010


    And you the maths PHD.

    People like ilajd think mathematics means little more than mental arithmetic.

  55. #55 mb
    February 12, 2010

    ilajd, might I suggest reading Hardy’s A Mathematician’s Apology or perusing The Princeton Companion to Mathematics? At least consider looking at something in that department before sending your third grader’s homework to Terry Tao for checking.

  56. #56 P. Lewis
    February 12, 2010

    Ian, look up the “nonlinear Schrödinger equation”.

  57. #57 Ian Forrester
    February 12, 2010

    ilajd, go and read about the Schrodinger Equation.

    What you are referring to is the “non-linear Schrodinger Equation.

    In science, but not obviously in whatever you are involved with, details and accuracy are very important.

    You are just a pathetic AGW denier who is upset because scientists are showing Monckton to be an arrogant, ignorant and selfish person who is incapable of telling the truth (in fact he has been quoted as saying he knowingly tells lies) and insults scientists.

  58. #58 Ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    55 Ian, look up the “nonlinear Schrödinger equation”.

    Ian it comes just after “nonlinear Foot in mouth”

  59. #59 P. Lewis
    February 12, 2010

    Ah, I see someone got there before me.

    Anyway, Munchkin’s use of “Schrödinger” was mere window dressing for his dissembling talk. It has nothing (most likely) to do with climate. I believe the rogue wave idea (in a “climate context” — huh!) likely derives from a piece on DimWatts’ blog a while ago where they tried to explain the 1998 El Niño temperature anomaly magnitude.

  60. #60 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    56 Ian careful, you might burst a vein.

    Tim nice to see your knuckle dragging groupies in action. And this is what passes as comments on a science blog these days, deary me. I suspect that anyone showing up in response to your advertising yesterday will be more than a little disappointed with what they find.

    Still the graphics are great, nice also to see those computer qualifications weren’t entirely wasted.

  61. #61 andersand
    February 12, 2010

    Ilajd, since you seem to want to perform science via Wikipedia, here are two extracts from the Schrodinger equation entry.

    “the Schrödinger equation is an equation that describes how the quantum state of a physical system changes in time. It is as central to quantum mechanics as Newton’s laws are to classical mechanics.”

    on the NLS

    “It must be noted that this is a classical field equation. Unlike its linear counterpart, it never describes the time evolution of a quantum state.”

    and from the actual NLS page:

    “In theoretical physics, the nonlinear Schrödinger equation (NLS) is a nonlinear version of Schrödinger’s equation. It is a classical field equation with applications to optics and water waves.”

    They’re not quite the same thing, really. Maybe Monckton said NLS? I heard it without the NL, but I’m not sure. Which did you mean?

  62. #62 Ian Forrester
    February 12, 2010

    ilajd here is why you are wrong:

    “The Schrödinger equation itself can be applied to classical fields in some contexts, such as for a coherent matter wave of a Bose condensate or a superfluid with a large indefinite number of (noninteracting or weakly interacting) particles and a definite phase and amplitude. This cannot be done with interacting systems, however, since this would violate the linearity postulate. Fields and wavefunctions are not the same thing”.

    (Tim, my apologizes for dragging this off topic but I can’t stand people like ilajd who are suffering from ASS)

  63. #63 ilajd
    February 12, 2010

    61 Ian, It was quite clear that Monckton knew what he was talking about, while “I’ve got a Math PhD” Tim just sat there like part of the furniture.

  64. #64 Vagueofgodalming
    February 12, 2010

    Interesting, the difference between Monckton’s approach to climate science and to economics. On the former, he projects the idea of a nuanced debate – CO2 might be warming the atmosphere but not as much as some people say, let’s wait and see, etc – but on the latter he was straight down the line forceful: attempting to curb emissions will wreck the developed world’s economies and keep the others in poverty, all economists other than Stern say this. Not true, of course.

    The obvious inference is that the economics is his real agenda (no surprise there), but also he might be made to lose his cool on that subject.

    Meanwhile, great theatre; it’ll be interesting to see how it’s spun (if at all) over the next few days.

  65. #65 MikeH
    February 12, 2010

    Monckton’s credibility rested on his argument about climate sensitivity. This was the basis of his APS article.

    As Monckton says (from the Lotharsson commentary) “Now the key scientific question – How much warming will we get for a given level of CO2”.

    On that issue Monckton was well and truly skewered by Tim.

  66. #66 luminous beauty
    February 12, 2010

    Monckton’s incoherent monster wave theory and ilajd’s defence of it bears a remarkable resemblance to Jacques Derrida’s use of quantum dynamics terminology in semiotic literary criticism, except Derrida was aware he was creating physically nonsensical metaphors.

  67. #67 chaostica
    February 12, 2010

    Ilajd said: “It was quite clear that Monckton knew what he was talking about…”

    See what I mean about different universes? There is a significant difference between sciency babble and actual information. I’ll grant that Monkton speaks his sciency nonsense authoritatively, but that does not mean he knows what he’s talking about. There is a great deal of evidence that he does not.

  68. #68 fehon
    February 12, 2010

    ilajd… You can spin it all you like but the fact is the good ship Monckton was powered by his argument on climate sensitivity. Tim launched a torpedo that hit amidships. Monckton is still looking for survivors but it is clear that it sank with all hands lost.

  69. #69 Concerned reader
    February 12, 2010

    Lord Monckton (LM) apparently believes that freak ocean waves can be understood by means of the Schrodinger wave equation. As mentioned earlier in this thread, the equation comes not from oceanography but from quantum mechanics (QM), and describes the energy state of electrons in a hydrogen atom. Apart from the fact that QM is probabilistic and can’t identify outliers, LM’s application is many thousand million times larger than the QM scale. Think, digging the Channel Tunnel with a toothpick.

    There is a tendency in many sceptics to apply the wrong scale to climate issues. To define what may be a pathological condition, I will call it a Dimensional Understanding Mistake, and suggest it deserves to be quantified. For example, someone thinking that a 5- or 10-year trend can define the presence or absence of AGW is suffering from deca-DUM. LM’s error would constitute giga-DUM.

    Although innocent bystanders get infected, they may be more easily treated than the sources of DUM-ness who are incurable. Any ideas?

  70. #70 Mercurius
    February 12, 2010

    Look like we can add memory problems and mathematical reasoning problems to Ilajd’s aforementioned hearing and vision problems.

    No wonder the message isn’t sinking in.

  71. #71 frankis
    February 12, 2010

    Here’s a huge surprise, the error message on the GoogleDocs page for the first part of Tim’s debate (linked by Tim above) reads:

    Sorry, we are unable to scan this file for viruses.
    We are experiencing technical difficulties.

    and clicking on Google’s “Download anyway” link isn’t working as I type this.

    So no access to the your audio file Tim.
    Prime suspect? – conspiracy by Monckton and Jones delusionists of course. Somebody call in the climate change world government police state paratroopers to open the gates to FREEDOM for Tim’s excellent information!

  72. #72 Ron
    February 12, 2010

    I have seen the debate.

    Tim, give up public speaking. Compared to the Lord,you are a child in nappies.

  73. #73 cohenite
    February 12, 2010

    If LM had his McLuhan moment than Tim has had his Woody Allen one. The Pinker direct testimony was a smart tactical move; I was sitting with John Smeed and Stewart Franks and we all thought this was a good start; but it was just a stunt; Pinker’s own comments indicate that:

    “however, if we give Christopher
    Monckton the benefit of doubt and assume that he meant “the impact of clouds on the
    surface shortwave radiation” than it can pass.”

    In fact this is what LM spoke about; the forcing of less cloud in the 1983-current period; this is a period, as Tim noted, which has featured the lowest sunspot activity in over 100 years; but this is irrelevant because less cloud means more insolation and SW forcing. If radiative forcing from extra SW is as high as Pinker found than 2XCO2 CS must be lower than the IPCC figure given the ^Temperature during that period. Pinker has some further insight in response to Tim’s slide 12:

    “The statement: “is not forcing at all” because “it only accounts shortwave
    radiation” is not the key problem here. As said before, we can talk about shortwave cloud
    forcing and LW cloud forcing, as long as it is clear what we mean. The problem is that it
    is not the accepted definition of SW cloud forcing and should have been labeled as
    “impact of clouds on the surface downwelling SW”.The net values of both SW and LW
    Fnet (cloud) = FSW (cloud) + FLW (cloud)”

    This was LM’s error in saying the extra SW reaching the surface was cloud SW forcing; cloud SW forcing is a negative forcing as Ramanathan found:

    And cloud SW forcing is much larger than cloud LW forcing. So, while LM has muddled these terms as Pinker says, LM is still right about the CS issue because the 0.16Wm2 PA is sufficient to explain ^T.

    2 other points; Tim fell down in explaining the temperature manipulation issue; the public understand the ramifications of CRU and GISS data ‘adjustment’; motherhood statements about scientists just doing their job don’t wash and the point from the floor that the adjustments are always up cannot be dismissed by an assertion that as many adjustments are down as up.

    Secondly the LM trend slide which presented an alternative to the IPCC chart showing an increasing trend over shorter periods coming to the most recent times; LM’s alternative slide showing the 3 PDO temp increases is valid and Tim’s dismissal on the grounds that you cannot validly assess trends over shorter periods actually lost him a lot of the ground that the initial Pinker revelation established, because the short period trend invalidity applied to the IPCC trend acceleration graph as LM pointed out.

    Still, the debate was pretty good and Tim did better than I expected him to.

  74. #74 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    It wasn’t until well into it that I realized that answering the questions concisely was not the best tactic and you could get away with a wave at answering the question and then a speech on whatever you could connect with it.

    You would benefit from a day or three of media/PR training. This is a point they hammer in to you early on and make you practice, practice, practice. And you barely even need a connection to what you want to talk about – if done smoothly, most people won’t even notice you failed to answer the question. (I note this is bad for public debate and public understanding of contentious issues.)

    If you see an unedited interview with any politician or corporate representative you will see their PR training at work. No well-run enterprise will let someone without PR training talk to anyone in the media under any circumstances.

    That goes for my employer and me. I’ve had one day of training – but that’s not enough training and not enough practice to be competent. That, and I have the kind of scientific worldview that makes it hard for me to spout confident simplifications, which is what you need to do to be convincing. This is why most scientists do poorly in debates – to be a good scientific communicator to other scientists you need to communicate the level of uncertainty in whatever you’re claiming; the public sees that and think you don’t believe what you’re saying.

  75. #75 Ron
    February 12, 2010


    I have seen the debate on A-PAc.

    You may have a PhD , but you wre beaten hands down by a skilled debater with a better knowledge of the complete field

  76. #76 Nick
    February 12, 2010

    Cohenite,was that a rogue wave or a rogue handwaving?

  77. #77 Patrick Longfield
    February 12, 2010

    Dear Tim Lambert of Maroubra (I really loved that one – bet he did not notice).
    Tim, I really liked what you said. I am familiar with a lot of it, but some of your details were great. However, to the context of the talk for a moment.
    I suspect it was ordained that you ended up where you did, as I saw it, and you make appropriate comment early in your personal piece.
    My observations are as follows. Irrespective of your personal and professional qualifications, the audience, mainly, was not there to hear you. They were there to hear what they wanted to hear, not what you wished to say.
    It is my experience when speaking to the ‘public’ that the whole concept of sustainability and climate change (CC), it too large, AND too threatening. Sustainability is about challenging the status quo. It is about challenging our lifestyles and institutions and the paradigms that control and govern them. People to not wish to told that they are responsible for the situation in which we find ourselves. I could go on but won’t here.
    I was watching Jones’ visual and body language. He was just not interested in what you had to say. Finally towards the end I believe he actually tried stop you or deny place to speak – in fact to side-line. This occurred on more than one occasion as the session continued.
    At the earlier talk I went to, Jones’ closing comment was: ‘LM thank you for giving us those incontrovertible facts.’
    He is just a Monkeyton lapdog.
    Anyway well done. If only your opponent was honest with himself and the data he was using.

  78. #78 Atticus Finch
    February 12, 2010

    I managed to catch about half of the debate, on and off (thanks to a screaming baby!). But it was great fun to watch and here are a few observations:

    [a] Tim, you had gonads of steel to walk into the lions’ den with two such accomplished media performers as VM and AJ. All power to you!

    [b] I very much doubt the debate did a lot to change perceptions. I know you perceive your Pinker audio to have been the slam dunk. And, of course, to many it will have been. But they already believed your case. To the uninitiated it will have been negated, for instance, by VM’s “mile of ice on the equator while 30% of the atmosphere was CO2”. It would only have been a real slam dunk if VM had admitted he was completely wrong, or at least had looked visibly ruffled. But he’s a very accomplished performer.

    [c] It was great that you managed to maintain your good manners, and resisted getting annoyed. The more that you do this, the more you’ll learn rhetorical skills that allow you to put in the knife in a ‘nice’ way. You didn’t use the word ‘denier’ and that’s great. It should never be used by anyone trying to persuade, because it gets a lot of people’s backs up.

    [d] What many people don’t yet understand is that the paradigm has shifted completely in the last few months. It is going to be essential to go back to global warming/climate change 101 and rebuild the case and the public’s trust in the issue. It will be extremely tedious and it will feel like groundhog day – but that is exactly what will be needed if the political aspects of climate change policy are to move forward in most western democracies.

    [e] So, get ready for lots more media events! An English teacher at my school resigned in order to become a sports correspondent on radio. His first transmission was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever heard. Forty years later, he is now one of the most eloquent and highly regarded commentators in his field. You have a massive head start on him, Tim!

    All the best – from someone with gonads considerably smaller than yours!

  79. #79 Ian Musgrave
    February 12, 2010

    Lenny wote:

    Now I’d like to see Monckton hounded with questions wherever he goes about whether he’s talked to Pinker yet about her paper as he claimed he would.

    Based on my experience with creationists and anti-vaxers, don’t get your hopes up. The mainstream news media will ignore it. The deniers will over-rides it.

  80. #80 Chris O'Neill
    February 12, 2010


    You may have a PhD , but you wre beaten hands down by a skilled debater with a better knowledge of the complete field

    Let’s thank Ron for his point-by-point, detailed analysis.

  81. #81 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    “It was quite clear that Monckton knew what he was talking about…”

    That illustrates my point about confident simplifications (or even misdirections and actual lies) being read by (scientifically) unsophisticated observers as “knowing what they are talking about”.

  82. #82 jakerman
    February 12, 2010

    >*Ian, It was quite clear that Monckton knew what he was talking about,*

    Like Pinker’s “forcing” and the fact she measured surface SW which is just half the of the equation required for cloud net forcing?

    Opps no thats the bit he that he got wrong. Pitty it was his central argument.

  83. #83 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    …because the short period trend invalidity applied to the IPCC trend acceleration graph as LM pointed out.

    I’m not convinced Monckton wasn’t waving red herrings on that point.

    I don’t particularly care if the temperature increase is accelerating or not; I care whether the total increase can be constrained to a level that won’t have significant negative impact.

  84. #84 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    Assuming there’s a reasonably good video available, I reckon it would be useful to go through it bit by bit, do a proper transcript and then analyse the arguments Monckton put forth as a series of blog posts. He threw quite a lot out there, and I suspect much of it doesn’t stand up to a bit of reflection.

    If you really want to give him enough rope, give him right of reply 😉 I believe he tends to get a bit … shrill when pressed to defend the indefensible away from a real-time performance situation.

  85. #85 jakerman
    February 12, 2010

    cohnite writes:

    >*but this is irrelevant because less cloud means more insolation and SW forcing. If radiative forcing from extra SW is as high as Pinker found than 2XCO2 CS must be lower than the IPCC figure given the ^Temperature during that period*

    Cohnite you’re leaving out half the equation of ΔFn = ΔFs + ΔFL, which was the point Pinker wanted to set Monckton straight on.

  86. #86 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    Cohenite says the Pinker quote was “just a stunt” because Pinker also says:

    “however, if we give Christopher Monckton the benefit of doubt and assume that he meant “the impact of clouds on the surface shortwave radiation” than it can pass.”

    Er, no, this comment does not prove that Pinker’s comments were “just a stunt” as you claim. Go read the PDF again. “…it can pass” means that the terminology that Monckton used “can pass” because it’s one definition in use, even though it’s not the primary definition and may be confusing.

    Her final couple of paragraphs indicate rather clearly that Monckton is comparing one quantity to another unrelated quantity in his calculations, which is … well, just plain wrong. Apples and oranges!

  87. #87 jakerman
    February 12, 2010

    Here is an extra clue cohnite:

    >*The numbers that we quote represent the change in the surface SW due to atmospheric effects (that include clouds).*


  88. #88 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    Shorter Monckton business manual:

    1) Buy more advertising, don’t record cost
    2) Measure extra revenue generated = X$
    3) Declare X$ additional profit!
    4) Go to step 1


  89. #89 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    BTW, is this the second, third, or more’th attempt Monckton has made at finding a very low climate sensitivity?

    Using Pinker he’s claiming 8x smaller than the IPCC (although given the width of the IPCC uncertainty band I’m not sure how to interpret that ratio).

    Before that he was saying 6x smaller using equations that Tim and others found did not stack up.

    I even think I have a vague memory of an earlier attempt made by badly mauling the concept of black body radiation (badly enough that I could see the core error, and my physics was decades ago now…). I have a suspicion that was 4x – but I could be conflating that vague memory with one of his other calculations.

    It’s almost like Get Smart – “Would you believe…4x? No? Would you believe…6x? No? Would you believe … 8x?”.

  90. #90 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    I was busy typing at the time – was Monckton taking long term equilibrium into account when calculating lambda? Or was he doing it using two non-equilibrium data points?

  91. #91 Mike
    February 12, 2010

    I am most impressed by Ilajd’s revelation (@48) that the strength of an argument depends on whether you are sitting or standing, and in what manner you wave your hands.

    I am always looking for ways to make my arguments more robust and factual without changing their content.

  92. #92 Bud
    February 12, 2010

    Secondly the LM trend slide which presented an alternative to the IPCC chart showing an increasing trend over shorter periods coming to the most recent times; LM’s alternative slide showing the 3 PDO temp increases is valid and Tim’s dismissal on the grounds that you cannot validly assess trends over shorter periods actually lost him a lot of the ground that the initial Pinker revelation established, because the short period trend invalidity applied to the IPCC trend acceleration graph as LM pointed out.< .blockquote>We didn’t see the slides from the internet feeds but I’m prepared to bet that there is significant difference between the number 3 and however many years Tim was showing in his graph.

    However, my response to Monckton presenting the PDO would have been, ‘so what?’. Climate response to PDO doesn’t invalidate other climatic influences.

  93. #93 Bud
    February 12, 2010

    My collection of double-posts here is becoming embarrassing…

    Secondly the LM trend slide which presented an alternative to the IPCC chart showing an increasing trend over shorter periods coming to the most recent times; LM’s alternative slide showing the 3 PDO temp increases is valid and Tim’s dismissal on the grounds that you cannot validly assess trends over shorter periods actually lost him a lot of the ground that the initial Pinker revelation established, because the short period trend invalidity applied to the IPCC trend acceleration graph as LM pointed out.

    We didn’t see the slides from the internet feeds but I’m prepared to bet that there is significant difference between the number 3 and however many years Tim was showing in his graph.

    However, my response to Monckton presenting the PDO would have been, ‘so what?’. Climate response to PDO doesn’t invalidate other climatic influences.

  94. #94 jakerman
    February 12, 2010

    If as Monckton claims, changes to surface SW is the key driver of current global warming, then a change in surface SW should send quite a signal in the global temperature.

    Pinker finds a trend switch in 1990. Pinker finds a downward trend in surface SW from 1983 to 1990; then a switch to upward trend from 1990 to 2001. How did the switch in trend express itself in the global [temperature anomaly](

    With current noise to signal ratios we can confidently calculate the current rates of warming with about 15 years of data. Given the switch in SW trend occured 20 years ago what singal did we see in the [rates of warming](

  95. #95 Lotharsson
    February 12, 2010

    This comment on the earlier thread seemed worthy of wider distribution – never let it be said that Deltoid doesn’t attract quality … er, something 😉

  96. #96 William Hyde
    February 12, 2010

    With regard to Snowball earth, recall that the sun brightens about one percent every hundred million years, so given a snowball earth 600 million years ago, the sun would have been six percent cooler. I’ve done simulations of snowball earth (e.g. Hyde et al, Nature 405 (6785): 425–9. ) and nothing remotely resembling a snowball can be simulated without this lower solar output. Even then, you need active ice sheets to arrive at a such a climate – without their effect no snowball occurs until CO2 is lowered to to about 40 ppm.

    And in particular, there is a hysteresis in snowball climate (e.g figure three of this paper:,%20W.T.%20Hyde%20and%20W.R.%20Peltier,%20CO2%20levels%20required%20for%20deglaciation%20of%20a%20near%20snowball%20Earth,Geophys.%20Res.%20Lettt.%2028,%20283-286,%202001.pdf – that is the first hit when googling for Hyde hysteresis snowball) For the same CO2 level more than one equilibrium climate may be possible, a snowball, a slushball (a snowball with an area of open ocean) or a mere ice age. It is entirely possible to have a snowball earth at high CO2, provided that snowball began in an era of low CO2. Even with the sun six percent colder than today’s, a snowball earth will not arise in an era of high CO2. Though, to repeat, once a snowball earth exists, it’s high albedo allows it to survive high CO2.

  97. #97 el gordo
    February 12, 2010

    You looked good, Tim. I admire your courage.

  98. #98 Denise
    February 12, 2010

    The duck’s quack does echo…

    Good job. I’m pretty new to the climate debate and still feeling my way around, haven’t payed much attention till recently. Nice to know good quality thinking exists.

  99. #99 Marion Delgado
    February 12, 2010

    I think Tim’s take on population is very wrong.

    On snowball Earth, two things:

    First, there’s not conclusive evidence on how extensively how much of the Earth was iced over during how long of the Cryogenian era. So Snowball Earth is still a hypothesis that’s about 60-40 in terms of acceptance, even some Snowball Earthers think there was open water most of the time.

    Second, we do suspect strongly for evidential reasons that CO2 depletion by bacteria led directly to the Snowball, assuming always there was one, or the major icing up of a great deal of the Earth if not. Almost all the CO2 was gobbled up and replaced with oxygen and we lost our blanket. So that’s CO2 all the way, the most major temperature change and albedo change and glaciation in Earth’s history, and done by living creatures. And Monckton wants to trumpet it as proof that climate sensitivity is low! Or that climate change comes from physical processes.

    It’s a pity Tim didn’t have that on his radar, Monckton must have meant it as a surprise, but it’s a batshit insane thing to bring up. It’s probably the single greatest CO2 greenhouse (in this case lack of) effect in the entire geological record.

  100. #100 Ricardo Villa
    February 13, 2010

    Tim, I appreciate you are one of the few to have the courage to deabate Monckton, as much as I hate to say it, he absolutely destroyed you in the debate.

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