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 Chris O'Neill
    February 19, 2010

    John Coochey:

    Chinas growth each eight months equal Australian total emmissions

    Australia’s emissions are about 6% of China’s so from the above, eight months growth of China’s emissions is about 6% or an annual growth of 9%. According to this, China’s carbon emissions might double from 2008 to 2030, which means an annual growth rate of about 3.2%.

    3.2% per annum growth is a lot less than 9% per annum growth so as long as the news article is correct, the main issue at this point is why is John Coochey trying to mislead us all?

  2. #2 jakerman
    February 19, 2010

    Shorter John Coochey:

    *If I don’t mis-attributed other peoples quotes to Tim, then no one will listen.*


    So if Tim is pleased that the weight of the Pinker moment was not lost on elements of the audience, that means you can pretend that other people’s quotes were Tim’s own?

    I see [a pattern here]( in the denialist approach to fidelity.

    And that pattern includes [failing to correct mistakes](

    And John, what is your plan to address the terrible burden borne by the poorest billion under our current inequitable business as usual, where the richest are so wasteful with limited resources?

  3. #3 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Tim, you’re a brave man!

    I thought the debate was great and you both argued well.

    I have a few comments that might help in future debates.

    Firstly although the ‘Pinker tape’ was fun and dramatic it looked like you were trying to embarrass Monckton. That may be the Aussie style but it didn’t sound kind when he had been more gracious to you from the start.

    Also on investigation Pinker says in conclusion:

    “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.”

    So now you look like you were using a ” trick to hide the increase” – again it makes you look less than honest.

    Also you declared that your argument was the only argument worth debating which might be a useful way of ignoring your opponents points but makes you look less able to debate.

    My last point would be to show how the science affects people. Monckton scored well here. Quite a few of your points were about calculations that none of us could do as we were listening so it became your word against his. If you can show that what you are arguing about has an impact on the audience then your points will be easier to understand.

    But well done for joining in the debate. I hope there are more of them.

  4. #4 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    “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.”

    This quotation out of context comes from science denial websites.

  5. #5 jakerman
    February 23, 2010

    Si, its only Monckton’s terminology that Pinker gives a conceded pass to. She fails his conflation of different forcing. Monckton is wrong because he substitutes SW radiation changes for net forcing.

    >*The CO2 “radiative forcing” value that Mr. Christopher Monckton is quoting [from the IPCC] refers to the impact on the Earth’s Radiative balance as described above [Net forcing]. The numbers
    that we quote in our paper represent the change in surface SW due to changes in the atmosphere (clouds, water vapor, aerosols) [SW forcing only]. These two numbers cannot be compared at their face value. To the best of my understanding this is the source of the misunderstanding.*

    >*In summary, the “free style” of terminology usage created confusion but is not the major problem here. The fundamental issue is related to the concept of “radiative forcing” as
    used in climate research and as related to CO2 and its comparison to a quantity that is something else. The CO2 “radiative forcing” value that Mr. Christopher Monckton is
    quoting refers to the impact on the Earth’s Radiative balance as described in:
    <> Page 101…* [Net forcing due to change in balance]

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

  6. #6 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Thanks Chris and Jakerman, I will check out the quote. I don’t believe in your religious terminology i.e. ‘Denial websites’ – sure there are good sites and bad sites but lets keep to trying to tell the truth rather than get too insulting.

    Jakerman – quoting from the IPCC? There are enough holes, deceptions and biases in the report that it is difficult to trust anything it says. To be honest I find Lord Monckton more plausible.

    Actually I only just managed to listen to the questions from the audience and the summing up.

    A couple of observations. Lord Monckton knows his stuff doesn’t he.There didn’t seem to be a question he couldn’t sum up and and answer eloquently and succinctly. He was very impressive and it sounded like he got the mood of the house as well – his closing remarks were brilliant.

    Tim had a few lapses in concentration which didn’t help but at least he kept to his guns and, as I said before, gave a really good shot at a debate.

    The best moment was when Tim said “don’t trust the stuff you read in newspapers”

    Amen to that.

  7. #7 jakerman
    February 23, 2010

    >*I don’t believe in your religious terminology i.e. ‘Denial websites*

    Its not a religious definition is a procedural one.

    >Jakerman – quoting from the IPCC? There are enough holes, deceptions and biases in the report that it is difficult to trust anything it says. To be honest I find Lord Monckton more plausible.

    Really, says a lot about the process that impress you. The IPCC are self correcting, denialist are not.

  8. #9 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Jakerman – most amusing. Your reference complains Monckton isnt really a Viscount. Oops! Maybe Tim can correct that.

    I am not going to agree with you on terminology. I find the whole warmist/denialist mud slinging to be unhelpful – fun possibly, but I prefer the key science arguments. And my thanks to Tim for doing just that in his debate – it was good stuff.

    I dont know enough about how inaccurate Monckton is or isn’t but he came across well in the debate which is the subject here. His heart seemed to be in the right place, something, again that came across in the debate.

    I am sure Tim’s is too and you could glean that from some of the things he said. My point is that by relating science to humanity it becomes more readily understandable – something that is key to this debate.

  9. #10 Si
    February 23, 2010

    An email from Rachel Pinker (not to me but to someone called amortiser)

    “Thank you for your communication. Indeed, the topic of the debate between Lord Christopher Monkton and Dr. Tim Lambert is of a very serious nature. Yet, I cannot escape the “light” side of the event.
    Lord Monckton did not try to verify my gender and Dr. Lambert did not try to verify my accent. As a matter of fact, I have a “Kissinger”
    Now, about the serious side of the topic. Here is the sequence of
    Dr. Lambert informed me about his upcoming debate with Lord Monckton and the nature of Lord Monckton’s interpretation of my paper. He also provided his own interpretation. In my response to Dr. Lambert I tried to explain briefly the correct interpretations. Subsequently, Dr. Lambert asked me to prepare a video clip of my statements, which I declined to do. The following day after the debate (I missed the direct broadcast) I saw the comments from the viewers of the debate on Dr. Lambert’s blog and was surprised to realize that some of the viewers may have believed that it was me speaking. The following day (February 14) Dr. Lambert explained in his blog the “McLuhan” Moment ( I guess, American accent was the right one for the “moment”!).
    With best regards,
    Rachel Pinker”

  10. #11 jakerman
    February 23, 2010

    Si writes,

    >*Your reference complains Monckton isnt really a Viscount.*

    Please cite where.

    Also I note the contrast in you comments:

    >*”I prefer the key science arguments…” vs …” I dont know enough about how inaccurate Monckton is or isn’t but he came across well in the debate*”

  11. #12 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    I don’t believe in your religious terminology i.e. ‘Denial websites’

    By “science denialist” I am referring to the fact that these people are denying what the vast majority of scientists in the discipline are saying. They are breathtaking in their arrogance. If they were honest they would be happy to admit they are denying the science.

    quoting from the IPCC? .. To be honest I find Lord Monckton more plausible.

    If you want to find out more about Monckton, check this very blog where he first came to our attention when he tried to suggest that the Chinese Navy sailed over an ice-free north pole in 1421. Does that sound plausible to you?

    A couple of observations. Lord Monckton knows his stuff doesn’t he.There didn’t seem to be a question he couldn’t sum up and and answer eloquently and succinctly.

    If you don’t know the subject, he’s very good at sounding like he knows what he’s talking about. As I said, start here and find out some of his history.

  12. #13 Anonymous
    February 23, 2010

    >*I saw the comments from the viewers of the debate on Dr. Lambert’s blog and was surprised to realize that some of the viewers may have believed that it was me speaking.*

    Possibly the commenters who failed to comprehend (or read) Tim’s introduction:
    >*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.*

  13. #15 jakerman
    February 23, 2010

    BTW Si,

    In case you get the wrong impression via my neglecting to mention it, the evidence gained through scrutiny of several years has demonstrated how very reliable the IPCC reports have been. Especially the key WG1 report.

  14. #16 jakerman
    February 23, 2010

    Si, your link didn’t work, can you describe where you believe the “*reference complains Monckton isnt really a Viscount.*”

  15. #17 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Chris and JK – my fav blogs

    and Piekle Sr

  16. #18 John
    February 23, 2010

    Yes if someone paid me $100,000 my heart “would be in the right place” as well. As for Monckton “knowing his stuff” – were we watching a different debate? The Monckton I witnessed droned on more the less he knew about a topic. I actually had to dip in and out because his empty verbosity was eating away my bandwidth.

  17. #19 Si
    February 23, 2010

    One of the links did not ‘take’

    Here it is again

    Also JK

    Is not this the one you sent me to?

    And the comment it

    “He’s replaced the royal crown with a viscount’s coronet, produced a logo that would only be appropriate if he was a Viscount with a seat in the House of Lords.”

    Sorry did I read that wrong?

  18. #20 Bernard J.
    February 23, 2010


    Permit me to phrase this as politely as I am able – you are a concern troll.

    The very fact that you give credit for the seeming competence of Monckton’s replies is a big warning sign to anyone with a basic competence in the underlying physics, and the fact that you happily make such pronouncements whilst simultaneously admitting that you “dont know enough about how inaccurate Monckton is or isn’t” indicates the serious lack of objectivity and/or of education in matters pertaining to human-induced global warming.

    However you might protest your wish that all people discussing the science should hold their pinkies out whilst supping their tea, it does not alter the fact of Monckton’s flagrant misrepresentation, and indeed bastardisation, of the science. In the face of such distortion and lying, one can hardly weep tears when professional frustrations overspill at the vested interests’ support of, the tabloid media’s promulgation of, and the credulous ideologically-susceptible public’s ignorant acceptance of rubbish science.

    You may think that you are presenting a clever and reasoned approach, but those of us with half a clue see you for the smugly patronising ideologue that you are, a tissue’s depth beneath the surface.

  19. #21 Si
    February 23, 2010

    I will just cut and paste this time

    Tell me if this guy is ok…

    Yours Concerned Troll

  20. #22 jakerman
    February 23, 2010


    >*”He’s replaced the royal crown with a viscount’s coronet, produced a logo that would only be appropriate if he was a Viscount with a seat in the House of Lords.”*

    Si: *Sorry did I read that wrong?*

    Yes I believe you have misconstrued this. (But had some amusement while you thought it lasted?)

  21. #23 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    sorry to be a bit impatient but you have yet to let us know whether you think the claim that the Chinese Navy sailed over an ice-free north pole in 1421 is plausible?.

  22. #24 John
    February 23, 2010

    Concern troll…I like that term! Roger Pielke…now he’s definitely trolling.

  23. #25 jakerman
    February 23, 2010

    Si rather than derail this thread, I suggest you take your questions about RPJ to an open thread [like here](

  24. #26 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Bernard, nice try.

    Again I don’t think the insults work – I am not sure if I am smug or not but clearly I have touched a rather raw nerve on this site.

    Here in the UK we have a semi-independent inquiry into some emails which allegedly show criminal intent to deceive.

    Chinese Navy, Chris? Gosh I dont know. Am I supposed to be defending Monckton or commenting on the debate?

    I have seen some great satellite ‘video’s’ of the sea ice expanding and retreating over time tho and I am guessing that has happened in the past.

  25. #27 Si
    February 23, 2010


    Sorry I missed off the point of mentioning it.

    So there is a debate going on here. That means there are two sides.

    Which means…some people have different ideas and opinions.

  26. #28 Michael
    February 23, 2010

    ….and apparently there is a debate about the earth [being flat](

  27. #29 John
    February 23, 2010

    And some of those ideas and opinions are based on diligent research, and others are based on Christopher Monckton’s personality and speaking style.

  28. #30 Si
    February 23, 2010

    JK – same ref

    “He again implies he has a seat in Parliament. Which he doesn’t.”

    Actually he does. (still amused here btw)

  29. #31 John
    February 23, 2010

    Actually he does.

    Well…case closed then.

  30. #32 P. Lewis
    February 23, 2010

    Those watching the video only, without the accompanying slides would have been unaware, but Tim’s slides (which I presume were the same as shown at the “debate”) made it clear that it was not Pinker talking.

    And no he, Monckton, doesn’t have a seat in Parliament, neither in the Commons nor the Lords. Perhaps he’s got a reserved berth in the public gallery.

  31. #33 guthrie
    February 23, 2010

    Monckton does not have a seat in thelords, having had 0 votes when they last elected a conservative peer:

  32. #34 Si
    February 23, 2010

    You are right! Nice. Poor chap.

  33. #35 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Oh gosh. This is what he says about himself

    He is a Nobel Prize winner like Al Gore.

  34. #36 John
    February 23, 2010


  35. #37 Bernard J.
    February 23, 2010


    Give it up.

    You’re not even a moderately clever troll, nor anywhere remotely near being an up-to-date one, and you certainly have no grasp of even the most basic of facts.

    You’re simply pushing your own barrow-load of poop, in an attempt to ‘get’ up the noses of those with whom your ideology clashes.

    And speaking of ‘getting’ up people’s noses, Tim Lambert has certainly ‘gotten’ up Jo Nova’s. She’s having a hissy fit about the Pinker tape, but I won’t dignify her post with a link – it’s merely more of the same conservative tripe that the unthinking armchair experts love to gorge upon.

    Trolls and intellectual dwarves… it’s like being dropped into a Middle Earth, but without the magic – unless it’s the magical thinking of the Denialati.

    Perhaps this is Lower Earth?

  36. #38 Si
    February 23, 2010

    BJ. again, why the vitriol? My guess is that that is all you have.

    I enjoyed the debate and hope there are more. It will certainly help those of us with low IQs to gain a bit more knowledge about the subject.

    In the meantime I am happy to troll about. Let me troll over to Jo Nova’s and see what she has to say.

  37. #39 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    Chinese Navy, Chris? Gosh I dont know. Am I supposed to be defending Monckton or commenting on the debate?

    I might be wrong but it looked like you were defending Monckton when you said “I find Lord Monckton more plausible”.

    I have seen some great satellite ‘video’s’ of the sea ice expanding and retreating over time tho and I am guessing that has happened in the past.

    For your information the claim is absolute rubbish. It came from Menzie’s deceptive claim about the Chinese navy sailing around most of the world in 1421. So you have found someone who propagates absolute rubbish to be more plausible than the IPCC. Perhaps you should be more careful in future. You could start by reading more about Monckton’s claims here.

  38. #40 Bernard J.
    February 23, 2010

    Q. E. D.

  39. #41 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Chris, defending Monckton? No way.

    But Monckton did come across well in the debate. In contrast Tim stumbled, had to be reminded of the subject, and had to have questions explained to him – I dont think that spoilt his basic arguments which I thought were well put.

  40. #42 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    Let me troll over to Jo Nova’s and see what she has to say.

    As if he hadn’t been there already. A likely story. Nova’s hissy fit is just dredging up cohenite’s comment from earlier in this thread.

  41. #43 Katharine
    February 23, 2010

    I am perpetually amused that people with no scientific training often think scientific issues have more politics and culture involved in them than they actually do. I don’t for a moment give a shit about how many gestures or jokes a debater used; if they have no substance, they’re just a smarmy idiot.

  42. #44 Si
    February 23, 2010

    From Monckton to Jo Nova, H/T to Bernard.

    “The only point that Lambert scored was that I had gotten Pinker’s sex wrong in my Melbourne presentation (which, from memory, is the only one in which I mentioned her sex). Otherwise, his stuff was gibberish, as the audience swiftly understood when I explained it to them. During the debate, I had kindly done the calculation on the basis that the change in surface radiance mentioned in the Pinker paper would be the same at top of atmosphere, from which a climate-sensitivity calculation using the UN’s method follows.
    However, since Pinker insists that it is the surface radiance that her paper addresses, one must of course use the Stefan-Boltzmann radiative-transfer equation to evaluate the temperature change corresponding to the change in radiance caused by the reduction in cloud cover. And that means just about zero climate sensitivity, which, within the usual error margins, is about the same as the 0.12 K/W/m2 that my previous method had calculated. The common-sense point, as I explained to the audience, is that with that amount of warming from a natural source there was not much room for CO2 to have made much of a contribution.”

    yrs Troll

  43. #45 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    Chris, defending Monckton? No way.

    Then what, pray tell, does “I find Lord Monckton more plausible” mean?

    BTW, how’s your reading on Monckton’s history going? Have you got to the part yet where it says:

    I (Tim Lambert) exchanged a few emails with Monckton. He conceded that:

    the 1421 claim was rubbish

    that the graph in his article was bogus (he said the the Telegraph insisted on its inclusion and that they were the ones who sexed it up)

    that Hansen did not predict temperature rise of 0.3 degrees and a sea level rise of a few feet by 2000

  44. #46 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Chris, nice, but no response to what I said? Did you think Tim came over as well?

  45. #47 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    As if he hadn’t been there already.

    Oh well, there was another blog he could have likely come from. Either way, he’s a friendly regurgitating troll.

  46. #48 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Monckton seems to be a colourful character. The SPPI blog looks good.

    Actually he reminds me a bit of Al Gore – another brilliant speaker.


  47. #49 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    Did you think Tim came over as well?

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t get past the part where you said:

    I find Lord Monckton more plausible.

    The credulousness is just staggering which you would soon realize if you started reading about Monckton’s history. Monckton’s history shows that he has no plausibility.

  48. #50 si
    February 23, 2010

    Chris, listen to the debate and discussion again, especially the question and answers.

    If you still think Tim came over better then fair enough.

    I dont have all the back story on Monckton that you have so maybe for you anything he says is implausible before he even says it. Ouch. A bit like us brits and the IPCC then.

  49. #51 Hasis
    February 23, 2010

    A bit like us brits and the IPCC then.

    Speak for yourself!

  50. #52 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    If you still think Tim came over better then fair enough.

    If I thought it was worth saying anything, I would have said it long ago. You are placing far too much importance on how they came over in a debate. If you want to find out something that really matters and avoid appearing credulous in the future, then stop wasting your time writing and start reading something about Monckton’s history of appalling false claims which he himself acknowledged were false in some cases.

    I dont have all the back story on Monckton that you have.

    Well it’s pretty easy to remedy that isn’t it?

  51. #53 Si
    February 23, 2010

    Chris, I take that as a ‘yes’ then. To be fair Tim is not as experienced at debating and he did better than people expected, I read here.

    I will certainly look at Monckton’s history (if I must) but so far he looks like a very entertaining guy – but like Tim he is not a climatologist.

  52. #54 Chris O'Neill
    February 23, 2010


    I will certainly look at Monckton’s history (if I must)

    No=one’s saying you’re not allowed to look credulous when you talk about Monckton. That’s entirely up to you.

  53. #55 Steve Short
    February 25, 2010

    Actually, following on from Tim’s comments to Monckton, clouds don’t only just block (reflect) incoming SW radiation and ‘block’ (reflect) upwards LW radiation.

    Most importantly they also lead, roughly pro rata, to rain or ice. This releases latent heat (LH) which has been lifted off the surface (BOA) by evaporation (E) or evapotranspiration (ET).

    It is very, very interesting to note that for the:

    * SW radiation absorbed in the atmosphere (call it F); and

    * Latent Heat released in the atmosphere by clouds (call it LH); and

    * Sensible Heat released in the atmosphere largely between clouds (call it SH); and

    * LW IR emitted from the surface which is absorbed in the atmosphere (call it AA just like the Miskolczi twit),

    * almost exactly 62.6% (of EACH) radiates back to BOA to be absorbed by the surface and almost exactly 37.4% (of EACH) radiates through TOA.

    Thus OLR = 0.374*(F+LH+SH+AA) + transmitted LW IR from BOA

    This seems to apply for at least the range of Bond Albedos between ~0.35 and ~0.25 i.e. cloud covers between ~86% and 46%.

    Only by ‘forcing’ this assumption can one match typical published all-sky SW cloud radiative forcings and their all-important rates of variation with cloud cover (~+1.0 W/m^2/%) and the equivalent typical published rate of LW cloud radiative forcing with cloud cover variation (~-0.6 W/m^2/%).

    Why? Perhaps the ratio 0.626:0.374 is, in effect a near constant geometric indication of the global average (radiatively effective) cloud height?

    All it then takes is a simple Excel spreadsheet and voila!

    Then, one only has to look at the variation in global average cloud cover between say 1983 and 2001 (warming) and between 2001 and 2010 (slight cooling) and suddenly all is revealed:

    Blows AGW right out of the water! Roy Spencer put his finger right on it on 9 January:

    Monckton is right, even if for the wrong reasons – it is the clouds.

    (spreadsheet provided free of charge).

  54. #56 V. infernalis
    February 28, 2010


    LOL – you must be psychic. Check out this comment at Andrew Bolt’s blog:

    “He used an out of context taped voice re-enactment to try to gloss over Monckton’s and Pinker’s essential agreement with one another but with a correction by Monckton as to where the flux was…”

  55. #57 V. infernalis
    February 28, 2010

    Even better, over at Joanne Nova’s blog:
    “After the debate, Lambert admitted it was not Pinker’s voice in the recording, and he appears to have had an acknowledgement of that in fine print on his slide used in the debate. But, he did not make it clear on the day, and many onlookers mistakenly thought it was Pinker speaking (like Lucia). Does this matter? Maybe; maybe not.”

  56. #58 Bud
    February 28, 2010

    infernalis – good spot, that’s both hilarious and depressing at the same time. I was half joking in #9. Clearly, that half of me gave Nova too much credit.

  57. #59 jakerman
    February 28, 2010

    Tim [discusses here]( the ground shifting and continued misrepresentations employed by Monckton’s supporters.