The Australian continues to express institutional contempt for science, scientists and the scientific method with a piece by Christopher Monckton
Graham Readfern has already commented on some of the errors in Monckton’s piece, but there are plenty more.
Cap-and-tax in Europe has been a wickedly costly fiasco. … Result: electricity prices have doubled. In the name of preventing global warming, many Britons are dying because they cannot afford to heat their homes.
It’s not hard to check this. The average annual bill for electricity in the UK increased from £285 in 2005 (when the EU ETS started) to £381 in 2010 (This is the cost of 3300 kWh of electricity). That’s a 34% increase, not a doubling. And even this increase cannot be attributed to the ETS. The cost of carbon emissions under the ETS has been about €20 per tonne of CO2. CO2 emissions for electricity are 0.41 kg/kWh so the annual cost for the electricity for an average household is 3.3×0.41×20=€27=£23. The actual cost might well be less than this if electricity producers were given some permits instead of having to buy them all. If Britons are dying because they can’t afford to heat their homes then its because the market has pushed prices up. And note that the increase in energy prices, much more than you got from cap and trade has not destroyed the economy as alarmists like Monckton said it would.
Cap and tax is as pointless as it is cruel. Australia accounts for 1.5 per cent of global carbon emissions. So if it cut its emissions, the warming forestalled would be infinitesimal.
If mitigation efforts keep the temperature increase by 2100 to 2 degrees instead of 5 degrees, then Australia’s share of this effort would be 1.5% of 3, or 0.045 degrees. But does Monckton really think that Australia could get away with freeloading on the efforts of other countries?
Monckton then presents some calculations that come up with a lower number. We should give him credit for showing his work, though he then loses it all and then some for all the mistakes he makes.
Suppose the Australian committee’s aim is to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2050. Anything more ambitious would shut Australia down
A 20% cut by 2050 is inadequate. Something like 80% is required, and this would not involve shutting Australia down.
A 20 per cent cut by 2050 is an average 10 per cent cut from now until then. Carbon dioxide concentration by 2050 probably won’t exceed 506 parts per million by volume, from which we deduct today’s concentration of 390 ppmv. So humankind might add 116 ppmv from now until then.
The CO2 concentration increase forestalled by 40 years of cap-and-tax in Australia would be 10 per cent of 1.5 per cent of that 116 ppmv, or just 0.174 ppmv. So in 2050 CO2 concentration would be – tell it not in Gath and Ashkelon – 505.826 ppmv, not 506.
The comparison should be with the case of increasing emissions. Monckton’s assumes that if no mitigation efforts are made emissions would stay constant, when in fact they would increase. Gath and Ashkelon were two of the Philistines’ cities, and no, Monckton’s reference to them makes little sense.
Thus what we maths wonks call the proportionate change in CO2 concentration if the committee got its way would be 505.826 divided by 506, or 0.9997. The UN says warming or cooling, in Celsius degrees, is 3.7 to 5.7 times the logarithm of the proportionate change.
Monckton is not a “maths wonk” — he studied classics at university and has no background in maths. The UN does not say that the temperature change will be 3.7 to 5.7 times the logarithm of the proportionate change. The usual convention is to express the change as the amount of warming from doubling the CO2 concentration, Monckton’s 3.7-5.7 is the warming from increasing the concentration be a factor of e. If we multiply his numbers by log 2 to convert to the convention, you get a range of 2.5-4 degrees. In fact, the IPCC says the range is 2-4.5 degrees.
It expects only 57 per cent of manmade warming to occur by 2100: the rest would happen slowly and harmlessly across 1000-3000 years.
I suppose we should be grateful that Monckton has at last learned the warming doesn’t happen all at once, but he’s still got it wrong. The warming takes decades, not millenia, and by 2100 pretty well all of the warming from CO2 released up until 2050 will have arrived.
To be charitable to the committee, let us take the UN’s high-end estimate. The warming forestalled by cutting Australia’s emissions would be very unlikely to exceed 57 per cent of 5.7 times the logarithm of 0.9997: that is – wait for it – a dizzying one-thousandth of a degree by 2050.
To summarize: Monckton made five separate errors in his calculations and they all went in the direction of favouring his argument. What are the odds?
Monckton then produces a whole list of “facts” that are supposed to show that the world isn’t warming. These “facts” are either wrong or misleading.
Satellite datasets show last year was not the warmest on record.
This is wrong and misleading. It is wrong because the satellite report from UAH says that 2010 was in a statistical tie with 1998 for warmest year do the data does not show that it couldn’t be the warmest year. It is misleading because the best way to judge whether the world is warming is to look at trends, rather than individual years. The trend is clearly warming, no mater what data you use.
It was not the least snow-covered year but the most snow-covered
This is wrong. Snow cover has been declining and 2010 had less snow than the average for the past 40 years.
a largely unreported gain in Antarctic sea ice since 1979 almost matches the widely reported loss of Arctic sea ice.
This is wrong. There has been a small increase in Antarctic sea ice, but it comes nowhere near to matching the decrease in the Arctic.
Nor is sea level rising fast. It has risen at the rate of just 0.3m a century since satellites measured it reliably in 1993, under a quarter of the average rate during the past 11,400 years. The Greens don’t believe their own whining about sea level: their Hobart office is just metres from the “dangerously” rising ocean.
This is misleading. If you look at a graph you’ll see what Monckton’s average conceals: there was rapid sea level rise 10,000 years ago as the ice sheets melted, but then sea level stabilized and hadn’t risen for 2,000 years until we started warming the planet by putting CO2 in the atmosphere.
As for his argument about the Greens’ Hobart office — it shows that there is nothing too ridiculous for The Australian to print. The sea level rise isn’t going to happen next week, but over the next century. The Greens can move their office, but the owners of the building can’t move the building.
Nor do most scientists believe man-made global warming will be catastrophic. Most are not climate scientists and take no view, and only a few climatologists have published on the central question how much warming there will be.
Of these, the researchers using measurement and observation rather than modelling have shown that much of the radiation the models say should be warming the surface is escaping to space as before.
This is wrong. Measurement and observation shows that climate sensitivity is about 3 degrees for a doubling of CO2. I explained this in my debate with Monckton, but it just won’t sink in.
The missing heat energy imagined by the models but not present as warming in the past decade is not lurking in the oceans;
This is wrong. The oceans are warming.
and the entire warming of the late 20th century can easily be explained without blaming man.
This is wrong. See figure 4 of the IPCC WG1 Summary for Policy Makers. The blue bands show temperature changes modelled using only natural forcings, while the red bands include anthropogenic forcings as well. The black line shows observations. Clearly, we must include anthropogenic forcings if we want to match the observations.
Now if all these arguments were new, we could perhaps excuse The Australian for publishing so many falsehoods. But Monckton has been making variations of these false claims for years and its easy to find corrections from knowledgeable people. The Australian, it would seem, just doesn’t care in the slightest about the accuracy of the material it prints.