Monckton's "selective quotation and misrepresentation"

Mike Steketee bucks the groupthink at The Australian with an article on why it is necessary to adapt to the coming global warming. Christopher Monckton responds with a Gish gallop of 24 points where he alleges Steketee got it wrong. Steketee's response is devasting: again and again and again he shows that Monckton misrepresented what Steketee wrote. Even Andrew "confirmation bias" Bolt, after at first being convinced that Monckton had shown Steketee to be wrong, was compelled to concede that Monckton had verballed Steketee. Though I'm sure Bolt will believe with all his heart and all his soul the next silly claim that Monckton makes.

Let me pick up on one of Monckton's claims. I picked this one because I thought that Monckton had scored a point and I was writing something to that effect when I want back and checked what Steketee had written and discovered that Monckton had misrepresented him again. Monckton claims that Steketee stated:

  1. EVEN IF GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS WERE TO STABILIZE AT LITTLE MORE THAN TODAY'S LEVELS, 2 C° OF FURTHER WARMING WILL OCCUR - FOUR TIMES THE INCREASE OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS.

Monckton then proceeds to calculate the equilibrium warming if CO2 was kept at current levels of 390 ppm. His calculations are a bit off, but it is generally agreed that there is about 0.5 of a degree of warming in the pipeline even if CO2 levels don't increase any more.

I thought Monckton had a point here, but look at what Steketee actually wrote:

Even if the world achieved what so far has proved beyond it - a mechanism to stabilise greenhouse emissions at 450 parts per million of CO2 - global temperatures still will rise by an estimated 2C; that is, four times the increase that has occurred in the past 30 years.

Steketee specifically said 450 ppm. There is simply no excuse for Monckton to pretend that Steketee said 390 ppm. If climate sensitivity is 3 degrees for a doubling of CO2 (the IPCC's best estimate), then stablising at 450 ppm will result in 3*log2(450/280) = 2 degrees C, just as Steketee said.

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I think Steketee may have not been clear enough. The two degrees is compared to the pre-industrial level, reading Steketee's comment will suggest to some that there will be a further 2 degree rise. I read it that way the first time, and only after your comment did I see the possibility to read it differently.

Let's give Monckton half a point there, doesn't change much in the overall conclusion. And one that should surprise no one: Monckton is a serial distorter.

The Gish Gallop "works" again for Monckton. Changing Steketee's stabilising value like that made himself sound reasonable for 15 minutes longer than he deserved to be.

If we stabilise emissions at current levels, won't the amount measured in ppm in the atmosphere keep increasing?

Oh, I know it's a nitpick, but, words. We need to sharply reduce emissions to stabilise, even at 450ppm.

> I think Steketee may have not been clear enough.

That's the thing with psychos like Monkey. You can NEVER be clear enough for that barnpot.

No matter how blatant and foolish Monckton's distortions become--even to the point the pathologically credulous Bolt must publicly acknowledge them--deniers will continue to believe him because he stays on message. He's their boy.

The credibility of the chief denier oracles is invulnerable to their own gaffs, as far as the spear carriers are concerned. One of Bolt's commenters waived away the admission that Monckton had been caught out because Bolt didn't admit Munchie was lying in all his comments. That is the credibility standard for the denier side one must deal with in conversing with such people.

Things are looking pretty grim for the Loony Lord when even Andrew Bolt concedes that his critique was off the mark.

But as pointed out @6 above, Bolt's most feverish supporters are so supremely idiotic that it doesn't make any difference anyway. Logging onto the internet should require a short and simple IQ test. That would slash the number of silly supporting comments on Bolt's pages.

Mocton is a Liar.
Mocton is a Liar.
Mocton is a Liar.
Mocton is a Liar.
Mocton is a Liar.
Mocton is a Liar.
Mocton is a Liar.
Now he can sue me...
Why has nobody followed up on his threats and shut him down?

I notice that in several places Monckton's quotes are outright fabrications. He's trying to replace Steketee with a strawman. Even the title of his article - "2010 was the warmest year on record" (including the quotes) - shows this in action. With the quotes, you'd naturally assume Monckton is quoting Steketee, and the very first sentence of Monckton's piece makes this explicit. Of course, Steketee simply never makes that claim, or anything that looks like it. Monckton is quoting a strawman; either he has excruciatingly poor reading comprehension skills (which would be unfortunate, because his only actual qualifications are in journalism and literature), or he's lying.

Bolt may have decided that Monckton went a bit too far, but his commenters certainly didn't. Their contention appears to be that Steketee was too nuanced in his position! (Steketee is certainly very careful to reflect the scientific consensus without overstating it.)

You can see how this works, can't you? All this nuance is against the rules, because it makes a mockery of attempts to portray Steketee as "alarmist". He's not allowed to say all that nuanced stuff because it makes him unfairly correct. No, he should only be allowed to make grand simplistic generalisations, so that he can then be torn down and laughed at, as is good and proper.

But wait, it gets worse!

Today Bolt claims the "warmists" failed to predict these rains.

His proof: the 2007 CSIRO/BOM Technical report on climate change:

"The CSIROâs global warming models in 2007 certainly predicted less rain, not more:

5.2.1 Median precipitation change by 2030

Best estimates of annual precipitation change represent little change in the far north and decreases of 2% to 5% elsewhere. Decreases of around 5% prevail in winter and spring, particularly in the south-west where they reach 10%. In summer and autumn decreases are smaller and there are slight increases in the eastâ¦

By 2050, under the B1 scenario, the range of annual precipitation change is -15% to +7.5% in central, eastern and northern areas, with a best estimate of little change in the far north grading southwards to a decrease of 5%.

The range of change in southern areas is from a 15% decrease to little change, with best estimate of around a 5% decrease. Under the A1FI scenario changes in precipitation are larger. The range of annual precipitation change is -20% to +10% in central, eastern and northern areas, with a best estimate of little change in the far north grading to around a 7.5% decrease elsewhere."

But here is the real kicker: the CSIRO report makes predicitons for 2030, 2050 and 2070 not 2010.

It is about long term trends, using the IPCC models to make various predictions under different emissions pathways.

It is not intended as a weather forecast for the next six months!

Andrew Bolt does not even understand what he is reading.

Mocton is a Liar. Mocton is a Liar. Mocton is a Liar. Mocton is a Liar. Mocton is a Liar. Mocton is a Liar. Mocton is a Liar. Now he can sue me... Why has nobody followed up on his threats and shut him down?

Actually, only someone called Mocton can sue you. Monckton on the other hand gets away scott free (once again).

> Andrew Bolt does not even understand what he is reading.

He probably understands perfectly well. But like any good hack, he knows how to concoct a story from nothing.

@8.

Brilliant, Ian. A cartoon diatribe which launches almost immediately into an attack on so-called "liberals", followed by the grand conspiracy theory of hundreds of scientists from different countries, followed by the wonderful old "Al Gore is the anti-christ" chestnut, followed by all insults possible towards anyone with any so-called "green" tendencies.

Nah, it's not politically motivated bullcrap, do you you think?

Anyway, if it helps you believe I'm not a greenie, I just emptied my large recycle bin into the sewer. So now I can proudly say I don't fall for all that greenie rubbish, right?

At least I've confirmed IanP is not really Ian Plimer. He is not silly enough to watch that vid and seriously believe it explains anything (unless he's actually well advanced into the process of totally losing his mind).

Mike @14 "Ian Plimer ... is not silly enough ..."

If you can stomach it here is Plimer with Tony Jones on Lateline in December 2009 (5 minute clip):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPenmY5kYcc
or read the transcript of the full nauseating encounter here:
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2009/s2772906.htm

So is Plimer "silly"? - the word doesn't begin to describe that contemptible performance or his bad character generally.

> Andrew Bolt does not even understand what he is reading.

>> He probably understands perfectly well. But like any good hack, he knows how to concoct a story from nothing.

Well, in that case, he should join Robyn '100 metres' Williams and Clive 'Talk to your Daddy' Hamilton over at the ABC.

By Rick Bradford (not verified) on 12 Jan 2011 #permalink

Shorter Rick:

My hero Bolt was wrong? LOOK OVER THERE.

Robyn '100 metres' Williams

That's another great example of how Bolt operates.

Williams never claimed that sea levels would rise 100m. Bolt himself explicitly put that notion on the table and then challenged Williams face-to-face to accept or reject it. Williams simply said "It is possible, yes", and was then cut off by Bolt before he could finish explaining why.

Anyone with a modicum of honesty ought to be able to distinguish "it is possible" from "it is true". By contrast, Bolt's own explanation of the proceedings is an eye-watering spectacle little short of character assassination. (I suppose he was looking to stay on the front foot, having been caught out misrepresenting the findings of Williams' other guest Jeffrey Severinghaus.)

@15, yeah frankis, calling Plimer "not silly" was probably a tad over-optimistic on my part. ;)

He is, if you'll allow me to understate it somewhat, a bit nutty.

Stabilizing at 390 ppm would result in 1.4 degrees C over being at 280ppm, so you had better still include "over the start of the industrial revolution*" or people will think "in the upcoming years." Sticking at 390ppm this second (cutting our output of carbon by at least half) would guarantee about 1 deg F in the upcoming years, but we're already warm compared to before we started dumping carbon, by about 3-4 deg. F. And we'd have to drastically cut emissions to stabilize at any level, and the higher the level, the less help we get from the sinks. And the 450 would take us up 0.6 degrees C (1 deg. F) over what we have now.

Pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels hovered around 280 ppm until 1850

Carbon Dioxide, Methane Rise Sharply in 2007 NOAA

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 12 Jan 2011 #permalink

Steketee's confusion of emissions and levels aside (a conceptual error he actually could have been nailed for), 450 ppm would be a disaster. See Hansen on this point. The changes we already see are a hint.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 12 Jan 2011 #permalink

I agree with Marco. At first I interpreted the words of Steketee as saying we will experience a 'further' 2°C warming, not a total warming (since pre-industrial).

I wonder if Monckton contacted Steketee before publishing his story. Seeing this glaring error, obviously not. Monckton always gets furious about opponents rebutting his stories without first contacting him for comments before publishing. Oh, the hypocrisy!

Btw, does anyone know how the defamation lawsuit against John Abraham is progressing?

By Anne van der Bom (not verified) on 12 Jan 2011 #permalink

Has Lord Monckton ever made an accurate and substantial observation about global warming, climate change or ocean acidification or their causes without missrepresenting the workl of others, fabricating evidence to support his position, or telling downright lies?

By Mike Pope (not verified) on 13 Jan 2011 #permalink

Over at Skeptical Science we're about to start publishing a series of rebuttals of Monckton's errors in his response to Steketee. I had originally thought Monckton had this point right, until you noted that his seemingly correct argument was based on a strawman.

I think I'll probably be writing the rebuttal to this particular point, and I'll link to your post when I do.

You can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps....

... and on 22 January Monckton will be in Dublin attending a [Thought and Action Truth Agenda Conference](http://thoughtactioneire.blogspot.com/2010/12/truth-agenda.html).

Speakers include Jim Corr (once of The Corrs), a '9/11 Truther', Conspiracy Theorist and mini-David Icke; and [William Engdahl](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Engdahl) who apparently believes petroleum is geological rather than biological in origin. The other speakers seem to hold some pretty unconventional views as well.

By lord_sidcup (not verified) on 17 Jan 2011 #permalink

I'm pretty sure Steketee is being underhanded here. I think he getting advice from someone who actually understands climate science. That has to be cheating! Go on Andrew Bolt, you should investigate quick smart and find out just how Mike knows so much. The skeptical blogosphere will give you a sainthood if you can expose this scandal.

By John Brookes (not verified) on 27 Jan 2011 #permalink