Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Monckton's Tale, a chronology

UPDATE: There's more folks

Since this has already gotten out of hand Eli, glass of wine in paw, provides a chronology for all who can't get a date on Saturday Night. We set the stage with the three links from the Forum on Physics and Society of the American Physical Society that touched off the storm.

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Editors' Comments by Jeffrey Marque and Alvin Saperstein

With this issue of Physics & Society, we kick off a debate concerning one of the main conclusions of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body which, together with Al Gore, recently won the Nobel Prize for its work concerning climate change research. There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion. This editor (JJM) invited several people to contribute articles that were either pro or con. Christopher Monckton responded with this issue's article that argues against the correctness of the IPCC conclusion, and a pair from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, David Hafemeister and Peter Schwartz, responded with this issue's article in favor of the IPCC conclusion. We, the editors of P&S, invite reasoned rebuttals from the authors as well as further contributions from the physics community. Please contact me (jjmarque@sbcglobal.net) if you wish to jump into this fray with comments or articles that are scientific in nature. However, we will not publish articles that are political or polemical in nature. Stick to the science! (JJM)
A Tutorial on the Basic Physics of Climate Change by David Hafemeister & Peter Schwartz
Abstract: In this paper, we have used several basic atmospheric–physics models to show that additional carbon dioxide will warm the surface of Earth. We also show that observed solar variations cannot account for observed global temperature increase.
Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered by Christopher Monckton

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions probably caused more than half of the “global warming” of the past 50 years and would cause further rapid warming. However, global mean surface temperature has not risen since 1998 and may have fallen since late 2001. The present analysis suggests that the failure of the IPCC’s models to predict this and many other climatic phenomena arises from defects in its evaluation of the three factors whose product is climate sensitivity:

  1. Radiative forcing ΔF;
  2. The no-feedbacks climate sensitivity parameter κ; and
  3. The feedback multiplier ƒ.

Some reasons why the IPCC’s estimates may be excessive and unsafe are explained. More importantly, the conclusion is that, perhaps, there is no “climate crisis”, and that currently-fashionable efforts by governments to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions are pointless, may be ill-conceived, and could even be harmful.

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The Beg Pardoner's Tale

Update: Steve Bloom in the comments, points out that the July 2008 issue index page now has the following statement from the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society

The Forum on Physics and Society is a place for discussion and disagreement on scientific and policy matters. Our newsletter publishes a combination of non- peer- reviewed technical articles, policy analyses, and opinion. All articles and editorials published in the newsletter solely represent the views of their authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Forum Executive Committee.

The FPS Executive Committee strongly endorses the position of the APS Council that "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate." The statement in the July 2008 edition of our newsletter, Physics and Society that, "There is considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution" does not represent the views of the Executive Committee of the Forum on Physics and Society.

Both the Hafemeister & Schwartz and the Monckton article currently have the following paragraph at the top as do all the papers in the July 2008 issue of the Forum since July 20.
The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review, since that is not normal procedure for American Physical Society newsletters. The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: "Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate."
The original text was
“The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions.”
Which brought a letter from Monckton to Arthur Bienenstock, President of the American Physical Society demanding (press release at SPPI)
Please either remove the offending red-flag text at once or let me have the name and qualifications of the member of the Council or advisor to it who considered my paper before the Council ordered the offending text to be posted above my paper; a copy of this rapporteur’s findings and ratio decidendi; the date of the Council meeting at which the findings were presented; a copy of the minutes of the discussion; and a copy of the text of the Council’s decision, together with the names of those present at the meeting. If the Council has not scientifically evaluated or formally considered my paper, may I ask with what credible scientific justification, and on whose authority, the offending text asserts primo, that the paper had not been scientifically reviewed when it had; secundo, that its conclusions disagree with what is said (on no evidence) to be the “overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community”; and, tertio, that “The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article’s conclusions”? Which of my conclusions does the Council disagree with, and on what scientific grounds (if any)?
Monckton also included a copy of the revisions suggested by the Forum Newletter editor, APS also put the following text on its front page for a few days
The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: 'Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate.
Bienenstock replied via a form letter to those sending him missives
As Lord Monckton points out in his covering letter to me, “Most revisions were intended to clarify for physicists who were not climatologists the method by which the IPCC evaluates climate sensitivity – a method which the IPCC does not itself clearly or fully explain.”

That is, the review was an editorial review for a newsletter, and not the substantive scientific peer review required for publication in our journals. No attempt was made to analyze the scientific substance of the article and no censoring was performed. As indicated above and in Lord Monckton’s letter to me, the article appears in the form agreed upon by Lord Monckton.

and Monckton once again graciously replied
Please provide the requested apology without any further mendacity, prevarication, evasion, excuse, or delay.
New Scientist quotesAl Saperstein one of editors of Physics & Society
He stressed that that the article was not sent to anyone for peer-reviewing. Saperstein himself edited it. "I'm a little ticked off that some people have claimed that this was peer-reviewed," he said. "It was not."
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The Summoner's Tale

Robert Ferguson of the Science and Public Policy Institute issues a press release about Monckton's paper. This gets picked up several places, including Daily Tech from which it wends it way to the Drudge Report and goes virial.

UPDATE: John Mashey in the comments describes the prequel, some of which you can find decorating the Nude Scientist
In April, the newsletter ran an article by retired nuclear physicist Gerald Marsh. Marsh argued that solar variations play a major role in the Earth's climate, one which overrides human emissions of greenhouse gases. According to Marsh, future changes in the solar cycle could bring on the next ice age.

Following on Marsh's paper, Saperstein and his co-editor decided to "put both sides of the debate out". He emphasises that the newsletter does not publish science, but reflections on how science impacts society - an odd statement given that the newsletter is full of all the trappings of research papers, graphs, equations and the like. . . .

The editors put out a request for articles arguing "both sides of the debate." They also asked Gerald Marsh to recommend authors who might contribute a piece arguing against the IPCC.

Marsh gave five names, and the editors contacted all five. Monckton was the only one to respond.
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The Tim Smiths' Tale


Demurrals to Monckton's claims begin to appear. Perhaps the first came from Tim Lambert of Deltoid (and also here and here), Duae Quartunciae (Steve Bloom made a comment in Deltoid that was picked up) and Gavin Schmidt of Real Climate

Monckton replied to Schmidt's arguments at SPPI. In the meantime. . . .

Arthur Smith had written a critique of Monckton's article and sent it to the Forum on Physics and Society, and also sent it to Monckton. Monckton went ballistic, and posted a reply at SPPI which quoted Smith's manuscript in full, a copyright no, no. You can read the rest at Rabett Run starting here and going there. We do lack Monckton's side of the correspondence, but, dear bunnies, you can imagine. . . .

And you can read Arthur Smith's detailed analysis here

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UPDATE: There's more folks

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The American Physical Society reaffirms the following position on climate change, adopted by its governing body, the APS Council, on November 18, 2007: 'Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate.

That says very little.

If greenhouse gases led to a 0.00001 deg C change in near surface air temp, that would qualify as a "way that affects the Earth's climate" -- but it would be essentially meaningless.

The APS acts as if the reaffirmation of that position is somehow support for the scientific consensus on greenhouse induced climate change when nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, notwithstanding their implication, their re-affirmation is entirely consistent with their printing of the Monckton piece.

APS is essentially hiding behind a facade of support for the mainstream scientific position.

They want to have it both ways: host a "debate" on the science and at the same time make it appear that they are not really debating the science at all.

It is very dishonest on their part.

Steve Bloom said...

It is very dishonest? No. The commenter is an idiot, rather. That quoted bit is just the first sentence of the statement. The stupid, it burns.

Steve Bloom said...

Eli, the P&S Forum Executive Committee's own reasonably strong statement has gotten little mention. It's at the top of the July issue index page.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

I said, you said, he said, she said, they said.

Not only is this particular 'debate' -- and similar 'debates' -- totally confusing, it's also completely useless and inconsequential. Maybe that's what the inactivists want?

Why doesn't Monckton just go ahead and sue Al Gore and James Hansen like he threatened to? Once more, I urge everyone to sign The "Sue Us" Petition to get Monckton et al. to sue Gore and Hansen.

Jules said...

at anonymous

the APS position can be read here : http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

it clearly states :
The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

i guess the problem why this nonsense has been published lies more at the side of one or more editors who apparantly weren't fully aware of the scientific consensus that GW is considered to be proven. Or just like throwing oil on the flames to heat up the debate.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected about the statement above being only part of their full statement on global warming.

But unfortunately, even their full statement is hardly an endorsement of the IPCC findings.

I think part of the problem is that the APS worded their statement in such a way that it would be palatable to the max number of their members and that made it somewhat "weak" in comparison to the actual scientific consensus) and left it open to use by some of those members in a way that violated the spirit if not the letter of the statement.

I'd bet that the editor(s) who printed the Monckton piece were quite aware of the consensus on climate science.

EliRabett said...

Thanks Steve. Do you (or anyone) have an idea when that was place on the index page??

Anonymous said...

It is dawning on Lord Monckton that this is his gazpacho soup moment.
--cf

John Mashey said...

Over at RealClimate, you might review:
#16, #20, #26, #37, #68, #223 in
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/07/once-more-unto-the-bray

Also see the accurate story:
http://www.newscientist.com/blog/environment/2008/07/now-will-you-publish-my-paper-showing.html

Putting the pieces together, it is virtually certain that the way this happened was:

1) Gerald Marsh, an retired nuclear physicist, APS Fellow and frequent contributor to FPS newsletter, has done a multi-year campaign of contrarian pieces, not in peer-reviewed journals, but in OpEds, letters, etc. RC #68 and #223 enumerate the list of those I could find.

2) The previous (April) issue of the FPS newsletter:

http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/200804/index.cfm

contained OK pieces by Williams, Wilson, and Makhijani, a well as a favorable review of Joe Romm's book "Hell and High Water". I.e., FPS is *not* a contrarian -dominated newsletter.

It did have Gerald Marsh's:

"Climate Stability and Policy", which argued that an ice age was of mroe concern, and had a lot of discussions about *climate sensitivity.*

[Nuclear physicists sometimes get interested in climate change from the "If we have to cut down on CO2, nuclear power is part of the answer" view. Let's not debate that here, but it's a connection.]

3) The FPS editors *clearly* have no particular expertise at climate science.

4) The New Scientist story, describes what happened:

"The editors put out a request for articles arguing "both sides of the debate." They also asked Gerald Marsh to recommend authors who might contribute a piece arguing against the IPCC.

Marsh gave five names, and the editors contacted all five. Monckton was the only one to respond."

Hence, the editors got a list of names (I'd love to see that!) from an APS Fellow they knew. I'd speculate that some names were known to them, but some not, and they just assumed they were a bunch of physicists known to Marsh.

I wouldn't be surprised if Monckton got a "Dear Dr Monckton ... please write for us" email, which must have made his day.

5) Ferguson & Monckton got ready to put up notes on SPPI, the same day as FPS publication. APS-NES Editor Larry Gould gave them a supportive quote, which for a while led me to think wrongly that was the connection:
http://uhaweb.hartford.edu/LGOULD/

6) SO:
contrarian APS Fellow Marsh, known to editors

editors not expert in this turf

eager Monckton

7) Check out Marsh & Gould.

David B. Benson said...

"Souper!"

Steve Bloom said...

Eli, IIRC that statement went up near the start of the controversy, at the same time or within a day or two of when the original red-font disclaimer was inserted in the Monckton pdf. The first paragraph may have been pre-existing boilerplate.

Steve Bloom said...

Here's the full statement, anon:

"Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

"Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases."

Making allowance for its brevity, exactly how is it weaker? "Incontrovertible" is *stronger* than the IPCC. Note also the policy prescriptions which go beyond the IPCC.

Anonymous said...

Steve:

The incontrovertible refers to "global warming".

That seems weaker to me than the IPCC statement that there is a high probability (>90%) that humans have been the cause of most of the recent global warming.

The stupid may burn, but I think one has to look askance at some of these statements by "organization councils" because they are meant to represent a broad spectrum of member views and are often written specifically to mean different things to different people.

Some may read "the evidence for global warming is incontrovertible" as "the evidence for AGW is incontrovertible", but that's not what it says.

As you well know, there are lots of 'skeptics" around who accept that the earth has warmed in the recent past. They just don't accept the IPCC's claims that humans have caused most of it.

And as far as the APS statement urging action, they do not say how much.

"The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases."

I'd say nearly everyone is for actions that will reduce emissions. (eg, through efficiency increases.)

Again, the disagreement is in the details.

Dano said...

Dano calls anon's argumentation "argumentum ad quibbleum". That is: quibbleicious.

Son, folk tried your tactic years ago. It was addressed, resoundingly refuted, and put to bed. You are recycling a long-refuted argument. This would be very embarrassing at a party, board meeting, or any face-to-face gathering.

HTH.

Best,

D

guthrie said...

Is anonymous 9:51am making a Red Dwarf reference? Yes, I can see the simliarities between Monckton and a certain character...

guthrie said...

Is anonymous 9:51am making a Red Dwarf reference? Yes, I can see the simliarities between Monckton and a certain character...

Anonymous said...

So everyone's hyping their conclusions to some extent; opinions as facts. What else is new?

OTOH stating that organisms have an effect upon their environment is stating the obvious, no?

Joe P.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... The Alarmists Are Just As Bad... Om... Om... Om... Om... Om... Om...

The same old mantra deserves the same old response.