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Christopher Monckton & climate



Christopher Monckton, the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and the science adviser to the most famous British PM of the last 50 years, is quite an amazing character. He is one of the aristocratic treasures of the British empire. He is known to his wider family as "Mr Knowledge". More importantly, many fans of puzzles know him because of his Eternity puzzle from 1999. The first solver of the new Eternity II puzzle that was released in July 2007, will receive 2 million dollars, more than ever before.



He has also decided to dedicate a lot of time to a widely discussed "scientific problem" and to look at the evidence behind the popular theory of the so-called "global warming" a bit more carefully. The results of his work were reported in The Telegraph:

His conclusions more or less mimic the conclusions of a vast majority of those people whom I know and whose IQ exceeds 120, who are able to think critically and apolitically, and who have looked at the technical aspects of this whole set of ideas: the "global warming" paradigm is based on roughly 10 hypotheses about the climate and its interaction with the humankind. For the policies derived from these hypotheses to be wise, more or less all of these hypotheses must be simultaneously satisfied.




However, one half of these hypotheses are almost certainly untrue, one third of them is very unlikely, and the rest is unproven. The "global warming paradigm" is supported by downright false statements about the scientific opinions of the actual scientists; unjustified negligence of the natural variability in comparison with the recent trends; negligence of the influence of solar dynamics, cosmic rays, and other effects; unrealistic estimates about the influence of higher temperatures on life and humanity and the sign of this effect; overestimates of the capability of the recently proposed regulating mechanisms to change the overall climate dynamics; wrong calculations of the costs and benefits; unjustifiable application of the so-called precautionary principle.

In other words, the whole framework known as "global warming" is not holding too much water.

Monckton's article "Apocalypse cancelled" is filled with a lot of graphs - current temperature graphs, temperature reconstructions, calculations of the sensitivity etc. - references, and analyses of the scientific work. Some minor errors probably occured in his text and some of them were pointed out by the readers: for example, Lord Monckton chose the units of "Watts per squared meter and second" for the flux. ;-) Nevertheless, they can hardly change anything about Monckton's qualitative conclusions: it is incredibly unlikely that the whole ideology behind the recently proposed international policies can be supported by a comprehensive rational or even scientific justification. And incidentally, the dominant motivation behind these policies is probably the dream of certain people to create a world government.

Most people whom I consider to be respectable mainstream climate scientists - Richard Lindzen, Hans von Storch, and several others - would probably think that Monckton has offered a legitimate viewpoint on this whole set of issues that can be viewed as an informed outsider's unusually qualified zeroth approximation how to think about the climate and its interactions with the mankind.

But there exists a certain rather aggressive class of people who find Monckton's analysis to be a very inconvenient truth, if I can use the words of one of them, much like any other analysis whose conclusions are just a little bit similar. The heretics who carry these "dangerous" opinions must be attacked, destroyed, silenced, and removed. Their comments at all blogs controlled by the nice, progressive believers in the global warming must be erased because the Earth, if not the Universe or even the multiverse, is at stake. Needless to say, this also applies to all of my comments at Cosmic Variance.

If you open news.google.com, you will find about 16,800 articles with the keyword "global warming" that were published during the last 30 days or so in sufficiently important media. That's more than 1000 times more than the number of silly articles attacking string theory - and even the number of silly recent articles attacking string theory was higher by more than one order of magnitude than what it should have been. ;-) Several months ago, the number of the "global warming" hits was below 10,000. (Yes, a fraction of this increase is due to a larger ensemble of the sources included in the search engine.) The hysteria is clearly getting more and more serious.

This hysteria occurs at the same time when the climate is cooling from 2005, the number of Atlantic hurricanes has dropped by 70 percent from the previous year, and most of the evidence for an "exceptional global warming" such as the "hockey stick graph" is being debunked by the scientific panel of the National Academy of Sciences, another panel ordered by the U.S. lawmakers, and by other scientists.

This hysteria clearly doesn't depend on science in any substantial way. If you look at these 16,800 articles, most of them are nothing else than pure crap. They offer ever crazier catastrophic predictions and ever more insane ideas how to fight with the alleged "problem" to ever less educated and ever more manipulable readers who are exerting ever more irrational pressure on the politicians. The articles blame ever more unrelated events on the global warming. The current standard is that every person who dies under the sunny skies was killed by the global warming; however, the newspapers are always very careful not to mention the climate when they write about the 25,000 Britons who froze in 2005, among dozens of similar examples.

The ecoactivists are suing the U.S. president (30 minutes ago). Various politicians want to create new committees and policies to feel even more important and attractive for the environmentalist activists than they have ever been and other politicians are doing the same thing because they are just scared by these loud and obnoxious ecoterrorists and their semi-serious allies who have literally flooded the universities, companies, and newspapers.

Both second class as well as third class scientists are presenting their irrational views on the climate that have nothing to do with their actual research. It is described how it is important to exterminate or at least eliminate all the "skeptics" who are surely being uniformly paid by the evil oil corporations. The skeptics are painted as a fringe negligible minority; nevertheless they seem capable to halt the whole international movement to fight against the "climate change".

These articles are being written by thousands of journalists who are either intellectually challenged so that they can't figure out that what they write makes no sense, or they are heavily influenced by their personal interest to be interesting, important, and to produce a lot of fictitious "stories" because these "stories" are sold well - especially to the least demanding readers. These stories are also easy to write down and it doesn't matter whether they're completely unsubstantiated because thousands of other, similarly corrupt journalists are writing the very same things so there is never any reason to be worried or to feel guilty: the group-think also acts as a nearly perfect group-shield. In many cases, the journalists suffer of both of the problems mentioned above and several more.

Mark Trodden vs Lord Monckton

I was just saddened when I learned that Mark Trodden decided to criticize science journalism but instead of criticizing those 16,800 junk articles produced every month, he decided to join a person named George Monbiot and attack the work of Lord Monckton, a rare example of a a relatively thoughtful climate reporting. We must ask: has the situation deterioated so far that we would be willing to accept people like Mr. Monbiot into our discourse, Mark? Do professors from the universities really have to use this brand of unreasonable and politically twisted writers in our blog articles to make a point even though the word "point" could be a kind of exaggeration in Mark's case?

When you search for "moonbat", you will find dozens of completely insane articles with the same kind of content written by this Gentleman.

  • To save the planet, bring back Byers
  • America's war on itself
  • The chief scientific adviser has become a government spin doctor
  • Behind the spin, the oil giants are more dangerous than ever
  • Faced with this crisis

and lots of others. In his newest anti-Monckton diatribe, it is extremely hard to find any idea. He starts by whining that the readers have assertively pointed out that Monbiot had not been right. If I didn't think that the readers were right on the money, I would feel compassion towards Monbiot. Then he gets political, personal, and as soon as it seems that he would be discussing the Stefan-Boltzmann law, something that Mark is expected to know much like I am, he refers to the authority (?) of Gavin Schmidt who doesn't say anything meaningful either except for some random "holy" figures that sound better than Monckton's figures.

Mark Trodden also promotes Gavin Schmidt and we learn that one of the reasons is that they have drunk alcoholic beverages together. The fact that Mark has no rational reason to trust Gavin's words is so flagrantly obvious that even some of his closest readers had to remind Mark that he can hardly hide this fact.

Is there anything wrong about their having common political goals and about their sharing of the alcoholic beverages? As long as they don't drink gasoline, everything is probably fine from their, somewhat distorted, moral viewpoint. They are always superior over the skeptics, aren't they? This is an important part of their definition of moral values.

The only "argument" I noticed in this section was that the temperature increase looks smaller than it should be because the huge increase will surely be delayed and this strangely sounding statement is correct because the Earth is not at the equilibrium. I simply can't believe that Mark Trodden is unable to determine that this "argument" is pure rubbish. According to all the data that is available to me, Mark Trodden is just dishonest because he must see that that Monbiot's article is nothing that could be, even remotely, called a meaningful reply to Christopher Monckton's 40 pages of a rather thoughtful, data-based technical analysis. He just relies on the fact that there are so many people who have been brainwashed by this flagrant nonsense and so many warriors for the "right cause" that it doesn't hurt Mark if he writes some obviously untrue comments as long as they have the right (more precisely: left) political flavor.

The "delayed" argument is unjustifiable because 1) the equilibrium is reached quickly according to the actual hypothesized effect, the greenhouse effect, because the warming of the atmosphere occurs directly by the IR absorption and because 2) the delayed reaction in the future could go in both ways. It is just scientifically unacceptable to deny the actual experimental evidence against a theory by making arbitrary and quantitatively unsubstantiated speculations that a different kind of evidence will occur later. This is simply called junk science. I don't believe that Mark Trodden doesn't realize that. Science must always be backed up by actual arguments that exist at the given moment - either theoretical or experimental arguments - not by arguments that are promised for the future.

Mark also talks about the "consensus" that is not backed by any single paper or result but that "emerges" from the collective synergy of the climate scientists. It is hard to believe that Mark thinks the that evidence in science can have this form. Whenever we have some scientific result that is trustworthy, there must exist a paper - at least one paper - that presents a strong evidence for this result. This paper may refer to other papers but the actual evidence must be included in one of them. Otherwise the result doesn't exist. Do you really disagree, Mark? Could we believe that there is an AdS/CFT correspondence if there were no single paper that could be used as a reference? Could we believe relativity, Big Bang theory, or any other theory in science if its dramatic quantitative predictions for some quantities analogous to the temperature were emerging synergetically from the consensual spirit of many papers and their authors? This doesn't look like science to me. We can find a common spirit in many papers - such as emergent geometry - but we can't find quantitative predictions - such as the catastrophic global warming - by looking at an ensemble of papers neither of which implies such a result individually.

Monckton is also critically discussing the Stern report. I don't think that this is the ultimate argument but nevertheless, all people whose opinions I have read and who follow the climate or economics at a technical level dismiss the report: see these 65 pages of criticism to get a flavor what the critical words are all about. This includes "suddenly moderate" alarmists such as James Annan, William Connolley, and several others. It's no secret that even most of the otherwise radical alarmist writers at RealClimate.ORG think that the Stern report is a bad piece of work which selectively chooses upper "catastrophic" limits from all papers and makes very bad calculations in economics.

Incidentally, that's the reason why RealClimate.ORG decided to remain silent about the Stern report: they only describe and promote work that could "help their cause". In this case they had some internal disagreements how much dishonesty and untrue assertions they can include in an article, and many contributors to RealClimate.ORG just found the amount of fraud that they would need in order to endorse the atrocious Stern report too high an ethical price to pay. It may have been the first time ever when the amount of dishonesty required by the "politically correct", leftist media-driven opinions went beyond the moral mantinels of some of the climate scientists-activists.

Of course, the journalists don't care about the scientists' opinions, not even the RealClimate.ORG's opinions. Their main goal is to write a story that will be more radical than all the previous stories combined. These are the new rules of their game. Rational thinking has become secondary.

Let me return to the article in The Guardian. Monbiot adds many other incorrect comments. He denies that James Hansen was flagrantly wrong in his 1988 testimony in which he predicted three scenarios for the temperature for the next two decades. The actual temperature has turned out to follow the "complete regulation" scenario of Hansen (the mildest temperature increase among his three scenarios) that essentially proposed to bring the world's economy into recession although the actual policy of most nations has followed Hansen's "business-as-usual" scenario (whose expected temperature increase was much higher, by hundreds of per cent or so, than the observed reality). Hansen just couldn't have been more wrong.

There is another entertaining - or sad - comment by Monbiot that Mark Trodden decided to quote uncritically. Monbiot offered an explanation of the conjectured "errors" in Monckton's articles, namely an observation that at a 2005 gathering of the climate change journalists, someone asked how many journalists among those 150 attendees had a science degree. The answer was three. Monbiot's conclusion is that Monckton who didn't participate had to be wrong.

Well, this is what could be called the moonbat logic. ;-) My conclusion is quite different: the majority of the journalists - those who write most of the 16,800 absurd stupidities about the "global warming" every month and among whom Monbiot is a textbook example - are insufficiently educated and insufficiently rational and honest for their written opinion to have a measurably positive value which partially - but not completely - explains why they're producing so much incredible junk all the time.

And that's the memo.

See also Global Warming Swindle, a must-see documentary.

Other popular climate articles on The Reference Frame

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reader Robert said...

Dear Lubos

may I put you right about Christopher Monckton?

You refer to Monckton as "the third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley" which is technically correct but an odd way to describe Him even though He Himself publishes His thoughts under His full title and with a nifty little coloured drawing of a portcullis (technically a watergate, actually) on every page to advertise His membership of the House of Lords.

In the UK we have two sorts of Lords: life peers who get appointed by the Prime Minister, and hereditary peers who inherit the title from their dads. The life peers have usually done something interesting, worthy or otherwise creditable to get the appointment. Some of them have done something entertainingly discreditable and get found out: suggested Google searches - Lord Archer, Lord Black of Crossharbour, Blair peerage scandal. The hereditaries get the job by being born. Some of them have been around for long enough to acquire a snobbish and romantic charm because they've had the title since the Norman conquest and lived in the same castle ever since. Monckton is neither a life peer nor a serious grandee. His grandad got the low-ranking title of viscount after a political and legal career of numbing obscurity. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Monckton,_1st_Viscount_Monckton_of_Brenchley will tell you more than you could possibly want to know about him.

Just to illustrate that Monckton's behaviour is unusual consider the case of the third Earl Russell, born 1872 and inherited the title in 1931 in the days when the peerage was taken seriously by many more people than it is now. I imagine the name is unfamiliar to you, but only because the Earl published everything he wrote under the plain old name Bertrand Russell. Do you think this might be because he thought his writings would succeed on their own merits? And in case you think Russell was a one-off or observing an outmoded convention you will find that the(allegedly)wicked Lord Black of Crossharbour, who was so keen on a peerage that he changed nationality to get it, publishes his books as Conrad Black, and the (undoubted) buffoon Lord Archer is plain Jeffrey Archer on the covers of his novels. It's only Monckton who expects the public to think, f**k me, this guy's grandfather was President of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1956–1957, and are you seriously suggesting He could be wrong about the Stefan-Boltzmann law?

That ends the history lesson which I think throws up enough evidence that Monckton may be a prat (that word may not be U.S. English, in which case read "jerk") to justify further enquiries. Those enquiries are richly rewarded in the following passage from His writings (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2006/11/12/warm-response3.pdf):

"My degree at Cambridge was in the classical languages and philosophy, which included science and mathematics
originating in ancient Greece and Rome. While working for Margaret Thatcher during her time as Prime Minister I developed inter alia a
model of the tax/benefit system which, at that time, contained more equations than the Treasury model, and its projections were more
reliable. In preparation for the article which you have done me the honour of reading, I studied the necessary climatological physics.
However, I have no paper qualification in any scientific subject. - Monckton of Brenchley"

You have to love this, and not just for the fustian pomposity of "the article which you have done me the honour of reading" and of the signature. The belief that someone with "no paper qualification in any scientific discipline" can produce worthwhile science is not held by anyone sane, only by nutters on Usenet. The suggestion that one mathematical paper is superior to another because it "contains more equations" than another is awe-inspiring in its battiness. As for the undergraduate course on "science and mathematics originating in Greece and Rome", what the hell does this mean? I mean, yes, Euclid did Euclidean geometry and Lucretius thought things might be made of atoms, but these guys didn't actually do heliocentricity and things really have moved on a bit since then. The point which He is making here is that posh chaps don't do real science. They leave that to proles from the state education system, secure in the knowledge that if it comes to a showdown, their natural class and good breeding will prevail over the grubby little PhDs in proper science ("paper qualifications") arrayed against them.

This brings us to a delightful example of His fallibility even in matters in which He claims academic qualifications. We read in His writings the following:

Dear Lord Monckton - Thank you for writing your article. It is refreshing to read after a few days of Stern. One small point: On page 23
you say "A tidal benchmark carved in 1888 (?) at Dead Man's Island. New Zealand, is still normally visible after 120 years." I think you
will find the reference should be to Tasmania - there was much discussion about it a few years ago. Reference is: http://www.johndaly.
com/. - ML
Dear Ms. L - Many thanks for your kind comments. On the tidal benchmark, mea culpa. You're quite right, of course. Nutat et Homerus. -
Monckton of Brenchley

You will note the easy familiarity with the Latin language which is to be expected from One Whose "degree at Cambridge was in the classical languages" (i.e. Latin and Greek). There is however a problem. The cliche about Homer He is looking for is "bonus dormitat Homerus" meaning literally "good Homer dozes off" - i.e. even the greatest poet sometimes slips up. The cliche was rendered by Alexander Pope as "Homer nods" (Essay on Criticism, 1711). Monckton doesn't see that "nods" here means "nods off", and writes "nutat" which means simply "nods" as in "makes a movement of the head signifying assent". In other words He doesn't know what nutat means, doesn't know what dormitat means, hasn't read Horace's Ars Poetica (the source of the cliche and the most important single work of Latin literary criticism), but thinks that His achievements in the classical languages are so impressive that they lend credibility to His musings on climatology.

If you have a point to make about climate science, I'd suggest you support it by reference to the work of real climate scientists.


reader C. A. B. said...

Surely one has to side with Ludovici on the matter of aristocracy? The alternative is the interminable whining, dressed up as something altogether nobler, of people like Robert.

There is nothing wrong with a system of hereditary peerage, or that it should have a role in politics. Our ramshackle arrangements worked quite well for a thousand years. It is democracy that has brought us to the brink of totalitarianism in England (I do not live in the 'ukay'), not lack of it. Indeed hereditary peers have stood virtually alone in opposing Blair's gang. It is their baulking the government at every turn which finally moved the prime minister to exact revenge by abolishing their participation in the political process.

Anyone not dependent on party patronage is always likelier to speak honestly than some miserable apparatchik. That is why hereditary peers retain a belief in politics as a matter of public service that is almost wholly absent from the careerism and venality of an elected Lower House (Commons).

This is where the real sharks congregate in fact - in any elected chamber, glowing with self-satisfaction, annointed by the divine unction of a popular mandate, then 'duly appointed' to the Lords by the prime minister, these bitter, greedy, stupid polytechnic-educated former union officials and immigrant financiers. Most did not even go to Eton.

As to Monckers the old boy's merits or demerits as a scientist are neither here nor there. The gentleman amateur has a pretty creditable history among you test-tube wielding johnnies (what about all those naturalist English vicars in the 19th century?).


reader C. A. B. said...

Surely one has to side with Ludovici on aristocracy? The alternative is the interminable whining, dressed up as something altogether nobler, of people like Robert.

There is nothing wrong with a system of hereditary peerage, or that it should have a role in politics. Our ramshackle arrangements worked quite well for a thousand years. It is democracy that has brought us to the brink of totalitarianism in England (I do not live in the 'ukay'), not lack of it. Indeed hereditary peers have stood virtually alone in opposing Blair's gang. It is their baulking the government at every turn which finally moved the prime minister to exact revenge by abolishing their participation in the political process.

Anyone not dependent on party patronage is always likelier to speak honestly than some miserable apparatchik. That is why hereditary peers retain a belief in politics as a matter of public service that is almost wholly absent from the careerism and venality of an elected Lower House (Commons).

This is where the real sharks congregate in fact - in any elected chamber, glowing with self-satisfaction, annointed by the divine unction of a popular mandate, then 'duly appointed' to the Lords by the prime minister, these bitter, greedy, stupid polytechnic-educated former union officials and immigrant financiers. Most did not even go to Eton.

As to Monckers the old boy's merits or demerits as a scientist are neither here nor there. The gentleman amateur has a pretty creditable history among you test-tube wielding johnnies (what about all those naturalist English vicars in the 19th century?).

For what it is worth I should be very proud indeed were I able to claim my dear papa as Chairman of the M.C.C., and so, I suspect, would Robert.

(Reposted after technical error. Apologies)


reader Wadard said...

Monckton is the inbred monkey who offered a prize of one million pound for the person who cracked his eternity puzzle with 12 month.

It was cracked in about a month — and Monckton had to sell his family estate to finally pay off the prize money.

Are you sure you want to trust this clown's judgement.


reader Darwin said...

wardard, inbred monkey, how funny. It certainly would take one to post a comment without doing any research. Monckton never had to sell a thing to cover the 1 million pound prize. The Eternity puzzle sold at 35 pounds a copy and 500,000 were sold in the 18 months before the prize was awarded. It was one of the most successful marketing promotions in history. It's like any puzzle -- it can be beaten. Why don't you buy one and see if you can figure it out? And the next time you call somebody a monkey look in the mirror.


reader Ben said...

So Robert your main problem is that he uses his title, he got some latin wrong and he wrote a reliable model?

The only other criticism you have of Lord Monckton is a fallacious appeal to Authority; Believe the climate scientists, not the disinterested third party with no paper qualifications.

What did he say that was wrong? Where is he wrong in science?


reader Paul H Clark said...

robert,

Might I suggest that you take Lord Monckton's paper and post it in full with your comments on each point and then make that widely available in order that others may comment on your critique.

BTW Monckton has openly offered to debate the issue of climate change with Mr Gore and I for one would very much welcome such a discussion. Perhaps you might be so kind as to suggest that to Mr Gore who I believe sees no value in it.


reader Greywolf said...

Lubos, thank you for an excellent article on Monckton. He's a national treasure and he's well worth reading and listening to.

Robert, your comment on Monckton was nothing but a long-winded ad hom. You sir are a bounder, a cad and a blackguard of the first water, besides being a vulgar little oik who envies his betters. In the old days's we'd have shipped you off to the colonies, but sadly not even Tasmania is accepting British undesireables these days. I'm not going to lay a finger on you, but you may consider yourself horsewhipped.


reader Transition Stratford said...

Monckton also describes himself as having advised Margaret Thatcher on science issues. This may be correct but is not the same thing as being her Science Advisor. In fact Margaret Thatcher read chemistry at Oxford University, accepted that Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW) is a reality and may not have benefitted from his advice.
Monckton is also far from being a neutral observer. He is a supporter and regular contributor to the Heartland Institute. For those readers based in the UK unfamiliar with Heartland, please do check out their hilarious website. Funded by oil and tobacco companies they campaign against taxation and continue to muddy the waters on issues such as the health of people who smoke and AGW. Sadly there are many websites (this one included) that pay more attention to Monckton than to objectively peer-reviewed mainstream scientific research.
Interestingly, if you put Monckton at one end of a scale of belief and ecoworriers at the other end of the scale, the balance of opinion is pretty much what the IPCC are saying. It is just a matter of who you choose to put your trust in.


reader JULESM said...

Dear Lumos,
While I agree that no one has got climate change quite right yet, I am curious to see how you rate the appearance of Monckton on that eminently 'fair and balanced,devoid of political opinion' Glen Beck show.