Climate

Climate scientists eviscerate Lord Monckton’s attempt to disinform the U.S. Congress

“Here, a number of top climate scientists have thoroughly refuted all of Mr. Monckton’s major assertions, clearly demonstrating a number of obvious and elementary errors.”

A group of five scientists solicited responses from more than twenty world-class climate scientists to the May 6th testimony by Christopher Monckton to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. These climate scientists “”¦ have thoroughly refuted all of Mr. Monckton’s major assertions, clearly demonstrating a number of obvious and elementary errors,” the report says. “We encourage the U.S. Congress to give careful consideration to the implications this document has for the care that should be exercised in choosing expert witnesses to inform the legislative process.”

Climate Scientists respond to MoncktonThe Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (TVMOB) has now become the most scientifically debunked of all the professional disinformers.  A team of 21 top climate scientists have eviscerated his Congressional testimony — news release here, full report here.  See also the Guardian piece, “‘Chemical nonsense’: Leading scientists refute Lord Monckton’s attack on climate science.”

Lord Monckton should no longer be viewed as a credible source by the media or Congressional committees, given that he has been thoroughly discredited scientifically and that he is a well-known hate-speech promoter (see Monckton repeats and expands on his charge that those who embrace climate science are “Hitler youth” and fascists). TVMOB has relegated himself to the extreme fringe (see Irony-gate 2: Modern day Tea Partiers outsource denial to Lord Monckton “” a British peer!)

The full report is a marvelous science lesson from leading climatologists and well worth reading in its entirety.  The news release notes that “The report examines claims from Monckton’s testimony in nine major areas and corrects and refutes each of them.”  Here is a summary of “the authoritative scientific statements in each of these nine areas”:

  1. In ancient times, the warming from carbon dioxide release played a critical role in lifting the Earth from a cold ‘snowball’ state to a warm climate. Monckton totally misunderstands the sequence of these events in denying the heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide. He treats the events as if they were contemporaneous.
  2. Ancient corals and other life forms were able to adapt to high carbon dioxide concentrations because they have had millions of years to react to slower, natural climate change. Monckton ignores the vast difference in the rate of these changes compared to the present rate; he incorrectly argues that the present rapid increase in carbon dioxide is harmless.
  3. Paleo-climatologists understand that the rate of change of carbon dioxide concentration is more important than the overall levels of carbon dioxide for plant adaptation. Monckton claims a single benefit of higher carbon dioxide levels – increased yields on selected crops (which he appears to have exaggerated) – but fails to mention the wide-ranging negative consequences for plant species and agriculture as well as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.
  4. The fact that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is driving ocean acidification is based on “experimental results, field observations and our fundamental understanding of physical chemistry going back hundreds of years.”  The responses to Monckton’s claim that “if ocean acidification is occurring then CO2 is not, and will not be, the culprit” provide a compelling example of Monckton’s lack of understanding of basic science – in this case of ocean chemistry.
  5. Despite Monckton’s assertions, compilations of global temperatures show that the late 20th century was exceptionally warm compared with the last 1500 years, with a rate of warming that is indeed exceptional.
  6. “Global warming on decadal time scales is continuing without letup”. The frequently heard assertion, repeated by Monckton, that “global warming ceased in 2001” is contradicted by recent, record-breaking global mean temperatures obtained by both NOAA and NASA. The long-term instrumental record shows an unequivocal upward trend.
  7. “Over the last century we have observed large and coherent changes … of the Earth’s climate….  All these changes are consistent with our … understanding of how the climate system should be responding to anthropogenic forcing … collectively this behavior is inconsistent with the changes…due to natural variability alone.” By contrast, Monckton ascribes the recent rise in global temperature to ‘naturallyoccurring global brightening’, citing a 2005 paper by Dr. Rachel Pinker et al. As the responses forcefully demonstrate, and indeed as Dr. Pinker herself has stated, his conclusions are based upon a misunderstanding and misapplication of that work.
  8. “Climate sensitivity” characterizes the long-term increase in global temperatures in response to increased CO2 concentration. Multiple estimates of climate sensitivity, based on different types of data, are in agreement. Monckton argues the value is very much lower than these estimates, based on his misinterpretation of the Pinker paper, as well as on a recent paper by Lindzen and Choi. Two recently published papers discussed in this report thoroughly discredit the paper by Lindzen and Choi, as well as Monckton’s conclusions.
  9. “The urgent need to act cannot be overstated. Anthropogenic climate change is already affecting our lives and livelihoods through extreme storms, unusual floods and droughts, rising seas, and many changes in biological systems.” Monckton argues that “global warming is a non-problem”, and in any case “there is no hurry”, and that the correct response is “to do nothing”. This report states that a “decision to delay action to reduce greenhouse emissions is not a decision ‘to do nothing’. It is a decision to continue emissions of CO2…committing the world to higher levels of global warming…with associated adverse impacts.” A paper by Dr. S. Solomon et al. cited in the report emphasizes the long-term role of increased CO2 levels on future climate and shows that the assumption that a “decision can always be made to reduce CO2 emissions and thereby reduce any harm within a few years or decades” is incorrect.

It’s time to close the book on this thoroughly discredited disinformer.

The Guardian also points out TVMOB’s extreme resume inflation:

During his congressional testimony in May, Monckton was mocked by a Democratic congressman for claiming that he was a member of the House of Lords during a previous committee hearing appearance in 2009. Last month, the clerk of the parliaments wrote to Monckton, a hereditary peer, stressing that he should stop referring to himself as a member of the House of Lords.

Kudos to the scientists who contributed to this report:

  1. Dr. James Annan: Member of the Global Change Projection Research Program within the Research Institute for Global Change
  2. Dr. David Archer: Professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago
  3. Dr. Ken Caldeira: Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, California
  4. Dr. David Easterling: Chief, Scientific Services Division, NCDC, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)
  5. Dr. James Hansen: Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  6. Dr. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg: Professor of Marine Studies, University of Queensland, Australia.
  7. Dr. James Hurrell: Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section and Chief Scientist for Community Climate Projects at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  8. Dr. David Karoly: Professor, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia
  9. Dr. Jeffrey Kiehl: Senior Scientist, Climate Change Research Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  10. Dr. Nancy Knowlton: Holds the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
  11. Dr. Lee Kump: Professor of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University
  12. Dr. Norman Loeb: scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center
  13. Dr. Michael MacCracken: Chief Scientist, Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute in Washington DC
  14. Dr. Peter Reich: Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor, University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources
  15. Dr. Reto Ruedy: Scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  16. Dr. Benjamin Santer: Research Scientist, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  17. Dr. Gavin Schmidt: Climate Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  18. Dr. Pieter Tans: Senior Scientist, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado
  19. Dr. Kevin Trenberth: Senior Scientist and Head, Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  20. Dr. John Veron: Professor, University Center for Marine Studies, University of Queensland
  21. Dr. Bruce Wielicki: Senior Scientist Radiation Sciences, NASA Langley Research Center

No doubt TVMOB will (threaten to) sue them all (see “Hate-speech promoter Lord Monckton tries to censor John Abraham“).

h/t Skeptical Science.

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44 Responses to Climate scientists eviscerate Lord Monckton’s attempt to disinform the U.S. Congress

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Master’s post today :

    Typhoon Fanapi deluges China
    Typhoon Fanapi made landfall in mainland China about 150 miles east-northeast of Hong Kong Monday morning as a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds, dumping the heaviest rains seen in a century to the southern Guangdong Province of China, according to the provincial weather bureau. Rainfall amounts of 550 mm (21.6″) were recorded in the hardest-hit Shuangyao Township in Yangchun City. Thousands of people are stranded due to washed out roads and bridges in the region. In Taiwan, where Fanapi struck as a Category 2 typhoon with 105 mph winds on Sunday, the damage total is estimated at $210 million. Fanapi killed three people on the island, and brought rains of up to 1400 mm (4.6 feet) to mountainous regions in the interior. Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world with more than 100 stories, reportedly swayed some 15 cm in Fanapi’s winds.
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1627#commenttop

    ———
    The water content of every system coming off the oceans has changed the last few years. Doesn’t have anything to do wind speeds anymore.

  2. Lore says:

    Lord Monckton, the Glenn Beck of climate science.

  3. Peter M says:

    ‘Lord’ Monckton seems confused- he cannot understand that the far right has been tied to fascism and Nazism.

    In the post WW 2 era of the last century, Neo-Fascism has been traditionally tied to ultra right extremists such as the KKK, John Birch Society, Skin head’s and white supremacists. (Ann now Tea Party/GOP?)

    His calling of Hansen & other climate scientists as ‘fascists’ shows his mental confusion or misunderstanding of political ideology.

    That he was even asked to testify before congress about AGW-shows the depths of ignorance & stupidity our elected officials have.

  4. Anne says:

    I’ve always had a fear of clowns, thought it was irrational. Then I saw TVMOB in action. Makes everything so clear.

  5. Anne van der Bom says:

    Typo

    “No doubt TVMOB will sue them all”

    should be:

    “No doubt TVMOB will threaten to sue them all”

    So far he has done nothing but utter empty threats

    [JR: Done!]

  6. Mark S says:

    I’m taking bets on how long Monckton’s reply will be. If his reply to Dr Abraham was 70 something pages his reply to this will need to be 700 pages. Or more.

  7. pete best says:

    But how did he come to testify in the first place ? Politics trumps science and for all scientifcally minded people it must be a shocking worry. One person one vote does not seem to mean a lot sometimes.

  8. Bob Doublin says:

    Anyone near DC be willing to print out hundreds of copies of this report and deliver them to Inhofe’s office? I’d be willing to contribute $10 to the cost.Of course use recycled paper and recycle afterward.Just fill the place wall to wall.

  9. MapleLeaf says:

    Kudos to the scientists for doing this. I hope that this report gets much (fair and accurate) coverage by the media.

  10. Heraclitus says:

    Monckton’s reply to Leo Hickman at the Guardian:

    “In a lengthy letter to Congress some months ago, in which I addressed questions from Congressmen about my testimony before the global warming committee, I had already refuted in detail the points now belatedly raised again by the scientists who have written to Congress. The scientists were unaware of my letter to Congress because they did not have the good sense or courtesy to contact me – or even to contact the vast majority of the scientists whose conclusions I had cited – before circulating to friendly news media their prolix, turgid, repetitive, erroneous and inadequate response to my testimony. From their calculatedly furtive approach, it is legitimate to infer that their exercise was motivated more by politics than by science. One of the lead authors is currently under criminal investigation for alleged fabrication of results: another has been caught out in repeated lies: a third admits to suffering a mental disability: and many of the scientists whom these lead authors invited to contribute are among the long-discredited clique of Climategate emailers. Accordingly, it is unlikely that Congress will pay much attention to their political rant, which displays a lamentable absence of quantitative detail and a pathetic reliance on fashionable but questionable forecasting techniques that have long been compellingly contradicted by hard data.

    The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley”

    I must be getting jaded, his prose isn’t even funny anymore.

  11. richard pauli says:

    Monkton has long been a caricature of himself. His name soon to be used as a noun or adjective. “This bubble is bursting – so it’s time to pull a monkton.”

  12. Rob Honeycutt says:

    There should be some very interesting interviews with Monckton on Fox News following this release. TVMOB does not take well to criticism.

    Who’s making the popcorn?

  13. Douglas says:

    If the issue weren’t so serious, I would consider Monckton a brilliant performance artist. To be such an obvious clown and still get called to testify before congress. It’s a bit like watching Borat, when you’re in on the “joke” but various dupes get taken in.

  14. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Richard… I think Monckton is going to become a verb. As in: “Bob really moncked up his term paper and his prof is coming down on him like a ton of bricks!”

    monck, v. to make extreme and baseless claims.

  15. Charlie says:

    I know now how to figure out when Monckton is lying.
    Everytime when he moves his mouth.

  16. paulm says:

    Can they start to gang up on the others too.

    If the law can/wont get these characters they should be publicly ….
    taken care of in the most unceremonious manner.

  17. Luke says:

    This is great but I think someone needs to go one further and really take this corporate shill to task for what he is.

    It’s nice that some of our best scientists have stepped up to show Monckton has no idea what he’s talking about, but I’d like to see some prosecutor/attorney step in now and show TVMOB in fact knows EXACTLY what he’s talking about: i.e. that he understands full well he’s misrepresenting the science, and therefore deliberately lying to congress.

    Even if you can’t ultimately prove he’s a liar on top of being a moron, it would at least finally shut him up since “anything you say can and will be used against you” would make him think twice about his next 700 page rebuttal.

  18. adelady says:

    I’m still at the totally mystified point of wondering what on earth the silly man will do to respond. I agree that this feeble response lacks the rib-aching shrieking with laughter humour of the previous interminable opus.

    Might be good to brush up the old Latin if we’re to fully savour the nuances of the next salvo.

  19. john atcheson says:

    Monkton is to science what Newt Gingrich is to consistency; what Sarah Palin is to reality; what Sharon Engle is to rationality; what Fox News is to … well … news.

  20. Nick says:

    Surely Monckton should be satisfied with the efforts that real scientists are giving his attention-seeking? Isn’t that the object of his activities? Just how needy is this man?

  21. mattlant says:

    This is most excellent, and anytime TVMOB opens his mouth, the public should be reffered to this, immediately.

    Its amazing, most people who lose credibility, lose it for good, or at least a very long time and is hard to earn back, but this fool has lost it many times over, but is still taken as credible by an enourmous amount of people. :(

  22. John abraham says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone. This took a LOT of work.

    John Abraham

  23. adelady says:

    Thank YOU, John, and everyone involved. Nice work.

  24. MapleLeaf says:

    Dear Dr. Abraham,

    Thanks for dropping in. You and your colleagues honestly deserve medals for all the hard work you put in. Not only for that, but also for putting up with the threats and vitriol from despicable characters and charlatans like Monckton.

    Hope you get some time to relax…oh no wait, you still have to teach, do research, supervise students, review papers, write papers, write proposals and sit on committees etc.

    Try and not work too hard.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Just pointing out that Baron Monckhausen trades in nothing but bulldust does no good, whatsoever. As far as the rabble of denialists is concerned, science is a ‘Communist’ or ‘socialist’ conspiracy to destroy capitalism, and Monckhausen a hero of truth-telling. That he once attended the Rightwing idol (but anthropogenic climate change realist)Thatcher, adds to his kudos with that type who, being incapable of rational thought, intelligent reflection and learning from,or even ever admitting to, error, are the natural footsoldiers of the Right. We must finally confront the truth that vast swathes of the more intellectually challenged populations in the West,prepared by life-long brainwashing by the media and advertising, to see greedy consumption as the prime, if not sole,raison d’etre for human existence, will never be convinced, because lacking the intelligence to be so. For them,truth is a matter of revelation and faith,and rationality is the Devil’s work,and the facts are what my leader says that they are. And they are,like a tsunami of driver ants,on the march, swarming everywhere, full of passionate intensity, and they are turning ever nastier.

  26. Charles says:

    I second what Maple Leaf wrote: John A., thank you for your fantastic effort. For those of us who have even the slightest understanding of science, it was a welcome and thorough rebuke. Alas, I think Nick is likely right: “Surely Monckton should be satisfied with the efforts that real scientists are giving his attention-seeking? Isn’t that the object of his activities?”

    I think so. And for some, seeing Monckton get attention of any kind simply legitimates him in their eyes. Monckton’s audience is not us. It is those who are driven by ideology and who are deceived by his fancy plays with words and numbers; they are not capable of seeing that he often just makes stuff up. His juvenile response will be lapped up by many–sadly, some of those people are in positions of considerable power. Shudder.

  27. John Mashey says:

    Good job by John & Co …
    but really, the bottom line is that this was the Republican party’s chosen expert…. the best they could get, apaprently.

    C’mon, where are the good cartoons of Lords and elephants?

  28. Dibble says:

    John abraham says:
    September 21, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone. This took a LOT of work.

    John Abraham

    Very valuable work.
    Despite the travesty of Monktons presentation to the senate select committee, the climate ‘debate’ is only really raging in the ‘court of public opinion’. It is in this, media manipulated, forum that deniers like Monkton can obfuscate and play PR games to achieve their goal of delaying the measures needed to meaningfully cap CO2 emissions. The record and reporting of this robust rebuttal is a very effective way of removing the thin veneer of credibility that Monkton may enjoy with some of those that share his political prejudices and choose to remain wilfully ignorant of the mounting scientific evidence that supports the worrying degree of anthropogenic warming the world is now experiencing.
    It is you that deserves the thanks.

  29. Dibble says:

    * Correction. “House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.”

  30. pete best says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/sep/21/climate-sceptics-evidence-gullible

    Do not forget Christopher Booker either here in the UK. He has the Sunday Telegraphs ear and constantly dismisses ACC and then bleats on about the UK and EU energy needs.

    Its a beautiful fossil fuel driven world.

  31. Heraclitus says:

    Skeptical Science link to a response from Barry Bickmore to Monckton’s comments to the Guardian: http://bbickmore.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/monckton-responds-were-a-bunch-of-crazy-felons/

    I think Barry’s words “So if anyone wants to prolong the agony by responding to Monckton’s response, and then his response to the response to the response, and so on, more power to them” are indicative of the exhausting and seemingly thankless task of addressing Monckton’s cloacal outpourings. Not thankless though, and I add my gratitude to those above and elsewhere who recognise and appreciate the work that has gone in to this refutation.

  32. John Mason says:

    Good work, John Abraham & colleagues :)

    Cheers – John

  33. chek says:

    More good work, Professor Abraham and your esteemed colleagues.
    It’s really appreciated.

    I trust that not only will yet another public refutation by such a stellar company of scientists damage Monckton’s credibility (such as it is), but also that of those who would sponsor him.

  34. Scrooge says:

    Thank you John Abraham. Being a big ten sort of person I never thought much of St Thomas. And of course I encouraged my children to attend the U. But lo and behold I have a daughter in law and one whole set of grandkids going/will go to St Thomas. Whenever that comes up I usually mention your name and the work you are doing.

  35. Bob Doublin says:

    You know how sometimes you’re so busy you can only skim a little of a bit of writing instead of all of it? I was wondering why I was smiling so much when I started reading this post and then I realized where I had stopped reading the title of the post: “Climate Scientists eviscerate Lord Monckton….” ahem.(the joys of wishful thinking)

  36. Bob Doublin says:

    Dear PROFESSOR Abraham,
    Thank you for doing this work.I feel for you having to put up with this persecution.

  37. mike roddy says:

    I’d be interested in a man on the street opinion poll about Lord Monckton. This would be a good indicator, not so much of his persuasiveness, but the degree to which MSM treats him with a straight face. The only proper treatment of him is farce.

  38. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Dr Abraham… You are da’ man!!

    I’m taking the family out for “boiled prawns” for dinner tonight in your honor! ;-)

  39. I also applaud Dr. Abraham and the others for putting up this rebuttal. Now we must contact our elected officials and the media to ask them to investigate whether Monckton committed perjury.

    Please see:

    Monckton Testimony at US Congress: Ignorance or Perjury?

    and

    Turn the Tables on Monckton

    I wrote to all the contacts listed at the second link and I also contacted my two Senators and Rep and asked them to investigate.

  40. Michael W says:

    John Abraham, thank you for your examination of Monckton’s claims. I think the conversation moves forward when we have an open dialog and defeat bad ideas with solid logic. Do you have ambitions to address his counter claims?

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/reprint/response_to_john_abraham.html?Itemid=0

  41. Michael W says:

    I don’t understand the aggravation when it comes to Monckton. Why look a gift horse in the mouth? The questions he asks, must be asked. Do you really want a worldwide movement that’s not properly vetted?

  42. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Michael… Monckton doesn’t ask questions. If he was that would be fine. What he does is make definitive misleading statements that obfuscate climate science.

  43. BillD says:

    I’m not clear whether John Abraham is an author of the current paper. Even though he is not an “official” climate scientist, I think that he has more than earned his position as as debunker of Monckton and a co-author of the scientific report.

  44. Richard Brenne says:

    When does Congress ask a chimp to testify before it? Any chimp would make many less mistakes than this one. . .