How to diss-a-peer: Real Climate Scientists take on TVMOB

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"How to diss-a-peer: Real Climate Scientists take on TVMOB"

The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley just can’t catch a break. Not only does TVMOB have to deal with well-deserved mockery for his un-peer-reviewed paper. He also has to deal with factual debunking from real climate scientists, in this case, the scientists at RealClimate. Here is a taste:

As Deltoid quickly noticed the most egregious error is a completely arbitrary reduction (by 66%) of the radiative forcing due to CO2. He amusingly justifies this with reference to tropical troposphere temperatures – neglecting of course that temperatures change in response to forcing and are not the forcing itself. And of course, he ignores the evidence that the temperature changes are in fact rather uncertain, and may well be much more in accord with the models than he thinks….

But Monckton is not satisfied with just a factor of three reduction in sensitivity. So he makes another dodgy claim. Note that Monckton starts off using the IPCC definition of climate sensitivity as the forcing associated with a concentration of 2xCO2 – this is the classical “Charney Sensitivity” and does not include feedbacks associated with carbon cycle, vegetation or ice-sheet change. Think of it this way – if humans raise CO2 levels to 560 ppm from 280 ppm through our emissions, and then as the climate warms the carbon cycle starts adding even more CO2 to the atmosphere, then the final CO2 will be higher and the temperature will end up higher than standard sensitivity would predict, but you are no longer dealing with the sensitivity to 2xCO2. Thus the classical climate sensitivity does not include any carbon cycle feedback term. But Monckton puts one in anyway….

There are many more errors in his piece – for instance he accuses the IPCC of not defining radiative forcing in the Summary for Policy Makers and not fixing this despite requests. Umm… except that the definition is on the bottom of page 2. He bizarrely compares the net anthropogenic forcing to date with the value due to CO2 alone…. Needless to say, the multiple errors completely undermine the conclusions regarding climate sensitivity.

Generally speaking, these are the kinds of issues that get spotted by peer-reviewers: are the citations correctly interpreted? is the mathematics correct? is the reasoning sound? do the conclusions follow? etc. In this case, there really wouldn’t have been much left, and so it is fair to conclude that Monckton’s piece only saw the light of day because it wasn’t peer-reviewed, not because it was….

That is how to diss-a-peer.

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10 Responses to How to diss-a-peer: Real Climate Scientists take on TVMOB

  1. William Eacho says:

    Here is the reply I received from Alvin Saperstein. I will leave the rejoinder to you.
    “Our job is to promote discussion – if necessary by occasionally telling the emperor that he is not adequately dressed. Hopefully we have done that. As far as I know, the issue of anthropomorphic impact upon climate is not as well settled as the flatness or roundness of the Earth; more discussion may help bring the issue to that state. (Occasionally, it is very difficult to get alternative viewpoints; we go with what we can get.) We read submitted papers for clarity, not for content – so we do not claim that we are a peer reviewed journal, nor do we only publish stuff that we agree with – as is clearly stated in the “boilerplate”in each issue. (Speaking personally, I am much more in agreement with Hafemeister than with Monckton, though I do not claim to be a peer reviewer.) We would welcome a contribution from you pointing out to our readers some of Monckton’s errors. All of us would benefit from such rejoinders.”

    Alvin M. Saperstein
    Dept. of Physics
    Wayne State University
    Detroit, MI 48202
    313/577-2733
    ams@physics.wayne.edu
    Co-editor: Physics and Society
    Quarterly journal of APS Forum on Physics and Society-
    See us on the web: http://www.aps.org/units/fps/

  2. Dano says:

    As far as I know, the issue of anthropomorphic impact upon climate is not as well settled as the flatness or roundness of the Earth; more discussion may help bring the issue to that state. [emphasis added]

    Speaking of ecology, ecosystems and physicists who don’t know natural science, a good clue might be: if this guy did work in the natural sciences, he’d have used the proper term: anthropogenic.

    Best,

    D

  3. Arthur Smith says:

    For what it’s worth, I sent Marque and Saperstein a science-based response to their July issue; I’m sure they have a few others to select among. I cc’ed Monckton and received a quick and extraordinarily detailed “rebuttal”, complete with personal attacks of several sorts. There are a few issues he clearly doesn’t understand, a few issues where he seems to be relying on “experts” like Lindzen and McKitrick (and over-generously interpreting the ambiguous things they typically say) and others where he just wants to be contentious. Whatever. I was surprised at the speed and vigor of the response, at least. Not sure what to make of it – is it the only one he was cc’ed on?

  4. Brewster says:

    Or maybe, Arthur, he’s had so many cc’s he has put together a form letter…

  5. Arthur Smith says:

    Well, he might have cobbled together answers he’s prepared on one or two of the issues I raised, but for the most part, it was really very specific to my comments (the personal attacks were certainly quite specific!) I don’t feel at liberty to quote the whole thing, but on one claim for instance he writes “Finally, Dr. Smith sneers (ad hominem being never far from the surface of his letter) that perhaps I am unaware that non-linear systems can be linearized under small perturbations.” and there are at least a dozen similar statements in the text…

  6. Dano says:

    I was surprised at the speed and vigor of the response, at least. Not sure what to make of it – is it the only one he was cc’ed on?

    He’s not doing research or peer review, but rather waiting for remuneration from Heritage/CEI/Exxon axis for his work. So he’s got plenty of time for “rebuttals”. In my view.

    Best,

    D

  7. EliRabett says:

    Anyhow, Brenchley has published your letter Arthur, and Eli has a suggestion. . .

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