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Deltoid creates some sci-comm pollution

IMAGE: Tim Lambert (Deltoid) creates science communication pollution

Deltoid (aka Tim Lambert) tries to attack Monckton (again). The bottom line? Deltoid agrees that Monckton’s calculations are correct, and accuses him of getting a figure wrong (which Monckton got  right). As per form, there is plenty of bluster, and minimal substance. Deltoid repeats over and over that there are lots of mistakes and they’re all “important”, but cannot demonstrate any beyond a squabble over the exact phrasing of whether the IPCC included a formula or not. (It’s debateable, but it’s not important.)

Monckton’s letter to Rudd was big-picture stuff, yet Lambert avoids the heavy-weight items–the falling credibility of the IPCC, the starving poor, the cost-benefit analysis. Deltoid attacks phraseology, job titles, funding, but not the crux of Monckton’s points.

To put some perspective on it: the IPCC has grossly exaggerated climate sensitivity, ignored valid criticisms, and repeatedly used non-peer reviewed references (when it has repeatedly claimed to do otherwise). IPCC lead-authors are under investigation, have withheld data, conspired to delete data, and selectively ignored 75% of the global temperature record because it didn’t give them the “right” answer. (See the four Gates of the IPCC, and Horrifying examples of data manipulation.)

To put a pointier perspective on it: Monckton pointed out in his letter to Rudd the real cost of misguided policies…

‘Millions are already dying of starvation in the world’s poorest nations because world food prices have doubled in two years. That was caused by a sharp drop in world food production, caused by suddenly taking millions of acres of land out of growing food for people who need it, to grow biofuels for clunkers that don’t. The policies that you advocate are killing people by the million. At a time when so many of the world’s people are already short of food, the UN’s right-to-food rapporteur, Herr Ziegler, has rightly condemned the biofuel scam as “a crime against humanity”.

What’s Deltoid’s view of the deaths of the poor? He reckons it’s a “war on science” even for a newspaper to print these comments. Thus Deltoid confirms that he will launch attacks on anyone and anything that threatens his own blogger-reputation (who cares if it means poor people die?). This grand selfishness would merely be petty and sad except that Deltoid’s misleading bluster has been repeated in at least one major newspaper. (And BTW I’ve debunked Ben Cubby before too.)

My comments are in green below on right hand side. Deltoid’s comments are on the left, gray background (with quotes from Monckton there too).

Once again, like the last two times I “translated” him (Goldilocks Graphs, and Reply to Deltoid), Deltoid fails to come up with anything significant, and still can’t find any empirical evidence to support his favored theory.

Written by the specialist in anti-science ad hominem smears. The  bluster start in the title. Now it’s a “war” on science if a newspaper publishes a dissenting view?

Christopher Monckton will trouser $20,000 for an Australian Tour with Ian Plimer on backing vocals.

Yes sir. And every time Al Gore speaks he makes ten times as much. $200,000 profit, per speech after expenses, which makes Al Gore ten times as wrong in the land of Lambert-logic.

It’s all a logical fallacy, irrelevant, and in this case, cherry picked too. The ad hom attack is a reflex for Deltoid.

To celebrate both The Australian and The Daily Telegraph printed extracts from Monckton’s letter to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd generously offering to brief Rudd about climate science. Monckton always makes lots of errors when he writes about science, but this letter may have broken his previous record for quickest mistake with one in the very first word:

Note: “always” and “lots” — neither of which he can back up.

His Excellency Mr Kevin Rudd
Rudd’s correct title is The Hon. Kevin Rudd, MP

What makes you think that was accidental?

The editor at The Daily Telegraph didn’t notice the mistake and started their extract with the the incorrect title.
Monckton, of course, doesn’t do any better at science than titles. The heart of his letter is this calculation:

The IPCC’s bureaucrats are careful not to derive a function that will convert changes in CO2 concentration directly to equilibrium changes in temperature. I shall do it for them.

We derive the necessary implicit function from the IPCC’s statement to the effect that equilibrium surface warming ΔT at CO2 doubling will be (3.26 ± ln 2) C°. Since the IPCC, in compliance with Beer’s Law, defines the radiative forcing effect of CO2 as logarithmic rather than linear, our implicit function can be derived at once. The coefficient is the predicted warming at CO2 doubling divided by the logarithm of 2, and the term (C/C0) is the proportionate increase in CO2 concentration. Thus,

ΔT = (4.7 ± 1) ln(C/C0) | Celsius degrees

We are looking at the IPCC’s maximum imagined warming rate, so we simply write

ΔT = 5.7 ln(C/C0) | Celsius degrees

But if you read the fine IPCC report, you can find that function that Monckton claims is not there:

Deltoid is partly right, a similar function is there, bottom right corner of page 825 of Chapter Ten. But it is not as convenient and is not explicitly presented as the formula Monckton shows. Monckton is right that AR4 does not provide a formula to “convert changes in CO2 concentration directly to equilibrium changes in temperature”, but Deltoid is right that the IPCC provides something from which you can figure it out for yourself — as Monckton did above. The squabble is about the degree of “directness” — so why doesn’t AR4 make the formula clear and obvious, and put it prominently in the Summary for Policy Makers?

[Lambert quotes AR4 to show their formula]  Figure 3.38: Relationship between global mean equilibrium temperature change and stabilization concentration of greenhouse gases using: (i) ‘best estimate’ climate sensitivity of 3°C (black), (ii) upper boundary of likely range of climate sensitivity of 4.5°C (red), (iii) lower boundary of likely range of climate sensitivity of 2°C (blue) (see also Table 3.9).


  1. IPCC (2007a) finds that the climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range 2°C-4.5°C, with a ‘best estimate’ of about 3°C, very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C and values substantially higher than 4.5°C ‘cannot be excluded’ (IPCC (2007a, SPM).
  2. The simple relationship Teq = T2xCO2xln([CO2]/280)/ln(2) is used (see Meehl et al. (2007), Section 10.7, and Table 10.8), with upper and lower values of T2xCO2 of 2 and 4.5°C.

As well as missing the formula in the IPCC report, Monckton got the IPCC estimate for climate sensitivity wrong: it’s 2-4.5, not 3.26 ± ln 2 as Monkton would have it.

No, Monckton quotes the IPCC direct. Monckton is using the mean ±1 standard deviation values from the models, which is appropriate. Chapter 10, section 10.5 “Quantifying the Range of Climate Change Projections”, page 798, says : “The mean ±1 standard deviation values from these models were 3.8°C ± 0.78°C in the SAR (17 models), 3.5°C ± 0.92°C in the TAR (15 models) and in this assessment 3.26°C ± 0.69°C (18 models).” Note that ln 2 (the natural logarithm of 2) is 0.69.

The 2 – 4.5 limits are for a greater degree of uncertainty, perhaps two standard deviations? The IPCC does not say in AR4. Instead they say, on page 749 of Chapter 10, that the climate sensitivity is “likely to lie in the range 2°C to 4.5°C, … For fundamental physical reasons, as well as data limitations, values substantially higher than 4.5°C still cannot be excluded, but agreement with observations and proxy data is generally worse for those high values than for values in the 2°C to 4.5°C range.” No attempt at quantifying the uncertainty attached to those limits.

It is perfectly appropriate to use the one standard deviation limits, as quoted by the IPCC themselves, as Monckton does.

Deltoid has misled his readers (again) and cheapened the debate (again) by failing to acknowledge that Monckton is basically quoting the IPCC correctly, though one might quibble over the details. What the public want is to understand whether they should pay trillions in order to reduce carbon. They want to know if that will make any difference. Monckton has correctly done a calculation that shows that in the next decade all the trillions spent will prevent warming of about 0.02 degrees if the IPCC is right (and now three independent observational results say they’ve exaggerated the warming, probably about six fold — and one sixth of 0.02 degrees is an even more minuscule 0.0017 degrees).

Consequently the coefficient in Monckton’s last equation should be 6.5, not 5.7. But this error is trivial compared to what follows. Monckton continues:

Thus, if and only if every Annex 1 party to the Copenhagen Accord complies with its obligations to the full, today’s emissions will be reduced by around half of that 15%, namely 7.5%, compared with business as usual. If the trend of the past decade continues, with business as usual we shall add 2 ppmv/year, or 20 ppmv over the decade, to atmospheric CO2 concentration. Now, 7.5% of 20 ppmv is 1.5 ppmv.

This understates the difference since the alternative is for emissions to increase, but this error is also trivial compared to what comes next.

We determine the warming forestalled over the coming decade by comparing the business-as-usual warming that would occur between now and 2020 if we made no cuts in CO2 emissions with the lesser warming that would follow full compliance with the Copenhagen Accord. Where today’s CO2 concentration is 388 ppmv

……… Business as usual: ΔT = 5.7 ln(408.0/388) = 0.29 C°
– Copenhagen Accord: ΔT = 5.7 ln(406.5/388) = 0.27 C°
=”Global warming” forestalled, 2010-2020: 0.02 C°

Monckton is wrong to suggest that this is the warming forestalled over this decade, since climate sensitivity is defined as the eventual warming rather than the immediate warming, but this, too, is trivial compared to his main error — he ignores everything that happens after 2020.

So even though Monckton’s calculations were correct, we should hide from the public that the total effect calculated over a decade would be a cooling of 0.02 degrees at most? The ‘dumb punters’ need to be kept in the dark? Does Deltoid feel that the general public are too stupid to realize that they might need to plan 80 years in the future, or that the public are too selfish to care about the future? The public are trying to make sense of this debate with a cost-benefit analysis. What will it cost? How much will it benefit? Will my grandchildren notice any difference? In any case, Monckton wrote the letter to the PM. Is there some good reason not to spell out exactly the cost benefits for the man who supposedly makes the decision?

And yes, we could calculate them out to 2100 as well, and 2200, and 2300, and so on. Monckton has done this many times, (eg. Why Waxman-Markey won’t work). Has Deltoid calculated any value of warming forestalled that’s above 0.2 degrees globally by 2100?

Can he demonstrate how, even with the  exaggerated IPCC assumptions, we should pursue this policy to make a measurable difference 90 years from now?

If Monckton made a mistake, it’s in discussing IPCC calculations in detail that are based on poor science, corrupt records, hidden data, disproved assumptions, and no evidence to begin with.

In as much as his calculation is valid, he is comparing stabilising CO2 at 408 ppm with stabilising it at 406.5 ppm. And, yes, there isn’t much difference between the two scenarios.

So Monckton is right.

But stabilising at 408 in 2020 would require an immediate 50% cut in world-wide emissions, which would be much more expensive than the alternative of a gradual 15% reduction and then an immediate 35% cut in 2020. Of course, neither scenario is realistic.

Strong ground there Deltoid. Comparing two “unrealistic options” as suggested by the IPCC or other alarmists and trying to show that Monckton is silly? Remember he’s not the one suggesting we DO these things…

If you want to be realistic, the sort of policies that Monckton favours could result in CO2 stabilising at 1000 ppm and 8 degrees of warming as compared to the Copenhagen agreement to keep warming under 2 degrees

Can you break that into a calculation for us Deltoid? Can you do it with IPCC figures? (And can you find that missing mystery paper of empirical evidence that no one can name?)

There are of course many more errors in Monckton’s letter.

Yada yada yada. A machine-gun full of  blanks. If Deltoid says something five times during an article, without any valid arguments, it still isn’t true.  This is supposed to be an “Error”:

[Lambert quotes Monckton] “Peer-reviewed analyses of changes in cloud cover over recent decades changes almost entirely unconnected with changes in CO2 concentration show that it was this largely-natural reduction in cloud cover from 1983-2001 and a consequent increase in the amount of short-wave and UV solar radiation reaching the Earth that accounted for five times as much warming as CO2 could have caused.”
This is a reference to Lindzen and Choi’s recent paper, which would seem to have gotten its results by cherry-picking the comparison periods. See here and here.

First up, Deltoid guesses incorrectly. Monckton was referring to the Pinker paper from 2005 and others (which he discussed on Watts UP). Second, even if he were referring to Lindzen and Choi, there’s no cherry picking. Lindzen and Choi, using all available satellite data with no omissions and thus no cherry picking, show that the observed release of heat from the earth as the temperature rises is in exact contradiction to what the models ALL say – the models clearly all say one thing happens, but the opposite was actually observed.

You’d think that the denialists would have cottoned on to the fact that Monckton doesn’t have a clue about climate science, but they continue to promote him as their champion. For example, James Delingpole with an inadvertantly accurate title to his post: If any of your idiot friends still believe in AGW, make them read this letter. Well yes, only an idiot would be persuaded by Monckton’s nonsense.

As always, despite not being able to point to any material evidence that shows Monckton has made a serious error, or even a definitive minor one, the bully boy is ready to fend off polite discussion by throwing names (‘denialist’), along with braggadocio and baseless bluster. Here’s Monckton who has, by Deltoid’s own admission, correctly recreated formulas the IPCC use, and yet he’s described as “doesn’t have a clue” and written off as “nonsense“.

Often when two writers disagree, you can learn something from both. But here all we learn is that Deltoid wildly exaggerates, that the IPCC includes a similar formula to one Monckton uses, but that Monckton’s point still stands that the IPCC don’t make it easy for people to understand the basic equation–will we delay much warming if we spend trillions of dollars?

It’s sci-comm pollution–the world grows a bit more foggy and unclear when viewed through the Deltoid lens. The message that’s created is not just a “zero” contribution. It’s a net-negative. It’s a lot of work to just unpack the misdirected verbiage, untangle the mistakes, and point out the omissions. It’s why we need well trained science communicators who can discuss science without resorting to ad hominem attacks, brazen bluffs, and logical errors. It’s why we need real environmental journalists who would know to ignore the bloggers who keep making errors of reason. (See my first Reply to Deltoid.)

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