Monbiot v Monckton

For those who missed this, George Monbiot penned his reply to Monckton’s two part articles here dipping his metaphorical pen in concentrated sarcastic acid.

I can’t say I’m impressed with Monbiot’s arguments because they appear to be of the distinctly strawy kind. He does mention asking Gavin Schmidt about blackbodies (in relation to Monckton’s use of the Stefan-Boltzmann formula) and gets a logically correct but misleading answer…

Citing Monckton, Monbiot writes:

…”the UN repealed a fundamental physical law”, doubling the size of the constant (lambda) in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. By assigning the wrong value to lambda, the UN’s panel has exaggerated the sensitivity of the climate to extra carbon dioxide. Monckton’s analysis looks impressive. It is nonsense from start to finish.His claims about the Stefan-Boltzmann equation have been addressed by someone who does know what he’s talking about, Dr Gavin Schmidt of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He begins by pointing out that Stefan-Boltzmann is a description of radiation from a “black body” – an idealised planet that absorbs all the electromagnetic radiation that reaches it. The Earth is not a black body. It reflects some of the radiation it receives back into space.

I wonder how many of our commenters can spot the mistake? Hopefully the majority. One of the commenters (“Coolhead“) below the article sets him straight in part

Gavin Schmidt is a competent scientist. He is also a clever debater . Gavin, and a number of his like-minded colleagues, have perfected the art of targeting a relatively trivial technical point and making it appear as though it demolishes the entire argument. The Stefan-Boltzmann relationship is fundamental in defining the climate of the earth at every level of the atmosphere. Monckton has, admittedly, used the S-B formula in a rather simplistic way in that he calculates the warming response to an increase in Carbon Dioxide – while assuming all other factors remain fixed, i.e. he does not include feedback effects. However, since nobody knows how large these feedbacks are – or even whether they are positive or negative, Monckton’s estimate is as good as anyone’s, So I make this 1-0 to Monckton.

Also Monbiot appears to be still partying like its 1999 and Mann, Bradley and Hughes are riding high.

Well, the reason the “medieval warm period” doesn’t show up on the UN panel’s graphs is simple. As far as climatologists can tell, there wasn’t one. So why did the Vikings, as Monckton points out, settle in Greenland?As a paper published in Reviews of Geophysics shows, Vikings first arrived in Greenland at the very beginning of the “warm period” Monckton discusses, when temperatures, even according to his graph, were lower than they are today. They did so because life had become too hot for them in their adopted home (Iceland): not climatically, but politically. There does appear to have been a slight warming in some parts of the northern hemisphere. There is no reliable evidence that this was a global phenomenon.

and again “Coolhead” sets him straight:

This one is an absolute 100%, 24-carat gold-plated, gimme for Monckton. The UN Panel’s graph is the infamous “Hockey stick”. Those that still try to defend it (apart from it’s creators) either haven’t acquainted themselves with the facts or simply don’t understand them. The hockey stick is a reconstruction based on tree ring data which claims to shows the climate history over the past several centuries. There are a number of things wrong with it, but the main case against it is that:-

The researchers used a methodology which identified data series with unusual 20th century growth; then gave them a weighting which ensured that these data would be most influential in the eventual reconstruction. This is a process known as ‘data mining’. Note that this was not necessarily done deliberately. Apart from the H-S fiasco, there is an avalanche of studies from ALL OVER the world which shows that the effects of the MWP and the Little Ice Age which followed were both deep and widespread – 3-0 to Monckton.

You can see that I had a go myself with Monbiot to which he replied (was I the only one to receive this treatment?) and to which I responded.

I cannot resist one quote from a commenter that I cannot understand. Either he’s serious or he’s being satirical, I can’t tell. It’s a close call for “CarbonDave

All good stuff. Thank you so much George for keeping sane and eloquent in the face of so much ugly stuff.

The only point I wanted to add is that we all need to trust our instincts and intuition more and not get sucked into the finer detail of the grown ups argument.

Yes. Quite.


  1. fFreddy
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 3:35 PM | Permalink

    From two posts below John’s at the linked site :

    Here in Canada, there’s a special investigative programme into the “myth” of global warming on TV this week.

    Anyone know anything about this ?

  2. 2br02b
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    To add to the sense of the whole pro-AGW case descending into farce (and George Monbiot is always a prime supplier of farce, of course) I’ve just happened across a news report on BBC News with their correspondent standing among smoldering peat in Borneo, pointing to clouds of smoke ascending into the air, “As you can see, this is pumping billions of tonnes of poisonous CO2 greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. In fact, these fires in Borneo are creating twenty times as much CO2 as the whole of the UK.”

    First: Gosh, I’ve never actually seen CO2 gas before. I’d always thought that stuff was called ‘smoke’.

    Second: If an unstopable peat fire in Borneo produces 20 times as much CO2 as the UK (which is about 2% of the world, we are told) then Borneo is about twice as bad an ‘offender’ as the United States. Add in everywhere else with a tropical jungle, and that might end up being 100+ times more than the UK.

    Third: Even if Stern, Monbiot etc., were 100% correct, then the war is lost; what’s the point in windmills?

  3. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

    Re the “myth”. It aired last night on Fifth Estate under the topic of “Denial”.
    They lumped it in with tobacco cancer and other topics, saying it is suported by a “few” people who dispute the “debate is over”. There was no science there except a quote by Tim Ball. It was essentially propaganda. Too bad CBC cannot do a real investigation into the real causes of temperature change. Even a friend of ours who has no position in any of that thought they were over the top in their methods. I have already sent one note to Fifth Estate. It will be on several times this weekend on CBC Newsworld as they fill in time slots. You can get the time by Googling Fifth Estate.

  4. Follow the Money
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    2bornot2b writes:

    To add to the sense of the whole pro-AGW case descending into farce

    An observation – manipulators of the farce aren’t totally foolish.

    The TIPPING POINT! scare-mongerers saw that meme buried in the near-hurricane-less USA summer of 2006. They’ve dropped it from their talking points, the voices continuing with it just earnest true-believer folks.

    The CONSENSUS! about global warming has also died as a meme by the major players. But they have converted the same feeling into a clever nuance. Note in the past few months the politicians barking the lobbies’ talking points say “climate change” rather than “global warming.” I’ve read politicians say consensus-sounding things like “There is no doubt there is climate change.” Well, of course, climate changes all the time. No one doubts that.

    But “climate change” here is stated in contexts where the words are used to support global warming. Very crafty.


    Democratic senators throw down gauntlet to Bush on climate change

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – In a direct challenge to President George W. Bush’s policy on climate change, three Democratic senators have urged him to support mandatory US limits on greenhouse gases and help forge an “equitable” global deal on climate change. [There’s that “climate change” again..]

    Senators Barbara Boxer, Jeff Bingaman and Joseph Lieberman, all set to head key committees on global warming when Democrats take over Congress in January, called on Bush to work with the incoming majority to pass “meaningful” climate change legislation next year.

    “The US must move quickly to adopt economy-wide constraints on domestic GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and then work with the international community to forge an effective and equitable global agreement,” the senators said in a letter sent to Bush Wednesday.

    Bush has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, saying it would hurt the US economy, and is strongly opposed to its approach of binding cuts, also called caps, in emissions.

    Instead, he has promoted voluntary action, backed by some incentives for cleaner energy sources and gains in energy efficiency.

    Here we go! Instead of proposing plans to cut ALL pollution, and get our cars off MidEast oil the Democrats sign up for an International Finance scam that won’t do a positive thing. Years ago the Senate voted down Kyoto 95-0. I guess the lobbies had to rename Kyoto to make it fly.

    As for Bush, he sounds better. I don’t mind “caps” it’s the “caps and trade” which are the financial scam. But “voluntary actions?” Typical big-business Republican “self-regulation” garbage. Increasing energy efficiency and the like would satisfy the Carbon believers because it would reduce carbon – and other pollutants. Bush doesn’t have it in him to make the big decisions and fundings to clean up our air and get our cars off foreign oil, therefore the Lobbies may be able to create the impression the Democrats are “really doing something.”

  5. Boris
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

    You guys are pinning your hopes on this Monckton guy?

    Which of Monbiot’s arguments are “strawy”? Pointing out Monckton’s false claim about Hansen, which he apparently got from Michael Crichton?

    I think I’ll go write an articel on palientology, considering how I’ve read Jurassic Park and everything.

  6. jae
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 9:27 PM | Permalink


    I think I’ll go write an articel on palientology

    LOL. Your spelling is worse than mine, even with the wine!

  7. Nicholas
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 10:01 PM | Permalink

    However, since nobody knows how large these feedbacks are – or even whether they are positive or negative, Monckton’s estimate is as good as anyone’s

    I would rephrase this as:

    However, since nobody knows how large these feedbacks are – or even whether they are positive or negative, Monckton’s estimate is as bad as anyone’s

    Follow the Money: Isn’t it true that, despite not signing up to Kyoto or implementing any caps, US CO2 production is closer to be “on target” to most countries that DID sign up?

    If so, why would the Democrats want to mess with a good thing? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  8. Follow the Money
    Posted Nov 16, 2006 at 11:09 PM | Permalink

    Follow the Money: Isn’t it true that, despite not signing up to Kyoto or implementing any caps, US CO2 production is closer to be “on target” to most countries that DID sign up?

    Yes. We’re beating the figures Kyoto would have imposed on us, and the Western Euros are not, because we have long had tougher air quality standards. (Whether the incoming EU regulations meet or go farther than American standards I do not know.) By cutting pollution from smoke stacks with scrubbers and the other processes and turning away from coal energy, production by coincidence CO2, which BTW isn’t considered a pollutant by the EPA, is being cut down anyway -along with other noxious gases.

    You might be interested to know the Kyoto Carbon Trading Markets follows the American “Trade and Cap” precedent. Beginning in the 1970’s this program was carried out to rebuild or substitute out electricity production by coal. It was aimed at ALL pollution, and “pollution credits” were traded. Coal generators, especially in the Northeast were creating measurable, real problems like acid rain and many of them were proximate to cities. I have little doubt that fishiness occured in “Cap and Trade” but it is different than Kyoto for various reasons. For one, in a domestic context it was used to soften the variable economic impact between domestic competitors on the national grid. Another was the EPA could assure domestic compliance by its jurisdiction and the companies were well-equipped with lawyers to make sure the other side played fair.

    Besides the Kyoto-cheating scenarios I mentioned earlier there is one that has an special attraction to international carbon trading – lying. For example, a Chinese coal facility could simply claim to have reduced carbon by, say, 10%. How you going to prove it true? It’s another invitation to cheat, it’s like printing money. In fact, it’s cheaper than printing money since no paper is involved. Now I may be cynical, but a few months after the UN accepted Kyoto a certain very wealthy Canadian political figure know as the “Father of Kyoto” invested in two or three dirty Chinese coal facilities. This individual is currently on the lam from an American subpena to testify in an Oil For Food scandal case. Could it have been a plan to report fictional decreases in carbon production so Canada would pay for Chinese credit that might go into his pocket? Who knows?

    If so, why would the Democrats want to mess with a good thing? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    We can always do better. The American oil problem is based in vehicles not electricty production. This Lieberman plan in my prior post will do nothing about that. It is brashly focused on international carbon credit trading. Also, George Bush has raised expectations by his “Addiction to Oil” statements and then doing next to nothing about it except talk about “market solutions” in a market where the major players don’t want any change.

    George Bush did years ago talk about the “hydrogen economy” and several democrats such as Kerry, the red headed guy from Missouri (mental block!), floated ideas about a “Man to the Moon” type investment to go to hydrogen, but then they dropped them. Why? Maybe nobody slipped them a plan of legislation into their hands, maybe some money backers complained, maybe the focus groups said the base would rather hear about windmills and solar panels.

    One of these Democrats does know the issues and by his advocacy of this international scam here it might tell us he is a rotten character. Would it surprise you to hear that it is “Honest Joe” Lieberman. When he ran for president in ’04 he was espousing, for his brief run, coal conversion into hydrogen for vehicles. Apparently hydrogen is more cheaply extracted from coal than oil (but not n. gas). So there was a man with a plan and in his debut announcement after the hard-fought 2006 campaign he drops energy independence for a global financial scam?

    The only way to “get off our addiction to oil” is to get off oil, and a massive funding like NASA or Star Wars for a plan and action that is controlled by the Defense Department as a National Security issue.

    I suspect most don’t know what they are doing

  9. Nicholas
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 12:22 AM | Permalink

    FTM please e-mail me at hb <AT> as I’m interested in discussing this with you but am afraid it’s rather off-topic.

  10. Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 2:39 AM | Permalink

    For some reason I can’t post a response to Monckton so I’ll post it here:


    £10 says Monbiot ignores the science (and he’s clearly clueless about basic physics despite his BSc in Zoology) and makes further personalized attacks regarding “deniers”, which is a crude attempt to smear people with a comparison to Holocaust Deniers.

    Instead, I think he’ll go positive, talking about the Nairobi Conference (bureacrats know where the best places are to go for a conference in November) and the Climate Bill in the Queen’s Speech.

    Monbiot can’t answer your questions in science, and his track record is to ignore the science and refer to you witheringly in passing like a bad odour. He’ll certainly ignore the comments to his last rant, and the fact that he, not you, got major scientific and historical statements wrong. Relying on Schmidt is a really bad idea.

    As I noted ( Monbiot is seven years behind. We now know the Hockey Stick is a fake, a product of automated cherrypicking and bad statistics. We now know that Mann hid clear evidence that his Hockey Stick was sensitive to the removal of just one proxy, the Bristlecone Pines. We now know that he lied about the supposed statistical skill of his method.

    The Hockey Stick is a powerful metaphor – so when I come across statements such as “pre-industrial global temperature”, I know that I’m dealing not with real science but with the Hockey Stick.

  11. John Lish
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 6:18 AM | Permalink

    There’s a fault in the Grundiad’s system John. Try to post myself without success.

  12. Boris
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 6:38 AM | Permalink

    7: It’s well known that the dictionary lobby is covering up true spelling. It’s a UN plot. Beewhere.

  13. Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 6:54 AM | Permalink

    Monckton strikes back:,,1947977,00.html


  14. Jack
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    I think it’s been overlooked a bit that the Telegraph figure (which Monckton disclaimed, according to Tim Lambert) was based on the IPCC’s 1990 schematic diagram, which wasn’t quantitative and which didn’t have supporting data. This one:

    Even if we decry the propagation of the “Hockey Stick” as a misleading meme, the fact that this graph is still out there, exaggerating the magnitude of the MWP compared to the present-day warming, is an unfortunate side-effect of the Web’s defective collective memory.

    Mr. McIntyre has done a decent job of making sure that the MWP didn’t get erased from paleoclimate history. But we should also make an effort to put into realistic perspective. Hopefully the Telegraph’s figure won’t propagate.

  15. Jack
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    Figure at this link, for example (I thought figures could be posted here):

  16. Loki on the run
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    Physics will be someone’s undoing one day, it seems

    This paper, as pointed out by DocMartyn, Earth’s Annual Mean Global Energy Budget suggests that the radiative forcing of the atmosphere due to CO2:

    is not linear but more nearly approximates a logartihmic increase

    They also point out that water vapour dominates … so it would seem that the atmosphere is in some sort of dynamic stability with respect to CO2 increases …

  17. jae
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    18: Link doesn’t work for me.

  18. Loki on the run
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    Ahhh, I screwed it up. Here it is:

    Earth’s Annual Mean Global Energy Budget.

  19. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 1:30 PM | Permalink

    re: #18,20

    Nice to have the paper that the graph I’ve been using for some time (Fig. 7) came from. But the paper is rather old. Isn’t there an updated version? You’ll note that in this paper at least, the errors were several times the 3 watts/m^2 that the system was out of balance. I guess I’ll have to go back and read how this was supposed to have been gotten around when the Earth out of Balance scare went around a few years ago.

  20. Loki on the run
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Trenberth seems to support the AGW crowd: Global Warming is Happening

    The latest 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reaffirms in much stronger language that the climate is changing and the major cause is from human effects on changing the composition of the atmosphere through use of fossil fuels and deforestation. The long lifetime of several greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide lasts for over a century) suggests that we can not stop the changes, but we can slow them down. Moreover, the slow response of the oceans to warming, means that we have not yet seen all of the climate change the planet is already committed to. Major climate changes are projected under all likely scenarios of the future and the rates of change are much greater than occur naturally, and so are likely to be very disruptive.

  21. Joe B
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 2:32 PM | Permalink

    “. Moreover, the slow response of the oceans to warming, means that we have not yet seen all of the climate change the planet is already committed to. ”

    Except for that fact that the oceans recently lost about %20 of their heat.

  22. Loki on the run
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    What would be interesting then is an analysis of the change in albedo with temperature change, and how SSTs and global average atmosphere temperatures affect that.

  23. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 17, 2006 at 10:17 PM | Permalink

    Except for that fact that the oceans recently lost about %20 of their heat.

    I’ve seen that too. Energy is conserved so where did the heat go? Into the atmosphere and out the 8-14 um window? Into the deep ocean? Anyone know?

  24. Nobody in particular
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 1:13 AM | Permalink


    Not sure about other regions but I read one meteorologist describe the situation in the Atlantic as this: A stronger Bermuda High this year resulted in stronger trade winds. This increased surface evaporative cooling causing reduced surface temperatures and also created higher wind shear conditions that tended to curtail storm development. So we saw fewer storms and fewer of the storms that did develop gathered much strength because of the stronger wind conditions associated with a steeper Bermnuda High pressure gradient.

    What I am keeping my eye on is Solar Cycle 25. It is currently predicted to be extremely weak. In fact, the magnetic “conveyor belt” that is thought to drive sunspots and is thought to predict two cycles ahead is the weakest ever recorded.

  25. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 4:30 AM | Permalink


    Magnetic conveyor belt?

    Better explain this one please.

  26. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 4:47 AM | Permalink


    Now that is interesting – if the oceans lost heat, then where did the heat go?

    If it went downwards into the abyssal deeps then we have a heat suction engine operating, so let’s stop and think

    Take a veritcal cross section through the air and the ocean, ocean at the bottom of the section.

    Bottom of the ocean is 5 deg C, just below the liquid/gas interace, 10 deg C, above the inerface 40 C ( air is hot because of AGW). Above that we have space at -250 C.

    Now what is the heat flow direction? Logic says all the heat has to go up.

    So why did the oceans cool?

    What cooled – the conclusions from measurement, or the conclusions from computer modelling?

    In anycase if the energy transfer from the sun to the earth is constant, then any rise in temp on some parts of the earth, will be compensated for by a lowering elsewhere.

  27. maksimovich
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 5:24 AM | Permalink

    re 28 “The Great Conveyor Belt is a massive circulating current of fire (hot plasma) within the Sun. It has two branches, north and south, each taking about 40 years to perform one complete circuit. Researchers believe the turning of the belt controls the sunspot cycle, and that’s why the slowdown is important.”

    “Normally, the conveyor belt moves about 1 meter per second”¢’‚¬?walking pace,” says Hathaway. “That’s how it has been since the late 19th century.” In recent years, however, the belt has decelerated to 0.75 m/s in the north and 0.35 m/s in the south. “We’ve never seen speeds so low.”

  28. McCall
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 11:23 AM | Permalink

    re: 29 “In anycase if the energy transfer from the sun to the earth is constant
    Perhaps Usoskin, Solanki, Krivova, and Hoyt, are among many who would be surprised at the “constant” assumption, since the “solar constant” isn’t.

    Added support for 28 (and counter to 29): Magnetic Sources of the Solar Irradiance Cycle

  29. McCall
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Re: 31 “added support for…” — apologies. I now realize your question was probably only with the phrase, “magnetic conveyor belt” (in referring to the sun), and not with solar magnetic variations and TSI in general?

  30. Nobody in particular
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    The idea being that it looks like cycle 25 is going to be extremely weak. Weak solar cycles have in the past coincided with cooler temperatures on Earth. Recent cycles have been fairly active by historical standards and we have had warmer years. Or to be more accurate, when we have observed cooler temperatures on Earth we have also observed lower than normal sunspot activity. So far most of what I read attributes this cooling to increased cosmic rays due to a decreased solar magnetic field causing greater cloud cover.

    It will be interesting to watch cycle 25 unfold and see if we can directly observe any relationship with climate. There is an Australian paper that predicted a lower cycle 24 and 25 but the folks observing the solar conveyor belt are calling for an active cycle 24. Both, however, agree that 25 is going to be weak. The Australian paper is by David C. Archibald.

    Link to PDF

  31. Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    Re #33

    Jeepers, I hope they’re wrong. A Dalton Minimum style decline would really hurt a lot of vulnerable people, especially in semi-deserts because of the increased aridity. I would expect deserts like the Sahara (which is currently shrinking) to start growing southward again.

  32. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 6:27 PM | Permalink


    Correct – of course it isn’t – I recall thinking about somthing else at the time, but the typing fingers got ahead of me. It was alate at night and a wee dram must affected the grey cell motion.

  33. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 6:30 PM | Permalink


    oooh now I see what I wrote – I said ‘IF” the energy from the sun was constant, THEN blah blah. If in addtion to the thermal disequilrium on the earth, we have solar, then it gets even more complex. Point taken in any case.

  34. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 6:32 PM | Permalink



  35. Stevan Naylor
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 6:46 PM | Permalink


    Remember the 2005 hurricane season? I’ve read elsewhere that the number and intensity of the TC activity is responsible for the approx 20% drop in SST in the western Atlantic basin. IOW – the heat got transported to space by all those tropical storms.

  36. Nobody in particular
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

    “I’ve read elsewhere that the number and intensity of the TC activity is responsible for the approx 20% drop in SST in the western Atlantic basin.”

    While I am not doubting that someone wrote that, I am doubting that anyone understanding tropical weather is buying it. For storms in 2005 to reduce the heat content of the Atlantic a year later by 20% is pretty much fantastic. The heat content over the winter would have had to be much lower than that and it wasn’t.

    Basically, spring sea surface temperatures have been decreasing in the Atlantic since they reached a maximum in 2000.

    NOAA Link

    2005 spring surface temperatures were actually lower than 2004 spring temperatures and 2006 spring temperatures were actually a little above 2005. So the heat content in spring was actually measured to be the opposite of what would be intuitive if you would think the 2005 storms depleted the ocean heat content. The difference was that 2006 didn’t heat up like 2005 did because of the increased trade winds. These increased winds also brought an increase in dust from Africa as well.

  37. jae
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 8:26 PM | Permalink

    38: Right on, brother! The Earth knows how to rid itself of excess heat, or we WOULD have had MANY run-away events in the past. It’s just STUPID to posit a “tipping point,” else it would have happened many times in the past.

  38. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 18, 2006 at 10:07 PM | Permalink

    40: I second that. I once did a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation to estimate what the temperature of the earth would be if there was no weather and the surface temperature was solely determined by radiation through the atmosphere. It came out to be about 80 C. Since the earth’s temperature is about 15 C this amounts to an anti-greenhouse effect of 65 C caused by clouds, convection, and so on transporting heat from the surface to the top of the atmosphere and out to space.

  39. 2br02b
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    Re #41:

    I’m afraid the back of your envelope needs re-programming, or something. There is a much simpler way to determing what the earth’s temperature would be without greenhouse, clouds, etc.

    It is this:

    Question: What is the mean temperature of the moon?
    Answer: About 250 K, or -23 C.

    The difference in mean temperature between the two bodies is largely due to the so-called greenhouse effect. (In actual fact, since the moon’s albedo is very much less than that of the earth, the earth would be yet cooler, everything else being equal.)

    I think there are very few of us here who would deny that there is a ‘greenhouse’ effect. Where we diverge from the so-called ‘consensus’ is when that ‘consensus’ try to tell us (without any sustainable evidence) that the earth’s temperature is increasing at an unprecidented rate, and that it’s us humans who are to blame.

  40. Louis Hissink
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 4:43 AM | Permalink


    and goes off to the field.

  41. John Reid
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 4:44 AM | Permalink

    Re #41,42.

    I agree. I think this is the core of the problem. The idea of a “tipping point” beyond which the planet is drawn into a catastrophic positive feedback cycle is the belief system underlying all the hysteria. This, in turn, comes from a numerical modeling head-set. Anyone who has played around with circulation models knows how they take off to infinity at the drop of hat. If an error in the coding or boundary conditions cannot be found then the eddy diffusion has to be increased until everything calms down again. Another reason is the Milankovitch theory of ice-ages. Changes in solar heating due to orbital variations are not in themselves sufficient to bring about the temperature changes observed in the ice cores. Consequently positive feedback (e.g. via increased albedo of the ice caps) is invoked as an amplifier.

    IMHO positive feedback of sufficient gain to give rise to catastrophic runaway effects is not nearly as common in nature as it is in numerical models because thermodynamic effects are always working to dissipate free energy and damp down real systems in a manner which cannot be easily parameterized in models. Positive feedback is the bogey-man of modelers and it has become the bogey-man of the rest of climatology.

    As for Milankovitch, I find it really hard to believe that any mechanism which depends so strongly on positive feedback could lead to such regular and repeatable cycles as those observed in the Vostok ice cores. Positive feedback is a very unstable mechanism and usually leads to wildly chaotic behaviour.

  42. Nicholas
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 4:46 AM | Permalink

    2br02b : You missed his point. He was calculating what the temperature would be if there WAS an atmospheric greenhouse effect, but without the cooling effects (e.g. convection, clouds) that atmosphere provides. The moon has no “greenhouse effect” therefore is a bad indicator for that metric. It’s a purely theoretical measure since if you have an atmosphere to provide a greenhouse effect clearly it will also provide convection cooling etc.

  43. 2br02b
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 6:28 AM | Permalink

    Re: #45:

    He was calculating what the temperature would be if there WAS an atmospheric greenhouse effect

    That is not what he said he was doing, which was calculating what would be the answer if…

    …surface temperature was solely determined by radiation through the atmosphere

    To me, that reads like “no greenhouse effect”. And on that basis, the moon is the ideal indicator.

  44. Nicholas
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 6:46 AM | Permalink

    Err, isn’t the “greenhouse effect” generated by the interaction of the radiation and the atmosphere?

  45. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

    Nicholas is right, 2Br02B. Paul was imagining something like an atmosphere without air movement (or clouds). In such a case you’ll get a gradient; very hot at the surface and gradually cooler as you go up until you get to the top of the atmosphere. In the real world, of course, the hot air rises and in many places the water vapor causes clouds and precipitation.

  46. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    47 & 48: Exactly right. Actually, I was imagining a thin atmosphere with no gradient, but the answer is the same.

    42 & 46: The moon’s temperature is determined strictly by the incoming solar flux and its surface albedo via Stephan-Boltzmann. It has no atmosphere, hence no “greenhouse effect.”

  47. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Good morning all,

    The Moon has no atmosphere worth mentioning because it did not have enough mass to keep an atmosphere from quickly escaping into space, and because it is geologically dead so the lost gases are not replenished.

    The Earth is much more massive than the Moon, so the Earth’s atmosphere leaks into space much more slowly. Also, the Earth is geologically and biologically active, which produces gases to make up for the gases lost to space.

    from here: “AstronomyAnswerBook: The Moon”

    So the earth isn’t a green house-in the true sense of what a green house is- which is a closed structure So gravity plays a role.

    Well hell’s bells, glad somebody on this planet is talking about how complex it all is instead of plugging numbers into a computer and thinking their a perfect model is Alive I tell you! 🙂

    [section 6 of this web page answers question and is discussion of moon/weather/temperature] which I thought interesting.

  48. Tom
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    Gore’s response to Monckton
    And, despite Viscount Monckton’s recycled claims about the so-called “hockey stick” graph (an old and worn-out hobby horse of the pollution lobby in the US), this faux controversy has long since been thoroughly debunked. The global-warming deniers in the US were so enthusiastic about this particular canard that our National Academy of Sciences eventually put together a formal panel, comprised of a broad range of scientists, including some of the most sceptical, which vindicated the main findings embodied in the “hockey stick” and definitely rejected the claims that Monckton is now recycling for British readers.

    Orwellian deviation appears to be running at about 180.

  49. Vasco
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 10:55 AM | Permalink

    Orwellian deviation appears to be running at about 180.

    Machiavellian rather…

  50. 2br02b
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    Re #48:

    I’m sorry, but the phrase…
    surface temperature was solely determined by radiation through the atmosphere

    …does not ‘incorporate’ the greenhouse effect in any way.

    The greenhouse effect is not determined by radiation through the atmosphere but by molecular interference with surface radiation preventing surface heat escaping back into space through the atmosphere from happening in the first place. In other words, “radiation through the atmosphere” (or its lack) is an effect and not a cause.

    If what was intended was to say that the greenhouse effect is cause by the interaction of the radiation and the atmosphere, then I do not dispute that and have no argument with Paul, but it was not what he stated earlier, and what he stated earlier is what I addressed.

  51. Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    It bothers me that Gore seems incredibly prone to conflating two or three arguments into one, and also exaggerating for effect. It seems a rather persistent trait in him.

    The NAS Panel bent over backwards to avoid condemning the Hockey Stick outright, even though it accepted every single criticism made by Steve and Ross. It even reaffirmed the global extent of the Litte Ice Age, something specifically denied by Mann only last year.

    I was right about the NAS Panel though. I should have made a bet.

  52. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

    Sorry, 2brO2b. I have to agree that the phrasing does not imply that all radiation makes it through the atmosphere, which seems to be your interpretation.

  53. Follow the Money
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

    John Reid writes:

    The idea of a “tipping point” beyond which the planet is drawn into a catastrophic positive feedback cycle is the belief system underlying all the hysteria. This, in turn, comes from a numerical modeling head-set

    I respectfully disagree with you Mr. Reid. The “tipping point” is not generated from suspect science itself, but poli
    but economic interests fearing political failure. Tipping point, probably dreamed up by some clever staffer in the NGO division of a public relations firm, is a response as I see it as to doubts rising in Europe about the carbon trading models and fears all hopes for an American market for carbon credits may reach a point of no return. There is a little hope still in America given some recent Democratic party interest. Pelosi was taught to say that America needs to “cooperate” on a “global” scale: this feeds in to leftish insecurities that “the world” knows better than “America” and the bizarre charge of “unilateralism” against Bush might be resurrected to this end. Instilling fears of “tipping points” seeks the political phenomenon of “stampeding” – to stampede a political process into adopting something foul-smelling fast. Many have commented Bush tried to do this with immigration reform earlier this year – though he failed.

    Tom writes:

    Orwellian deviation appears to be running at about 180.

    I wouldn’t say 180 degrees. Gore’s statement about the NAS panel paper is essentially accurate as to the intended purpose of the paper. The purpose was plain to me, and others here who posted: The NAS intended to blend the almost now indefensible tree ring proxies supporting current carbon based AGW with other cherrypicked proxy studies showing the same results, but without the critical examination given to the tree-ring studies. In short the tree-reing proxies were “Fake, but accurate.”

    I am not a professional scientist. I read that report as an almost gleeful support for CBAGW and proxy studies of the kind selected. Trust that most of the world would read it that way. Gore did, and the NAS report will be the prominent substitute for hockeysticks in the next IPCC propaganda rag.

    BTW, for others interested, I read that Britain’s plan to con the ex-colonials involves a carbon trading market set up by themselves, i.e., in addition to the European-wide one. Makes sense, why let the French in on it, and Tony Blair has a certain style and respect that give many Americans of the leftish variety a deer-in-the-headlights look.

  54. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 19, 2006 at 8:07 PM | Permalink


    If what was intended was to say that the greenhouse effect is cause[sic] by the interaction of the radiation and the atmosphere

    Yes, that’s what I meant, what else could cause it?

  55. 2br02b
    Posted Nov 20, 2006 at 4:08 AM | Permalink

    Re: #57:

    Of course, I agree.

    My entire point was that radiation does not cause the greenhouse effect, the atmosphere does.

    Hence, for “…the surface temperature [to be] solely determined by radiation…” as you put it, not just clouds and so on would have to go; so would the greenhouse effect. Therefore the atmosphere would not in fact determine the surface temperature at all. Therefore the moon is a valid comparison. That was my entire point.

    I now accept that that is not what you meant, but I’d still say it’s what you wrote, no doubt unintentionally.

    I don’t think it’s worth making a great issue over this, so I’ll say no more on it.

  56. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 20, 2006 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    RE: #10 – in the war on respiratory illnesses, the EPA have inadvertantly cut the carbon output.

  57. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 20, 2006 at 2:08 PM | Permalink

    RE: #34 – I’d hate to be in an arid or semi arid climate in the mid latitudes, if global cooling sets in. Got dust? We’d be talking about a cross between the Great Dust Bowl of the US in the 1930s, and, the Great Brown Clowd. All juxtaposed against fierce northers and sudden blizzards in the midsts of Eurasia and the Americas. Africa would not fare well either, especially along the Mediterranean margin and way down south in the antipodes in similar climes.

  58. John Reid
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

    RE #56 – Follow the Money

    I made the comment about a possible origin of the more extreme AGW ideas because I think it is important to understand where ideas come from in order to counter them. My theory is based on discussions I have had with former colleagues, mostly oceanographers, who seem to be caught up in the current hysteria. To me it looks as if they have all gone mad but then they probably think the same about me.

    I do not believe these people are influenced very much by ideas dreamed up for economic reasons by public relations firms but they are certainly influenced by ideas which float around in the scientific community. “Tipping point” is a term which is currently fashionable among the AGW crowd and popular science journals like New Scientist.

    You appear to believe that AGW is a conspiracy; I just think it is a mistake.


  59. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

    Positive feedbacks can lead to “tipping points”. Just as negative feedbacks can cap a process so that it doesn’t “run away”. I wonder if these “hysterical oceanographers” are neglecting the possibility of strong negative feedback from clouds.

  60. Joe B
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 10:37 AM | Permalink


    Wih regards to “tipping points,” James hansen spoke about them again today while accepting his “WWF Medal.”

    “There is still a huge gap between what is understood about global warming, by the scientific community, and what is known about global warming, by those who need to know, the public and policymakers,” he said.

    “We must close that gap and move our energy systems in a fundamentally different direction within about a decade, or we will have pushed the planet past a tipping point beyond which it will be impossible to avoid far-ranging undesirable consequences.

    “This fate can be avoided with policies that make sense for other reasons, policies that result in cleaner air and reduced dependence on fossil fuels, but the changes must begin soon to avoid economic disruption and hardship.”

  61. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    RE: #63 – In other words, “we are using the tipping point hysteria as a vehicle to bring about the ‘ecological utopia’ described by, among others, Ernest Callenbach.”

  62. KevinUK
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 4:51 PM | Permalink


    From the Hansen link

    “Dr Hansen was among the first to see the looming threat of climate change and to sound the alarm,” said James Leape, WWF International’s Director General. “For more than two decades he has made huge contributions to scientific understanding of climate change and to raising awareness among decision-makers and the public.”

    “From his plain-speaking before the US Congress in 1988 about the implications of climate change to his recent warnings that we have only a short time to act before we face irreversible damage to our planet and its natural systems, he has been at the forefront of climate science. At WWF, we are pleased to be able to recognize his outstanding achievements.”

    Right who is going to provide me with the references that show that “For more than two decades he has made huge contributions to scientific understanding of climate change” as I’m sorry but that’s b******s. He’s run bloody computer simulations that have been tuned to show agreement with past climate and as a result claims validity (NOT!) for future predictions made with the same tuned model. That’s not “making a huge contribution to the scientific understanding of climate change. Warmers if you disagree then quote me some references where Hansen has conducted real experiments (not bloody computer simulations) that have uncovered new physics that wasn’t known prior to the 1970s.

    “From his plain-speaking …”, LOL. What bloody plain-speaking. So claiming 99% certainty in the predictions of a computer model is plain speaking? This guy has been claiming that irreversible ‘tipping point’ climate changes were only a decade away since 1988. It’s now 2006 (nearly two decades later) and this guy is still coming out with his same old alarmist claims of future impending (NOT!) doom.


  63. John Reid
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    Re #62 bender

    There are two sorts of positive feedback depending on whether the poles of the z-transform all lie inside the unit circle or not – i.e stable and unstable. The stable sort almost certainly does play a part in climate systems – ice albedo making it cooler for example. My belief is that the unstable sort is quite uncommon in nature because any system in which it is possible is rapidly driven “out of range”. If unstable feedback is a possibility then it will already have happened. Postulating negative feedback to compensate doesn’t really work.

    Re #63 and #64

    Yes it is a classic “tipping point” quote. Hansen probably does believe it himself though, which is why I prefer to use the word “hysteria” rather than “conspiracy”.

    I have still not found out what the precise mechanism is for this postulated climatic tipping point. Does it come out of numerical modeling? Where is it discussed in the refereed literature?


  64. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 5:39 PM | Permalink

    RE: #66 – Over at Real Climate they prattle on about methane clathrates, CO2 coming out of sea water solution, die offs of forests and melting of permafrost injecting a massive spike of GHGs into the atmosphere as the reputed “tipping point” mechanism.

  65. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    “There are two sorts of positive feedback depending on whether the poles of the z-transform all lie inside the unit circle or not”

    Not to be hyper-critical, JR, but I think I missed something here. poles? z-transform? unit-circle? Care to paraphrase? Either without the technical jargon, or with these terms defined?

  66. David Smith
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 6:10 PM | Permalink

    Today (21 November) saw the earliest snowfall on record at two old southern US cities: Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. Portions of the South Carolina coast received up to 4cm (2 inches) of snow on grassy surfaces.

    Both are coastal cities at about 33N latitude.

  67. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Re #67
    These are positive feedback mechanisms. Maybe they imply the existence of a “tipping point”, and maybe they don’t. The devil’s in the details.

    Re #66
    Seems to me the argument the alarmists are making is not just that there is a tipping point, but that the tipping point is a dividing line between the climatic heaven we once knew and a climatic hell we are soon to experience. My point is that the nature of the separatrix and that of the basins of attraction are somewhat separate issues. Hysteresis by itself is nothing to get hysterical about.

    So I come back to #62. How wrong are the skeptics to argue that strong negative feedback from clouds puts these two worlds much closer together than the hysterical alarmists suggest?

  68. Stevan Naylor
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

    RE #39 – Nobody in Particlar:

    As a long-time lurker I should have known better than to post something beginning with ‘I’ve read elsewhere…’ I not only gave no source for my recollection; the recollection was faulty as well. Your comment properly drove me to find what source I was referring to and what it actually said. Thank you.

    At Climate Science there are several posts concerning Recent Cooling of the Upper Ocean – Lyman, et. al. Geophysical Research Letters 09/20/2006.

    Pielke notes: “A search on google shows that there is remarkably little media coverage on this observation of cooling. What there is understates the significance of the finding that over 20% of the heat gained since the mid 1950s were lost in just two years! The reason for this large negative radiative imbalance in the Earth’s climate system is a “mystery, but it certainly indicates that the multi-decadal global climate models have serious issues with their ability to accurately simulate the response of the climate system to human- and natural-climate forcings.”

  69. Greg F
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 6:34 PM | Permalink


    poles? z-transform? unit-circle? Care to paraphrase?

    It is just basic EE stuff.

  70. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    RE: #68 – I vaguely recall working with poles and zeros in filter design courses and other parts of the electrical engieering curriculum that dealt with system stability. For example, designing amplifiers or most integrated circuits, you need to ensure that everything stays in the safe operating area and that transistors remain in the region of linearity or else you start to clip the signals and get distortion. Even in digital circuits the transistors need to be operated in their correct regions or else you’ll flip bits at the wrong times and corrupt the data. Z transforms are a third alternative to Laplace and Fourier transforms, but man, I am really rusty here, so this is about as far as I’ll go. Perhaps someone who still does real (analog) electrical engineering, or can remember school better, can fill in the rest here.

  71. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

    Re #72
    Yes, and given that the discussion is about climate, not EE “stuff”, it would be helpful for readers of CA to define those terms, or else paraphrase the statement so that those terms aren’t needed. Your “clarification”, for example, does nothing to clarify how these two “forms” of feedback might apply in climate science.

  72. Paul Linsay
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

    #72-74 Poles in the left half plane means that a system is exponentially damped with respect to perturbation, i.e., stable. Poles in the right half plane mean that there is exponential growth of some variable(s) and the system is unstable. All this is very illuminating and extremely useful for linear systems. The atmosphere and all other fluid systems are highly nonlinear making this kind of analysis worthless.

  73. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 9:03 PM | Permalink

    My apologies, Greg F (#72) for my snippy #74. I did not see the link associated with your “EE stuff”. (My excuse is the new format of CA which, with my IE, is not showing links in a different color.) Thanks for the link.

  74. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 9:10 PM | Permalink

    From Monckton’s conclusion (p. 10):

    “the UN may have failed to take negative climate feedbacks sufficiently into account”

    This is precisely what I’m asking about.

  75. Greg F
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    Well Bender, all I have to say is you are damn lucky. I was preoccupied tonight making a chocolate cheesecake for Thanksgiving. :o) Don’t worry about it, I use Firefox and the links don’t show in a different color for me either. Easy to miss. Guess that means we can dump on John A for the link color.

  76. John Reid
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

    Re #68 bender

    Sorry mate. There is always a trade-off between being too technical or being too waffly. Think of a geometric series where each term is equal to the previous term multiplied by a constant factor. If the factor is greater than one the series expands exponentially to infinity but if it is less than one the series tends to a finite limit (like the snail that crawls half the previous distance on each succesive day). “Poles inside the unit circle” is just a generalization of this idea to include complex numbers.


  77. John Reid
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 11:36 PM | Permalink

    Re #67 Steve Sadlov

    These things tend to circulate verbally like urban myths among the scientific community. One rarely hears of a reference to a journal paper. That is how I came across the methane clathrates tipping point. I was told that the earth would soon arrive at a temperature at which the methane clathrates would release their methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and a positive feedback calamity would ensue.

    I then checked out methane clathrates in Wikipedia. Get this – they form when water molecules combine with methane at 2 degC at depths of greater than 800 m on continental shelves. They release their methane when the temperature reaches 18 degC. The temperature of the ocean at 800m is usually around 4 degC because this is well below the mixed layer. I would imagine that if the temperature of the ocean were to exceed 18 degC at a depth of 800m the surface would need to be near boiling point!

    I was told this stuff about clathrates by an oceanographer. I don’t know whether he had checked it out, but he was certainly in a position to know better. This is what I mean by hysteria.


  78. bender
    Posted Nov 21, 2006 at 11:49 PM | Permalink

    When I hear PhD scientists fear-mongering with “runaway Venusian warming scenarios”, and then learn that not even Steve Bloom thinks things will runaway to that degree, that’s when I know we have entered an era of mass hysteria. Intelligent, trained people who ought to know better are choosing to sound the alarm rather than admit their own personal ignorance. Mass hysteria is so reliable a mechanism that once it’s kicked in Warren Buffett can bank on it.

  79. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:13 AM | Permalink

    re 80 John Reid:

    Uhh.. what?

    Methane clathrates are stable at temperatures UP TO 18c when AT HIGH PRESSURES, such as at deeper levels.

    Wikipedia says this:

    ‘Natural deposits

    Methane clathrates are restricted to the shallow lithosphere (i.e.

  80. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:15 AM | Permalink

    re 80 John Reid:

    Another try – the ‘less than’ symbol ate my post.

    Uhh.. what?

    Methane clathrates are stable at temperatures UP TO 18c when AT HIGH PRESSURES, such as at deeper levels.

    Wikipedia says this:

    ‘Natural deposits

    Methane clathrates are restricted to the shallow lithosphere (i.e. less than 2000 m depth). Furthermore, necessary conditions are found only either in polar continental sedimentary rocks where surface temperatures are less than 0 °C; or in oceanic sediment at water depths greater than 300 m where the bottom water temperature is around 2 °C. Continental deposits have been located in Siberia and Alaska in sandstone and siltstone beds at less than 800 m depth. Oceanic deposits seem to be widespread in the continental shelf (see Fig.) and can occur within the sediments at depth or close to the sediment-water interface. They may cap even larger deposits of gaseous methane.[2]”

    and this:

    :”These deposits are located within a mid-depth zone around 300-500 m thick in the sediments (the Gas Hydrate Stability Zone, or GHSZ) where they coexist with methane dissolved in the pore-waters . Above this zone methane is only present in its dissolved form at concentrations that decrease towards the sediment surface. Below it, methane is gaseous. At Blake Ridge on the Atlantic continental rise, the GHSZ started at 190 m depth and continued to 450 m, where it reached equilibrium with the gaseous phase. Measurements indicated that methane occupied 0-9% by volume in the GHSZ, and ~12% in the gaseous zone.[3]


    I’m not quite sure where you got that from, John, but Wikipedia doesnt say what you claimed it said.

    CA seems to be maintaining the credibility I came to enjoy so much, in my absence…

  81. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:18 AM | Permalink

    I would also point out that over at RealClimate, several of the authors have strongly and frequently debunked the idea of Venusian-style runaway warming here on earth.

  82. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:25 AM | Permalink

    And finally, before I leave for the night, I note that JohnA (presumably the author of this CA article and co-moderator of this blog devoted to scientific auditing) has been posting elsewhere on this topic, and posits the fascinating concept of the temperature of “a non-thermodynamic system.”

    I’d love to hear what he means by that.

    “I suspect that we wait in vain.”

  83. jae
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:28 AM | Permalink

    Lee: never thought I would say this, but welcome back. We sorely need some entertainment here, since all the other trolls seemed to have left. Thanks again.

  84. cytochrome_sea
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

    re: 85

    Lee, “Monbiot v Monckton
    By John A

    As far as a non-thermodynamic system maybe a Bose-Einstein condensate?

  85. John Reid
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 1:08 AM | Permalink

    Re #82,83

    Lee. Maybe the Wikipedia entry has changed since I looked up clathrates. The fact remains that a calamitous positive feedback regime involving clathrates is not a realistic scenario. Whether their depth is 300m or 800m it is still way below the mixed layer and requires a 16 degC rise in ocean temperature.

  86. bender
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 2:41 AM | Permalink

    For the less-than symbol (&lt) use ampersand-lt:

  87. bender
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 2:43 AM | Permalink

    Sigh, what the heck do I know?
    (This new-look CA is a royal pain in the ass for all the missing functionality.)

  88. Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 2:45 AM | Permalink

    And finally, before I leave for the night, I note that JohnA (presumably the author of this CA article and co-moderator of this blog devoted to scientific auditing) has been posting elsewhere on this topic, and posits the fascinating concept of the temperature of “a non-thermodynamic system.

    I thought you’d left for good.

    I don’t posit the “the fascinating concept of the temperature of “a non-thermodynamic system”. Are you back to your old trick of accusing people of saying things they have not said?

    I can guess what’s going to happen next and it involves Lee’s keyboard spontaneously shuffling.

  89. Tim Lambert
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 7:05 AM | Permalink

    Here’s what John A wrote at my blog before he ran away again

    I note that Lambert has yet to apologize for making a series of false claims about thermodynamics, work and entropy and has yet to show any physics textbook that shows that IN A NON-THERMODYNAMIC SYSTEM, a mean temperature exists which can be defined as the simple mean of a set of arbitrarily small volumes within that system.

  90. MarkR
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 7:17 AM | Permalink

    Hi Tim

    [snip – I’ve edited out a comment about a topic unrelated to climateaudit.]

  91. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 7:18 AM | Permalink

    Tim, I have made it clear that I am not interested in a discussion between you and John A as to who knows less about thermodynamics. I set up a thread involving the application of entropy to an interesting climate problem here and invited you to demonstrate your knowledge of thermodynamics there rather than in a silly debate with John A. You conspicuously did not show up. I’m not going to have you and John A hijack another thread.

  92. Tim Lambert
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

    Steve, the thread had nothing at all to do with anything I’ve discussed with John A — it was just you making gratuitous personal attacks on me.

    John A denied making a statement that he did in fact make as I have demonstrated.

  93. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    Tim, you said that you wanted to discuss entropy and I suggested that you do so in the context of a practical problem. The thread was about a substantive article by Ou and was in no sense directed at you. As I’ve repeatedly said, I’m uninterested in climateaudit acting as an additional forum for your dispute with John A as to who knows less about thermodynamics.

  94. Tim Lambert
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    That’s disingenuous Steve. I have never said that I wanted to discuss any and everything related to entropy. In the Ou thread you made off-topic and gratuitous attacks on me, insinuating that I didn’t know anything about thermodynamics.

    I expect that you’ll ban me again now so that you get the last word.

  95. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Tim, can’t you get it that regardless of what you regard as attacks, Steve isn’t interested in discussing such things. Talk about science and buy a umbrella if you feel you’re being peed on.

  96. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 11:22 AM | Permalink


    JohnA is a co-moderator at this blog, this is the comments section of an article that JohnA posted here, and JohnA has been carrying this exact discussion, defending Monckton’s absurdities, to other places on the web, and in doing so he leveled this gratuitous insult toward Lambert on Lamberts blog in a Lambert thread on the Moncton article, and then refused to stick around and discuss it.

    If you don’t want this discussion on “your” blog, then restrain your partner here from inviting it into the blog THE TWO OF YOU are running.

  97. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    ” defending Monckton’s absurdities,”

    Lee if you believe this why do you even want to discuss these issues here or anywhere else? First you claim JohnA to be on the defensive and then assert its absurd information he has to defend. In other words there’s no discussion. So if he left a “discussion” I don’t blame him-or anyone else. Why would he want to beat his head against a wall and why do you need to haul that wall over here now?

  98. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    John Reid,

    Reread the sections I posted. The Gas Hydrate Stability Zone extends, in at least one example they mention, as close as 190M to the surface. The temperature at which clathrates release their methane is NOT simply 18C, it is UP TO 18C AT DEPTH. This is why the wikipedia article says UP TO 18C. A less than symbol is NOT mathematicfally equivalen tto an equals symbol.

    At lower pressures nearer the surface, gas hydrates are released at lower temperatures. There is good geophysical evidence for past clathrate “blowouts” from flash release of methane from clathrates, among other places in some areas off Alaska.

    I do not know of good avidence or analysis deriving a good probability of the risk from this. I do know that there is evidence that it is a process that has occured, and therefore could occur again.

  99. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 11:54 AM | Permalink


    Are you seriously dinging me for mentioning the result of my applying thoughtful and skeptical analysis to Monkton’s article, and to other things being said here, on a blog that claims to be devoted to thoughtful and skeptical analysis?

    Or am I supposed to take on faith everything that falls on your side of the discussion, even if it appears to me to be more propaganda than science?

  100. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    #99. Lee, as I have done in the past, I am attempting to restrain absurd discussions of thermodynamics at this venue by anybody and pointless sniping about who knows less about thermodynamics.  You are welcome to discuss the Monckton article.

  101. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Yea, Lee Report what’s absurd about Monckton’s articles and his response to Gore. There are a number of us who would like to discuss the subject.

  102. Jean S
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    #100/#102: Lee, you would have much more credibility if you would stop defending the greatest absurdities of all, those of Mann’s. Until then I suggest that you, Lambert, Steve B, Carl C, and other similarily minded people keep your mutual jerking (around, off) (or how was it that Carl, the master of the language, put it a while back) to other sites. Let’s reserve this place for honest discussions and science.

  103. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    Lee –
    You must be under the assumption I’ve seen a fair analysis from you about any subject we’ve touched on. I couldn’t say that was so, at least from our experience. That would be my opinion, on the quality of them any way, and opinions can be wrong- but sorry that one is mine.

  104. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    Yeah, Jean S that’s where my opinion starts from too among other reasons.
    Sorry, I can’t help it. And I have surfed other sites and read comments about SteveM and JohnA made by all those other folks. Then I wonder why they are around here if they dislike everything so much. And I know I am the last person who has much to contribute as far as science goes, but this is when I have, and my husband has, in regards to Lee’s fair analysis and the exchanges we’ve had about geology. I don’t hold it against Lee personally either, and don’t hold grudges-they don’t have handles.

  105. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 12:24 PM | Permalink


    Are you asking me to apply serious effort to debunking, eg, Monckton’s claim that we have solid evidence that the chinese navy sailed right around the arctic in 1421, proving there was no ice there?

    Or his claim that “Using poor Ludwig Boltzmann’s law, lambda’s true value is just 0.22-0.3C per watt. In 2001, the UN effectively repealed the law, doubling lambda to 0.5C per watt.” IE, that simple calculation applying SB to a NON_BLACKBODY SYSTEM overrides experimental observation of the value of lambda in that non-blackbody system?

    Credulous acceptance by JohnA of an article that blithely spouts this kind of nonsense, and Steve McIntyres willingness to support that acceptance by keeping JohnA’s article in place, is one more confirmation of my conclusion that Steve is a very clever propogandist, not a neutral auditor.


    Fascinating how you can read something in my words here that I didn’t say…

    As I said, if you don’t waant that here, then stop your blogging partner from inviting it by attacking with those claims at other blogs, and then abandoning them rather than sticking around and responding.

  106. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    re: #108 Lee,

    I don’t know that the Chinese claim can be proven or disproven. You’re welcome to do so if you wish. [I suspect you could cut and paste something from Tim’s site and then just delete the usual ad homs.]

    But I would like a little discussion on the S-B thingee. I note that on page 7 of Monckton’s .pdf where he explains his derivation of .3 deg. C / watt/M^2 he gives:

    Earth/troposphere emissivity àŽⳠis about 0.614.

    I was assuming this was the correction factor for the fact that the earth isn’t a black body. If it’s something else, please explain it and help educate us. It has been about 40 years since I took my last physics class and I don’t pretend to have remembered everything I learned back then.

  107. Lee
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    Emmisivity as he uses it is an oversimplistic “correction factor”

    I copied an overview explanation of emmisivity at the bottom of this post. Note the necessity of considering specific wavelengths and temperature effects, and such changes. What Monckton misses is that there can be changes in effective emmisivity, and that one of the effects of GW is that IT CHANGES THE EFFECTIVE EMMISIVITY. This is another way to say, there are feedbacks in the system.

    Monckton treats emmisivity as fixed, ignoring the fact that the effect of feedbacks is a change in emmisivity, and therefore assumes there is nothing that might change emmisivity. Without saying so, he is fixing a value of zero for feedback effects. He then waves the value he derives in the face of people who DO consider feedbacks, and tells them they are ignoring physical law.
    Effective emissivity is the ratio of the total amount of energy exiting a blackbody to that which is predicted by Planck’s law. This is the value most frequently referred to as “emissivity”. Effective emissivity of a cavity type blackbody will normally be much higher than the surface emissivity due to the multiple energy bounces inside the body cavity.

    Additional refinements to the term “emissivity” may be made by defining it in terms of the wavelength of interest, changes due to temperature affects, etc. The simple concept of emissivity can very quickly become a very complex topic!

  108. Proxy
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    #108, #109 Audit for Lee

    Re: Monckton’s claim on page 5 of “Apocalypse cancelled” Sunday Telegraph, 5 November, 2006 that “In 1421 a Chinese Imperial Navy squadron sailed right round the Arctic and found no ice anywhere.”

    This unsubstantiated claim is likely based on the book “1421: The Year China Discovered the World” Gavin Menzies (2002)

    The thesis that Chinese ships sailed round the Arctic was founded on the Zheng He map, the authenticity of this map has been strongly disputed. Link (in bold for those who need color):

  109. jae
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    110: So, Lee, what is the correct emissivity factor?

  110. Chris H
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 2:54 PM | Permalink


    What does oversimplistic mean? Simplistic means over simplified, so are you using ‘over over’ for emphasis or do the ‘overs’ cancel each other out and get us back to simplified?

    On a more serious note, all such calculations are approximations. Could you give us an estimate of the error caused by assuming that the emissivity is constant? Do you have any figures for how the emissivity has changed over the past hundred years?

  111. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 3:51 PM | Permalink

    Don’t feed the trolls.

  112. Mick
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    #108 “Credulous acceptance by JohnA of an article that blithely spouts this kind of nonsense, and Steve McIntyres willingness to support that acceptance by keeping JohnA’s article in place, is one more confirmation of my conclusion that Steve is a very clever propogandist, not a neutral auditor.”


  113. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    Look, I don’t agree with Al Gore’s letter but posted a link because it’s relevant and in the news. By linking to something doesn’t imply that I agree with it.

  114. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

    re: #111 Audit of Proxy’s Audit for Lee

    Went to the wikipedia and I think you have things a bit backward. It was the book which came first and the map later. Consequently the theory couldn’t have been based on the Zheng He map which I admit looks like it’s bogus. Still don’t know if the theory of chinese ships in the arctic is plausible or not. But given the definition of plausible used in the NAS report on the HS, who knows? Perhaps we should say Monckton has now been vindicated.

  115. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 22, 2006 at 4:34 PM | Permalink

    Re: 115
    Call me crazy but the intent behind comments like that is over the top when you look at reality.
    Can anybody tell me where in all the world there is more anti AGW then pro AGW? So much so that comments like this need to be made and a policing of SteveM’s and JohnA’s every move has to be done? On top of that claim nobody should read an article or talk about it? I mean come on! The whole damn population of the planet believes the pro side and there is a consensus. Or is that not true? If you hold the truth, and even made a movie-hollywood on your side, leaders on your side and all the caring people you join with are on your side-why would you care about what one article says or what one blog is doing or not doing?

  116. Proxy
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    Re: #117 Dave thanks for checking my pathetic attempt at an audit; yes Monckton’s unsubstantiated claim is plausible insofar as it’s within the realm of credibility. Hopefully you agree that vindication is not a matter of semantic redefinition but one of evidence.

  117. Nicholas
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

    It is my understanding that the Chinese were among the first people (and possibly the first) to build properly sea-worthy vessels capable of reliably crossing oceans. Previously, there are certainly instances where we believe people may have made ocean crossings on small canoes, but those must have had very little chance of success. I don’t know anything about this specific claim but I don’t find it totally implausible. There’s also a (fairly plausible IMO) claim that Vikings landed in North America at some point (but did not stay).

    That aside, I’d like to apologize. I submitted ClimateAudit for the 2006 Weblog Awards in the Best Science Blog category. The weblog awards are hosted by Wizbang Blog, where Lee is a well-known troll. I say this unapologetically. I’m not a Wizbang fan but I do look there occasionally for interesting tidbits. When I do, Lee is usually the first person to comment on any given post, and comments frequently, however all the comments are basically just rants, attacks and bile. He never responds to the substance of the post or other comments, preferring to simply attack people. I mentioned ClimateAudit many months ago in the comments there, in response to someone asking about a relevant topic, and fear that I am responsible for bringing him here. Many apologies to all. I just hoped that a wider audience would be beneficial to understanding without realizing what would happen.

  118. Chris H
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 8:08 AM | Permalink

    There’s also a (fairly plausible IMO) claim that Vikings landed in North America at some point (but did not stay).

    Nicholas, I think the claim is a bit more then just fairly plausible. There are at least two sagas ‘the Saga of the Greenlanders’ and ‘the saga of Eric the Red’ that tell the story of Leif Ericson’s discovery of ‘Vinland the Good’. There is also archaeological evidence of a Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland. Leif named Newfoundland Vinland the Good because of the abundance of grape vines that he found growing wild and the mild climate.

  119. Lee
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    re 120 – Nicholas.

    Wrong. I have never heard of ‘wizbang blog’ until you just mentioned it here. I have never posted there, as troll or otherwise. An apology would be in order.

  120. Nicholas
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    OK, sorry Lee, I got you mixed up with someone with the same name and very similar behavior. I still wish you’d behave less like the other Lee.

  121. Lee
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

    Nicholas, apology (such as it is) accepted. Maintaining the spirit of your apology, I will note here that there is markedly little response to my substantive posts – seems it is easier to call me a troll than to respond when I make a point.

  122. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    #113 did and asked you two questions.
    So again, no fair analysis from you, even when reading the comments.

  123. Lee
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 1:34 PM | Permalink


    I was blocked from posting for most of yesterday, and some of my blocked posts have not been released.

    However, I did and have responded in brief form to the issue raised in 124, in other places. My point was not that Monckton used the “wrong” value for emissivity, or that he got the “wrong” value for lambda. Asking what the “right” value is, shows that the questioner was not responding to what I actually said.

    My point was that a fundamental fact about climate is that feedbacks cause changes in those parameters beyond those expected when they are fixed, and that Monckton did not include those changes from feedbacks in his calculations.

    Fixing emmisivity to a constant means that he is in effect setting feedback effects to zero. I said that in my postings: he effectively set delta feedback to zero, and so the value he derived for lambda was the value IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY FEEDBACKS. In itself, this is fine, and I have no reason to suspect that the value he derives is wrong – the calculation is getting at what the climate sensitivity to a change in forcing would be if there were no feedbacks. Climate scientists have derived this value, and then have modified it by adding into the analysis the effects of feedbacks, either by calculating them from what we know, or by working backwards from observations to what the value of feedback effects needs to be to account for the observations.

    But Monckton did more than simply derive a value in the absense of feedbacks. He claimed it was THE value,the one forced by his knowledge of physics to be the only correct value, and he then he accused those who did include feedbacks and got a different value of ‘repealing a physical law.’ He stated that they are ignoring his basic physics when in fact what they are doing is looking at secondary effects that modify his basic physics. Given that the basic issue in the field is of how much effect feedbacks have, his accusation is at best naively arrogant and wrong.

    More likely is that he knows what he is doing. If he knows enough to have made the argument he made, then he knows enough to understand that he is ignoring feedbacks, and that the effect of feedbacks is the fundamental question in the field. Even I know that, and I am far from being either a physicist or a climate scientist. If he does understand what he is doing, then his accusation of incompetence aimed at the entire climate field is fundamentally and ethically bankrupt. And yes, that is a strong statement, qualified by the possibility that he is incompetent himself, rather than base.

  124. Chris H
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 2:07 PM | Permalink


    I understand what you are saying, the calculation that you are objecting to is obviously an approximation. If you could please provide me with the answers to the two questions I posed in #113, I would get a better idea of whether the approximation is useful. Just asserting that it isn’t doesn’t really help me or convince me.

  125. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    re 126

    Monckton says that his analysis includes all feedbacks and describes examples such as reductions in albedo. This is found in his “Discussions, Calculations adn References” supplement to this initial article.

  126. David Wright
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    There is still time (just) to nominate Monckton of Brenchley as Great Briton of 2006 at:
    That might provide some additional publicity for this important issue and set a cat amongst the pigeons!

  127. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    re 126

    I should have also added that Moncton does not use emissivity in his calculations.

  128. Lee
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Look on page 7 of the pdf of his response to Gore, posted by JohnA in a top post at this blog. Emissivity is a term in the Stefan-Boltzman equation, which he nicely writes out in inviting others to repeat what he did. He uses a fixed value of 0.614 for emissivity. I don’t know how one can claim taht he doesnt use emmisivity in his calculations, and accept that he is using S-B.”

    He then goes on, on page 8-9, to calculate from his version of “the UN’s best estimate of the additional radiant energy in the atmosphere” resulting from anthropogenic forcings, and shows that if one applies it to the observed temp increase “from 1900 – 1998” one gets results that match observed increases only if one assumes that feedbacks are neutral, ie, that positive and negative feedbacks offset each other, and from this concluded that he is justified in fixing feedback effects at zero (and yes, I am paraphrasing a bit – I think I’m repeating his argument accurately).

    However, by doing this latter calculation he is ignoring time lags in the system (which he as been dinged for and denied) and is effectively assuming that the response to the changes have settled to equilibrium – which is absurd. We KNOW there are huge heat capacities involved, and time lags in the system.

    So, his direct SB equation does NOT include feedbacks – he “mentions” them (which is precisely what he says) but does not include them in the Stefan-Boltzman calculation. His support for assuming ‘neutral feedbacks” is arrived at by ignoring any time lag and ignoring (as JohnA should be quick to point out) that this is not an equilibrium system.

  129. Chris H
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    #130 Stan, If you look in Moncton’s support document, you will see that the emissivity of the earth is used to estimate lambda ( using the Stefan-Boltzman Law. Moncton gets a value of lambda=0.303 using an emissivity of 0.6135 compared to lambda=0.223 for a black body (emissivity=1).

    Lee claims above that this method estimating lambda is invalid because the emissivity is not a constant. I’d like to see Lee’s estimates for possible values for the earth’s emissivity because there would have to be a significant change just to move lambda above say 3.5.

  130. Lee
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 5:08 PM | Permalink

    Chris, re 127:

    Chris, that issue is irrrelevant to the point Monckton is making, and that I am disputing. There is, obviously, a function equating change in forcing to change in emissivity. What Monckton does is assume that the change in forcing is zero, and therefore that he can fix delta emmisivity to zero, and that he claims his analysis of a 1900 – 1998 temperature time series defends. This is the point he explicitly defends, and to which I respond in a post that is currently censored in the spam filter, and which I hope will be released.

    The question he is approaching is not how much things have changed, the question is what is the fundamental relationship between changing forcings, and climate response. This is of course the fundamental question in the field, so I will answer that I accept that that the ‘change in emmisivity’ will be a value congruent to the mainstream value for climate sensitivity of 3C / 2xCO2.

  131. Chris H
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Just for fun I plugged lambda values of 3.5 and 2.5 back into the Stefan-Boltzman equation (holding the temperature constant) to see what the emissivity would need to be. For lambda=0.35 we get emissivity=0.53 and for lambda=0.25 we get emissivity=0.74.

  132. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 5:56 PM | Permalink

    re 131

    Monckton says that his calculation demosntrates that the Earth’s lambda did not vary in the century 1900-1998. This is seen in on page 27 of this reference document in the third paragraph.

  133. beng
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    Lee, you’ve made a point (the emissivity question) that seems reasonable, and I’m interested in the answer.

    But the tirade about “Steve_M should stop John_A from doing this or that” is adolescent.

  134. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 23, 2006 at 7:13 PM | Permalink

    re 134

    The whole point of Monckton’s argument is tp demonstrate that lamda has not changed in the previous 100 years and will not change in the in the next 100. This analysis is done taking into account all feedbacks. Monckton may be wrong in this but he did not as “Lee” said neglect feedbacks. His entire analysis was about determining whether these feedbacks would cause a change in lamda. His conclusion was that, as UN documents indicate, lamda is essentially invariant and may be used to calculate futre temperature increases from predicted increases in green house gases.

  135. Chris H
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 3:07 AM | Permalink

    #130 and #131 You said that the emissivity wasn’t used but it’s right there in the formula and you need it to calculate lambda using this approach.

    Here’s the formula that Monckton uses (differentating E w.r.t. T, inverting and substituting for lambda)

    lambda = 1 / ( 4 * emissivity * sigma * temperature cubed )

    sigma is 5.67E-8 (0.0000000567)
    temperature is in kelvin, so add 273.15 to the temperature in centigrade

    #134 I agree that the feedback issue is a red herring. The formula describes the behaviour of the earth as a whole, including it’s atmosphere, so what’s going on inside does not matter directly: it only matters in that it can change the emissivity by changing cloud cover or ice cover, for example. I would expect any such changes to be very minor, however.

    A more substantial criticism might be leveled at the use of this formula by pointing out that the formula calculates the amount of energy emitted by the earth, wereas the IPCC is talking about the amount energy being received by the earth plus adjust ment factors. I think this is OK because the energy budget has to balance out but I’m very rusty on this stuff.

  136. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 6:30 AM | Permalink

    Monckton identifies a number of assumptions in his analysis and provides justifications for them. The one that I see as the most important is that the factor z in the equation

    dE= g z ln(C/Csubzero)

    can be predicted and is relatively constant for the climate environment of the 21st century.

    As Monckton indicates the factor z contains the responses of all feedback mechanisms that have been identified in the climate models. He also asserts that for the relatively small increases in temperature predicted under any scenario the new type of feedback will be triggered which could change the value of z. He then justifies a range of values for z and uses them to calculate a range of predicted 2100AD temperature increases.

    Is Monckton justified in doing this? Will the feedback environment be relatively unchanged for any reasonably predictable temperature increase?

  137. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

    re 136

    I think that I was trying to say that Monckton was not making an assumption that emissivity was a constant. He was reporting the findings of the climate models that emissivity is relatively invariant under all model and was suing empirical arguments to further justify this. With this finding he can justify this contention that the factor z that he uses is also empirically invariant in the face of reasonable form of temperature increase.

    This is Monckton’s main assumption. As he indicates the issue of feedback is a red herring since the modeling that created the heuristic equation dE = g z ln(C/Csubzero) contains all feedbacks.

  138. beng
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 10:15 AM | Permalink

    Yeah, after looking at Monckton’s emissivity remarks again, he was in fact analyzing the question that’s been asked here at times — what do the current IPCC GCMs predict for the 1850~1900 to present increase in CO2, and how does that compare to the actual surface temp records (assuming those records are correct — not a given IMO). The answer not surprisingly is the GCMs overpredict (several degrees C?) the measured .6C increase. The “solution” to this has been to say (ie. Hansen) there’s “warming in the pipeline” in some form (the CO2 radiational effect is of course instantaneous). But empirical measurements of events like the Pinatubo eruption suggest such “storing” of heat (or cold) doesn’t occur — conditions return very quickly to where they were previously.

    This is rather remarkable if you think about it — the models way-overpredict temp increases when tested against a 100+ yr period when we have fairly reliable surface temp & CO2 measurements. There’s no better way than this to verify the models.

  139. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    In regard to the claim that Monckton ignored climate feedback that was made in a post above, I did some searching at Real Climate. I did this because I have read this claim in many places and found it very odd since Monckton’s piece is full of comments on feedback and how his analysis is compensating for them. On a Real Climate piece entitled “Cuckoo Science”, I found the following comment about Monckton and feedback

    “So here’s the first trick. Ignore all the feedbacks”.

    This is just one example in the Real Climate piece, there are others.

    This brings up the obvious question. Real Climate does not say that Monckton is wrong about feedback. They claim he ignored them. This has been picked up and parroted by others including at least one poster here. The obvious questions is:

    “Did the Real Climate reviewer and his parroters read Monckton’s article?”

    Monckton may be wrong about feedback but he did not ignore them.

  140. Lee
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    As I said in the posts that SteveM won’t release from the spam queue, despite my emails to his contact address:

    Monckton’s primary calculation did ignore feedbacks. He then did an additional justification for ignoring them,a nd Ive argued why his justification is incorrect.

    But apaprently, I am no longer allowed to post here – I’m writing this in teh hope that perhaps it might catch Steve’s atentin long enough to get him to deal with the fact that I’m unable to post here now.

    Steve:   Lee sent me an email at 12.30 am last night my time. This is the first email that I received from him in the past week. I recovered this post from the spam filter. Why it was in the spam filter, I don’t know. It is impossible to operate a blog without a spam filter. I get tired of Lee alleging that he’s not “allowed” to post and immediately running off to complain on other blogs when anyone can see that he’s posted dozens of times.

  141. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 5:00 PM | Permalink

    Here is an intersting comparison of climate sensitivity lambda vs MBH98
    3K/2xCO2 equals to lambda of 3/5.35ln(2) = 0.81
    1K/2xCO2 equals to lambda of 1/5.35ln(2) = 0.27

    Temperatures relative to the year 1000

    data from:
    CO2 data from (Maunaloa > 1958, DSS 75 year mean

  142. Lee
    Posted Nov 25, 2006 at 11:53 PM | Permalink


    This is in part a test to see if can post yet.

    Whether or not you received them, I did send multiple emails to the contact email address you list at “contact Steve.”

    As you know from my subsequent emails, although you have not seen fit to mention it here, I have remained unable to post even after your note above saying you are tired of hearing me “alleging that I’m not allowed to post.” I have not been able to post her since yesterday morning. Substantive posts I made responding to comments directed at me were filtered, and according to you are not in the moderation queue even though I got the spam filter message.

    If I am in fact being allowed to post, I have to say this is the least useful definition of the word “allowed” I have ever run across

  143. Lee
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 5:47 PM | Permalink


    That graphic is valid as an analysis of the relationship between CO2 and warming, ONLY if you assume a very rapid or instantaneous equilibrium of temperature to the delta CO2. It is overwhelmingly likely that equilibrium is not arrived at instantaneously, or even in just a few years, so that graphic really tells us nothing about which response to forcing is correct.

    BTW, I earlier tried to make a similar argument in response to the criticisms about Monckton, higher in this thread – but I have been trapped by the spam filters since Friday morning, and Steve is apparently unable to rescue that post from the queue.

    Monckton did his core analysis – the one he used to accuse climate scientists of having ‘repealed” the Stefan-Boltzman law – assuming a fixed emissivity. I disputed that assumption above. It was argued that he DID include feedbacks. In a blocked post, I had pointed out that his argument about feedbacks was separate from the emissivity argument – that is, he attempted in a second line of argument to justify his use of a fixed emissivity value. I also pointed out that in his argument that the net effect of feedbacks was effectively zero, he assumed no substantial time lag in the response – that is, a rapid approach to equilibrium in the response to delta CO2 – and I argued that this was an invalid assumption. Just like it is here in Hans’ graphic.

    I’m not going to try to recreate my argument in detail – this outline is sufficient and I have already written and posted it here, even though no one can see it.

  144. Hans Erren
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    ah you mean this graph, which shows that for decadal to centennial periods the CGM’s extremely overestimate the transient response, which is the key factor to warming in this century.

  145. Lee
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Hans, this NEW graph is essentially meaningless without a citation or explanation of the methodology used in deriving it, and the sources of the data. It is also not a response to the specific problem I pointed out about your other previous graph.

  146. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    re 126 & 146

    On page 27 of Monckton’s discussion document, he discusses the issue of an integrating function, such as the oceans, storing energy and masking a rise in temperature. He points out that this would be significant only if the time lag cr4reaed by this integrating function was some considerable fraction of 100 years.

    And re 126 specifically

    The original claim that Monckton ignored feedbacks is of course incorrect. He directly acknowledged them in many places and took account of them by suing equations derived from climate models that incorporated them.

    Did the Real Climate reviewer actually read Monckton’s article?

    As for the constancy of lambda, he quotes UN documents that indicate that it is remarkably constant. He also argue that over the relatively slight increase in temperature predicted or the next 100 years that no new climate feedbacks would arise that would change lambda appreciably. He showed that a reasonable calculation for the temperature increase of the last 100 years could be made with these assumptions.

    What feedbacks are going to arise or change in the next 10 years that are going to appreciably change lambda that have not been observed in the last 100 years?

  147. Lee
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 7:38 PM | Permalink

    Monckton used a fixed emissivity. This means he didn’t allow for effects of feedbacks. Mentioning feedbacks, or using additional calculations to dispute that feedbacks have an effect, does not alter the fact that in his calculation of lambda he used a fixed value for emmisivity, and therefore allowed no feedbacks.
    It also doesnt alter his extraordinarily insulting and arrogant claim that climate scientists, because they arrive at a different value when they do allow feedbacks to alter absorption/emission characteristics, have “repealed” Stefan-Boltzman.

    He attempts to support his assumption of invariant emissivity by doing calculations assuming no significant time lag to equilibrium, for a single selected time period, that show that for that time period, for the assumption of relatively quick approach to equilibrium, that lambda is relatively constant.

    Even more basic – and this has been touched on – is that Stefan-Boltzman doenst even awork SB is valid for blackbodies or graybodies, with equivalent emissions at all wavelengths. Emissivity is a “correctin factor” for teh difference between blackbody behavior and graybodies. Earth is not ag raybody, “badly-behaved” or otherwise. There are radically different absorption and emission characteristics at even close absorption/emission bands. Even worse for his point, the changes that feedbacks cause will be concentrated at relatively narrow wavelength bands, not across the spectrum. These are fundamental violations of the assumptions behind SB, and invalidate his argument on its face.

    His argument about the time lag is prima facie absurd. First, what evidence dies he adduce for the proper time constants for things like heating of the oceans and oceanic heat transport, to support his assumption that time lags are appreciably less than some significant fraction of a century? Also among other things, the majority of the increase in CO2 has been in the latter part of the century – time lags acting on the relatively small earlier parts of the increase in CO2 would have relatively minor effect on the current increase. He is arguing that lags on the order of a significant fraction of a century are necessary to have significant effects on the observed output of a change that has largely occurred over much less than a century. Right.

    Your last question makes no sense – it isnt a sudden occurance of new feedbacks that we are discussing, it is a time lag in heating and the associated feedbacks.

    I’m amazed (well,not really) that this site accepts so readily this kind of argument, without subjecting it to even a fraction of the examination you give the arguments y’all spend so much time savaging. ESPECIALLY when he accompanies it with insults like “repealing” Stefan-Boltzman, an ice-free arctic in the MWP, a present-day Greenland where Norse farms are buried under permafrost and unfarmable, his statements elsewhere that Mt Erebus emits more CFCs now than man did previously. The man has shown himself not to be credible on many fronts, and yet gets this kind of vigorous defense that doesn’t even directly address the major issues.

  148. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 8:38 PM | Permalink

    Re 150

    I can see that you have read the Real Climate posting on Monckton. Do you think the Real Climate reviewer actually read Monckton’s paper?

    I hold no brief for Monckton. I am just trying to understand his argument. He took a heuristic from the UN climate models that is based on an analysis that contains all feedbacks. You can keep saying that he didn’t include feedbacks all you want but until you answer his assertion that this heuristic contains all feedbacks then you haven’t made your point.

    A black body does not have equivalent emissions at all wavelengths and feedbacks concentrated in relatively narrow wavelength bands will have relatively little effect on overall emissivity. They may have effects on increasing the radiative forcing as Monckton shows in his table of relative forcing of greenhouse gases but not in emissivity.

    By the way the Real Climate reference that show Viking farms on Greenland are not under permafrost also indicates that the ground does not unfreeze until July and that barley crops planted there do not have enough time to come into flower. This seems to indicate that the farming of crops was one possible since the farmsteads exist but that it is no longer possible. This is the point that Monckton made.

  149. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 8:42 PM | Permalink

    re 150

    Just to clarify, Manckton models greenhosue gas feedback as an effective increase in raditaitve forcings. He takes into account feedbacks from all gases showd in the table on page 26.

    Is this an incorrect thing to do?

  150. Lee
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

    In page 27, paragraph 3, Monckton argues that the table of forcings includes feedbacks, with the proviso: “unless it is assumed that the oceans or some other agency are masking additional temperature.” This is a cncise definition of time lags in teh approach to equilibrium.

    In other words, that table includes feedbacks AS LONG AS THERE IS NO EFFECTIVE TIME LAG IN THE WARMING OR FEEDBACKS. From here, I refer you to my previous post.

    And yes, I’ve read RC on this. I’ve also read Monckton, and I’ve also read his supplementary response, where he more explicitly separates the argument on the calculation of lambda from his argument on the invariability of lambda. The more of him I read, the less seriously I take him.

    It is true that feedbacks concentrated in narrow bands will have little effect on overall effective emissivity across all wavvelengths – but depending on the specific wavelengths and how they operate in the complex earth-atmosphere system, they can have effects on warming. This is a major problem with applying the the graybody Stefan-Boltzman approach to an object that is not a graybody.

    The Norse farms were primarily devoted to animal husbandry – they were ‘grass’ farmers, not grain farmers. Monckton misses this primary fact in his screed. They grazed animals and hayed in the short summer, and fed animals on hay to get through the winter, had a primarily meat-based food economy, and were additionally critically dependent on annual seal hunts for a large part of their food needs. There is precious little evidence of cereal processing by the Norse Greenlanders. He directly claimed the farms are now “under permafrost” and this is simply false. The following reference shows that pollen analyses show that current Greenland climate does allow barley to come into flower, at least often enough to leave a pollen trace. Note that this is in a current sheep-farming district of Greenland – IOW, the land the Norse farmed then is being farmed today.

  151. Lee
    Posted Nov 26, 2006 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    more on present-day Greenland agriculture – this is a press report, but there isa lot of simialr stuff out there. Remember that cows were viable only on the wealthiest old norse farms, that these wer ethe smallest cows known from any agricultural economies, and that less wealthy farms often lost their breeding stock of even hardier animals through the winter, and had to have them replaced from the few wealthier farms. Adn coews are n ow being added to the present-day ag mix, as basic stock. To claim that farming is inviable on Greenland because farms are under permafrost, as Monckton did, is simply to show a complete failure to bother to actually examine the issue.

    Some farmers are trying new types of produce, such as broccoli, cauliflower and Chinese cabbage. Most are getting more from their old crops. “Usually we only have one cut of hay,” says Kenneth Hoegh, a farming consultant for Greenland’s Department of Agriculture. “But because it is getting warmer — it is definitely getting warmer — more and more farmers are getting two cuts of hay.”

    Those higher yields are rippling through the agriculture chain. Over the past five years, a doubled hay crop has helped sheep farmer Erik Rode Frederiksen. He was named after Eric the Red, a Viking explorer who settled Greenland around 980. The extra hay gives him fatter sheep worth more money at slaughter. Sheep flocks across the country have increased 10% in the past three years, according to government statistics.

    From the early 1960s to 1998 cows were rare in Greenland, and Greenlanders relied on powdered milk subsidies from the Danish government. But improved grazing and hay fodder are tempting some farmers and sheep ranchers to add cows to their livestock holdings.

  152. James Lane
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 3:52 AM | Permalink

    Lee, thanks for the report on the agricultural catastrophe in Greenland.

  153. Rod
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 4:19 AM | Permalink

    re: 154 You need to look at the conclusions in

    Click to access vintheretal2006.pdf

  154. Stan Palmer
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    re 153

    What is the time constant for the predcited heat storage in the ocean?

  155. Boris
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 11:00 AM | Permalink


    Does that mean we can bury the “It’s too cold to farm in Greenland today” myth that gets drug around so often? Is it really dead? Do you guys really finally and fully agree that it’s warmer in Greenland today than it was in the MWP when the Norse kept their livestock inside for 5-7 months? Can the fantasies of Vikings frolicking in fields of green veggies be put to rest?

    You’re right. Probably not.

  156. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    Boris, will you admit you are arguing over fractions of temp, even between MWP and now, and the error margins are larger then the temps you are arguing over? LOL

  157. jae
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    Boris: read this.

  158. Lee
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    James, I suspect there are looming problems – I understand that Greenland’s soil is extremely sensitive to poor grazing practice, and that this was a contributor to the loss of the Norse Greenland colony.

    Rod, what does a somewhat improved recent temperature record have to do with the presence of agriculture on Greenland today?

    BTW, warmer condition leading to longer growing seasons – ie, warmer temps earlier in spring or later in fall – may not show up as warmer average summer or winter temperatures. When a farmer says, ‘its getting warmer,and it changes how I can do my farming’ I’m going to tend to listen. I grew up among farmers – they tend to have an exquisite sensitivity to how weather affects their livelihood.

    But to get back to the point under discussion – Monckton was full of c**p when he claimed that farms on Greenland today are under permafrost.

  159. Lee
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 11:54 AM | Permalink


    jae, temperatures at the end of the 20th century were substantially higher than at the beginning. For those authors to show that 20th century proxy data don’t indicate temps as warm as MWP, does NOT tell us about the relationship of temps today to the MWP. 50, 40, 30, even 20 years ago is not now.

    And – what does this have to do with the demosntration that there is a thriving agricultural economy on Greenland today – which is the issue Boris was talking about?

    Also, you seem awfully ready to accept “biogeochemical data that, in the words of the authors, reflect “variations in seabird breeding colonies in the catchment which influence nutrient and cadmium supply to the lake.”” as a proxy for temperature. Where’s the critical skepticism over proxy studies? And I would also point out that breeding colonies starting from non-existent or low numbers are going to have a time lag of some undetermined time constant in building to peaks.
    Your vaunted CO2Science summarists don’t seem to have noted any of these issues.

  160. jae
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    As you know, Lee, there are many other studies that point to higher temperatures in the MWP. Are they all flawed?

  161. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    “temperatures at the end of the 20th century were substantially higher”

    show me a graph that isn’t arguing over fractions,-what you call “substantially higher” ?, and I’ll show you data taken from studying salamanders that indicate the MWP was warm as or comparable with temps today.

  162. welikerocks
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    BTW in Iceland, there were only two seasons in their verson of a farmer’s almanac-Summer and Winter. No mention of “spring and fall” And that’s where the phrase “he lived so many winters” comes from. Your age was counted in winters, for “years”. Don’t know about Greenland but I would suspect it was something similar.

  163. Lee
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 12:17 PM | Permalink

    jae – as long as you are engaging in that tactic, let me one-up you. There are, as you know, many studies that point to substantial AGW.

    rocks – you may be able to show me a study implying that today was comparable to the MWP during the time that the salamander was developing and the salamander population was recently extant. Again, potential (almost certain) time lags matter and need to be taken into account.

    BTW, Monckton was arguing that the MWP was up to 3C warmer than today, based in part on Greenalnd arguments. He was clearly full of c**p on that as well.

  164. jae
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

    Great link, Lee. There may be substantial AGW, but so far it doesn’t look like it’s as warm as it was in MWP. So why all the panic?

  165. Boris
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    I ate three fried Mars bars for lunch and smoked three packs of Kools. So far it doens’t look like I have heart disease or lung cancer. I shall continue this pattern since it is obviously harmless.

  166. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 1:19 PM | Permalink

    There may also be substantial momentum from all the yurt making, Whole Earth Almanac reading disciples of Ernest Callenbach who are still living in the 1970s. Of course there were some good ideas hatched way back when, and new ever better ones being hatched today. In good measure …. not as the sole basis for existence.

  167. John M
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 1:21 PM | Permalink


    Boris, based on some modeling I just did (sorry, proprietary), I suggest you get yourself some radical chemotherapy STAT!

  168. jae
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

    168, Half of all chemicals ever tested, both synthetic and natural, have been shown to be potentially carcinogenic. Thus, Boris, following your precautionary principles, you should stop eating.

  169. Rod
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    re: 161

    It’s got nothing to do with anecdotal evidence or not of a mwp in Greenland but everything to do with local evidence of the magnitude of AGW – which, along with the economic argument, was part of Monckton’s main drift. If you’ve checked the paper you will now know that the measured data presented shows that the Greenland coast does not support major GW during the last 200 years – natural or man made. e.g. current average temperatures have not yet exceeded those of the 30’s and 40’s and even then we are talking small changes over the space of the couple of hundred years contained in the study.

  170. Lee
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Rod –

    Monckton’s main drift on this issue was a bald claim that the Greenalnd Norse farms are currently locked under permafrost, and that Greenland is up to 3C now colder than it was in the MWP. That is absurd, and I cant believe people are defending him on this.

    Farmers are reporting that they have been able to go from 1 to 2 hay crops a year, and grow previously unviable crops. That is direct evidence that things have recently gotten warmer, or that the growing season is longer. Either way, it is direct evidence of addtinal Greenalnd heat over the growing season. ie, it is getting warmer.

  171. bender
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    Pea under thimble. The questions is how many hay crops could they have grown in Greenland during the MWP had they the same varieties we have today? 1-2?

  172. Lee
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    there is good evidence that in some years at less favorably situated farms, they didn’t manage a single full hay crop, ending up losing even breeding stock by the end of the winter,a nd needed to re-import breeding stock from more favorable farms.

    Farm cropping possibilities past and present are not strong temperature proxies – but the successful – but – only – just farming of comparable crops IS evidence that MWP and current temps are at least not wildly disparate, as if often claimed.

    Again – and I havven seen anyone acknowledge this here – Monckton’s wild-ass claim that the Norse farms on Greenland are locked under permafrost now is completely wrong, and discrediting to him.

  173. bender
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Are you sure he used the word “locked” or are you embellishing for the purpose of exagerrating his claim?

  174. bender
    Posted Nov 27, 2006 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    Re-read the article. Monckton says

    “There were Viking farms in Greenland: now they’re under permafrost.”

    Is it possible you are having “wild-ass” fantasies about what Monckton said? This doesn’t say to me what it seems to say to you.

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