In his article Global weather disasters - a sign the heat is on, Mike Steketee wrote: “So far the increase since the mid-18th century of all greenhouse gases has been 38 per cent, including a 27.5 per cent rise from 1990 to 2009”.


Monckton assumes that Steketee is referring to change in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, rather than change in the effect of greenhouse gases expressed as watts per square metre (W/m2) or concentration of greenhouse gases expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e).


He responds by telling us at point 8 of his rebuttal: “since anthropogenic effects on the climate are net-zero except for CO2, we need only consider CO2 concentration”.  He then notes that CO2 concentration in 1990 was 353 ppm (actual was 354.16) and in 2009 was 390 ppm (actual was 387.35 and 389.75 in 2010).  From his figures Monckton calculates that change in concentration of CO2 was 10.5%,  (actual 9.4%) not the 27.5% claimed by Steketee who is, yet again, shown to be wrong.


But hang on!  Mike Steketee did not write that between 1990 – 2009 greenhouse gas emissions excluding all gases other than CO2 increased by 27.5%.  He did not say that all greenhouse gas emissions less off-sets by aerosols and improved land use resulted in an increase of 27% in greenhouse concentration.  He simply referred to “all greenhouse gases”.


Not only does Monckton use incorrect figures to make his point, he says we should ignore the anthropogenic emission of CH4, N2O, Halons and CFC’s which occurred during the period.  He then claims that by making an invalid comparison - all greenhouse gases v CO2 emissions only - Steketee is proven wrong.


Far from it.  Mike Steketee refers to all greenhouse gases, not just CO2.  His article is based on information provided by the NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) for 2009 and specifically on Press Release 903 issued by the World Meteorological Office on 24 November, 2010 citing its 2009 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.


How do I know this?  Simple, I googled ‘greenhouse gases increase 27.5%.’ and what came up were the documents mentioned above and a wide range of media outlets including the ABC, all reporting that greenhouse gases had reached record concentration, resulting in a 27.5% increase in radiative forcing between 1990-2009.


Just to be sure, I emailed Mike Steketee who promptly responded, confirming he had based that particular paragraph of his article on WMO Press Release 903.


Regarding CO2 , PR 903 notes that “For about 10,000 years before the start of the industrial era in the mid-18th century, atmospheric carbon dioxide remained almost constant at around 280 ppm (ppm=number of molecules of the gas per million molecules of dry air).  Since 1750, it has increased by 38%, primarily because of emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation and changes in land-use. During the past 10 years, it has increased by an average annual 1.88%, according to WMO.”


On methane it reports that “since 1750 it has increased by 158%, mostly because of increasing emissions from human activities” and notes that after a period of temporary stabilization from 1999-2006, atmospheric methane has risen again from 2007-2009.


Likely causes of rising methane concentration were due to exceptionally warm temperatures at high northern latitudes where permafrost contains large reservoirs of organic carbon and methane clathrates.  However it cautions that the reasons for increasing methane are not yet fully understood.


On nitrous oxide it reports that at the end of 2009 it was 19% above the 1750 level and that while some other greenhouse gases were decreasing, notably CFC’s, others such as HCFC’s and HFC’s were increasing rapidly.


The press release reports that by the end of 2009 the main greenhouse gases had reached their highest levels recorded since pre-industrial times and that “total radiative forcing of all long-lived greenhouse gases increased by 27.5% from 1990 to 2009”.


The AGGI makes it equally clear that “the radiative forcing of the long-lived, well-mixed greenhouse gases increased 27.5% from 1990 to 2009 (~0.60 watts m-2), CO2 has accounted for nearly 80% of this increase (~0.47 watts m-2)” and then gives a break up of the contribution made by each of the greenhouse gases.


All of this information was readily available to Monckton.  He chose not to access it or contact Mike Steketee before launching a critique of his article. In so doing, Monckton again demonstrates his willingness to misrepresent, use incomplete or inaccurate data and ignore what authoritative sources have to say in order to discredit the work of others.



2011-02-05 08:57:49Strike 24
Dana Nuccitelli
Dang, I thought point #8 was the only one Monckton actually got right.  I guess he's oh-for-24.