2011-01-30 16:38:08Low-lying rebuttal fruit
John Cook


I've updated the list of Monckton arguments so at the bottom of the page, it lists Monckton arguments that we've yet to write a rebuttal for. If there are some "low-lying fruit", arguments that we can cobble together a quick rebuttal to, would be good to add these before Feb 1 as it will fill out the Monckton Myths more fully. Here they are:

  • Al Gore overestimated sea level rise by factor of 100
  • Arctic was warmer in 1940
  • Better to adapt than mitigate
  • Boreholes show strong Medieval Warm Period
  • Briffa's hockey stick was broken
  • Central England warmed more in the 18th century
  • CO2 is just a trace gas
  • CO2 is plant food
  • CO2 levels were high during Snowball Earth
  • CO2 limits will hurt the poor
  • CO2 limits will make little difference
  • Cold spells kill more people than heat waves
  • Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise
  • Diseases won't spread because of global warming
  • Drought is not caused by global warming
  • Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected
  • Earth was warmer for most of its history
  • Glaciers have been receding since the 1800's
  • Heat waves won't become more intense or frequent
  • Hurricane activity was low in 2010
  • IPCC overpredicts CO2 rise
  • IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period
  • It warmed just as fast in 1860-1880 and 1910-1940
  • It's a plot to set up a one world government
  • It's all a plot to redistribute riches to poor countries
  • It's an anti-capitalist political myth
  • It's clouds
  • It's not urgent
  • Lake Chad has emptied before
  • Maldives is not sinking
  • Melting permafrost is a good thing
  • Mosquito migration is unrelated to global warming
  • Most of the last 10,000 years were warmer
  • NASA GISS adjustments introduce warming bias
  • Negative feedbacks will stabilise climate
  • New Zealand data was fudged
  • People are making money from global warming
  • Permafrost feedback won't happen
  • Scientists falsified data
  • Solar cycle 24 will stop global warming
  • The upper troposphere should warm 2 to 3 times faster than the surface
  • Tuvalu sea levels aren't rising
  • Warming in pipeline is small
  • Wine grew in England in Roman times

A few to highlight:

  •  "Most of the last 10,000 years were warmer" - Rob has been working on this subject. Is it possible to put together a rebuttal in the interim?
  • "Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected" - Dana?
  • "Heat waves won't become more intense or frequent" - I'll do this, adapt it from the 'freaking cold' rebuttal
  • "It's clouds" - I could've sworn I've blogged about this, will investigate.


2011-01-30 17:40:29Thoughts on unrebutted arguments
James Wight


I had just suggested you make such a list on another thread, but you beat me to it! Actually, though, the list is kind of overwhelming – what to focus on?

Some thoughts on low-lying fruit:

  • “CO2 is just a trace gas” – I’m sure we had a thread on this somewhere but I don’t know where it went.
  • “CO2 is plant food” – Somebody (I can’t remember who) has been working on this one for ages.
  • “Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise” – I think Rob Honeycutt is working on this one.
  • “It warmed just as fast as 1860-1880 and 1910-1940” – Robert Way covered this in Monckton Myth #2.
  • “It’s not urgent” and “Warming in pipeline is small” will be at least partly covered in a post I’m writing on the paper “Target Atmospheric CO2” by Hansen et al (2008). I won’t have it ready in time because it’s fairly complicated, but when it is finished, it would give us some extra info that could be used for rebuttals of those two arguments.

Regarding “CO2 levels were high during Snowball Earth”, I notice Monckton has repeatedly claimed that CO2 reached 300,000 ppm during Snowball Earth! As usual he provides no reference for his extraordinary claim, but the actual number was more like 12,000 ppm according to the cap carbonates.

“CO2 limits will make little difference” is a difficult one to argue. Depending on the policy Monckton may have a point for a change! However he uses some pretty twisted calculations when making these kinds of arguments and usually gets highly dubious results like “this policy would only prevent 1/1000 of a degree of warming”. I enjoyed Jonathan Holmes’ description on ABC Online:

If you can’t understand its tortured mathematics, don’t worry. You’re not intended to. You are intended to think, “Well, I don’t really follow it all, but this bloke seems to be impressively learned, and he says it’s not worth doing anything about climate change”.

2011-01-30 17:48:16"Oceans are cooling"
James Wight

Also, are you going to update the "Oceans are cooling" rebuttal from Monckton Myth #1?
2011-01-30 18:12:14CO2 limits will make little difference
John Cook

My initial thought when reading Monckton's 1000th of a degree argument was he's pulling the Lindzen transient warming trick - failing to take into account warming into the future.
2011-01-30 18:17:19Number of times used
James Wight


Do we have a list of how many times Monckton has used each unrebutted argument?

2011-01-30 18:50:38got that one
Dana Nuccitelli

Yeah, I've got "Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected" claimed already.  Just giving people time to check my calculations in the Lindzen Case Study blog post - as long as I got it right, I'll adapt that into the rebuttal.  Shouldn't take more than 15 minutes.

There are several others I could do, it's just a matter of having the time to do them.  The wine in England was covered nicely by RealClimate a while back.  CO2 limits will make little difference I think is based on the argument than any given country has a small percentage of global emissions.  Monckton made that argument about Australia in a recent newspaper article.  For that one, we'd have to talk about how that's the entire point of international negotiations.  If everybody says "our cuts won't make a difference", then nobody cuts them.  If everybody agrees to cut them, it adds up.  This isn't a science argument though.

I might do 'IPCC disappeared the MWP'.  I saw Monckton made this argument several times, and I've researched it a bit in the past.  Just depends on whether I have time tomorrow.  We've talked about "CO2 limits hurt the poor", but that will take some research.  Too time consuming to do by Tuesday.

2011-01-30 19:05:11Answers to questions
John Cook


are you going to update the "Oceans are cooling" rebuttal from Monckton Myth #1?

If I get time- not as high a priority as arguments that have no rebuttal at all.

Do we have a list of how many times Monckton has used each unrebutted argument?

I've just updated Monckton arguments so it now lists how often Monckton uses each argument - good idea so we can spend more time on the more popular ones. Very good idea.

“CO2 is just a trace gas” – I’m sure we had a thread on this somewhere but I don’t know where it went.

Dang, I've been meaning to program up a forum search - will try to create one this afternoon time permitting.

UPDATE: just added the forum search in the left margin. Here's the thread on CO2 trace gas.

“CO2 is plant food” – Somebody (I can’t remember who) has been working on this one for ages.

Someone emailed me a huge intermediate rebuttal in unfinished form, no chance of getting that into shape in time. Although there was a basic level blog post which would serve as a basic rebuttal. I didn't use it as a rebuttal as it didn't have any peer-reviewed references but that was back in the days before basic/intermediate/advanced. Nowadays, it would serve as a basic rebuttal. Hmm, will look into that.

“It warmed just as fast as 1860-1880 and 1910-1940” – Robert Way covered this in Monckton Myth #2.

If Rob doesn't get a chance to claim and create this rebuttal, I'll do it for him.

Note - I don't think we have to go crazy trying to do as many as possible. But if there are a few that are relatively easy to throw together a rebuttal - a particularly egregious argument or something we already have material for - then would be a good idea to build the list of myths with minimal effort.

And we can continue doing these beyond Tuesday - in fact, any we do now or in the recent future can be used as Monckton Myth blog posts. So even if you throw up a rebuttal before Tuesday, if its new content, we'll hang onto it and post it as a blog post afterwards. The continue drip drip drip of MM blog posts will serve as a reminder of the MM resource.

2011-01-30 19:05:40Arguments ordered by Monckton usage
John Cook

Arguments by Monckton Usage
"Most of the last 10,000 years were warmer" 4
"Al Gore overestimated sea level rise by factor of 100" 3
"CO2 limits will make little difference" 3
"Better to adapt than mitigate" 3
"It warmed just as fast in 1860-1880 and 1910-1940" 3
"Arctic was warmer in 1940" 2
"It's a plot to set up a one world government" 2
"Central England warmed more in the 18th century" 2
"IPCC ‘disappeared’ the Medieval Warm Period" 2
"It's clouds" 2
"NASA GISS adjustments introduce warming bias" 2
"Earth hasn't warmed as much as expected" 2
"Coral atolls grow as sea levels rise" 1
"Mosquito migration is unrelated to global warming" 1
"It's an anti-capitalist political myth" 1
"Wine grew in England in Roman times" 1
"Maldives is not sinking" 1
"CO2 is plant food" 1
"The upper troposphere should warm 2 to 3 times faster than the surface" 1
"Diseases won't spread because of global warming" 1
"New Zealand data was fudged" 1
"IPCC overpredicts CO2 rise" 1
"Melting permafrost is a good thing" 1
"Scientists falsified data" 1
"Hurricane activity was low in 2010" 1
"People are making money from global warming" 1
"Permafrost feedback won't happen" 1
"Cold spells kill more people than heat waves" 1
"Glaciers have been receding since the 1800's" 1
"It's all a plot to redistribute riches to poor countries" 1
"It's not urgent" 1
"Lake Chad has emptied before" 1
"Boreholes show strong Medieval Warm Period" 1
"Earth was warmer for most of its history" 1
"Tuvalu sea levels aren't rising" 1
"CO2 limits will hurt the poor" 1
"CO2 levels were high during Snowball Earth" 1
"CO2 is just a trace gas" 1
"Drought is not caused by global warming" 1
"Negative feedbacks will stabilise climate" 1
"Heat waves won't become more intense or frequent" 1
"Briffa's hockey stick was broken" 1
"Warming in pipeline is small" 1
"Solar cycle 24 will stop global warming" 1
2011-01-30 21:02:53CO2 as a trace gas


Thanks, John, for locating the thread. I've been meaning to do something about this for months! But I really cannot do this right now. Here is the last bit of that thread: I hope someone can do something with it in time:


13 Sep 2010, 5:45 PM OK, I signed up for: "#127: COO2 is just a trace gas"

I'm going to do this in 3 parts:

- The Basic explanation: will cover the fact that the big concentration ratio doesn't matter (none of the non-GHG matters one way or another), but that the surprise is that CO2 can dominate the much more abundant H20 vapor. It can do this because of the special properties of the CO2 molecule.

- The Intermediate explanation: will explain that the special properties of the CO2 molecule are: a) Its absorption bands, which are only partially shared with H2O; and b) its presence even at high altitudes (beyond the point at which H2O vapor exists). The highest altitudes are the "high leverage" positions for effecting the enhanced greenhouse phenomenon.

- The Advanced explanation:  will explain WHY the highest altitudes are better for the GHG role. This will require some explanation of the Optical Path Length, the photosphere, and the relationship between the altitude of the photosphere and the new steady-state temperature. Although I'll try to simplify it as much as I can, this explanation is going to be tough: tough to write, and probably tough to follow.

My expectation is that any interested reader will first be directed to Basic; at the end of Basic, there will be a pointer to Intermediate; and if s/he's still up for more, the Intermediate's pointer to Advanced will take the reader to as far as I'm able to explain. 

13 Sep 2010, 5:59 PM Jim's points

Jim Meador,

My post above must have been written at about the same time as yours.


 a) "385 ppm is a lot": Yes, the point is that the amount of non-GHG molecules, whether it's large or small, it totally irrelevant: So the number could be 38.5%, 385 ppm or 3.85 ppm. What counts is 1) the absolute number of CO2 molecules, and 2) the fraction this is of GHG molecules (about 4%). The 4% number is highly significant, and would, by itself, suggest that CO2's role would be small compared to H2O's role. However, see point b) below.

b) Water-vapor window: CO2 has an absorption window that is not shared with H2O, and one that is partially shared. But probably even more important than that bit of atomic physics is that CO2 extends up to almost 100 km, whereas H20 only gets as far as 10 km. For the mechanism of the greenhouse effect, that means the CO2 molecules get "first shot" at controlling the emission of IR from these windows; I'll try to explain that in the Advanced explanation.

I will probably get into the spacing of CO2 molecules in the Basic or Intermediate explanation.


If we just wanted to focus on the basic part: The thing that gets people's doubt is that the % of CO2 is so small. But the point is that the % is totally irrelevant: The size of the greenhouse effect depends on the absolute concentration (molecules/volume) in the atmosphere, not on the relative concentration. If you added 100 times as much of a non-GHG to the atmosphere, the ppm would go down by a factor of 100; but the GHE would be just the same! (In fact, for technical reasons involving pressure broadening of the absorption line, it might even strengthen the GHE.) Maybe someone can just whip this part into shape.

A useful analogy discussed in the thread: If you have 1 Million people in a region, but only 350 people vote, the election is decided by those 350 people, even though they're only 350 ppm. However many non-voters there are doesn't matter, because the voting GHG molecules don't have to "convince" the others of the validity of the vote; they only have to "convince" the photons, and that depends on the absolute number of GHG molecules, not the %.

I hope someone can take this up. I'm under some pressure right now in the "real world".

2011-01-30 22:22:06Another analogy about trace chemicals
James Wight

Alcohol is a trace chemical in blood, and yet it is illegal for a human to drive if their blood alcohol content is over 500 ppm. Therefore all laws against drink-driving must be part of a socialist plot to control our lives... wait, I got derailed by my analogy. The point is, if you increase someone's blood alcohol content from 250 to 500 or 1,000 ppm it has considerable effects!
2011-01-30 22:30:54


Yes, but the force of the denier argument is: "How can CO2 be important at all, when it's down at 300 - 350 ppm?" They aren't complaining that a 35% increase in CO2 isn't significant; they saying that the whole gas is insignificant.

So the counter-argument is that CO2 is significant because it's the only player at 15 microns, and the non-players don't count at all, one way or another.


2011-01-31 06:59:36Monckton myths
Julian Brimelow
Hi John,

I have finally have found a short window here-- ugh, where does the time go!

I see that you have identified some myths that have yet to be refuted-- so I have focused on those points the last while.  The top one being:

Re ""Most of the last 10,000 years were warmer""

As you know Gareth R. has done an excellent job refuting Easterbrook's similar/same claim.  It seems that Monckton has pulled the same trick as Easterbrook:

From "Guardian-Coolest_Year_For_
Decade" (Dec 2008):
"For most of the 10,000 years of the present interglacial period, global temperatures were warmer than the present"

See:  http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/scarewatch/Guardian-Coolest_Year_For_Decade.pdf

So where I am going with this, can you not simply link Gareth's debunking?

Re "It warmed just as fast in 1860-1880 and 1910-1940"

Didn't Rob painting recently address this at SkS when addressing one of the other Monckton Myths?
Monckton makes this argument here:

From "wet_office" (April 2009):

"Also, the rate of warming between 1975 and 1998 was no greater than that from

1860-1880 and 1910-1940, from which it follows that there is no detectable

anthropogenic influence on temperature at all, and the influence of CO2 on

temperature is a great deal less than the UN’s climate panel imagines"

See: http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/scarewatch/wet_office.pdf

Re "New Zealand data was fudged"

Gareth R. too has recently covered this. Here, http://hot-topic.co.nz/niwas-new-nz-temperature-series-plus-ca-change/

Re ""Arctic was warmer in 1940"

Monckton makes that claim here:

From "Monckton_Arctic_and_Sealevel" (April 2009)

"Temperatures in the Arctic and in Greenland were warmer by up to 3 Fahrenheit degrees in the late 1930s and early 1940s than they are at present"



I do not know who has refuted this one-- someone must have.

Here are some GHCN data from Greenland for stations having continuous records from at least 1930 to present:

These do not support Monckton's assertion.  Nor does this:

Same as above but using baseline of 1935-1945 to correspond to Monckton's period:

Maybe the Arctic was  almost as warm as present for a brief time in the late 30s (not early 40s), but certainly not 1.5 C warmer.  Not according to these data.

2011-01-31 07:07:43



I strongly request that you do not refer to Monckton by the name you have been using just now: It cheapens the tone and sets us up for another "Climategate" situation. Even internally, keep it civil: Even something private can become un-private.

The old saying is, "Don't write anything that you would worry about showing up in the New York Times." Let's not do any own-goals, please.

2011-01-31 07:33:16Sorry
Julian Brimelow


You a re of course perfectly correct.  My apologies.  The post has been revised.



2011-01-31 07:37:16Help
Julian Brimelow

Hi all,

I have been trying in vain to help John with this.  As you can see from the "Artciles" page, I have made a real mess of linking/uploading some of the Monckton Articles-- even after John explained to me what to do.  The entire URL is hyperlinked, not just a title. The dates are also incorrect.

Apparently I am incapable of following simple instructions! :(

Instead of wasting John's time any more than I already have, could someone explain to me how to fix the problem.

I have to go run an errand, but I will try and get online again before we head out for dinner tonight.

2011-01-31 10:53:49Problem fixed
John Cook


I've edited those articles. Was quick and easy for me to fix this, just meant changing the title in the database and updating the date - which I had to do with every single submitted article as the system automatically uses the date that the link is submitted to the database. This is inevitable - we didn't want too many fields in the Firefox Add-on and article date seemed unimportant.

I was hoping to create an edit function so all authors could edit articles directly but just haven't had the time to do it yet. But as this will probably be an ongoing series with other skeptics, will definitely do that soon.

2011-01-31 13:17:37Editing the database and Easterbrook
James Wight


It is possible to edit articles in the database, but there is a problem: the edit form is limited to ten arguments, so if you've added more than ten arguments via the Firefox addon, the remaining arguments will just vanish from that article.

I don’t think Albatross linked to Gareth’s debunking of the 10,000 years claim, so here it is:


You could ask Gareth if you could reproduce it on SkS. Then we would have a ready-made rebuttal to Monckton's top unrebutted argument.

2011-01-31 13:31:13Gareth
John Cook


I emailed Gareth this morning, he gave thumbs up and I just posted an amended version of the rebuttal:


Will also start a thread just to get people looking at this for nitpicking purposes.