Climate Science Rapid Response Team Asks Monckton for Help
Update (July 18, 2011): Monckton told he’s not member of House of Lords. Clerk of parliaments publishes letter on Lords’ site saying peer is not and has ‘never been a member of the House of Lords’.
The Climate Science Rapid Response Team is a match-making service to connect climate scientists with lawmakers and the media. The group is committed to providing rapid, high-quality information to media and government officials. To use the service, requesters use the inquiry form to identify themselves, pose their question and provide a deadline for the response. That information is then immediately sent to Dr. John Abraham, Dr. Ray Weymann, and me. One of these three “matchmakers” then immediately forwards the inquiry to those scientists with the most appropriate expertise. An authoritative response from one of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team scientists will be returned to the inquirer either directly or via one of the three matchmakers. For more information about the Team and to read about a typical day when I am “on call” see Lisa Palmer’s story over at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media.
John, Ray, and I occasionally receive “crank inquiries” from the Climate Science Rapid Response Team web site. These emails are normally deleted. On Friday April 29, 2011 we received an inquiry from Dr. Abu Ali-Hussain of the Doric Foundation, an organization claiming to be academic advisors to a group of Gulf States’ sovereign wealth funds. A quick search revealed no such organization and the inquiry came from the UK. The inquiry is strikingly like something that would have originated from the 3rd Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley. Instead of deleting the request, John, Ray, and I replied with the message below. (The initial inquiry from Dr. Abu Ali-Hussain appears below our response.)
Esteemed Abu Ali Al-Hussain,
First of all, our heartiest congratulations on having reached your 1031st birthday.
Regarding your several inquiries about climate issues, these inquiries suggest a level of such profound mis-apprehension of fundamental statistical analysis and climate science, that, rather than send them to some of our qualified experts, we think it more appropriate to refer you to someone with an equally profound mis-apprehension of these same issues. Specifically, we suggest you contact 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.
Should you wish further material we refer you to the document “Climate Scientists Respond” where issues bearing a remarkable resemblance to the ones raised in your inquiry are dealt with at length.
Finally, if we may be so bold, would you be so kind as to intercede with your patrons at the Gulf States Sovereign Wealth funds to see if they would be willing to make a modest contribution of 1 billion $US to defray the cost of administering the CSRRT.
Your humble and obedient servants,
John Patrick Abraham
Scott A. Mandia
Ray J. Weymann
p.s. Please do not take offense, but in your next inquiry would you endeavor to be less prolix. The demands on our time are exceedingly great.
Name: Dr. Abu Ali Al-Hussain
Organization: Doric Foundation
Organization Description: Academic advisors to a group of Gulf States’ sovereign wealth funds
Response Needed By: Soonest
Enquiry: This inquiry is confidential and we must ask you not to use our name in any of your publicity. We are currently reviewing the state of climate science as presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. On pages 37, 104, and 253 of the Fourth Assessment Report (2007), the IPCC reproduces a graph of annual mean global surface temperature anomalies from the Hadley Center/Climatic Research Unit, overlaid by four linear-regression trend-lines starting respectively in approximately 1855, 1905, 1955 and 1980 and all ending in 2005. Our previous enquiries have established that the scientists’ final draft of the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report contained the same graph, but with only a single trend-line, from 1855-2005. Our principals are concerned that between the submission of the scientists’ final draft and publication of the official IPCC document the three additional – and, if our understanding is correct, gratuitous – trend-lines were added, without any statement to the effect that an alteration had been made, and that on each of the three pages where the graph thus altered was reproduced a conclusion was unjustifiably inserted to the effect that the rate of global warming is itself accelerating. Our enquiries have also established that the chairman of the IPCC has had this improper methodology and the consequently improper conclusion drawn to his attention, in person as well as in writing, but that he has failed to make any correction or to restore the graph as originally submitted by the scientists, or to explain why no such correction should be made. It appears to us that the IPCC’s conclusion that the rate of warming is accelerating, and that we are to blame, is central to the case being made in the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report. However, our principals are concerned that this conclusion is on three occasions stated on the basis of a graph which has been altered in a manner that constitutes an inappropriate statistical technique, raising questions about the reliability of the conclusion. As a heuristic, we have determined that careful selection of start-points for multiple trend-lines on a sufficiently short segment of the graph of a sine-wave, which we chose because its long-run trend is by definition zero, can suggest, falsely, either that the trend is rising at an accelerating rate or that it is falling at an accelerating rate. Our questions to you are as follows:
1. Are we correct in understanding that the graph as it appears on the three pages in question has indeed been altered from the form in which it was originally submitted?
2. If the graph was altered, by whom was it altered, and on whose order or authority?
3. If the graph was altered, what steps did the IPCC take to ensure that the alterations were peer-reviewed, and who, if anyone, peer-reviewed the graph in its altered form?
4. Are we justified in our understanding that the IPCC is incorrect in reaching its central conclusion on the basis of the relative slopes of the inserted trend-lines, and that the statistical technique upon which it seeks to rely in reaching that central conclusion is defective?
5. Irrespective of whether the IPCC used a correct statistical technique to reach its central conclusion, is that conclusion in fact correct? We have determined that the Central England Temperature Record, which our analysis of the data suggests is a respectable proxy for global temperature anomalies, inferentially because the stations are at a temperate latitude, showed a warming of approximately 2.2 K from 1695-1730, equivalent to a centennial rate of 6.5 K, an order of magnitude greater than the warming observed in the 20th century, and four times greater than the maximum supra-decadal rate of warming observed in the entire 161 years of the global instrumental record, which occurred from 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1976-2001, since when there has been no warming. On the face of things, it does not seem to us that a discernible human influence on the global temperature record is yet discernible. Are we right?
6. We have discovered that the scientists’ final draft of the 1995 Second Assessment Report of the IPCC contained five statements – which our own analysis of the data supports – to the effect that no discernible human influence on global temperature had yet been detected, and that it was not possible to say when such an influence would be detected. However, by the time of publication all five of these statements had been deleted and replaced with a single statement to the opposite effect. Which of the two positions is right, and why?
7. We have discovered that the scientists’ final draft of the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report was altered upon receipt by the IPCC with the insertion of a table of contributions to sea-level rise that did not sum to within a factor 2 of the correct total, and that the reason for the error was an order-of-magnitude overstatement by the IPCC of the contributions of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level rise both since the 1960s and again since 1993. Our enquiries have established that the error was reported to the IPCC on the day of publication. On looking at the revised version of the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report we have verified that the table now sums correctly and that the four order-of-magnitude overstatements have been corrected, but we cannot find any acknowledgement or statement that the originally-published report has been thus altered. Are you able to point us to the relevant statement? Our principals are naturally concerned that alterations can be made n ot only to the scientists’ final drafts of the IPCC’s assessment reports but also to the published reports themselves without any explicit statement being placed on the record to the effect that the alterations have been made.
8. We note that all four of the IPCC’s assessment reports – 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007 – are heavily based on and biased in favor of modeling as opposed to theory and observation. The IPCC has been making long-term predictions of future climate states on the basis of modeling: yet its 2001 Third Assessment Report says that the climate is a complex, non-linear, chaotic object, so that the prediction of future climate states is not possible. Our principals are concerned at this apparently serious contradiction. On reading Sir James Lighthill’s paper of 1998 on the chaoticity of a pendulum’s oscillation, and Edward Lorenz’s paper of 1963 on deterministic non-periodic flow, we conclude that there are indeed fundamental constraints on the modeling of a chaotic object such as the climate. Does the IPCC’s approach take these constraints sufficiently into account?
9. The First Assessment Report appears to predict – again on the basis of modeling – that global temperature would rise by 0.8 K in the 40 years 1990-2030, based on the assumption that a doubling of CO2 concentration would cause 2.5 K warming. Are we right in understanding that, so far, the warming rate has been <0.2 K in the 20 years since 1990, Implying that the IPCC’s original medium-term projection of future global temperature change may prove to have been excessive by a factor 2, even though the IPCC’s current central estimate is that the warming at CO2 doubling will be 3.3 K? 10. Please supply estimates of the radiative forcings from all anthropogenic influences in the 61 years since 1950, the first year in which, according to the IPCC’s 2001 report, reliable measurements of the climate-relevant species of greenhouse gases were available, and draw our attention to any clear statement in the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the appropriate interval for the 21st-century transient-climate-sensitivity parameter.
Abu Ali Al-Hussain Doric Foundation, Doha, Qatar
Updated 07/12/2011: Comments turned off. Time to move on, folks.