Oct 172010

On 20th May, 2009,  Monbiot had an article  at  Guardian Environment entitled Price of doing nothing costs the earth with the sub heading

MIT scientists forecast a global temperature rise of 5.2o C by 2100 – but climate change deniers reject models devised by the world’s finest minds. So what do they suggest instead… seaweed?

Here are comments number 11 -15

Hamlet4 (20 May 2009 2:10PM


Thats not science – its a computer model trying and failing to describe a immensely complicated chaotic system. Please read up on the butterfly theory to find out HOW wrong such models can be over time. The 90 % confidence levels for forecasts over 90 years is simply absurd. Rubbish in – Rubbish out.
Hamlet4 (20 May 2009 2:18PM)


OK, all those of you who reject modelling, answer the question: what would you use instead?

nr 1 – How about using your brain, not your political belief system.

nr 2 – Try and build models that explain the present stagnation in temperature, sea-level rise and increase in ice-extent, instead of just pretending its not happening.

nr 3 – Emphasize the limitations of such models, instead of using them trying to create fear and thereby grants.


scunnered52 (20 May 2009 2:29PM)

George the only person you are scaring is your self. All climate model projections are currently in serious error because they over-estimate “climate sensitivity”; and that’s due in main to what the modellers don’t know. I would recommend you undertake to create your own climate model. Here is DIY course on how to do so…


geoffchambers (20 May 2009 2:38PM)

At the end of the article … is this:

“This work was supported in part by grants from … foundation sponsors of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change”.

And who are these industrial sponsors? Why, Exxon, BP, Shell, Total, among others. This is research funded by Big Oil money. Can this be right?

Monbiot (20 May 2009 2:44PM)

Hamelt4: [sic]

You appear to be suggesting that the MIT team is guided by political beliefs and is using this model to create fear and harvest grants. Perhaps you would care to provide some evidence?

Monbiot denied the accusation that the models were used to “create fear and thereby grants” but deflected Hamlet4’s demand to Monbiot to  “us[e] your brain, not your political belief system” onto the MIT group, which Hamlet4 hadn’t mentioned (though I had). Clearly, Monbiot was rattled, because 11 minutes later,  he was back with this comment:

Monbiot (20 May 2009 2:55PM)


Of all the posters on these threads, you are the one who looks to me most like an astroturfer: in other words someone posing as an independent citizen while being paid by organisations which have an interest in the outcome. Is my suspicion correct? How about providing a verifiable identity to lay this concern to rest?


Now look at scunnered52’s intelligent comment above and try to spot why Monbiot should accuse him of being an astroturfer. Odd, isn’t it?


Half an hour later, a puzzled Hamlet4 replied to Monbiot’s non sequitur of a question, with a comment that finished:

Try and THINK Monbiot – do you really believe that these models are producing accurate descriptions of our climate 90 years from now ???.

scunnered52 and Hamlet4 then disappeared, and I went off on another tack:

geoffchambers (20 May 2009 3:35PM)

George asks whether we should use computer models or seaweed for predicting future climate change. Research conducted by the International Institute of Forecasters on the accuracy of forecasting suggests that predictions made by the general public are usually more accurate than those made by experts. This is because the man in the street tends to believe things will probably continue much as they have in the past, while your expert tends to follow the spaghetti off the edge of his graphs into the wide blue yonder. So the correct answer is: seaweed.

I then came back to the subject of research financed by Big Oil:

geoffchambers (20 May 2009 4:36PM)

thesnufkin at 4.10pm complains we denialists are giving him nothing to get his teeth into. How about this? Monbiot’s new estimate for temperature rise in 2100 comes from what he describes as “the world’s most sophisticated models devised by the world’s finest minds”. And who are these world’s finest minds? They’re the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Their site lists them all in democratic alphabetical order. Most of them are foreign exchange students in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Urban Planning, Engineering etc. Bright people Im sure, but when it comes to forecasting “the end of life as we know it”, (George’s expression) no more reliable than your average Jehovah’s Witness. And they are financed by Exxon, Shell, Total and BP – which is fine by me, but I wonder what George thinks about it?

geoffchambers (20 May 2009 10:28PM)

Filster at 10.04pm is still attacking the fossil fuel lobby, while Monbiot has moved on. The source for the alarmist prediction in this article is research financed by precisely the fossil fuel lobby which Monbiot so often decries. See the last paragraph of the MIT News article to which Monbiot links for special thanks to Exxon, Shell, BP and Total.

By next day the discussion had moved on to discussion of Mann and the attitude of the Chinese. Then gpwayne, (whose interventions have been retroactively graced with a “C for Contributor” since an article he recently wrote for the Guardian) joined in:

gpwayne (21 May 2009 5:59AM)

What fucking rubbish Geoff. You should be ashamed of yourself for writing such childish, stupid crap.

Apparently I was blogging under moderation at this time, because in my reply to gpwayne is this:

geoffchambers (21 May 2009 9:08AM

Hi. Nice to hear from you again. I’ve been away, under moderation for insulting Guardian readers, and sneaking in a couple of words in Chinese to a comment.

I’m surprised you didn’t know about Mann’s censored data file. It’s been much discussed by McIntyre and others, though possibly not on Guardian Environment.

I admire your reasoning: if the Chinese believe it, it must be true. I suppose the appeal to authority works best if the authorities you are appealing to are themselves authoritarian.

Don’t feel you have to reply. Blogging under moderation is like breakdancing with a ball and chain round your ankle, or arguing with a heavy stutter.

I tried to interest my interlocutors in Monbiot’s newfound enthusiasm for research financed by Big Oil, to no avail:

geoffchambers (21 May 2009 10:08AM)

thesnufkin at 9.37am asks what was in Mann’s file marked censored data. Peer reviewed tree-ring data, stalactite data, Finnish varves, I expect. But it wouldnt matter if it was full of old socks, would it? The point is he inadvertently handed a file named Censored Data to McIntyre. It’s not a conspiracy theory, simply an odd fact. Like the fact that Monbiot is expressing absolute faith in the results of research financed by Exxon.

geoffchambers (21 May 2009 10:57AM)

to gpwayne at 10.19am. You ask why China does this and that. How would I know? It all looks like perfectly sensible international diplomacy to me. You dont see the Chinese ambassador to the Vatican lecturing the Pope on dialectical materialism, but that doesnt mean that Beijing has gone Catholic.

And why ask me who censored Mann’s data? No-one. Its just the name on a file which Mann inadvertently sent to McIntyre. Read about it at ClimateAudit if youre interested.

While we are in rhetorical question mode, what do you think about Monbiot’s newfound faith in research funded by Exxon?

And just at this point, 20 hours after his last intervention, Monbiot turned up. So what did he think about China’s environmental policy, Mann’s censored file, or Exxon’s financing of his favourite alarmist climate model? Nothing.

Monbiot (21 May 2009 11:01AM)

Still no response from scunnered52. Interesting.

I got one decent response to my question though:

thesnufkin (21 May 2009 11:04AM)

If the work is sound it doesn’t matter who pays. The Renaissance was largely funded by the Borgias, but the art was still good.

I tried again:

geoffchambers (21 May 2009 11:43AM)

Since Monbiot has turned up, perhaps he would like to say how he feels about plugging data from research funded by Exxon?

But Monbiot was gone, never to be seen again on this thread. But the fun wasn’t over:

thesnufkin (21 May 2009 12:03PM)

scunnered52 has turned up!

And indeed, the blogger Monbiot had accused, without the slightest evidence, of being an astroturfer, had been busy at another part of Guardian environment, posting six times at :


The last five posts followed Monbiot’s accusation. Two have been deleted. Another two repeat, with different examples and links, the basic message of his first comment, which was posted before the comment which provoked Monbiot’s unfounded accusation:

scunnered52 (20 May 2009 10:22AM)

Who benefits from Cap-and-Trade? In the US it has been calculated that an economy-wide cap-and-trade program could generate up to $300 billion a year in PROFITS! With so much money at stake it is little wonder that those advocating eco-business attack sceptics. The Greens are just as greedy as you average oil billionaire.

Having spotted scunnered52’s reappearance on the Vaclav Klaus thread, thesnufkin piled in:

thesnufkin (21 May 2009 12:01PM)

scunnered52 Do you fancy replying to george monbiot’s allegation that you’re just an astroturfer? We’re all waiting.

scunnered52 (21 May 2009 1:01PM)

Did I actually get under old George’s skin that much … and I didn’t even know. LOL. Yes, my secret is out I am astroturfer – sponsored by Neeps&Tatties – a duplicitous grassroots organisation that acts as front for a secret group of empiricalists who have invested heavily in plastic macs and thermal long-johns. It is not in our interests to have people believe in global warming.

I’ve said too much already, but I trust you Snufkin not to pass this information on.

scunnered52’s next two comments have been deleted but he comes back one last time to denounce green greed.


scunnered52 (22 May 2009 9:30AM)

Climate Alarmism = BIG Profits. Knowing that relationship helps you understand the motives of Al Gore, Goldman Sachs, George Soros, Exxon, etc. Monbiot and company are just serving the vested interests of corporations. The Greens are just as greedy as your average billionaire.


So Monbiot, was accusing a sceptic commenter, who had already denounced the involvement of big business and oil billionaires in climate change policy, of being paid by big business.

Scunnered52 continued commenting wittily on climate matters until August 2009, when his comments stop. His user page is still up, indicating that he has not been banned.


Meanwhile, I had transferred my questioning of the morality of praising research funded by Big Oil to the Vaclav Klaus article, where Environment Editor John Vidal had been criticising Klaus’s sceptical book because it was financed by Exxon 


geoffchambers (21 May 2009 5:10PM)

No answer to my question about big oil money, so I’ll rephrase it and try again:

Why is it ok for Vidal and Monbiot to quote approvingly from research funded by Exxon, but not ok for President Klaus to have his book sponsored by a think tank funded by Exxon?

No answer from Vidal, but thesnufkin replied, and I responded:

geoffchambers (21 May 2009 10:37PM)

to thesnufkin at 10.17pm

..which comes down to: “it’s ok for Exxon to fund good stuff, but not bad stuff”.

I can accept that, but the problem is, John Vidal can’t, because his whole article hinges on the argument: “if its funded by Exxon, it must be suspect”. Which is quite amusing, given that back in March he was praising the same Exxon-funded research which Monbiot attributes to the world’s finest minds…

Some other good sceptics joined in, including our own BobFJ, and the thread  came to the usual unsatisfactory conclusion. Which is where the matter rested, until Monbiot reopened the debate on astroturfing a few months later with an article on the need for censorship at CiF.

At least this story demonstrates that Monbiot and Vidal don’t always have things their own way at CiF, and we commenters may sometimes influence policy at Guardian Environment.

The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy  of Climate Change were introduced to Guardian readers in March 2009 with three fanfare articles – one by themselves, one by Vidal, and one by Monbiot. They were described proudly as members of the Guardian Environment Network. They were next quoted in the May 2009 article analysed above. They haven’t been heard of since.

144 Responses to “My Affair with George Monbiot: part 1”

  1. tempterrain #75
    Agreed about not insulting primary school teachers. Even GreenAgeChloe on the Guardian blogs, who made the children cry with her song “No more snow” and wanted to lock up us non-believers.
    I like your story of the mediaeval sceptic. I’m a great believer in looking at history for parallels, but I don’t think you can project yourself or your interlocutor into the past and imagine what you or he/she would have said or done, any more than you can project yourself into the future and imagine what a degree or two of average temperature rise might do to this or that part of the globe in 50 years’ time.
    Another warmist history fan is thesnufkin, who has a walk-on part in my article above. I’ve just been to his site at
    and left a comment. I recommend it to everyone. Thanks to ESmith for pointing it out .

  2. Geoff

    You are basically accusing me of using the term ‘fascist’ like some some schoolboy insult. I’m not doing that. Delingpole is.

    Mobiot is a total fraud. His ideas are actually very similar to Oswald Mosley as I said before, but he gets a free pass in the Guardian because they are promoting carbon trading for big business. I have never called him a fascist, but I do refer to his extreme right wing, upper class background whhich is highly effective in the Guardian.

    This is possibly the biggest fraud ever perpetrated and they have the total power of the corporate media and the corporate state(s) behind them. I suspect Exxon deliberately sponsored Heartland to make opposition look ridiculous. Monckton and Lawson are in a similar vein, so is Delingpole to be honest.

    The Rockefellers sponsor Piekle Jr’s Breakthrough Institute because they are happy to lie about CO2 even though they oppose carbon trading.

    We are totally outgunned in every way.

  3. tempterrain

    This debate has nothing to do with a clean environment. CO2 isn’t a dirty or harmful substance in the quantities currently present. Unless you believe in accurate computer models of the global ecosystem, which Freeman Dyson and most honest physicists will tell you is nonsense.

    Jeffrey Marque, editor of Physics & Society, published by the American Physical Society said

    There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution


  4. ESmith
    The term “fascist “ on a blog is always a schoolboy insult. The context makes it so. It would be fascinating to compare environmentalism with other eccentric, pseudo-scientific political movements in an academic setting, in which case comparisons to fascism might have their place. Here, the net result is to cut off discussion. No “warmist” is going to engage with a sceptic who uses such terms, and few sceptics will be interested in resemblances between Monbiot and Moseley when the differences are so flagrant.
    When you said a while back that Monbiot was financed by Shell, I think you’ve been misled by the way advertising works on the internet. A programme spots the word “oil” and pops up an advert for Shell, that’s all. Because of my name, I get adverts for combustion chambers.

  5. Geoff

    Please do not believe for one second I take your criticism or level of intelligence seriously. You don’t understand anything about Monbiot or Mosley, environmentalism or fascism. You are probably right wing, like most anti AGW campaigners and that’s your problem with the truth. Delingpole is around a million times smarter and he has accepted the ecofascist reality.

    Shell sponsored Monbiot’s blog because they support carbon trading. They also sponsored one of the science dupes at UEA.

    International Emissions Trading Association (IETA)

    The biggest lobbying group at Copenhagen was the International Emissions Trading Association which was created to promote carbon trading more than ten years ago.

    Its members include :-

    BP, Conoco Philips, Shell, E.ON (coal power stations owner), EDF (one of the largest participants in the global coal market), Gazprom (Russian oil and gas), Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley..


  6. ESmith #80
    You say: “Please do not believe for one second I take your criticism or level of intelligence seriously … You are probably right wing…”
    Telling me what I probably am, like calling people fascists, effectively puts an end to all discussion.

  7. Goeff,
    You may be familiar with this story, but for the benefit of your readers…

    Euref commenters, Julian Williams and I had a run-in with Monboit with his comments about the IPCC chairman and TERI-Europe at the Guardian. We published Julian’s account on Bishop Hill. Monbiot responded at his blog later.


  8. Shub
    Thanks for the link. Yours was an excellent piece of investigative journalism, something Monbiot used to be rather good at, until he morphed into a defender of the rich and powerful. I hope to come back to this subject in another post.

  9. ESmith,

    You say that “CO2 isn’t a dirty or harmful substance in the quantities currently present.”

    It isn’t harmful in the sense that it will cause any physical harm to you or I – agreed. But does it have any effect on the environment?

    Ian Plimer who is a well known climate sceptic has suggested that if the atmosphere were devoid of CO2, temperatures on Earth would be 18 deg C colder than they currently are. We know that the pre-industrial level of CO2 was 280ppmv which has been increased to 385ppmv by human activity since the middle of the 19th century.

    So, the problem for you sceptics/deniers is to explain how a doubling CO2 levels, in addition to significant increases in other GHGs, to around 560ppmv, which will probably happen this century unless it is controlled, isn’t going to cause warming of at least several degrees C.

  10. Here is a quote, from the latest speech
    of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whilst in London, recently.

    “The third fact is that also the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere fluctuates in time, sometimes precedes, sometimes follows the temperature increase, and that – with all the problems of not fully compatible time series – in the last two centuries we witness a mostly anthropogenically enhanced amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Its concentration increased from 284.7 ppmv in the year 1850 to 310.7 in the year 1950, and to 387.3 in 2009.

    There is no need to dispute these facts. The dispute starts when we are confronted with a doctrine which claims that the rough coexistence of climate changes, of growing temperatures and of man-made increments of CO2 in the atmosphere – and what is more, only in a relatively short period of time – is a proof of a causal relationship between these phenomena. To the best of my knowledge there is no such relationship between them. It is, nevertheless, this claim that forms the basis for the doctrine of environmentalism.”

    See the entire video of this long speech by Pres Klaus, when he gave the Inaugural Annual GWPF Lecture on Thursday, 21 October 2010

    “The Climate Change Doctrine is Part of
    ….. Environmentalism, Not of Science”

    ** NOW AVAILABLE AS FLASH VIDEO ** in a custom java player.
    Plays on any operating system that can play FLV1 & MP3
    Second video on Video Wall #7 at the Fraudulent Climate Website

    ! The Fraudulent Climate of Hokum Science !

    Use The Quick Page Menu Button

  11. tempterrain

    The problem for you fraud deniers is that you have no science education. If you did, you wouldn’t write corporate generated nonsense like that.

    “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just pine cone collecting.”

    Ernest Rutherford

    Physicists know carbon trading science is bollocks and we all know that pine cone collectors are liars.

  12. tempterrain

    Don’t quote grovelling, bought and paid for scum from science collective bodies in reply.

    Hal Lewis: My Resignation From The American Physical Society

    Friday, 08 October 2010 17:19 Hal Lewis .From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara

    To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

    6 October 2010

    Dear Curt:

    When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

    How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

    It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

    So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:

    1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate

    2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

    3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

    4. So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

    5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

    6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

    APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

    I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

    I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.


    Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)


  13. TonyB and PeterM

    As you both know, Dr. Ian Plimer wrote a book (“Heaven and Earth”) which included, among other things, many astute observations on the history of our planet’s climate, as seen from the viewpoint of a geologist.

    He showed that our climate has varied considerably over geological time, totally independently from atmospheric CO2, including the recent globally warm cycles during the Roman Optimum and the MWP, plus colder cycles, such as the most recent LIA.

    Plimer also pointed out, for example, that all of the underwater volcanoes and fissures in Earth’s crust, along with the much smaller number of known above-ground volcanoes, may well be causing CO2 emissions, which overshadow those caused by humans. This claim caused an outcry among AGW aficionados as it runs counter to common belief (since the vast number of underwater volcanoes are hardly taken into account).

    He points out, quite logically, that all doomsday predictions (such as the current “dangerous AGW” craze) have one thing in common: they never happen (or we would not be here today).

    But there are a few errors in his book. These undoubtedly represent a lower percentage than there are in the IPCC AR4 report, however, which is actually taken by some as the “gold standard” scientific report on climate science, although this reputation has been tarnished recently, as Dr. Judith Curry has pointed out.

    One notable error is the claim on the “natural GH effect of CO2”, which PeterM likes to quote (although he is fully aware that it is an error and has even discussed it as such on this thread repeatedly).

    The total natural GHE is estimated to be around 33C, of which the great majority is from water vapor, our planet’s principal GHG. CO2 is estimated to have caused 5 to 7C of this total.

    As Peter likes to point out (since it suits his personal belief that CO2 is an overwhelmingly important GHG), Plimer has written in his book:

    if the atmosphere were devoid of CO2, temperatures on Earth would be 18 deg C colder than they currently are

    This is an error (as PeterM knows full well) – in fact, it is one of the few contained in Plimer’s otherwise very educational book.

    So is it honest of PeterM to repeatedly quote a claim, which he knows full well is an error?

    Make up your own mind on that question. I already have.


  14. PeterM

    You state (84):

    So, the problem for you sceptics/deniers is to explain how a doubling CO2 levels, in addition to significant increases in other GHGs, to around 560ppmv, which will probably happen this century unless it is controlled, isn’t going to cause warming of at least several degrees C.

    This is precisely what I have done in my posts 2326 and 2328 on the NS thread, where I asked you for comments.

    So far you have not responded to my request to discuss the “science” behind your above-stated postulation that an increase of CO2 “to around 560ppmv” will “cause warming of at least several degrees C.

    So it is not the “problem of the skeptics/deniers” as you claim, Peter, it is YOUR problem.


  15. @ Manacker:

    You quoted Peter in post #88

    As Peter likes to point out (since it suits his personal belief that CO2 is an overwhelmingly important GHG), Plimer has written in his book:

    [Peter:] if the atmosphere were devoid of CO2, temperatures on Earth would be 18 deg C colder than they currently are….

    This is an error (as PeterM knows full well) – in fact, it is one of the few contained in Plimer’s otherwise very educational book.

    Actually this may be correct but not for the reasons which Peter thinks. You see in the New World Order Religion of Global-Warming / Climate-Change, & now John Holdren’s “Global Climate Disruption, CO2 is the Demon Gas, and responsible for all climate variations, floods, tornados, and in fact any catastrophic occurrance anywhere on Earth, and even beyond.

    So the reality is that if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere, no green plant could survive, and without the billions of litres of water vapour thrown into the atmosphere by transpiration, there would be less green house effect because of that.

    What proportion of the H2O in the Earth’s atmosphere is caused by plant transpiration? It is conceivable that this might be as much as 33%, and if so would account for the greater part of the total temperature fall.

    18 deg C fall total claim, 7 deg C because of no CO2, 11 deg C because of lost water vapour (33% of 33 degrees)

    That is one hypothesis, it lacks research, but is at least a credible theory. What do you all think? It is at least one less stick to beat Ian Plimer with.

    So then Plimer may not have been “wrong”, about that statement, but this does not mean that CO2 rise is a major cause of temperature variations, in and of itself. Correlation does not imply causation.

    Of course the so called “average Earth temperarure” is a pretty meaningless measurement in any case, because no part of the Globe is actually ever sustainedly at that mythical figure !

  16. Axel

    Thanks for your #90. It is “thought-provoking” and seems to make sense.

    In a way similar to Plimer’s other remark on volcanoes versus human CO2 emissions, which was pounced upon by the “dangerous AGW” faithful as ridiculous (without considering all the unknown underwater volcanoes and fissures in our planet’s crust, of which Plimer, as a geologist, was certainly aware).

    Let me think about it a bit (no time right now) and get back to you.


  17. Axel

    Back to your #90.

    The point you make is valid. If there were no CO2 in the atmosphere, there would be no life, no plant transpiration, no phytoplankton, no animal respiration, etc. Free oxygen would never have been generated over the billions of years by CO2-converting bacteria, etc. So one can arrive at all sorts of conclusions as to what the surface temperature of Earth would have been. What difference would it have made anyway?

    However, I am not sure that this is what Plimer meant when he stated (as paraphrased by PeterM):

    if the atmosphere were devoid of CO2, temperatures on Earth would be 18 deg C colder than they currently are….

    Plimer states (p.366)

    The Earth has an average surface temperature of about 15°C. The tropics are some 10°C warmer. In the atmosphere, CO2 is a highly efficient trap of energy in the infra-red wavelength band of 14 to 16.5 microns. Blocking the escape of heat radiation with wavelengths in this range reduces the radiating efficiency of the Earth by 15%. If the atmosphere had no CO2, far more heat would be lost from Earth and the average surface temperature would be -3°C.

    This is apparently the quotation, which Peter cites when he quotes Plimer as saying

    if the atmosphere were devoid of CO2, temperatures on Earth would be 18 deg C colder than they currently are

    The statement is inconsistent with itself in any case. If CO2 represents 15% of the radiating efficiency of the Earth then its effect on temperature is much lower than 18°C

    [Current estimates are 5 to 7°C, so consistent with Plimer’s 15% estimate, but not with the 18°C figure.]

    Earlier in the book (p.17) Plimer states that CO2 represented 3.62% of the natural GH effect, according to estimates by John Tyndall. This would represent a temperature impact of 1.2°C out of the total natural GHE of 33°C (considerably lower than current estimates).

    So there is an inconsistency in Plimer’s book, which does not involve secondary factors, such as the loss of plant transpiration if there were no more plants.

    It is likely that Plimer made a mistake in his statement, which postulated a 18°C natural GH impact from CO2.

    But in any case it is a minor point.

    Plimer’s book is full of valuable information and this one point does not make it all “rubbish” as some AGW defenders claim.

    It also does not make the natural GHE of CO2 18°C, but rather closer to 5 to 7°C, despite what PeterM would have us believe.


  18. ESmith,

    It’s interesting that you quote Rutherford. I’m not dismissing his importance in the history of nuclear physics, however you should recognise that he was only human and, while he got many things right, he occasionally did stuff up too!

    Famously, came up with this:

    “The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.”

    Next you quote Hal Lewis. I must admit I’d never heard of him until his resignation letter hit the blogosphere. He’s supposed to be a Physics professor but as far as I can tell he’s come up with no scientific arguments whatsoever. No papers. No letters. Not even any articles on why the IPCC may have misinterpreted the science. Instead he just dismisses it all as “scam”. Is he really a Physics professor? Has he done any scientific work at all on Climate Physics?

    Max and Axel,

    The importance of CO2 as a GH gas isn’t a personal belief. I’d refer you to the work of Arrhenius on the topic, long before I was born and long before computers were invented.


    I’d agree with you that Ian Plimer’s statement that the Earth would be 18degC cooler if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere needs some explanation and a reference. His book, ‘Heaven and Earth’ is so riddled with similar unreferenced claims, and basic errors, as to be almost beyond belief. If he were marking an undergraduate essay, he’d be pointing that you can’t just say things like “I think……..” or “Everyone knows…….” and that statements do need to be supported and referenced.

    I do know that Plimer is a smart guy. He’s not a typical Climate sceptic. I do have a theory that he needed to raise cash quickly to cover legal expenses he incurred in taking on the creationists a few years ago, and this book is just a big piss-take of anyone silly enough to buy it! However, I’m not sure if I’ll ever know for certain.

  19. Peter #93

    You accidentally seem to have forgotten to mention that Arrhenius recalculated his earlier paper from 1896 after finding he had wildly overestimated the warming effects in suggesting a rise of 5 to 6C from doubling CO2.

    By 1906 he had found out about the equation of radiative transfer. In Vol. 1, no. 2 of the Journal of the Royal Nobel Institute of that year, he wrote that doubling CO2 concentration would enhance temperatures by about 1.6 degrees Centigrade. On page 6 he calculates a water vapour feedback component which suggests a combined total of 2.1 degrees for CO2 doubling. There is also a footnote that comments on the overlap issues between CO2 and water.

    As you also know the gentleman also thought that on the whole extra Co2 was beneficial

    Svante Arrhenius was also actively engaged in the process leading to the creation in 1922 of The State Institute for Racial Biology in Uppsala, Sweden. You normally disqualify anyone from ‘our’ side with a unsavoury past so perhaps we should do the same with Arrhenius?


  20. PeterM

    Thanks for tip about Arrhenius. Have read this all before. He concluded that “carbonic acid” was a greenhouse gas, made an original estimate of 2xCO2 climate sensitivity, then revised it downward.

    Lots of things have happened since then though, Peter.

    The most recent involve empirical data from actual physical observations (not a strength of IPCC, who prefer model simulations based on assumed hypothetical deliberations and, like you, tend to shy away from empirical data).

    They are Spencer et al. (who showed that the net feedback from clouds is strongly negative, rather than strongly positive, as the IPCC models had previously assumed) and Lindzen + Choi (who showed that net overall feedback is negative, resulting in a 2xCO2 CS of under 0.9C (the value without any feedback).

    These two studies show us that AGW has not been the primary cause of 20th century warming and that it does not represent a serious potential threat, as had previously been assumed based on model simulations alone.

    We have observed another indication of this relatively minor warming effect of CO2 from a totally different data set. It is the observed atmospheric cooling after 2000 (surface and troposphere), plus the cooling of the ocean, since Argo measurements replaced the old inaccurate expendable XBT devices in 2003. This overall cooling of our planet has occurred at the same time that atmospheric CO2 has increased at record levels. The cooling, which Kevin Trenberth called a “travesty”, has been explained by him as energy going out to space, with clouds acting as a “natural thermostat”, thereby indirectly acknowledging the Spencer et al. findings.

    But back to Ian Plimer’s book. It is full of very pertinent information and a pretty thorough deconstruction of the “science” behind the hysteria promoted by IPCC. I do not agree with everything in the book, including his overestimation of the natural GHE of CO2 (as we have discussed ad nauseam already) but, all in all, it is very informative, with a lot of references to studies.

    After reviewing both in some detail, I have concluded that it has fewer errors that IPCC AR4 WG1 and SPM 2007, many of which he points out specifically in his book.

    I would recommend that you actually read it, Peter (and with an open mind, at that), rather than just bad-mouthing it because you feel it disagrees with your preconceived viewpoint.

    I’m not really interested in Plimer’s financial situation, or yours, as a matter of fact. They are irrelevant to our discussion here.


  21. TonyB,

    There are two main reasons that disqualify anyone from the AGW so-called “argument”.

    1) The person concerned does not know enough science to know what they are talking about.

    2) They aren’t motivated by scientific considerations, but instead they have started out with the idea that its all a hoax and a put-up job by politicians and scientists.

    Of course, most AICC deniers are well and truly disqualified on both counts!

    But would someone who had other flaws be equally excluded. I don’t see why they should. Arrenhius came up with a range of answers raging from 1 degC to 6 deg C for the effect of doubling of CO2 levels. From what I can make out he got his answers in the right range but for the wrong reasons. So he was pretty lucky there. Incidentally he thought that may take a 1000 years. At the present rate of increase it will take another 100 years or 200 years from Arrhenius’s time.

    So, like anyone else he was only human and got some things right and some wrong. The consensus science of his time could be similarly described, but it was a better guide to the Physical world than anything else available and the same is true now. The science of the present day will continue to progress, and the uncertainties on the true answer for 2x CO2 (is it 1degC or is it 6degC ?) will become less.

  22. Max,

    You say that Ian Plimers financial situation is “irrelevant”. I’m not sure that you are right about that. Just to give you a link on what he’d been up to previously:


    In a way, I sympathise with what he was trying to do, but at the same time his whole approach does highlight his own character deficiencies.

    Did he feel betrayed by the scientific establishment who had failed to back him up and thereby costing him a couple of $million in legal expenses?

    Was ” Heaven and Earth” a combination of revenge against them, and an opportunity to stave off bankruptcy?

    Like any scientific theory, it can’t be proven, but it does fit all the known facts.

  23. Peter#93

    I am curious as to why you quoted the earlier paper when Arrhenius produced a later paper based on more up to date calculations that showed his original fiogure was overestimated by up to 3 times. Either you knew this and kept quiet, as it was inconvenient truth, or you didm’t know about it-which is somewhat surprising.

    The ‘disqualification’ was said with a wry smile. You continually make referennce to someones character or beliefs as making them unsuitable for comment. Normally you cite such things as creationism or tobacco or, as in the case of Morner, dowsing.

    I am quite happy to agree that other beliefs do not automatically disqualify someone from a debate and hope you will remember that in future. :)

    PS To make my point you are still doing the character assassination with Plimer!


  24. PeterM

    You wrote:

    You say that Ian Plimers financial situation is “irrelevant”.

    That is correct.

    Also, his beliefs on “creationism” (which apparently match yours and mine) are also irrelevant to our discussion here.

    As to his “character deficiencies” and “revenge” against the “scientific establishment”? Gimme a break, Peter!

    His book is a fairly accurate summary of the basic problems of the “dangerous AGW” postulation being promoted by IPCC, Al Gore et al.

    And that is what we are discussing here, Peter. Not all the other irrelevant “ad hom” rubbish you throw out in a feeble attempt to distract from the real issues.


  25. PeterM

    You opined to TonyB

    There are two main reasons that disqualify anyone from the AGW so-called “argument”.

    1) The person concerned does not know enough science to know what they are talking about.

    2) They aren’t motivated by scientific considerations, but instead they have started out with the idea that its all a hoax and a put-up job by politicians and scientists

    Fortunately, neither TonyB, myself, Bob_FJ and many others on this thread fall into either of the above categories. I’d say we would rather fall into the group of scientifically or technically fairly competent individuals, who have come to see, after some deliberation and review of the data out there, that the current IPCC position on AGW (let alone the more hysterical positions of Al Gore, James E. Hansen, etc.) are scientifically flawed and skewed to create a false picture of imminent disaster, where there is none in actual fact.

    But, quite aside from that fact, I don’t quite agree with you that it should not be everyone’s business to become aware of the many unresolved issues surrounding the ongoing scientific debate on the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, in view of the enormous political and economical fallout and the oppressive tax burden that everyone would have to pay if this foolishness got carried much further politically. Fortunately, it now looks like the whole craze has passed its peak and is slowly dying. I hope the blogosphere will continue to be instrumental in the downfall of the IPCC house of cards (as Judith Curry has observed).


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