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Climate Hustle

The Monckton Maneuver

Posted on 7 December 2011 by Rob Honeycutt

Science journalist Peter Hadfield (aka Potholer54) once again takes on Chris Monckton after Monckton replied to Hadfield's video series, Monckton Bunkum, on WattsUpWithThat.  The result is nothing short of devastating.  Hadfield simply uses Monckton to debate Monckton, calling it "the Monckton Maneuver" where his lordship ineptly tries to dodge his own words. 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Our own Dana Nuccitelli has taken on Monckton in the past with Monckton, the Anti-Nurse. As well, SkS has a full catalog on inaccuracies that are promoted by the viscount under the Monckton Myths button on the left sidebar.

If you haven't seen the original 5 part Monckton Bunkum series it's well worth taking the time to watch.  You can start here with Lord Monckton Bunkum, Part 1.

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Comments 1 to 46:

  1. Lovely stuff. Pretty soon Monckton will simply be reduced to growling.
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  2. Yes, but it will be a very charming British growl.
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  3. 2, Daniel,

    I really am amazed that anyone could consider the man charming or beguiling in any way. Really, I don't know how people keep from bursting into laughter in his presence.

    To me, that's just one more sign of how badly denialists want to believe what they believe... that they'll not only accept but tout a spokesman like Monckton.

    If he were instead supporting the science, I think I'd be begging him to shut up and retire, due to the damage that he would do to the credibility of the (true, real) science.
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  4. A nice Christmas present from Peter.
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  5. Decimating exposures like this are surely sending indisputable wakeup signals to climate “skeptics” because Monckton is one of their most prominent distributers of politically motivated science.

    Vaudeville sideshows will not change the knowledge database of climate science.

    Other vocal denialist like Watts, Plimer and the rest (including fossil fuelers and media hacks), hang their hats on or lend support to Monckton’s utterances. Plimer’s books prove he is guilty of the same gross manipulation of the science.

    Excellent investigative journalism, like this from Peter Hadfield (Potholer54), will eventually marginalise these promoters of confusion and misinformation.

    Either that or the sheer weight of scientific evidence will.
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  6. Wow, that series of videos from Peter Hadfield is devastating. My hat is off to him.
    'Monckton answers a troll' (from WUWT)
    Thanks also to WUWT for its continued commitment to the highest quality scientific discourse.
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  7. As compelling as Monckton can manage to sound when in his element (a stage presentation), he's shown himself to be woefully incapable of defending himself after the fact. Almost to the point of being sad.
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  8. 8, pbjamm,

    Really, at this point it's beginning to be thanks to WUWT for being so far over the top, so demonstrably wrong, and so ridiculously one-sided that it wants to prop up someone as wrong as Monckton, and as a result they will all go together when they go.
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  9. This is precious. I had no idea Monckton could be that funny. I'm still laughing. Thank you Mr Hadfield.
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  10. There used to be a time when, in the US, people like this would be ran out of town on a rail, covered with tar and feathers...
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  11. Phillippe Chantreau @10, is that what you call "athletic democracy"?
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  12. Sphærica at #8.

    WUWT is definitely frothing right over 'the top' these days.

    One can hope that it presages the end, just as it does with a two-stroke mower running out of fuel. Sadly, even if that end were to occur today, the Moncktons, the Watts, and the Bolts of the world have already wrought irreparable harm on the biosphere.

    Our choice is no longer "if" but "how much".
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  13. I find it interesting that one of the big problems that proponents of CAGW (Conspiracy theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming) have is that they consider people who think AGW is a problem to hold a "religious" belief in it, not subject to argument or discussion but a matter of faith.

    Yet, they revere Monkton, hold him up as a brave non-conformist who champions the truth, when he's been repeatedly rebutted by none other than himself?

    I think that's what makes potholer54's approach so effective. Sarcasm and some mocking, but mainly letting Monkton speak for himself and fairly examining his assetions.
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  14. The 'Bunkum' series should be compulsory viewing in high schools, to demonstrate the nature of the supposed debate. I have just finished viewing them and the 'response' videos linked above. It is depressing to consider how many MSM column inches are devoted to distortions like this. It is even more depressing to consider how many people rely on the MSM for their world-view. Thank goodness for SkS!

    The AGW theory can be regarded as pretty well proved, as far as untrained people like me are concerned, but the distortions seem to gain the greatest populist momentum. Sigh. Dumb humanity may deserve the future it is creating.
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  15. It is not the dumb bludgeon that works on these deniers. It is the surgeons knife that cuts to the bone of their beleifs. They have been de-hoisted by their own petard! Bert
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  16. Brilliant work, potholer54. A marvellous "smack down".
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  17. I'd like to bring again this comment by John Hartz quoting Donald Brown, Professor of Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law at Penn State, comparing the climate change disinformation campaign to "A New Kind of Assault on Humanity".

    Clearly, we are dealing with the person very intelligent and outspoken as Christopher Monckton appears to be; with the degree of journalism, so surely understanding the manipulative mechanisms he employs. We have a perfect case of the assault prof Brown is talking about, with plenty of evidence gatherred by Peter in this this bunkum series. And the harm done by Monckton is also very high: i.e. his testimony in the Congress is a very high profile disinformation, targetted at most influential policy makers.

    Shouldn't someone name those practices and bring justice to the evidently guilty perpetrators?

    In Australia, Monckton labels policy makers trying to deal with climate change as 'fascists' here. Well, if he regards the debate about climate change in such terms, then he is simply asking for that himself: to be treated as he is treating others. If prof Brown's teaching turned into law soon, and if law could work backwards, we would have a perfect criminal to watch, as we had them in Hague some half century ago...
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  18. I don't know how you call it Tom, but at any rate it may be more functional a democracy than the kind in which Monckton can testify to the representatives of the people and serve them a hefty portion of BS, yet receive no consequence whatsoever. Strange days we live in...
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  19. Potholer54s video series introducing the climate change debate
    And here
    Is always an excellent way of showing people what the real debate among scientists is.
    Also his 'made easy' series on everything from the origins to the universe to human evolution is excellent.
    He is a real stand out on how to use youtube to make science accessable and to whittle the debates in the public and press down to what the science actually says.
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  20. 1) I wish more journalists had the knowledge and enthusiasm of Mr. Hadfield. The press all over the world would be vastly more informative.

    2) Unfortunately, I think such demonstrations are far too lengthy and dense to reach an audience nearly as wide as Monckton's (maybe some kind of Overkill Backfire Effect?). It's fun to watch and it does give some response soundbites to a few of Monckton's fans, though.

    3) Monckton is as informative as a clown. It's astonishing how he gets any attention at all by now. The truth eventually prevails... but I wish we had more time.
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  21. (This may be slightly political, please feel free to delete if it violates the policy, but...)

    Monckton may be a clown, but he may well be about to become an influential clown.

    Within the UK, some time before there was any climate sceptic lobby, we had a load of Euro-sceptics - nationalists on the right wing of the Conservative party.

    Some time ago, a fringe of these broke off to form the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

    Monckton does have influence within UKIP. AFAIK he claims to be their Head of Policy, which is slightly more credible than his claim to be member of the House of Lords.

    To judge by my reading of the right-wing UK press, this UKIP mob are currently gaining a lot of popularity due to the current Eurozone financial mess.
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  22. Now I've finished watching the second video. Both are highy informative and a thorough exposure of Monckton's empty rethoric.

    To reach a broader audience, though, I would limit the whole thing to the first 2 minutes or so of the second video. The juxtaposition of Monckton contradicting claims speaks for itself.
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  23. meagain at 05:33 AM on 8 December, 2011

    I agree about his influence, or at least about his potential influence.

    He speaks what a lot of people are eager to hear, and that just raises the importance of an effective commutication of proper information.

    I'm becoming a big fan of the Debunking Handbook...
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  24. The problem is that short of a sudden ‘seeing of the light’, the next time Monckton dons his top hat and tails for yet another dance of deception two-step (first you say one thing, then you say the opposite), he will regurgitate the same old tripe that is the hallmark of his presentations, no matter how smart the bow tie (pity it doesn't rotate).

    Mention was made above of imposing some punishment. That will surely come for Monckton and those like him. There can be no excuse for not knowing the risks we face by not taking the actions that the scientific community are advocating, and the ‘precautionary principle’ is also so well established that people in their position can hardly be unaware of it. Many deniers can be excused (A single visit to WUWT should be enough to convince any decent court that leniency for the majority posting there is sadly wholly appropriate).

    However, I rather fear that the Moncktons of this world – the leaders of the pack – will be held culpable by the world population at some time in the not too distant future and leniency is the last thing they should get or deserve. Whether that time, and the urgent actions it will spark, will be too late to counter the harm they have already done remains to be seen. One thing I can say is that I would not like to be in their shoes, or the shoes of their descendants, when that time comes.

    It won’t stop at the level of the individual; whole nations will be judged and video clips, such as the above excellent example will be shown as evidence, especially the one where Monckton is introduced as a leading expert on climate change by an American congressman to fellow members of congress. Whether that judgement will be in some formal court will be decided by who's running the show at the time, and, of course, their behaviour now. One court that will definitely hand down a judgement is the court of public opinion, which will hurt in the only place some of these people understand : their pockets. How ironic that the main motivation for many deniers is the notion that action to combat climate change will hit them in their pockets.
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  25. The Monckton Maneuver has now become the Monckton Flying Circus -- literally!

    See for yourself by going to "The Sky Is Falling! Climate Deniers Parachute Into COP17" posted today on DeSmog Blog.

    Click here to access.
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  26. It bets the Monty Python Flying Circus denialism
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  27. It may have escaped peoples attention, but Monckton now has a countermove in the Monckton maneuver. He has been clearly shown to misquote and misrepresent data from scientists and scientific papers by both Abraham and Hadfield. So in his latest post on WUWT, he as avoided the difficulty by not citing sources. Now the pontificating peer establishes himself as the sole necessary authority for any fact he cares to assert. Or at least he tried to.

    Unfortunately for his maneuver, the "... answer – again straight out of the usual suspects’ playbook" turned out to be so arcane that he had to relent and provide a source:

    "The value 100 Watts per square meter for the radiative forcing arising from the presence as opposed to the absence of all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is within the interval 86-125 Watts per square meter for the top five greenhouse gases given in table 3 of Kiehl & Trenberth (1997)."

    Problem is, the 125 W/m^2 is the clear sky value, while the 86 W/m^2 is the cloudy sky value. (The overlap with clouds reduces the effect of other components.) The cloud Long Wave forcing is given by Kiehl and Trenberth as 30 W/m^2, and the total forcing (the figure Monckton needed) is given as 155 W/m^2. This brilliant man (at least in his own estimation) it turns out cannot even read the caption of a graph, nor yet the paper from which he cites.

    Of course, that is not Monckton's worst error in that post. That would be employing the all sky total greenhouse effect to calculate the sensitivity of doubling CO2. To do that correctly, ie, to include forcings but not feedbacks in the calculation, he should employ only the forcings from well mixed greenhouse gases. These are given as 50 W/m^2 for clear sky, and 35 W/m^2 for all sky in Kiehl and Trenberth (Monckton's chosen authority). From them we also learn that there is a total cloud cover of 62%, so that the total well mixed ghg forcing is (0.62 x 35) + (0.38 x 50) ~= 41 W/m^2. Therefore the correct result for Monckton's calculation of sensitivity, given his chosen source of data is 3.7 x 33/41 = 2.98 W/m^2 per doubling of CO2. Somebody ought to phone the IPCC and advise them of their massive error of 0.02 W/m^2 in their central estimate. Of course, there are many caveats to such an estimate of climate sensitivity that Monckton ignores but would promptly find if the he ever used the real formula.

    Back on topic, Monckton does not just use the invisible source for his figures. He also invents unnamed scientists who, "When [he] pointed out this simple but powerful [desperately flawed] result to scientists recently at the Santa Fe climate conference organized by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, one of them said, “Ah, yes, but what evidence do you have that today’s climate exhibits the same sensitivity as the total system sensitivity?”"

    Well, yes, I'm sure unnamed scientists whose response cannot be independently checked would make so weak a response. Actual named climate scientists, however, would know a thing or two about climate science and point out the glaring flaw in the calculation from the get go.
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  28. very nice videos ... I am getting flooded here in GErmany with some EIKE claims (in German) which I would like to post here, some of them are PDFs. Will this be possible?
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  29. I think Monckton scored a TKO on Monckton.

    The above is, I believe, what journalism is supposed to be. I don't see that happening very often (regardless of the issue, or the politics).

    I love this type of work - it makes it really easy to see how wrong these people are. Thank you Mr. Hadfield
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  30. Well, yes, I'm sure unnamed scientists whose response cannot be independently checked would make so weak a response.

    It's not particularly weak. Attempting to infer current climate sensitivity from the total greenhouse effect is rather risky.
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  31. Tsumetai @30, I agree. Monckton's method can give a ball park figure at best. Never-the-less, pointing that out is a far weaker response than pointing out that he was using the completely wrong figure for his method. I suspect any genuine climate scientists Monckton ran this past would have made several points:

    1) That he should use the well mixed GHG forcing, not the total forcing including water vapour and clouds;

    2) That the 100 W/m^2 figure was far to high for the well mixed GHG forcing, and too low for the total forcing;

    3) That the climate sensitivity varies based on temperature, ice distribution, continental distribution and other factors, and so his method would give a rough estimate only;

    4) That a proper application of his method would employ the change in temperature from a no well mixed GHG state to the current state, and that because of changes in sea ice, clouds, and water vapour content, that is probably not 33 degrees C (see this page);

    5) If land ice is allowed to vary under (4) so that the Earth Sytem Sensitivity instead of the Charney Sensitivity is measured, the change in temperature probably involves a change from snowball earth to current conditions, so issues of hysteresis are involved; and

    6) That because of the calculations needed in (4) and (5), the proper application of his method must employ the output of models.

    There may well be more points they could make, but I believe the first two are the most immediately fatal to his conclusions.
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  32. In defense of Monckton:

    I do not know many of contexts of Monckton's statements, so I can't and won't defend them all. Perhaps he is a hack. But I do need to defend him on one issue that I recognized off the top of my head...

    The context of his statements about there being/not being a relationship between CO2 and temperature is being abused. At 4:50 in the first video, he says that there is a correlation, but this is taken out of context. A sentence is underlined stating that there is a correlation, but the NEXT sentence that is NOT underlined states that the correlation is not what is expected by the AGW proponents. Temperatures change in one direction first, then CO2 levels follow the change. Even Al Gore now recognizes that fact.

    Mr. Monckton appears to have done a typo and wrote 500 million years for this when it should have been 500,000 years of ice core data. The graph that I believe he is referring to is seen here:
    Evidence that he just did a typo in the years includes that the quote shown discusses 4 interglacial periods. I think that would limit the timeframe to hundreds of thousands of years and not hundreds of millions of years in the past.

    This sloppiness that Monckton has with time frames is seen again at the 5:00 mark of the video where he says 600,000 years and the subtitle indicates he mean 600 million years.

    In the next scene where he is showing a graph where CO2 is graphed in black and the temperatures in blue, he is looking at data for a different time frame of 600 million years. The graph can be seen here:

    So, in this case, Monckton is seen to be a dweeb in not being able to keep his time frames correct. Maybe this would disqualify him as being a good source of info. But the video editor is seen to be dishonest in taking things out of context. (not underlining the next sentence that clarifies his statement)

    If the editor is taking Monckton out of context in the one area that I recognize, I suspect that kind of treatment with the other quotes that are given. I will need to look myself to be sure. But I will have to say this happens all to often when AGW proponents attack skeptics.
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  33. Let's suppose you're right, SirNubWub. I haven't looked yet, but I will. You say, "If the editor is taking Monckton out of context in the one area that I recognize, I suspect that kind of treatment with the other quotes that are given." By the same logic, you should condemn Monckton, Watts, and many other so-called "skeptics" for their repeated failures of the same type. Are you willing to do that?
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  34. SirNubwub - You might be interested in the CO2 lags temperature - what does it mean thread.

    Monckton argues that paleo records showing CO2 lagging temperature mean that CO2 cannot be a cause of rising temperatures. He fails to understand (or perhaps, fails to indicate) that while CO2 has in the past acted as an amplifying feedback to other forcings (Milankovitch cycles), it has also acted as a forcing itself, bringing the Earth out of "snowball" conditions, and is currently acting as a forcing due to our producing 30B tons per year.

    Monckton has repeatedly and demonstrably misinterpreted science, misgraphed data in misleading fashion, quoted out of context, etc ("Mis - oh Mis!") - there's much more on the Monckton Myths pages. Personally, I find little to defend.
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  35. DSL-
    yes, I dislike unfair arguments no matter what their source.

    This makes the whole debate very frustrating to me. To have to verify everyone and everything is beyond any normal person. I can't trust anyone (Gore, UN, Wattsupwiththat, etc) to do it for me because everyone is suspect. Yet trillions of dollars are at stake.
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  36. SNW: "makes the whole debate very frustrating to me"

    Perhaps your frustration is due to your starting point being the Watts and Moncktons et al and not the science. Once you come to understand the science, identifying the charlatans becomes quite easy. And yes indeed, the 'normal person' can do this if he or she has the interest and the time to invest.
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  37. SirWubNub I think I see where you are going with Monckton's 'context'... essentially in the section where he says that there is a correlation between CO2 and temperature Monckton is falsely claiming, as you put it, that, "Temperatures change in one direction first, then CO2 levels follow the change." Then when he says there is NOT a correlation his intended meaning is to, again falsely, claim that CO2 does not influence temperature.

    So, while the wording of his statements is directly contradictory, his intent was consistent. However, given that this intent is blatantly false (see the 'CO2 lags temperature thread KR pointed you towards') it hardly seems fair to accuse Hadfield of deliberately misrepresenting Monckton... if he HAD interpreted Monckton's statements the way you suggest he'd have to come away concluding that Monckton was flat out lying in both cases. Basically, Hadfield's mistake was thinking that Monckton actually got it right once.
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  38. The starting point for deciding what to trust is with what is published in peer-reviewed science journals. The IPCC reports summarize what has been published. Their review process is transparent - you can see what every reviewer said and editors comment if not accepted into report.

    Blog articles by non-scientists might help elucidate the science but there is a hell of lot of disinformation out there. Short answer, if it doesnt cite peer-referenced literature, then it is probably worthless.
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  39. SirNubwub - "This makes the whole debate very frustrating to me. .... I can't trust anyone ... because everyone is suspect."

    I prescribe (a) learning enough science to evaluate claims, (b) using that information to rank sources for reliability, and (c) focus on the science, not the rhetoric.

    In terms of 'enough science', some basics on statistical significance can help greatly, as can looking at papers supporting one hypothesis or another and then using something like Google Scholar to look at responses. If the majority of responses incorporate the hypothesis and build upon it - great. That hypothesis then has some holding power. If the majority of responses are critical - not so good, that hypothesis has received criticism, it's weak.

    In terms of ranking sources - if the source has a record of well supported work, it's likely that future work will also be strong. If, on the other hand (as in Monckton's case), the source has a record of distortions, misquotes, and deceptive presentation, you may find it possible to dismiss their work, or consider that the real answer is whatever that source says it is not. This is not to say that anything should be discarded without some examination. A broken clock is still right twice a day, after all. But you can certainly decide what to spend the majority of your time on - based upon previous performance.

    Rhetoric - flamboyant claims, conspiracy theories, identifying with Galileo, claiming that the speaker never said something in the first place (something recorded, and demonstrably wrong, as per Monckton) - these are clear indications of a poorly supported case. Presenting data with testable assertions, peer-reviewed papers, on the other hand, that's science.
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  40. I'd go further on this. The question is not "who" do you trust, but "what". It would be childish to trust any politician but politics is how we take collective action on anything and science must inform policy. Gore would be well-informed but what you should be trusting is his sources. If you "PhD scientists" are refuting him, then they had better be doing that with peer-reviewed papers to the contrary (which would be interesting to hear about on the appropriate thread). The PhD by itself is not a reason to trust.

    Scientists make mistakes. There is a also a long line of scientists that have "gone emeritus" (Hoyle, Pauli, etc) backing theories that should have been rejected but with which they became emotionally/ideologically attached. However, science itself is self-correcting. A new paper might be "interesting" but it doesnt become really interesting until after other scientists have had a chance to scrutinize in light of their own work. Usually mistakes are picked up then in rebuttals or different interpretations. If a result cant be reproduced then the paper vanishes. However, if the paper really does provide good insight, then it will be used as basis for new science and papers, garnering citations.

    Sounds complicated to evaluate? Well luckily in climate science you have expert group of hundreds of scientists doing that evaluation for you and publishing their results. The IPCC. The default position is trust their assessments unless there is new science published which will change their assessment. Have you ever looked at IPCC WG1?
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  41. Numerical typos during a presentation may be unprofessional but they are not examples of inconsistency.

    While such gaffes are ripe for mockery, I suspect that this site should focus on the logical inconsistencies rather than the sort of oopsies that anyone can make.
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  42. #41 Tristan: I doubt that too many of Monckton's 'mistakes' are truly accidental. Apart from being shown to be wrong on the science more times than the Flat Earth Society (I think Google backs me up on that!; and see John Abraham's presentation; and Peter Hadfield's Monckton Bunkum series), he doesn't make too many gaffes that suggest that CO2 is too strong a primary driver of climate change. Funny, that...

    #32 SirNubWub - Monckton is responding to the Other Brian's summary point, which states 500 million years, so I really doubt it's a typo. Few ice core records are 500,000 years long - Vostok is ~400,000 and EPICA is ~800,000. And surely you can accept that some of the time Monckton says there's a CO2-temperature correlation, and some of the time he says there is not. That's the inconsistency. His typos are irrelevant, as it's the points he's making that contradict each other.

    Monckton's truly, demonstrably, not worth listening to.
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  43. Everyone:
    Thank you for your replies. Sorry to make the thread go in a direction away from the topic at hand. I will address the issue of trustworthiness in another thread at another time.
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  44. SirNubWub @32: The offending passage from the original reads (my underlining):

    "He says there has been no correlation between CO2 and temperatures over the past 500 million years – YES, THERE IS.

    There has indeed been a remarkable correlation between CO2 and temperatures over the past 500 million years – but repeated reanalyses of the data have shown that it was temperatures that changed first and CO2 concentration change that followed. Though it is possible that the additional CO2 concentration reinforced the original warming in each of the past four interglacial warm periods (all of which were warmer than the present), it plainly did not trigger the warming, because the warming occurred first."

    About this, three points should be noted:

    1) The claim that Monckton is rebutting is the claim that he said there was no correlation between CO2 and temperature over the last 500 million years. And indeed, he has made that claim as can be seen by watching further into the video. So if Monckton intended to refer only to the last 500,000 years he is shifting the ground of the discussion from an are in which he has been clearly refuted. That is typical of Monckton, and also typical of Monckton, once before a new audience in which he is not being challenged, he shifts back to the original claim.

    Alternatively, Monckton really does think the record of the last few glacials (500,000 years) is the record of the entire phanerozoic (500,000,000 years). But in that case he is plainly delusional.

    2) Peter Hadfield at no point in discussing this point in discussing this issue mentions anything except correlation. He asserted that Monckton denied a correlation between CO2 and temperature (which is true), and that now he asserts there is a correlation (which is also true). He did not assert anything about the causes of that correlation, and in particular, he did not assert anything about Monckton's claimed reasons for the correlation in this section of the video.

    So, in this situation, Hadfield has not taken Monckton out of context. Rather, it is you who have taken claims out of context by implying that Hadfield has made a claim about Monckton's explanation of the correlation.

    3) Further, you yourself have truncated the response. Monckton, as indicated above goes on to say that CO2 may well have a warming effect. The only thing he is not prepared to admit is that CO2 triggered the warming, which no climate scientist asserts.
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  45. SirNubwub @ 32... You should probably double check with Peter Hadfield if you believe Monckton has been unfairly taken out of context. Hadfield is a very highly regarded science journalist with 25 years experience. I'm sure he would take such a statement extremely seriously and would be able to explain to you (and likely fully document) the claims in his video.
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  46. Devastating. Most amazing of all, perhaps, is the reaction from WUWT--"black is white." Doublethink is alive, and much too well for comfort.
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