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Monday, January 19, 2015

Monckton, Soon, Legates, and Briggs falsely claim to have presented a new climate model

A press release (here or here) has been issued by Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates, and William Briggs who authored a paper, which they could place in Science Bulletin (the former Chinese Science Bulletin) of the Chinese Academy of Science. IMHO, the paper is a mixture of a correct physical concept (the approach of using a simple energy balance model for conceptual understanding of the response of the climate system to external forcing) and misrepresentation of previous scientific publications, flawed methodology, scientifically unfounded assumptions, and plain errors. Those have been partially discussed at ATTP already.

There is a number of hyperbolic statements in the press release, regarding the originality of the content of the paper (bold face after headline by me, except bold face of “Lord Monckton”):

“NEW PAPER: Why Models Run Hot: Results From An Irreducible Simple Climate Model
The IPCC has long predicted that doubling the CO2 in the air might eventually warm the Earth by 3.3 C. However, the new, simple model presented in the Science Bulletin predicts no more than 1 C warming instead—and possibly much less. The model, developed over eight years, is so easy to use that a high-school math teacher or undergrad student can get credible results in minutes running it on a pocket scientific calculator.
The new, simple climate model helps to expose the errors in the complex models the IPCC and governments rely upon.
Lord Monckton, the paper’s lead author, created the new model on the basis of earlier reviewed research by him published in Physics and Society, in the UK Quarterly Economic Bulletin, in the Annual Proceedings of the World Federation of Scientists’ Seminars on Planetary Emergencies, and in Energy & Environment.”

So, according to the press release, Monckton had created a very new climate model by himself, which was presented in the paper by the authors, and the results from calculations with this climate model were in contradiction to results from simulations with several dozens of complex Earth system models, done by climate research groups all over the world. Now, the calculations Monckton et al. have done are certainly in contradiction to the results presented in the latest Report of the Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on The Physical Science Basis. Because of the false assumptions that were made by Monckton et al, which they tried to justify with two non-sequitur statements, one of which was a very false interpretation of data from paleo climate change and the other one was just absurd (or metaphysical, if there is some religious belief behind the assumption).

As for the assertion to have developed a "new model". This pompous claim is an untrue statement by Monckton et al. What do they do in the paper? They apply a Zero-dimensional energy balance model of the climate system that links an external radiative forcing with the temperature response to the radiative forcing. This is the allegedly new model:

This type of climate model, a Zero-dimensional energy balance model, has been used for decades for conceptual studies of the climate system. The original idea is generally attributed to the work by M. I. Budyko (1969), "The effect of solar radiation variations on the climate of the Earth", Tellus, 21, doi:10.1111/j.2153-3490.1969.tb00466.x, Feedback analysis based on a form of the equation as seen in the last line can be traced back to Hansen, Lacis, Rind, Russell, Stone, Fung, Ruedy, Lerner (1984), "Climate sensitivity: Analysis of feedback mechanism", Geographical Monographs 29, Or in a more recent review paper by G. Roe (2009), "Feedbacks, Timescales, and Seeing Red", Ann. Rev. Earth Plan. Sci, 37, 93-115, doi:10.1146/,, such a model was described in nearly identical form:

None of the existing literature where this type of models is discussed is referenced in the Introduction of the Monckton et al. paper. The Introduction is usually the part of a scientific paper where previous scientific research that builds the general context of the new study is referenced, and where the objectives of the new study with respect to this context are formulated. Nor are any of the previous studies referenced in Section 3 where Monckton et al. introduce their allegedly new model. However, all three of the studies mentioned above are referenced further down in a different context, e.g., to compare values of climate sensitivity (the lambda in the equations). Just not where the model is introduced. So it is not made clear by Monckton et al. that the model used by them is based on ideas, which already had been published by other researchers. However, the citing of these papers further down is proof that Monckton et al. knew the other studies, where this type of the model had been described already. Thus, they won't be able to excuse themselves by claiming to not have known these studies and to have newly invented the wheel independently and in good faith.

In summary, Monckton et al. present something, even more emphasized in their hyperbolic press release, as their own idea, although very similar content had already been published by other researchers before. They neglect to give proper credit to these other researchers where it would have been due. There is a name for such a praxis, not just in science, when someone takes credit in a publication for someone else's idea, which already had been published before somewhere else.

Update, 01/20/2015:  Mr. Monckton has personally appeared here to directly respond to my posting. I hadn't expected it, so I am positively surprised. He is welcome to defend his views here. I ask everyone to try to refrain from personal attacks, such as insults against each other or ad hominem arguments that are irrelevant for a discussed matter, regardless how big the disagreement is. Take a deep breath before posting something, you wouldn't have posted with a cool head, if emotions become too strong. Currently, my policy is to not moderate this blog. I can change this at my discretion at any time.

Update, 01/23/2015: More criticism of the Monckton et al. paper here at, including some additional comments by me on severe flaws in the paper.

Announcement 01/27/2015: The 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley has posted a response at CFACT's "Climate Depot" to opinions stated by a number of "soi-disant climate 'scientists'" on the Monckton et al. paper. His Lordship continuous to be "exemplary with his courteous replies to the scientific points that have been addressed to him" (James Rowlatt, Clerk of Mr. Monckton), as he already has demonstrated at Thought Fragments, one of the blogs of these "creatures" who have been "savagely, but anti-scientifically attacking". Consequently, Mr. Monckton demands the "dismissal" of the "named and shamed" culprits for their illicit statements. Further down he makes clear that "the climate fraud will not cease till someone is prosecuted". His Lordship's divine revelations were "definitively established" as irrefutable truth, by being published as a "peer-reviewed paper" in Science Bulletin in the People's Republic of China, one of the remaining places in the world where the true meaning of freedom of speech and freedom of science as the freedom of the leaders and lords to speak without being contradicted and criticized is still being honored, and science-serfs are not allowed to hide within "the ivy-covered walls of acadame". Science Bulletin is extremely prestigious with an impact factor of 1.365, which makes it "the Orient's equivalent of Nature" whose impact factor is only 30 times higher. "Perpetrators" of the "biggest fraud in history" who have "misbehaved" by trashing His Lordship's revelations, or, generally, by publishing results from so-called scientific research that undermine His Lordship's just struggle against the dark forces behind the "UN's gruesome plan" to "establish an unelected, unaccountable, all-powerful global climate tyranny", must be "severely dealt with". Everyone hail the Viscount!