## Un-designing our climate

Last year I wrote about the Monckton, Soon, Legates & Briggs paper, Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model. Well, Mark Richardson, Zeke Hausfather, Dana Nuccitelli, John Abraham and myself, have managed to publish a response (Richardson et al. 2015) that came out yesterday. Greg Laden has already covered it as has Collin Maessen. I expect a couple of others articles out soon, that I shall link to when they’re live. I don’t think, therefore, that I really need to say too much.

Monckton et als. model was essentially

$\Delta T = \dfrac{\Delta F r_t \lambda_o}{1 - f},$

where $\lambda_o$ is the non-feedback climate sensitivity, $f$ is the feedback fraction, and $r_t$ is the transient response at time $t$. The one clear error in their formalism is that the transient fraction, $r_t$, should really be convolved with the forcing timeseries since it is really the response at time $t$, to a change in forcing from an earlier time. Arthur Smith explains this issue really well.

Monckton et al., in a sense, resolve this by assuming that $r_t = 1$. The problem with this is that it assumes that the response is instantaneous and, therefore, that the heat capacity of the system is zero, and that there should never be a planetary energy imbalance. Well, that’s clearly wrong. Monckton et al. also assume that the feedback fraction, $f$, should be small ($f < 0.5$) [Edit : As Zeke points out, this isn’t quite right. Monckton et al. actually assume that $-0.5 < f < 0.1$. The confusion is that I've gone and used an $f$, while Monckton et al. used a $g$.]. They base this on electronic circuit design and on the fact that the temperature variations over the last 800000 years have been small in absolute terms. Both of these arguments are wrong. The temperature variability over the last 800000 years is actually consistent with the feedback fraction not being small ($f \sim 0.6$).

Maybe the most amazing thing about Monckton et al. is that they test their model by extrapolating temperature trends to 2050. Sure, if you can make up future data you can probably make any model fit well. Anyway, that's all I was going to say. I'll link to the other articles if and when they appear. We're also trying to work out if there is a way to make the paper publicly available. We couldn't get anyone to sponsor the open-access fee. If anyone would like to know any more, feel free to ask in the comments.

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### 54 Responses to Un-designing our climate

1. Rachel M says:

How much is the open-access fee?

2. I think it was around $3000. Apparently, Heartland paid the fee for Monckton et al. 3. Rachel M says: That’s not all that much. If you thought it would be worthwhile to have this as an open access paper then a Kickstarter project would probably help to raise the necessary funds: http://www.kickstarter.com Even a donate button on your blog would probably raise a fair bit. 4. Rachel, True, but I’m not sure any journal should be making money out of responses to papers they probably shouldn’t have published in the first place 🙂 5. Rachel M says: I didn’t even know you could pay a journal an open-access fee to have the paper freely accessible to anyone. The$3000 might end up making less money for the journal if people don’t have to pay for it individually. But it’s hard to know how many people would. I guess anyone can read it if they go to their local University library.

6. Rachel M says:

And I love this from Christopher Monckton:

“We decided the West is now no longer doing science, it is doing propaganda via the learned journals, so we weren’t playing that game anymore.”

What rubbish. He just doesn’t like what the science is telling us and I bet he doesn’t reject other areas of science like the science behind vaccinations. As potholer says, science is not a pick and mix.

7. The open-access thing is quite new. In the UK, at least, there is now almost a requirement for papers from publicly funded research to be open access. The problem I have is that the solution at the moment is to simply give journals even more money, rather than doing something to ensure that publicly funded research is open access without taxpayers having to fork out even more money to journals who don’t do much of the work anyway.

8. BBD says:

Well, thanks to all concerned for their time and effort in replying to what was clearly a very seriously flawed paper. Extra, unpaid work for already busy people that nevertheless needs to be done to stop the nonsense proliferating unchecked.

Let’s hope our contrarian friends also notice that ATTP will not now start going round trying to pass himself off as a ‘climate scientist’ 😉

9. Willard says:

The publishing system is broken.

10. Rachel M says:

Why can’t you put it on the arXiv?

11. Partly, we need to check the Journal rules and partly the arXiv doesn’t – I think – have a suitable section. The current topics are Physics, Mathematics, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance, and Statisics. An Earth Sciences/Climate Science section would – I think – be a good idea.

12. As an illustration of why the publishing industry is broken, here is a breakdown of the different publishing houses’s profits and revenues. Springer – who publish Science Bulletin – apparently reported an operating profit of Eu 294 million on revenues of Eu 866 million (33.6%). When open-access became an issue, rather than pointing out that these publishing houses were making extremely large profits, largely by publishing publicly funded research results, using unpaid academic editors, and unpaid academic reviewers, and that maybe they should find a business model that allowed for open-access, the UK government decided to just give them more money. I don’t know exactly how much the UK spends on Journal subscription fees, but here is a lengthy blog post about Elsevier that includes a table suggesting that the average for a UK university is somewhere between £500000 and £1million per year.

13. BBD says:

Paging Eli…

14. Chett Mitchell says:

Just a quick note: Arxiv now has a physics subcategory called “Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics”. There isn’t much, but what’s there seems pretty credible.

15. BBD says:

Hansen posts selecte papers on arXiv under Physics

http://arxiv.org/a/hansen_j_1.html

16. BBD says:

Actually, there seems to be an arXive ‘Physics > Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics (physics.ao-ph)’ sub-category unless I’ve misunderstood the index.

17. raypierre says:

An alternative to ArXiV is to simply post a reprint on your own web site, and give people links. Google Scholar is pretty good at finding links to publicly accessible versions of journal articles all by itself. The better journals explicitly allow authors to do this. I don’t know what the Springer policies are, but whatever they are I doubt they would take action against an author distributing his/her own work, since the minute a lawsuit like that happened authors would abandon that journal in droves.

I hadn’t heard of Science Bulletin before, but it’s distressing that a paper with the evident flaws of Moncton’s could be published. Springer clearly has a problem, and if they don’t get it under control the reputation of their flagship journals will suffer.

18. Zeke Hausfather says:

ATTP: Not only to Monckton et al claim that the feedback parameter is small, they suggest that it is actually negative, giving a range of f = -1.6 to 0.3 because that matches their bizarre “process engineers designing electronic circuits” assumption.

19. dana1981 says:

I’m not sure any journal should be making money out of responses to papers they probably shouldn’t have published in the first place

I agree! My post on our paper is up as well:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2015/jun/03/research-downplaying-impending-global-warming-is-overturned

And lead author Mark Richardson’s will be up on Skeptical Science later today.

20. dikranmarsupial says:

Looks like Monckton was applying the spherical cow approach to physics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spherical_cow)

There is quite a lot of work involved in writing a comment paper, and it isn’t rewarded in any way by academia, but at least I can reward the completion of a thankless task by thanking you. Many thanks to all involved, much appreciated!

BTW regarding open access, the best model is that followed by the journal of machine learning research (jmlr.org) which is free for both author and reader. Most of the work that goes into publishing journals is done by the volunteer effort by the editor and reviewer, so with a bit of extra volunteer work on typesetting etc. (which is excellent in the case of JMLR) and there is no need for large amounts of money to flow to the commercial publishers. Note JMLR is one of the top journals in its field. If only the research councils put money into funding new open access journals along similar lines instead…

21. David Sanger says:

Can one of the authors upload the pdf to ResearchGate ?

22. Zeke,
Actually, my $f$ is their $g$, but you’re right that I did get a little confused. Their $f$ is in the range -1.6 to 0.3 Wm-2, because they’ve assumed that their $g$ (my $f$) lies in the range -0.5 to 0.1. I said $f < 0.5$, but it should really have been $-0.5 < f < 0.1$.

23. Rachel M says:

Why don’t you just post the paper to your blog? If the journal wants to take action they can file a DMCA notice to have it taken down and this is fairly straightforward. You would then have 48 hours to remove the paper.

The journal doesn’t provide much information about copyright on their site. If you click “Copyright and Licence Agreement” on this page – http://www.springer.com/popular/journal/11434 – it only provides information about open access and Creative Commons Attribution which basically says anyone is free to copy and distribute the work. But it’s not clear that your paper falls in this category. However there’s no copyright information for any other category there.

24. Willard says:

Oh, that’s something:

And they agree to publish under the Creative Commons Attribution License Agreement, through which they retain the copyright to their article.

Brief summary of the agreement
Anyone is free:
to copy, distribute, and transmit the work;
to make commercial use of the work;

the original author must be given credit;
for any reuse or distribution, it must be made clear to others what the license terms of this work are;
Any of these conditions can be waived if the author gives permission.
Statutory fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

http://www.springer.com/popular/journal/11434#

Everyone’s entitled to republish and distribute everything that is in this journal.

They are gouging authors who don’t read the terms, or let’s just say that they are charging for the service of rendering the paper online for everyone to see.

25. Actually, the section of Monckton et al. where they discuss this is rather confusing, as they say

In Fig. 5, a regime of temperature stability is represented by $g_\infty \le 0.1$, the maximum value allowed by process engineers designing electronic circuits intended not to oscillate under any operating conditions. Thus, assuming $g_\infty \ge 0.5$, values of $f_\infty$ fall on [-1.6, 0.3], giving $k_\infty$ on [0.21, 0.35].

However, in table 7, it’s clear that it should be $-0.5 \le g_\infty \le 0.1$. At least we have one nit-picky mistake we can point when they try and find some silly error in our paper 🙂

As far as posting a copy of the paper is concerned, I'm happy to put it somewhere, but I'd rather let Mark Richardson decide how that should be done.

26. anoilman says:

Chinese? Copyright? When did that start happening?

27. Willard,
Yes, I noticed that but wasn’t entirely sure what it actually meant. It does seem to me that, with the authors permission, you can do almost anything.

28. anoilman says:

Rachel: “Why don’t you just post the paper to your blog? If the journal wants to take action they can file a DMCA notice to have it taken down and this is fairly straightforward. You would then have 48 hours to remove the paper.”

Its a common misconception that the rest of the world matters outside China. In total the West is tiny compared to China, and we speak funny languages. I don’t think they care.

29. Willard says:

> with the authors permission, you can do almost anything.

http://creativecommons.org

I could even sell the paper, if the rights owners have not clicked on the noncommercial CC check box, which is what the journal is actually doing

30. Willard says:

> I’d rather let Mark Richardson decide how that should be done.

Perhaps I did not make myself clear, AT. **I** could post it anywhere I wish, as long as I do proper attribution. **I** could even sell it. Heck, **I** may even be able to sell it on Android store:

At first, you might think it’s not a good idea. However, think of it in terms of posterity. The more people read you, the more you ought to be happy.

If you prefer, find a journal with non-commercial CC license.

PS: Of course I won’t sell your paper. That’s just an example. I can’t even find the energy to sell my own stuff.

31. Willard,
Oh, I think I got that. I was referring to what I would prefer, not to what is allowed, or what someone else might do 🙂

32. congrats.

“Maybe the most amazing thing about Monckton et al. is that they test their model by extrapolating temperature trends to 2050. Sure, if you can make up future data you can probably make any model fit well. Anyway, that’s all I was going to say. I’ll link to the other articles if and when they appear. We’re also trying to work out if there is a way to make the paper publicly available. We couldn’t get anyone to sponsor the open-access fee. If anyone would like to know any more, feel free to ask in the comments.”

I think raising 3 K should be easy.

Also, Given the density of the prose I am imagining that you had tight word count.
One topic that got short schrift in the paper was comparing m15 with historical.

It would be cool just to do a post on that! Skeptics are all about comparing models to data.
making that easy for readers to do ( like a spread sheet version) would be kinda fun.

Otherwise Monktopus will squirt his usual ink and ditsract folks into EE debates. or debates about the stability of the last 800K years..

33. “Let’s hope our contrarian friends also notice that ATTP will not now start going round trying to pass himself off as a ‘climate scientist’

not a good argument.
basically you have two choices.

First note that it is a paper that addresses climate science. That’s hard to deny, but be my guest and try.

Otherwise you are left with two choices:

A) he is not a climate scientist and therefore the field is letting just anyone publish.
B) He is one. dont play the man, look at the actual science.

It’s far better to avoid the whole “he is or is not a scientist” stupid debate and just admit that he engages in science behavior in the field of climate studies. Or play the man. your choice.

34. John Hartz says:

Perhaps ATTP is merely a figment of our imagination? 🙂

35. Joshua says:

==> ” Or play the man. your choice.”

” I have a high regard for Piers Forster, who is a very honest and open climate scientist, so I am sorry to see him associated with a paper that I think is very poor, even as co-author (a position that perhaps arose through him supplying model forcing data to Marotzke) and therefore not bearing primary responsibility for the paper’s shortcomings…

[…]

The statistical methods used in the paper are so bad as to merit use in a class on how not to do applied statistics.

All this paper demonstrates is that climate scientists should take some basic courses in statistics and Nature should get some competent referees.

36. John Hartz says:

The shoddiness of certain segments of the science publishing industry is laid bare in:

Trolling our confirmation bias: one bite and we’re easily sucked in by Will J Grant, The Conversation AU, June 2, 2015

Reading Grant’s article will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

37. BBD says:

Steven M

not a good argument.

It isn’t an argument; it’s a hope.

38. yup joshua. all have sinned. You think people might learn to avoid the stupid mistakes that post illustrates. Which is more stupid.. the original stupidity or repeating a known stupidity?

I’ll suggest you not repeat known stupidities.

39. Joshua says:

==> “Which is more stupid.. the original stupidity or repeating a known stupidity?”

IMO, it depends on the interface between self-awareness and objective. When smart and knowledgeable people repeat known stupidities, then it raises an interesting questions as to self-awareness and objectives.

Noting that (IMO) objective and motive also comprise a complicated interaction.

40. Rachel M says:

Otherwise you are left with two choices …

You forgot the third choice.

C) he is not a climate scientist and the field is not as insular and inaccessible as some people think

I don’t think it’s that unusual to publish papers in a field that is not your area, especially if they’re co-authored with others who are.

41. Just a quick note: Arxiv now has a physics subcategory called “Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics”. There isn’t much, but what’s there seems pretty credible.

arXiv is better peer-reviewed than many of the journals out there. I placed my ENSO modeling paper in arXiv under that category and that was accepted, but they rejected a very interesting paper on Lithium-ion battery characterization I wrote. Humans are in the loop in the submission process so it has to pass various sniff tests.

42. BBD says:

@ Chett Mitchell

Since WHT has responded to your point, I feel I should say that your comment wasn’t visible when I posted at 12:22pm or I wouldn’t have simply repeated what you had just said 😉

43. Eli Rabett says:

A long time ago, before most reading this blog were born, and while Eli was an undergraduate student, one of the great and good who was involved in creating science funding policy in the US (he, himself was of an age then) explained it to Eli

After the War (II not I) he said, we had a choice. It was clear that funding for science research would grow and there would be many more papers generated by that research, How was publishing those papers to be funded?. One choice was to give the money directly to the learned societies that published journals. This however, was not a popular choice among the political types because it would have frozen out the commercial publishers. Therefore, he said, it was decided to let grantees ask for and get publication costs (page charges) in their budget.

Page charges were not cheap and it was hard to get enough in a grant to fund more than one article a year (you could ask but there was not guarantee of getting). Elsevier was smart enough to realize this and developed another model, no page charges but you had to pay for reprints (in the days of send postcards asking for one which is what was done before cheap copying machines), Still this was very attractive to authors, or at least poor authors, so many gravitated to Elsevier journals, and Elsevier library subscription charges went sky high (>\$10K/yr for their top journals).

44. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:

Even before Eli was born there were university librarians.

“A university – regarded by some – as amongst the best in the world” will have at least one librarian who specializes in academic publishing.

45. russellseitz says:

BBD
I’ve parked as submitted drafts of papers published in Climatic Change in arXiv with no complaints from Springer.

If you think Monckton , Soon & Co. a hoot, wait til you see the viscount’s latest protege’.

46. jamesannan says:

Regarding open access, just post the bloody paper. Almost all publishers explicitly allow this these days and I’ve never heard of anyone getting any come-back from the handful of luddite publishers that still don’t. Alternatively, email me a copy and I’ll post it, I have no contract with them!

47. James,
Indeed, if I was lead-author I would have done so straight away, as I do with all my other papers. I’m simply trying to let Mark decide how he wants to make it public. Maybe I shouldn’t wait, but it seems the right way to do this.

48. Rob Nicholls says:

Just wanted to say thanks to those all those who put the time and effort in to putting this paper together.

49. Marco says:

It is fortunate for the deniosphere that they have another paper they can create a lot of noise about, so that they can ignore this debunking of several of their heroes.

50. BBD says:

ATTP

I’m simply trying to let Mark decide how he wants to make it public.

As of course you should.

51. BG says:

Speaking of our good buddy, denier Monckton, has anyone seen his “Climate Sensitivity Reconsidered” published in Physics & Society, Forum of the APS, Vol. 37 No. 3, July 2008?

52. Marco says:

BG, there is a rebuttal to that by Arthur Smith:
http://altenergyaction.org/Monckton.html
and he pointed out that the Science Bulletin article followed the same scenario of bad scholarship and inability to understand what the literature actually says:
http://arthur.shumwaysmith.com/life/content/the_monckton_equation

53. BG says:

Marco,

Thx. I had not done a search to try and find any rebuttals. As a members of APS, I am totally appalled they would publish this stuff in any forum or format.

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