Deniers’ Worst Enemy?

Who is most effective at showing how empty, how misleading, how utterly nonsensical are the arguments from global warming deniers? Perhaps — of course this is just my opinion — the answer to the question “Who is the deniers’ worst enemy?” is one of their own: Christopher Monckton.

Why? Because he’s still writing stuff like this blog post at WUWT (where else?). A recent video demolished the claim that “there’s been no warming for 18 years” because “the satellite data are the best,” and did such an effective job of it that Monckton just had to respond.

If you enjoy refuting nonsense (who doesn’t?), Monckton makes it so easy. Candy from a baby. Like his point #15 — about sea ice. Here’s what he has to say:

15. that Arctic sea ice is declining, though Antarctic sea ice has been on a rising trend and reached a satellite-era record in early 2015, and though the decline in Arctic sea ice is chiefly only in a few late-summer weeks and is a small fraction of the seasonal variation in sea-ice extent, so that neither the extent nor the trend of global sea ice (from the University of Illinois) shows much change throughout the satellite era

Here’s the graph he shows, to go along with it:


He didn’t make the graph, he got it from the Cryosphere Today website (from the good people at UIUC, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

I understand why the folks at Cryosphere Today chose the plotting scale they did. They have a lot of graphs on their website so space is limited, and they wanted to show both sea ice area and its anomaly on the same graph. To make them fit, the scale had to be chosen which makes the anomaly graph too compressed to see what’s really going on. Like this:


I also understand why Monckton went with this graph: because the scale makes the anomaly graph too compressed to see what’s really going on. Which is this:


It’s obvious that Monckton’s claim is false. Global sea ice shows much change, as in, over a million square kilometers. And by the way, Chris, UIUC didn’t graph sea ice extent, they graphed sea ice area.

But the really weird thing about Monckton’s claims is the statement, when referring to Arctic sea ice, that “… the decline in Arctic sea ice is chiefly only in a few late-summer weeks…” Really?

Let’s have a look. I computed the trend is Arctic sea ice, not overall, but separately for each month of the year. Here’s the result:


The trend is negative — downward — for every month of the year. It’s statistically significant for every month of the year. Where Monckton got the idea “only in a few late-summer weeks” is anybody’s guess.

Just to show an example of what’s happening other than “only in a few late-summer weeks,” here’s Arctic sea ice during January:


I could have used any month of the year, and it would show the same thing: Monckton is wrong.

Yes, refuting Monckton really is like taking candy from a baby. And that’s just his talk about sea ice! He doesn’t just make it easy, he’s so generous, giving so much to refute.

It’s kind of sad, actually. You’d think that the deniers would wake up to the fact that this guy isn’t helping. He’s embarrassing.

Then again, maybe he’s not that different from the rest of the deniers.

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21 responses to “Deniers’ Worst Enemy?

  1. Yep. FWIW, the NSIDC site always lists the monthly trend when they issue their monthly bulletins on sea ice. And it’s robustly negative for every month, just as stated above. Had the loony Lord ever spent time with the data, he’d have known that. But that’s no way to preserve the sanctity of one’s ignorance.

  2. Are those standard error bars on the monthly trend plot?

    [Response: Two standard errors, roughly a 95% confidence interval.]

  3. Monckton’s brand of climate denial is dead. You have to make Bjorn Lomborg type arguments now if you want to be taken seriously as a climate contrarian.

    • Sadly, i don’t think so.
      My first encounter with Monckton was back in 2007, and (the Monckton/Schukte/Ferguson vs Oreskes affair) and he has not gotten more credible. In Paris, he emerged from the limo just after Morano and tge guy in polar bear suit.

      By now, people gave either long ago dusmissed him.. Or are pseudoskeptics with Sauron-class Morton’s Demons that guard them from unwanted science but eagerly seek out the silliest anti-science they like. In the latter case, they long ago made up their minds, but need a constant flow iif reinforcement. Imagine them as sailboats in a strong wind (science) pushing them where they don’t want to go. They need to find a constant supply of hot air to stay in place.

    • Or do what Judy does
      1 Ignore the debate raging around you.
      2 Create your own with limited reference to physics
      3 Throw shit at great great scientists.

  4. Last year I figured that the 2015 Antarctic maximum ice extent was something like 3.5 to 4 sigma above the linear projection for data available from Cryosphere Today. To my mind that flagged that something was radically unexpected and warranted consideration. Monkton’s comment about the 2015 record shows no thought at all as to the meaning of it all. To have sold it as good news is an epic failure to heed warnings. (And check out the current trajectory) It’s easy to see declining sea ice extents as related to warming – that satisifies a simple intuition. It takes a moment or two longer to work out why last years 1/1000 year Antarctic record is not a sign that a galactic Tinkerbell has waved a magic healing wand over the Earth.

    • That is the fun thing about the earth’s climate – its full of interesting stuff to investigate. Like just why Antarctic sea is is increasing. Oh, and why the world is getting warmer – as if we didn’t know…

  5. A recent video demolished the claim that “there’s been no warming for 18 years”

    Ah yes, but can you demolish the claims that “there’s been no warming for 10 years”, “there’s been no warming for 12 years”, or “there’s been no warming for 15 years”…?


  6. scottdenning156684402

    Chris Monckton is to climate denial as Borat was to Public Relations for Kazakstan.

    • Well, fittingly, Chris Monckton is just Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest character:

      (sorry, it was just too fitting not to comment on!)

      • Ha!

        Of course, no discourse about Monckton would be complete without mention of Potholer54’s series of “Monckton Bunkum” videos (on YouTube), which are paragons of skewering.

  7. I think WUWT is Monckton’s last stand. Several years ago, some folks in the media paid attention to his rantings. That no longer seems to be the case. But when he posts to WUWT, he is assured of being well received. That must make him feel good. One almost feels sad for him, just as when watching the videos that the DeSmogblog folks produced of the deniers in Paris. That was pathetic and painful to watch.

    John Mashey has it right, I think: these guys need to prop each other up. That’s all they’ve got left. In the end, I’m happy to seeing them get their just desserts.

  8. Cryosphere Today global sea ice area could go record low in the coming weeks (see this graph). It’s already lower than 5 out of the last 11 minimums. And it’s mostly because Antarctic sea ice hasn’t been playing along since the last freezing season when the max was average (see this graph). But, of course, Arctic sea ice is also playing a role, as it is very low currently (see this graph).

    Or see all these graphs and more on the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website.

  9. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse


    You will know that you’re really onto something here when Monckton threatens to sue you for defamation…

    Don’t worry though – it’ll be worth it: Dellingpole and Steyn will fume with new-and-improved outrage over the state of “the climate debate”, and Curry will write yet another post about how everyone else is doing science wrong anyway.

    It’s all good.

  10. The people who listen to Monckton aren’t interested in the facts. They want to confirm their biases. They accept without any critical evaluation the things that the Moncktons of the world say. Only an obvious crisis will snap them out of their self-deluding state (and maybe not even that!).

  11. Rattus Norvegicus

    I like to call Monkers “The Lord of the Lies”.

  12. You’d think that the deniers would wake up to the fact that this guy isn’t helping.

    It’s all they´ve got, actually.

  13. Tamino (and others), I have put up a blog post on the Arctic Sea Ice Blog, discussing the possibility of a new global sea ice area record minimum. I’m looking at mechanisms, but unfortunately I lack the chops for a statistical segment (calculating for example how much Arctic and Antarctic sea ice area may change, given average losses in the past 10 years after this date). Just another 350K is needed for a new record.