Acton Institute Powerblog

Climate consensus?

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In response to Sir Nicholas Stern’s cost/benefit analysis of dealing with climate change, Christopher Monckton, former adviser to Margaret Thatcher and journalist, has published an article (a second will be published next week) and what looks like a very long, researched and documented paper [pdf] explaining why the “consensus” regarding global warming is not correct. Here is a summary of his argument:

All ten of the propositions listed below must be proven true if the climate-change “consensus” is to be proven true. The first article considers the first six of the listed propositions and draws the conclusions shown. The second article will consider the remaining four propositions.

  1. That the debate is over and all credible climate scientists are agreed. False
  2. That temperature has risen above millennial variability and is exceptional. Very unlikely
  3. That changes in solar irradiance are an insignificant forcing mechanism. False
  4. That the last century’s increases in temperature are correctly measured. Unlikely
  5. That greenhouse-gas increase is the main forcing agent of temperature. Not proven
  6. That temperature will rise far enough to do more harm than good. Very unlikely
  7. That continuing greenhouse-gas emissions will be very harmful to life. Unlikely
  8. That proposed carbon-emission limits would make a definite difference. Very unlikely
  9. That the environmental benefits of remediation will be cost-effective. Very unlikely
  10. That taking precautions, just in case, would be the responsible course. False

While I tend to disbelieve the general “consensus” that our world is warming at exceptional rates, sea levels will rise twenty feet, and we’re all going to die in 50 years because we didn’t ratify Kyoto, I do think it’s generally good stewardship to try not to pollute and to take responsibility for the pollution that we put into the air, water and land.

Anyhow, read the article, and let us know if you share Monckton’s skepticism, or if you are unpersuaded by his analysis.

Jonathan Spalink


  • Robert

    I find Monckton’s article well written and believable. And I find it amazing that the Major press outlets have almost not coverage of this point of view.

  • Jimmy

    I find this article very well written and thoroughly researched.

    That said, it’s not a bad idea to curb use of fossil fuels, etc. as the supply simply won’t last forever and pollution is itself harmful to life. Why does everything have to be about global warming? In this way, the religious left have staked their ground on the “world is going to environmental hell” doctrine of faith.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    One of the claims of the Stern paper is that global warming will have grievous costs because it will exacerbate severe storms, such as hurricanes. This claim is totally belied by the utter lack of any damage to the US from hurricanes during the 2006 season, contrary to the claims of many alarmists (including some scientists at the National Weather Service and NOAA) on the heels of Hurricane Katrina. Clearly, hurricane incidence is NOT coupled to “global warming”, therefore is NOT caused by it, and therefore every use of hurricane and storm damage in the calculation of costs in the Stern report must be removed. I believe that one correction will significantly reduce the predicted costs of global warming.

    A second point is that government regulation based on incomplete knowledge has a bad tendency to create side effects that can be worse than the original problem. The EPA’s encouragement of the use of MTBE as a gasoline additive to reduce smog resulted in numerous leaks of the chemical into drinking water aquifers, a direct threat to health (unlike the indirect threat presented bvy smog).

    The UN scientific panel has asserted that government intervention to fight previous “global crises” is exacerbating global warming. First, they assert that the reason for global COOLING from the 1930s to the 1970s was the shading of the earth by sulfate particulates emitted, along with CO2, from coal fired power plants. However, they “comfort” themselves by saying that the increasing regulation of sulfur emissions, in the regulatory effort to fight “acid rain”, will DECREASE the shading (which had more than counterbalanced the warming for 40 years!) and therefore INCREASE the net warming from power plants to be positive–for the first time. The irony of this is that the ten-year-long National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP), a $500 million scientific study issued in 1990, had verified that acid rain was a very minor problem confined to a few lakes in the Adirondacks.

    Second, the UN science panel has announced that the substitute refrigerants being used to replace those banned by the Montreal Protocol were acting as greenhouse gases, so potent that they were ADDING three times as much global warming as the Kyoto Protocol was supposed to remove. The purpose of the Montreal Protocol is to fight the “ozone hole”. However, because the hole is a natural phenomena that is largely driven by the cold and absence of sunlight over the poles during winter, was only a 10% decrease in ozone, and never affects substantial areas in the temperate zone for any length of time, the harm from the “ozone hole” is extremely minor compared to the alleged harm form the global warming that has been created by an itnemperate and hasty resort to international governmental regulation.

    Thus, (a) the largest immediate causes of global warming are government actions that were meant to combat global atmospheric problems, and (b) the problems turned out to be so minor that they required no response. In light of how international action has made global warming much worse, according to the UN science panel, WHY should we trust the same people to tell us that we must respond NOW with massive costs to global warming? THEY have screwed up global warming much more than any power plant or auto manufacturer has ever done.

    The world has been conducting experiments for several decades in how effectively governments and international bodies can diagnose and prescribe against atmospheric problems. The experiment has demonstrated that the diagnoses are overblown by several orders of magnitude, and that the prescriptions are worse than the original disease. International climate science is comparable in its competence to medicine in the era when doctors would cut sick patients to bleed the “bad blood” out of them (while spreading infectious diseases through poor sanitation). We shake our heads in amazement that anyone would submit to such brutal and irrational “treatment”, with such poor results, but the climate doctors are after us to let them “cure us”, just like they “cured” the previous world illnesses by turnign them into something far worse.

  • Brian

    I guess it comes down to this …

    A single volcanic eruption on an island in the South Pacific can cause as much disruption in Earth’s climate in a day as modern human activity can do in 100 years. In essence, natural phenomena have in the past (and will in the future) had more dramatic impact on the Earth than anything man can do. However, there is almost certainty in the scientific community that human activities can affect Earth’s climate. The causes, degree of the effect, and solution is debatable. Therefore, is it worth it to curb human activity to prevent eventual outcomes that may or may not be trumped by a natural event in our lifetime?

    This basic question is not one of science. It is an ethical decision that is influenced by the idiosyncractic beliefs of those who partake in the debate. People who adhere to a notion that they should leave the world a better place have trouble looking at this issue without coming to the conclusion that we should do something. Others who take a more measured approach weigh the options and come to conclusion that doing something would be a waste of money and disrupt the current economy.

    Since the debate essentially boils down to the beliefs of the people themselves, and not the scientific facts, the debate about global warming becomes an intractable stalemate. Reading both Stern’s and Monckton’s arguments, they are both well presented and seemingly persuasive in their own way. However, neither will have any great effect on debate of global warming. Indeed, it seems that Mother Nature has more control in that arena too.

  • Deef

    If you think that Monckton’s article is factually correct, you should read the discussion of it here:

    Note that Monckton is taking a lot of data from, a propaganda generator for oil and gas companies. You can read about it here:

  • Petrus Vectorius

    Monckton might have more factual mistakes, but so has the UN pame arctic council.

    Even he is using UN data which are faulty. For instance, his table of greenhouse gases lacks water vapor, a gas that has 10 to 50times more greenhouse effect than CO2 (in terms of ratiation forcing).

    He also uses data from UN climate council
    . It writes “uncertainties in the assumptions made about the state of the Sun during that period could imply a range of between 1 and 15 Wm-2 reduction in TSI less than present mean values although most estimates lie in the 3 to 5.5 Wm-2 range”

    See the figure 6.3 which shows that solar forcing has changed about 3Wm^-2 since 1700. While the paragraph ends with extimatie of 0.3wm^-1 and that is put into the picture 6.6 . So while their data have shown that less known solar forcing is likely dwarfing any greenhouse effects, their presention pictures show solar effects as likely insignificant.

    If you are serious about greenhouse effect of CO2, stop breathing out or start paing CO2 tax from every exhalation.