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Viscount Monckton gives a presentation during the 2007 Conference on Climate Change
"Considerable presence" of skeptics

Updated 7/17/2008

After publication of this story, the APS responded with a  statement that its Physics and Society Forum is merely one unit within the APS, and its views do not reflect those of the Society at large. 

The American Physical Society, an organization representing nearly 50,000 physicists, has reversed its stance on climate change and is now proclaiming that many of its members disbelieve in human-induced global warming.  The APS is also sponsoring public debate on the validity of global warming science.  The leadership of the society had previously called the evidence for global warming "incontrovertible."

In a posting to the APS forum, editor Jeffrey Marque explains,"There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution."

The APS is opening its debate with the publication of a paper by Lord Monckton of Brenchley, which concludes that climate sensitivity -- the rate of temperature change a given amount of greenhouse gas will cause -- has been grossly overstated by IPCC modeling.   A low sensitivity implies additional atmospheric CO2 will have little effect on global climate.

Larry Gould, Professor of Physics at the University of Hartford and Chairman of the New England Section of the APS, called Monckton's paper an "expose of the IPCC that details numerous exaggerations and "extensive errors"

In an email to DailyTech, Monckton says, "I was dismayed to discover that the IPCC's 2001 and 2007 reports did not devote chapters to the central 'climate sensitivity' question, and did not explain in proper, systematic detail the methods by which they evaluated it. When I began to investigate, it seemed that the IPCC was deliberately concealing and obscuring its method." 

According to Monckton, there is substantial support for his results, "in the peer-reviewed literature, most articles on climate sensitivity conclude, as I have done, that climate sensitivity must be harmlessly low."

Monckton, who was the science advisor to Britain's Thatcher administration, says natural variability is the cause of most of the Earth's recent warming.   "In the past 70 years the Sun was more active than at almost any other time in the past 11,400 years ... Mars, Jupiter, Neptune’s largest moon, and Pluto warmed at the same time as Earth."

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RE: While I do agree...
By Fluxion on 7/17/2008 2:57:24 PM , Rating: 1
It's worth noting that GHG are identified by the IPCC itself as being part of the culprit with less certainty than there is about the climate being warmer. So debates to know exactly what part GHG play in GW are in no way "heretic" in the scientific community.

While I do wish they'd clarify over whether anthropogenic CO2 is actually in reference to GHGs in general, or if they're specifically targetting CO2, I do agree.

I would honestly hope that no one here would be ignorant enough to believe that global warming isn't occurring. It is, and evidence supports that. We also know that atmospheric concentrations of such GHGs as methane, N2O and CO2 are at their highest levels since 700,000 years ago at least, and that humanity is largely responsible for that increase.

Now, what we don't know, is the extent of the impact such GHGs have had as part of the on-going climate change. I tend to be skeptical of long-range forecasts, and so for me it's hard to trust computer model forecasts for decades if not hundreds of years from now. However, I also knew some very intelligent climatologists during my time in college, who strongly believed that humanity's industrialization will ultimately lead to profound changes in the earth's climate.

Even if we're not the primary catalyst for any major changes in the earth's climate, we'll have contributed considerably to that change, and it's ignorant for anyone to state that we shouldn't be taking measures to reduce our output of GHGs. What's next, denials of mass extinctions occurring?

RE: While I do agree...
By ilovephysics on 7/17/2008 6:08:42 PM , Rating: 2
Fluxion, just bothered to create an account here at "Daily Tech" for the sole purpose of applauding your stamina in defending the facts. Thank you.

RE: While I do agree...
By porkpie on 7/17/2008 8:52:03 PM , Rating: 3
I would honestly hope that no one here would be ignorant enough to believe that global warming isn't occurring. It is.
It was at least. Its a bit unclear whether or not its still happening. Temps have dropped since 1998.

RE: While I do agree...
By kc77 on 7/18/2008 7:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
Temps have dropped since 1998.
Huh?? No they haven't only if you look at 1998 and then 1999. But if you look at a ten year span say 1997 to 2005 it's still a hell of a lot hotter than say 1980.

RE: While I do agree...
By Hoser McMoose on 7/18/2008 9:28:46 PM , Rating: 4
1998 was indeed an abnormally warm year, just as 2008 has thus far been an abnormally cool year. However single years are meaningless within the discussion of average global temperature changes over a period of time. Really you can't get any meaningful measurement until at least 10 years, and even then it's extraordinarily limited.

Expanding the study to 50 years is more of a starting point, but ideally you want to study the world for millions of years.

If one does just that, we can see that the earth has gone through a LOT of temperature cycles, most of which were clearly NOT man-made. That's not to say that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions aren't contributing to our current climate, more simply that climate DOES change and our impact is only going to be one of MANY factors involved. Trying to figure out just where we fit in to that whole equation is a matter of importance to science.

Are we just a tiny spec in a giant sea of things or a dominant factor? And will cutting GHG output by 20 or even 50% do much of anything? Those are questions I couldn't answer myself, but fortunately there are a few good scientists left working on the problem. Sadly many otherwise good scientists have been taken in by one of two competing religions and are so firmly entrenched in their beliefs that they refuse to do their jobs properly for fear that it will either prove or disprove (depending on which religion they follow) global climate change.

RE: While I do agree...
By Arctucas on 7/18/2008 3:00:03 PM , Rating: 2

700,000 years, hmm?

Those damn dirty cavemen!

They are the bastards that started all this Global Warming!

RE: While I do agree...
By wordsworm on 7/27/2008 10:59:41 AM , Rating: 2
They are the bastards that started all this Global Warming!

No, it was the Liberal cavemen in 50,000 BC that started this whole global warming thing. "What's happening to the ice?" "I don't know, must be the fire. Before us there was no fire. The fire melts the ice. Must be us! We'd better cut down on our fires."

Conservative caveman: "Hey, I will start a fire where and when I want one! First it's 'don't kill off all the mammoths', and now this!"

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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