Buffoons in arms: Goddard joins Monckton at SPPI

Oh frabjous day! Steven Goddard is joining “potty peer” Christopher, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley as one of the slithy toves contributing to the Science and Public Policy Institute‘s never-ending stream of climate denier propaganda, and on the evidence of his first “paper” he will be a valuable* addition to the team. The SPPI pantheon is in dire need of a fillip, given Monckton’s lacklustre recent performance (of which more later), and so Goddard is given his head to produce a truly wondrous counterblast to the recent NOAA 2010 Arctic Report CardTo a geologist, “the past is key to the future”. To give you a flavour of his wisdom, here are Goddard’s conclusions:

  1. The widespread belief that the poles are rapidly melting down is incorrect, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere.
  2. Arctic temperatures are cyclical. Much of the Arctic has been warmer during the last 100 years.
  3. The satellite record from 1979-2010 coincided with the warm phase of the PDO. It covers less than one half of an Arctic temperature cycle. Given this cyclical behavior, it makes little scientific sense to extrapolate linearly based on a time period which is too short. Until satellites record at least one entire Arctic cycle, the extrapolations are misleading.
  4. There is little (if any) evidence linking recent changes in the Arctic to CO2. At this point there is no solid reason to believe we are seeing anything other than natural Arctic cycles. Greenland temperatures are cooler than 70 years ago.

Great stuff. Either completely wrong, not supported by the evidence or pure wishful thinking. Positively Moncktonian in its cavalier disregard for the facts, but lacking the great man’s prolix delivery and intellectual turgidity…


Followers of events in the Arctic will know Goddard as the erstwhile author of numerous and inventive “sea ice updates” at Anthony Watts’ µWatts blog — a man with an amazing ability to conjure cooling out of nothing. A few months ago an obdurate Goddard appears to have strained the patience of the saintly Watts and he departed to set up his own blog called, with no apparent hint of irony, Real Science.

To illustrate just how far Goddard’s SPPI opus stays from reality, let’s consider his claim that “Greenland temperatures are cooler than 70 years ago“. To arrive at this conclusion he chooses two Greenland temperature stations from the NASA GISTEMP dataset (Godthab Nuuk and Angmagssalik), plots their annual averages over the last 100 years, finds two periods of warming, and then — after long detours around sea ice and CO2 — declares that Greenland has cooled over the last 70 years. Cherry-picking at its finest…

What does the NOAA Arctic Report Card have to say about current Greenland temperatures?

A clear pattern of exceptional and record-setting warm air temperatures is evident at long-term meteorological stations around Greenland. For instance:

Nuuk (64.2°N along Greenland’s west coast): Year 2010 summer, spring, and winter 2009/2010 were the warmest on record since record keeping began in 1873.

Temperature records were being set all round Greenland during the last year, leading to a record ice melt season: the area of the ice sheet that melted was 8% greater than the previous record, set in 2007, and melt continued for much longer than usual:

The melt duration was as much as 50 days greater than average in areas of west Greenland that had an elevation between 1200 and 2400 meters above sea level.

The obvious disconnect between Goddard’s reporting and the real state of Greenland goes a long way to suggest why he was dropped by Watts, and it says just as much about SPPI’s decision to run his material. To paraphrase former NZ prime minister Rob Muldoon, Goddard’s move has raised the average IQ at both places…

Meanwhile, followers of the antics of Monckton will be puzzled by the poor quality of his recent output, and mystified by his inability to carry the floor at a recent debate in Cork. The peer’s attempted rebuttal of the dismemberment of his testimony to Congress earlier this year is thin stuff, long on words (of course) but woefully short of substance.

Slightly meatier is his attempt to debunk a recent keynote address given by Obama’s science adviser John Holdren in Oslo in September. Here’s a chunk of classic Monckton:

On go the lurid scares. “Melting permafrost” is next. The fact that many of the burial grounds of the Vikings around the Hvalsey settlement are still under permafrost to this day, when they were certainly not under permafrost when the bodies were buried, is conveniently overlooked.

This is a claim that has popped up in a number of Monckton’s articles, and one that’s often repeated by sceptics who want to pretend that conditions in Greenland are not unusual. Unfortunately, as is so often the case when you look into the details, it turns out that Monckton is talking nonsense. The Citizen’s Challenge blog decided to do some exhumation of the facts, and got in touch with a few experts who know the Hvalsey site well. Here’s what Georg Nyegaard, curator of the Greenland National Museum & Archives had to say:

I know the site of the Hvalsey Fjord Church very well – was the curator of the nearby museum of Qaqortoq for 12 years. You are completely right about your doubts: There is absolutely no permafrost at this site.

I look forward to Monckton’s retraction and apology for so grievously misleading his readers, but history suggests I would not be wise to hold my breath while waiting. But Monckton isn’t finished with permafrost. Here’s his next sentence:

In fact, melting permafrost is nothing but a good thing: despite the lurid tales of methane trapped in the permafrost and waiting to erupt and give the planet a fever, methane is really a non-issue now that the Russian pipeline to Europe has been repaired. There has been no noticeable increase in atmospheric methane since the repairs were completed in the year 2000. If the permafrost were to thaw, billions of acres of productive agricultural land would become available.

Breathtaking stuff. Manages to ignore the evidence, downplay the danger, and blame the Russians, all in one sentence. It’s the sort of claim Monckton can make in a debate, leaving his opponents wondering whether they should unpack the falsehoods or ignore them. But such sophistry didn’t work for the prolix peer when he took part in a debate with Graham Parkes, professor of philosophy and head of the school of sociology and philosophy for University College Cork, at the beginning of October. Scott Mandia has Parkes’ full speech here.

The result? Parkes won the debate by 100 votes to 3. Sic transit gloria Moncktonii…

(*) “Valuable”, in so far as it makes SPPI’s output look even less credible (if that’s possible).

[Dire, that’s what it is.]

43 thoughts on “Buffoons in arms: Goddard joins Monckton at SPPI”

  1. Gareth – Why do you resort to name calling and character assasination?…..“potty peer”, “slithy toves” , “obdurate”, “amazing ability to conjure cooling out of nothing”, suggesting Goddard has a low IQ…..
    And you are very fast to dismiss Goddard as …. ‘Either completely wrong, not supported by the evidence or pure wishful thinking.’

    With your good handle on science I’m sure that you will be able to follow up. – I’m sure your readers would be very interested to hear from you how Goddard’s first conclusion (The widespread belief that the poles are rapidly melting down is incorrect, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere) is either completely wrong, not supported by the evidence or pure wishful thinking.

    1. Life’s too short to spend debunking every last dot and comma of the “works” of Goddard and Monckton. A few examples, as provided, should suffice to demonstrate the freedom they feel to misrepresent the facts. And when it comes to “name-calling” and “character assassination” I am pleased to defer to the “potty peer” whose paper linked above relies almost entirely on ad hominem attacks on respected scientists.

      1. Gareth – Then why post this in the first place? Your title “Buffoons…” surely has the intent of smeer. Why waste your time writing this with nitpicking on minor points which are largely irrelevant.

        Surely your readers would like to hear your arguments on Goddard’s conclusions which you took the time to post. I for one do.

        1. Lank might like to seek out Goddard’s blog and find his musings on Lake Superior,which quickly provoked generous and illuminating corrections by commenters,and at Bob Grumbine’s blog.

          In a “Mouse Hunt” analogy,SPPI have got a Nathan Lane in Monckton;now they have Lee Evans in Goddard. Quiet everybody..now,roll it!

    1. Are you game to fit the full PDO index to the ice extent data in ‘History of sea ice in the Arctic'(Polyak et al.2010)? And why did you use ENSO graphics,while talking about the PDO?

      Why do you selectively cite from Walt Meier’s full reply on the qualitative and spatial differences between Arctic warmth in the 1920s and 30s,and the last few decades?

      Why cherry pick GISS Arctic weather stations,then ignore the data before 1940 [where it exists] from the ones you have selected,like Angmagssalik? Why ignore stations like Jakobshavn,Upernavik and Stykkisholmur?

      Are you aware of HADISST data and a number of papers conclusions about southern hemisphere sea-ice extent over the longer term?

      If “..its colder now than it was 70 years ago over most of the Arctic”,why are seasonal sea-ice extents there at record minima according to the fullest examination of data? Why have those Ellesmere Island ice shelves collapsed,revealing materials way older than 3000 years? Doesn’t that suggest you should at least add some qualifiers,flesh out that claim a bit?

    1. Steve Goddard, your views and your blog are so far removed from “real science” that its actually a getting a point of exercise for high school students to analyze your ramblings as an example of pseudo-scientific nonsense. The web is full of self appointed “experts” on all sorts of issues and you are a great expose’ of what students should be aware of.
      Thanks for providing teaching material! (perhaps not in the way you thought of yourself)

  2. The supercilious tone of your comments achieves what such sneers always do: they drive more and more neutrals into the sceptics’ camp.

    Those who follow the topic closely will need know persuading: they are already aware that in each of the points you mention, Steven Goddard is right and you are wrong.

    1. You think science is determined by tone? Riiight.

      Goddard is wrong because he makes fundamental mistakes in the science. It doesn’t matter how earnest he sounds.

    2. Now this has got Steve a little miffed. He is now offering another slice of cherry pie,claiming that “Hot Topic Thinks The Arctic and Greenland are Still Warming” and linking to a GISS map of five years annual trend data 2005 -2009 that shows much of the Arctic in a cooling trend.

      OK,there are some problems here….of the usual Goddardian kind.

      5 years is a cherry pick. Yes,while that short period shows a cooling trend,the area remains definitely anomalously warm compared with the 1951-1980 baseline,or any other forty year baseline for that matter,including ones centred on Steve’s beloved 1940s. Steve cherry picks short periods and keeps discovering weather,when most of us are interested in teasing out long term behaviors.

      AFAIK,Hot Topic have made no specific pronouncement about Arctic air temperature for the five years 05-09 such as Steve has claimed on their behalf. They have certainly said words to the effect that Arctic sea-ice and Greenland ice mass balance is shrinking over that period. How could they not? It’s a fact.

      Steve seems anxious to claim the Arctic will be cooling for a while,but is frustrated by having to wait for sufficient time to prove it. Meanwhile he hates to contemplate the fact that the cryosphere has not responded to this period of cooling,as the shrinking proceeded this year even in weather conditions described by NSIDC as “not extremely favorable to melt”,and sea-ice thickness dropped further.

      So we’re left with another provocative Goddard header of no value except as a ‘truth’ for you,Westerner.

  3. Mr Goddard, the title of your presentation is::


    Who is that “geologist” by name and where did he receive his academic education, if any? The published presentation which we are suggested is written by a professional geologist, lacks all background and real world conctact info on the author for some reason. (As well, good luck trying to find any proper reference in the supposed scientific piece and its “enhanced” diagrams!)

    1. Goddard is no scientist, that’s clear with every post he makes. He doesn’t actually claim to be a geologist anywhere within that paper, does he?

      From the pace of his blogging, one has to suspect he does not have a job.

    1. Someone else who needs to learn what ad hominem means. Pointing out that someone is wrong is not ad hominem, though just about every pseudosceptic likes to cry ad hominem whenever their errors are pointed out.

      Goddard corrected no mistakes of mine, just repeated his own. For the record, his defence of his statement about Greenland cooling was to quote someone from 2 years ago, and to ignore the evidence of record temperatures at one of the site he relied on for his “cooling” statement.

      If you think Greenland’s cooling, please explain why it continues to lose ice mass.

  4. I’ve been looking at both sides of this issue. I’ve come to some conclusions. One, the weather is what it is, human influence or no – and even if human influence, there’s really only one way to deal with it, as we’ve been doing for millions of years – adapt, individually. A scientist will study the weather, make some conclusions, while I’ll either put on a coat, or strip down, as needs must. Two: neither side of the argument has convinced me of anything. I’m just some guy, with allegedly ‘learned’ fellas arguing both sides (and getting so wrapped up in arguing -you know where that goes) so common sense tells me to watch out for what’s happening, at the moment, and adjust thereof. Three: I immediately toss any arguments, from either side, when name-calling and slander enter the fray. Don’t care diddly squat how learned they are, they’re acting like fools. Four: I ride a bike (have to-can’t drive worth a dang, and I’m from a car-centric province)and have a deep dislike of anything that uses gas – but I’ve noticed that none of the alleged green ‘solutions’ work at any power level, or environment control level as to provide a solution. Thus, I adhere to neither. Finally, five: having grown up in an environment subject to relatively intense weather changes, I have no real mental image of what radical weather changes should be. So, instead of freaking about the future, I concern myself with only the daily. Which leaves both sides of the argument ‘out in the cold’, so to speak. Most definitely not in the ‘hot seat.’ I suspect that there are quite a number of people who have long since abandoned this debate, on either side, as they have more pressing matters, such as daily existance. But there’s this: while I don’t believe the other side any more than yours, I find, consistently, that while their facts may well be anywhere from partially wrong, wrong on small details, to utterly and totally wrong, they rarely descend to name calling. For that foolish act alone, I dismiss your arguments, while the other side, I dismiss only on the basis of factuality. This will not stop you or them, of course. Long after whatever happens will happen, and people adapt, both sides will be haggling about how many angels really do dance on the head of a pin.

    1. “But there’s this: while I don’t believe the other side any more than yours, I find, consistently, that while their facts may well be anywhere from partially wrong, wrong on small details, to utterly and totally wrong, they rarely descend to name calling. For that foolish act alone, ”

      Brycemeister, you haven’t looked very hard or very deep. If you’re genuine, and I’m not sure you are, you need to do a better job of looking into things. That comment is untrue, and the basis of your “judgements” is superficial.

      When I’m not expert in an area, I take careful notice of those who are. I also have sufficient skills and knowledge to make a considered assessment of where the intellectual dishonesty lies, and what agendas are being followed.

      In case you or anyone else quietly reading this is misinformed, there is no scientific debate about the general understanding of what is happening to the Earth’s climate, and that these rapid changes are caused by human activity.

      The long, dishonest PR campaign to play on the public’s limited scientific understanding, and to raise doubt in the political and social realm is remarkable. It’s also contemptible.

      There are very few people who have genuine scientific doubts about climate science’s general understandings, very few indeed. There are many people who aggressively oppose climate science for political, idealogical, or emotional reasons. A significant group who actively oppose and obfuscate do so quite cynically, and at times with a rabid viciousness that deserves more than contempt.

      Plainly, Brycemeister, if you are genuine, you have no scientific understanding of your own, and your “factuality” is a delusion.

    2. Brycemeister – yeah, tone trolling & and “I’ve looked at both sides” is an oldie. In fact social scientists, like Roger Pielke Jr, have made a career out of that false construct.

      In fact you’ve inspired to me to start collecting links of every instance this tired old routine is trundled out. Thanks.

    3. Brycemeister, you have confused climate with weather. If your climate changes, your weather will change. If you look in a detailed atlas you will see a map of climate zones. These would not be there if climate was as variable as weather can be (especially in some places). We are facing climate change due to global warming – which means those climate zones are going to change. Some climates are going to intensify – eg dry places become even drier and wet places even wetter.

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