Political Climate
Sep 27, 2013
Time for some realism - but IPCC takes baby steps and in the end fails

Real Science shows the hypocrisy of the IPCC report: We are now at AR5 with zero warming since AR4. The last IPCC report which actually experienced any warming was SAR in 1995. In fact, the vast majority of the IPCC’s history has seen zero warming, and prior to that the warming was primarily due to rebound from Mt. Pinatubo cooling.

This complete lack of warming through most of the IPCC’s history has led them to 95% certainty that humans are heating the world out of control.

That level of certainty “has increased with every report,” notes Dr. Hayhoe, an expert reviewer for the IPCC. “Because we have more data, we have more science, we have more observations.”

The Heartland reports on Nine walk backs in the latest IPCC report

- First they admit that there has been no warming for at least 15 years

- Second they admit that the Medieval Warm Period existed and had temperatures higher than temperatures at the end of the 20th century.

- Third they admit that Antarctic sea ice is growing rather than contracting.

- Fourth they admit that the computer models are failing and they go on to specifically cite the failure to predict precipitation, changes in cloud cover, aerosols, and land sinks. They even admit to not being sure about the sign of the effect of changes to cloud cover.

- Fifth their estimate of sensitivity to carbon dioxide is as wide as it was 20 years ago, and by one measure is less, only 1.0 to 2.5 degrees.

- Sixth, they appear to have some discussion of cosmic rays, so an admission that there is a mechanism whereby changes in solar activity can influence the climate. They still claim it is too small to account for observed variations in temperatures.

- Seventh, they explicitly reject the scenario in which the oceanic conveyor belt collapses.

- Eighth, they reject the scenario of Greenland ice melting causing large increases in sea leves.

- Ninth they lowered their confidence in predictions of increased intensity and or duration of drought and of increases in intense tropical cyclone activity.


Before the Scientific Alliance post, the AR5 SPM was released today. It turn to Andrew Lord Montford’s Bishop Hill’s blog for his take:

Ducking, diving, bobbing and weaving are the general themes of the Summary for Policymakers, just released this morning.

You would imagine that the document would review what was said last time round and how things have changed since that time, but you’d be wrong. This is, after all, the bureaucracy at work: difficulties have to be brushed under carpets and stones left unturned.

It would, for example, have been interesting for AR5 to discuss the increase in hurricane intensity that the AR4 SPM said was “likely” on the basis of the climate models. Instead, we get a veil drawn over the subject, with not a word on the hurricane drought in recent years.

Similarly, the divergence between model and observational estimates of long-term warming (effective climate sensitivity) is alluded to in opaque fashion in a footnote ("lack of agreement on values across lines of evidence") rather than being tackled head on in a way that would make clear the difficulties scientists are having with the climate jigsaw.

The general theme of obscurantism runs across the document. Whereas in previous years the temperature records have been shown unadulterated, now we have presentation of a single figure for each decade; surely an attempt to mislead rather than inform. And the pause is only addressed with handwaving arguments and vague allusions to ocean heat.

From the questions asked by journalists at the press conference, few cared about the science and the contradictions in what they were being told. The press corps are, almost to a man (and woman) environmentalists and only interesting in decarbonization. The exceptions were David Rose and the guy from the Economist. So it is very uncertain that the problems in the WGI report will make the mainstream of public discourse.


And Bob Tisdale at WUWT:

Regarding the cause of the warming, still living in fantasy world, they write:

Greenhouse gases contributed a global mean surface warming likely to be in the range of 0.5C to 1.3C over the period 1951-2010, with the contributions from other anthropogenic forcings, including the cooling effect of aerosols, likely to be in the range of -0.6C to 0.1C. The contribution from natural forcings is likely to be in the range of -0.1C to 0.1C, and from internal variability is likely to be in the range of −0.1C to 0.1C. Together these assessed contributions are consistent with the observed warming of approximately 0.6C to 0.7C over this period. {10.3}

They’re still misleading the public. Everyone knows (well, many of us know) their models can’t simulate the natural processes that cause surface temperatures to warm over multidecadal timeframes, yet they insist on continuing this myth. More.

Icecap Note; Sorry alarmists and enviros. Half of the warming globally is due to urbanization/land use/bad siting contamination. Most all the rest due to natural variability - cycles in the sun and oceans.

Scientific Alliance

People are very good at making predictions although, alas, rarely ones which are correct. What we do all too rarely is take a step back and look at earlier predictions through the filter of current knowledge. Although situations change continually, there should be some general lessons to learn from the mistakes of the past. Perhaps the most important is the realisation that projections of current trends are almost certainly going to be wrong and that any conclusions we can draw are subject to considerable uncertainty. Recognition that this is true can be a humbling experience, but should help us see our forecasts more as a range of probabilistic scenarios than likely outcomes.

Unfortunately, humility is not much in evidence when it comes to climate change. Earlier this week, Lord Stern (of the eponymous report) claimed that the latest IPCC Assessment Report (of which more later) would seriously understate the problem because some risk factors had not been taken into account (Lord Stern: IPCC report will underestimate climate change). He is quoted by the Telegraph as saying that many economic models ‘grossly underestimate the risks’ because they assume climate change will not affect growth.

In a story from the Guardian, he attacks sceptics (Leading climate change economist brands sceptics ‘irrational’wink: “The science is unequivocal and shows there is serious danger. What is coming from [sceptics] is just noise, and should be treated as noise.’ He said some sceptics were in the pay of hostile industries, with a vested interest in contradicting the science, and were being ‘deliberately naive’ in claiming the world could wait decades to deal with rising emissions. ‘It (the sceptic response) looks very well-organised,’ he said. ‘They are deliberately distorting the way we understand risk.’”

Such talk smacks of desperation: if you can’t persuade an audience that your opponent is wrong by rational argument, then question their credibility. Implying that sceptics are part of some shadowy conspiracy and simply motivated by money is insulting, but suggests that the climate change establishment with much greater resources at its disposal is rattled.

Today’s much-heralded launch of the first part of the Fifth Assessment Report (actually just the Summary for Policymakers of the report from Working Group 1 on climate science) similarly over-eggs the argument. Their key conclusion is that it is now 95% certain that the primary driver of recent climate change is human activity (WG1 Summary for Policymakers). This has increased since the previous report, published in 2007, but the judgement is a subjective one; there is no objective way of deriving such a metric.

To quote from the press release accompanying the report (Human influence on climate clear, IPCC report says): “As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said Co-Chair Qin Dahe. The report finds with high confidence that ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010. Co-Chair Thomas Stocker concluded: “As a result of our past, present and expected future emissions of CO2, we are committed to climate change, and effects will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 stop.”

He also delivered this key message: “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.” And that is the essential argument being made: that carbon dioxide emissions must be drastically reduced to avoid continued unwelcome changes to the climate.

Now, this could turn out to be true, but we have to remember that the entire argument has rather shaky foundations. The only facts we have are the evidence of measurements: first that average temperatures have trended upwards since the end of the Little Ice Age (but not smoothly) and second that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen significantly and are continuing to rise as more coal, gas and oil is burnt. The third fact is that the infra-red absorption properties of CO2 mean that increasing levels will lead to modest temperature rises.

That much is clear, but the IPCC reasoning is that this warming is reinforced by positive feedbacks, so raising temperatures considerably more. There is currently no evidence of this so we all, citizens and governments alike, are effectively being asked to trust the IPCC and push ahead with radical and expensive changes to our energy generation and use.  Any critical comments which weaken the argument for action are being slapped down. With Canada and now Australia having left the fold of enthusiasts for emissions reduction, the IPCC and its supporters will see AR5 as their last chance to maintain momentum behind their cause.

But it looks increasingly likely that they are now swimming against the tide. Their lack of realism about the importance of renewable energy, the failure of Carbon Capture and Storage schemes to be brought on stream and the undeniable fact that CO2 emissions will continue to rise until China’s growth plateaus make current policy look more and more Quixotic (with the difference being they are fighting for windmills, not against them).

The IPCC will not get many more chances. If it wants to persuade others of its case, it has to be less dogmatic and more realistic. Arguing that the chances of catastrophe warrant action, even if the scientific evidence is not clear, is a reasonable position. So is the position that emissions reduction should be achieved in the most cost-effective way, without artificial targets for renewables. Favouring nuclear energy would be the obvious long term strategy, delivering an affordable, secure electricity supply even if the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis turns out not to be valid.

Lord Stern’s original work was laughable. What is not laughable is to the degree the EU environmental wackos used this to cause energy prices to skyrocket, causing 100,000s of thousands to have their power turned off and many pensioners to be unable to afford heating fuels, the excess deaths that have resulted fall on his shoulder. He and the environmentalists are mass murderers. The world would be well served if they ignore or even retire Lord Stern and his ilk.

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