The NIPCC report: don’t be fooled

by

(Nederlandse samenvatting hier)              (For a sneak preview, see the bottom line below)

The new ammunition put forward by “skeptics” seems to be the Heartland InstitutesNIPCC report 2009 (“Climate change reconsidered”). It is made to resemble, at least in format and in name, the IPCC report. According to Dutch “skeptic” (and contributor to the report) Hans Labohm it completely shatters the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) theory (e.g. here, in Dutch). That’s a very bold assertion, which should be backed up by very strong evidence for it to be taken seriously. Let’s take a look at the executive summary…

Second opinion
The preface starts as follows: “Before facing major surgery, wouldn’t you want a second opinion?”
Now that’s funny. I recently described the IPCC process using the same analogy: If you get a second opinion on your health condition, and it confirms what your specialist said in the first place, your trust in the diagnosis probably increases. Now imagine that you collect the interpretations of medical professionals all over the world, and by and large they their conclusions converge to the same broad picture. This happens to be how the IPCC comes to its conclusions.
Their opening statement is actually a strong argument for going with the consensus position on a complex topic. Yet they use it to argue in the opposite direction; very peculiar.

Risk
It continues: “When a nation faces an important decision that risks its economic future, or perhaps the fate of the ecology, it should do the same.” (i.e. getting a second opinion)
Huh? Risking our economic future? If they’re talking about the costs of emission reduction, they are seriously exaggerating. Who is being alarmist here? There will be winners and losers, yes, but that’s something entirely different. Everybody has a choice to join the winners or the losers. Different from the horse races, it’s easy this time to predict who (in the long run) will be the winners and who will be the losers. Take your pick.

The usual stuff
The previous NIPCC report has already been commented on by RealClimate, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much news under the sun this time. The same old and tired arguments feature in the current report. The RealClimate article has many links that debunk the various talking points, and I’m not going to repeat all of them here. A presentation from the lead author, Fred Singer, has been briefly discussed at RealClimate as well. It’s a good example of yet another groundhog day. For those who have followed the staged ‘climate debate’, the list of authors is revealing: Many of the usual suspects, with a history so to speak.

There are the usual, to be expected arguments, like that it’s all the sun’s fault. And logical fallacies, like ‘the climate changed before without human activity being involved, so therefore it must be natural now as well’. Try that line of argument in a court of law against a pyromaniac, by saying that forest fires have always happened naturally. It won’t fly, and it reveals that this report is not about science. The good thing is, with such erroneous lines of reasoning, no specialized knowledge is needed to see that.

Degrees of uncertainty
What I didn’t expect, however, was to see otherwise interesting research be put in a context as if it somehow “falsifies the AGW theory”. In many cases, it hardly has any relevance to the attribution of current climate change, or to future projections.

Ironically, their main argument against climate modeling is its associated uncertainty (mistaking it for knowing nothing, and ignoring that uncertainty goes both ways). That doesn’t stop them from putting forward hypothetical feedbacks that have no evidence whatsoever of operating on a globally significant scale. By the way, climate modeling is mocked in the report as merely being “the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing”. Doesn’t sound like they know what a climate model really is.

Feedbacks
The report goes on to describe many hypothetical feedbacks in the climate system. Of course, they are all negative: They counteract the initial warming, independent of the cause for the warming. Their combined effect, is the hope, should be evidence that the climate sensitivity is an order of magnitude (!) smaller than the commonly accepted range (between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees C for a doubling of CO2). Not just 50%, no, a factor of 10, I kid you not. My alarm bells go off. Let’s see what the implications of such low climate sensitivity would be. Any climate forcing (whether natural or human induced) would be so strongly damped as to hardly have any effect on global temperatures. But then how come the globe is warming, and has warmed and cooled in the past? A logical consequence of their theory (negligible climate sensitivity) is that it’s hardly possible for the earth’s climate to change. Indeed, there is no physics-based climate model that can satisfactorily model both the current and past climates with such low climate sensitivity.

Aerosols
Many of the proposed feedbacks involve the cooling effects of aerosols. They suggest that these cooling effects are larger than reported by the IPCC. That is contradicted by climate models providing a very decent match to the observed cooling following a major volcanic eruption (emitting sulfate aerosol in the stratosphere). Moreover, some have argued that a strong aerosol radiative forcing means that the climate sensitivity has to be large in order to still be able to explain the temperature trend of the last 100 years, so they seem to be shooting in their own foot.

They come up with all kinds of hypothetical feedback mechanisms involving more natural aerosol emissions in response to global warming: Dimethylsulfide from marine phytoplankton (although a very intriguing possibility, this has never been confirmed to be a significant feedback mechanism, and there is ample evidence to the contrary, which is omitted from the report), biological aerosols (idem), carbonyl sulfide (idem), nitrous oxide (idem), and iodocompounds (idem), about which they write the following:
“Iodocompounds—created by marine algae— function as cloud condensation nuclei, which help create new clouds that reflect more incoming solar radiation back to space and thereby cool the planet.”
Nou breekt mijn klomp (“Now my clogg breaks”), as I would say in Dutch. This route to atmospheric particle formation may be important at coastal sites with exposed seaweed, but its global importance is questionable to say the very least; at present it could best be considered an interesting thought experiment. Moreover, freshly nucleated particles have to grow by about a factor of 100,000 in mass before they start affecting climate, and a lot can happen to them before they reach the necessary size.

All very interesting research topics, but to claim that they are somehow evidence for negligible climate sensitivity is an extreme example of over-interpretation. In these active areas of research, where no firm conclusions have been reached yet on global significance, they selectively cite only those articles that they can somehow spin to support their desired conclusion. I feel that I’ve read enough of this report to know what it’s worth.

Bottom line
This report exhumes a very strong and unfounded faith in negative feedbacks from nature, which are hypothetical with sometimes sketchy, often contradictory, and sometimes no evidence of actually operating at a globally significant scale. This highlights an inconsistent view of uncertainty, and an unwillingness to weigh the evidence: “If it causes cooling, the uncertainty (or lack of evidence) doesn’t matter; if it causes warming, it’s too uncertain (and no evidence strong enough) to matter”.

How would you know?
Let’s apply some of my own recommendations for non-specialists on judging sources:
- The report clearly misses the forest for the trees.
- It gives a hidden argument for going with the consensus (“second opinion”), but somehow twists that around.
- It’s characterization of the IPCC process has the smell of a conspiracy to it and is full of strawmen arguments.
- To their credit (and my surprise), I couldn’t find any obvious confusion of timescales, such as confusing weather and climate.
- It contains some embarrassing mistakes in basic logic.
- The two way cause-effect relationship between temperature and CO2 is not properly recognized.
- Their strong claim of shaking the foundations of climate science is extremely unlikely; They don’t provide compelling evidence for such an extraordinary claim; They vastly overestimate the likelihood of cooling effects (feedbacks), and underestimate, deny or ignore warming effects.
- They grossly exaggerate the economic risks of emission reduction, and downplay the risk of unmitigated climate change.
- Some of the authors have historical credentials in a relevant discipline, more than a few have not. The list of signatories at the end is very thin on relevant expertise.
- The Heartland Institute is a conservative think-tank and not a reliable source of scientific information.

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59 Responses to “The NIPCC report: don’t be fooled”

  1. ken Says:

    You know, it’s this kind of knee jerk, emotional sniping that has pulled the rug out from the under the Green Movement. Also things like; environmentalists fraudulently signing the Oregon Climate Petition strictly to sabotage and discredit it, the changing of the term Global Warming to climate Change and now the new term is “our deteriorating atmosphere”, pictures of Polar bears, using the media to report scary stories of bad weather and especially hiring an extremely wealthy investment manager as the primary salesman for AGW (ie. Al Gore). These were all big mistakes. I think the worst mistake was the labeling of C02 as a pollutant; this one move awakened the public to the kind of subterfuge being used by the Green Movement and has done a lot of damage to it. The public has lost it’s trust of the Greens now. Nice work.

    When the AGW herd proves that C02 controls the earth’s climate the debate will be over and the skeptics will be on board. Just prove it.

  2. Bart Says:

    Ken,

    Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. You make a caricature of the green movement, and then attack that caricature for being ridiculous.

    Science does not provide absolute proof. Science is about weighing the evidence (something the NIPCC report grossly fails doing), which leads to varying degrees of confidence that a certain explanation is correct.

  3. Ken Says:

    Ah varying degrees of confidence. I’m sure the space shuttle astronauts will be happy to hear that.

    How’s this for a varying degree of confidence: In the UN IPCC’s 3rd report they state “In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” In other words they say clearly that it is not possible to make future long-term predictions of climate. There is no varying degree of confidence here, they mean 100% not possible. Yet the UN IPCC, climate scientists and the rest of the AGW herd make long term climate predictions every day. They make their living doing that. And you say I make a caricature out of the Green Movement? I’d say they do that quite well all by themselves thanks.

  4. guthrie Says:

    You do know the difference between projections and predictions Ken?

    Anyway, the lack of science to bolster your case is noted.

  5. Bart Says:

    Ken,

    I interpret the statement you’re referring to as equivalent to what I already stated: Science does not provide absolute proof (and neither does engineering, as reflected by the fact that accidents do happen in spacecraft, airplanes, satellites and the like): Predictions with 100% certainty are not possible.

    Also, a very large source of uncertainty in climate projections is the unknown future development of emissions, land use and solar activity. They are not merely uncertain; they are unknowable. That’s why modeling studies usually work with different scenarios, to try to get an envelope of possible future states.

    You seem to confuse climate science with the green movement.

  6. Hans erren Says:

    guthrie:
    It is exactly the same difference between hazard and risk.
    The issue of scenario likelihood is carefully avoided in the IPCC reports, and therefore entirely useless for policymakers.
    The scenario horizon of 100 years is out of range for any living policymaker, the warming scenarios don’t differ significantly in the next twenty years, the period that does matter.
    The fundamental question is how China and India will solve their future huge energy demand, a question that cannot be answered with wind and solar power.
    Every climate/energy policy decision in the western world is peanuts compared to this huge real challenge for China and India.

  7. Bart Says:

    Hans,

    The actual fufure development of emissions and other climate forcings is inherently unknown, so how can you expect an estimate of their respective likelihood? The actual path future emissions will take depends strongly on our collective actions, and thus on policy.

    Compare it with driving a car. How likely is it that you will turn right or left? The only sensible thing from a scientist’s perspective is to describe the consequences for each as best as possible: If you turn right, you’ll drive by the lake, if you turn left, you’ll drive into the water. Then the policymakers can use that info to shape their policies as best as they can (in an ideal world, that is).

    One likelihood for a scenario is however given: In the absence of strong changes in policy, the business as usual scenario is deemed the most likely path of future climate forcings. You are absolutely correct in stating that the future development paths of China an India are the most significant in shaping the actual emissions of the future. Especially in light of historic emissions and equity concerns, however, the choices we make in the West are also important. A ton of CO2 emitted in Holland has by and large as much climate effect as a ton of CO2 emitted in China.

    If the long term consequences of our current actions range from benign to disastrous, then one may contemplate if we have a moral obligation to take that into account in our actions.

  8. AllPunsIntended Says:

    The previous NIPCC report has already been commented on by RealClimate
    The guys at RealClimate are a real class act. Very nice, the post starts out with two paragraphs worth of ad hominem attacks, and continues to links of what they consider “debunking” of valid concerns to the mechanisms and severity of AGW theory, followed by two-hundred-somewhat comments of symbiotic ego pumping.

    Most of the NIPCC report was TL;DR just like IPCC, and yes, the same arguments are there which RC gurus have convinced themselves that they’ve debunked. My concern is that the report was written in a very sophomoric fashion, almost like saying “No, you!”. That’s why it will never look credible, never be taken seriously, even though it raises some very good points about the shortcomings of accurate climate modeling.

  9. Bart Says:

    The RC post (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/not-the-ipcc-nipcc-report/langswitch_lang/jp) starts with a fair bit of ridicule, which you may or may not like. An ad hominem attack would be of the kind “He’s a jerk; therefore he’s wrong”. I didn’t read an argument of that sort.

    “Valid concerns to the mechanisms and severity of AGW theory.” Which ones?

  10. AllPunsIntended Says:

    The ones they talk about:

    - Poor aerosol modeling and understanding (equating all aerosols to a net W/m2 forcing parameter, and somehow it’s all about sulphate and soot. I’ll admit that dimethysulphide and iodocompounds are poor reaches for straws, I don’t know who dreamed that up, more emphasis should be made on natural mineral, sea-salt, and gas-to-particle aerosols)
    - Very poor oversimplified cloud modeling (equating all clouds to a single W/m2 forcing parameter)
    - Accuracy of model predictions (they present a juicy graph of a 1988 model and observed temps. Before you object, its ok, no link to RC required, I’ve read their post already)

    Another couple that they’ve completely missed out that I would throw in:
    - Poor water-vapour modeling (I’ve seen a great “debunk” of this one)

    and my personal favourite as you can tell by now
    - Tropospheric CO2 saturation in the IR

    Cheers

  11. Bart Says:

    Radiative forcing is a measure of the change in boundary conditions, to which the climate system responds by either warming (in the case of positive radiative forcing; more energy coming in than going out) or cooling (negative radiative forcing). It makes perfect sense to me to try to express the effects of different forcing mechanisms in the same unit.

    The direct radiative effects of aerosols can be divided in reflection and absorption. Simply put, soot absorbs solar radiation and all other components reflect it (to a more or lesser degree). Sulfate is often taken as a proxy for all the others (organics are starting to be separately treated as well AFAIK). I don’t think this creates a huge mistake in the outcome.

    Model predictions and measurements are by and large in the same ballpark (if the comparison is done correctly, eg taking the expected noise level into account). For an informal take on predictions done by Hansen, see eg http://rabett.blogspot.com/2009/06/catastrophist-elizabeth-kolbert-has.html:

    “He forecast that the following decade [the eighties] would be unusually warm. (That turned out to be the case). In the same paper, he predicted that the nineteen nineties would be warmer still. (That also turned out to be true.) Finally he forecast that by the end of the twentieth century a global warming signal would emerge from the “noise” of natural climate variability. (This too proved to be correct.)”

    And the following, related to aerosol forcing of climate:
    “In 1991, he predicted that, owing to the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, in the Philippines, average global temperatures would drop, and then, a few years later, recommence their upward climb, which was precisely what happened.” I’ve understood that he also predicted the ~1000 year time lag between temperature rise and CO2 at the end of a glacial period, before it was observed in the ice cores thanks to better dating techniques. We actually do have some understanding of the system, amidst all the uncertainties.

    Most of your points boil down to pointing out the large uncertainties there are. True enough, but don’t mistake uncertainties for knowing nothing, and also keep in mind that uncertainties go both ways.

    My major critique of the NIPCC report concerns their inability to look at the relative uncertainties of different explanations/hypotheses: They pretend that their pet pieve theories are somehow more certain (ie supported by stronger evidence) than the mainstream theories. They don’t come even close.

  12. AllPunsIntended Says:

    For some reason I can’t comment on other threads. Hm. Testing

  13. Bart Says:

    Strange. I checked the spam folder; didn’t see any message of yours, nor is there anything for me to approve.

  14. AllPunsIntended Says:

    To address some things you’ve mentioned:
    Radiative forcing is a measure of the change in boundary conditions … It makes perfect sense to me to try to express the effects of different forcing mechanisms in the same unit.
    Not quite boundary conditions (even if RC likes to think so). Radiative forcings can be better classified as system Loads. In any case, yes, radiative effects should be accounted for with a first-principles radiative model, that is to say, insolation + absorption (I don’t think this is hard to do). I don’t like the coupling of all the forcings into one and applying it as a thermal load at some one grid altitude, it assumes that the variables are independent of each other, which is not necessarily true (like clouds and aerosols).

    I’ve already expressed my disappointment with natural aerosol increases which don’t appear to play in the models. They may be insignificant, however, a popular opinion is that they overwhelmed the CO2 in the mid-century cooling. Yes, that can attribute to uncertainty.

    Water. Whatever can’t be modeled by first principles has to be done by parametrization or “tuning”. I understand that. You may be satisfied that clouds are treated with a tunable average cloudyness parameter which can only be attributed by hindcasting, I’m not. Convective Heat Transport (including CHT involving water), which is HUGE, is also modeled with a hindcast parameter. This is not a matter of uncertainty, this is a fundamental shortcoming. Imagine me trying to model convection system by a conduction parameter because it’s easier.

    As far as predictions/projections. The fact that models are hindcasted to the ice-ages and volcanic eruptions doesn’t impress me one bit. Given enough tunable parameters, you can achieve anything. You gave me a link that has Hansen predicting colder this and hotter that. I’ve seen some charts of his models, they are not that awesome, but they are the only ones that have some time under their belt. See this link:
    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/04/hansen-has-been-wrong-before.php
    Notice that while it may look close to Scenario C, that was actually the scenario of “concerted, worldwide emissions abatement”. What we need to do is rerun his model again to 2009
    Unfortunately all the other models are too young to judge — they are either withing the shotgun-spray of various scenarios, or within noise.

    So what we’re left with are valid shortcomings of accurate climate modeling.

    I’ve taken a look at some models. Most are finite element/volume Eulerian-grid based, and not just curve fitting exercises like I presumed before. Do you know where I can find gritty details about these models? I’m talking really geeky stuff like timestepping, convergence criteria, solving algorithms, etc

  15. Bart Says:

    I think you make some statements here that are not necessarily true, e.g. there is no “tunable average cloudiness parameter” AFAIK (but I’m not a GCM modeler, so there are others better suited to comment on this than I am).

    Hansen’s 1988 predictions should best be compared to scenario B, since the actual emissions were closest to those projected in that scenario. It shows that even an early generation climate model had considerable predictive skill.

    I agree with your statement about other models being too young to judge on the same merit, but I do see value in models being able to retroactively simulate past climate changes. It’s not as easy as it sounds (and I say that partly based on my own experience with transport modeling). ‘Tuning’ is not quite the wildcard that you make it out to be, and it’s not synonymous with parameterization.

    Regarding gritty details on existing models, check eg this climate modeling FAQ, which finishes with the question

    Can I use a climate model myself?
    Yes! There is a project called EdGCM which has a nice interface and works with Windows and lets you try out a large number of tests. ClimatePrediction.Net has a climate model that runs as a screensaver in a coordinated set of simulations. GISS ModelE is available as a download for Unix-based machines and can be run on a normal desktop. NCAR CCSM is the US community model and is well-documented and freely available.”

    Have fun!

  16. AllPunsIntended Says:

    Yep, perhaps I was unclear. There is a distinction between “tunable parameter” and “parametrization”. The best example I can give to your readers is with a structural statics: if you have a supporting structure to whatever you’re analyzing, it is fair to represent it as a spring, with an equivalent spring stiffness of the actual supporting structure. Notice that the spring stiffness of sup. structure can be observed/calculated, so this is just a simplification and can be called “parametrization” (as done with radiation in some models according to RC, much to my disapproval). “Tunable parameter”, would be if we didn’t know (or couldn’t measure) the spring stiffness, and attempted to calculate it back (hindcasting) to an observed force-displacement (historical reconstructed records). As far as I see it, this is where the clouds fall in. And clouds being much smaller than the spatial scale, they must be averaged to at least one grid size (which are still a couple of orders of magnitude larger), hence my “tunable average cloudiness parameter” statement. The danger in this, is that you’re already assuming some kind of a response mechanism, and are working back to get a parameter to fit a potentially flawed assumption (like convective heat transport /w water, which is not radiation based).

    I don’t know why everyone still praises Hansen’s model. To me it is a very poor model. Considering that he was able to “predict” effects of Pinatubo as described in the previous link you sent, I find it almost appalling that no indication of El Nino (1998) peaking is represented in his model outputs. A linear extrapolation of past 20 years of data would yield you much the same result well within noise and instrumental error to be as good of a match, but not a good model!

    That being said, I have good faith in future models as we go further toward first-principles, and finer spatial grids. I think these models still have to come through a few revolutionary phases (perhaps adaptive meshing, and coupled lagrangian-eulerian formulations) which other modeling fields have already gone through. But properly modeling water will always, in my opinion, be the greatest task and shortcoming of these models.

    I’ll take a look at those models you’ve linked, thanks.

  17. Rick Says:

    It’s quite obvious that you have not read the report. You have been caught up in this hype and you think you are doing this grand noble thing. You are a true believer and nothing is going to show you that you have beed mistaken all this time. What you are doing is severely handicapping your own country based on anywhere from gross misconception to criminal fraud, depending on your motives. This is not the time to find religion, it is the time to check out the real facts.

  18. Bart Says:

    Rick, I’ve read the executive summary and parts of the texts relating to aerosol feedbacks. If the summary is a fair reflection of the main points, then I’ve read more than enough and I won’t be wasting more time on it.
    If you bring some real facts to the table, perhaps we could talk.

  19. Randy Says:

    I’ve read both the NIPCC report and bart’s rebuttal to it and because I’m not a scientist like apparently bart and allpunsintended are I have to assume the jury is still out on how much impact humans have on Global Warming (Climate Change). So for me this makes me against Cap and Trade or taxing my carbon footprint. I am in favor of not damaging our planet but that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of taxing the life out of this country to resolve an issue that hasn’t been and may not be able to be proven. Give incentives to promote clean energy not fines to force it.

  20. Bart Says:

    Randy,

    How non-scientists can make sense out of a scientific ‘controversy’: http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/who-to-believe/

    If there would be an 800 page document making the case that smoking is not damaging to your health, would you immediately oppose all smoking regulation?

  21. Average person Says:

    I really the think the truth is revealed by what subjects or data is avoided. In almost every alarmist report about global warming (or ‘climate change’ as it is currently called since the earth has been cooling) they conveniently avoid mentioning the most significant influence of the earth’s temperature, The Sun. I thought it was funny several years ago when I first noticed how the subject was being avoided. Then I read in my Astronomy magazine of Mars’ melting ice caps and the warming of Jupiter. Three planets in our solar system warming at the same time? Hmmm, what is the common denominator that should be headlining every report?
    I am really tired of the reports that pick and choose data to support their own hypothesis.

  22. Charles Higley Says:

    Oh come on. The simple fact that they cannot find the REQUIRED HOTSPOT in the upper troposphere – it simply is not there – says that the IPCC is totally garbage!

    A trace gas cannot drive the climate and on all time scales CO2 lags temperature changes, not leads it.

    Just recently three researchers published that they can predict overall temperature changes based on ENSO out 7 months (the lag of ocean changes effecting the atmosphere). Our ups and downs are entirely predictable based on natural cycles and longer range can be predicted from solar changes (no, not just overall brightness!). The location of the center of mass of the solar system in or out of the Sun even has predictable effects. Solar wind it the key here and recent research has really nailed down the yin and yang of the cosmic and solar winds and their different effects on our upper atmosphere.

    CO2′s half-life in the atmosphere is a well-established 5.4 years, not the 200 years cobbled up from thin air by the IPCC. This fact alone indicates why, in short term ocean temperature changes, we see a 5-8 year lag in CO2 changes.

    By the way, today CO2 is about 386 ppm. In the 1940s, it was 440 ppm and hit 550 ppm at times. No run away warming then. So, what’s the problem?

    The problem is that the IPCC wants it to be our fault. So they unilaterally discount virtually all direct CO2 measurements and rely in indirect loss-riddled ice core data. That’s just plain stupid. But, again, the goal is to make it our fault so that they can impose Draconian measures on us against our will in a reputed attempt to save the planet.

    CO2 is plant food and we will need all we can get when we cool further and the growing seasons shorten.

    Just the fact that CO2 partitions 50 to 1 into water, means that we would have to 51 times the CO2 needed to double the atmospheric CO2 alone because 50 parts of the CO2 would dissolve into the oceans. There is not enough available carbon to burn on the planet to achieve this effect. The best we could do is 20%, if we burned everything. It’s called Henry’s Law.

    CO2 acidifies distilled water. But, sea water is totally different and comprises a very complex solution that is a very effective buffer. For this reason, the fact that photosynthetic processes make water more basic, and other equilibrium considerations, acidification of the oceans is not a hazard. Even is it was, the organisms of the oceans have been through such changes multitudes of times and,look, they are still here! They are much more resilient than the IPCC would like you to think.

    This is not “denialism”. This is real science. You have a right to your own opinion, but not to your own facts.

    The overall goal of the IPCC, as set up by Maurice Strong, is to create a world crisis and form a solution that shifts power and wealth to create a one-world government. He staffed the IPCC’s upper levels with people given this mission, which is why the Summary for Policy Makers of their reports are always so disconnected and just plain contradicting of the report provided by their own science section. When the science section reported that they could detect no human footprint in the climate, the Summary ignored that and concluded that 95% of climate warming was due to human activities. A total disconnect from reality.

  23. Bart Says:

    Charles Higley,
    Talking about a disconnect from reality; the amount of errors, logical fallacies and plain falsehoods in your comment is staggering. Please check some scientific sources before making strong and silly statements such as “IPCC is totally garbage”.

  24. Bart Says:

    Average person,

    It’s the sun; it’s still number one on the list of “skeptical” talking points raised, despite the fact that the solar activity hasn’t increased over the past 50 years (while global warming really kicked in). Funny indeed, if it weren’t such a serious topic.

    There is a lot of climate science dealing with the influence of the sun. E.g. check this overview article or this one.
    Also very readable: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Solar_activity_and_climate_change

    About other planets in our solar system, see the same list of talking points: http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-other-planets-solar-system.htm
    1. Not all planets are warming – some are cooling
    2. The sun has shown no long term trend since 1950
    3. There are explanations for why some other planets are warming

    You are clutching at straws, and are playing the pick-and-choose game.

  25. Neo Says:

    Your arguements against the NIPCC report are worse than Al Gore’s arguements in his ridicules movie. The Academy was totally snowed, so there’s hope for you yet.
    If you want to live in your fantasy world, fine. Just stop trying to drag others down with you that don’t know any better.

  26. Bart Says:

    Neo, I’m impressed by your coherent set of arguments. Thanks for sharing.

  27. hal Says:

    I don’t think you answered mr. Higley in a fair manner, Bart. He presented several points that common skeptics like myself find reasonable and worth proper rebuttal. You called his points innacurate and fallacy then you sent the reader on a wild chase after your links.

    You have arrogantly dismissed him and the skeptical readers as fools without addressing most of his contentions.

  28. Bart Says:

    Hal,

    I went back to re-read Higley’s comment, and I stand by my earlier statements. I’ll address some of them by referring you to a great resource: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php. The most often heard “skeptical” arguments are mentioned here, with an easily understandable rebuttal. Nothing that Higley wrote sheds any new light on the issue of climate change; to the contrary, it’s just obfuscation.

    Here’s a sample of Higley’s points; numbers refer to the list in the abovementioned website:

    49. “There’s no tropospheric hot spot”
    Satellite measurements match model results apart from in the tropics. There is uncertainty with the tropic data due to how various teams correct for satellite drift. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program conclude the discrepancy is most likely due to data errors.

    11. “CO2 lags temperature”
    CO2 causes temperature rise AND warming causes CO2 outgassing from oceans. This feedback system is confirmed by the CO2 record – in the past, the amplifying effect of CO2 feedback enabled warming to spread across the globe and take the planet out of the ice age.

    58. “It’s El Niño”
    The El Nino Southern Oscillation shows close correlation to global temperatures over the short term. However, it is unable to explain the long term warming trend over the past few decades.

    1. “It’s the sun”
    Solar activity has shown little to no long term trend since the 1950′s. Consequently, any correlation between sun and climate ended in the 1970′s when the modern global warming trend began.

    The residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is governed by several processes, each with their own specific lifetime. The 5 years you quote is absolute bogus. “The lifetime of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere is a few centuries, plus 25 percent that lasts essentially forever.” (see e.g. http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0812/full/climate.2008.122.html and http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.fate_co2.pdf)

    I’ll stop here.

    You call me arrogant, yet don’t you think that it’s the height of arrogance to claim that a whole scientific field is totally garbage, without going through the trouble of checking even the most basic scientific findings?

  29. Jim Prall Says:

    I’ve tallied up the publication record and citation stats of all the listed authors of the NIPCC report, and how they stack up against mainstream climate scientists, on my page here:

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/NIPCC_authors_table_by_clim.html

    Only Sherwood Idso makes the top 500 of the broader set of authors on climate science, while four more – Singer, Taylor, Lupo, and Gray – are in the top 1000. Only Idso and Gray have any substantive record of citation by others. The NIPCC includes six authors with zero published works on climate, and twelve more with fewer than ten.

    I agree with Bart that the NIPCC report seems to be mostly bluster, and fails to contribute to the scientific discussion. These guys want to create the impression that they’ve built a mirror-image counter to the IPCC reports, but they haven’t even come close.

    For a sense of the depth of contributors to the real IPCC, I’ve also posted a page listing the 619 contributing authors of AR4 working group 1:

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/AR4wg1_authors_table_by_clim.html
    Their median number of published works on climate is 93. They outrank the NIPCC authors so far it’s no comparison.

    On a broader view, my combined list shows signers of several activist statements such as the Bali Climate Declaration, and of eleven different climate skeptic statements.

    http://www.eecg.utoronto.ca/~prall/climate/climate_authors_table_by_clim.html

    Note how many of the very top authors in the field are endorsing the activist statements, and how far you have to scroll down to find the skeptics. Their arguments are just not getting any traction among their peers. Their views are not being suppressed (they do get published from time to time, where they appear to raise an open question) – they just aren’t getting any headway on “overturning” the entire existing field of knowledge.

    As someone wise said, “to wear the mantle of Galileo, it’s not enough to be persecuted; you also have to be right.” We can all see what arguments the skeptics are putting forward (Galileo didn’t have the internet, after all) – it’s just simply not a good argument.

  30. Serena Valmer Says:

    This is the worst writing I have read in a long time.

  31. Bart Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Serena.

    Perhaps you care to refute my hypothesis that your dislike of my writing is governed more by disliking the perceived policy implications of climate change than by my writing style? (boring as I may be, of course)

  32. P-Y Blanchard Says:

    I guess we now know which science is bogus and it is all Mann made. You will have to work harder now to make us believe in global warming is cause by man. Your top scientists, the well published ones are the real pushers of bad science. i guess now we’ll have the right to ask questions to these prima donna whithout being belittle. It’s hard to defend con artists point of view, I think their arguments from now on won’t have much traction either.

  33. Bart Says:

    PYB,

    You confuse a few dirty-laundry style emails with the whole foundation of climate science. The latter is not in the least impacted by the former.

    And even *if* the temperature reconstruction of the last milennium (the main topic in these emails) is absolutely wrong (very unlikely; the basic shape has now been replicated by numerous groups), it wouldn’t impact our knowledge of the current climate change and its causation by very much at all.

    You don’t have a leg to stand on with your fierce attack on science. Go and yell to your doctor, see how (s) he likes it.

  34. JoJo Says:

    I am sorry for your loss, Bart. You must accept the fact that your wizard was outed by not a few emails but many, many confirmed pieces of first person admissions of “tweaking”, “changing”, “squashing”, “destroying,” and the otherwise tampering of data supplied to ALL global crises proponents. Every graph, model, scale, picture, account, projection and forecast CANNOT be believed because the raw data was deliberately perverted. The leader of the pack has resigned in admission of his part in this deception. Everything you mention in this blog as justification for AGW is about as believable as the “cigarrettes are safe” line coming out of PhilipMorris. Time to ride off into the sunset Marlboro Man.

  35. Marco Says:

    @JoJo:

    You can attack the HADCRU dataset all you want, but we still have GISTEMP and NCDC giving the SAME graphs, models, scales, pictures, account, projections and forecasts. No one perverted raw data, and anyone claiming as such is willfully ignorant of the science.

    Funny you invoke cigarettes, since it’s climate ‘skeptics’ like Fred Singer and Richard Lindzen who openly argue this…in fact, Singer’s Heartland Institute was built around the money he received from tobacco companies to spread doubt about the link between smoking and cancer.

  36. Bart Says:

    Jojo,

    Most of the emails concern temperature reconstructions from the past. Interesting as that may be, it doesn’t say much, if anything, about causation nor about future projections. Your eagerness in wanting the whole foundation of climate science to be thrown out gives you away. It is symptomatic for someone who has their mind made up, and is just looking for things to back up their predetermined notion. Unfortunately however, the Greenland ice sheet doesn’t start growing again because of a few poorly worded emails, no matter through what kind of glasses you’re looking at them. See also http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/scientists-under-attack/

    How cynical that you bring up smoking. Accusing the other of what you’re guilty of yourself seems to become the common contrarian strategy.

  37. JoJo Says:

    GIGO. You don’t know me and I am offended by your assumptions. I resent being deliberately misled by those who control and release biased data without rigorous and exhaustive testing. What’s more, the scientific methodology for proving a theory has been ignored BECAUSE HADCRU et al looks only for data that supports AGW rather than searching, testing and publishing data that does not support the desired outcome. The problem with science today is much of it, especially AGW research, is that it is carrot-based. This is a disease afflicting Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Oil, Big tobacco, etc. The invocation of the Marlboro Man was merely in line with another posting.
    Oh, BTW, my 5th grader just wrote a report on Greenland. Did you know there was once a thriving agrarian society on that continent?

  38. Bart Says:

    Jojo,

    You come here and declare that the whole field of climate science can not be believed because of your skewed interpretation of a few emails. Now how am I supposed to interpret that any different than how I did?

    There’s bound to have been some medical researchers emailing each other about those annoying tobacco apologists. Would that suddenly make smoking all fine and toasty for your health?

    It’s a well documented strategy that the climate “sceptics” are using. It’s been used before, quite successfully, by the tobacco lobby (by some of the same people even). It’s basically an attempt at a cover-up.

    You don’t have a leg to stand on with your wild accusations.

  39. JoJo Says:

    Wow.
    *I didn’t mean to call your baby ugly.
    *Wild accusations? Thou doth protest too much. They are not accusations at all. “A few emails”? Count them and you will learn that it involves more than your two hands and feet.
    *Predetermined beliefs? Me????? I have studied the results of climate studies ad nauseum, adjusted my lifestyle and preached for conservation and “change”.
    *It is a well known fact that when individuals are incentivized to come to a conclusion as individuals or as a group, that conclusion is generally reached. In this case as in the case of Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Finance and Big Government, individuals with tenure, grants, research investment, promotions and /or appointments on the line made some horrible judgment calls that have stained the value of any results that they have produced.

    The fingers pointed at me as being a “sceptic” and biased are beyond offensive. I am open-minded and I am looking for open discussion not a force-fed lecture. As far as your dissection of a “well-documented strategy” of the climate sceptics, there are plenty of websites on both sides of this issue that lay out in detail how to argue a position be it for or against AGW. What they do not lay out is the methodology of listening to another’s point of view and mulling it over before dumping data.

    I was hoping your blog was not of the “show up and throw up” variety but based on your rapid delivery of key AGW talking points I can see that you have developed a profound ability to puke.

    Can you refer me to a website that can properly define the merits and flaws of Al’s hockey stick graph, discuss the underground thermal activity present in many areas of the world where glacial regression is occurring, explain the advancement of the Antarctic ice sheets as others recede in line with the findings of NASA? These and other questions are those for which I would like intelligent discussion as opposed to a overzealous sermon.

    Thank you for all you do.

  40. Marco Says:

    @JoJo,

    You can complain all you want, but when you mention “Al’s hockey stick graph”, I sure hope you are not referring to Mann’s (not Al’s) hockeystick graph (essentially reproduced by everyone else, but Craig Loehle). If you are referring to the CO2 graph that Al Gore used: you better tells us first what you believe is *wrong*.

    Regarding thermal activity where glaciers are retreating: care to give us some examples? There are some volcanoes 4000 meter below the arctic, but they have been there for hundreds of thousands of years. In the Antarctic, there is one region where glacier retreat might(!) be partly caused by some active volcanoes, but in several other places there are none. Moreover, there *is no advancement of the Antarctic ice sheet*.

    If you want intelligent discussion and claim to have read so much literature, it is rather surprising you make such claims about ‘thermal activity’, and “Antarctic glaciers advance”.

  41. David Says:

    Take a look at Professor Richard Lindzen’s recently released paper, which does not use inadequate models to wildly calculate ‘climate sensitivity’ but measures it using observations.

    ‘On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data’ – http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL039628-pip.pdf

    I would also ask you to take a look at HOW the IPCC derived what you call the ‘accepted range’ of ‘climate sensitivity’, as between 1.5-4.5. There are no calculations not even the necessary citing of the appropriate formula, the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, to support their conclusions.

    One would think that given this is the most crucial aspect of the science that the IPCC would have dedicated more explanation to it. However, we simply observe a sloppy, vague and delusional account for it consisting of 250 words only. What a disgrace.

  42. Marco Says:

    LOL! Even Roy Spencer notes significant problems in that paper.
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/11/some-comments-on-the-lindzen-and-choi-2009-feedback-study/
    It’s out a few months, and already trashed by a fellow-’skeptic’…

    Of course, your claim that the IPCC report only has 250 words for the climate sensitivity issue is an outright lie. Just read through this chapter:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter9.pdf

    And yes, there are no formulas. It is ‘merely’ filled with references to the literature in which the climate sensitivity is calculated, using all your precious equations (there isn’t just one required to calculated climate sensitivity).

  43. Bart Says:

    David,

    Climate sensitivity is constrained by measurements, e.g. of the climate response to volcanoes and the last ice age. (see e.g. here) Low values such as promoted by Lindzen are incompatible with these constraints. It would make it extremely difficult to explain how the ice ages could even have occurred.

    Another way of looking at it is to scan this list of estimates for climate sensitivity. See how the estimates converge to somewhere between 2 and 4 degrees per doubling of CO2. How lucky do you feel that the real value is close to 0.5?

  44. David Says:

    Firstly, I completely reject “Marco”‘s claim that Dr Roy Spencer disagrees with their findings, if you read closely enough he is in agreement with the paper that climate sensitivity is quite low.

    The key point to note with Professor Richard Lindzen’s paper is that it demonstrates, using real measurement and not models, that the climate is far less sensitive than the IPCC claims and also the greenhouse effect is far less significant.

    Also, the climate forcings which the IPCC list are laughable. For natural forcings they list only Volcanoes and Solar irradiance. Indeed you are right Bart Climate sensitivity is constrained by measurements, and one must consider how reliable the IPCC’s report is given that they cannot provide a full or even an adequate account of the earth’s climate system. For example one of the most significant climate forcing is cloud activity, which acts as a negative feedback.

    There is also no justification for the extremely high anthropogenic carbon dioxide forcing. In fact look under Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Response section in which they display a model’s prediction of the collective temporal pattern, where the ‘hot spot’ represents the anthropogenic carbon dioxide. When we observe the real data we see no hot spot, as they have unbelievably over-exaggerated the effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I bet this will not occur in the next report.

    ” lucky do you feel that the real value is close to 0.5?” it is not a matter of luck it has been calculated. Might I say that there has been no proof that Professor R. Lindzen’s paper is false.

  45. Marco Says:

    @David: Roy Spencer indeed uses a bit of handwaving to claim that there is low climate sensitivity, but that’s because he’s trying to switch cause and effect. He also *claims* clouds have negative feedback, completely neglecting studies that show clouds to have both negative and positive feedback, depending on where they are formed in the sky. And you just repeat that claim, since you want to believe him.

    And yet, Spencer shows that Lindzen&Choi use questionable methodology, which looks very suspiciously like chosing the method to show a desired outcome. He doesn’t say it, but it is clear that he knows it is a big faulty mess. Even Lubos Motl agrees that it looks suspiciously wrong…
    http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/11/spencer-on-lindzen-choi.html

    Regarding the hot spot: you sure know how to repeat long debunked denioclaims:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/12/tropical-troposphere-trends/
    Find your errors (there’s more than one in your claim).

  46. David Says:

    “but that’s because he’s trying to switch cause and effect” can you explain this?

    “He also *claims* clouds have negative feedback, completely neglecting studies that show clouds to have both negative and positive feedback” he does indeed state that clouds can act as a positive and negative feedback, but he claims that he believes based upon his own observations that mostly clouds act as a negative feedback, might I also say that this observation is also made by Professor. J Christy.

    Also, you should probably actually read his report before you jump to false and presumptuous conclusions.

    I also notice you have made no effort to show the weakness in Linzden’s findings, nor attempted to challenge his theoretical basis. I notice that people who have previously decided their position tend to be defensive like this, rather than providing real evidence.

    Well I only just came upon the ‘hot spot’ as you alerted me to the 9th chapter of the IPCC report as I had foolishly downloaded the synthesis report instead. Damn. Firstly, i’m not entirely sure that the article you have shown me entirely supports the cliam that the IPCC has credibly modelled the climate forcings.

    It is obvious, that you have not addressed the most crucial aspect of my post, which was the lack of scope of the climate forcings. With an absence in real accuracy, any calculations of climate sensitivity on the basis of these are spurious.

    My claims are entirely consistent with the articles thankyou.

  47. Marco Says:

    @David:
    Roy Spencer has come with the hypothesis that changes in clouds are changing the climate, rather than cloud behavior changing due to climate change. Both Spencer and Christy are in strong contradiction to the bulk of studies on clouds and their effect on climate change.
    And I read his report. I read Lubos Motl’s report (and I also note Lubos isn’t a climate scientist). They are both quite clear on Lindzen’s article: it has some very troubling choices, and its results do not fit with those of others, including that of Spencer himself. As long as Lindzen cannot explain his choices and why his results are so much different from those of several others, Lindzen’s article will go on the large trashheap of scientific articles that are disregarded because they are very likely wrong. There’s no need for me to repeat Spencer’s work or that of others to show Lindzen is wrong.

    Moreover, you repeat your faulty claim that the IPCC has “modelled the climate forcings”. The IPCC does not model anything, it is a review of the literature. Your claim that there is lack of scope of the climate forcings indicates you simply have no knowledge of what climate modeling is all about. I strongly suggest you read the articles that are referred to in chapter 9 to understand how they calculate climate sensitivity and the uncertainty ranges therein. Yes, there is a rather large uncertainty, but even 1.5 degrees (Celsius) increase in global temperature, the lowest credible estimate, is HUGE in terms of impacts. And it could just as well be a 5 degrees increase. If you want to wait until we have narrowed the uncertainty ranges, we’ve wasted a lot of time. If there is a 1-10% chance a bridge will collapse, you’re not going to wait with repairing the bridge until you’re more certain whether it is closer to 1% or 10%. Both are unacceptably high.

  48. Bart Says:

    David,

    You claim that the IPCC not including cloud feedbacks in their list of climate forcings is
    “the most crucial aspect of my post, which was the lack of scope of the climate forcings.”

    You give the answer yourself: Cloud feedback is a feedback, not a forcing.

    Perhaps you could address what I consider to be most crucually wrong with your claims:
    - Such a low sensitivity (0.5 deg) is incompatible with measurements
    - With such a low sensitivity you cannot explain the large climate changes that have occurred in Earth’ history, e.g. the ice ages.

  49. General AGW discussion thread - Page 95 - Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum Says:

    [...] and SEPP is very much a political, not a scientific, organization. On the other hand, Nereid, as flawed as it is, it's probably as close as you'll get to a summary of the "skeptic" position. [...]

  50. MJM Says:

    In law an accused man is innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof rests entirely on the shoulders of the prosecution. Innocence need not be proved (in most cultures).

    It appears to me that the promoters of man-made climate change have not proved their theory adequately. This is clearly evidenced by the significant number of sceptics – both scientists and non-scientists. I am a physicist with a bit of astronomy thrown in. I am also a modeller, albeit with biological tissues and laser energy, so I have an understanding of the limits of such tasks (especially non-linear situations).

    I am convinced that there is climate change – the anecdotal evidence is clear for all to see. However, I am not yet convinced that there is sufficient evidence for man-made climate change. The reason for this is quite simple. No-one has yet proved to me, beyond reasonable doubt, that CO2 is the major driver of the change in atmospheric temperatures, and, I can’t find any reliable information which shows the proportion of natural annual CO2 emissions compared with man-made emissions.

    The burden of proof lies with the proposers of this theory. At the moment I can only still regard it as a theory.

  51. Bart Says:

    MJM,

    Science doesn’t deliver absolute proof; it provides the most likely explanation. In that way it is more analogous to how medical professionals diagnose your health than to a court of law.

    Global warming is a prediction come true: it was predicted well over 100 years ago that increasing the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would raise the Earth’s temperature. See e.g. http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm
    When you look at the history of climate science, the null hypothesis actually was that whatever humankind would dump in the atmosphere couldn’t possibly change the climate (or affect our health). With more evidence coming in, this null hypothesis was rejected in favor of the hypothesis that “yes, we can”. And it only got more strongly backed up by evidence as time went by. If you can refute or falsify that AGW is a reality, be my guest. You’ll be instantly famous. The NIPCC report doesn’t come even close.

    The continuously increasing body of evidence that points to human induced warming has convinced the vast majority of scientists. The burden of proof has therefore shifted. If you want to argue that smoking isn’t bad for your health, the burden of prood is on you, since the vast majority of professionals have concluded otherwise.

    See here for natural and anthropogenic fluxes of carbon. Note that even though the former is larger than the latter, the human fluxes are responsible for the increase in atmospheric (and oceanic) CO2. The IPCC reports are a good start as well of course.

  52. Prof.Dr. Mohamed Mahmoud Eissa Says:

    New Scenario for regular variation of
    Global temperature ( The figures not veiw in this web)

    Mohamed Mahmoud Eissa Ahmed

    • Egyptian Meteorological Authority , , P.O 11784 Cairo
    mheissa@hotmail.com

    Abstract
    A linear filter model is applied to one hudred therty four years ( 1871-2004) for the Global temperature (GT). The research studies two methods of statistical aproach.The results show that there exist two scenarios for GT trend, the first represented by nonlinear trend WT (regular variation of GT ) and the second is the famous linear trend LT

    [Edit. Please provide a link instead of pasting an article here.]

  53. HK Says:

    After going through what is written above, I conclude that in my opinion the sceptics have won the debate so far. They argue better without bullshitting their oponents. They ask question more than arguing a preconceived opinion. In MJM’s terminology: The jury is still out on the question on AGW, which even the IPCC agrees on, and the latest events have certainly not weakened the sceptics.

  54. Wayne Thomas Says:

    We didn’t send men to the moon based on consensus science, nor do we build aircraft or buildings based on a consensus view. We do these things based on real facts and figures, and independently repeatable results. So my question is why are we so ready to spend trillions of dollars just because there is a consensus view that humans are driving temperature increases? Where are the hard facts or the direct evidence that we humans are at fault especially when natural carbon dioxide only makes up 0.0387% of all trace gases. And of that figure, human produced CO2 makes up only about 0.0012%. Not long ago it was the consensus view that the Earth was the centre of the Universe and that the world was flat. And if you disagreed you were tortured to death, not just ridiculed on a website forum. I’m just a lay person here along with so many millions of others who can’t understand how we went from AGW to CC, and watched carbon classified as a pollutant, a pollutant that almost all life on earth couldn’t exist without. If the science is settled it should be easy to end the argument by having an open debate on the subject and putting all the sceptics in their place. Is it because there is no conclusive proof, no smoking gun, just a lot of supposedly solid evidence from the IPCC. A UN panel who’s conclusions our politicians hold up as scientific fact, and on which they should base their policy making. Out of curiosity I recently checked out the IPCC website and was shocked to find how their peer review process works (or doesn’t), whereby IPCC members choose like minded scientist & non scientists to review the documentation. Or how their charter (role) showed that they are not an independent UN body after all. It reads – ‘The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation’. The term Human Induced Climate Change is the real kicker for me. This hardly represents an organisation that is looking into all possible causes. If it were found that humans are in fact not causing or contributing to Global Warming then this panel would no longer have a reason or a case for existence. Under their Procedures section it reads – ‘In taking decisions, and approving, adopting and accepting reports, the Panel, its Working Groups and any Task Forces shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus’. Here now we come full circle. Since when is consensus scientific fact. Is it when you don’t have actual facts? So I have to ask myself, if I have a group whose role it is to look at how Humans are affecting climate changes, and they only have to come to a consensus view. How reliable are their conclusions and should I be spending trillions of dollars combating something that I may well have little or no affect upon?

  55. Marco Says:

    @HK: in the eye of the ‘skeptic’, nothing weakens the skeptics. When Lindzen&Choi is proven wrong, and a likely case of cherry picking (I’m even getting close to calling it fraud), the ‘skeptics’ will still refer to this study as evidence climate sensitivity is low. When Watts’ surfacestation project shows that the ‘poor’ stations actually have a *cool* bias, ‘skeptics’ will still use Watts’ claims that the pictures show a *warm* bias. When Klotzbach et al (Pielke Sr) directly contradicts a previous paper by Pielke Sr (Lin et al), which was previously touted as evidence for yet another Pielke Sr paper, the ‘skeptic’ camp does not care. Pielke Sr’s work is still touted as evidence there is no CO2 induced warming (Pielke’s work actually still ascribes much of the warming to human influences, so that part is mostly ignored). When Gerlich&Tscheuschner write an error-ridden piece about the greenhouse effect, including a strawman attack of many pages, the ‘skeptic’ camp does not care much either. Gerlich&Tscheuschner are still happily used by many. When Ernst-Georg Bech comes with a load of crap about historical CO2 records, skepticism is abandoned by the ‘skeptics’. After all, his (flawed and already discredited before he was in high school) analysis can be used to claim “uncertainty”.

    The ‘skeptics’ ask questions from a preconceived opinion. They reiterate long discredited positions, inflate uncertainty (but always to the high side, somehow the uncertainty for low climate sensitivity is, contrary to all evidence, low), and try to cast doubt on anything and everything that even remotely indicates something should be done.

    Of course the latest events have not weakened the ‘skeptics’. Anything and everything that can be used and abused to cast doubt *is* used, even if it contradicts other claims. After all, it is not about having a coherent counter-argument, it is all about creating confusion amongst laymen.

  56. Bart Says:

    Wayne Thomas,

    Scientists generally converge to a consensus view based on an increasing body of facts and understanding. That is the case with e.g. (space-) flight, gravity, and also with our knowledge of climate change. There is nothing strange or wrong about scientists reaching a consensus about a scientific topic; it is very much part of the scientific process. See this excellent presentation that explains why the current consensus is relevant and very likely correct.

    The percentage of CO2 in the air by itself doesn’t say anything about its effects. Without any CO2 in the air the earth would be too cold to sustain life as we know it. Its radiative effects are basic physics, known for over a century. Many of the basic things are well known, many details are uncertain (but they typically don’t impact very much on the big picture conclusions that indeed human emissions are changing the climate). Scientific discussions take place all the time (but about different things than the popular debate in the media).

    See also my older post on the relevance of a scientific consensus (second part). Compare it to a diagnosis from a physician; if a second opinion, (and third, fourth, …) all agree on the broad lines of the diagnosis, would you ignore it as meaningless? I don’t think so…

    HK,

    How would you apply these sorts of hints to judge who is right about climate change?

  57. Openness and transparency not needed for deniers » Mind of Dan Says:

    [...] Singer and a few other deniers fails in regards to basic openness and transparency (to say nothing of the ‘science’). This is especially true when compared with IPCC and other scientific [...]

  58. NIPCC discussion thread | Climate Etc. Says:

    [...] Bart Verheggen is first off the block with a critique of the NIPCC Interim Report. [...]

  59. Daniel Chavez Moran Says:

    Hi all, here every one is sharing these kinds of know-how, thus it’s nice to read this weblog, and I used to go to see this website every day.

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