IPCC: The consensus cracks

Image courtesy of Benny Peiser, GWPF

Image courtesy of Benny Peiser, GWPF

Like a warming ice sheet, or a fracked rock, the so-called “consensus” on global warming is starting to crack.  The latest IPCC report is in many ways a remarkable document.

Many people will be astonished at the IPCC’s assertion that they are now more certain that climate change is man-made than they were when their last report was published six years ago.  95% certain now, as against 90% certain then.  And this despite the fact that there has been no increase in mean global temperatures in the meantime, and that the predictions of their computer climate models have quite simply failed.

It is perhaps not surprising that if you assemble 1000+ “scientists” and ask them to look for evidence of man-made global warming, they find some — or at least they report that they have found some.  (I put “scientists” in inverted commas, because on their previous report it was found that a significant proportion of the IPCC “experts” were not scientists at all, but green campaigners and eco-activists — and many of the “peer-reviewed papers” quoted by the IPCC turned out to be merely press releases and propaganda from green NGOs.  And of the genuine scientists on the panel, many were from unrelated disciplines, like the Chairman of the IPCC, Ravendra Pachauri, who is a railway engineer).

It is really rather worrying that they seem to have a curious approach to science.  The first thing that a scientist will do on examining a phenomenon is to make sure he has a phenomenon to examine.  Is anything abnormal happening to the Earth’s climate?  Anything that requires an explanation?  No, there is not.  The slight warming in the last 150 years is entirely consistent with the well-established, long-term natural climate cycles that gave us the Roman Optimum and the Mediæval Warm Period.  We are recovering from the Little Ice Age, and appear to be moving into a new, 21st Century Optimum.

This tends to validate the “null hypothesis”, that nothing unusual or unexpected is happening, and that therefore there is nothing for the IPCC to explain.  They say they are 95% confident that the warming since the mid-20th Century is man-made.  Would they like to tell us about the warming in the previous 100 years?  Why is warming after 1950 man-made, but not warming before 1950?

The use of computer models is not science.  It is little more than formalised guesswork.  You plug in your assumptions, turn the handle, and see what comes out.  Put the wrong assumptions in, and you’ll get false predictions coming out.

So the models are not scientific.  But we can apply the scientific method to the question of whether the models work.  Science works by establishing hypotheses and testing them.  Let me offer you the hypothesis that the IPCC’s models produce credible and valid predictions of future climate trends.  We can test this hypothesis.  The image above shows the IPCC’s various predictions of mean global temperatures.  The blue line shows the actual, measured temperature.  So the hypothesis is falsified.  It is just plain wrong.  The IPCC’s climate models cannot be trusted.  Yet we are investing hundreds of billions on green policies based on their predictions.

Another profoundly anti-science element of the IPCC report is their spurious pretension to precision, in claims of 90% and 95% certainty.  I have a maths degree from CambridgeUniversity, and a passing familiarity with the science of statistics.  The term “95% confidence level” has a clearly defined meaning in statistics.  It depends on looking at the distribution of a wide range of data points.  Here we have only one case in point.  In fact in a sense we have none, because we are seeking to predict the future, and we have no way of knowing if we are right, apart from waiting to see.  So the IPCC’s “95% certain” is no more than a bunch of guys sitting round a table and saying “What’s your guess?  How do you feel about it?  A bit more certain than last time (despite the lack of warming in between)?”  The answer is Yes, they do feel a bit more certain (or their political masters want it to appear so).  And they said 90% last time, so it’s 95% this time.  Will it be 97.5% in 2018?  This is an abuse of terminology, and I am surprised and disappointed that so-called scientists would engage in it.

A question at the heart of the climate debate is the sensitivity of the climate to atmospheric CO2.  The IPCC is obliged to assume very strong positive feed-back effects to get to its high sensitivity and alarmist predictions, though it cannot demonstrate those feed-back effects, and many scientists point to potential negative feed-backs.  Interestingly, this IPCC report seems unable to give a best estimate of climate sensitivity.  But the flat global temperatures over the last sixteen years strongly suggest that climate sensitivity to atmospheric CO2 is much lower than the figures the IPCC likes to use.

The IPCC has failed to explain the long pause in global warming.  It has failed to explain the clear failure of its climate models.  But it asks us to keep the faith in defiance of the evidence.  Fewer and fewer of us will be prepared to do so.  We have looked at the Emperor, and we have seen that he has no clothes.

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21 Responses to IPCC: The consensus cracks

  1. Anne says:

    Carbon Footprints. 5.4.2007.

    If you worry about the environment
    Look up at the sun in the sky,
    Politicians would have you think of CO2’s
    Environmentally, I don’t know why.
    Perhaps we take for granted
    The sun that shines each day,
    Even though at times it hides
    Behind those clouds of grey.

    But what if the sun burnt itself out?
    What would warm us up then?
    What if it exploded? Blew itself up?
    Turned the day into night again?
    Just suppose it fell right down
    Out of sight of our earth one day?
    To warm up another planet
    What would politicians then say?

    As the earth started to freeze right over,
    In a permanent kind of way,
    No more ‘hundred year’ cycles
    We knew of, in ‘global warming’ days.
    What happened to environmental tax
    We paid to save our world?
    Where is the “global warming” now?
    As my story starts to unfold?

    There is no doubt we need to recycle
    In this easy come and go world we live,
    We take resources out of the ground
    But nothing in its place we give.
    But to be spied upon, bugs in bins?
    Be watched and tagged is no fun,
    Make a mistake, an on the spot fine?
    Its what a dictator would have done?

    I have read the CO2 calculator,
    Worked out what is expected of us,
    The importance of greenhouse gases
    Of dry-ice, and the need to fuss.
    But without our sun, moon and stars
    The earth will surely die,
    These tales of carbon emissions
    Surely it wasn’t all a lie?

  2. Brian H says:

    Roger, some time ago SA published a hit piece on Judith Curry. In the comments, ‘iconoclast’ wrote the following (slightly edited for spelling and grammar):

    Iconoclast 05:06 PM 10/23/10

    The proposition that the average temperature of the earth’s surface is warming because of increased emissions of human-produced greenhouse gases cannot be tested by any known scientific procedure.

    It is impossible to position temperature sensors randomly over the earth’s surface (including the 71% of ocean, and all the deserts, forests, and icecaps) and maintain it in constant condition long enough to tell if any average is increasing. Even if this were done the difference between the temperature during day and night is so great that no rational average can be derived.

    Measurements at weather stations are quite unsuitable since they are not positioned representatively and they only measure maximum and minimum once a day, from which no average can be derived. They also constantly change in number, location and surroundings. Recent studies show that most of the current stations are unable to measure temperature to better than a degree or two.

    The assumptions of climate models are absurd. They assume the earth is flat, that the sun shines with equal intensity day and night, and the earth is in equilibrium, with the energy received equal to that emitted.

    Half of the time there is no sun, where the temperature regime is quite different from the day.

    No part of the earth ever is in energy equilibrium, neither is there any evidence of an overall “balance”.

    It is unsurprising that such models are incapable of predicting sny future climate behaviour, even if this could be measured satisfactorily.

    There are no representative measurements of the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over any land surface, where “greenhouse warming” is supposed to happen.

    After twenty years of study, and as expert reviewer to the IPCC from the very beginning , I can only conclude that the whole affair is a gigantic fraud.

  3. edmh says:

    This says it all. The powers that be do not want to hear GOOD NEWS that:
    • all concern over CO2 as a man-made pollutant can be entirely discounted.
    • it is not essential to disrupt the Western world’s economy to no purpose.
    • if warming were happening it would lead to a more benign and healthy climate for mankind.
    • any extra CO2 has already increased the fertility of all plant life on the planet and will continue to do so.
    • if warming is occurring at all, a warmer climate within natural variation would provide a future of greater opportunity and prosperity for human development, especially so for the third world.

    see Hansard 13/9/2013

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130910/halltext/130910h0001.htm#13091045000001

    3.50 pm
    The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Gregory Barker): I am glad to be able to respond to the debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (David T. C. Davies) has performed a useful parliamentary service in allowing the issue to be aired. Although profound climate scepticism may be only a minority interest, such sceptics voice a view shared by a number of my constituents and people in the newspapers. It is a view heard on the Clapham omnibus and it is right that we hear such views and debate them in the open. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Mr Lilley) that a cloying consensus in Parliament does no service to legislation or national debate. However much I profoundly disagree with some of the arguments, it is right that we have the chance to air them in Parliament.

    Steve Baker: We have agreed here that science proceeds by conjecture and refutation, so in an attempt not to have a cloying consensus, will the Minister fund some climate scientists who wish to refute the current thesis?

    Gregory Barker: I am afraid that I do not have a budget for that sort of research.
    In spite of the enormous costs and appalling waste it is clear that the powers that be do not want to hear the good news.

    It is now estimated that Climate Change policies in Europe alone will cost ~ £174,000,000,000 annually by 2020 or about 1.5% of European GDP.

    But this figure does not include the attendant losses to Europe of industries already leaving the EU for regions with more rational energy policies.

  4. Me_Again says:

    Nice to learn of your maths degree Roger. Perhaps you can help with something else related to this. The stated 0.8c rise in global temp over the last 150 years or so is claimed as statistically relevant.
    But the method the met office used to assess this relevance was apparently statistically flawed. Something to do with not using data from the preceding years to help assess the data set in question. I am not a statistician but do understand there differing analytical methods available.
    Anyway somewhere on the met office website there is an acceptance that their method was not as good as some other method. The ‘other’ method suggested that the 0.8 rise was not actually relevant at all.

  5. Richard111 says:

    It can be a problem talking to people about global warming and ‘backradiation’ and such when they haven’t done much science. One has to resort to ‘tricks’, rather like the IPCC reports I suppose.
    Suggest the sun is only radiating in the 15 micron band, the band that is supposed to give us all that ‘backradiation’ from CO2 in the atmosphere. Offer to go for a walk on the sun. “No ways!” is the response. Tell them you will ensure they will be wrapped up warm. “Wadya mean warm!?”. Well, the temperature will be almost -80C. Quite a bit colder than the South Pole in midwinter. 15 micron radiation from any source is not going to warm you up. Better make sure you got an alternate heat source. Generally end up being called a nutter. Ah, well.🙂

  6. christensen411 says:

    Nice piece!
    Genuine science is definitely under assault.

    “Science Under Assault”
    http://www.slideshare.net/JohnDroz/lockewindpresentation

  7. christensen411 says:

    “For example, the man in charge of the UN IPCC’s ‘renewable energy’ and ‘green jobs’ effort, Germany’s Ottmar Edenhofer, openly admitted ‘One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy’; climate change policy is instead about how ‘we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth….'[4]”

    “This was no slip of the tongue, for those who might wonder, as he further affirmed this admission in the same interview with Neue Zurcher Zeitung, ‘The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month [December, 2010] is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.'[5]”

    http://www.globalwarming.org/2011/12/15/cei%E2%80%99s-chris-horner-testifies-before-ohio-house-on-folly-of-green-energy-policy/

  8. Me_Again says:

    Probably makes me odd but anyway. It was never about the money for me, it was always about the lie/ the fudge/ the disingenuous approach/assumption that no one else can think.

    The economic arguments are to me quite secondary when compared to the viability of life on earth. So it always makes me laugh when I am accused of being in the pocket of the oil barons etc.

    Money is worthless grubby stuff -even more so since quantitive easing- I resent having to have to use it to live in this modern world so shove the economic arguments, let’s stick to reality.

  9. Once we have a spacegoing civilisation putting up square miles of tinfoil, to act as either mirror or parasol as required, will be easy.

    We can also, right now, put sulphur crystals on the stratosphere for £10s of millions not £100s of billions – this produced cooling after Krakatoa so we know it works. Though it should not be tried till we know warming to be both real and harmful.

    • I am deeply sceptical of these “solutions”, (A) because we don’t need them; and (B) schemes of this kind are fraught with unintended consequences. We’ve only got one world — let’s be very cautious about geo-engineering.

      • I agree with A, indeed I said so. Overdoing the amount of sulphur crystals could theoretically trigger a new ice age so we should indeed be careful – but then merely because we know the warmist’s plans are immensely costly in conventional terms doesn’t mean they can’t equally well have unintended costs too.

        When we have that spacegoing civilisation we will be able to not only put up either mirrors or parasols fairly cheaply or replace them if needed. That will require new legal structures – more and more we are finding that humanity and the rules we make are more expensive to deal with than nature.

  10. 1957chev says:

    Reblogged this on Mothers Against Wind Turbines and commented:
    We always knew it was about the money….

  11. Joseph Croft says:

    Seems to me that they are looking for a way to keep this sham going , its probaly been a good earner so far , and they dont want it to end ,

  12. The graph’s as bad as anything produced by IPCC, e.g. the 2007 prediction starts in 2001, not helpful to the debate.

  13. Deb-on-air says:

    Hi, just to say that there was a report on the BBC World at One which included an interview with a frustrated-sounding (and quite rightly) scientist form OZ who pointed out the gross statistical error about confidence intervals that Roger alluded to. Hey Roger, I’m so glad you joined UKIP!!

  14. ex - Expat Colin says:

    GWPF…..Nigel Lawson has it, so who can we trust with science now

    http://www.thegwpf.org/

    Bishop Hill has something on Cameron that does not sound good. So you get the mandate and play badly!

  15. cosmic says:

    “The use of computer models is not science. It is little more than formalised guesswork.”

    Maybe not science, but technology. They’re useful if you understand the elements of the system you are modelling and can validate them. Now if you are talking about a model predicting things decades ahead, you are going to have difficulty validating it, which may not be a disadvantage, depending on your point of view.

    In this case, it’s by no means clear the elements of the system are understood, clouds, ocean oscillations. I wonder about the cumulative arithmetic errors.

    Computer models of climate have been shown to have no predictive ability, note the way they failed to predict the last 15 years of stasis. However, we are looking a moving target. “The relatively crude models we had 15 years ago did have shortcomings, but the new ones are much better”.

    However, I feel this is missing the point and the actual purpose of these models. They sound impressive to people who know nothing about software, (run on super computers and all that).

    The purpose is to have something which seems authoritative and objective and which can be tweaked to produce any desired result. In other words, they are a propaganda tool and they’ve been quite successful in that. I suggest that calling them ‘formalised guesswork” is too charitable.

  16. Jane Vigurs says:

    Isn’t the biggest pointer to global warming the melting of the polar ice caps? Is that also part of a natural cycle? I have no axe to grind here – I’m a very much a non- scientist, I just don’t know which way to think! I would like to hear what those who don’t agree that we have a manmade problem here have to say specifically about this aspect…

    • It would be if the BBC and other propagandists were in any way honest and the melting they report were actually happening.

      Antarctic ice has been increasing throughout this scare. Arctic ice is more variable but is currently at a 35 year high.

      Incidentally increases in floating ice strongly argue against claims of increasing sea temperature for which there is no serious evidence anyway.

  17. Thanks for this. As a result I have updated my table “sceptic vs. academic” which I feel captures most of the differences between the two “sides”.

    I would welcome any comments. Article:
    http://scottishsceptic.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/sceptics-vs-academics/

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