IPCC reveals AR5E

Posted: October 18, 2010 by tallbloke in climate

Well, ok, it’s AR5 not AR5E, but I couldn’t resist. 🙂

The BBC has an article by Richard Black worth deconstructing carefully.


procedures used in compiling AR5 will reflect some criticisms made in the wake of errors uncovered in its previous assessment, in 2007.The recent review of the IPCC’s procedures, conducted by the InterAcademy Council (IAC), an umbrella body for the world’s science academies, said that some assertions about the likelihood of severe impacts were based on little research.

“Authors reported high confidence in statements for which there is little evidence, such as the widely-quoted statement that agricultural yields in Africa might decline by up to 50 percent by 2020,” it noted.

The IAC recommended that the next assessment must deal much more carefully and consistently with uncertainties – and Chris Field, co-chair of the IPCC working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, indicated the message had been taken on board.

“The fact of the matter is that climate change impacts are very poorly known,” he told BBC News.

Well blow me down with a climate disruptive typhoon, the IPCC paying lip service to uncertanty in climate science. 🙂

Chris Field is a biologist, a long time colleague of recently deceased IPCC lead author Stephen H Schneider, who famously said:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

So, is this the beginning of a new era of frankness regarding uncertainty? Or is this the carefully crafted preamble to business as usual? Will Pachauri continue to preside, or can we expect the all new IPCC to be “under new management” in the near future?

Time will tell.

  1. P.G. Sharrow says:

    If you are a scientist or engineer you have to tell the WHOLE truth, there is no other way!
    If you need to shade the facts to forward an agenda you are a lawyer or politician. Make up your mind which career that you wish to follow.

    You can’t fool with reality, people will die. Wishful thinking will not solve problems in dealing with facts or problems in the natural world. pg

  2. tallbloke says:

    Well said P.G.
    Speaking as a qualified engineer and graduate of the study of the history and philosophy of science I’m apalled at the cavalier way the scientific method has been subverted and prostituted in the service of the political agenda by the young discipline of climatology.

    We need to watch Chris Field closely, he is the main main now Stephen Schneider has passed away. Stanford university is U.S. global warming HQ, and we can assume it will take a leading role since the discrediting of the UEA Climate Research Unit in the climategate scandal. My guess is UEA will be getting a lot less funding from the U.S. environment authority (EPA) and energy department (DOE) now anyway.

    There is much else in this press release to consider and comment on in the coming days as we find time.

  3. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Yes, good catch on Chris Field!

    “The fact of the matter is that climate change impacts are very poorly known,” he told BBC News.

    Until other models (besides ghg/co2 forcings) of earth’s weather systems are widely investigated, these are just crocodile tears about past scientific transgressions.

  4. tallbloke says:

    “The fact of the matter is that climate change impacts are very poorly known,”

    And so we’ll be needing lots more of your tax dollars to investigate them…

  5. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Don’t you all think you are getting a little bit cynical.

    Here’s the new era of frankness regarding uncertainty right here. You just had to wait for it:

    “The findings prove robust despite the scientific uncertainties in understanding the earth’s climate system.”

  6. Tenuc says:

    Zeke the Sneak says:
    October 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm
    “The findings prove robust despite the scientific uncertainties in understanding the earth’s climate system.”


    Despite the heavy rain, we are certain the ground will stay dry!

  7. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Tenuc @7:09 Ha! 😀

    Let me see if I can get the hang of this.

    Despite the uncertainties, the findings based on little research and high confidence are robust though some impacts of the robust findings are poorly understood. Here’s your green job and wind power.

  8. Zeke the Sneak says:

    “So, is this the beginning of a new era of frankness regarding uncertainty?”

    Nobel Prize winner and lead climate assessment author Kevin Trenberth shares:

    “Spectrum: It seems to me the most damaging thing about the disclosed e-mails was not the issue of fraud or scientific misconduct but the perception of a bunker mentality among climate scientists. If they really know what they’re doing, why do they seem so defensive?

    Trenberth: What looks like defensiveness to the uninitiated can just be part of the normal process of doing science and scientific interaction. Scientists almost always have to massage their data, exercising judgment about what might be defective and best disregarded. When they talk about error bars, referring to uncertainty limits, it sounds to the general public like they’re just talking about errors.”

    The public can’t understand uncertainty and error bars in science. No regrets, though! It’s all good.