UK Govt invites responses to searching questions about IPCC AR5 report

Posted: November 2, 2013 by tallbloke in Accountability, climate, government, People power

The UK Parliament has convened a committee to assess the IPCC’s AR5  Working group 1 report on the scientific basis for it’s climate change theory. They have invited up to 3000 word submissions on a range of searching questions. Let’s crowd source a response and make a submission.

The IPCC has been influential in providing the justification for national and international action to prevent dangerous climate change. It has however, come under criticism that it is overly influenced by national political agendas and that it has not satisfactorily addressed the recent pause in global warming nor the InterAcademy criticisms of AR4 and other issues. This inquiry will explore the latest conclusions of the IPCC, the extent to which the conclusions are robust, and their impact on national and international policy making.

22 October 2013

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.

IPCC 5th Assessment Review inquiry page
Energy and Climate Change Committee

Its aim is to provide the world with a scientific view on the current state of climate change knowledge and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. It does not conduct any research or monitor climate related data or parameters. Instead in invites thousands of scientists from around the world to review and assess the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It issues its findings in Assessment Reports published every five years.

The most recent – the fifth assessment report (AR5) – has begun to be published. The first instalment of the report, Climate change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, was published on Friday 27 September. A total of 209 Lead Authors and 50 Review Editors from 39 countries and more than 600 Contributing Authors from 32 countries contributed to the preparation of Working Group I AR5. The report concluded that, ‘it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.’ But it reduced the lower bound for likely climate sensitivity and for the first time did not publish a best estimate of it because of lack of agreement The IPCC has been influential in providing the justification for national and international action to prevent dangerous climate change. It has however, come under criticism that it is overly influenced by national political agendas and that it has not satisfactorily addressed the recent pause in global warming nor the InterAcademy criticisms of AR4 and other issues. This inquiry will explore the latest conclusions of the IPCC, the extent to which the conclusions are robust, and their impact on national and international policy making.

Terms of Reference:
The Committee invites responses, by 10 December 2013, addressing some or all of the following questions:

How robust are the conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report?
Have the IPCC adequately addresses criticisms of previous reports?
How much scope is there to question of the report’s conclusions?
To what extent does AR5 reflect the range of views among climate scientists?
Can any of the areas of the science now be considered settled as a result of AR5’s publication, if so which?
What areas need further effort to reduce the levels of uncertainty?
How effective is AR5 and the summary for policymakers in conveying what is meant by uncertainty in scientific terms ?
Would a focus on risk rather than uncertainty be useful?
Does the AR5 address the reliability of climate models?
Has AR5 sufficiently explained the reasons behind the widely reported hiatus in the global surface temperature record?
Do the AR5 Physical Science Basis report’s conclusions strengthen or weaken the economic case for action to prevent dangerous climate change?
What implications do the IPCC’s conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report have for policy making both nationally and internationally?
Is the IPCC process an effective mechanism for assessing scientific knowledge?
Or has it focussed on providing a justification for political commitment?
To what extent did political intervention influence the final conclusions of the AR5 Physical Science Basis summary?
Is the rate at which the UK Government intends to cut CO2 emissions appropriate in light of the findings of the IPCC AR5 Physical Science Basis report?
What relevance do the IPCC’s conclusions have in respect of the review of the fourth Carbon Budget?

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Tuesday 10 December 2013

Notes on written submissions

Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted via the inquiry page – link at the top of this page The deadline is Tuesday 10 December 2013 As a guideline submissions should state clearly who the submission is from e.g. ‘Written evidence submitted by xxxx’ and be no longer than 3000 words, please contact the Committee staff if you wish to discuss this. If you need to send hard copy please send it to: The Clerk, Energy and Climate Change Committee, 14 Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9NB. Submissions must be a self-contained memorandum in Word or Rich Text Format (not PDFs). Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference and the document should, if possible, include an executive summary. Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written submissions it receives, either by publishing it on the internet or by making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing. The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act.

Comments
  1. tallbloke says:

    I’m out on the campaign trail today. Please have at it and decide which questions we should answer bearing in mind we only have 3000 words to play with.

  2. akhi6587 says:

    Frenchytv FrenchTV la Tv francaise sans frontière, toute la TNT enfin disponible a votre fuseaux horaire.
    the Earth’s climate has warmed over the last century and man-made greenhouse gases have caused much of that global warming. The gases emitted now are accumulating in the atmosphere and so the solutions must be set in motion today. The risks and costs of doing nothing today are so great, only a deeply irresponsible government would be so negligent.

  3. Konrad says:

    Important question. Are only UK citizens able to submit? I do so enjoy these opertunities when governments pretend to be open and “listening”. A submission will not change their tiny minds, but in being ignored, it creates a permanent record of the sinveling stupidity of those on the receiving end.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Let’s not be too cynical. One of the 11 committee members is Peter Lilley who is openly critical of the IPCC and its reports. OK, now let’s be cynical again…

    Update: the chairman of the committee is Tim ‘Windmills’ Yeo who is currently suspended due to allegations of using his position for ‘private influence’ blah blah.

    The acting chairman is Sir Robert Smith (Lib Dem). According to this he attended the Olympics at the expense of BP.
    http://www.libdemvoice.org/robert-smith-tim-yeo-energy-and-climate-change-select-committee-chair-34877.html

  5. Chaeremon says:

    The fundamental issue is the real life threatening “predictions” of downright hypothetical, kept unfalsifiable “models”. Proper consideration of this factor demonstrates that the alleged “as catastrophic as possible”, and at the very same time alleged “as imprecise as necessary”, hypothesized predictions, the playfield of undisciplined (a.k.a. critic disdaining) academics, have absolutely no correlation with reality experience and are therefore without any scientific merit.

    By the same propaganda of predictive unfalsifiable “models”, Alan Greenspan’s Fed and his 280 PhD-equipped economists, plus JPMorgan, plus IMF, plus Goldman, etc (h/t Scute) were shockingly unable to forecast or control the recent global and devastating, in the larger parts still irrecoverable financial meltdown.

    109 words, with the invaluable help of so many upright people (some received no mention in the above), thank you so much 😎

  6. A C Osborn says:

    Would the GWPF NIPCC report be a good place to start a summary.
    Also a list of the latest Peer Reviewed Papers questioning CAGW.

    Is this the Government’s opportunity to reject the IPCC Report to save face and really back off the energy disaster that they are creating?
    ie “It is all the fault of those incompetent Scientists”

  7. catweazle666 says:

    Given that without any evidence of water vapour feedback the whole AGW hypothesis is dead in the water, as not even the most rabid Warmist pretends that the CO2 is capable of having any catastrophic effect on its own, the evidence that according to Tom Vonder Haar there has been no identifiable trend in atmospheric water vapour since 1988 should indicate that the hypothesis has been thoroughly falsified. Plus, Solomon et al found a 10% reduction in stratospheric water vapour in the decade following 2000.

    Herewith Vonder Haar:

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/new-paper-weather-and-climate-analyses-using-improved-global-water-vapor-observations-by-vonder-haar-et-al-2012/

    Herewith CO2:

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/from:1988/plot/esrl-co2/from:1988/trend

    That alone should be enough to sink the whole putrid pile of old donkey droppings thing without trace.

  8. Doug Proctor says:

    An interesting situation: with an honest appraisal, an opportunity to point out the legitimate questions regarding certainty of knowledge and the correlation of observations with predictions. With a hidden agenda of supporting the status quo of government position, an opportunity for the governors to say they have listened to the naysayers and found their oppositions flawed, incomplete and irrelevant.

    If the GWPF, The Lord and those like yourselves don’t get more than the perceived ad hominems and conspiratorial aspects discussed in the report on the respones to the Report, then we’ll know we’ve been gamed.

    The warmists will say that AR5 is not strong enough (as Suzuki, Tamino have already said): the crisis is potentially so bad that (the precautionary principle says) we must act now, and to the fullest extent.

    Except for those who have a lot of money, a desire for a large family, and a lifestyle that involves a lot of travel, consumption of industrial goods and maintenance of lavish quarters. Dramatic action by the Others, in other words.

  9. oldbrew says:

    The fact that most climate models have failed to even predict the present and recent past should be telling the committee something.

    Anthony Watts sums up the current situation here:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/01/a-sea-change-for-climate-science/

    He points out:
    ‘As shown in the figure above [graph – see link], a simple regression model of accumulated total solar insolation (CumTSI) with global temperature gives a higher correlation than greenhouse gas and total solar insolation.’

  10. Roger Andrews says:

    Motivated by Catweazle’s earlier comment on water vapor feedback I checked the AR5 to find what the IPCC had to say on the subject. The applicable section is 7.2.4.1, and the relevant paragraph in that section begins as follows:

    “Because global temperatures have been rising ….. WVMR (the saturated water vapor mixing ratio, similar to specific humidity) should be rising accordingly, and multiple observing systems indeed show this (Section 2.3.6.)”

    So I go to Section 2.3.6 and find that it doesn’t exist. Section 2.3.4 is as high as the IPCC goes.

    The IPCC continues “One exception is that meteorological station data suggest a plateauing of WVMR near the land surface over the last decade or so, but humidity at this level exerts little greenhouse effect (Soden and Held, 2006) and is governed by mechanisms different from those operating at upper levels (Joshi et al., 2008).” So I check Soden & Held and Joshi to see if they contain data from any of these “multiple observing systems” and they don’t. They’re both modeling studies.

    Next I read “A study challenging the water vapour increase (Paltridge et al., 2009) used an older reanalysis product” – nice of the IPCC to admit that someone disagrees with them – “whose trends are contradicted by newer ones (Dessler and Davis, 2010) …” So I check D&D and find that their evidence isn’t very convincing and what there is of it is based on reanalysis, not observations. So where are the observations? According to the IPCC they’re in Box 2.3:

    “…. and by direct global observations which are considered more reliable for trends (see Box 2.3).”

    So I go to box 2.3. and it does exist, but it doesn’t contain any direct global observations, just a list of reanalyses.

    That’s the sum total of the evidence. What does the IPCC conclude from it? “Thus reliable, large-scale, multi-decade trend data remain consistent with the expected global feedback.”

    And what’s my conclusion? That the positive water vapor feedback theory is supported by zero observational evidence and if pushed hard enough the IPCC will be forced to admit it.

  11. suricat says:

    Roger Andrews says: November 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    “And what’s my conclusion? That the positive water vapor feedback theory is supported by zero observational evidence and if pushed hard enough the IPCC will be forced to admit it.”

    The IPCC will be forced to admit nothing. That’s why the body only considers ‘water vapour’ (WV) ‘forcing’ and not the ‘forcing from the hydrological cycle’ as a systemic entity!

    They ‘imply’ land surface forcing, but WV is ‘atmospheric’! ‘Land surface forcing’ is mostly influenced by ‘water’, not ‘WV’! I’m sure you don’t want me to go through this process again.

    Best regards, Ray.

  12. suricat says:

    Roger Andrews says: November 2, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    “And what’s my conclusion? That the positive water vapor feedback theory is supported by zero observational evidence and if pushed hard enough the IPCC will be forced to admit it.”

    The IPCC will be forced to admit nothing. That’s why the body only considers ‘water vapour’ (WV) ‘forcing’ and not the ‘forcing from the hydrological cycle’ as a systemic entity!

    They ‘imply’ land surface forcing, but WV is ‘atmospheric’! ‘Land surface forcing’ is mostly influenced by ‘water’, not ‘WV’! I’m sure you would’t want me to go through this process again.

    Best regards, Ray.

  13. Roger Andrews says:

    Ray

    The issue is that the IPCC bases its conclusions on results obtained by “multiple observing systems” and “direct global observations” that according to the references it cites don’t exist. The “type” of WV forcing isn’t relevant.

  14. suricat says:

    Roger Andrews says: November 3, 2013 at 3:16 am

    I hear what you say, but this is a ‘double whammy’!

    Irrespective of the ‘observation/model’ tec, the redaction of ‘the model’ to the part of the hydrological cycle which may only impart ‘warming’ implies obfuscation.

    Best regards, Ray.

  15. suricat says:

    Roger Andrews says: November 3, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Just noticed.

    “The “type” of WV forcing isn’t relevant.”

    No, and I didn’t imply that it is. It’s the difference between ‘water’ and ‘WV’!!!

    Best regards, Ray.

  16. ren says:

    Tallbloke note the strong wind 4 and 5 November in the UK.

  17. Oh, my kingdom for a preview, WordPress … let me try that again:

    Roger, these questions are quite fascinating. More so in light of the “Do Not Cite, Quote or Distribute” on each page of both the draft of the “full” report, and of the SPM.

    How is one to answer a good number of these questions without citing or quoting from the text of these holy writs?!

    Is the committee inviting respondents to disobey the edicts of the IPCC?! Surely not!

    That being said, perhaps the “precautionary principle” should apply and the preferred submission would be to select one question: “Have the IPCC adequately addresses (sic) criticisms of previous reports?”

    The answer is clearly “No” … and refer the committee to (the eminently citable with no restrictions of which I am aware) works of Montford, Laframboise, McKitrick and Ridley – all of which are available via GWPF and/or Amazon!

    P.S. I’m only being partially sardonic in expressing these particular suggestions 😉

  18. ren says:

    Tallbloke can see the impact of solar activity on the stratosphere and jet streams. Just look at the current distribution of temperature in the stratosphere, as it is uneven.

  19. OldDuffer says:

    I will say this only once!

    This ‘convened committee’ is a hand waving distraction. Nearly everyone falls for it! Forget the science, thats the distraction. Waste all our efforts on the science when the fundamentals are political!.

    This is revealed in at least two places in the document raised calling for submissions.
    1) The call says:-

    “……The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988.

    IPCC 5th Assessment Review inquiry page
    Energy and Climate Change Committee

    Its aim is to provide the world with a scientific view on the current state of climate change knowledge and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts….”

    I cant square this with the published purpose of the IPCC in Agenda 21. All my links to the agenda now fail 404! but a posting by Willis covers it though the links in it also fail. try http://wattsupwiththat.com/?s=Agenda+21

    and

    2) Under Notes for Written Submissions I read:-

    “…..Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. ..”

    This again puts everyones effort into ‘original’ work. Very difficult as the science has been rebutted at length by many people so extensive time needed not to fall foul of this requirement.
    I even think that my point 1 above would be ignored under this as its not ‘original work’.

    Don’t waste time on this public puffery.
    Thanks for all posters and comments to enlighten the likes of this old duffer.

  20. hunter says:

    @catweazle666 says:
    November 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm
    Has this study held up to scrutiny? If it holds up to scrutiny, the whole Hansen-climate doom edifice comes across completely silly.

  21. mitigatedsceptic says:

    A Crib Sheet for Members of the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

    IPCC AR5 is unashamedly presented, not as the outcome of scientific observation, but as a compilation of the opinions of a close community of experts. This is made abundantly clear in Section A Introduction paragraph 3. As the unadulterated facts of the matter are not available, this invites, indeed demands, criticism ad hominem.

    Thus, it is legitimate, indeed essential, to examine the nature of the experience and learning of those purporting to be expert in this methodology and to expose them to criticism by examining the following issues:

    (a) This is a new discipline and few have been able to accumulate sufficient experience to qualify them as ‘experts’. What is an expert climatologist?

    (b) Climatologists form a closely-knit peer group that shares an interest in promoting public alarm and provoking continued research.

    (c) It may be that, centred on UEA, several climatologists may be political activists who share a belief in ‘post-normal science’ which sees ‘scientific research’ not as a search for ‘truth’, but as a vehicle for the achievement of personal and collective goals.

    (d) Climatology is in effect a subset of the ‘Futurology’ and cannot be subjected to the test of falsification until after the future has been experienced. Thus it is crucial to discover why so many of the IPCC models failed to anticipate the stability of the climate over the past 15 years. AR5 offers several hypotheses about variables that were not examined adequately in the models. No credence can be given to such excuses unless and until there is evidence to support them but asking for more evidence promotes the expenditure of more public money in pursuit of a research methodology so dependent on expertise as it may be fatally flawed.

    (e) Throughout the papers great emphasis has been placed on trends from the past to the present and the inference is that these will continue unabated indefinitely. But the future need not be like the past and in the instance of a highly complex and non-linear systems extrapolations from past trends are more likely as not to be misleading. A point to this effect as made in AR1.

    (f) The definition of ‘climate scientist’ as one who believes that there is AGW and who engages in research, not to seek the causal relations that give rise to the phenomenon but engages in research about its effect, rather than its causes precludes dissent about the founding hypothesis – that catastrophic global warming is taking place as a result of human activity. So ‘all true climate scientist agree’ and those who dissent are not climate scientists.

    (g) Despite previous assessments providing the opinion that ever increasing temperatures were on the way, AR5 reverts to a prognosis similar to that of the First Assessment. Surely this must mean that there is less cause for alarm.

  22. It is a little disturbing that a reasonably advanced country such as the UK should take any notice of the IPCC.

  23. oldbrew says:

    Every five years they say the world will get warmer due to a small rise in trace gases in the atmosphere. For the last fifteen years they have been proved seriously wrong, but they persist in saying the same thing.

    If now is not the time, the question must be: how wrong do they have to be, and for how much longer, before the verdict: enough is enough?

  24. Chaeremon says:

    @mitigatedsceptic, a minor suggestion perhaps:

    (g) Despite previous assessments providing the opinion
    (g) Despite previous pretexts providing the speculation

    Sorry, my bad if that’s not proper English; I do not associate assessment with the trait of not feeling accountable.

  25. mitigatedsceptic says:

    Thank you Chaeremon yes, I see your point – I think I’d better refer to Assessment Reviews.
    Opinion vs speculation? Yes, indeed, ‘expert opinion’ sounds much more certain than ‘speculation’. – I’ll buy that – thank you! So it should read – “Despite previous Assessment Reviews speculating that ever increasing temperatures were on the way, AR5 reverts to a prognosis …”

  26. Stephen Richards says:

    You should know by now that they do not want to answer any question; None at all. This is just a massive pretence at transparency and consulting the public. How many more times will DAVE et al do this before you realise that they are liars and cheats. Gummer, I know from personal experience, Yeo I know from experience. They are crooks but does DAVE actually do anything. NO, NO, NO. They could couldn’t give a monkey’s backside for your questions. They will go directly into the round file and you will get the greenpeace blurb that they always spout.

  27. Roger Andrews says:

    I don’t see much in the way of constructive suggestions appearing on this thread so let me try to make some:

    We are invited to respond to some or all of 17 questions using fewer than 3,000 words, or about five single-spaced pages. This limitation makes it impossible to answer more that a few of the 17 questions in sufficient detail to get our point across, and more than a few of the questions, such as “What implications do the IPCC’s conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report have for policy making both nationally and internationally?” are unanswerable short of a book-length response and maybe not even then. So I’ve whittled down the list to three technical questions plus the two UK-specific questions, the responses to which will follow from the responses to the technical questions.

    The technical questions are:

    * Does the AR5 address the reliability of climate models?

    * Has AR5 sufficiently explained the reasons behind the widely reported hiatus in the global surface temperature record?

    * How robust are the conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report?

    These three questions all effectively the same thing so we can address them jointly.

    The issue we should concentrate on is the post-1998 warming “hiatus”, first because it has the potential to falsify AGW and second because the IPCC is unable to “sufficiently explain” it. The IPCC discusses the hiatus in Box 9.2 of the AR5, which begins thus:

    “The observed global-mean surface temperature (GMST) has shown a much smaller increasing linear trend over the past 15 years than over the past 30 to 60 years ….. (raising) the two related questions of what has caused it and whether climate models are able to reproduce it.”

    As to whether climate models can reproduce it, the IPCC admits that they blow it big-time: “an analysis of the full suite of CMIP5 historical simulations … reveals that 111 out of 114 realisations show a GMST trend over 1998–2012 that is higher than the entire HadCRUT4 trend ensemble.”

    As to what caused the models to blow it, the IPCC considers three possibilities: “(a) internal climate variability, (b) missing or incorrect radiative forcing, and (c) model response error.” But what about the possibility that the models simply overestimate the warming impacts of CO2? It’s not even considered.

    A few pages later we get the IPCC’s conclusions: “the observed recent warming hiatus …. is attributable in roughly equal measure to a cooling contribution from internal variability and a reduced trend in external forcing (expert judgment, medium confidence)”. Leaving aside the question of whether any of the people involved in making this judgment qualify as experts, “medium confidence” means about a 50% chance of being right, which according to my understanding of statistics means that there’s about a 50% chance the IPCC is wrong.

    The next sentence reads: “However, there is low confidence in quantifying the role of forcing trend in causing the hiatus, because of uncertainty in the magnitude of the volcanic forcing trend and low confidence in the aerosol forcing trend.” So the IPCC attributes about half of the hiatus to a “reduced trend in external forcing” while at the same time admitting that it really has no idea what the external forcing was.

    In summary, the IPCC conspicuously fails to demonstrate that the warming hiatus was caused by external factors that offset the warming impacts of CO2. This of course doesn’t prove that the models overestimate CO2 warming, but it leaves the possibility wide open and at the very least introduces a considerable amount of uncertainty into the question of how much warming CO2 actually causes.

    Yet despite this the IPCC’s SPM conclusion is: “It is extremely (95%) likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

    We should be able to make some hay with that one.

    The case against CO2 could then be further fortified with some well-chosen examples, for example:

    How far the models have diverged from observations during the hiatus : (This is an IPCC figure that never found its way into the AR5, incidentally):

    How climate sensitivity estimates since the AR4 show lower numbers than those assumed by the IPCC (we could also add Otto et al 2013, 1.3 transient, 2.0 equilibrium; Spencer 2010, 1.7 and Björnbom 2013, 0.65)
    :

    And maybe Nir Shaviv’s dissection of the IPCC climate sensitivity estimates, which includes the “most boring graph ever plotted” and which drives a stake into the heart of the IPCC claim of “improved understanding”.

    http://www.sciencebits.com/AR5-FirstImpressions

    If something like this doesn’t hole the IPCC below the waterline then the IPCC ship of state really is unsinkable.

  28. oldbrew says:

    ‘questions, such as “What implications do the IPCC’s conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report have for policy making both nationally and internationally?” are unanswerable short of a book-length response and maybe not even then’

    Maybe I can help you out there RA. It’s a loaded question so the answer only needs to be brief.
    How about: ‘none because the conclusions are erroneous’.

  29. Chaeremon says:

    @Roger Andrews, I agree with your observations about space and format of a possible response. But please, consider that no scientist, even no climatologist, will ever address any technical matter brought to your govt from some bystanders. This would undermine jurisdiction of the panel, etc, etc, in public, which, according to conventions, is reserved for UN diplomatic resolutions, etc.

    I think that it’s just time and space for stepping on the (absence of) competence and the presence of conflict of interest and, in no uncertain terms, objection to scientific merit in the report(s) of the panel. If your govt really publish the responses, then time has come to nail the specific cause of misconduct in the panel’s work.

    I second the draft of mitigatedsceptic.

  30. manicbeancounter says:

    My own preference is to concentrate on the questions

    What areas need further effort to reduce the levels of uncertainty?

    and

    Would a focus on risk rather than uncertainty be useful?

    The perspective that a committee of non-scientists ought to be one of scepticism towards the scientific evidence. Given that climate science is relatively new, what are the novel short-run successful predictions that scientists have made using their models and/or special insights that could not have been made using back-of-the-envelope extrapolations or knowledgeable guess-work? Like weather forecasting, one should not expect 100% accuracy, but should be better than through using the non-scientific methods. Comparison with previous reports is important here. For instance, I compared the radiative components in AR5 with AR4, I came up with some substantial differences, yet the overall answer was very similar.

    Another way of assessing the science, is that over time, given the huge investment in data collection, that there should be less uncertainty. When I questioned why the radiative forcing components had changed with massively increased uncertainty bands at “the Conversation“, (under my real name – Kevin Marshall), the reply from Roger Jones of Victoria University was

    The total forcing this time around is higher and the range of uncertainty for total net forcing is slightly less. Confidence has increased despite the range of uncertainty for individual forcings having gone up in most cases.

    Given that uncertainty is a crucial element in the weighting the non-expert should give to expert evidence, should the committee not ask whether the treatment of uncertainty by climate scientists conforms to that of other disciplines such as economics and management science, or is it unique to the this one subject?

  31. mitigatedsceptic says:

    Please allow me to elucidate the point of my draft.

    1. The IPCC has framed all its opinions in probabilistic terms. Consequently whatever the outcome may be, IPCC will be able to claim it was correct.

    2. If, as I believe, IPCC is impregnable in respect of its supposed ‘science’, the Committee should deal with this on more familiar ground – i.e. as a political/legalistic/power issue.
    .
    3. IPCC has painted a fearsome picture of the future, but it has interpreted and manipulated data claiming that this is justified on the grounds that it has expert knowledge. Believing that knowledge is power, IPCC thinks that it occupies the high ground. But the real power is in the hands of the Committee that has the ability, if it will, of stopping the whole enterprise in its tracks.

    4. I suggest challenging the IPCC claims to be expert in a field which is so novel (i.e. searching for objective truth in subjectively primed models) that claims of expertise are ill-founded. All the Committee needs to know about the methodology is GIGO.

    5. Climatology does not claim to be empirical ‘science’ as we know it. It started life at the hands of Mrs Thatcher who announced it as a new kind of science. In the event, absent a firm empirical foundation and deriving its projections from not just from arcane models but from ‘expert’ interpretation, makes their opinions about the future no more plausible than necromancy.

    6. It would be most unwise to try to undermine the appearance of honest endeavour – that has been done already by the revelations of Climategate. The several inquiries into that debacle have no credibility as I am sure the Committee must recognise.

    I rest my case

  32. Roger Andrews says:

    OB: Nice try 🙂

    Chaeremon: I don’t think this will be a waste of time. The fact that the committee is asking pointed skeptic-type questions suggests that the review will be more than a “whitewash”, but even if it isn’t we still have nothing to lose by responding.

    manicbean: “What areas need further effort to reduce the levels of uncertainty?” Just about all of them, of course, which makes it difficult to deal with more than a few given the space limitations, so which would you choose? “Would a focus on risk rather than uncertainty be useful?” Hard to say because we won’t know what the IPCC’s risk assessment is until the WGII report comes out.

    mitigated: Which specific questions would you suggest we answer?

    TB: Where are you?

  33. ren says:

    It seems to me that the focus should be on natural cycles, for a discussion on the CO2 is lost in advance.

  34. mitigatedsceptic says:

    RA I would address only the very first – how robust are the conclusions?
    The conclusions are not robust because they are not empirical, they are purportedly ‘expert’ opinions, but in fact they are just personal opinions – no more and no less. I suggest a forensic examination of that expertise with a demand to authenticate claims to be able to see into the future so far ahead.

    The First AR admitted that climate is chaotic and non-linear – i.e. impossible to predict. One could add that drawing boundaries to the system is also futile because such is such is its exposure that almost anything can affect it. Finally, we cannot know whether or not climate change one way or the other will favour or disadvantage humanity. (Even the water level story about the future of the Maldives put about by Mrs Thatcher seems not to have carried any weight with investors – just look at the web site!)

    Going any further starts to discuss questions about uncertainty and that in turn invites the funding of further research and more of this nonsense. Criticism at any level, other than that of challenging expert opinion, prepares the ground for more waste of money on ‘research’ which can produce nothing but more fodder for opinion-making by ‘experts’.

    IMHO the most potent weapon against this myth is the public control of funding, especially when empirical science is being starved and the public is suffering so much directly as an outcome of CAGW – exponential increases in energy costs, potential for power cuts and energy rationing.
    If this committee really represents the people, it should get good and angry and go for the jugular.

    A successful attack on the credibility of the whole pack of witnesses would be far more effective than trying to demolish parts of the Report; the real risk for us all is that someone wants to go along with IPCC and spend even more money on elucidating the conclusions.

    By the way, think too of the poor researchers whose livelihood depends on fuelling this mythology. Where will they stand when the whole edifice collapses? The leaders of this failed enterprise may get away with a knighthood, a consoling pat on the back and appointment to head some QUANGO. But the reputation of those working below them will be sullied, perhaps irredeemably. Mind you – if some were to blow on their whistles, they might become heroes or martyrs!

    More than enough from me!

  35. Roger Andrews says:

    I think I might have caught the IPCC with its pants way down on the floor on this one, but someone needs to check me out.

    In the Executive Summary of Chapter 10, Attribution, the IPCC says:

    “Greenhouse gases contributed a global mean surface warming likely to be between 0.5°C and 1.3°C over the period 1951–2010, with the contributions from other anthropogenic forcings likely to be between –0.6°C and 0.1°C, from natural forcings likely to be between –0.1°C and 0.1°C, and from internal variability likely to be between –0.1°C and 0.1°C. Together these assessed contributions are consistent with the observed warming of approximately 0.6°C over this period. [10.31, Figure 10.5]”

    Here’s Figure 10.5. The green “GHG” bar shows the greenhouse gas contribution with the +/-0.4C error bars (“whiskers” in IPCC parlance) implied above. The yellow “OA” bar shows the “other anthropogenic” contribution (dominantly land use changes) with the +/-0.35C error bars implied above. But the orange “ANT” “combined anthropogenic forcings” bar, which is what the IPCC gets when it combines the GHG and OA contributions, shows errors of only +/- 0.1C.

    If we assume that GHG and OA are independent variables, which is reasonable given that the physical causes are quite different (GHG comes from people burning fossil fuels and OA from people chopping down trees), then the variance of the combined data sets is equal to the sum of the variances of the two data sets. Summing the data set variances gives 0.16 + 0.1225 = 0.2825, which converts into a standard deviation of 0.53C for the combined ANT data set, over five times what the IPCC shows in its error bars. Here’s what Figure 10.5 looks like with +/-0.53C error bars applied to ANT (I’ve deleted the bars that don’t apply for clarity):

    As noted on the plot, however, these are only one-sigma errors (“likely” according to the IPCC means better than a 66% probability). Here’s what we get when we use two-sigma errors, which match the “extremely likely” (better than 95% probability) that the IPCC applies to its conclusion that we humans caused the warming. The combined anthropogenic contribution is now 0.65 +/-1.06C. It’s impossible to draw any firm conclusions from that.

    Did the IPCC really fudge the error bars so that it could confidently declare that we humans caused the warming? Like I say, someone please check me out.

  36. Ruth Dixon says:

    Roger Andrews:

    Clive Best asked a similar question about that graph at Realclimate, and some discussion with Gavin and others ensued:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/10/the-ipcc-ar5-attribution-statement/comment-page-1/#comment-417186

    I think that Gavin argued that the temperature response to all forcings combined was determined independently and was better constrained than the response to individual components. That is, GHG could be very positive and aerosols (OA) strongly negative, or alternatively both GHG and OA could be less extreme, for the same overall response. (I’m not qualified either to defend or to argue against this point of view. There’s more discussion on the thread at Realclimate).

  37. Roger Andrews says:

    Ruth Dixon: Thanks for the heads-up.

    What Gavin Schmidt and the IPCC are basically arguing is that the climate model runs used to identify the AGW “fingerprint” simulate the impacts of all forcings at once, so errors in individual forcings don’t count. I suspect that might not go over too well in statistics class.

    However, neither Gavin nor the IPCC explain how the +/-0.1C error on combined anthropogenic forcings in Figure 10.5 was calculated – I suspect because someone plucked it out of the air. But regardless of where it came from it’s unquestionably too low. Even when anthropogenic forcings are ignored altogether we still get a trend estimation error of +/-0.28C at the 95% confidence level from “internal variability” and “natural forcings”.

  38. oldbrew says:

    Sammy Wilson MP puts in his two penn’orth.

    ‘A combination of new scientific research, economic downturn, public scepticism and climate reality has burst the bubble of those who have foolishly claimed the science was settled and persuaded governments to spend billions on policies for which there was little evidential basis.’

    http://www.sammywilson.org/2013/11/06/global-warming-scaremongers-on-the-run/

  39. Roger, you are quite right. Those error bars don’t make sense and this undermines the “extremely likely ” claim. This was discussed at my blog. Gavin kindly linked to it.

  40. Roger Andrews says:

    Paul

    Thanks for you support 🙂

    A couple of comments on comments you made on your blog:

    “I had a look through the SOD version of Chapter 10, the version reviewed by scientists, to see if this strange figure was there – it isn’t.” There are two drafts of Chapter 10 out there on the web. The “final draft” of 30 September 2013 contains the strange figure but the earlier draft of 5 October 2012 doesn’t.

    “The only way the figure makes any sense is if the IPCC has decided a priori that almost all the warming must be anthropogenic ….” Well, that’s exactly what the IPCC has decided. Climate models are driven entirely by radiative forcings and according to the IPCC anthropogenic radiative forcings since 1750 (2.29 watts/sq m) were 45.8 times higher than natural radiative forcings (0.05 watts/sq m). With input like that the output is predetermined. Any observed warming – or for that matter cooling – must be anthropogenic. There’s nothing else it could be.

    And if the climate models are correct, which the IPCC claims they are, then the IPCC is grossly understating the level of certainty when it says that it’s “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” According to the models it’s virtually certain that ALL of the warming since 1750 was man-made.

  41. […] UK Govt invites responses to searching question about IPCC AR5 report (tallbloke.wordpress.com) […]