When the weather forecast matters; the IPCC AR5

By Andrew L. Urban

If September 26, 2013 wasn’t marked in your diary, chances are you’re not obsessive about climate change or climate change policies. This was the date the professional and just very interested ‘climate world’ awaited the IPCC’s 5th report, the summary of the so called ‘consensus’ on what is the state of global warming.

Major policies depend on the IPCC reports, policies that impact on the lives of millions. Politicians take their cue sheets from the report. Questioning the report will bring out the Climate Inquisition.

But the real problem for the world in this debate has not been articulated, as far as I am aware (happy to be corrected). It is this: given that there are serious doubts – for various reasons – that even if we are contributors to global warming, it seems impossible to reduce global emissions sufficiently and fast enough to make a real difference. Yet even attempting that action comes at horrendous cost, possibly grater even than the harm it tries to avoid.

But there’s another scenario: imagine if in 10 years or so actual observable evidence (as distinct from computer modelling) is found to show that natural variables – notably sun activity – is the real cause of climate change. As some will know, there are several scientists who are studying this and developing papers that seem to head in that direction. Dr. Neil Hutton (director Friends of Science), for example, is a long-time proponent of the view that solar magnetic flux is the principle driver of climate change. His work has been cited by the late Dr. Peter Ziegler, Emeritus Professor, University of Basel, in December 2010 in a presentation to the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

Friends of Science as a group, fears that in fact it’s global cooling we have to worry about, since even a one degree drop in global temperatures can have drastic consequences on farming.

And they are not alone in seeing the sun as the source of climate change – see Geoff Sharp, below, and this (extract), by journalist M. W Guzy at the St Louis Beacon, on September 26, 2013 – the day of the latest IPCC report:

“… since when did the IPCC consider solar activity a significant factor in climate change? Hadn’t that explanation been summarily dismissed when the group to study greenhouse gases was established in 1988? Weren’t those of us who noted historical correlation between sun spots and climate labelled “Deniers” and banished to the intellectual gulag of the politically incorrect?

But even the modest acknowledgement of current reality in the draft report was too much for many of the IPCC’s sponsoring governments. Germany wanted any mention of the slowdown deleted; the U.S. wanted to include the hypothesis that the oceans absorbed the extra heat; Belgium suggested throwing out the hottest year on record — 1998 — so the recent trend line would assume a more upward arc, and Hungary fretted that the finding “would provide ammunition for skeptics.” None of the politicians claimed that the slowdown hadn’t occurred.

Ultimately, the IPCC deemed it “extremely likely” that human activity caused more than half of the warming since the 1950s. That assessment represents an upgrade of its 2007 estimate of “very likely.” That “Inconvenient Truth” would be more compelling were it not for a couple of inconvenient facts.

Fact: We are at the maximum of Solar Cycle #24. Although initial predictions for the cycle varied widely, there is now general agreement that it will be the weakest cycle since at least 1906.

According to Dr. Henrik Svensmark, director of the Danish Space Agency, a quiet sun exudes a less robust magnetic field, thereby allowing more cosmic radiation from deep space to reach the earth’s lower atmosphere. This radiation, in turn, creates aerosols that seed cloud formation, thus cooling the planet.

Dr. Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, says, “…this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades. That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.” The sun last went that silent during the 70-year Maunder Minimum (1645- 1715), which coincided with the coldest period of the Little Ice Age.

Fact: In 2007, reports on the BBC predicted that by the summer of 2013, the Arctic Ocean would be largely ice-free due to the effects of global warming. In the event, the National Sea Ice Data centre reports colder than normal temperatures over the central Arctic and Greenland, resulting in 60 percent more ice at the end of this year’s summer melt compared to the last, keeping the Northwest Passage closed for the season.

As summer ended in the polar north, winter drew to a close in Antarctica. Sea ice there is at its greatest extent since satellite observations began in 1979.

The people who wrote the latest IPCC report have invested careers in the theory of human-induced global warming. If man’s contribution to climate change were determined to be marginal, they stand to lose billions in government research dollars.

When a layman like me can find the evidence I’ve cited, I suspect research specialists can as well. I also suspect these people know that divergent trend lines between the independent variable (CO2 concentrations) and dependant variable (temperature) are not merely “quirks” and “wrinkles” in the data set.”

So we have an option of being scared of either warming or cooling. Meanwhile, the IPCC report has failed to calm the debate, thanks in part to an uncomfortable juxtapose of science and self interest, in my humble opinion.

Some responses to the IPCC R5, September 27, 2013, all at Climate Etc

Bill
What is hard to believe is that with the warming less than predicted and the myriad possible explanations for it (including many references to natural variability which had long been ignored or even ridiculed) that they would increase their certainty.

Phil Jourdan
I can find no science in their pronouncement. Professional handicappers are 95% sure on the next horse race. Football fans are 95% sure on their team winning. Scientists are not 95% sure of anything unless they have the data to back it up. The AR5 is not a science paper, but (supposedly) a compilation of science papers. Yet while many of the papers offer good arguments for the influence of man on the climate, other than a few quack (and discredited) papers like Cook, Nuccitelli, none are saying “95%”. Because they are science papers and not indoctrination documents.

The worst part about this report is that it drives another nail into the coffin of the vocation of Climate Science. Climate science is appearing more like the alchemy of the 21st century, not science.

George Turner
Given how the temperatures have fallen out of the bottom of the model projections, it would make more sense to say there’s a 95% certainty the models are wrong, and at least real statistics could back that up.

What the scientists are giving is an opinion about their beliefs, and trying to express such an opinion mathematically, to two significant figures no less, is as daft as saying “Honey bun, I’m 95 percent certain that I will love you forever.”

Geoff Sharp
We may be entering another Dalton type solar slowdown which may play an important part of the projected future global temperatures that are not included in the IPCC models.

JJ
“The long-term climate model simulations show a trend in global-mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2012 that agrees with the observed trend (very high confidence). There are, however, differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years”

“…as short as 10 to 15 years”?

WTF?

The proper construction of that sentence with respect to the expected relationship between model predictions and observations would have been “… as long as 10 to 15 years”. Obviously, there are even more numerous and greater magnitude differences between model predictions and observations over even shorter periods than 10 years.

When people use propagandistic language manipulations like that, you know they’re lying. Stuff that into your Bayesian prior.

[Ed: 10 – 15 years represents 20 – 25% of the model simulation period of 1951 – 2012.]

“Since 1980, the average of all climate models have overestimated actual temperature increases by 71 to 159 percent. This does not mean that there is not some global warming, but it likely means that temperature rises will be lower than originally expected. That fact makes alarmist scenarios ever more implausible.” – from Bjorn Lomborg press release, commenting on the IPCC R5.

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