Over the last couple of months the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (published in February 2007) has been at the centre of a media storm. Revaluations about exaggerated or groundless claims have called into question the reputation of an organisation that has assumed a mantle of scientific invincibility during the last three years.

Alarmist predictions about the future of Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forests, agricultural production in Africa, increasing devastation caused extreme weather events and rising sea levels have been shown to be based on evidence that at best is anything but robust and at worst is no more than hearsay. Worse still, it seems that the authors of the report were aware of the shortcomings of the evidence they were relying on but used it anyway.

Publication on the Internet of over a thousand emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, now known as Climategate, has added to disquiet about the IPCC’s activities.  They suggest that Professor Phil Jones and many other leading climate scientists have attempted to subvert the accepted standards of their profession in order to protect their research findings from criticism. Many of those involved have been extremely influential within the IPCC process and the emails reveal an unhealthy culture of hostility towards anyone who questions the orthodox view of climate change that this organisation represents. It is questionable whether objective scientific research can take place under such circumstances.

The effect on the IPCC’s reputation, and that of its chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri, has been devastating, but at every stage of this scandal we have been assured that the core science underpinning concern about anthropogenic climate change has remained unscathed. The IPCC and its supporters have been able to undertake this damage limitation exercise because attention so far has focused on only one of the three sections of the most recent assessment report: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.  This deals with the symptoms and perceived consequences of climate change. The core scientific evidence that the climate is changing and that human influence is playing a part in this is contained  in another section of the report, Working Group I: Climate Change 2007: the Physical Basis.  But can we be confident that the same problems of sloppy authorship and exaggeration do not extend to this part of the IPCC’s assessment too?

On page 8 of the Working Group I: Summary for Policymakers there is a table (SPM.2) that has the following snappy title:

Recent trends, assessment of human influence on the trend and projections for extreme weather events for which there is an observed late-20th century trend.

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf

Extreme weather events are a particularly potent weapon in the battle to win hearts and minds for the crusade against climate change. Hurricanes (cyclones), droughts, floods and heat waves all feature as dramatic news stories regularly; they are the stuff of which editor’s dreams are made. A combination of dramatic pictures and human interest assures them a place in the headlines, and on the front pages, whenever there is an excuse for publishing them. From the point of view of those who wish to promote the idea of anthropogenic global warming such stories present a wonderful opportunity. If extreme weather events can be linked to catastrophic climate change in the public consciousness then the message that humans are influencing the climate, with appalling consequences, is going to be reinforced repeatedly because hardly a month goes by without some kind of weather related disaster being reported.

This is what Table SPM.2 says:

[A]

Phenomenon aand direction of trend

[B]

Likelihood that trend occurred in late 20th century (typically post 1960)

 

[C]

Likelihood of a human contribution to observed trend b

[D]

Likelihood of future trends based on projections for 21st century using SRES scenarios

[1] Warmer and fewer cold daysand nights over most landareas

Very likely c

[>90%]

Likely e

>60%

Virtually certain e

>99%

[2] Warmer and more frequenthot days and nights overmost land areas

Very likely d

>90%

Likely (nights) e

>60%

Virtually certain e

>99%

[3] Warm spells / heat waves.Frequency increases overmost land areas

Likely

>60%

More likely than not f

>50%

Very likely

>90%

[4] Heavy precipitation events.Frequency (or proportion oftotal rainfall from heavy falls)increases over most areas

Likely

>60%

More likely than not f

>50%

Very likely

>90%

[5] Area affected by droughtsincreases

Likely in many regions

since 1970s

>60%

More likely than not

>50%

Likely

>60%

[6] Intense tropical cycloneactivity increases

Likely in some regions

since 1970

>60%

More likely than not f

>50%

Likely

>60%

[7] Increased incidence ofextreme high sea level(excludes tsunamis) g

Likely

>60%

More likely than not f, h

>50%

Likely I

>60%

For ease of reference I’ve made a few additions to this table in square brackets.  The columns are now labelled  A-D and the rows 1-7. I’ve also added numerical values for probabilities (‘likelihood’). These are explained briefly in a footnote on page 3 of the Summary for Policymakers, and in more detail in Box TS.1 in the Technical Summary of Working  Group I as follows:

Likelihood Terminology Likelihood of the occurrence/ outcome
Virtually certain > 99% probability
Extremely likely > 95% probability
Very likely > 90% probability
Likely > 66% probability
More likely than not > 50% probability
About as likely as not 33 to 66% probability
Unlikely < 33% probability
Very unlikely < 10% probability
Extremely unlikely < 5% probability
Exceptionally unlikely < 1% probability

If we  look at row [3]  in Table SPM.2 for example, which deals with heat waves, we find the following:

Column A describes a phenomenon and a trend: heatwaves becoming more frequent.

Column B assesses the ‘likelihood’ that this trend has been confirmed by observation: is there empirical scientific evidence that heatwaves have become more frequent?

Column C introduces a hypothesis: if a trend in the frequency of heat waves has been observed then human activity is contributing to that trend. The likelihood of this being true is assessed.

Column D considers a prediction about the trend – increasing frequency of heat waves – continuing during the rest of the 21st century. This prediction is based on a range of scenarios set out in the SPM from Page 18 onwards. All of these envisage a world in which the fraction of Co2 in the atmosphere is growing as a result of human activity with a consequent rise in global temperatures exceeding any natural variation that can be expected.

In terms of the scientific method, we start with an assumption in Column [A]; heatwaves are increasing. This is then tested by observation in Column [B]: is it possible to detect an increase in the number of heatwaves, particularly during the last fifty years? A hypothesis follows in Column [C]: if it can be shown that there has been an increase in the number of heat waves, then anthropogenic warming has contributed to this. Finally, in Column [D], there is a prediction that depends on the preceding columns.

If we now look at the levels of ‘likelihood’ that the IPCC have assigned in each column we find something really quite remarkable. There is only a 60% – 89% chance that the frequency of heat waves have in fact increased; this leaves significant room for doubt that any such trend exists. There is even less confidence (50% – 59%) that, if an increase in heat waves has occurred – and we’re not sure it has – then human activity has something to do with it.

The conclusion that the IPCC draws from this is that, although there is a significant level of uncertainty as to whether the frequency of heat waves has increased during the last half century, and there is even more uncertainty as to whether, if the frequency has in fact increased, this can be attributed to human influence, a prediction can be made that heatwaves will increase during the next ninety years as a result of anthropogenic global warming. The  ‘likelihood’ assigned to this is of 90-94%. Therefor according to the IPCC, confidence in the prediction is higher than confidence in either the observations or the hypothesis that the prediction is based on.

This makes no sense to me, but then I am not a scientist, let alone a climate scientist. It would be very interesting to hear the views of researchers from other disciplines, not on the merits of the scientific evidence, but as to whether this table does in fact defy logic.

Scanning the levels of ‘likelihood’ expressed in the rest of the table shows a remarkable consistency. The ‘likelihood’ expressed in Column [B]  is higher than that in Column [C], but Column [D] is higher than in Column [C]. In some instances the assessment of ‘likelihood’ in Column [D] is higher than in either Columns [B] or [C] . So in each case the IPCC are saying that they have greater confidence in the predictions than in the hypothesis on which it is based, and in some cases that confidence in the prediction is even higher  than in the observed trend.

The Working Group I  Summary for Policymakers is intended to present a transparent and objective assessment of whether anthropogenic global warming is taking place, and do so in a way that is accessible to laypeople who would be unable to draw their own conclusions from the thousands of pages of scientific references in the main report. To a great extent this requires that policy makers must trust the scientists who write the IPCC’s reports, and they are likely to do so. We are repeatedly assured that the IPCC’s findings are based on the most carefully reviewed scientific research and therefore there is no room for argument about the facts. This point of view is epitomised by the oft-repeated mantras, ‘the science is settled’ and ‘you can’t argue with the science’.

The take-away message for anyone reading Table SPM.2 is that the IPCC attaches a high level of confidence to predictions that anthropogenic warming will cause extreme weather events to increase during the current century. They do not need to add that droughts, floods, hurricanes and heat waves cause loss of life and wreak economic havoc and misery on those who experience them. Regular news converge of such events leaves us in no doubt about this. Such events are the most visible and dramatic symptoms of our restless climate and we are well aware of their consequences.

The IPCC’s message to policy makers is clear: reduce greenhouse gas emissions now or more people will get hurt, and it will be your fault. So it is very important that those who are in a position to allocate billions of pounds, dollars or euros to fighting global warming should be fully aware of the methodology that the IPCC is using to reach this conclusion, and particularly just what confidence can be placed in their predictions.

The footnote on Page 3 of the Working Group I Summary for Policymakers that describes how confidence in scientific understanding and predicted outcomes is assessed says this:

In this Summary for Policymakers, the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood, using expert judgement, of an outcome or a result …
My emphasis

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf

Therefore the predictions of ‘likelihood’ in Table SPM.2 are not derived from any specific research contained in the assessment report but rely on the views of the authors of the report. So we are not talking about confidence levels that have been arrived at mathematically here, but the opinions of scientists. And reliance on their opinions is far reaching.

A minuscule footnote (f) to Table SPM.1 says:

Magnitude of anthropogenic contributions not assessed. Attribution for these phenomena based on expert judgement rather than formal attribution studies.

(see the original document for all the footnotes)

This refers to the predictions in Column [C] rows 3,4,6 and 7. It would appear that so far as these categories of extreme weather events are concerned there are no studies cited in the report that attribute human influence to the phenomena concerned, and the claims made in the table are based entirely on the ‘expert judgement’ of the authors.

Looking at the notes accompanying Table SPM.2 we find that it summarises the findings of Chapter 3 of the Working Group I section of the report: Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change . The coordinating lead authors of this chapter were Dr Kevin E Trenberth of National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and Professor Phil Jones, at that time director of he Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.

The CRU emails leaked on the internet before Christmas made Professor Jones the unwilling star of  what has been described as the biggest scientific scandal in living memory. He has now stepped down as director of the CRU pending inquiries into Climategate.

Dr Trenberth was also one of the correspondents featured in the Climategate emails and he has this to say (12/10/2009) in a message to Professor Michael Mann of Hockey Stick graph fame concerning the present decade long standstill in global warming;

Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder … [Colorado, home to NCAR]
The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a
travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

1255352257.txt

This suggests that Dr Trenberth’ reaction to observed data that fail to match predictions is to reconsider the observations rather than question the skill of the predictions; something that I think most research scientists would find alarming.

(This message was copied to Stephen H Schneider , Myles Allen , Peter Stott , Phil Jones , Benjamin Santer , Tom Wigley , Thomas R Karl , Gavin Schmidt , James Hansen  and Michael Oppenheimer. Although it is outside the scope of this post, it is worth noting that three of the recipients are involved in compiling global surface temperature records: Jones (CRU), Karl (NOAA), and Hansen (NASA GISS)).

In 2005 Dr Trenberth organised a major ‘media event’ at which he informed the world’s press that global warming was causing increased hurricane activity. This led to the resignation from the IPCC of hurricane expert Chris Landsea who was the contributing author responsible for the hurricanes section of Working Group I Chapter 3 of the Fourth Assessment Report. Prior to the press conference, Landsea warned Trenberth who was not a hurricane expert that there were no credible research findings that supported this view, but his warning was ignored. When Landsea complained to the governing council of the IPCC that making claims without sound scientific evidence would prejudice the organisation’s credibility their response was to defend Trenberth’s behaviour.

The extent of the scandal revealed by the CRU emails is beyond the scope of this post, but one quotation from a message written by Professor Jones would seem to be particularly relevant so far as the matter of ‘expert judgement’ is concerned:

As you know, I’m not political. If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences. This isn’t being political, it is being selfish.

1120593115.txt

Does this suggest a frame of mind in which one can reasonably expect a scientist to exercise his ‘expert judgement’ objectively? There is plenty of circumstantial evidence in the CRU emails suggesting that Jones may have behaved improperly both in connection with his own research and his contributions to the IPCC. Climategate, and Jones’ conduct, are now the subject of inquiries by both the University of East Anglia and The House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology.

As well as being the Coordinating Lead Authors on Working Group I Chapter 3, both Trenberth and Jones were Draft Contributing Authors for the Working Group 1 Summary for Policymakers. It is inconceivable that they would not have been involved in the creation and inclusion of Table SPM.2 in that summary.

One of the most worrying aspects of the flaws in the IPCC’s Working Group II report, which have already received so much publicity, is that they have only come to light because they were publicised by bloggers. As I said earlier in this post, I am not a scientist and there may be perfectly reasonable explanations for the apparent inconsistencies that Table SPM.2 reveals that I have missed. So far as I am aware there is no one involved with the IPCC who I can ask about this in the expectation of getting a fair and objective response. If the Working Group I report is to be scrutinised, then this  too is only likely to happen if bloggers persistently ask awkward questions.

At the beginning of this week Professor Jones gave evidence before the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Andrew Orlowski of The Register ended a very perceptive report of the proceedings by concluding that the committee may have come to the conclusion ‘that rotten scientists perhaps mean rotten science’.  At the time that the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report was published there was no one outside the sceptical bogosphere who was likely to entertain the idea that this vast and heavily hyped document might contain egregious errors. All that has changed now with the revelations concerning Working Group II. It is high time that the same detailed analysis is applied to the findings of Working Group I, the part of the report that is supposed to provide the real evidence for anthropogenic global warming. Furthermore, where the behaviour of scientists as revealed by Climategate is in doubt, their input  to the IPCC reports should be scrutinised, otherwise the IPCC’s claims that none of the revelations so far have weakened the essential evidence of anthropogenic global warming will be credible. The address headers of the CRU emails read like a list of the IPCC hierarchy.

Here is one last word about the IPCC use of ‘expert judgement’ in assessing the probability of scientific understanding and likelihood’s. The United Nations Environment Programme is one of the parent bodies of the IPCC, with the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). UNEP handled the publicity for the February 2007 press release of the Working Group I Summary for Polichymakers. This is the headline that they used:

Evidence of Human-caused Global Warming “Unequivocal”, says IPCC

UNEP Press Release

The media worldwide dutifully ran headlines and stories that said exactly that, but the term ‘unequivocal’ only appears once in the Summary for Policymakers in the following context:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal …

AR4 SPM

The supposed human contribution to this warming, which amount to significantly less than 1oC is assessed as ‘very likely’, which falls a long way short of ‘unequivocal’, so it appears that UNEP were prepared to ‘sex up’ this report from the outset.

In the IPCC’s Third Assesment  Report, published in 2001, the probability that humans are contributing to climate change was assessed as ‘likely’. It would be very interesting to know whose ‘expert judgement’ led to the probability being increased to ‘very likely’ in 2007, and on what considerations this decision was based.

62 Responses to “Phil Jones and the ‘expert judgement’ of the IPCC”

  1. This post and discussion are very valuable. However, exposing flaws in the IPCC report is only going to matter if the IPCC and UN can be prevented from producing more ARs. All countries should be encouraged to agree to publish their own scientific assessments and then hold diplomatic meetings to consider them. We will all be better off if we are able to see what Chinese, Indian, Japanese as well as western countries’ experts think about climate without the censorship the IPCC has applied.

  2. Ian:

    I would suggest that exposing flaws in the hitherto reputedly infallible IPCC process is probably the surest way to prevent there being an AR5 in the same mould as its predecessors.

    The idea that you suggest of devolving assessment to individual nations is one of what I expect will be many alternatives that will emerge before the end of the year. What is certain is that things cannot go on as though the revelations of the past few months had never happened. Reading between the lines of some comments that are now emerging from the climate science community they seem to be even more aware of this than politicians and the public.

  3. Potentilla:

    Thanks for your comment. Although I agree that the IPCC seems to put more weight on model results than on observation, does that matter if the IPCC does not think (see my analysis) that current global warming is caused by human activity? Surely it’s immaterial whether it came to that conclusion by reference to models or to observation?

  4. I wonder how many people, back in 2007, gave the SPM.2 table a cursory glance, and assumed that you had to add or combine columns B and C together in some arcane way to get D? In which case the >90% or >99% bits would seem quite conservative, even. There are plenty of people who are even less mathematically inclined than me, and who would surely just nod blankly at that point and go on to the conclusion.

    Another excellent post, Tony, and enlightening comments, too. This really is looking less and less like a series of mistakes and more like a deliberate policy of misdirection, as time goes on.

    By the way, you’ve probably seen this already but there’s an article on the Master Resource blog, which appears to show another example of deliberate misdirection, this time in the case of Antarctic sea ice.

  5. Robin: In #29 you note:

    does that matter if the IPCC does not think (see my analysis) that current global warming is caused by human activity? Surely it’s immaterial whether it came to that conclusion by reference to models or to observation?

    Unfortunately the IPCC does think that current warming is caused by human activity. Columns B/C and D are just different lines of evidence that they choose to put different weights on. Think of it like a murder trial. The circumstantial evidence may be inconclusive, even show that the accused is not likely to be the guilty party. However, the DNA evidence may clinch it. The IPCC are treating the model results like DNA evidence and the other stuff is just too difficult to get a handle on. Or to put it less politely, it is hard to get a simple story line out of data that will not cooperate. Models are always much more obliging.

  6. TonyN #24 Am also getting into the act. At:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/mar/08/belief-in-climate-change-science?showallcomments=true#end-of-comments

    I find it strange that Monbiot is also calling for a prophet to lead us out of the wilderness. Looks like he is conceding that AGW is no longer a scientific issue but a religion.

    Max

  7. I see Geoff was trying to get George to provide some “bleeding evidence” (GM’s words) which seems to have had the desired effect! George has been accepting AGM at face value for so long, he’s clearly annoyed at having to justify it…

    This is interesting though:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/mar/09/george-monbiot-bet-solar-pv

    George appears to be a sceptic on this subject!

  8. Alex:

    This really is looking less and less like a series of mistakes and more like a deliberate policy of misdirection, as time goes on.

    Yes it does, and a CRU email I came across by chance when looking for the Jones/Christy message would seem to take this a little further. I’ll probably post about it at the weekend.

  9. Alex:

    This really is looking less and less like a series of mistakes and more like a deliberate policy of misdirection, as time goes on.

    Yes it does, and a CRU email I came across by chance when looking for the Jones/Christy message would seem to take this a little further. I’ll probably post about it at the weekend.

    Robin:

    Your summary certainly joins up the dots, but without mentioning Jones.

    We know who worked on the individual chapters of the reports, and on the summaries, also whose papers were considered, but we do not know precisely who the ‘experts’ whose ‘judgement’ was relied on in assigning probabilities are. In light of CRU emails it would seem extremely important that we should know this because we are being asked to trust both their integrity and their professional judgement. Who would act on a crucial legal opinion without knowing who it was obtained from, whether they have relevant expertise, and what their interests in the matter, if any, might be?

    Max:

    I can’t get that Monbiot link to open at the moment, but I’ll try again later.

    Potentilla:

    I take your point in #31 absolutely, but can you really draw an analogy between a climate model and DNA identification? I don’t know enough about these technologies to form an opinion.

  10. TonyN:

    I take your point in #31 absolutely, but can you really draw an analogy between a climate model and DNA identification? I don’t know enough about these technologies to form an opinion.

    I did not mean to imply that they are equivalent. In fact they are quite the opposite. DNA identification is real science but climate modelling is just playing games with computers. I just used the analogy to illustrate the different types of evidence and how they can be weighted depending on the interpretation. That the IPCC puts so much weight on the results of the climate models is very disturbing. They then apply even more weight to the guesses as to what the results might mean in terms of extreme events. So we end up with conjecture on top of dubious extrapolation. And this is what we are being asked to believe?

    I prefer the data even though they do not tell a simple story. I have been looking for long-term extreme event trends in flood and drought data for the past 25 years and haven’t found one yet that is significant. Other hydrologists have drawn similar conclusions – even the Centre of Hydrology and Ecology in the UK.

    This published research suggests that trends over a longer period (>50 years) are generally much less compelling, and in general, there is limited evidence for long-term trends in flood frequency or magnitude anywhere in the UK.

  11. In the comments on Monbiot’s latest screed, Geoff asked for direct evidence of dangerous AGW and Monbiot told him to go and read the latest Met Office report by Peter Stott (only available on a fee paying basis)

    I’d accept that the world is warming dangerously if someone shows evidence that the world is warming dangerously. They haven’t, so I don?t. Show us the evidence George, just once, in an article, as long and detailed as you like. Just the evidence.

    Well why don’t you start with the new Met Office study: that, after all, is exactly what it’s designed for. And it’s written not by a Guardian journalist but by real scientists:

    This study was also referenced in an earlier Guardian article by Chris Huntingford called How public trust in climate scientists can be restored. This paragraph is of interest:

    Second there is the question of whether major policy decisions should really be made on the basis of simulations of the climate system, as performed on a few specialised computers dotted around the world? There are compelling reasons to trust these computer models, but at the same time, more direct evidence underpinning the claim that climate is changing is needed. That is why the work by Peter Stott and colleagues is important

    So the models are not enough but the study by Peter Stott is the supposed clincher (if you can find it). But it is enough to read the summary to realise that, if not a broken chain of logic, it represents a circular chain of logic.

    Stott’s study is based on comparing computer model predictions to observed data. For example:

    Scientists matched computer models of different possible causes of climate change – both human and natural – to measured changes in factors such as air and sea temperature, Arctic sea ice cover and global rainfall patterns.

    So we are back to being dependent on model results. And Stott’s findings presuppose that the models properly characterize both the natural and anthropogenic influences. Given that the models are so poor at replicating even known and frequently occurring climate phenomena such as the PDO and ENSO, then Stott’s study appears to be little more than playing yet another round of computer games.

    And by the way Stott’s study does not address dangerous AGW at all.

    .

  12. Potentilla and TonyN

    Computer models as used for generating future scenarios have been unable to reproduce actual climate patterns, and are extremely unreliable. They cannot accurately tell us the weather of next month. Yet they are being (mis)used to project temperatures one hundred years in advance!

    Prof. Richard Lindzen explains this problem.
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv15n2/reg15n2g.html

    The existence of modern computing power has led to innumerable modelling efforts in many fields. Supercomputers have allowed us to consider the behavior of systems seemingly too complex for other approaches. One of those systems is climate. Not surprisingly, there are many problems involved in modelling climate. For example, even supercomputers are inadequate to allow long-term integrations of the relevant equations at adequate spatial resolutions. At presently available resolutions, it is unlikely that the computer solutions are close to the solutions of the underlying equations. In addition, the physics of unresolved phenomena such as clouds and other turbulent elements is not understood to the extent needed for incorporation into models. In view of those problems, it is generally recognized that models are at present experimental tools whose relation to the real world is questionable

    As Lindzen has said:

    Unfortunately, there is a tendency to hold in awe anything that emerges from a sufficiently large computer.

    These supercomputers have become the modern equivalent of the oracles and prophets of the ancient world.

    Yet they are no more than a simple tool, which depends entirely on the accuracy and reliability of the input assumptions, and with no greater degree of reliability than the slide rules of past generations.

    Max

  13. potentilla #19 and #37
    Sorry, I must have missed something. What needs translating?
    Thanks for the reference to the Stott summary. I’ve just (4.54am) repeated my request on the Monbiot thread like this:

    When Phil Jones hid data and refused to answer reasonable questions, Monbiot stated that this was not science, and that he should be sacked. When Monbiot states that “my beliefs oblige me to try to make sense of the science and to explain its implications” but won’t answer reasonable questions as to the scientific basis of his beliefs, we are entitled to say: “this is not journalism”.
    I repeat my request. Show us the evidence George, just once, in an article, as long and detailed as you like, that the world is warming dangerously, or is likely to do so in the future. Just the evidence.

  14. “this is not journalism”

    Ouch! That should get a reply.

  15. Did any of you hear Martin Rees on the radio this morning? I think he said that there hadn’t been any criticism of WG1 ??!!
    It was on the Today programme at about 7.50. Worth checking when they put today’s programme on iplayer.

  16. […] is this interesting post at Harmless Sky by TonyN, which looks at one of the insane tables produced by Working Group 1 of the IPCC. In it (reproduced […]

  17. Looking at all of AR4 WG I, the only chapter of real importance is Chapter 9, “Attribution”, wherein they attempt to demonstrate that the warming (which nobody basically denies) is in fact due to CO2.

    More than two decades ago, when this improbable theory first made the headlines, the only “evidence” was, “our computer models can’t reproduce the recent warming without putting in carbon dioxide.”

    After nearly a generation and more than $100 billion in research, we undertake the excruciating task of actually reading Ch. 9 carefully, and what do we find? The only “evidence” is still, “our computer models can’t reproduce the recent warming without putting in carbon dioxide.”

    Of course, a computer model is not evidence anyway, it’s merely the concrete expression of a theory. So there is not now and never has been any evidence whatever for the silly CO2-driven warming hypothesis.

    That this AGW nonsense was believed at all, let alone that it has been allowed to waste billions in taxes and trillions in the feckless search for “renewable” energy, is a sad commentary on the ignorance and gullibility of our supposedly scientific and technological society.

  18. Geoff#39

    Sorry, no translating required. I was trying to find a simple word for a broken chain of logic and thought S. Morris Engel would be helpful. But there is not much available on the web on his writings. For some obscure reason I thought he was French and that was why I could not find much.

  19. The interview that PaulM mentioned in #41 is worth listening to:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8559000/8559209.stm

    From the outset Reese is obviously choosing his words with very great care, and although Justin Webb — like any good journalist — scents blood, he justjust does not have the briefing which would allow him to ask really awkward questions. Rees’s astuteness in avoiding any expression of support to Pauchauri is spine-chilling.

    So far as I know this is the first time that the President of the Royal Society has emerged from under his desk to give a high profile interview since Climategate. One might wonder why it’s taken so long.

  20. The Stott paper is now available for free download. The basic methodology was to run climate models with anthropogenic and natural forcings (Case A) and then with natural forcings only (Case B). They then compare the different results.

    It appears that the only natural forcings considered are volcanoes and solar energy. As ever, model calibration and verification are not discussed but I would have expected more of an attempt to justify the Case B model by comparison to known millennial fluctuations in the global climate. Given that the ice ages and inter-glacial periods are poorly understood and are thought to be caused by a multiplicity of factors, why would anyone have any confidence in the Case B model? Or the Case A model for that matter.

    I am pleased to report that the Stott study does address dangerous climate change. Basically the study concludes that the models are incapable of simulating floods, droughts and hurricanes so nothing much can be said though they prefer the terminology many challenges remain. So contrary to the reports in the Guardian noted in #37, there is still no evidence that catastrophic climate change is happening or will happen. The weak evidence that AGW is occurring is entirely dependent on the results of climate models that do not represent all the known climate processes let alone the unknown factors.

    Here are a few extracts from the Stott study in the section on Extremes:

    The same general approach could, in theory, be applied to other extreme weather events such as floods or droughts, in order to determine whether the probability of a particular event has changed as a result of a chosen set of climate forcing factors, although in practice this will require models capable of capturing the relevant processes.

    However, the importance of the anthropogenic increase in sea surface temperature in the cyclogensis region for past and future changes in hurricane activity is still poorly understood. The limitations of the observed database and of current climate models in resolving processes relevant for hurricanes make progress in this field difficult at present.

    Extremes pose a particular challenge, since rare events are, by definition, poorly sampled in the historical record, and many challenges remain for robustly attributing regional changes in extreme events such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes.

  21. There’s an interesting analysis of the Stott paper here.

  22. I’ve moved three comments, by Garry Novak, Tempterrain and Manacker, to the NS thread here:

    http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/blog/?p=63&cp=66#comments

    No ones fault really, these things happen.

  23. TonyN #45

    I caught the broadacast live and thought I was listening to a politician not a scientist as Rees was being very circumspect. You do wonder the motivation for him sticking his head above the parapet at this juncture. Is a resignation from the top of the IPCC in the offing?

    tonyb

  24. tonyb:

    Reece sounded to me like someone stepping very carefully through a minefield. There is an email that I saw a while ago, from Monckton, saying that he had known Rees for many years and that he is a very politically aware and astute science administrator who would stick with AGW until it looks as though it would be wiser to move to the other side of the argument.

    Will Pachauri resign? I think that we are heading for the mother and father of rows over this. On the one hand, even climate scientists seem to be, at the very least, withholding support for him, and on the other Ban Ki-moon had him standing alongside when he announced the IPCC review. Then there are the poorer developing nations who would gain by a Copenhagen style deal and see Pachauri as their champion, in contrast to the richer nations which will have to curb development or pay-up if this comes off. They may be delighted to see the back of him.

    I think that it could get very bitter, and very interesting. What is happening now rubs salt in the wounds opened up at Copenhagen.

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