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The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)

Filed under: — group @ 19 January 2010 - (Italian)

Like all human endeavours, the IPCC is not perfect. Despite the enormous efforts devoted to producing its reports with the multiple levels of peer review, some errors will sneak through. Most of these will be minor and inconsequential, but sometimes they might be more substantive. As many people are aware (and as John Nieslen-Gammon outlined in a post last month and Rick Piltz goes over today), there is a statement in the second volume of the IPCC (WG2), concerning the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are receding that is not correct and not properly referenced.

The statement, in a chapter on climate impacts in Asia, was that the likelihood of the Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035” was “very high” if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate (WG 2, Ch. 10, p493), and was referenced to a World Wildlife Fund 2005 report. Examining the drafts and comments (available here), indicates that the statement was barely commented in the reviews, and that the WWF (2005) reference seems to have been a last minute addition (it does not appear in the First- or Second- Order Drafts). This claim did not make it into the summary for policy makers, nor the overall synthesis report, and so cannot be described as a ‘central claim’ of the IPCC. However, the statement has had some press attention since the report particularly in the Indian press, at least according to Google News, even though it was not familiar to us before last month.

It is therefore obvious that this error should be corrected (via some kind of corrigendum to the WG2 report perhaps), but it is important to realise that this doesn’t mean that Himalayan glaciers are doing just fine. They aren’t, and there may be serious consequences for water resources as the retreat continues. See also this review paper (Ren et al, 2006) on a subset of these glaciers.

East Rongbuk glacier 1921 and 2008East Rongbuk glacier just below Mt. Everest has lost 3-400 ft of ice in this area since 1921.

More generally, peer-review works to make the IPCC reports credible because many different eyes with different perspectives and knowledge look over the same text. This tends to make the resulting product reflect more than just the opinion of a single author. In this case, it appears that not enough people with relevant experience saw this text, or if they saw it, did not comment publicly. This might be related to the fact that this text was in the Working Group 2 report on impacts, which does not get the same amount of attention from the physical science community than does the higher profile WG 1 report (which is what people associated with RC generally look at). In WG1, the statements about continued glacier retreat are much more general and the rules on citation of non-peer reviewed literature was much more closely adhered to. However, in general, the science of climate impacts is less clear than the physical basis for climate change, and the literature is thinner, so there is necessarily more ambiguity in WG 2 statements.

In future reports (and the organisation for AR5 in 2013 is now underway), extra efforts will be needed to make sure that the links between WG1 and the other two reports are stronger, and that the physical science community should be encouraged to be more active in the other groups.

In summary, the measure of an organisation is not determined by the mere existence of errors, but in how it deals with them when they crop up. The current discussion about Himalayan glaciers is therefore a good opportunity for the IPCC to further improve their procedures and think more about what the IPCC should be doing in the times between the main reports.

Update: This backgrounder presented by Kargel et al AGU this December is the best summary of the current state of the Himalayas and the various sources of misinformation that are floating around. It covers this issue, the Raina report and the recent Lau et al paper.

1,804 Responses to “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”

  1. 451
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Bill says: 23 January 2010 at 4:11 PM

    You mean, as an indicator of climate change or with regard to our world inventory of ice?

    If you’re worried about the ice supply, never fear, there will be plenty remaining in various bits of the world, “plenty” meaning many cubic kilometers, enough to fill a truly astronomical number of coolers or produce nearly boundless martinis.

    As an indicator of climate change, the signal seems fairly unambiguous. The posts you refer to don’t seem to indicate adequate understanding of what’s significant to the discussion here.

  2. 452

    426 Don Shor,

    No I do not as of now believe any such thing as a Mediaeval Warming Period occurred.

    Start by telling me when you think the Mediaeval period was using real numbers for dates. Approximate is fine. I will check my history books.

  3. 453
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Neil says: 23 January 2010 at 1:07 PM
    > Dear Ray L: It is only a 100 million hectare meters or so.
    That’s a whole lot of red herring, no matter how you calculate the area.

  4. 454
    Don Shor says:

    444 Hank Roberts says:
    23 January 2010 at 3:00 PM
    > I keep trying to track down the source of the MWP. (I guess this stands
    > for Mediaeval Warming Period.)
    > So far I have not found anything substantive that could be supportive
    > of such an event even having existed. Please fill me in on this.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aipcc.ch+FAR+Medieval+Warming+Period
    http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Arealclimate.org+medieval+warming+period

    Just for more information, I’d suggest you look at this:
    http://pages.science-skeptical.de/MWP/MedievalWarmPeriod.html
    Be aware that it is from a skeptic site. But it is a useful graphic. I haven’t looked at all the linked studies, and have no way of knowing how reliable they are. Just consider it a starting point.

  5. 455
    dhogaza says:

    mircea:

    Aircraft models (and I strongly believe climate models too) are JUST TOOLS that help design/understand a physical reality.

    Tell us something we don’t know. What strawman are you attacking here?

    This begun with a simple statement on my part that the models used to design the 787, and to build the simulator used to train the test pilots for the first flight, are so good that there were no surprises when the plane was first flown.

    It’s an observation regarding the *utility*, not the *perfection*, of the model(s) and simulator.

    No one is claiming that these models are *perfect*, or that simulators used in operational training aren’t verified against real flight data, or that airplanes aren’t tested to destruction, etc.

    Only that they’ve gotten really good, are extremely useful, and those who claim that models of complex physical systems are “primitive”, “not useful”, “can’t be trusted” etc are blowing it out of their rearmost orifice.

    Climate models are verified, too, just in case you’re going to be one of those people who says they aren’t.

  6. 456
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Summary for Policy Makers

    That may not be an his/her own misunderstanding ‘ferocious’ is posting there.
    It’s the PR line found from, for example, American Enterprise Institute.
    See
    aei.org/outlook/27185

    ‘ferocious’ — if you’re getting your opinions second or third hand, instead of from reading the original, do consider whose hands are involved:
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=American_Enterprise_Institute

    ‘ferocious’ — Gavin’s advice is wise. Read it and think for yourself:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-spm.pdf

  7. 457
    Jerry Steffens says:

    #432 (23 January 11:55 AM)

    Comparing the loss to the total is meaningless. Here’s an analogy — if sea level were to rise, swallowing up your beachfront property, would it be of any comfort to you that the additional water mass was negligible compared to the total mass of water in the oceans?

  8. 458
    Septic Matthew says:

    445, Doug Bostrom: CCS: Pilot operations are one thing, scaling is another.

    Agreed, but the US,EU, and China are building some large scale facilities. Real estimates of costs and efficacies will be available soon.

  9. 459
    Frank Giger says:

    Some of the correlations between Global Warming and disease, particularly malaria, seem rather suspect.

    1.3.7.2 of the fourth assessment links the spreading and increase of malaria in Africa since the 1970’s to CO2 emissions, when quite a bit of that can be associated with the halt of DDT use. It was widespread use of DDT that did much to halt and shrink malaria – when the cure was deemed worse than the disease for the ecosystems, the natural outcome was re-proliferation.

    Does Global Warming spread (or at least change) the range of malaria? Probably; however, no mention of the artificial alteration of the baseline is made in the report, leading an uniformed person to believe the original range was natural.

    Center to the over-all report? Nope. But it is a talking point and stick for Third World governments to whack away with in order shake down the west for hard currency, none of which will be used for anything relating to climate change mitigation.

    The latest news is that the claims of extreme weather events being driven by Global Warming in the IPCC assessment were based on non-peer reviewed papers that the authors themselves distanced themselves from. It was my impression that the Global Warming community vetted the IPCC reports and had distanced themselves from such foolishness.

  10. 460
    ferocious says:

    Re 267 Ray Ladbury
    “Climate models have been validated in some very impressive ways and reproduce most of the features seen in Earth’s climate. ”

    Ray, climate models have been in existence for about 50 years. Moderately complete models have been in existence for about 15 years. There has simply not been enough time to validate them against the real climate. The starting conditions to use historical data were not measured well enough to make any starting point in history realistic(the climate is non-linear and chaotic).

    All the current models are empirical- they include parameters that need to be chosen in order to generate results that make them behave like a real climate. Empirical models can only be validated for the period which data exists. There is no way to guarantee that an empirical model will continue to track real life data outside its calibration period.

    Currently, it is impossible to generate a climate model from first principles such as has been done for things like relativity, quantum mechanics, and electro-magnetism. Many of these models have been validated by discovery of predicted, but not observed, particles or other measures years after they were formulated. This kind of validation simply can’t be done for climate models. We’d have to wait a hundred years.

    The UN reports use some 40 models, make multiple runs with them all, and then try to consolidate the results. The thinking behind this is totally off the mark. There is no way to know which of the models is “real” and which are bunkum, so combining them does nothing to improve the results.

    Unfortunately our moderator, Gavin, took this one step further in another thread an pointed out that 5 of the models did predict the current levelling out of temperature as if this meant something. Sorry Gavin, but this is really specious reasoning. I am sure other models did a better job reproducing other minor blips in the data too. Neither observation means a thing because you must predict beforehand which model is going to give the correct result overall, which none of them did.

    [Response: But you completely misunderstand the nature of what is being predicted. It is not the short term trends – the demonstration was not to demonstrate that models are wonderful, but rather that this is not an interesting test. – gavin]

    The biosphere(land surface, oceans, and atmosphere) seems to have been in a reasonable balance, keeping the earth’s overall temperature in the zone for life for the last 3-400 million years. Over the last 500,000 years it has seen a fairly repetitive cycle of ice ages and intermediate warm periods. If any of the models can be shown to reproduce this kind of behavior using their current parameters, but starting with conditions believed to have been extant say 450,000 years ago, then you might consider them to have been validated and useful for investigating what might happen when perturbations are introduced. They could then also be used for evaluating whether or not the basic principles have been correctly defined.

  11. 461

    426 Don Shor, 444 Hank Roberts, 447 David Benson

    Wow, what a story! Do you realize that the GWP is considered to be absolute proof that AGW is a hoax?

    Lamb was studying temperature histories and used the term “Global Warming Period” to describe a slight and maybe meaningful rise in temperature between 700 and 1300 AD. Some say .7 to 1.3 deg C. I look at the IPCC data and say, “Yes, there is a slight trend of statistical significance. Why on earth does anyone care? 1.3 deg C certainly would not have made much difference to living conditions. Maybe ice receded a little. And of course it has nothing to do with the industrial revolution, so maybe there is some natural climate variability. You think this deserves a label, GLOBAL WARMING PERIOD?”

    Somehow this got into a book called “The Long Hot Summer” and has turned into “Vikings farmed Greenland” and “Vikings sailed much further North than usual” and “Scotland became a wine making rival of France.” All this was turned into proof that global warming due to burning of fossil fuel in the industrial revolution is a hoax since this monumental heat wave happened without benefit of man’s hand.
    I suggest you guys get a grip.

    The IPCC ar4 report, Fig. 6.11 bases temperature data for 1000AD from Greenland that were from !!!ICE CORES!!! So maybe a handful of Vikings planted a few potatoes along the coast. If they tried to farm inland they would have had to have developed ice tunneling technology. That was not discussed on the Nova story on Greenland a few years ago, or maybe I dozed off.

    Ok, so the Vikings were indeed hardy folk, and they sailed where nobody else except Eskimos traveled. How does this guy Lamb determine that they went further North due to the warming? Actually they were moving more in a southerly direction into Normandy in about 800 AD. This was at the start of this so-called Warming Period. So the warming effect seems to have been lost. At the middle of this time, 1000 AD they were getting ready to invade England, so maybe they were looking for wine up in Scotland. That has not been a big thing in history. They were interested in wool from Scotland, and that commerce has persisted until now.

    The Vikings were not especially interested in keeping journals. One book I have states that they were not even very “careful of their lineage.” So their exact latitude might have been not at the top of their concerns.

    Of course it will not prove or disprove a 1 deg variation in temperature, but anyone can look at the Bayeaux Tapestry which chronicled the Norman invasion in 1066AD. This contemporary record shows an endless series of illustrations of the battle of Hastings and shows a lot of detail of how people dressed then. There is no hint of jungle attire.

    The term “Mediaeval Warming Period” is an unfortunate choice of words. Starting from a scientist describing a vague trend it has been turned into an even just short of the apocalypse. It did not help the public understand the situation and it is unfortunate that the IPCC ar4 was not more clear about that.

    Thus, I say the MWP did not happen.

  12. 462
    David B. Benson says:

    Doug Bostrom (445) — First, distribution of coal is not necessarily where it is burnt; Germany imports coal from South Africa, for example. Continuing to use ocean vessel transport, it is only necessarily to move the separated CO2 to the nearest seaport for ocean transportation to sequestration sites such as
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/earth/4292181.html
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21629/?a=f
    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/45/17295
    Hust as little of the cost of natgas is in the piping of it, so there are only small costs associated with moving the CO2 around. The issue is producing an (almost) pure stream of it in the first place.

  13. 463
    GFW says:

    There wasn’t an open thread, so I’m posting off topic … some denier over at Climate Progress posted a link http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/180_years_accurate_Co2_Chemical_Methods.pdf to a paper purporting to show wild swings in atmospheric C02 from direct measurements since around 1800. It appears to be by a German biologist who did a review of old measurements. What’s the deal with this claim? Is it simply that some of these old measurements were flawed and contaminated in ways that we don’t even know (’cause we weren’t a fly on the wall in an 1850’s laboratory). The author notes the discrepancy vs ice cores but doesn’t seem to offer any explanation.

    [Response: It’s old nonsense, that has been rebunked a dozen times. – gavin]

  14. 464
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18420-climate-chief-admits-error-over-himalayan-glaciers.html
    which says
    —-excerpt follows—-
    “This week Hasnain has claimed, for the first time, that he was misquoted by New Scientist in 1999.

    New Scientist stands by its story and was not the only news outlet to publish Hasnain’s claim.
    —–end excerpt—-

    pointing to direct quotations here:
    —excerpt follows—-

    Posted under:
    Feature Articles

    Glaciers beating retreat

    On august 4, 1985, a moraine-dammed glacial lake, Dig Tsho, burst in the Khumbu Himal area of Nepal. Within four to six hours, the lake had emptied into Lagmoche valley, one of the tributary valleys of the river Bhote Kosi, which flows along many Sherpa settlements.

    On august 4, 1985, a moraine-dammed glacial lake, Dig Tsho, burst in the Khumbu Himal area of Nepal. Within four to six hours, the lake had emptied into Lagmoche valley, one of the tributary valleys of the river Bhote Kosi, which flows along many Sherpa settlements. For more than 90 km, the flood waters ‒ 10 to 15 metres high ‒ surged through the valley in the form of a huge “black” mass of debris.

    Trees and boulders were dragged and tossed around, causing landslides of varying sizes. Entire trails of the nearly complete Namche Small Hydel Project, 14 bridges and numerous houses that dotted the river disappeared in a few hours.

    Swiss scientists Daniel Vuichard and Marcus Zimmermann studied the catastrophe in detail. They concluded that the incident was one of several possible disasters which resulted from the thinning and receding of glaciers.They even warned about the frequency of such outbursts in the Himalaya in the future.

    ” Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high,” says the International Commission for Snow and Ice ( icsi ) in its recent study on Asian glaciers. “But if the Earth keeps getting warmer at the current rate, it might happen much sooner,” says Syed Iqbal Hasnain of the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Hasnain is also the chairperson of the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology ( wghg ), constituted in 1995 by the icsi.

    “The glacier will be decaying at rapid, catastrophic rates. Its total area will shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square km by the year 2035,” says former icsi president V M Kotlyakov in the report Variations of snow and ice in the past and present on a global and regional scale (see table: Receding rivers of ice ).
    —-end excerpt—-

    NOTE that’s an OLD article, this is of historical interest; it’s not a current statement.

    http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/node/319

  15. 465
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Septic@439 ” In the US right now, you could probably pass a bill that subsidized a mixture of CCS, alternative energy sources, reforestation, as long as you spent the money in every Congressional district — but not at a cost of $140B – $560B per year, and the tax/cap/borrowing issue has to be faced head-on.”

    Dude, we just spend 3 trillion to bail out billionaires. We spent over a trillion fighting a war we entered by accident. Don’t try to tell me that this is too expensive!

  16. 466
    EL says:

    406 Well, actually AGW is a “pretty-goddamn-near-certain”

    I completely disagree with you on many different levels. While global warming has a good probability, it is no where near certain. The the report on the Himalayan glaciers is a nice example of how the viewpoint can change.

    Against my best judgment, I’ll also discuss some additional issues related to global warming; however, these issues are a poor excuse for anyone who wishes to claim that they invalidate or undermine global warming.

    The largest problem of modeling the atmosphere is complexity. The complexity of the atmosphere is sufficient enough to cause all kinds of problems, and some of these problems are very strange in their own right. To illustrate one of these problems, lets examine one idea from Leibniz. Take a ballpoint pen and sling ink onto graph paper. The ink forms points on a graph that we can use to create a model for the points. From these points, we can create a model that will pass through every single point on the graph. Does our model mean anything? Leibniz would say that it does not, and I agree with him. If we can model nonsense, how then can we separate good models from nonsense models?

    There are some issues with the software side of models. Have all the libraries been mathematically checked? Has the complier been mathematically checked? Has the software been mathematically checked? Did any other program corrupt the memory? How about hardware issues corrupting data?

    We also get into a IP discussion because software patents, copyright on data, etc can all effect the quality of reports.

    In conclusion, I would say there is two words one should always avoid in discussions of science and mathematics. The two words are obvious and certainty.

  17. 467
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Patrik says, “Did some more math… 2 trillion tons of ice lost in 5 years, according to GRACE, equals 0,007246 percent of earths total ice mass if the estimation of ~30 million km3 in total is correct.
    Not so impressive a loss.”

    Well, except when you consider that that would raise sea level over 80 meters! Even 1% of that value means saying goodbye to about 1/3 of Florida, and a substantial area along the gulf coast.

  18. 468
    David Horton says:

    “Which decadal ice extents or volumes would be considered as optimal for the world?” – note the variant on “what is the optimal temperature for the world?” beloved of deniers. The “optimal amount” is that which was present during the slow development of human civilisations and economies, and during the slow establishment of the current ecology and biodiversity which supports all life on the planet. You reckon this can be changed rapidly without any effect on us and all the organisms we share the planet with?

  19. 469
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Septic Matthew says: 23 January 2010 at 5:27 PM

    “Real estimates of costs and efficiencies will be available soon.”

    Estimates seem to abound. We’ll see. First CCS needs to surmount the same issue as other technology, namely that it has to compete in a market where 19th century technology dominates the pricing scale and we pretend that dumping effluent all over ourselves and our neighbors is perfectly acceptable and even better free. Something about the “free market” and how efficient it is.

    I live next to a creek. I could hang a board with a hole in it over the back of my property and get away with “no” sewage bill, if I had the same attitude. Why would I ever choose to hook up to a municipal sewer service?

  20. 470
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #412 (ref #345) Hi Edward, the droughts and floods in Southern India are probably like Katrina — WE know AGW is intensifying them, but the scientists will tell us one drought does not climate change make — and they keep telling us that for each and every drought and flood, though eventually when life is on the brink I expect at least one scientist to say, “Yes, the increased & stronger droughts and floods in Southern India are indeed caused by AGW; too bad it’s too late to save the planet.”

    Here are parts of my “Food Rights & Climate Change” paper w/ references:

    Perhaps the greatest global warming threat to agricultural production is drought and heat stress (Battisti & Naylor 2009). Warmer air holds more moisture, leading to soil and plant desiccation (Cline 2007:26). Furthermore, this can lead to increased deluges, sometimes even during droughts (Parry, et al. 2007: 75), as happened in the 2009 floods in India, which was suffering its worst drought in a century; crop and property losses in one state were calculated at $3 billion, and food prices are expected to soar (NDTV 2009).

    ___________
    References:

    Battisti, D. S., and R. L. Naylor. 2009. “Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat.” Science 323: 240-244.

    Cline, W. R. 2007. Global Warming and Agriculture. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

    NDTV. 2009. “India: Prices set to soar as crucial crops are lost in floods.” Oct. 7. http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/prices_set_to_soar_as_crucial_crops_are_lost_in_floods.php

    Parry, M. L., O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, and Co-authors. 2007. “Technical Summary.” In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contributions of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, and C. E. Hanson (eds.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 23-78.

    RE the farmer suicides, I mainly read about them in THE HINDU (which is a great newspaper, better than any U.S. newspaper). Also there are stories about droughts, floods, & climate change, etc. You could do a search on it — http://www.hinduonnet.com

    The Times of India, and Frontline (India) are also good sources for more indepth articles.

  21. 471
    Hank Roberts says:

    > My interpretation of the statement from the report is that the
    > interpolation procedures being used now may not hold up in the future.
    > Thanks — Comment by Sean

    I don’t see anything like that in what you quoted. You know how interpolation is done? You see it in a weather report on a daily basis. When a weather front moves — those contour lines indicating temperature, pressure, rain or snow that you see changing on a weather report — don’t come from thousands of weather stations; they come from relatively few measurements plus the knowledge that those changes move at a very large scale. Once you understand that, it’s reasonable to interpolate. The individual stations are checked for consistency and unlikely numbers.

  22. 472
    mircea says:

    Doug Bostrom says (445): 23 January 2010 @ 3:40 PM

    I’ve read it and it is exactly what I said:The simulations – similar with scientific hypothesis – are just projections (hypotheses, extrapolations) as long as they are not empirically verified. Only the experiment/measurements will transform a simulation (a scientific hypothesis) in a predictive tool (a scientific theory). One can say that a simulation predicts only things that already happened :-). A simulation is a very useful tool to see how something might react in the future, but one must be aware always that the results of a simulation are only simulated results and nothing else.

    The conclusion of the article:
    “For all the millions of hours the modelers had devoted to their computations, in the end they could not say exactly how serious future global warming would be. They could only say that it was very likely to be bad, and it just might be an appalling catastrophe”

  23. 473
    Tim Jones says:

    Fairly accurate synopsis of the IPCC’s Glaciergate.

    “A distraction of Himalayan proportions”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/a-distraction-of-himalayan-proportions-1876420.html
    “A claim that the mountain glaciers of the Himalayas will vanish by 2035 has been debunked. Climate-change sceptics are jubilant. They shouldn’t be, says Steve Connor. Their disappearance is still only a matter of time”
    Saturday, 23 January 201
    (excerpt)
    “Professor Kargel said: “When sceptics talk of ‘glaciergate’, it hurts. That word suggests an elaborate conspiracy when there isn’t. This is a self-correcting system, that’s what happened, that’s what science is.”

  24. 474
    Andrew says:

    @mircea: “What does this prove? Even with the most detailed simulation/model one cannot determine if a statement about the real object is TRUE or FALSE.”

    Um, no, there are lots of simulations which do support accurate inference about real objects. We can, for example, quite accurately predict infrared emission and absorption spectra of most of the chemical species that occur in climate. The computer I am using to type this on had it’s CPU simulated in considerable detail in many ways before that circuit existed in silicon – and a great deal of interesting statements about the very complex behavior of this object were decided true or false, accurately, on the basis of those simulations.

    Whether a particular simulation of a complex system supports a particular inference about that system is an important question, and one which does not have simple general answers. Especially the obviously wrong answer you have “proved”.

  25. 475
    SEG says:

    With Dr. Murari Lal’s admission this morning to the London Daily mail that the Himalaya melting statement was not an error but entered in the 2007 IPCC report with full knowldge that it did not rest on peer reviewed science. It was, according to Lal, co-ordinating lead author of the section, included to put political pressure on world leaders though he knew the data hadn’t been verified.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245636/Glacier-scientists-says-knew-data-verified.html

  26. 476
    Doug Bostrom says:

    David B. Benson says: 23 January 2010 at 6:28 PM

    I don’t like to get sucked into techno-specific discussions here, they’re endless and tend to become repetitive, but since I foolishly brought it up may I just suggest that w/CCS when we run into

    “…it is only necessarily to move the separated CO2 to the nearest seaport for ocean transportation to sequestration sites…”

    we must unpack those few words into a world of complication? Especially that word “only.”

    Coal: “Ugh! Fire Good!” Neolithic pyromania with a patina of 19th century steam technology sprayed on, differentiated from oil and gas mostly by a truly hideous suite of extraction processes which make petroleum drilling and production look like brain surgery.

    Can’t we do better? Yes, as long as we’re careful to separate the needs of mineral company shareholders from our own. Any CCS tech needs to be looked at through a prism that splits and makes visible possibility versus desirability.

  27. 477
    dhogaza says:

    Does Global Warming spread (or at least change) the range of malaria? Probably; however, no mention of the artificial alteration of the baseline is made in the report, leading an uniformed person to believe the original range was natural.

    And, like, dude, the original range is like BEFORE DDT.

  28. 478
    dhogaza says:

    There are some issues with the software side of models. Have all the libraries been mathematically checked? Has the complier been mathematically checked? Has the software been mathematically checked? Did any other program corrupt the memory? How about hardware issues corrupting data?

    I can’t read your post, sorry. None of the software has been mathematically checked (presumably you mean “proved”), and your hardware has presumably corrupted what I hope began life as a rational post into something more resembling rambling lunatic nonsense.

    Computers and software don’t work. That’s why your post was garbled, that’s why airplanes don’t fly, that’s why climate models are all HOOEY!

  29. 479
    Doug Bostrom says:

    mircea says: 23 January 2010 at 10:21 PM

    I’m surprised you’re not squeamish about your line of work, given your apparent lack of confidence in science. You seem to be worried that models previously verified may suddenly and mysteriously break even while being unable to propose how that might happen.

    But coming back to the actual subject at hand, climate modeling has a decent record of verification. Weart’s history make that clear.

    I’m not sure what your point was with this quote, but I can make one myself.

    “For all the millions of hours the modelers had devoted to their computations, in the end they could not say exactly how serious future global warming would be. They could only say that it was very likely to be bad, and it just might be an appalling catastrophe”

    What to worry about? A unanticipated complete collapse of models in their grossest and most successful features, a failure not in detail or edge effects but in bulk, or the high probability of future events the gross features of models indicate? For me there is no difficulty in making a choice.

  30. 480
    dhogaza says:

    The conclusion of the article:
    “For all the millions of hours the modelers had devoted to their computations, in the end they could not say exactly how serious future global warming would be. They could only say that it was very likely to be bad, and it just might be an appalling catastrophe”

    Well, yes, of course, the modelers can’t predict what society will do in regard to controlling emissions.

    Just like those who write flight simulators can’t predict what society will do to try to destroy airplanes in the air.

    The future actions of humans, born and more especially unborn, are unknown.

    Yet, airplanes fly, and climate warms. We may see nuclear winter due to a fusion fest holocaust, causing airplanes to drop from the sky, and CO2 emissions to be cut to say 1% of current levels due to the destruction that results.

    Yet, this doesn’t mean that modelers who say “airplanes fly!” or climate will warm if we increase CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are wrong.

    So what is your point?

  31. 481
    Jeff L. says:

    Patrik says (430) “With a melting of 200 km3/year, the global ice mass of app. 30 000 000 km3 would take about 145 000 years to melt.
    Isn’t this true?”

    No. Ice dynamics are highly non-linear, so a linear extrapolation is not justified. Plastic flow in ice has an exponential temperature dependence, and basal slip and calving rates won’t remain constant as temperature increases. If glaciologists have underestimated the rate of melting on a scale of decades, predictions past the century scale would have little meaning.

  32. 482
    mircea says:

    Andrew says (474): 23 January 2010 @ 11:20 PM

    “there are lots of simulations which do support accurate inference about real objects” Yes, the moment the simulation is validated through measurements then it can be used inside a certain envelope/domain to predict results without the need for extra measurements. This is what we are doing with flight simulators. For the flight envelope that the sim is certified the pilots can be trained to such a degree that their first flight on the real aircraft can be done with passengers on board.
    On the other hand one cannot enunciate a scientific hypothesis, create a simulation and then assert that the scientific hypothesis is true because the results of the simulation agree with the hypothesis. Please see my comment 472!

    “Whether a particular simulation of a complex system supports a particular inference about that system is an important question, and one which does not have simple general answers. Especially the obviously wrong answer you have “proved”.
    – I agree. My conclusion was sloppy written but I still think that the anecdote correctly illustrates what problems we had with a simple and clear problem (do the wheels move or not) and how we were unable to give an answer without recourse to experiment.

  33. 483
    Don Shor says:

    461 Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. says:
    23 January 2010 at 6:11 PM
    426 Don Shor, 444 Hank Roberts, 447 David Benson
    Wow, what a story! Do you realize that the GWP is considered to be absolute proof that AGW is a hoax?

    Not by me. I have no special knowledge about the MWP. I know it is a controversial subject, and is the focus of much of the ‘hockey stick’ debate. I thought you might find the link I provided interesting, as it seems to show that researchers have found evidence of a warm period, or various warm periods, at various places around the world. I gave you all the caveats. I would find it interesting if someone would look at that list and either substantiate or debunk the data presented there.

    Thus, I say the MWP did not happen.
    That’s a pretty absolute conclusion to come to based on what you present. A lot of researchers in various fields will be interested to know that their work has been pointless.
    I do know enough about viticulture to know that wine grapes of various types can be grown far outside of what is considered the normal or ideal range. People are amazingly motivated to make wine.

    I suggest you guys get a grip.
    Likewise.

  34. 484
    Septic Matthew says:

    469, Doug Bostrom: We’ll see.

    On that we agree.

    Ray Ladbury: Dude, we just spend 3 trillion to bail out billionaires. We spent over a trillion fighting a war we entered by accident. Don’t try to tell me that this is too expensive!

    OK. But two mistakes do not by themselves justify a third.

  35. 485
    dkkraft says:

    Sorry for the spelling. I meant:

    If Dr. Lal is quoted correctly he is admitting the use of Propaganda…..

  36. 486
    mircea says:

    dhogaza says (455): 23 January 2010 @ 4:57 PM

    “Tell us something we don’t know. What strawman are you attacking here?”
    I thought that you claim that a simulation can be so good that it doesn’t need validation from experiment any more. I just wanted o give an insight from my domain.
    Simulations so good that there are no surprises??!! We have 1500 snags on a repeat right now (i.e. we’ve done this aircraft before and the code is – supposed to be – the same).

  37. 487
    J says:

    Not infallible? Hmm, seems that a bit understated..

    Breaking story in The Telegraph:

    “The year after the IPCC report was published, however, Dr Hasnain was recruited by Dr Pachauri to head a new glaciology unit at TERI. In a matter of months, TERI was given a share in a $500,000 dollar study of melting Himalayan glaciers funded by a US charity, the Carnegie Corporation. It is clear from Carnegie’s database that a key part in winning this contract was played by Dr Hasnain’s claim that most glaciers in the region “will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming”.

    In May 2009 TERI was also given a share in a three million euro project funded by the EU. Citing the WWF’s 2005 report, the EU set up its “High Noon” project to study the impact of melting Himalayan glaciers. It was particularly keen to foster alarm over the Himalayas as a means to win Indian support for action on climate change at last year’s Copenhagen conference.

    Last November, however, Dr Raina, the country’s most senior glaciologist, published a report for the Indian government showing that the rate of retreat of Himalayan glaciers had not increased in the past 50 years and that the IPCC’s predictions were recklessly alarmist. This provoked the furious reaction from Dr Pachauri that tarred Dr Raina’s report as “arrogant” and “voodoo science”.

    Only weeks later came the devastating revelation that the IPCC’s own prediction had no scientific foundation.

  38. 488
    Didactylos says:

    “Completely Fed Up” said:

    Because you insist there isn’t space for a wind farm (with 630m between them!!!) because that land needs to be used for farming etc.

    But you CAN use it for farming.

    This would be the dual use you say you’re already considering.

    J’accuse!

    You are simply making things up.

    a) I am not claiming that there is not room for wind farms.

    b) I am not claiming that wind farms can’t coexist with farmland.

    Since you are clearly providing both sides of this discussion from inside your own head, I’m afraid I am no longer going to waste time on you.

    Bye bye!

  39. 489

    450 Edward Greisch,

    Did someone say that nuclear power plants in controlled operation posed a health threat to anyone?

    Chernobyl caused a problem. A coal fired power plant fails and all the radioactive material just lies in the bin, well ensconced in its own lump of coal.

    Chernobyl is not a good reason not to carefully do nuclear, though it is a real PR reason why it might not happen.

    Nuclear waste is still a troubling thing. Maybe we should just sequester it along with the CO2. That should also be a cheap answer!!???

  40. 490
    Frank Giger says:

    Oh, it gets worse on the PR front.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/23/AR2010012302399.html

    “There will always be a body of people who will deny it till they are blue in the face,” [IPCC Chairman] Pachauri said. “These people are only concerned about continuing with their wasteful and terribly profligate lifestyles.”

    Um, yeah, I actually do want to keep my standard of living.

    “Wasteful and terribly profligate” compared to whom, exactly? Rural China? The Sudan? Zimbabwe? North Korea? I’ll stipulate that compared to most of the people living on the planet I enjoy what can be seemed as “wasteful and proliferate.” Hell, I mix my own waste with drinking water and literally flush it down a drain. At what point is my standard of living reduced to be acceptable to the UN – when I no longer have a flush toilet? When my electricity is rationed on the notion that I simply don’t “need” it, as otherwise I would be living a wasteful and proliferate lifestyle?

    These sorts of statements make me vary wary of the motivations of the IPCC, and therefore very skeptical of any predictions or pronouncements.

  41. 491
    Jimbo says:

    Comment 396 response to Jimbo

    Maybe it’s because the fact that other forcings might play a role in glacial melt is uncontroversial and has been noted here many times before and because a BBC report of hearsay evidence is not particularly noteworthy and because a study looking at a single decade in a single locale is not particularly notable on a global scale.

    However, “hearsay evidence” or rather non-peer reviewed evidence of glacier melt was allowed into the IPCC report. Furthermore, if the same research I quoted had put the ‘melting’ purely down to CO2 it would have been trumpeted around the globe on the MSM and dare I say here at RC.

    I am impressed by people’s responses here, ie the inability / resistance to see alternative explanations for weather / climate anomalies.

    Explain this:
    Swiss glaciers melted faster in the 1940’s than today despite higher levels of CO2.
    http://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/archive_articles/091214_gletscherschwund_su/index_EN

    Now, here are a few issues to help rattle you guys:

    UK Parliament to investigate Climategate and CRU data issues
    http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_cru_inquiry.cfm
    ——
    Arctic temperatures above 80°N are the lowest in six years despite ever increasing CO2 levels. What if it said “highest is six years”, what would you post on RC? Think about it!
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/meanTarchive/meanT_2010.png

  42. 492
    ccpo says:

    “#397 Tom S:…But we know of about 2 dozen previous civilizations that collapsed due to climate changes much smaller than the one we have already made.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 23 January 2010 @ 2:26 AM”

    This is an example of what you might call, “The Weakest Link Syndrome.” Most people seem to focus on large issues as the things to be scared about, i.e., climate change, Peak Oil, etc. But all it takes in a highly complex system is for one critical resource to not be available.

    E.g., not many seem to know that the future economy is likely largely in China’s hands because 95% of Rare Earth ores are in China. For the rest of the world, this could mean anything from China taking THE central place in international relations to essentially being vassals of China. (This is not my point, so don’t get hung up on it.)

    The point is, while we are all looking at climate and oil, it could be something like rare earth metals that does us in. Being a complex system, if those metals are either in short supply or too expensive, everything else we do suffers.

    There is term for this one critical element in a given system that is escaping me just now, but understand this: civilizations don’t fail because everything fails at once, they fail because a critical resource or system fails, then everything follows in a cascading failure. Whether these failures are fast or slow is the real question for us, I fear.

  43. 493
    Jimbo says:

    Comment 396 response to Jimbo

    “Maybe it’s because the fact that other forcings might play a role in glacial melt is uncontroversial and has been noted here many times before and because a BBC report of hearsay evidence is not particularly noteworthy and because a study looking at a single decade in a single locale is not particularly notable on a global scale.”
    —–
    However, “hearsay evidence” or rather non-peer reviewed evidence of glacier melt was allowed into the IPCC report. Furthermore, if the same research I quoted had put the ‘melting’ purely down to CO2 it would have been trumpeted around the globe on the MSM and dare I say here at RC.

    The whole point of my post was to contradict to a certain extent the IPCC contention of complete Himalayan glacier melting in 2035 or 2350. For that matter NASA’s 2030 complete melting later removed from the site.

    I am impressed by people’s responses here, i.e. the inability / resistance to see alternative explanations for weather / climate anomalies because many seem embedded to the false belief in the powerful effects of CO2 at today’s levels.

    Explain this:
    Swiss glaciers melted faster in the 1940’s than today despite higher levels of CO2.
    http://www.ethlife.ethz.ch/archive_articles/091214_gletscherschwund_su/index_EN

    Now, here are a few issues to help rattle you guys:

    UK Parliament to investigate Climategate and CRU data issues
    http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/science_technology/s_t_cru_inquiry.cfm
    ——
    Arctic temperatures above 80°N are the lowest in six years despite ever increasing CO2 levels. What if it said “highest is six years”, what would you post on RC? Think about it!
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/meanTarchive/meanT_2010.png

  44. 494
    Edward Greisch says:

    470 Lynn Vincentnathan: Thank you. I forwarded your previous statement to my senators an hour ago. I hope it helps.

  45. 495
    Jimbo says:

    Comment 396 response to Jimbo@370
    “Did you notice that it was called GLOBAL warming?”

    No I did not notice that thanks for pointing it out to me. What I did notice was that your “GLOBAL warming” was CHANGED to CLIMATE CHANGE. I wonder why?

  46. 496
    ccpo says:

    “Isn’t it true that the melting rate from the last glacial maximum up until now is about 2700 km3 ice/year, but from 1960 it’s merely about 200 km3 ice/year?
    With a melting of 200 km3/year, the global ice mass of app. 30 000 000 km3 would take about 145 000 years to melt.
    Isn’t this true?”

    I don’t know if your numbers are true or not, but I do know that since the baseline period, total ARCTIC ice mass is down 80%+. I say plus because in ’07 they were saying 80% down and since then it has increased. As you *should* know, recent studies from this past year show that even ice registering via satellite as healthy, thick sea ice was actually more like swiss cheese.

    Yes, I could go with your GLOBAL ice meme, but it’s just another way to mislead. After all, since we glaciers are in retreat overall, that Arctic Sea ice is in decline and there is melting in the Antarctic interior – all far more recent than 1960 – and the only thing growing is Antarctric sea ice (on average), it’s not very honest to claim ice hasn’t really changed much since 1960.

    Additionally, 1960 was near the end of a long cool phase due to aerosols (also man-made), so that ice was at a higher overall extent at that time wouldn’t be very surprising, would it? Nice Cherry Pick, though. When we add in that Antarctic sea ice is on an uptrend because of another man-made issue – ozone – you don’t really have much to say, do you?

    Deal with this reality: The Arctic is not protected by thousands of feet of elevation and circumpolar winds. The total amount of ice there is in massive decline. Forget extent, though I know it is sexy and visually arresting, the real key is mass, and that is nearly gone.

    Or does 80+% not register with you?

    Even in the Antarctic, where ice is protected by elevation and circumpolar winds, there is ice mass loss.

    Why are you not ashamed of misleading others?

  47. 497
    ccpo says:

    “The Summary for Policy Makers is just what it says, a list of policy driven summaries of the science that suggest political policies to be implemented.

    [Response: I would recommend reading something before broadcasting your incorrect opinions on it. – gavin]

    Comment by ferocious — 23 January 2010 @ 4:11 PM”

    Let’s give him/her their due, Gavin: The Summary for Policy Makers is just what it says, a list of politically minimized summaries of the science that suggests political policies to be avoided.

  48. 498
    Edward Greisch says:

    407 Daniel J. Andrews: Thank you. Wind turbine failures as in your videos are the reason for not putting wind turbines within 1/2 mile of any structure, and for staying away from wind turbines during wind storms. Public safety officials have good reason to prohibit wind turbines in a lot of places.

  49. 499
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Did some more math… 2 trillion tons of ice lost in 5 years,
    according to GRACE, equals 0,007246 percent of earths total ice
    mass if the estimation of ~30 million km3 in total is correct.

    Seems about right… 1 mm/yr sea level equivalent, of a total of 70m. Add a second mm/yr from smaller ice sheets and glaciers, and a third from sea water expansion, and you’re close to the observed 3.4 mm/yr.

    Not so impressive a loss._

    You ain’t seen nothing yet :-(

  50. 500
    Edward Greisch says:

    421 Kris: There are some other reasons why you might want reconsider coal: