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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. 601
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “586
    Steve Smith says:
    24 January 2010 at 9:34 PM

    It doesn’t matter that AGW is real. The IPCC is now proven to be politically motivated first and a scientific body second.”

    And this proof is in a book called “The Necronomicon”?

    Or is this proof merely in your conspiracy theorist head?

    And if it were, why would that make AGW not matter if it’s real?

  2. 602
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I did notice was that your “GLOBAL warming” was CHANGED to CLIMATE CHANGE. I wonder why?”

    What does the CC in “IPCC” stand for?

    And it was a Republican Senator (Frank Luntz) who wanted climate change pushed because it was less scary than global warming.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Luntz#Global_warming

    Projection, again: you change the push then blame your opponents of making the change.

    Pathetic.

  3. 603
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Leighton: “While no one thought the IPCC was infallible, its propagandists (you know who you are) sure wanted everyone to think that the IPCC’s findings and conclusions are as reliable as science can get.”

    Being as reliable as science can get doesn’t mean infallible.

    What is going on up there, boy?

  4. 604
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles:

    “completely fed up : Please tell us which projects costing millions were undertaken solely or mainly from the idea that the Himalayas were going to be gone in 2035?

    did I say “solely or mainly” ?”

    Then the error in here has not cost millions in projects that are, now that it’s not 2035, unwanted expense, are they, since there’s nothing else wrong you’ve found.

    So why were you whingeing about it?

    “Unfortunately, as I said, I think it is “very likely” that ALL scenarios in SRES are wrong at least for”

    Why do you think this? Purely so that you can complain about millions being spent?

    “If it is 99,999 % true, being mainly a review of research works, it would mean that climatology has the absolute record of accuracy and reliability. Which would surprise me indeed”

    So if it IS that accurate, you’re surprised and would consider that wrong.

    If they AREN’T that accurate, you’re complaining that millions are being wasted on incorrect science.

    Heads you win/tails they lose, huh?

    “(given the fact that fundamental quantities like climate sensitivity is not known with an accuracy better than 50 % for instance).”

    Uhm, when you say “I am 5′ 10″ tall, within 6 inches” that is inaccurate and 100% correct.

    And it means you can’t make doors 5′ tall and there’s no point making trousers for me 4′ long.

    That range of sensitivity is correct and none of it occurs over a range of sensitivity that results in us wasting money if we tackle CO2 production.

    You complain about wasting millions but don’t have a reason to claim them wasted.

    Fail.

    You complain that the sensitvity range is large, but neither extreme has a scenario where AGW mitigation is not warranted and you ignore it.

    Fail.

  5. 605
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ” Lal “last night admitted [the scary figure] was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

    Should I even go into the grants that have been awarded for this nonsense?

    There absolutely zero defense for this.”

    What crime is there a defense for?

    That quote has been used to claim that the IPCC is a policy making forum, but there’s a great defense against that charge: that statement is NOT MAKING POLICY.

    And you fail to point out which grants were awarded to combat the Himalaya 2035 prediction, just like the new Tilo, Gilles.

    Got one?

    ANYTHING?

    No?

    Then there’s no charge to answer for and no need for a defence.

    After all, what defence do you have for lascivious thoughts about young children, EL?

    That has no defence, except: you don’t have those thoughts.

  6. 606
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Well, here’s a good one- Rajendra Pachauri’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). One grant, from the EU, totalled £2.5m and was designed to “to assess the impact of Himalayan glaciers retreat”. ”

    Well, that would find out that the 2035 was wrong and find out what the figure should be.

    This is called “science”.

    And it wasn’t only for Himalayas, but for many mountain glacier studies.

    Another grant received this month from the Carnegie Foundation for £310,000 was specifically given to aid research into “the potential security and humanitarian impact on the region” as the glaciers began to disappear.”

    And they are disappearing.

    The 2035/2350 error doesn’t stop the glaciers melting.

    THEY ARE MELTING.

    Your arguments are toast.

    “And, Dr Syed Hasnain, the scientist that supposedly made the bogus claim is the head of the glaciology unit at TERI…LOL!!!!!”

    Well, where do you expect a climate scientist to work? There’s not a multi-trillion-dollar industry with hundreds of players to work with.

    You really have to drag at the bottom of the barrel, don’t you, to feed your hate.

  7. 607
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Robert: “The question still remains whether calculations and or modeling have addressed the removal/movement of large amounts of energy from atmospheric circlation by large numbers of windmills?”

    Large quantities?

    1) The wind doesn’t go to 0mph at the other side of the windmill.

    2) The windmills occupy the bottom 0.3% of the atmosphere

    The amount of energy needed to be extracted makes <0.001% of the energy available is extracted if you interrupt the wind with maximum windmill densities across the world. The amount extracted for meeting 100% of the world's requirement is miniscule compared to THAT.

    This "problem" has been bleated about before.

    It was bllx then it's bllx squared now.

  8. 608
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “No, Sir. The proofs come from measurements through experiment and observations plus logic.”

    Which we have:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    Measurement through experiment and observation.

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/co2.htm

    Logic and experimental measurement.

    It seems more like YOU are the one missing logic.

    Or even reading skills.

  9. 609
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “But they know well why they talk about confidence (probability) and not tolerances when they present their results.”

    So when you tell the designers your design has a tolerance of 20um, how do you arrive at that?

    You use confidence limits.

    At least if you’re an ENGINEER you do.

    When the twin towers burned down, didn’t they say that it would withstand just that scenario? The design spec certainly asked it to withstand a laden jumbo jet hitting it.

    I guess the tolerances they used only had a limited confidence in reaching the design goal, huh?

  10. 610
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 560 Completely Fed Up says: 24 January 2010

    “Once peak oil is reached (a few years ago …), ”
    “The problem with that definition, is that if the price of oil goes high enough, you could start exploiting coal reserves and tar shale extraction.
    “Now you’ve increased production and fossil-fundies proclaim “See!!!! The scientists got it wrong AGAIN!!!”.
    “Your version is far too fungible, my definition is the economic one, yours and Tims the engineering one.”

    If you looked at the charts you’d see the peaks for unconventional oil is included. Gas is included. Our definition is the geological one – named for M. King Hubbert, The original US curve was called Hubbert’s Peak.

    http://www.oilposter.org/posterlarge.html
    or
    http://planetforlife.com/oilcrisis/oilpeak.html

    Do you really propose to snag a new definition out of an economics magazine and confuse everyone with it? There is only one peak in this, not a mountain range, the peak is only known after a few years, when depletion is well recognized.

    It should be recognized there are a lot of wells and other kinds of holes out there. New finds and improved extraction slow down the inevitable drop off. Peak oil is geology. It’s real. The real debate is about what to do about it.

    The current cost of oil and the ERoEI for new recovery will determine acceptable risk for new ventures. If the EROEI
    of tar sands included the cost of addressing climate change, gasoline would be prohibitively expensive. But we allow corporations to externalize the cost of environmental protection. Taxpayers pay the cost of cleaning up the mess while investors rake in the cash. Taxpayers fall for this because they’re confused and misled by the anti-science AGW denialist crowd in the game to maximize the value of their investments. Most of the anti-science screeds are funded by right wing think tanks.

    The later we put off the peak in peak oil, the more we flatten the peak with alternative energy, the shallower the down slope depletion horrors will be.

    So this is what’s so horribly wrong with right wing elements politicizing climate change and acidification of the ocean.

    The way to address peak oil is with alterative energy specific to transportation. Electric cars powered by wind and solar, etc. The republican right wing’s obstructing subsidies for alternative energy thus accelerates the peak in peak oil making it worse and us unprepared.

    What’s really sick is underestimating Chinese investment in alternative energy. Right wing obstruction to US investment in alternative energy is borderline treasonable. It amounts to giving aid and comfort to the enemy while making the US economy vulnerable to a more complete Chinese takeover of the means of production. We need to take peak oil seriously.
    Per se, it’s not going to save us from perhaps even more serious consequences of global warming. It could be used to leverage action on alternative energy though, if it were understood in terms of geological facts.

  11. 611
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Here’s something for all those wailing and gnashing their teeth over this:

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/01/11/mojib-latif-slams-daily-mail/#more-1409

    When are you going to rail at the Daily Mail et al and get them to stop making stuff up.

    If their lies are listened to, then millions of pounds will be wasted, spent on burning CO2 we have to remove from the atmosphere.

  12. 612
    Oslo says:

    Here in Norway 90% of glaciers are growing despite the reported temperature increase. More snowfall in winter is the explanation.

    Similarly – less snowfall in winter is a major contributor to shrinking glaciers elsewhere.

    But in the reports it all seems to come down to one factor – temperature increase caused by human induced CO2.

    There is a clear bias here, detracting from the credibility of the IPCC.

  13. 613

    Jimbo: Will you people stop fingering CO2? She’s not-guilty, she’s not toxic!!

    BPL: Look again:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

  14. 614
    Geoff Wexler says:

    What lessons should we have learned

    With regards to the report from working group 2 (Impacts) in particular.

    Don’t rely on any single review no matter how good or prestigous. Environmentalists and politicians should employ some bright people to read the ipcc reports (how many people do?) in their entirety and go back to the sources (references) for topics which are of special concern. If that turns out to be insufficient it is usually possible to obtain more information by writing to the authors.

    Any sensible policy maker or environmentalist group would have done this in any case.

    What has the pro-CO2 emitting lobby learned
    As far as I can see their conclusion is that the mistake should be used as model for all behaviour i.e. the public and politicians should be persuaded to rely on blogs , articles and books which don’t bother with peer reviewed papers at all for the crucial details. (Ian Plimer for example only pretends to rely on them, as was demonstrated by his encounters with George Monbiot).

    Finally I wonder why I was never under the impression that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear so quickly? Was it because I was lazy or was it that I never read about it in Realclimate, Open Mind,Grumbine etc. ?

  15. 615
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Steve Smith @586. Yawn! Dude, it’s a frickin typo from an organization that publishes thousands of pages. But fine. Don’t like the IPCC, go to the peer reviewed literature, and it will tell you pretty much the same thing–we’re warming the planet and this will have severe consequences unless we do something different.

  16. 616
    Ray Ladbury says:

    ferocious, Why not go to the literature and see what is being predicted? And don’t bother saying you did–you didn’t even get the year right on Hansen’s original model! Also, we are dealing with dynamical models, not “parameterized” models fit to data. Do learn the difference, please, as it will save a lot of confusion.

    What climate science predicts is that each successive decade ought to be warmer than the one before it unless known forcings change significantly. And lo and behold, that’s been true for 30 years.
    Here are some other predictions that have been verified:

    http://bartonpaullevenson.com/ModelsReliable.html

    Got anything that comes close to that? Didn’t think so.

  17. 617

    Doug S: The most damaging element of the debate on CO2 in the atmosphere is the suppression of skeptical viewpoints

    BPL: Suppression HOW? Denier pseudoscience is chattered about 24/7 on the internet. Lindzen gets published regularly in respectable journals, as does Svensmark. You’ve got your own fake journals, like Energy & Environment. You guys OWN right-wing talk radio, plus the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Fox News is Denier TV Central. Deniers get their books published on Amazon and in all the major bookstores. If this is being suppressed, please, please, SUPPRESS ME!!!

  18. 618

    Jonatan,

    Volcanoes plus metamorphism is about 330 million tons per year, of which volcanoes account for 200 million (T.M. Gerlach of USGS, pc).

  19. 619
    Bill DeMott says:

    “Kinda like Rachel Carson, the alar people, the new ice agers, the ozone holers and the acid rainers. Too bad AGW is true. A few nuts may have just doomed the human race. The boy cried wolf was eventually honest.”

    Comment by Steve Smith — 24 January 2010 @ 9:34 PM

    Ok Steve:

    So, reducing CFCs has reduced the rate of increase of the ozone hole, as predicted. Acid rain is still a problem, but has been reduced (in North America and Europe) largely by removing sulfur from the smoke stacks of coal burning power plants and shutting down smelters. In my opinion, these are examples of how science, regulation and pollution control have helped solve environmental problems. The ozone hole problem is an excellent example of the role of international cooperation. Your insinuation that these two issues were environmental hoaxes is completely wrong. Unfortunately for their people, the Chinese are just starting to deal with pollution, such as acid rain, from coal and other sources.

  20. 620

    Stephen Pruett: Most alarming to me is the refusal to make data available to others on request.

    BPL: It’s not alarming to anyone with a clue. 95% of the CRU data has always been in the public domain. The other 5% is held by national met services around the world which charge for it, and which required CRU NOT to release it further–which is why the FOI judge ruled that CRU had done nothing illegal. You want that 5%? Go pay for it. But 95% of the data is all you need, and for that matter, 100% of the NASA GISS, RSS TLT, and UAH MSU data is public domain. What’s wrong with that data? How much data do you need?

  21. 621
    William Smart says:

    Even more damaging than the two stories in the Times (detailing how grant applications passed this month contained statements falsified last month) is the attempt to pretend this isn’t serious.

  22. 622
    Bob says:

    For those following the MWP / Medieval Warm Period / GWP / Global Warm Period argument: Mann (2009)

  23. 623
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Now they are attacking the IPCC on other grounds — GW linked to extreme weather (floods & cyclone intensity) — see The Australian, “United Nations caught out again on climate claims”
    http://www.climateark.org/shared/reader/welcome.aspx?linkid=149573

    THE UN climate science panel faces new controversy for wrongly linking global warming to a rise in natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

    The latest controversy goes back to the IPCC’s benchmark 2007 report on climate change, which warned that the world had “suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s”. It suggested part of the increase was because of global warming…

    However, the scientific paper on which the IPCC based its claim had not been peer reviewed, nor published, by the time the climate body issued its report. When the paper was published, in 2008, it had a new caveat. It said: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophic losses.”…

    The paper at the centre of the latest questions was written in 2006 by Robert Muir-Wood, head of research at Risk Management Solutions, a London consultancy, who became a contributing author on the IPCC report on climate change impacts.

    He wanted to find out if the eight year-on-year increase in losses caused by weather-related disasters since the 1960s was larger than could be explained by the impact of social changes such as growth in population. Such an increase, coinciding with rising temperatures, would suggest global warming was to blame.

    In the research, Mr Muir-Wood looked at a range of hazards, including tropical cyclones, floods and hurricanes. He found from 1950 to 2005 there was no increase in the impact of disasters once growth was accounted for. For 1970 to 2005 he found a 2 per cent annual increase that “corresponded with a period of rising global temperatures”, but said almost all of it was because of strong hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005. Despite such caveats, the IPCC report cited only the 1970-2005 results.

    Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, who commissioned Mr Muir-Wood’s paper, has told the IPCC that citing one section in preference to the rest was wrong.

    “The idea that catastrophes are rising in cost because of climate change is completely misleading,” Mr Muir-Wood said.

    To me this is sort of a red herring. Of course, the value to the property destroyed really has only a little to do with the intensity of the flood or cyclone. What if the flood or cyclone was really terrible, but only hit uninhabited or very poor areas, or during our economic downturn when the property value was half the cost as during economic boom times?

    How can this even be a proxy for severe weather events? It only talks about actual harms….which are important as effects, but not as determinations as to whether GW is linked to storms.

    Then there is the issue of policy-makers and their role. Which is NOT to look back and assess harm done during Katrina (and as scientists point out, you cannot tie single weather events to GW, which is a big statistical thing made up of all weather). Their role is to look forward and prevent harm from happening. One part of the responsibility is to see that GW is mitigated, so LIKELY increasing intense weather events on into the future don’t cause harms to property and lives.

    However, since the general public doesn’t know the difference between weather and climate, or other factors, it is quite devious for the media to print stories like that.

    And of course it is quite misleading so suggest that no link to storm intensity right now (and I do believe there are plenty of peer-reviewed articles to support there is some link even now), mean GW is not happening, there will be no links in the future, and esp THERE ARE NO OTHER PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH GW.

    What about droughts, sea rise, disease spread, heat deaths, crop failure, etc etc. Even if it were found GW would not be intensifying storm, that gives me zero solice, due to all the other much worse problems we know will come with GW.

  24. 624
    dhogaza says:

    Johnny:

    There appears to be a difference between being fallable, and deliberately including an unsubstantiated claim to inflience policymakers?

    yes, they were so intent on deliberately including an unsubstantiated claim to influence policy makers that …

    THEY DIDN’T PUT IT IN THE SUMMARY FOR POLICY MAKERS!

    Gee, Johnny …

  25. 625
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    As an addendum to what I just wrote re storm-GW link — what looks like it might be an intentionally created — controvery by the sponsor of that article, this is such a ridiculous attack for the simple reason that mitigating GW-linked storm intensity by GHG reduction, etc. is exactly the same mitigation for GW in general, as well as GW-linked heat deaths, GW-linked droughts, GW-linked glacier retreat, GW-linked disease-spread, GW-linked hydrogen sulfide outgassing that will knock off much of weakened life, as it did during the end-Permian great warming hysteresis, when 95% of life died.

    I do feel the pain of billionaires when their beach-front properties get destroyed by hurricanes, but we’re talking about the viability of life on planet earth.

    So if policy-makers are calling for GHG reduction to mitigate GW, bec they have in mind that GW cause earthquakes (apparently it might cause small ones as glaciers retreat in Greenland), or they are worried about hurricane intensity (supposing it is later found not linked to GW), then it doesn’t really matter, does it, since there are so many other good reasons to mitigate.

    Someone specializing in logic should step in here to point out what fallacy I’m taling about.

  26. 626
    Edward Greisch says:

    490 Frank Giger: I see no reason to reduce your standard of living as long as you get your energy from sources that don’t produce CO2 like fossil fuels do. The problem comes from Congress not having the courage to stand up to the fossil fuel industry with its $1Trillion/year cash flow. Instead of doing what has to be done, shutting down the coal industry immediately, they do what I call “displacement activity.” By displacement activity, I mean making laws that do irrelevant things like require that toilets use so little water they can’t work and require that appliances hassle you and turn themselves off when you don’t want them to. That sort of law is just silly, but it allows them to pretend that they are doing something. The thing that controls the climate that is under our control is CO2. Wasted energy is easily dissipated into space if the CO2 level in the atmosphere is low enough.
    So you see, your lifestyle is not in danger from reasonable environmentalists.

  27. 627
    mircea says:

    Doug Bostrom says (479): 24 January 2010 @ 12:17 AM
    “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.”

    What? I think you misunderstood, let me explain:

    There are two distinct domains for a simulations: One is the envelope of validity and, obviously, the second is the outside of this envelope. The word validity on this site can be wrongly taken so I will use domain of interpolation and domain of extrapolation (in day to day language we use the term “certified”).

    In the domain of interpolation (where one measured the two ends of the interval where the calculus is done), and this is the case of a flight simulator, the result of the simulation has 100% confidence and as such there is no need for a measurement on the real object. When we present the result we just need to present the tolerances and we never talk about confidence (because it’s 100%).
    An assertion based on such a result can have a FALSE or TRUE value.

    In the domain of extrapolation (and this is the case of design simulations, climate simulations, research) we stop having 100% confidence in the results, these results represent hypothesis now. (e.g. Let’s take a simulation of a spring. In the domain where we measured the real spring the results calculated have a 100% confidence. Outside that domain we can calculate the force vs elongation but maybe the real spring breaks, or the elasticity changes, or there is hard stop, therefore we cannot be 100% confident any more. An assertion based on such a result doesn’t have a FALSE or TRUE value. It always has a MAYBE value. Only measurement/observation of the real object will transform the MAYBE in FALSE or TRUE.

    I am not disputing the AGW theory or the usefulness of the climate models. All I am saying – and the opposition received was a surprise – is that MAYBE can be transformed in TRUE/FALSE only by recourse to real object. The simulation, no matter how detailed it is, will never be able to do it.

  28. 628
    mircea says:

    Ray Ladbury says (582): 24 January 2010 @ 7:36 PM

    Are we not on the IPCC error thread?

    But you are right, my assertion is indifferent scientifically. It is indifferent because one can assign no TRUE/FALSE values to it. It is just a MAYBE. If I would have provided a date (eventually some tolerances) then the assertion would have gained in value. In the future one would have been able to assign a TRUE/FALSE value to it. Similarly, the main problem with the present Himalayan glaciers scandal was that there was a date assigned (2035). No date, no scandal. The drawback is that without a date the prediction loses value.

    Consistency and rigorous logic are essential for science, unfortunately they often slip through the cracks.A philosophy of science course should be a requirement in all Universities.

  29. 629
    john McCormick says:

    RE # 503

    Jimbo, you said: ‘Now from soot to moisture depletion.”

    and included the following:

    “Most glaciologists now agree that it is the moisture depletion, not temperature increase that is the primary cause for glacier retreat.”

    That quote is from a piece Dr. Pilke, Sr. invited from Madhav L Khandekar, a former research scientist from Environment Canada and colleague of Canada’s ace climate change skeptic, Tim Ball.

    On his return from a trip to his Indian homeland, Dr. Khandekar had this conclusion to his article, “INDIA’S ECONOMIC PROGRESS IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: BENEFITS OF GLOBAL WARMING”, Energy & Environment * Vol. 17, No. 5, 2006

    “In summary, India today has done well by adapting to the warmer climate and associated climate change. Indians do not mind hot weather, in fact they thrive on it! The India Meteorological Department has increased its mandate and personnel substantially in recent years and has developed improved capabilities for foreshadowing of the summer Monsoon rainfall and associated variability. Extreme weather events like Bay of Bengal cyclones striking coastal regions of southern India are monitored at present with improved technology and this has resulted in reduced human and property losses in recent years.

    There is no deleterious impact of Global Warming on India, its people and its economy at present.”

    Citing the apparently self-taught wisdom of Dr. Khandekar’s views on melting Himalayan glaciers betrays your weak appreciation for actual conditions of the Glaciers. He appears to be satisfied that there is no need to be concerned.

    However, actual visible evidence of a massive glacier beneath Mt. Everest shows proof that moisture depletion (i.e. melting) is evident and that has nothing in common with your thoughts on ‘moisture depletion’.

    Yale 360 provides a video by David Breashears that illustrates the swift retreat of the Rongbuk glacier near Everest by comparing photographs from the 1920s with pictures he took last November. As Breashears demonstrates, the Rongbuk has melted so severely
    that many sections of it are now 400 feet lower than eight decades ago and large swaths of it have disappeared.

    Get that! a vertical 400 foot reduction in the mass of that glacier in less than a century.

    See the photos at:

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=1706

    How does your opinion about moisture depletion explain the loss of 400 vertical feet of mass of the Rongbuk glacier?

    If Dr. Khandekar really wants to understand Nepal and other down stream nations’risks of losing river water from that melting glacier, he might spend more than his vacation time to look seriously at the work of people providing evidence of what is really happening and not what he and Tim Ball would rather we ignore.

    John McCormick

    John McCormick

  30. 630
    Completely Fed Up says:

    What a load of unmitigated pish from the BBC here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8468233.stm

  31. 631
    Hieronymus says:

    The statement by rosie hughes says it all:
    “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all this fixation on get-it-right, got-it-wrong is obscuring the real issue: the truth is what we define it to be, and the truth is that mankind is a scourge on the planet.”

    This statement represents thinking of many AGW ideologues, unfortunately. It contains two characteristic points. The first one, “the truth is what we define it to be” sounds like a quote from Lenin or Goebbels. It needs no comment.

    The second point is very characteristic too: people are the problem, so let us get rid of people, and everything will be OK.

    When I hear statements like this, I simply turn my back. Even if the science behind AGW is 100% correct and convincing, as long as this type of ideology is associated with AGW message (and, quite often, it is), it scares people away.

  32. 632
    Radge Havers says:

    Mike Flynn @ 588

    “Hopefully unintentional, possibly even true!”

    I was once asked to look over something whose author was brilliant but driven, overworked and obviously fatigued. Whole passages were written in free association. Entertaining and easily spotted, but you’re always left wondering about what you might have missed.

    Nowadays you’re walking on egg shells. It’s all gossip girl and OMG! why aren’t the scientists like all hysterical you know? Me, I wish to at least have a segment of society reserved for grownups and to let science be at peace there.

    “Wanting the mental range; or low desire
    Not to feel lowest makes them level all;
    Yea, they would pare the mountain to the plain,
    To leave an equal baseness; and in this
    Are harlots like the crowd, that if they find
    Some stain or blemish in a name of note,
    Not grieving that their greatest are so small,
    Inflate themselves with some insane delight,
    And judge all nature from her feet of clay,
    Without the will to lift their eyes, and see
    Her godlike head crowned with spiritual fire,
    And touching other worlds.”
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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  34. 634

    509 Kris,
    I enjoyed your historical overlays of the temperature of the Medieval time frame. However, I saw no connection between temperature variations and events. Some of your descriptors seem a little inaccurate. Colonization of Greenland amounted to a few huts scattered along the coast, which were abandoned after a few years if that. There was certainly no mass migration. A large migration completely missing is the Angles and Saxons moving westward and into England in about 500 AD. They slaughtered most folks up to the Welsh and Scottish borders. What go into them? It had not warmed up at all then. You also note “hunger” at many points, but any reference that you might pick up for the period 700 to 1300 will likely mention this since it was persistently the case for most people from year to year if not continuously.

    510 Barton Paul Levinson

    The data points used for the Lamb chart seemed to be quite widespread so I have no hard sense about global or regional. My sense is that the meaning with reference to global warming was all in all, !!!nothing!!!. That is not to discount that there could be scientific interest in the mild temperature variation over the time period. However, I think it was a casual mistake that the IPCC report named it as an event, and the wild mis-use made of it bears out my opinion. Of course, the hardest thing to model is the reactionary response.

    516 Comp. f.u.

    I had no intention of writing “GWP”. My keyboard did that on its own, when I meant “MWP”. I have no interest in whether a non-event was global or regional.

  35. 635

    589 Bob

    Thanks for the reference to Mann (2009). No doubt the listed authors are interested in what it really says.

    Reactionaries find it easy to misuse such scientific discourse.

    My reading leads me to sum the report up, “Climate stuff happens.” I think that is what the authors really said in the summary.

    Wasn’t it nice when papers like this went by totally unnoticed?

  36. 636
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Another problem with the property damage from hurricanes not linked to GW — A Cat 5 or Cat 6 can do no further harm to a home that can be totally demolished by a Cat 3 hurricane. There are so many complexities to this issue, incl people are perhaps building stronger, more hurricane-proof buildings now.

    Also the converse of what I suggested — a tiny increment in hurricane intensity could mean the difference between a few shingles and the whole roof being blown off, and a whole building demolished.

    So perhaps there isn’t much hurricane damage due to GW right now (afterall there hasn’t been a whole lot of GW to date), but in the future such damage could rise exponentially (until it reaches total destruction of the property the hurricane strikes, at which it flatlines, even with further increases in intensity), even with the slow plodding warming of the air and ocean, and that ever-slowly increasing intensity of hurricanes specifically due to GW.

    In other words, increase in GW-caused hurricane intensity is not in a linear relationship to hurricane damage of property.

    And that is what policy-makers have to consider — the future. Not how much hurricane damage has been done in the past, or whether or not any part of it was due to GW. They have to use their brains and imagine what might happen if hurricane intensity were to increase due to GW (and at the same time hope and pray that is not the case, or that the hurricanes veer out to sea).

    Afterall we build mountains of nuclear armaments at huge costs, due to some fear of being attacked, then have to dismantle them at huge cost. And we spend big bucks on home insurance on the off-chance there will be damage. I can tell you my home insurance here in the Rio Grande Valley is skyrocketing due to hurricane threats, and I understand there are places in Florida where you can’t even buy hurricane coverage (maybe my insurance company should read that caveat in that paper that says GW not increasing hurricane losses :) ).

    Here with GW, we are called on to reduce our GHGs, which can be done at great savings to us and help to the economy, on a risk that is much more assured if we don’t mitigate, though slower in coming than a nuclear attack or earthquake, but with dangerous tipping points.

    Anything or anyone who derails action to mitigate is just plain bad and evil. Period.

  37. 637
    Jacob Mack says:

    I am not suggesting as many do in my above link that we should hault climate research. Yet most, “green” technologies are emitting more, not less than conventional means of producing energy, and now we see a few considerable flaws in the IPCC report which filters down to many science journals, media outlets and blogs which millions of people read. CH4 emissions and C02 emissions encourage the growth of cyanobacteria, algae and plant life which of course absorbs large amounts of these GHG’s ths slowing emission into the atmosphere over time. That is just an environmental and biological fact of our planet. Think of the early evolution of the planet. Of course unregulated GHG emission is not a good idea and overtime creates problems, but even in this case we have and are witnessing potent negative feedbacks and GHG absorbers. If this were not so we would have far more warming now tha we do and the obvious 30 year warming trend would be far greater on an concave up increase which is not always the case depending upon what year we begin and end with. I find 30 years not long enough to be indicative of a serious and permanent warming trend by itself. I so see some paleoclimate data showing far longer time periods, but it is far more difficult to infer what may or may not be in terms of human existence.

    Lower GHG gradually, plant wind mills where you can, make solar panels cheaper so people in the middle class can purchase them, work on the smart grid, bring back steam boilers, like the ones built by Con Edison, etc…

    I want to thank sites like RC and the engineers elsewhere I have met for some good data and realistic technology implementation. I have to add though, that some very well educated people in and around climate science have been a bit hasty if not misleading. I like that RC addresses the various errors and unknowns, but some people on both ‘sides’ need to stop sensationalizing the climate issues; of course this will never happen; we are a far too politcally polarized world.

  38. 638
    Ken says:

    Alas, if only the glacier melting claim was their only ‘mistake.’

    IPCC AR4 riddled with non peer reviewed WWF papers

    Some of their other ‘mistakes’:

    * Allianz and World Wildlife Fund, 2006: Climate change and the financial sector: an agenda for action, 59 pp. [Accessed 03.05.07: http://www.wwf.org.uk/ filelibrary/pdf/allianz_rep_0605.pdf]
    * Austin, G., A. Williams, G. Morris, R. Spalding-Feche, and R. Worthington, 2003: Employment potential of renewable energy in South Africa. Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Denmark, November, 104 pp.
    * Baker, T., 2005: Vulnerability Assessment of the North-East Atlantic Shelf Marine Ecoregion to Climate Change, Workshop Project Report, WWF, Godalming, Surrey, 79 pp.
    * Coleman, T., O. Hoegh-Guldberg, D. Karoly, I. Lowe, T. McMichael, C.D. Mitchell, G.I. Pearman, P. Scaife and J. Reynolds, 2004: Climate Change: Solutions for Australia. Australian Climate Group, 35 pp. http://www.wwf.org.au/ publications/acg_solutions.pdf
    * Dlugolecki, A. and S. Lafeld, 2005: Climate change – agenda for action: the financial sector’s perspective. Allianz Group and WWF, Munich [may be the same document as “Allianz” above, except that one is dated 2006 and the other 2005]
    * Fritsche, U.R., K. Hünecke, A. Hermann, F. Schulze, and K. Wiegmann, 2006: Sustainability standards for bioenergy. Öko-Institut e.V., Darmstadt, WWF Germany, Frankfurt am Main, November
    * Giannakopoulos, C., M. Bindi, M. Moriondo, P. LeSager and T. Tin, 2005: Climate Change Impacts in the Mediterranean Resulting from a 2oC Global Temperature Rise. WWF report, Gland Switzerland. Accessed 01.10.2006 at http://assets.panda.org/downloads/medreportfinal8july05.pdf.

  39. 639

    And now for measurements (not predictions): the WGMS annual data are in: The latest preliminary figures for 2007-08 show the average reduction in thickness across all the 96 glaciers was nearly half a metre, and since 1980 they have collectively lost an average of 13m thickness. http://bit.ly/GlacMelt

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  43. 643
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Heironymous says: “Even if the science behind AGW is 100% correct and convincing, as long as this type of ideology is associated with AGW message (and, quite often, it is), it scares people away.”

    Oh, and of course we know there are no wackaloons associated with the anti-science side, right?

    Good lord, Man. Look at what you just wrote. You just said that you don’t care about whether the science is correct as long as some loon who is on the same side as the scientists is saying things that are irresponsible. Ya wanna maybe reconsider that?

  44. 644

    561 Edward Greisch,

    I had no idea the coal industry taught me the word “nuclear waste.”

    I thought it was a simple, description of the stuff we have been shuffling around for fifty years.

    You put too much meaning in simple word choices. I would be delighted if nuclear “secondary product” could be used to fire up another form of nuclear power generator system. If you had not noticed, there are some economic issues with that. That has a lot to do with regulatory practices which are irrational mostly due to the irrational reaction of the public to the whole idea.

    I hear from time to time about the enthusiasm for nuclear on the part of a particular electric power company. Some years ago they followed the fad and carefully planned and heavily invested in such systems with reasonable expectation of recovering costs with nice profits. In the end they had huge losses due to mostly unforseeable events. The local PUC refused to allow them to recover losses from customers, so the stock holders took a huge beating. Hmm, guess what that power company does now. Yup, they swallow whole trains full of coal in a gulp, many times a day. Those that remember still turn scarlet with rage. You might get the idea – – they are not too interested in nuclear. Nope, the coal companies were not the cause of their present attitude, but Powder River Basin coal was an important solution for their problem after they gave up on nuclear.

  45. 645
    Ray Ladbury says:

    William Smart says “Even more damaging than the two stories in the Times (detailing how grant applications passed this month contained statements falsified last month) is the attempt to pretend this isn’t serious.”

    William, do let me know when you find something more serious than a typo, will you?

    Meantime, the adults would like to get back to considering evidence. I’d invite you along, but evidence doesn’t seem to interest denialists.

  46. 646
    Andy says:

    Ken: you’re saying that nothing but peer-reviewed papers should be used in the IPCC reports? That’s a load of bull.

    There is a ton of good information found in government studies (GDP reports, population estimates, demographics, climate records, etc. etc. etc.) that aren’t peer-reviewed. Likewise, groups like WWF and other non-governmental organizations frequently write up very useful reports that gather together disparate data sets and provide excellent bibliographies of peer-reviewed literature. That the IPCC put the provision of a complete picture of global climate change ahead of including only “perfect” information should be clear. Of course, there is discussion in the IPCC report about all of their sources and conclusions are drawn. If a conclusion is incorrect due to use of a statistic from a flawed study, peer-reviewed or not, it should be pointed out as soon as it is discovered. This is what happened here.

    But really now. Be reasonable. Do you think if someone had asked Lonnie Thompson whether or not he thought all Tibetan glaciers would be gone by 2035 that he would have said yes? If so, then you’re totally deluded. This one error was socked away from the sciencists in another section of the report.

    Frankly, this nit picking is petty.

  47. 647
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Alas, if only the glacier melting claim was their only ‘mistake.’

    IPCC AR4 riddled with non peer reviewed WWF papers”

    Well excuse me if I pertain some skepticism that that link to Watts has anything useful in it.

    Care to explain what the errors were what they mean and why they are wrong?

    PS you may want to check over the errors in Monckton’s July 2008 “paper” and G&T’s “paper” and Ian Plimer’s book and…

  48. 648
    dhogaza says:

    Ken:

    IPCC AR4 riddled with non peer reviewed WWF papers

    Of course, the IPCC isn’t required to only use peer-reviewed work. In fact, the escape hatch explicitly mentions industry sources (gee, I wonder why that’s in there?)

    Even if the peer-reviewed requirement was absolute, Watts has found 7 examples out of something like 10,000 references and this proves AR4 is a big ‘ole fraud, eh?

  49. 649
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I had no intention of writing “GWP”. My keyboard did that on its own, when I meant “MWP”. ”

    Fair enough.

  50. 650
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The first one, “the truth is what we define it to be” sounds like a quote from Lenin or Goebbels. It needs no comment.”

    That sounds more like Rush Limbaugh.

    Or the Daily Mail making s*t up about what Mojab Latif said.

    Or, indeed, what you’re saying.