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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. 651
    dhogaza says:

    Here …

    “Peer reviewed and internationally available scientific technical and socio-economic literature, manuscripts made available for IPCC review and selected non peer-reviewed literature produced by other relevant institutions including industry”.

    Doesn’t say “only industry, never NGOs”. Use of WWF resources isn’t, a priori, disallowed.

    It’s not like WWF doesn’t get the state of the science right most of the time …

  2. 652
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “I simply turn my back. Even if the science behind AGW is 100% correct and convincing,”

    Awwww.

    So the denialists doing this has turned your back from them too?

    So what’s left?

    Burning fossil fuels is what Denialists want to happen, not burning fossil fuels is what Scientists want to happen.

    You’re not left with a place to turn.

    Unless of course you are blowing smoke up the ol’ chimney and kidding on you’ve EVER had a chance of cutting back the power of the corporation.

    But in any case, this is a perfect example of how you are NOT thinking.

    So just because you don’t like someone, you’re going to kill millions.

    Very grown up…

  3. 653
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “It is indifferent because one can assign no TRUE/FALSE values to it.”

    You can.

    Just like you do with your models of aeroplane parts.

    You assign them true/false. Or do you take the failed models and build them anyway?

  4. 654
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ” William Smart says:
    25 January 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Even more damaging than the two stories in the Times”

    What? The one where they completely made up what Mojab Latif said?

    Those stories?

  5. 655
    Jimbo says:

    “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”

    Here are some more errors and half truths from the IPCC:
    (Note: don’t attack the messenger – defend the IPCC with your own arguments and evidence). Thanks

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7000063.ece
    http://nofrakkingconsensus.blogspot.com/2010/01/more-dodgy-citations-in-nobel-winning.html

    Indur M. Goklany
    The IPCC: More Sins of Omission – Telling the Truth but Not the Whole Truth
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/25/the-ipcc-more-sins-of-omission-%e2%80%93-telling-the-truth-but-not-the-whole-truth/

  6. 656
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Looks like Roy Spencer is trying to hide the rise…

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/2010/01/13/andrew-bolt-knowledge-weight-and-flagship-media/

  7. 657
    flxible says:

    Jacob Mack – 640
    note the Reuters article hardly touchrd on the emissions generated by the hundrds [thousands?] of diesel trucks that flood into major cities like NY after dark every single day of the year to maintain the fresh food supply required by concentrated megopolis populations …. supplied by those “polluting” country folk of course
    :sigh:

  8. 658
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Geoff: “Finally I wonder why I was never under the impression that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear so quickly?”

    It’s because whether the glaciers in the Himalayas disappear in 2035 or 3250 doesn’t make much difference on the science that shows global warming is the inevitable result of humankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

    It’s like me hearing about post-menopausal women may have a bad reaction to a new drug.

    Not being a woman, nor menopausal, this doesn’t make a jot of difference to me.

    To a post menopausal woman, this would be worrying and they would want it investigated.

    If it’s true, then there’s a problem that can be addressed. If it’s not, then there’s a problem that doesn’t exist.

    But she wouldn’t call all medical research false if it turned out to be wrong.

  9. 659
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Oslo: “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.”

    Uh, if the factor IS temprature increase (and you can check up that in your A level physical geography book at the library), then why is it detracting from the credibility of the IPCC?

    If it isn’t, but the science says it could be, and you can’t PROVE it isn’t, then why would this detract from the IPCC?

    In fact, what is it that you think is detracting from the IPCC?

    A bias to the science???

  10. 660
    Matthew L. says:

    # 630 CFU
    I think it is a brilliant piece! I don’t think the ‘religious cult’ bit applies to scientists such as Gavin and Jim (or at least I hope not!), but there are plenty of anti-capitalist, anti-materialist, anti-growth, anarchist and quasi-religious ‘hangers on’ that do the AGW cause’s public image no good at all. Most of them don’t have even the slightest clue about the science but just use Climate Change as just one of a number of causes against which to protest.

    One of the more sane comments in the piece comes from Solitaire Townshend (great name!)

    “We need to start selling people a vision of low-carbon heaven,” Ms Townsend argues. “If we did everything necessary to prevent climate change, what would the world look like? When you start talking about that, most people decide it would be a nicer place to live. So we need to concentrate on getting people excited about creating that low-carbon heaven” [as opposed to a high carbon hell].

    The theologian and environmentalist Martin Palmer on Environmental campaigners:

    “Environmentalists have stolen fear, guilt and sin from religion, but they have left behind celebration, hope and redemption,” he says.

    “They read science in the way that fundamentalists read religious texts: they cherry-pick the bits that support their argument and use them to scare people,” he adds. “Then they offer no solutions other than letting greens take over the running of the world.”

    So we need scientists to stop scaring the bejesus out of us and start dreaming up solutions.

    Or maybe that is where the science stops and the engineering starts?

  11. 661
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Do you really propose to snag a new definition out of an economics magazine and confuse everyone with it?”

    Nope, I’m hoping to stop people going “there’s plenty of oil left! Peak oil indeed!”.

    Because Peak oil is when it costs more than the market is currently paying to increase output.

    Production of shale oil could increase Oil production.

    This doesn’t mean Peak Oil failed, because it only happens as long as demand oustrips supply enough to ensure price is high.

    And we’ve seen hugely increasing oil prices for 20 years now.

    Peak Oil is here.

    Because Peak Oil isn’t “we can’t get it out quicker”. You can.

    Strip the entire surface off and get in there with a ladle.

    Sodding expensive.

    But if the oil could be sold for $100,000 a barrel, it would be done.

  12. 662
    James Albinson says:

    Re: 634 Jim Bullis
    1) Vikings in Greenland – see e.g., Jared Diamond, “Collapse”; the settlements there lasted for circa 450 years, and were substantial – a small cathedral was built and a Bishop sent for from Europe.
    2) Anglo Saxons into eastern England circa 420AD onward: see Stephen Oppenheimer, “Origins of the British”; the growing body of evidence from archeology/genetics is a peaceful wave of settlement among kinship groups from both sides of the Channel, with violence rather the exception. The western UK was settled largely from the Iberian Ice Age refuge; contact between the two broad areas of settlement could be, and historically was, a bit messy. But large scale genocide did not take place; hysterical rants from monastic scholars notwithstanding.

  13. 663

    Re Doug Bostrom, Hank Roberts, Barton Paul Levinson, Luke,

    Not the first and probably not the last time, Jim Bullis has to eat words.

    The NOAA chart at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/ shows a change in ocean heat content from 1985 to 2005 of 10×10^22 Joules, not 1×10^23 Joules as I have been saying. Thus, the heat that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere would have represented .75 deg C in the atmosphere, not 7.5 deg C as I had previously calculated here.

    The shape of that same curve is still interesting. And an offset of .75 deg C in temperature expectations could be notable. And an also notable feature of that curve is the way it snubs after 2005.

    As I read the relevant paper, this NOAA is only measured ocean data, and does not include ice mass. Could the snubbing of the heat content curve be the effect of heat building up to put water temperature of water under the ice at the sea ice melting point, thereby causing heat of fusion of sea ice to be a subtracting effect on ocean heat content? That might explain the snubbing effect.

  14. 664
    Hank Roberts says:

    > Reuters
    “The report analyzed only the emissions emitted directly by a city rather than those generated by the production of the goods consumed by its residents.”

    > Ken, WWF material
    You need to evaluate each of those reports, not dismiss them all. Know why?

    http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/ipcc_use_of_non-peer_reviewed.php

    “… about the use of non-P-R material? This seems to have been one of those things that everyone knows that turns out to be false. The IPCC *is* allowed to use non-P-R literature. perhaps it shouldn’t be; I don’t much care, as long as the literature is of good quality…..”

  15. 665

    I think I should have mentioned Completely fed up and Ray Ladbury on my last word eating comment. Hope I have not left out any other related commenters.

  16. 666
    Bob says:

    634 Jim : ‘I have no interest in whether a non-event was global or regional.’
    635 Jim : ‘My reading leads me to sum the report up, “Climate stuff happens.”’

    My main reason for supplying the link is obviated by your comment in 634; my own intention was to show that, despite what some rather seat of the pants arguments try to show, MWP was quite likely regional, not global, and that’s the only real point to any discussion of the MPW (although research into the event certainly could yield fruit in understanding the earth’s climate, if it weren’t so difficult to get accurate and reliable data from 1000 years ago).

    As to your interpretation of the summary of the report, no, I disagree (mostly). Climate stuff does happen, but on regional, not global scales. Certainly local climates can and have changed dramatically, for tens or hundreds or thousands of years. And yes, it does also happen on global scales every few tens of thousands of years, but not randomly and without a detectable and predictable cause… which is what makes current events (i.e. GHG effects) important.

    That is to say, the usual contrarian argument is along the lines of “the MWP was just as warm and without human influence/cause, so why should I worry now?” The Mann study suggests that it wasn’t “just as warm” on a global scale, so the MPW argument becomes irrelevant.

    Of course, the Mann paper is fairly new and seems to have used some rather elaborate techniques to use a sparse data set to reach its conclusions, so until it is reviewed and better accepted in the literature (and perhaps begins to be cited in later studies), I wouldn’t term it “the last word” in the “MWP regional vs. global” debate.

  17. 667
    Jimbo says:

    Comment by Stephen Pruett

    “I expect this question will yield some unfriendly replies. However, the climate research community needs to know that these revelations are not just fodder for the rabid skeptics, they have moved many of us who were believers into the camp of uncertainty.

    ….

    I would suggest the energy and anger of the climate research community could be better spent confirming the validity and interpretation of the data and making the “audited” and annotated data freely available, than by attacking skeptics. Otherwise, the numbers in the “uncertain” camp will continue to grow and we will be unlikely to see any serious climate change legislation.”

    ______________

    You are absolutely correct IMHO. Some of the nasty responses to contrary information on RC actually raises flags from agnostics who eventually become sceptics. I was a believer until I began seeing peer reviewed, contrary ‘evidence’, the repeated use of the word “uncertainties” from climate change scientists who believe in AGW and the weather that was happening around us.

    ______________

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

    BPL: Look again:

    http://BartonPaulLevenson.com/Correlation.html

    ______________________

    You should know that correlation is not causation old bean. You want to see non-correlation, just go way back into time, look for correlations then get back to me.

    ______________________

    [edit – no random, incorrect OT link spam please]

  18. 668
    Tim Jones says:

    To prevent being misquoted it would be helpful to be clear about who wrote what…

    Re: 597 Gilles says:
    25 January 2010 at 2:24 AM

    “As I argued on the previous thread, Johnno is perfectly right. The argument of coal is not valid, because conventional reserves of coal are not able to produce any of the catastrophic scenario that media describe so easily.”

    Does this mean the following article is misleading?

    Humans Halfway to Causing Dangerous Climate Change
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/humans-halfway-to-causing-dangerous-climate-change/
    By Alexis Madrigal April 29, 2009
    (excerpt)
    “When human injection of carbon into the atmosphere reaches 1 trillion tons, dangerous climate change with average global warming of more than 2 Celsius degrees will likely occur, a new analysis finds.”

    “And humans are hurrying toward that 1 trillion mark. So far, We’ve added about 520 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere. With the addition of an estimated 9 billion tons of carbon a year — a number that’s been growing since 1850 — dangerous warming is likely to occur within half a century.”

    “That’s the message from a new paper in the journal Nature, which — along with half a dozen other papers in the issue — provides a simpler way of looking at the climate change problem. What matters is the total amount of carbon that we release into the atmosphere, and focusing on that number as a budget can shape the way policymakers look at the problem, argues Myles Allen, lead author of one of the papers and a climatologist at the University of Oxford.”

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v458/n7242/abs/nature08019.html

    “The important thing about the cumulative budget is that a ton of carbon is a ton of carbon. If we release it now, it’s a ton we can’t release in 40 years’ time. Every ton we put out is using up a ton of that atmospheric capacity,” Allen told Wired.com. “Reducing emissions steadily over 50 years is much cheaper and easier and less traumatic than allowing them to rise for 15 years and then reducing them violently for 35 years.”
    […]
    “The numbers presented in their research are probabilistic. They look at different levels of carbon and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and try to assign the likelihood that a certain emissions level would equate to a temperature change across the Earth. The two papers use different periods of analysis and base cases, but they are broadly consistent in their findings that it’s the total amount of carbon added to the atmosphere that will determine the peak warming of the globe.”

    “Where Allen’s team found that adding 480 billion tons of carbon from here on out would push the risk of 2 degrees of warming to over 50 percent, Meinshausen’s team found even more alarming results. The German team estimates that 310 billion tons is all that would be needed. Without policy changes, that means humans would hit dangerous warming levels in 20 years (Meinshausen) to 40 years (Allen).”

    “The bottom line? Dangerous change, even loosely defined, is going to be hard to avoid,” write Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Science and David Archer, a geoscientist at the University of Chicago, in an accompanying commentary in Nature.”

    “Unless emissions begin to decline very soon, severe disruption to the climate system will entail expensive adaptation measures and may eventually require cleaning up the mess by actively removing CO2 from the atmosphere.”

    “Forcing emissions to decline will require changing the way the world uses fossil fuels. In Allen’s view, humans can pull a trillion tons of carbon-rich fossil fuels out of the ground and burn them with risks that have been deemed acceptable by most people. But it’s the second trillion tons of fossil fuels, largely in the form of coal and oil shale, that will determine how recklessly humans play with the climate system.”

  19. 669
    Jimbo says:

    Comment 639: Kees van der Leun
    “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.”

    So please tell me what do you think caused the loss of thickness? Also tell me whether this period (l980-2008) is the first time ever glaciers have lost thickness? If not the first time then what could have caused thickness loss in the past?

  20. 670
    Gilles says:

    Completely fed up : “You complain about wasting millions but don’t have a reason to claim them wasted.”

    hemm.. I guess you misunderstood me utterly. I’m not crying about some millions, which are a drop of water in a ocean of probably useless expenses. I’m just saying that the fact that this argument has been used to ask for millions (which is not negligible at all for a research program) shows that it was by no way a mistake, but a deliberate, reiterated, falsification of reality – these people have just used an argument they had cast themselves, without any convincing, scientific study. Is that scientific honesty ? and it’s not anybody. It’s the very president of IPCC. How can you pretend that the whole process of writing and publishing the IPCC reports is reliable after that ? it is NOT a small misprint or a wrong figure that nobody noticed, it is a hoax that has been deliberately forged and used to get money, and the disclaimers have been publicly insulted and threatened in an “arrogant” way.

  21. 671
    Mike of Oz says:

    @638.

    Soooo, Watts comes up with another “list” (devoid of context and any explanation as to what, if any, conclusions the IPCC drew from them, naturally) and has a serious problem with the mere mention of a half dozen or so non peer-reviewed papers on climate in among 3000-odd pages of IPCC report. And of course we all know he also has a problem with many peer-reviewed papers and the peer-review process too (as is trendy among sceptics right now), when it comes to climate.

    Watts therefore, I suppose, feels that both peer-reviewed, and non-peer reviewed papers on climate are unreliable and should be excluded from IPCC considerations – except of course the stuff he agrees with. Well, this will certainly cut down its volume appreciably.

    My friends wonder why I occasionally joke about climate sceptics like Watts and his fans existing in an alternate dimension of space-time.

  22. 672
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 610 borderline treason, China and Alternative Energy.

    Did China block Copenhagen progress to pave way for its own dominance in cleantech?
    http://www.grist.org/article/2010-01-22-did-china-block-copenhagen-to-pave-way-for-domiance-in-cleantech
    22 JAN 2010
    BY GEOFFREY LEAN

    “You hear it all the time, one of the most frequently voiced excuses for Western countries failing to radically cut carbon dioxide emissions: Taking any such action would hand a massive competitive advantage to fast-industrializing China.

    “Yet evidence is piling up that the very opposite is the case. The main challenge from the world’s new industrial superpower is not that it will continue to use the dirty, old technologies of the past, but that it will come to dominate the new, clean, green ones of the future.

    “As developed nations fail to put an adequate price on carbon, and thus to stimulate clean-technology development themselves, they risk handing market supremacy to the rival they most fear. it could even be hypothesized that China’s blocking of agreement on rich-country emission targets in Copenhagen was intended to hold back the development of cleantech by its Western rivals.”
    […]
    “New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote from China earlier this month that he was increasingly convinced that the most important development of recent years would prove to be “not the Great Recession, but China’s Green Leap Forward.” He, too, warned that unless the United States rapidly caught up, “we are going to gradually cede this industry to Beijing and the good jobs and energy security that would go with it.”
    […]
    “Solar electricity is not far behind. In 2005, China produced a relatively tiny 100 megawatts of solar cells. Two years later, it was leading the world with 1,088 MW. This year, it is predicted to exceed 5,000 MW, a third of the world’s total—and it’s expected to go on expanding to reach 10,000 MW in just five years time. Solar thermal power is also on the rise: 2,000 MW of solar thermal power stations are expected to come online over the next decade, with a dramatic increase in the years after that.”

    “At the same time, installed wind-power capacity has been doubling annually: China is expected to meet its original 30,000 MW target for 2020 in two years time, and last year it vastly increased the target to an ambitious 100,000 MW.”
    […]
    “But seizing that opportunity would require the U.S., as well as other Western countries, to take serious action to raise the price of carbon and spark a wave of new technological innovation, rather than ceding the field to China while falsely professing to be protecting their economies from it.”

  23. 673
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Oslo says: 25 January 2010 at 5:54 AM

    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.

    I’m not sure why you find temperature so controversial. The ocean-atmosphere system is a system a state of reflux. A change in temperature changes the detailed behavior of a reflux system. Not so difficult to understand.

    mircea says: 25 January 2010 at 10:42 AM

    What? I think you misunderstood, let me explain:

    You do so perfectly reasonably, and thank you, I think I understand. Sorry for anaphylaxis.

  24. 674
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Hieronymus says: 25 January 2010 at 12:52 PM

    “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.”

    Immoderate speech is counterproductive, sure enough. I have the same problem with “humanity is doomed” proclamations. We’re like roaches, adaptability-wise. Short of the point the Sun stages to helium we’re not going to be eradicated.

    However, let’s remember that our metaphorical resemblance to roaches should ideally be highly confined. Unlike roaches, we putatively have some ability with self determination, meaning among other things we should not breed like roaches lest we end up living more like roaches. We have been breeding like roaches and it’s becoming a problem that points in the direction of a degraded, more roach-like existence. Perhaps that’s what the author you quoted intended to convey?

  25. 675
    HotRod says:

    Rosie Hughes #27. Very funny.

    Jim Roland #50 – spot on, and a good example. That stuff reminds me of Monbiot’s article arguing for battery powered combine harvesters, in its lack of realism. I do get a sense that so much is geared towards predicting Armageddon, and so much is illogical, that the AGW case is seriously weakened as a result.

  26. 676
    HotRod says:

    And, contrary to I’m Fed Up, I saw some sense in the BBC article

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

  27. 677

    Geoff Wexler #614:

    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.

    This is sensible if you want to make far-reaching decisions based on any research. But why do you not think this has happened? The UK government produced the Stern report, and the Australian government commissioned the Garnaut report. Admittedly both were written by economists, but this is not the only review that the governments would have commissioned. They were also part of the IPCC process that included representation from governments on both science and policy issues.

    Contrast this now with the way denial pseudo-science happens. The odd bogus paper that sneaks through the review process (Lindzen and Choi, McLean, De Freitas and Carter in 2009) doesn’t stand up to critical reading. A superannuated scientist clearly out of his depth writes a book riddled with errors. Blogs are published mostly containing complete drivel. Arguments are happily reversed when the facts no longer fit. All this stuff is taken as hard evidence for the contrary case, no matter how many errors are exposed. Meanwhile, one error in an IPCC report means the entire mainstream is wrong.

    The same happened with tobacco, asbestos, the ozone hole and HIV-AIDS denial. The biggest puzzle is why professional journalists (with rare exceptions like Monbiot) fall for this every time. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me five times, I’m a journalist.

  28. 678

    Ken #638: and how many of these exactly are used as the sole source for an authoritative scientific fact? The glacier one was a very specific claim that needed to be backed up by science. Reporting on the reaction of insurance companies to the perceived threat is not science; citing a few newspaper article would be sufficient.

    The glacier one was a genuine error. Finding every item cited that is not peer-reviewed in the IPCC reports without checking whether they are uncorroborated sources for the scientific argument is not the same thing. Reporting for example on policy initiatives could cite government documents. Should the IPCC never do that?

    Once again the denial industry is winning by causing doubt, even if that doubt is not genuine.

    If the science was genuinely flawed, why would they need to do this?

  29. 679
    Andrew Xnn says:

    Hello;

    There is a website; http://www.physicsforums.com/
    that has recently banned discussions of global warming and climate change.
    Part of the reason given for this, was that there were no experts on the
    staff that could moderate the discussions.

    A requirement of being considered an expert was that somebody who has
    published articles in peer reviewed science journals and also performed peer reviews.

    This website has only a moderate amount of traffic (compared to Real Climate).
    So, if any Climate Science Expert would like to moderate, then please contact
    either myself or “Astronuc” on the website.

    Thanks!

  30. 680
    Jimbo says:

    “The IPCC is not infallible (shock!)”

    It seems that the problems at the IPCC are institutional. Maybe a bit of honesty at last. Now Gavin I wish to give you a bit of advice, stop defending the IPCC as you will end up with egg on your face.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5juxKJL25kgOs14FSzraFC5mrwmNw

    This is what happens when you have a conflicted of interest head of the IPCC. Money always gets in the way

  31. 681
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Jimbo says: 25 January 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Jimbo, none of those sites have credibility on this issue, meaning you’re asking us to waste our time trying to extract some thread of truth out of much blather.

    Would you mind summarizing from those sites the points you believe discredit the IPCC?

  32. 682
    David Horton says:

    “Money always gets in the way” – spot the irony.

    Mr Jimbo is certainly earning his fees on this thread isn’t he – work, work, work; link, link, link.

  33. 683
    David R. says:

    Doug Bostrom says:
    25 January 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Jimbo says: 25 January 2010 at 3:17 PM

    Jimbo, none of those sites have credibility on this issue, meaning you’re asking us to waste our time trying to extract some thread of truth out of much blather.

    Would you mind summarizing from those sites the points you believe discredit the IPCC?

    Here you go, Doug:

    Among other things, the IPCC report makes the assertion that ‘over 40% of the Amazonian rainforests… will probably be replaced by…tropical savannahs.’

    This is in turn based on an advocacy group report authored by a policy analyst and a freelance journalist, and without any apparent scientific basis.

    It looks like many of the most sensational and alarming findings of the IPCC have a similar level of scientific sourcing.

    Increasingly, it is the IPCC and not the skeptics who are showing a ‘lack of credibility on this issue,’ as you put it.

  34. 684
    Ron Taylor says:

    ferocious, it is certainly clear that you will form your own opinions, as you told Hank. As someone once said, “You have a right to your own opinions, but not your own facts.” It is the latter that is your problem. Opinions? Form away.

  35. 685
    gary thompson says:

    gavin’s suggestion on the GISS graphs – “[Response: Trends don’t depend on the baseline. Plot those instead. -gavin]”

    i’ll get back to why i want to compare to a baseline period in a later post but for now i followed your advice. i compared the period 2001 to 2009 and plotted the trend [edit – enough with the cherry picked short term trends that mean nothing. All that can be said has been said a hundred times]

  36. 686
    Ray Ladbury says:

    HotRod says “I do get a sense that so much is geared towards predicting Armageddon, and so much is illogical, that the AGW case is seriously weakened as a result.”

    But, then, since you don’t understand the science, it’s kind of hard for you to tell, isn’t it. Why not discuss the evidence rather than the personalities or the typos?

  37. 687
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jimbo says: “You should know that correlation is not causation old bean.”

    Ah, but the correlation is not presented to establish causation, but rather to verify a prediction–made back in 1896 by Arrhenius. See, Arrhenius realized that the only way the system could come back into equilibrium once you increased greenhouse gasses was for its temperature to rise. Do you realize that, Jimbo? Or are you one of those special people who claim CO2 is not a greenhouse gas.

  38. 688
    Jim Prall says:

    Critics are attacking the IPCC as if it did something more than summarize and report on science done elsewhere. The IPCC is highly visible, but it is simply a forum for doing “Assessment Reports” of the state of the science. It is big, cumbersome, and probably overly cautious, all in all, but it is what we’ve got for getting a single, globally accepted statement of what’s been discovered up to now.

    Anyone imagining that getting rid of the IPCC will reveal an underlying state of the science that is *less* alarming than the IPCC reports has a big shock coming. I’ve read enough of the original literature to know this is the case. Don’t fool yourself that the scattering of articles cherry-picked by your favorite think-tank are indicative of a rosier picture waiting to be revealed.

    If anything, the IPCC process lets through only claims backed by an overwhelming case. Keep in mind that every country gets an effective veto over inclusion of any item in the reports – including Saudi Arabia. For eyewitness accounts of how the Saudi delegation acts within the Working Group reporting process, read Stephen Schneider’s new book _Science as a Contact Sport_.

    A rational policy approach when confronted with a range of scientific estimates of the seriousness of a problem is NOT to pick the lowest estimate and champion that against all the others, attacking the other scientists as ‘frauds’ and ‘alarmists.’ If you find a range of estimates, is not the rational response to accept that “any of these experts could be right.” You don’t *know* that Lindzen and Choi have the climate sensitivity nailed at their outlier very low estimate. You need to admit that everyone else could be right, and that there are an awful lot of everyone elses still putting forward much higher numbers.

    It’s just bad risk management to bet the house on rolling snake-eyes (finding out that Lindzen and Choi were right and everyone else in the field got the sensitivity way too high.)

  39. 689
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Jimbo, Ken and all the other denialists:

    I am more than happy to confine ourselves to peer-reviewed research. So, let’s start. I’ll pick the 100 or so papers that I think present the best case for anthropogenic climate change and why it is a concern, and you pick the 100 or so papers by denialists…oops, er “skeptics”… and we’ll compare… oh, gee, I guess you can’t find 100 papers by denialists, can you? In fact, you’d probably have trouble finding 10 that you’d actually want to cite, wouldn’t you?

    Well, I guess that’s why you guys want to concentrate on emails and typos. It’s all ya got, huh?

  40. 690
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re #677 and #614
    Philip Machanick :

    This may be off topic but I like your essay on “why-doesnt-it-get-hotter-every-year.html” and have referred to it elsewhere.

    As for your link to a ‘book riddled with errors’, the quotations therein exemplify the technique of the author of the erroneous book, which is to embed nonsense and falsehoods in a background of well known science. That way he can demonstrate his credentials as an academic and can impress naive readers by the inclusion of huge numbers of irrelevant references and footnotes.

    Incidentally I agree with most of #677, except for the second sentence which I think was covered by the second paragraph in my #614.

  41. 691
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Correction

    Line 2 up of my last comment should have been “…except for the first sentence which… “

  42. 692
    flxible says:

    Comment by Jimbo
    “So please tell me what do you think caused the loss of thickness? Also tell me whether this period (l980-2008) is the first time ever glaciers have lost thickness? If not the first time then what could have caused thickness loss in the past?”

    Warming is causing, and did cause it of course, the current problem has to do with the speed and planet wide nature of current ice loss, not the simple fact of …… And it’ll be quite interesting to see just who has the egg-on-face problem in future

  43. 693
    Dan says:

    re: 680’s comment. A layman telling a peer-reviewed climate scientist to stop defending the IPCC?! Wow, that’s rich. And arrogant to say the least. Notice not a single word said about the peer-reviewed science. Because he can’t. The data are strong, the peer-review is strong, and the conclusions are strong. The scientific debate was held and it’s long over.

  44. 694
    Mike Flynn says:

    Hi,

    If you read the AR4 WG1 report carefully, you will note that the panel states

    a) that different models produce different results,
    b) some models produce different results given identical inputs in different runs,
    c) no single model has been found to be “best”.

    I’m referring to modeling global temperature only in this instance.

    Further, the report compares the predictions of all the models / results that were submitted to WG1. I can only guess as to the reasons why some authors refused to submit their model outputs for the WG1, in some instances.

    The projected variations varied from about 1 deg C rise by 2100, to about 7 deg C rise by 2100.

    So, disregarding the absolute value of the discrepancy, I can state with some certainty that models vary in their output. It is assumed that the events of the past cannot be changed, and actually happened. I mention this only because some people have been known to blame poor model outputs on poor input data. D’oh!!

    Now if two models produce different outputs (for whatever reasons), the following would seem to apply :

    – Given that the models are attempting to predict the same thing, at least one model has produced an incorrect answer.

    – If we do not not know which model has produced an incorrect answer, either or both may be incorrect, or one may be correct.

    – The problem arises in trying to determine the truth, given that we cannot verify the output until it has been measured – in the future.

    The conclusion of WG1 is that based on the available models, the future is uncertain. The report does not appear to state whether models which showed a general cooling tendency were considered to be valid, or even considered for inclusion.

    I have actually been a little conservative –

    – excerpt –

    ” . . .errors in the past continental warming simulated by UKMO-HadCM3 are used to scale future changes, yielding wide uncertainty ranges, notably for North America and Europe where the 5 to 95% ranges for warming during the 21st century are 2°C to 12°C and 2°C to 11°C respectively.”

    – excerpt –

    Of course, all comments about uncertainties, modeling difficulties, definitional problems, observational error and lack of computing resources to check the possibility that climate may act in a chaotic fashion, may all be errors.

    The working group, quite reasonably, acknowledges the difficulty of predicting the future. If I have misunderstood the contents of AR4 WG1, I apologise, of course.

    Please don’t bother accusing me of cherry picking re the above excerpt. Just included to show WG1 realises that modeling is not yet an exact science.

    Live well and prosper.

  45. 695
    EL says:

    Fed up…

    No fred, I did not make anything up. Since the stories were all over the internet, I thought people would already know about them.

    Here is one of the thousands of news articles floating around on the comments by Dr Lal…
    http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2010/01/25/ipccs-himalayan-glacier-mistake-no-accident.html

    Here is one of the ones floating around about grants…
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6999975.ece

    Here is one I found just a min ago…
    “Also in the last week, it was revealed that U.S. researchers working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are excluding temperature data from cold regions for a database used by the U.N. in its global warming scare campaign.”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ibd/20100125/bs_ibd_ibd/20100125issues01

    I’m very annoyed by these reports. I don’t see how the IPCC reports can maintain credibility at this point in time.

  46. 696
    RyanT says:

    Speaking of the Daily Mail making things up, I don’t know if this has been posted yet, but that may apply to the Dr. Lal Himalayan glacier business too:
    http://bit.ly/84nbop

  47. 697
    Tilo Reber says:

    So first we find that the IPCC is taking charts from Wiki. Then we find out that it has been raising money based on the alarm of melting Himalayan glaciers by 2035, when the right number is 2350. Now we find out that there are many IPCC references to WWF papers and also that the claims made about the Amazon rain forest by the IPCC are just another “honest mistake”. One has to wonder why all of the IPCC “mistakes” always seem to serve their agenda so perfectly.

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/01/and-now-for-amazongate.html

  48. 698
  49. 699
    Jacob Mack says:

    Doug Bostrom I have enjoyed reading your posts in this thread.

  50. 700
    Septic Matthew says:

    636, Lynn Vincentnathan: Anything or anyone who derails action to mitigate is just plain bad and evil. Period.

    Sure. If you say so.