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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. 701
    Tilo Reber says:

    Doug:

    “We have been breeding like roaches and it’s becoming a problem that points in the direction of a degraded, more roach-like existence.”

    Doug, nursing all the fears that you have, you must have a hard time sleeping at night.

    http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/worldpopchggraph.php

    We are at 6.7 billion now. Projections are that we will top out at around 9 billion and then the world population will decline. As you can see, the rate of population increase has already peaked.

  2. 702
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Here’s (yet) more background to the Himalayan Miniseries:

    http://climateprogress.org/2010/01/25/un-scientist-refutes-daily-mail-claim-himalayan-glacier-2035-ipcc-mistake-not-politically-motivated/#more-17890

    Takeaway: Much ado about nothing, factually speaking.

    Not that folks with midget egos such as “Jimbo” will let that be a deterrent to stirring up fake controversy. Jimbo, I’m curious, why can’t you come out in the light of day? How is it that you’re so ready to fling accusations against people with real names and reputations, but you yourself can’t stand behind your words? Some kind of confidence issue?

    I don’t find you credible. I’ll always find somebody who is ready to put their name on their work more credible than a “Jimbo”.

  3. 703
    Edward Greisch says:

    644 Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co.: So just where did the public get its irrational ideas about nuclear power? I really want to know.

  4. 704
    mrtin says:

    flxible – 657
    Er – I don’t understand your point.
    ‘Country folk’ don’t consume anything that isn’t grown in their backyard?

    They may be unpleasant because of the concentration, but hundreds (or thousands) of diesel trucks/trains for *millions* of people doesn’t sound like a bad deal efficiency-wise. How many more trucks are required to meet the needs of the millions of people spread out across the country-side?

    I have friends and family who live out in the country and oh boy do they have to drive around a lot — pretty much everywhere they go! Here in the city (3-4 million people), I walk/bike/subway to most places.

    And just think of the energy cost *per person* required to heat an apartment block vs. a single-family dwelling, exposed on all sides and separated far from its neighbours.

    Not to say that we should all relocate to a few mega-cities. However, it’s obvious that there are huge efficiency gains to be had from higher population density, and that ‘clean country living’ is not always (clean).

    and don’t even get me started on the suburbs…

  5. 705
    Gilles says:

    Tim Jones : “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”

    There is nothing wrong in estimating that one trillion t C would produce probably around 2°C warming. More precisely , I don’t know if it is true or wrong, but it may be right.

    What is wrong is to think that 2°C is some step function separating a “safe” situation from a “dangerous one”, and to think that the world would pass suddenly from heaven to hell by passing exactly 2°C. What is wrong is to think that the “effort” we should do to reduce STRONGLY (because reducing just a little is mainly immaterial) these 1 000 GtC are harmless compared to the amount of warming they avoid.

    For a given energy intensity, reducing the consumption of fuel is simply equivalent to reduce the GDP. – 5 % fossil = – 5% GDP. Of course , we try to improve energy intensity , so we try to reduce – 5 % fossil to produce the same GDP. But there is an obvious flaw here – I mean, that SHOULD be obvious – : if we improve by 5% the energy intensity, we had better improve the GDP by + 5% with the same fossil consumption than blocking the GDP with less fossil ! NOT doing that means simply preventing poor people from being a little bit richer. Without any moral justfication. And in fact, of course, that’s exactly what happens, because in the true reality, no one has the power to prevent poor countries to develop using fossil that developed countries, that have basically insured their basic needs, could spare.

    So the wrong thing here is that the optimum would be when the MARGINAL profit brought by 1 Gt more C would be less than the MARGINAL cost of GW caused by this use. And I defy you to give me a quantitative proof that this would be the case with less than 1000 Gt C and 2°C warming.

  6. 706
    David Alan says:

    ” There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. ~Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1883. ”

    Is it the policy here to represent a wholesale of fact on a trifling of conjecture?

    It seems that even if I stay on topic and provide evidence for the facts supplied in my comments, that the whole and not part of my comment is completely disregarded.

    How many countless others have their comments disregarded in such a manner or their IP address banned ?

    Is this how you treat science?

  7. 707
    Jimbo says:

    681 Doug Bostrom – reply to Jimbo

    “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.”

    Oh, you mean like the WWF? As I have said before Doug attack the message not the messenger. Attacking the messenger seems to be a favourite tactic here at RC.

    Anyway it seems the US public now places Global Warming at the bottom of their concerns for 2010.
    http://people-press.org/report/584/policy-priorities-2010

    “…the percentage that now says addressing global warming should be a top priority has fallen 10 points from 2007, when 38%…”

  8. 708
    Edward Greisch says:

    From:Dave Boundy, Repower America

    We wrote to you last week about a dangerous attempt to gut the Clean Air Act and let our biggest polluters off the hook. Thanks to intense pressure from supporters like you, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski couldn’t get enough votes last week to pass her outrageous, lobbyist-penned proposal and was unable to bring it to the Senate floor as threatened.

    But the fossil fuel lobby won’t give up that easily. Senator Murkowski is now looking for support for a new version of her “Dirty Air Act” — a resolution which would allow dangerous fossil fuel emissions to continue unchecked, polluting the air our children breathe. We need to put an end to these political games for once and for all.

    If enough of us flood our Senators with phone calls now, we can send a message that messing with the Clean Air Act at the behest of fossil fuel lobbyists is simply unacceptable.

    Please call your Senators and ask them to reject Senator Murkowski’s disapproval resolution — and any further attempts to gut the Clean Air Act.

    We wrote to you last week about a dangerous attempt to gut the Clean Air Act and let our biggest polluters off the hook. Thanks to intense pressure from supporters like you, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski couldn’t get enough votes last week to pass her outrageous, lobbyist-penned proposal and was unable to bring it to the Senate floor as threatened.

    But the fossil fuel lobby won’t give up that easily. Senator Murkowski is now looking for support for a new version of her “Dirty Air Act” — a resolution which would allow dangerous fossil fuel emissions to continue unchecked, polluting the air our children breathe. We need to put an end to these political games for once and for all.

    If enough of us flood our Senators with phone calls now, we can send a message that messing with the Clean Air Act at the behest of fossil fuel lobbyists is simply unacceptable.

    Please call your Senators and ask them to reject Senator Murkowski’s disapproval resolution — and any further attempts to gut the Clean Air Act.
    —————————

    The Clean Air Act is all we have right now since the climate bill just became more improbable. Join and support RepowerAmerica.org

  9. 709
    Edward Greisch says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan: Support this:
    25 January 2010
    NEW NUCLEAR: First criticality for RAPP 6
    The new sixth nuclear reactor at India’s Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) has achieved first criticality, just two months after the fifth unit at the site reached the same milestone.
    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-First_criticality_for_RAPP_6_reactor-2501104.html?jmid=3680&j=243569701&utm_source=JangoMail&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=WNN+Daily%3A+First+criticality+for+RAPP+6+%28243569701%29&utm_content=edwardgreisch%40qconline%2Ecom

    India must also convert from burning coal to getting energy that doesn’t make so much CO2, just like everybody else. The reactor above is rather small.

  10. 710
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jimbo, it seems like you should be institutionalised.

    “Money always gets in the way”

    Don’t forget the religious angle: not only god but the Church of Ayn Rand.

    They always get in the way of rational thought.

    Which is your reason? Money, religion, or ideology, Jim?

    Hot Rod:
    “I saw some sense in the BBC article”

    Well I’m all ears, Rod.

    All I saw were ad hominems in the genuine sense.

    AT BEST conflating prosetylysing with religion. Completely forgetting that if you have something to say, saying it is likewise prosetylizing.

    And so many of the denial nuts use creationist arguments, arguments based on ANTI-faith (the sort of faith that the religious assume atheists have: they BELEIEVE religiously there is no god) and just plain old “I believe you’re wrong, but don’t know why” I’m left wondering whether this troll on the BBC realises how partisan she is.

    Maybe she doesn’t care: if she’s against AGW, she’ll get a slobbering adoring crowd listening.

    After all, that’s why Monckton, Plimer, Bellamy et al chase the denial of AGW: they’re now ***important***.

  11. 711
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Mike of Oz, this isn’t the only thing Watts is afraid of:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/On-the-reliability-of-the-US-Surface-Temperature-Record.html

    Watts hasn’t printed any report because the report shows that his putative bad UHI-dominated sites have a cooling bias. Not a warming one.

  12. 712
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jimbo: “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.”

    We have correlation:

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

    Get back to us when you’ve read up on this before talking again, old boy.

  13. 713
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Sorry, that should have been “we have causation”.

  14. 714
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jim, 655, no need to say sorry to named people.

    Unless (as has happened a couple of times before from other posters) you’ve accused another of a bad act and made a mistake in attributing such.

  15. 715
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Matt L “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”

    There are a massively greater number of them on the denialist side.

    Not a mention from this she-troll.

    And they don’t seem to be damaging the denialist side either.

    I read some comments on Greenman’s youtube site and someone had posted “fag” (nothing else) about forty times.

    Because Sinclair was showing how denialists get it wrong.

    Doesn’t seem to damage their message.

    Maybe because their message is inherently extremely selfish and works on those taught not to think, but to repeat what they’ve been told to believe. And for those, anything that harms their cause never happened.

    EVER.

  16. 716
    Completely Fed Up says:

    So nothing about Roy Spencer’s hiding data from those who complained of “hide the decline” then?

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

    Go on, read it.

  17. 717
    CM says:

    Ken #638 brought news from WUWT that the IPCC AR4 is “riddled with non peer reviewed WWF papers” and hence “mistakes”.

    It is not the case that the IPCC is obliged to use only peer-reviewed literature (and there are good reasons, well stated by Andy #646, why it should not be). The IPCC has guidelines for handling non-peer-reviewed sources in Annex 2 to this document:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-appendix-a.pdf

    In the Himalayan glaciers case, the problem was not that a non-peer-reviewed source was cited — and I think that needs to be stressed in communicating this issue — but that the claims made were seriously wrong and got through because someone flaunted the IPCC’s own guidelines requiring the careful checking of such sources.

    Anyway, I looked up Ken’s references, curious to see what science might be put in question by these alleged mistakes.

    All these references turn out to be in the Working Group 2 (Impacts) or Working Group 3 (Mitigation) reports. None is in the Working Group 1, so none of this affects the scientific case that global warming is happening and is man-made.

    Most of them deal with economic questions that affect the science of climate change not in the slightest. The references to Dlugolecki and Lafeld 2005 aka Allianz/WWF have nothing to do with climate science, these passages report how insurers are reacting to climate change (WG 2, section 7.4.2.2.4 and box 17.2) or suggest there will be increasing litigation over climate change (13.4.3). Others are cited only for minor factoids, like Austin et al. 2003, cited in WG 3 (4.5.3) on the potential for job creation in South Africa from renewable energy development; or Coleman et al. 2004, putting a price tag on buildings and physical assets in Australia (WG 2, section 11.4.7).

    Giannakopoulos et al. 2005 is cited for some actual predicted impacts in the Mediterranean given 2 degrees warming, but they seem to cancel out a lot: less wheat in the south but more in the north, less energy needed for heating but more for cooling (WG2, sections 12.4.7.1 and 12.4.8.1). Hardly alarmist stuff.

    Fritsche at al. 2006 on sustainability in bioenergy is in the reference list of WG 3 ch. 11 (the sexily titled “Mitigation from a cross-sectoral perspective”) but isn’t even cited anywhere that I can see.

    Baker 2005 is used in the regional impacts chapter on Europe for the statement: “An assessment of the vulnerability of the north-east Atlantic marine ecoregion concluded that climate change is very likely to produce significant impacts on selected marine fish and shellfish” (WG 2, 12.4.7.2).

    In my humble layman’s opinion, this is the only one of the WWF-sourced claims — vague and unlikely to be wrong though it is — that might have merited references to peer-reviewed journals. But failing that, it should have been backed by a paper that represents not the WWF’s views, but the the assessment of a group of relevant experts using the published science… Oh wait. That’s what Baker (2005) is:
    http://www.wwf.org.uk/filelibrary/pdf/climatechangeandseas01.pdf

    If you’re curious how this not-quite-formally-peer-reviewed finding was communicated to policymakers: It wasn’t. It’s not in the SPM. And the Executive Summary of the chapter cheerfully notes only: “Recruitment and production of marine fisheries in the North Atlantic are likely to increase.”

    I could chase down the rest of the WWF references in AR4 (I’m sure there are a few more) but I think I’ve wasted quite enough time on this latest denialist damp squib as it is.

  18. 718

    JB: the heat that would have otherwise gone into the atmosphere would have represented .75 deg C in the atmosphere

    BPL: Only if it happened all at once.

  19. 719
    Keith says:

    Might not be infallible, but could it be right sometimes. At lot of people have spent at lot of time and energy on the IPCC and subsequent AR’s, and the taxpayers of the world have funded this effort one way or another. Seriously, was it money well spent ?

  20. 720

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

    BPL: I knew that before you were born. AGW theory doesn’t depend on searching for climate correlations, it depends on radiation physics. The theory predicted the correlation BEFORE the correlation was found. That’s pretty strong confirming evidence. Prediction, observation, match.

    Jimbo: You want to see non-correlation, just go way back into time, look for correlations then get back to me.

    BPL: The correlation is high now because OTHER things that ALSO influence climate are roughly static right now. At other times they weren’t. Apples and oranges.

  21. 721

    Gilles: a deliberate, reiterated, falsification of reality

    BPL: There are treatments for paranoia, but the personality disorders are still the most intractable syndromes in the DSM.

  22. 722
    pete best says:

    Re #672. All of those GW (000 MW) of power is still a degree of magnitude too low to offset our present usage let along annual growth of 10% in China and 2-3% globally.

    Its the same old story that we can organically grow and replace exisiting fossil fuel (coal mainly) technologies with alternative energy sources such as wind and solar etc but then adding transport to the mix too requires investments so large and huge in scale and scope that no one has drawn up a plan as yet and not one can cost it all out.

    No single country can dominate the new technologies required to change the energy landscape of the world, its just silly to think so. The world uses 14 TW (Power) of electricity annually and in terms of KWh its off the charts into PetaWatta (10 power 15). All of these GigaWatts sound good but its jsut the start of a project that needs to run every year for 100 of them.

    I doubt WW2 even compares

  23. 723
    Jiminmpls says:

    Let’s throw in the $7B taxpayers paid to wind producers between 2002-2007
    in the form of the $.015/kWh

    The Prodution Tax Credit was already included. The total of the PTC and all other tax abatements for all non-hydro renewables was $2.8 billion between 2002-2007. Read the report and cite facts. Don’t just make things up.

    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08102.pdf

    And btw, if any nuclear power plants are ever built, they will get the exact same PTC.

  24. 724
    François R says:

    The comments made in the link posted by Jimbo in message 680 sound honest and positive : as Hervé Le Treut says, there is clearly a lack of coordination between the 3 working groups. Saying that is not bashing IPCC, it’s just asking for a more powerful and efficient one. Clearly “hard” scientists and “social” scientists can’t work in completely separate teams, this is the best route to catastrophic failure. The infamous paragraph was so bad that even an enormous arithmetic error managed to stay unnoticed… this would clearly have been impossible if only a couple of glaciologists had read it.

  25. 725
    Completely Fed Up says:

    From another at the BBC comes this strange phrasing: “Global economic growth – in its current form – cannot continue if nations are serious about curbing climate change, says Andrew Simms.”

    Well, yeah.

    Global economic growth is currently predicated on cheap fossil fuel power and not caring about waste.

    But this doesn’t mean we can’t have global economic growth and curbing climate change at the same time: we just can’t use fossil fuels as the driver.

  26. 726
    Completely Fed Up says:

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

    What are the “problems” that you see that destroys credibility, EL?

    I note that timesonline is one link. You can’t really read too much into that since they’ve made stuff up before (Mojab Latif: http://deepclimate.org/2010/01/11/mojib-latif-slams-daily-mail/#more-1409 )

    Did you react skeptically to timesonline’s claims, or did you just believe?

  27. 727
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Flynne: “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”.”

    If you read the model results you will note that

    1) though different, not one says that AGW is fine and not a problem
    2) though they have different results, some of them are because they use different sets of physics, and yet they still say AGW is real and a problem
    3) not one model has shown that AGW is not a problem

  28. 728
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles: “What is wrong is to think that 2°C is some step function separating a “safe” situation from a “dangerous one””

    OK, so don’t.

    Make as little change as possible.

    Which means hard changes now this instant to stop human effects toward a warming world.

    I’m all behind you there, Gilles.

  29. 729
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “there is clearly a lack of coordination between the 3 working groups”

    And the result of this is what?

    In what way is it damaging?

    In what way is it invalidating the work of the WG?

    Or is this just another example of the Beckian gambit: “I’m not saying anything, I’m just asking”.

  30. 730
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “723
    Jiminmpls says:
    26 January 2010 at 7:23 AM

    Let’s throw in the $7B taxpayers paid to wind producers between 2002-2007”

    cf $72 billion given to fossil fuels etc…

  31. 731
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Re #672. All of those GW (000 MW) of power is still a degree of magnitude too low to offset our present usage let along annual growth of 10% in China and 2-3% globally.”

    The UK has offshore potential for wind alone that is 3x what the UK uses.

    The solar power panes that would power the entire globe constitute about 230km square.

    A small dot on the landscape.

    And who says that we MUST have more power? How about working smarter, not harder? How about not wasting power?

  32. 732
    CM says:

    myself, #717: “someone *flaunted* the IPCC’s own guidelines” should be: *flouted*.

  33. 733
    Ray Ladbury says:

    CM, excellent work. Looks like another typically thorough clusterf*** by “Micro” Watts.

  34. 734
    Ray Ladbury says:

    David Alan says “Is this how you treat science?”

    Don’t know, David. Try posting some.

  35. 735
    Ray Ladbury says:

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

    Oh, and we know there’s never anything false or exaggerated on the Intertubes.

    [Head desk]

  36. 736
    ken says:

    Completely Fed Up “What are the “problems” that you see that destroys credibility”

    Well, I suggest you open up a copy of AR4 and do a search for WWF and see what happens. How many times does a report which claims to be based on only peer reviewed articles have to cite non peer reviewed articles before you see the problems for yourself.

    Whether the hypothesis of AGW caused by CO2 is right or wrong, there should NOT, in any way shape or form, be any non peer reviewed articles cited in this report. Not once, not ever. During the initial writing of it, why were these articles, KNOWN to be from non peer reviewed sources, even considered, let alone cited? Give me one reason, and don’t say it was an honest mistake.

    Oops, sorry officer, I didn’t notice that the light was red. Oh, that’s ok, honest mistake. [/sarcasm]

    [Response: You are confused about what the rules of the IPCC were. Non-peer reviewed material was allowed (see comments above). – gavin]

  37. 737
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    #655, Jimbo, & the “no link betw hurricanes/floods & GW” media-created controversy….

    I’ve already addressed this denialist scam in #623, #625, & #636.

    However, here’s another interesting, twisted-logic point your 1st article makes — the author claims:

    …our study included 2004 and 2005 which was when there were some major hurricanes. If you took those years away then the significance of climate change vanished.

    If one were studying the impact of GW on hurricane human property damage losses, why would one want to cherry pick out bad hurricanes in the most recent years of their dataset? Especially since there are not a whole lot of cyclones, making the number small, making association at the .05 very difficult, just from the small number of cases, not the actually differences and underlying mechanisms. So it seems like they’re saying: “If you cherry pick out the strongest data-evidence for GW being linked to hurricane intensity (from this meager dataset, as it is), then the data show no link with property losses.” Duh!

    The important thing to look at is the physics. There are 2 types of energy — heat & kinetic. Hurricanes only happen when the ocean is very warm, turning that heat energy into kinetic energy. That’s why California doesn’t get hurricanes — the Humbolt current coming from the north is too cold — except when they come up the Sea of Cortez, which can get very hot. Global warming has warmed the oceans (I think) a half a degree C. There is just more ocean heat around to fuel hurricanes and cyclones (like dry brush waiting for a wildfire).

    Now the tricky part is that SST is only one factor; there are other factors for making a hurricane. I suppose if those other factors were actually decreasing due to GW, then there might be less hurricanes and less intense hurricanes on the whole. But then that scenario would also be an effect of GW. So it wouldn’t disprove GW, which causes a lot more harm than mere cyclonic activity.

    Right now there is other peer-reviewed studies that indicate GW is increasing the intensity of cyclonic activity. We don’t need “property loss” as a proxy for hurricane intensity. However, even if property loss is not now increasing due to GW-caused increasing hurricane intensity, then we could expect property losses to increase in the future, once GW really starts kicking in.

    Now we could wait and see until the world gets pretty much destroyed and harmed before turning off lights not in use, etc etc (mitigating GW), or we could act prudently now. Just remember the MAIN POINT: “A stitch in time saves nine.” Of course, I don’t expect men to understand that.

  38. 738
    pete best says:

    Re #731, yes but the UK is not teh world is it and the ability to deploy it on the time lines required is a big ask. As for all the solar energy then yes but its all in volatile places that some countries dont like tapping into.

    Lots of answers but cultural norms are in favour of dealing with it.

  39. 739
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Re #731, yes but the UK is not teh world is it and the ability to deploy it on the time lines required is a big ask.”

    Compared to the bank bail-out, it’s nothing.

    If you want the costs of doing nothing vs the changes proposed, read the Stern report.

  40. 740
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “736
    ken says:
    26 January 2010 at 11:50 AM
    Well, I suggest you open up a copy of AR4 and do a search for WWF”

    No, ken, I asked:

    “What are the “problems” that you see that destroys credibility”

    Not how would I go about not finding problems by doing the work myself.

  41. 741
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Jimbo says: 26 January 2010 at 2:50 AM

    “Anyway it seems the US public now places Global Warming at the bottom of their concerns for 2010.”

    So at the end of the day, for you this all about politics, not science. No surprise there, really.

    I’m still curious, why do you feel free to disparage people who are unafraid to sign their names to their work, while yourself staying in hiding? I still don’t get why you’ve chosen unaccountability. Can you explain that? Is there something shaming for you about what you’re saying?

  42. 742
    CM says:

    David R. #683, who claims the IPCC claims something about 40% of the Amazonian turning into savannah —

    Huh? Where? Says who? Is it okay to just make these things up now?

  43. 743
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ken, your question in #736 had already been answered by CM in #717:

    26 January 2010 at 6:18 AM

    “… I looked up Ken’s references, curious to see what science might be put in question ….”

  44. 744
    Marvin says:

    @Lynn Vincentnathan #737

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/22/global-warming-more-hurricanes-still-not-happening/

    The logical fallacy I think you were referring to earlier appeared to be a deductive fallacy. Anyway, the problem with dictating to others how increasing SST makes more ‘bizarre’ weather such as hurricanes and it can be measured requires at a bare minimum the temperature is increasing. For instance because Latif says things very confusing what I think he means is the temperature will decrease because of a possible little ice age but the climate is warming in general (increasing the temperature of what would have been even colder).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/11/climate-change-global-warming-mojib-latif

    I would like further information on what the projections for the actual temperature for the next 10 years are because if it’s decreasing “which is not climate” (yes we understand) then you’d at least have to adjust the hurricane projections in the meanwhile. Also there are always benefits to a situation but the picture painted is goal oriented (and secondarily tries to be objective). No cost analysis for those who want to look into the obtainable useful elements and energy beneath melted ice caps? What if it does get colder and we stave off what would have been even colder weather? I say it in mockery about the ice caps melting we know that it would be devastating but I hope you get the point.

  45. 745
    Tim Jones says:

    Re: 705 Giles says:

    “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.”

    Falsify the hypothesis then. Just saying so doesn’t make it true. If you can’t falsify the argument that burning current reserves of coal will result in a “catastrophic scenario” with facts and figures then we’ll assume you understand the statement to be the truth.

    You write: “For a given energy intensity, reducing the consumption of fuel is simply equivalent to reduce the GDP. – 5 % fossil = – 5% GDP. Of course , we try to improve energy intensity , so we try to reduce – 5 % fossil to produce the same GDP. But there is an obvious flaw here – I mean, that SHOULD be obvious – : if we improve by 5% the energy intensity, we had better improve the GDP by + 5% with the same fossil consumption than blocking the GDP with less fossil !”

    This is pure hooey. There are other ways to provide energy than by burning fossil fuel. You know this. You’re just flimflamming us with your claims that without coal the GDP would decrease by an equivalent amount of reduction.

    What about solar energy converted to electricity. Wind energy converted to electricity. Geothermal energy converted to electricity. Tidal energy converted to electricity. Hydroelectric energy. Nuclear (oh horrors!) energy converted to electricity. Hot air from anti-science denialists converted into energy…probably keeps the thermostat turned down two degrees. On some modern cars one can even hit the brakes and generate energy.

    Next you play the “moral card:” “NOT doing that means simply preventing poor people from being a little bit richer.”

    Do you read off an old swift boaters script for this crap? China has invested hugely in alternative energy:
    China’s leaders are investing $12.6 million every hour to green their economy.
    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/global_competition.html

    You write: “So the wrong thing here is that the optimum would be when the MARGINAL profit brought by 1 Gt more C would be less than the MARGINAL cost of GW caused by this use.
    “And I defy you to give me a quantitative proof that this would be the case with less than 1000 Gt C and 2°C warming.”

    I defy you to try to spell out your angst in plain English.

    We are already seeing the effects of less than 1.4°F (0.78 °C) global warming with melting Arctic ice sheets, melting glaciers all over the world, rising sea level, earlier Spring, later Fall, bark beetle infestations, droughts, stronger storms, deeper floods, heat waves, endangering of penguin species and polar bears, etc, etc.

    We are already seeing the above with .78ºC global warming. You pass off another 1.22ºC warming as MARGINAL?

    Global warming is just getting started with the current concentration of CO2 (388 ppmv) in the atmosphere. Much warming is still in the pipeline as the oceans come back into equilibrium – if we STOPPED all anthropogenic emissions right now.

    This is not to mention climate feedbacks where AGW is the trigger for huge amounts of natural CO2 and CH4 climate forcing to be released as northern tundra warms up.

    Please come back as a grown up instead as the voice for big coal. You guys trying to reserve taxpayer subsidies for
    coal technology as you thwart subsidies for alternative energy is treasonable as far as I’m concerned. Hey, why would you be trying to get the oxymoron “clean coal” going if coal is a marginal problem?

  46. 746
    pete best says:

    Re #739, The Stern report is not making much headwat now is it. Thats the real issue. Globally fossil fuels usage is still growing by 2-3% per annum globally and another decades delay is another nail in the coffin.

    For some reason the masses and the media believe that its up to them to make a personal choice. Its ok to carry on consuming for its as Tony Blai states. We cant expect people to make cultural sacrifices, all we need is the technology. What a delusion!

  47. 747
    ken says:

    To quote a blog on the topic I speak of regarding the Amazon:

    Thus, from an assertion (IPCC) that “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”, we see this relying on a statement (Rowell & Moore) that “up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall.” But that seems to rely solely on the assertion that: “Logging companies in Amazonia kill or damage 10-40% of the living biomass of forests through the harvest process.”

    Turning this round and starting at the Nature end, we have “Logging companies in Amazonia kill or damage 10-40% of the living biomass of forests through the harvest process,” turn into, “up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall,” which then becomes “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”.

    And that is what Jean-Pascal van Ypersele calls, “assessing the quality information about climate change issues in all its dimensions.”

    Tell me that there wasn’t some intentional sensationalization of the actual study there for the purposes of fear mongering. Regardless of whether the IPCC allows non-peer reviewed material or not, it should be cited properly, and only facts expressed. It should not be the place of the IPCC to try and convince anyone, but rather to present the facts so that others can make up their own minds on how to proceed based on those facts. When you take an article that discusses how logging stresses a portion of the Brazilian Amazon, and turn it into 40% of the entire Amazon being in jeopardy, you aren’t acting responsibly.

  48. 748
    David R. says:

    “[Response: You are confused about what the rules of the IPCC were. Non-peer reviewed material was allowed (see comments above). – gavin]”

    Regardless if it was ‘allowed’ within the ‘rules of the IPCC’ to make some of the most alarming predictions about the near impact of global warming in their report based on non scientific or speculative ‘material’ the question is, was it good judgment, good science, and does it help or hurt the credibility of the report and of the organization itself to do so?

    Was there a disclaimer at the beginning of the report that certain sections of this report represent rigorous, peer reviewed scientific studies of climate trends and that other sections were loosely sourced and likely of dubious scientific value, and were added to ramp up the panic about effects of climate change? If not, then the report could be considered to be misleading.

    The IPCC is not infallible? You are conceding that.

    Well how much farther are you going to go down that road? Are you willing to say that the IPCC has issued a report that has parts that include many predictions about near term ecological impacts of climate change that are not based on rigorous scientific investigation? Are you willing to say that these sections may have been included for the purpose of inspiring political and public policy action?

  49. 749
    Les Johnson says:

    Lynn: your

    Global warming has warmed the oceans (I think) a half a degree C. There is just more ocean heat around to fuel hurricanes and cyclones (like dry brush waiting for a wildfire).

    Depends on your time frame, when speaking of warming waters. Using ARGO data, there has been no warming of the ocean’s since 2003.

    Using Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), from FSU and Ryan Maue, we are currently near 30 year lows in global cyclones.

  50. 750

    # 630 CFU
    “” but there are plenty that do the AGW cause’s public image no good at all. “” Very good point, I think.

    I haven’t looked into it enough. However Jim Hansen claims in his new book (“Storms of my Grandchildren”) that leftist groups/people like the Union of Concerned Scientists/President Clinton and other leftist groups are so ingrained and set to automatically reject any anti-nuke policies, that they have effectively stopped any thought of fourth generation breeder nuke plants that could be an essential part of helping us get off of our coal (coke) habit. Apparently, they have little waste (comparatively), and use mostly current nuke waste to power themselves.

    I know that mainstream peer reviewed published articles *defintiely don’t eliminate* the nuke power option…eg. (Socolow, Pacala, Science, 2004, 623 citations).

    I personally believe that we need to seriously investigate potential ways to get off of coal, fast…it takes a long time to change over to new energy and climate change has huge amounts of inertia in the order of at least 20-30 years.
    (IPCC)

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/305/5686/968 (Socolow, Pacala)