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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. 751
    John McManus says:

    Proof of cooling in the Arctic on CBC this week. An Innuit hunter was stranded when a piece of an ice shelf broke off and he drited away into open water in the high Arctic.

    How could this happen if the world was not cooling. This is absolute proof that AGW is a fraud and we are entering a new ice age.

  2. 752
    Gilles says:

    Comment by Completely Fed Up — 26 janvier 2010 :”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.”

    I have absolutely no objection if you want to burn as little fossil fuel as possible, Fed up.

    I think that the minimal value is zero , right ?

    so if you want an idea of what it looks like, I suggest you to look for example at the correlation between CO2 production per capita and ANY indicator you want : it can be GDP, life expectancy, infant mortality rate, literacy, and so on.

    A very good tool for this is there : http://graphs.gapminder.org/world/

    it’s worth spending some minutes playing with facts – I mean REAL facts.

    No country has really zero fossil, but you can extrapolate known curve to zero to imagine what it should look like.

    so what’s your preferred country where you dream to live ?

  3. 753
    potentilla says:

    As you point out, a good reference for the potential impact of melting glaciers on the water resources of south Asia that is factually correct, was presented at the AGU meeting in December

    http://web.hwr.arizona.edu/~gleonard/2009Dec-FallAGU-Soot-PressConference-Backgrounder-Kargel.pdf

    On page 42 the authors state:

    9. As we have calculated, melting glaciers (specifically, negative mass balance components of the melt) contribute an estimated 1.2% (perhaps factor of 2 uncertain) of total runoff of three of the most important drainages, the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra combined. The seasonal flow regulation influences and the negative mass balance is more important in local drainages close to the glacier sources, where glaciers can dominate the hydrology in arid regions, but on the scale of the subcontinent, glaciers are secondary players in looming hydrologic problems, which stem more from population growth and inefficiency of water resource distribution and application.

    You make the observation that:

    This backgrounder presented by Karkel 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.

    Yet a few paragraphs up you say:

    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.

    So while you point readers to good information, you choose to ignore the findings. Disappearance of the glaciers will not have “serious consequences” for water resources. Despite your claims to the contrary RealClimate are continuing to peddle misinformation.

    [Response: Not so. The Ganges does not define the totality of ‘water resources’ in the Himalayan region. Read more widely on this topic. – gavin]

  4. 754
    Les Johnson says:

    750
    John McManus says:
    26 January 2010 at 6:31 PM

    Proof of cooling in the Arctic on CBC this week. An Innuit (sic) hunter was stranded when a piece of an ice shelf broke off and he drited (sic) away into open water in the high Arctic.

    How could this happen if the world was not cooling. This is absolute proof that AGW is a fraud and we are entering a new ice age.

    From the CBC:

    When Idlout became stranded on the ice floe, the temperature was around –31 C and felt like –40 C with the wind chill.

    A spokesperson for the Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ont., said early rescue efforts were hampered by a snowstorm and poor visibility…

  5. 755
    stevenc says:

    “Up to 40%of theAmazonian forests could react drastically to
    even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the
    tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South
    America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not
    necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and
    the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000). It is more
    probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have
    more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature
    increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas«e5”

    This is what it says. ar4 wg2 chapter13 page 596. I haven’t read through it all and may not but that is where the statement in question is located.

  6. 756
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gilles, There is enough coal to easily account for a doubling of Atmospheric CO2 over pre-industrial concentrations. Declared petroleum reserves by themselves can take us to 440 ppmv. So only coal and oil take us to ~720 ppmv. Oil shale has the potential to take us to over 840 and tar sands take us to well over a thousand ppmv–and that is just known recoverable reserves as of 2007.

    Of course, none of this considers additional outgassing from swamps, thawing permafrost, etc. What is more, all of this could easily be consumed this century. I don’t think Peak fossil fuels will save our sorry asses.

  7. 757
    mircea says:

    Completely Feed Up says (608): 25 January 2010@4:37 AM
    “Which we have:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/
    Measurement through experiment and observation.”

    Here it is what is written in the link you provided:

    “Thus while they do span a large range of possible situations, the average of these simulations is not ‘truth’. “
    “However, that these models showed it [the match], is just coincidence and one shouldn’t assume that these models are better than the others. Had the real world ‘pause’ happened at another time, different models would have had the closest match.”

    Did you see how large the 95% range is? You can match anything in that interval. Does this mean that those simulation are useless? No. It means that the prediction problem is more complicated than what you would like to believe.

    Please see my comment no. 627 for more explanations.

  8. 758
    Skip Smith says:

    Review comment re: the “disappearing glaciers”:

    >>”I am not sure that this is true for the very large Karakoram glaciers in the western Himalaya. Hewitt (2005) suggests from measurements that these are expanding – and this would certainly be explained by climatic change in preciptiation and temperature trends seen in the Karakoram region (Fowler and Archer, J Climate in press; Archer and Fowler, 2004) You need to quote Barnett et al.’s 2005 Nature paper here – this seems very similar to what they said.”

    Response:

    >>”Was unable to get hold of the suggested references will consider in the final version”

    Unbelievably sloppy or evidence of bias?

  9. 759
    David R. says:

    742
    CM says:
    26 January 2010 at 1:50 PM

    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?”

    Sorry, I should have linked it:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter13.pdf

    in section 13.4.1. It’s right there. And the paragraph cites a WWF article by Rowell and Moore.

    It’s a little funny that you are accusing me of ‘making things up’ when that is much closer to what people like Rowell and Moore are doing. Then this speculation goes into the IPCC ‘Summary of expected key future impacts
    and vulnerabilities’ which goes straight onto the desks of world policy makers.

  10. 760

    Ken, you lost me.

    How does the statement that “up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall” SEEM (your word) to rely on the statement that “Logging companies in Amazonia kill or damage 10-40% of the living biomass of forests through the harvest process.”

    Logging does not equal reductions in rainfall, obviously, nor does 10-40% equal 40%. The statements seem to me largely unconnected.

    More definitively, if you take the trouble to actually go to Rowell and Moore–as I did just this minute–you find a footnote for the statement you cite. It’s #46, and it gives this bibliographic reference:

    46 D. C. Nepstad, A. Veríssimo, A. Alencar, C.Nobre, E. Lima, P. Lefebvre, P. Schlesinger,C.Potter, P. Mountinho, E. Mendoza, M. Cochrane, V. Brooks, Large-scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire, Nature, 1999, Vol 398, 8 April, pp505

    How about that–peer-reviewed science at the bottom of the pyramid. So I think your conjecture is busted.

    Rowell and Moore is available as a PDF here:

    http://www.wwf.de/fileadmin/fm-wwf/pdf-alt/waelder/brnde/Forest_Fires_Report.pdf

  11. 761
    dhogaza says:

    The IPCC is not infallible? You are conceding that.

    No human endeavor is infallible. Are you willing to concede that for, say, Climate Audit and WUW’sA?

    Some are more fallible that others. CA and WUW’sA are far, far more fallible than AR4. CO2 snow in antarctica, proved by the claim that every physical chemistry textbook in existence are wrong? Tosh.

  12. 762
    Yoron says:

    Tiresome reading those of you complaining about diverse nuances and what you deem to be errors. three thousand pages was it? and one really stupid error :) But, how many rights?

    I agree with those pointing out that the denial’ists’ too, in the name of fair play, should be ready to openly correct their own papers. Actually you only need some common sense those days to see that the climate is changing, and a look at the temperatures over the last fifty to hundred years will show you the same. Arguing that we aren’t responsible? :)

    Nah, and Santa thrives at the north pole right? with the polar bears too? That nobody can say how Earth will act, and react is no big surprise. Humans have never before done anything of this complexety before, not as we try to do now. Understand all those first, second, third etc.. hand reactions Earth may act and react too.

    There are no simple truths too it, ever heard of chaos math? And I fully expect the weather to become worse too under the next ? years, with weird twists to it. So you denialist’s will get your chance to proclaim your ‘truths’ more times than just this winter. But it won’t reverse the trend we can see in the statistics. And I’m afraid that the only deeds attributed to you in history will be those where you succeeded in hindering us from taking the steps we should have taken. Also, I doubt your sons and daughters will thank you.

  13. 763
    Sou says:

    #748 David R appears to want to wait until all the worst scenarios discussed in the IPCC and Copenhagen papers become reality, so that the effects and aftermath can be fully observed and analysed with scientific rigour.

    For me, I want to be told there’s a cloud of toxic gas heading my way, even if it might not reach my location. During summer I rely heavily on the reports of where the fire is at and what is its likely path and intensity. I don’t really want to wait till I’m incinerated along with the rest of the town.

    In this case, we know CO2 is increasing (ie the fire has started), we know the temperature is rising (ie the bushfire is growing), we know some climates are already changing (the fire is having an effect). It seems wise to heed the scenarios outlining possibilities under different actions that could be taken by the world.

    David R seems to prefer to wait till the fire storm has passed.

    It sounds as if there are some people who take no notice of hurricane or cyclone warnings, food poisoning warnings, storm or flood warnings, flu outbreaks, warnings of housing bubbles and credit crises. Or is it simply that some people cannot visualise more than one year ahead?

    Fortunately many governments are already revising their planning laws, constructing new water plants, subsidising clean energy initiatives. Hopefully there will be a globally coordinated effort, but I’m not holding my breath for full international cooperation.

    I envisage the next thing will be changes to world trade, with bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries that have reduced their CO2 emissions, and trade embargoes on those that don’t.

  14. 764
    Ernst K says:

    I’m not sure when you added the “update”, but thank you Gavin for that link.

    However, I’m still not happy with the “serious consequences for water resources” part because it needs more context. You shouldn’t be surprised that people read that and immediately think of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra. Yes, they’re not the totality of water resources in the region, but if we’re talking about water resources that are influenced by glaciers then they are by far the most important.

    When I think about the sub-continent and climate change, I worry about two things: crop stunting/killing heat waves and changes to the Monsoons (and precipitation patterns in general). Neither of these has all that much to do with the fate of the glaciers, although the glaciers are an indicator of change in the large-scale hydrology of the Himalayan region. And not a particularly nice one since glaciers decline when temperatures increase and precipitation declines, neither of which bodes well for water resources in general.

  15. 765
    Gilles says:

    Time Jones: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.

    The fact is : I have read no warning for any imminent catastrophe based on the lowest B1 scenario in newspaper and media. That’s a fact (it doesn’t prove that there aren’t, but i’ve never seen one). Have you ?

    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.

    OF course there are other way of producing energy ! but for a GIVEN energy repartition, you can simply increase GDP by increasing energy use. Increasing GDP means very simple things : having one car, or even two. Living in a large house instead of a small flat. Taking vacations and travel around the world. All these requires energy. Don’t tell me that nobody is interested in that sort of things,be serious please. This is supposed to be a site devoted to rational discussions.

    The driving force for growth is very very simple. It’s just based on the fact that nobody sees any objection in living with + 2% money than last year, like the neighbour on the other side of the street, if it has this opportunity (for example being offered a slightly higher wage). Don’t tell me that the vast majority of people wouldn’t accept that.

    So how to avoid increasing the use of fuel ? it would require that fuels are replaced with MORE EFFICIENT ways of producing energy on a very high scale. But wait. If there were a more efficient way of producing energy than fuels, that are a finite resource, why do you use them AT ALL ? this is nonsense. There must be some place where we CANNOT replace them- and of course, there are plenty of them. And even environementalists admit that, since they admit that it is not fair asking developing countries to reduce their fuel use. If fuels could be replaced easily , this would be totally immaterial. So facts prove that the fuels are unavoidable to get developed. Now back to the initial argument : if there is a minimal amount of fuel that is unavoidable, then for this given carbon intensity, NOT consuming fuels, leaving them willingly under the ground, means in reality depriving future people from the wealth they could have produced with them, and that cannot be produced without them.


    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.

    Oh sorry ! I was totally unaware of that ! so my above reasoning must be totally wrong… wait … hemm .. I live in France. We have the chance to be the most nuclearized country in the world. 80 % of our electricity is nuclear. But
    * nuclear is very difficult to combine with solar and wind energy, because it is not well suited for handling intermittency. To slow to steer. As a matter of fact , neighbour countries having the most developed wind energy (Denmark, Germany, Spain), have also much more coal power plants than we do. Puzzling. So France has indeed the lowest carbon intensity in Europe. BUT. But it is still 6 t CO2 per capita per year. So tell me please what is the magic recipe to reduce this a lot, since we have already a lot of nuclear and that it prevents basically the massive development of intermittent electricity (thanks to the Alps, we ALREADY have equipped all good hydroelectric sites – we are not completely stupid).


    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

    I hate absolute figures. Absolute figures mean nothing. I reason in term in physical quantities , energy intensity, GDP per capita, etc…


    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.

    Oh, but there is MUCH WORSE than all that, and there are dangers of civilization that are SCIENTFICALLY proved to cause probably almost 100 millions of casualties in the next century. Have you ever heard of AGW consequences causing 100 millions deaths? no? normal, it is not linked to AGW, but it is much more simple : car accidents. They wouldn’t exist without fuels. So juste take a few minutes to think of this simple question : why isn’t there any international conference to ban cars ? why don’t any environmentalist movement demanding the total suppression of these death devices ? do you know any consequence of AGW that would cause 100 millions deaths in the coming century ?


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

    tell me :
    compare your life to that of your parents and grand parents. What is the most significant thing to explain the differences : use of fossil fuels, or 0.7 °C increase of temperature ?

    compare your lif with various people from asia, Africa, south america : what is the most significant thing to explain the differences ? use of fossil fuels, or differences in the average temperature ?

    I don’t know where you live, but as you certainly know, 0.7°C is a global average and local variations are different. Without searching on internet, can you please tell me what has been the LOCAL variation of temperature at the place you’re living in, and the physical consequences on the all-day life ? (you will admit that you’re personnally sensitive ONLY to the local temperature and not to the average temperature of the globe, won’t you?)

    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.

    I think that if we stopped all anthropogenic emissions right now, the world would plunge immediately in a disaster in which the temperature of the oceans would be the smallest concern of billions of people….


    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?

    I am not a coal guy. I am not a guy of anything, BTW. I’m just looking at objective facts. The fact is that the civilization has grown with the use of fossils, that it will probably disappear with their exhaustion, and that the average temperature on the earth is probably a small problem compared to this one. May I remind you that even without fossil, mankind has settled in countries extending from Sahara to Arctic, adapting itself to very different climates ? of course it would also adapt to the decline of fossil, but the consequences of this will be order of magnitudes larger than the consequences of a few tenth of degrees in average temperatures.

  16. 766
    Gilles says:

    Ray :” Gilles, There is enough coal to easily account for a doubling of Atmospheric CO2 over pre-industrial concentrations. Declared petroleum reserves by themselves can take us to 440 ppmv. So only coal and oil take us to ~720 ppmv. Oil shale has the potential to take us to over 840 and tar sands take us to well over a thousand ppmv–and that is just known recoverable reserves as of 2007.”

    Ray, which numbers do you use for the reserves ?
    Oil shale “has the potential”, but will never be extracted at the pace it could do it before 2100. Actually it will probably never be extracted at any significant pace. Don’t believe these economists that don’t know anything in physics.

  17. 767
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Sou: “For me, I want to be told there’s a cloud of toxic gas heading my way, even if it might not reach my location. ”

    Indeed, how about hurricane warnings and evacuations? They are notoriously difficult to predict yet people agree to leave or batten down long before they are *projected* by the same computer models that some consider not even science to occur.

    How about fire warnings?

    They may not even happen.

    So would some sit tight and say “it’s all a scam to get me to move out so they can steal my stuff!”?

    Funnily enough, when it’s someone else’s life they’re “skeptical” and deny the problem exists but when it’s THEIR life, it’s all “if it saves ONE LIFE, it’s worth it!”.

  18. 768
    Completely Fed Up says:

    micea: “Did you see how large the 95% range is? ”

    So what? It’s 95% likely or more to be in that range. That it is large doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

    micea, did you see that even the least dangerous edge of the range is not safe?

    If a bridge is rated at 100tons carry weight, it ACTUALLY tested as 95+% chance of bearing 200tons.

    a two-fold increase TO THE MINIMUM. (note: I suppose you’re not going to say that engineering of bridges is unscientific and must be scrapped…?)

    The maximum load is not worried about because it’s the chance of the worst possible scenario they care about.

    But even the BEST scenario is dangerous and requires action.

    That there’s a 3x more dangerous possibility doesn’t make it not science.

  19. 769
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “so if you want an idea of what it looks like, I suggest you to look for example at the correlation between CO2 production per capita and ANY indicator you want”

    Well, before 1800, GDP was positive and the fossil fuel production zero.

    So it was infinity GDP.

    Your attempt to conflate burning fossil fuels to GDP then GDP with quality of life is inane.

  20. 770
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ” John McManus says:
    26 January 2010 at 6:31 PM

    Proof of cooling in the Arctic on CBC this week”

    … winter …

    ?

  21. 771
    Completely Fed Up says:

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

    Not really, because it’s a point that applies far more readily and in greater numbers to the AGW denialist camp.

    Including their insistence on using Gallileo (religious), heretic (religious), flat earth (religious), “it’s only a theory” (creationist) etc tactics yet AGW get pasted with “you’re using religious terms”.

    Given this troll is using it the wrong way and never the other way, if it’s a “Very good point, I think.” then it’s an exceptionally good point if you point it toward the denialists.

    Yet it doesn’t harm their cause.

    Why?

  22. 772
    Completely Fed Up says:

    David R. says:

    “Regardless if it was ‘allowed’ within the ‘rules of the IPCC’ ”

    See DR. You don’t care what the truth is, or what the facts are. You just want to MAKE it wrong.

  23. 773
    Gilles says:

    Sou : “It sounds as if there are some people who take no notice of hurricane or cyclone warnings, food poisoning warnings, storm or flood warnings, flu outbreaks, warnings of housing bubbles and credit crises. Or is it simply that some people cannot visualise more than one year ahead?

    Fortunately many governments are already revising their planning laws, constructing new water plants, subsidising clean energy initiatives. Hopefully there will be a globally coordinated effort, but I’m not holding my breath for full international cooperation.

    I envisage the next thing will be changes to world trade, with bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries that have reduced their CO2 emissions, and trade embargoes on those that don’t.”

    do you think that reducing CO2 will suppress ” hurricane or cyclone warnings, food poisoning warnings, storm or flood warnings, flu outbreaks, warnings of housing bubbles and credit crises” ?

    actually you can check it simply, by looking at times when CO2 production was much lower, or even null, or places where it is much lower or almost vanishing, and see if the life was (or is) much better then.

  24. 774
    Completely Fed Up says:

    ken: “Tell me that there wasn’t some intentional sensationalization of the actual study there for the purposes of fear mongering”

    There wasn’t some intentional sensationalisation of the study there for the purposes of fear mongering.

    PS please now go to all those who proclaim that AGW mitigation would put us back in the stone ages or ruin the western economy that they may be fearmongering.

  25. 775
    SteveF says:

    Well, on the water resources front, apparently up to 70% of summer flow in the Ganges and up to 60% in other major Himalayan rivers comes from meltwater. About a quarter of the Chinese population get their dry season water principally from melt. So the change in seasonality of water supply due to melting glaciers would be a serious matter.

    The figures come from the following review:

    Barnett, T.P. et al. (2005) Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature, 438, 303-309.

    and the references in the review are:

    Singh, P. and Bengtsson, L. (2004) Hydrological sensitivity of a large Himalayan basin to climate change. Hydrological Processes, 18, 2363?2385.

    Singh, P. et al. (1997) Estimation of snow and glacier-melt contribution to the Chenab River, Western Himalaya. Mountain Research and Development, 17, 49?56

    Singh, P. and Jain, S. K. (2002) Snow and glacier melt in the Satluj River at Bhakdra Dam in the western Himalayan region. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 47, 93?106.

    Gao, Q. and Shi, S. (1992) Water resources in the arid zone of northwest China. Journal of Desert Research, 12, 1-12.

  26. 776
    Andrew Hobbs says:

    #753 Potentilla “So while you point readers to good information, you choose to ignore the findings. Disappearance of the glaciers will not have “serious consequences” for water resources.”

    I think the document quoted emphasises the wrong statistic and I rather disagree with your overall assessment. The mass loss may only be 1 to 2% at present but glacial melt accounts for considerably more of overall flow and (as referred to in that document, but without any figures) a major part of the flow in certain parts of the year.

    I could go on but I will simply quote from an article from Nature. A bit old now but nothing has changed much in the meantime to alter their conclusions.

    ” … there is little doubt that melting glaciers provide
    a key source of water for the region in the summer months: as much
    as 70% of the summer flow in the Ganges and 50–60% of the flow in
    other major rivers (40,41,42). In China, 23% of the population lives in the
    western regions, where glacial melt provides the principal dry season
    water source (43).”

    “The few analytical studies that exist for the region suggest both a
    regression of the maximum spring stream-flow period in the annual
    cycle by about 30 days (ref. 47) and an increase in glacier melt runoff
    by 33–38% (ref. 48). These numbers seem consistent with what is
    being observed ………. ”

    ” ….. in the HKH region (Hindu Kush /Himalayan), there may
    (for the next several decades) appear to be normal, even increased,
    amounts of available melt water to satisfy dry season needs. The
    shortage, when it comes, will likely arrive much more abruptly in
    time; with water systems going from plenty to want in perhaps a few
    decades or less.”

    Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions
    T. P. Barnett1, J. C. Adam & D. P. Lettenmaier
    NATURE|Vol 438|17 November 2005

  27. 777
    Nick Gotts says:

    “if you want an idea of what it looks like, I suggest you to look for example at the correlation between CO2 production per capita and ANY indicator you want : it can be GDP, life expectancy, infant mortality rate, literacy, and so on.”

    If you want to know just how desperate the denialists are, I suggest you look at this piece of blithering nonsense. What that overall correlation is finding is of course the causal link between wealth and life expectancy etc. If you compare the USA with western Europe or Japan, you will find that the former has much higher CO2 production per capita, and does worse on the three measures of human welfare you mention, and many others.

  28. 778

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

    Septic Matthew: Sure. If you say so.

    BPL: Since derailing action on AGW will cause billions of deaths, it’s hard not to describe the people who do it as evil. What else would you call them? Misinformed? Doing what they think is right? How about “defending their profits/lifestyle no matter how many people die as a result?”

  29. 779

    EG: So just where did the public get its irrational ideas about nuclear power? I really want to know.

    BPL: SL-1. Enrico Fermi. Brown’s Ferry. Three-Mile Island. Chernobyl. Places like that.

  30. 780

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

    BPL: And 44% of them believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Hate to tell you this, Jimbo old bean, but scientific reality is not decided by majority vote.

  31. 781
    J Bowers says:

    #Comment by Dave P — 24 January 2010 @ 5:15 PM
    “Another IPCC mistake has happened. A comment http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article6999815.ece
    ——————————————————–

    The IPCC has issued an unambiguous rebuke to that article (IPCC STATEMENT ON TRENDS IN DISASTER LOSSES; Jan 25th):
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/statement_25_01_2010.pdf

    On the subject of “grey literature”, such as the WWF articles, being wrongly used for AR4, go down to Annex2 of this PDF:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-appendix-a.pdf

  32. 782

    pete best: another decades delay is another nail in the coffin.

    BPL: Actually, another decade’s delay is putting all the nails in the coffin, dropping it in the grave, shoveling in all the dirt, and tamping it down with a steamroller.

  33. 783

    Les Johnson: Using ARGO data, there has been no warming of the ocean’s since 2003.

    BPL: Look again.

    Domingues, C.M., J.A. Church, N.J. White, P.J. Gleckler, S.E. Wijffels, P.M. Barker, and J.R. Dunn 2008. “Improved Estimates of Upper-Ocean Warming and Multi-Decadal Sea-Level Rise.” Nature 453, 1090-1093.

    Levitus et al. 2009. “Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems” Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L07608.

  34. 784
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Caveat!

    Caveat!

    I am surprised that no one is posting that Pachauri should resign (or be sacked) from his post as chair of the IPCC.

    The “Caveat!” I started with is because I accept the mainstream climate science – I am not a sceptic.

    Pachauri called the 2035 stuff “voodoo science”. But he seems to have done this without examining the science he dismissed. That shows, or appears to show, a closed mind. Thus a reversed form of “conservation bias”. This is unacceptable from a man in his position. It is a sacking offence.

    There have been (at least) two such calls from sympathetic science writers in the UK press. And I am surprised that George Monbiot, the UK Guardian newspaper columnist, frequently mentioned here at RC, did not use his Tuesday (yesterday) Guardian slot to call for a resignation. Indeed, Mombiot called for resignation of Prof Jones of the CRU within 24 hours of the publication of the hacked emails.

    Such a call should come from within the climate community, and it should be from the top of the climate community (Hansen?).

    I recall the “voodoo” remark at the time it was first reported (IIRC from the BBC) just before Copenhagen. [edit – OT]

    [Response: The comment was probably over the top – but the report in question is not very good. The section on the impacts of global warming makes very little sense. Pachauri was correct in suggesting that it should have been peer-reviewed (as of course should have been the sources of the 2035 number). – gavin]

  35. 785
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Skippy asks “Unbelievably sloppy or evidence of bias?”

    Evidence of understaffing, maybe? Evidence that they need better copy editors? Evidence you don’t understand the process?

  36. 786
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mircea says of the models: “Did you see how large the 95% range is? You can match anything in that interval. ”

    Well, except they don’t match a cooling or stable climate, do they?

  37. 787
    AxelD says:

    Only slightly off-topic: the (UK) Times reports today on a rare outbreak of intellectual honesty in the climate debate. In a full-page interview, the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser declares that the impact of AGW has been exaggerated and, in one telling paragraph, adds “When you get into large-scale climate modelling there are quite substantial uncertainties. On the rate of change and the local effects, there are uncertainties both in terms of empirical evidence and the climate models themselves.” Phil Jones is referred to in rather less than flattering terms.

    Is the UK government now trying to reposition itself with respect to the debate? In the UK at least there has recently been a substantial shift in the way the topic is reported, presumably in response to changes in public opinion.

    [Response: The actual quotes from Beddington do not support either the spin in the article or your comment. Your implication that climate modellers do not discuss uncertainties is completely contradicted by the fact that they actually do. – gavin]

  38. 788
    Theo Hopkins says:

    Another article from the UK press that John Beddington, the Chief Scintist, has called for climate scientists to be more open about the uncertaities of climate modeling. This one from the Daily Telegraph.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/7081039/John-Beddington-chief-scientist-says-climate-change-sceptics-should-not-be-dismissed.html

    [Response: And where are all these climate modellers who are not open about the uncertainties of climate modelling? Here perhaps? – gavin]

  39. 789
    Theo Hopkins says:

    From the Times newspaper in the UK:

    [“Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change at the University of East Anglia, said: “Climate scientists get kudos from working on an issue in the public eye but with that kudos comes responsibility. Being open with data is part of that responsibility.”

    He criticised Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman, for his dismissive response last November to research suggesting that the UN body had overstated the threat to the glaciers. Mr Pachauri described it as “voodoo science”.

    Professor Hulme said: “Pachauri’s choice of words has not been good. The question of whether he is the right person to lead the IPCC is for the 193 countries who make up its governing body. It’s a political decision.”]

    Yes. And Mike Hulme is not a sceptic, and nor am I.

  40. 790
    Joe Cushley says:

    At 683 David R says – Among other things, the IPCC report makes the assertion that ‘over 40% of the Amazonian rainforests… will probably be replaced by…tropical savannahs.’

    What the IPCC report actually says. “UP TO 40% of the Amazonian rainforests…’ then he engages in a clever bit of snipping which takes out the qualifying language to try and make it into an assertion. So, David R, not exactly making things up, but exaggerating and twisting nuanced meaning in quite an “alarmist” fashion to make a political point.

  41. 791
    Bruce Rogers says:

    Could a response to “Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception?” by D’Aleo and Watts be written? Their paper can be found at http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/surface_temp.pdf

    I know it takes time to write a thoughtful response to a paper over 100 pages long, but maybe a near term response dealing with a few of the more understadable allegations of improper method. What sticks in my mind is the reduction of the number of surface temperature sites, with a claimed bias toward deleting locations at higher altitudes and latitudes (i.e. those reporting lower temperatures) yet leaving historical reports from these locations in the average. Surely the researchers involved realized that deleting a colder station from today’s average temperature yet leaving its input in older average temperatures would show an artificial increase in average temperature?

    [Response: This is, was, and forever will be, nonsense. The temperature analyses are not averages of all the stations absolute temperature. Instead, they calculate how much warmer or colder a place is compared to the long term record at that location. This anomaly turns out to be well correlated across long distances – which serves as a check on nearby stations and as a way to credibly fill in data poor regions. There has been no deliberate reduction in temperature stations, rather the change over time is simply a function of how the data set was created in the first place (from 31 different datasets, only 3 of which update in real time). Read Peterson and Vose (1997) or NCDC’s good description of their procedures or Zeke Hausfather’s very good explanation of the real issues on the Yale Forum. – gavin]

  42. 792

    761
    dhogaza says:
    26 January 2010 at 11:49 PM

    “CO2 snow in antarctica, proved by the claim that every physical chemistry textbook in existence are wrong? Tosh.”

    Watts admitted his error. Move on.

  43. 793

    777
    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    27 January 2010 at 5:42 AM

    “pete best: another decades delay is another nail in the coffin.

    BPL: Actually, another decade’s delay is putting all the nails in the coffin, dropping it in the grave, shoveling in all the dirt, and tamping it down with a steamroller.”

    I bet you said that 10 years ago. Why don’t you and others at this site wake up to yourselves and realise that it will take at least 10 years to get to the point where you are going to even start turning things around. But by then the whole AGW house of cards will have collapsed.

  44. 794

    778
    Barton Paul Levenson says:
    27 January 2010 at 5:25 AM

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

    Septic Matthew: Sure. If you say so.

    BPL: Since derailing action on AGW will cause billions of deaths, it’s hard not to describe the people who do it as evil. What else would you call them? Misinformed? Doing what they think is right? How about “defending their profits/lifestyle no matter how many people die as a result?””

    What arrant nonsense. Billions will not be dying. Catastrophising an issue does not make it a reality.

  45. 795
    Bob says:

    759: David R.

    Your previous post (683) had said:

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

    The report and paragraph that you linked to actually said:

    “Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000). It is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas.”

    To me there’s a very big difference between the phrases “over 40%” (yours) and “up to 40%” (theirs). There’s also a difference between “will probably” and “could.” It’s the difference between saying “I will probably live over 100 years” and “I could live up to 100 years”.

    Lastly, this paragraph is clearly talking about a possible response to a change in precipitation, not directly to global warming (i.e. “if” climate change alters precipitation, “then” the ecosystem “may” respond by …). I see nothing alarmist about this. It’s just information.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong or right (yet). I just like the facts to be presented in an up front manner, not massaged to make a particular debate position sound more dramatic.

    For my part, however… while the source of that particular statement is not necessarily the most reliable (i.e. not peer reviewed literature, and not authored by scientists), I see nothing wrong with the premise or the conclusion, and it is bracketed by a number of other citations. It makes no claim whatsoever as to the probability of the outcome. It’s just a hypothetical, and clearly a worst case (“up to”) scenario. I’m also not sure that you can take any part of their logic out and say “this is false” (e.g. “rain forests will *not* react drastically to a slight change in precipitation”).

    And while the worst case in this event may or may not come to pass, you have to figure that in the body of everything described in the IPCC report, some things won’t happen at all, and a few will be realized to or beyond their maximum. There’s nothing wrong with stating those boundaries without assigning arbitrary probabilities (which is what was done).

    Lastly, it has to be presumed that when someone reads this report they’re going to read it as a rational, intelligent human being, and not in a state of hysterical panic. Policy makers should not be assumed to be fools who need guidance through every step of their day.

  46. 796
    CM says:

    David R. #759, Ken #747, Kevin McKinney #760], re: Amazonian forests in IPCC ch. 13,

    First, apologies to David R. for implying that he was making stuff up – that was uncalled for! But, David, a citation would have been helpful, while making an inaccurate paraphrase look like a literal citation from IPCC was very unhelpful: it wasted my time on futile text searches. David, you said:

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

    Not quite. The actual IPCC passage (WG2, 13.4.1), correctly cited by Ken, reads:

    Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000)

    Note that IPCC does not rely on WWF for ‘savannisation’ of tropical forests, as David implied; in the preceding paragraph there were at least three other studies cited in support of such a scenario. The relevant passage of the Rowell and Moore (2000) WWF/IUCN report is:

    Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall. In the 1998 dry season, some 270,000 sq. km of forest became vulnerable to fire, due to completely depleted plant-available water stored in the upper five metres of soil. A further 360,000 sq. km of forest had only 250 mm of plant-available soil water left.

    As Kevin noted, Rowell and Moore’s reference is in turn a Nature letter by Nepstad et al. (1999). Kevin, apparently the bloggers have read this paper, and contend it’s misrepresented in the WWF passage, because the only 40% figure explicitly mentioned there has to do with logging, not with precipitation.

    But Ken and David, the Nepstad paper does give the 270,000 + 360,000 km2 figures for 1998 cited by Rowell and Moore: this was forest at risk from fire due to the severe 1997-98 drought. It is quite possible that Rowell and Moore’s “up to 40%” figure was derived from that.

    Now, it may still be problematic; I’m not sure how they get all the way to 40% from those figures, and what a small reduction in rainfall means here. I’d agree that the IPCC authors should have looked up the Nature paper (which is cited elsewhere in WG2 rather than relying on the WWF/IUCN summary.

    But even if the specific ‘40%’ statement turns out to be poorly supported, the gist of the passage in AR4 seems to be holding up. By 2006, fresh findings were queuing up to make an alarming case that “The outlook for Amazonia is dry”, as Nature put it. The talk since has been of several interacting factors, including forest-fire-enabling droughts exacerbated by climate change, that may be moving the Amazon toward a “tipping point” – see Nepstad et al. 2008 (free access) for an overview.

  47. 797
    dhogaza says:

    Steckis:

    Watts admitted his error. Move on.

    Which only shows that Watts has more integrity than Steckis, which is not a place I’d want to be, Richard.

    However, the fact that Watts actually entertained a serious the possibility that standard physical chemistry textbooks are wrong about something as simple as partial pressure … well, enough said.

    [Response: Much more relevant is that Watts still, after years of being told otherwise, thinks that the global temperature analyses are made by averaging absolute temperatures. – gavin]

  48. 798
    Frederic says:

    i can`t believe in this: himalayan glaciers could be gone in 2035.

    Sorry, but my grandmum knows that this big glaciers up to 8000m of hights can never melt in this short time.

    how is it possible, that such stuff finds the way to the ipcc 2007 report?

    Regards,

    Freddi

  49. 799
    Jeffrey Davis says:

    Richard Steckis: What arrant nonsense. Billions will not be dying. Catastrophising an issue does not make it a reality.

    WWI was a trade war that blew up from an insignificant regional conflict. It was a completely illogical war, a trade war among prosperous, capitalist countries. It was as if McDonalds had declared war on GE. 4 years of war and many millions slaughtered over market share.

    AGW may be the least of our worries since We’re also going to be throttled back economically by Peak Oil. We are on the downside of petroleum production and any increase in demand must bring an increase in price. Look at how restive things are in this country during the first year of the new economy. After 10 years of this? 20? The spite of Radical Islamists won’t be assuaged by declining oil revenue. What’s our future? Look at Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo. This is what happens to our cities when enough money evaporates.

    Now. throw in 2C of increase in temps and all the agricultural disruption that entails.

    Your dismissal of the dangers we face has the authority of a greeting card.

  50. 800

    #791 Bruce Rogers,

    yes I saw that too. It’s an incredible pack of you-know-what. Unfortunately, the public just laps it up. Seems the denialist noise machine is really gearing up now, probably due to the US situation, with climate legislation being seriously on the table. And lots of moneyed interests at stake.

    The problem with refuting such a paper is the same as with Ian Plimer’s book: it’s a Gish-Gallop-in-writing. Addressing the individual falsehoods one by one would keep you occupied for a fair bit of time.

    Suffice to say, almost the only truthful statements in the “paper” are the page numbers.