RealClimate logo


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. 1701
    David B. Benson says:

    Axel D — It certainly appears that it is you that fails to understand the problem, but I would out little hope of a epiphany.

  2. 1702
    AxelD says:

    Radge @1696 invokes psychological terms, never a terribly wise idea – it’s yet more evidence of that insecurity that’s showing everywhere. Especially when he invents clunky terms to insult the other side without realizing that his definitions could neatly be turned 180 degrees to describe exactly the denialism of climate change advocates whose carefully constructed world-view is changing for ever.

    For a rather more balanced view of the psychology of global warming, this article has some interesting ideas, whichever side of the fence you’re from. Definitely worth a read.

  3. 1703
    Completely Fed Up says:

    GM: “They are managing it by expanding their resource use and energy consumption just as rapidly as their economy is growing.”

    But that doesn’t fit your thesis that CO2 production increases is the driver of economy.

    You have the RATE of CO2 INCREASE is the driver of the economy.

    Which would mean that someone with 1ton CO2 would get as much out of 1ton extra as someone with 100t would get out of another 100t.

    This means that CO2 production is not related to the economy, since one gets 100x the effect out of the same amount of CO2.

    THAT is your thesis.

    And it doesn’t hold if what you state now is correct.

  4. 1704
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “so back again to the initial question : why don’t we, and why has the energy production per capita stagnated around 1,5 tep/yr/capita ?”

    Why don’t we what?

    That wasn.t your initial question.

    Your initial question was “what is the limit”.

    Are you changing questions because your earlier one made no sense? If so, I’d change it again: this one makes less sense.

  5. 1705
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Yes. Unless you think that it is possible to do work with zero energy which is where your logic takes us ”

    It doesn’t.

    You had to apply your logic to get that.

    I bet you’re still flummoxed about how Apollo ever manages to catch up with the Tortoise, aren’t you.

  6. 1706
    Tim Jones says:

    Regarding the IPCC errors stink I submit we should collect all the errors, both of commission as well as omission and publish an addendum to the IPCC AR4 online report every year. Let’s just get the facts out.

    What is the best guess after the Himalayan glacier 2035 melt away date was found to be exaggerated? What will sea level rise be considering new data on glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica? I’m sure everyone would like to know. Do we have to wait until AR5 for an official pronouncement?

    It seems to me that instead of the IPCC being in any way fraudulent, it’s more the victim of speculation and error on the part of people submitting and then inexperienced people reviewing material. If the IPCC AR5 is to be perfect, a well paid editor with a respectable budget should oversee the reviews.

    Any assertion with a number attached to it should be carefully verified and edited as new data demand. To forestall opportunistic attacks on IPCC integrity errata should be submitted to a continuing review board for inclusion in a yearly update to the online publication.

    Below is the answer to how much of the Netherlands is below sea level.

    U.N. climate panel admits Dutch sea level flaw
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61C1V420100213
    OSLO
    Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:09pm EST

    “OSLO (Reuters) – The U.N. panel of climate experts overstated how much of the Netherlands is below sea level, according to a preliminary report on Saturday, admitting yet another flaw after a row last month over Himalayan glacier melt.”
    […]
    “The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the original source of the incorrect data, said on February 5 that just 26 percent of the country is below sea level and 29 percent susceptible to river flooding.

    “The IPCC said the error was widespread — it quoted a report from the Dutch Ministry of Transport saying “about 60 percent” of the country is below sea level, and a European Commission study saying “about half.'”

  7. 1707
    Doug Bostrom says:

    “The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the original source of the incorrect data, said on February 5 that just 26 percent of the country is below sea level and 29 percent susceptible to river flooding.”

    “Just” 26% percent, with more being increasingly expensive to protect, so no problem at all, truly.

    I love how the important message stopped being that 1/4 of the Netherlands is below sea level, instead became the feelings of people expressing shock over an error in the IPCC report. Folks watching with dismay as water gushes through their living room windows will take great comfort knowing that vigilant watchdogs ferreted out this terrible error. “Glub, glub” is just a minor thing.

    Tip of my hat to PR mavens, your haxor skilz rool.

  8. 1708
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by Gilles — 13 February 2010 @ 3:26 PM:

    Your response to me is very hard to understand. It is not difficult to work up a doable plan for converting electricity generation to renewable or infinite (relative to human scale) sources. Wind, solar of the three types, geothermal where it is appropriate, and nuclear as generation 4 reactors can be developed (As per Hansen, gen 4 can make electricity while getting rid of the dangerous byproducts of old time reactors that we are currently storing). Bringing the automobile sector to electric completes a major reduction in pollution.

    Heavy transport (trucks, trains, ships, and aircraft) would require development of efficient biofuel production. (Fun insert here- Has anyone looked into upgrading the clipper ship concept with high tech for sea transport? They were very fast). Converting agriculture to more sustainable practices is another part of the CO2 equation. These problems and the above will take some time during which fossil fuels would fill in.

    I always thought that burning our precious fossil fuel resources was just plain stupid. As much as possible this resource should be retained for applications that are very difficult to achieve any other way (plastics, medicines, exotic carbon compounds). So the strawman is claiming that the problem is either all fossil fuels, or none. We need to minimize CO2 (and other pollutants) enough for a reasonable continuation of human society and the natural world, and we need to do it quick before the fossil fuel is gone and the ocean ecology is disrupted. So, what is the reality to which I am blind? If you think this is not possible, why are you even posting here?

    Steve

  9. 1709
    Radge Havers says:

    AxelD @ 1702

    “psychological terms, never a terribly wise idea – it’s yet more evidence of that insecurity that’s showing everywhere.”

    you said speaking in generalized, psychological terms.

    “definitions could neatly be turned 180 degrees”

    Yeah, actually I do realize it; it’s partly what I was talking about when I referred to “a denialist’s tendency to mimic the language of people they’re at odds with.” Which is why I didn’t bother to address the observation to you but to the general readership. The unintentional irony of your comment is noted, however.

    “balanced view”

    Your link doesn’t work, but let me guess: more false balance, i.e., obfuscation.

  10. 1710
    Leighton says:

    John Mason (#1697), that was poetic. I liked it. In context, I didn’t understand it, but the imagery was neat nonetheless. I’d ask you to explain what you mean, but I’m rapidly losing interest. After all, it is not as though the fellows are interested in a discussion. Claiming that CRU didn’t knowingly evade FOIA obligations amounts to its own form of denialism, and I’m willing to follow the examples I’ve found here about when to leave off feckless debate with denialists.

    Steve Fish (#1692) is an example. I think he’s the only person in the world who is not aware of the finding of unlawful conduct made by the Information Commissioner’s office in connection with the CRU emails. And yet he claims that I lack comprehension. Sigh.

    Still, my advice to Fish, Ray Ladbury and others would be to try to engage the real world a bit more effectively. Dr. Jones wasn’t spending the claimed 18 hours per request if the only necessary answer to the request was to point to the public data set. I’m mindful that some of the answers did in fact refer to public data, but it is not as though that is all the requesters were seeking. Simple requests for publicly available data could scarcely amount to a denial-of-service attack, to use Ladbury’s overwrought analogy, and there would be no reason to communicate with other researchers asking for a statement that “generally” everything passing between them was “confidential.” If it’s confidential, it’s not publicly available; if it’s publicly available, it’s not confidential.

    The only explanation — and everyone except you denialists knows this to be true — is that there was work product that Dr. Jones/CRU wished not to reveal. He wrote about this in his emails. He didn’t have a good justification not to reveal it (and Ladbury’s idea that the information can’t be requested except for purposes of scientific publications is just laughable) but he worked very hard to create a justification. His plan was generally successful until the release of the CRU emails pulled back the curtain, as it were. The world knows this, which is one reason why public opinion is heading south.

    But if you guys want to keep kidding yourselves, don’t let me stop you. It is actually very helpful for others in assessing credibility.

    [Response: We judge credibility based on honesty of evaluation and interpretation of the evidence regarding the physical and biological reality of this planet, and are not particularly in interested in your legalistic wordsmithing and interpretation of who did what. I strongly doubt this is something you would understand.–Jim]

  11. 1711
    flxible says:

    Steve Fish re Clipper ships, see here, especially the Maltese Falcon

  12. 1712
    David B. Benson says:

    Leighton (1710) — I don’t know how many times we have been over this same ground. CRU was under legal obligation not to release data belonging to various Met Offices; it had to be purchased from the latter. About 95% of the data is freely available from, say, GISS. The blizzard of FOI requests was harassment, pure and simple.

  13. 1713
    Doug Bostrom says:

    “Simple requests for publicly available data could scarcely amount to a denial-of-service attack…”

    Yes, a simple, single request divided into forty segments, a strange and seemingly inexplicable approach we’re supposed to ignore.

    I find this stage business of taking a single request and making it into forty impossible to fathom. I’ve looked around for a reasonable explanation, one not descending into a baroque flurry of chronologies, hypotheses about how people open their mail, procedural details and the like. The more the noise and hoopla, the more poorly the basic paradox is resolved.

    Forty equals one. Insurmountably wrong, I guess.

  14. 1714
    wittgenstein says:

    Just read professor Jones’s comments concerning his poor data/document keeping skills. This , plus his ambivilence about warming (I am firmly in the camp of warming as anthropogenically driven) are stunning and utterly inept capstones to his already amateuresque opening of the door to denialists. He needs to go. This is unacceptable and preposterous. There needs to be a professional running the show.

    [Response: There are in fact. The problem is with pseudo-philosophers who presume they understand the issues involved–Jim]

  15. 1715
    Tim Jones says:

    Re:1714 wittgenstein says: 13 February 2010
    “He needs to go.”

    We see this with Rajendra Pachauri, now with Phil Jones.

    Denialist’s mount a massive misinformation campaign against a high ranking figure associated with climate change in order to discredit climate scientists and climate science. An RC commentor claiming to believe in AGW, having read an article somewhere, demands the target that “opened the door” to the attack be sacked.

    If Jones’ head rolls the denialists goals are met. And thus emboldened another manufactured disinformation campaign finds another target and another way to confuse the public.

    wittgenstein would have us throw the baby out with the bath water.

    Clever game. Perhaps a business plan for big coal to get as many coal fired power plants on the ground as possible before the facts become overwhelming that AGW has become dangerous climate change?

    Who’s next?

  16. 1716
    Tim Jones says:

    Re:1710 Leighton says: 13 February 2010
    “Claiming that CRU didn’t knowingly evade FOIA obligations amounts to its own form of denialism, and I’m willing to follow the examples I’ve found here about when to leave off feckless debate with denialists.”

    Your own little data mining expedition not coming up with much, eh? Perhaps this comment will give perspective to your collection of horrors.

    Steve Had a Little List
    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/02/steve-had-little-list.html
    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 08, 2010
    “A list of the FOI requests received by the University of East Anglia about the CRU has been posted. Most of the Climate Audit fishing expedition were turned down, but there is one priceless one FOI 09-97 for which additional information was sought
    I hereby make a EIR/FOI request in respect to any confidentiality agreements)restricting transmission of CRUTEM data to non-academics involing the following countries: [insert 5 or so countries that are different from ones already requested 1]

    1. the date of any applicable confidentiality agreements;
    2. the parties to such confidentiality agreement, including the full name of any organization;
    3. a copy of the section of the confidentiality agreement that “prevents further transmission to non-academics”.
    4. a copy of the entire confidentiality agreement,”

    “It was clear that the requests were vexatious and they were turned down.”

    […]

    tgibbs said…
    “As a scientist, it would never occur to me that I’d have to keep detailed, conveniently filed records of who specifically requested that their data not be redistributed. Mostly, I deal with other scientists, who have respect for the fact that any request is an imposition on the time of working scientists. It certainly would not occur to me that somebody would hound me for data that doesn’t even properly belong to me. Any reasonable scientist, when told “That data isn’t ours, you should request it from the owners,” would say “Oh, sorry,” and do so.

    “Frankly, I find the list of requests and demands quite shocking. That somebody would be too lazy to bother to find out how to contact the various Met services themselves, and instead abuse the FoI mechanism to try to force a scientific laboratory to do their work for them is simply outrageous.

    “It is quite clear that there is no legitimate scientific basis for what was demanded–and indeed, there has been no evidence that the data that was provided was put to any scientific use (while the Clear Climate folks have achieved substantial progress simply by acting with respect and consideration for the time of others). The only plausible motivation I can think of for these burdensome FoI demands is either personal animosity or a desire to impair climate research.”

  17. 1717
    Georgi Marinov says:

    1703 Completely Fed Up says:

    “But that doesn’t fit your thesis that CO2 production increases is the driver of economy.

    You have the RATE of CO2 INCREASE is the driver of the economy.

    Which would mean that someone with 1ton CO2 would get as much out of 1ton extra as someone with 100t would get out of another 100t.

    This means that CO2 production is not related to the economy, since one gets 100x the effect out of the same amount of CO2.

    THAT is your thesis.”

    What?????? This is my thesis? Where did I say this?

    I followed the thread for the last few hundred posts with the goal of explaining why:

    1. That things are much more serious than they are openly stated to be and we are heading towards complete societal collapse

    2. That even if you take aways AGW (and just so that I am not misinterpreted once again, I am not a denialist, exactly the opposite) the above is still is just as true as it is with it, because climate is only one of the limits to the growth of industrial civilizations

    3. That the other limits include such things as the availability of concentrated energy in the form of fossil fuels and uranium, the depletion of minerals and high-grade ores, the destruction of topsoil and ecosystems, depletion of fresh water resources, and others.

    4. That given the above, it follows that:

    a) the problem will not be solved by just switching to renewables (which is also logistically impossible at this point)
    b) that the fundamental problem is growth (of population and per capita consumption of resources)
    c) that any conversation about global warming that excludes of the discussion all of that is largely a waste of time and energy, because the only viable solutions are solutions that take into account all of the issues in total, and especially solutions that solve the underlying problem, which is growth

    5. This I only hinted at, by it has to be openly stated, because it is a sad fact of reality – the majority even among the people who are sincerely concerned about climate change are either unaware of the other issues or too brainwashed due to having been raised in an social environment where growth is the religion and as a result they think that more technology and investment driven by free market mechanisms will solve the problems, or both.

    This is my thesis and various subdiscussions revolved around some aspects of it, but that CO2 is the driver of economic growth I have never said and I don’t know where you came up with that. The driver of economic growth is increased energy and resource consumption, and nobody has ever figured out a way to effectively decouple those from economic growth, and no one ever will, because it is not possible. Which means that once resources can not be exploited at an ever increasing rate, and they start declining after that, a society that is based on growth will collapse.

    It is not that complicated, and there isn’t much to argue about, but one has to get to the core of the issue, and not fool himself with techno and free market illusions

  18. 1718
    Gilles says:

    CFU : ““so back again to the initial question : why don’t we, and why has the energy production per capita stagnated around 1,5 tep/yr/capita ?”
    Why don’t we what?
    That wasn.t your initial question.
    Your initial question was “what is the limit”.

    Question :Why don’t we built a much larger number of heat engines (even with a small Carnot yield) and why haven’t we increased the pace of extraction of fossil fuels above 1,5 tep/yr/cap for 30 years?
    Answer : because producing energy has a cost and we would be in OVERPRODUCTION with respect to the needs. But the whole system is like a biological system, it is spontaneously regulated. And the only physical parameter that can reasonably control this limit is again the efficiency with which we are able to produce this energy – efficiency much simply measured by its cost. That’s the increase in cost that will produce peak oil and the afferent recession. That’s the fact that renewable are generally more expensive (for different reason) and would be MUCH MORE expensive in specific use where fossil fuels are necessary and in fact irrepleacable, that make their use impossible to sustain our kind of society.

    Steve :”So, what is the reality to which I am blind? If you think this is not possible, why are you even posting here?”
    The reality to which you’re blind is that would be all much more expensive, much less convenient, and so couldn’t sustain an economy comparable to the current one – meaning at least a strong recession. There is no difficulty again in reducing the FF consumption AND the standard of living (enough to look at poorer countries who do that very well). The illusion is to transform the whole society to a low fossil consumption without doing any harm to the lifestyle. That’s why peak oil will mean recession. If you were right, peak oil, coal and gas wouldn’t matter. They will. You and me won’t have to wait much time before agreeing on that. And my point is that with all reasonable estimates, the reduction of fossil fuels would have much more damaging consequences that the warming it is supposed to avoid – and so logically this reduction won’t happen before their rarefaction will force us to do it. Which is BTW much closer in time than most people think.

  19. 1719
    Doug Bostrom says:

    Perhaps “wittgenstein” could shed some light on the logic of how forty FOI requests asking for the same information as that which may encapsulated in a single FOI request are still fully the equivalent of one FOI request, indistinguishable in all respects?

  20. 1720
    Martin Vermeer says:

    wittgenstein, why are you lying? You are not ‘firmly in the camp of warming is anthropogenically driven’. Nice for rhetorical effect, though. Known trick.
    Phil Jones may not be media-savvy, but he sure is plain old-fashioned honest — and has the plain old-fashioned guts to speak out for the science he passionately believes in to a murderously hostile world.

    They don’t make them like that anymore :-(

  21. 1721
    pete best says:

    Climate Change Uncertainty Principle

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-changes-uncertainty-principle

    Prof Jones and other is still struggling to get the media and skeptics to understand this:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8511670.stm

    The warmists are goading the skeptics (coolists) with alarmist and potenitally shrill statements about doom and gloom and tales of potenital climate imppacts that science says nothing of in its conservative way.

    Here is the crux of the matter. The Uncertainty of AGW is what seems to upset the deniers most and hence they go looking for any factor that the media will latch onto to push the it is not hapenning point. if this was a discussion about quantum physics (our most accurate science) and its uncertainty principal then how would it go I wonder for the limits of uncertainty are well known in QM and it manifests itself in weird and fascinating wave/matter duality but AGW has no such fascinating aside.

    I reckon we need to know the certainty in uncertainty about AGW. Even 90% does not seem to placate the skeptics.

  22. 1722
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles, you’re changing the question again.

    Again.

    Why haven’t we? Because we’ve been burning fossil fuels. We’ve not had to work smarter, we’ve lived off the backs of a limited natural resource.

  23. 1723
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “”This means that CO2 production is not related to the economy, since one gets 100x the effect out of the same amount of CO2.”What?????? This is my thesis? Where did I say this?”

    Here, GM:

    “There will be no real growth because of the diminishing supply of energy. ” (1603)

    “if growth continues, you will have done nothing in the end, and often since efficiency improvements take time, growth will be cancelling them even while they are being implemented.” (1698)

    “If you have found a way to uncouple economic growth from non-renewable resource consumption,” (1670)

  24. 1724
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Fun insert here- Has anyone looked into upgrading the clipper ship concept with high tech for sea transport? ”

    Steve, there’s commercial oil tankers who are now using sail to add more motive power. It’s a big ship and so it uses a lot of energy. Every little helps.

    It’s much better for the oil seller to sell the oil than to burn it to get the oil to market (which is why Iran want a nuclear power option, despite having plenty of oil).

  25. 1725
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Pete Best,

    Proper frames for discussing climatic uncertainty are risk management and placing bets. ‘Feeling lucky?’

    BTW, and a bit OT, that 90% is widely misunderstood: not the probability that AGW ‘is real’, but that we can see it in the data. Don’t worry folks, we’re gonna see it in the data loud and clear — in due time :-(

    There is an illustrative story about someone arrested for murder: he has a motive, a criminal record, no alibi, and the weapon is found at his place.

    There is also a smeared fingerprint which experts say can be connected with him with 90% confidence.

    Is the probability of him being guilty 90%? And of his innocence, i.e., ‘reasonable doubt’, 10%? Should he be found not guilty?

  26. 1726
    Walter Manny says:

    RC item explaining Jones’ apostasy coming our way any time soon, I wonder?

    [Response: You guys are too funny. For years we tell you short term trends are not significant, but you insist on the dumb global cooling meme, now someone says it again, and suddenly you think it’s apostasy? Grow up. – gavin]

  27. 1727
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Pete Best, The example I like to give is the following.

    Suppose we have a box that we are told is full of a mix of black and white marbles. The proportions are unknown, but P(W)+P(B)=1. We sample with replacement, and 22 times we draw a white marble, with no black marbles. This is sufficient to conclude (by binomial statistics) with 90% confidence that the proportion of black marbles is 10% or less.

    I now offer you a bet: I will give you 10:1 odds–you win if the next marble is black and lose if it’s white. Do you take the bet?

    Feel Lucky, indeed!

  28. 1728
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by flxible — 13 February 2010 @ 7:38 PM
    AND- Comment by Completely Fed Up — 14 February 2010 @ 7:53 AM:

    Thanks for the information. With all the interest in wind for electricity, utilizing sails, at least for some transport routes, seems like an obvious energy solution.

    Steve

  29. 1729
    Gilles says:

    CFU, you obviously don’t understand the question. Your answers sound pretty like a French (and maybe English as well) joke “why do chicken cross the road exactly when you start the car? answer : to go on the other side”. I ask what determines the maximum power per capita we extract from fossil fuel and why we haven’t been able to extract more per capita, and you reply “Because we’ve been burning fossil fuels.”. This is a stupid answer, but I think it’s better to give up since the whole thread is getting unreasonably long. We’ll have more opportunities to discuss that again.

    [edit]

  30. 1730
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by Gilles — 14 February 2010 @ 1:55 AM:

    Your assertions are opinions supported by a philosophy of life to which I don’t subscribe. The facts that you see are filtered through your world view and only make sense to you. I don’t pretend that my view of the world is any more fact based than yours, but I plan to live in a way that will promote my view and on my death say — That Gilles was full of it, ha!

    My essential optimism is informed by (not just) two experiences. One is the fact that imperfect and polarized governments did not kill the world with an atomic conflagration. I grew up with the fear of this. Society can actually overcome obstacles. Another experience is the fact that my personal search for a higher quality of life has led me to reduce my carbon footprint significantly. Life is better.

    What you appear to be saying is that global warming is bad, but peak oil is worse. Life will be degraded, and soon. Thus my question “why are you even posting here?” Do you enjoy being a harbinger of doom?

    Steve

  31. 1731
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Leighton@1710
    So you see nothing wrong with flooding a scientific research organization–one with a staff of only 13 individuals–with so many FOI requests that the process of doing science must stop entirely to deal with them? This despite the fact that FOI requests have no role in the normal conduct of science. Standard scientific protocol would have been to send a request to a custodian of the data with an outline of the research to be performed. This would have been evaluated and the merits of the research would have been weighed against the commitment of time needed to outline sources of the data and send letters in support of the research to the appropriate original sources.
    This was not done. Instead McIntyre either did not bother to determine whether the data were available to him or to request data from the original sources, but instead to bombard a research institution with FOI requests. What is more, given McIntyre’s abysmal publication record and history of abuse of researchers, I would contend that any climate scientist would have to be out of his mind to cooperate.

    Did Jones make mistakes? Of course. The suggestion to delete correspondence was downright silly. It cannot be justified under any circumstances–though it can be explained as a natural reaction to the behavior of McIntyre. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed in this case.

    Now, I notice you have not condemned the fabrication of quotes used by Booker and others to discredit John Houghton and the distortion of quotes and positions of other prominent climate scientists (e.g. Carl Wunsch) by denialists. I take it you see nothing wrong with this, either? This would seem to speak volumes to your “credibility”.

  32. 1732
    Steve Fish says:

    RE- Comment by Leighton — 13 February 2010 @ 7:36 PM:

    You can’t escape your predicament by just producing a lot of words and accusations. The fact of a violation of the Freedom of Information act requires an investigation and an official judgment. Such a judgment would be in a public document. Produce evidence of the judgment, not just a BBC opinion piece. Prove me wrong.

    Steve

  33. 1733
    Gilles says:

    Steve, personally I’ve never been frightened by the perspective of nuclear apocalypse, and i’m not very much afraid of global warming. So I can hardly be described as a “harbinger of doom” : on the very topics of this forum, I am rather the opposite. On sites devoted to peak oil, I am rather moderate, because I don’t think the society will collapse suddenly. I rather imagine a slow decline comparable to that of Roman Empire after its greatest extent (although violent crisis due to financial collapse seem likely to happen at some times). I post to express my view that is significantly different to that developed in IPCC scenarios. These have been mainly developed by economists, ignoring the constraints of availability of cheap resources : a world of continuous growth , both of GDP and fossil fuel use, and threatened by the consequences of the global warming. I simply think it doesn’t correspond to the most likely scenario, which is for me : a world of depleting resources, decreasing GDP, and consequently a moderate warming (simply due to the moderate amount of extractible fuels), the consequences of the depletion being much worse than those of the warming. Whether you believe it or not, do you agree that mine is at least possible ?

  34. 1734
    Tim Jones says:

    Microsoft co-founder Gates tackling climate change
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100213/sc_afp/usitinternetenergyenvironmentgatested
    by Glenn Chapman – Sat Feb 13, 4:31 pm ET
    LONG BEACH, California (AFP) – Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has broken from philanthropic work fighting poverty and disease to take on another threat to the world’s poor — climate change.
    “Energy and climate are extremely important to these people,” Gates told Friday a TED Conference audience packed with influential figures including the founders of Google and climate champion Al Gore.
    […]
    “Gates said he is backing development of “terrapower” reactors that could be fueled by nuclear waste from disposal facilities or generated by today’s power plants.”
    http://cleantechnica.com/2009/02/02/terrapower-developing-nuclear-reactors-that-run-on-depleted-uranium/
    […]
    “Gates dismissed climate change skeptics, saying terrapower would render arguments moot because the energy produced would be cheaper than pollution-spewing methods used today.”

    James Lovelock vindicated at last? He is well recognized to have advocated nuclear energy as the only practical way to
    address climate change. http://www.ecolo.org/media/articles/articles.in.english/love-indep-24-05-04.htm

    Scattered reflections…

    The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James Lovelock, review
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/5017620/The-Vanishing-Face-of-Gaia-A-Final-Warning-by-James-Lovelock-review.html

    Perhaps the sort of nuclear energy Gates is talking about.

    TR10: Traveling-Wave Reactor
    http://technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?ch=specialsections&sc=tr10&id=22114

  35. 1735
    stevenc says:

    “Is the probability of him being guilty 90%? And of his innocence, i.e., ‘reasonable doubt’, 10%? Should he be found not guilty?”

    Martin, I guess it depends on what you classify as guilty. If CO2 being a GHG makes it guilty then I think your 90% chance is a bit low. If, however, we are discussing the climate sensitivity making CO2 guilty if it is above 2C and innocent below 2C then I look at things such as Stephen Schwartz JGR vol 113 2008:

    “This further analysis
    has solidified the basis for the empirical determination of
    climate sensitivity and leads to upward revision of the
    estimated climate system time constant by about 70% over
    that given in S07, to 8.5 ± 2.5 years. This upward revision
    results in an increase in climate sensitivity ls1 to 0.51 ±
    0.26 K/(W m2), corresponding to an equilibrium temperature
    increase for doubled CO2 DT2 = 1.9 ± 1.0 K.”

    From this it would seem the chances of guilt or innocence to be fairly equal in probability.

  36. 1736
    flxible says:

    Gillies: “…. the most likely scenario, which is for me: a world of depleting resources, decreasing GDP, and consequently a moderate warming (simply due to the moderate amount of extractible fuels), the consequences of the depletion being much worse than those of the warming. Whether you believe it or not, do you agree that mine is at least possible?

    I think many would concede the possibility of that particular mix of factors, but considering the amount of warming that is probably already “in the pipeline”, it’s as [or more] likely more-than-moderate warming [in the form of extreme weather events] will be the driver, and economic collapse be the result, with normal human conflicts following. And the speed of the decline is not likely to be “slow” at this point. You obviously “believe” problematic climate change requires further massive CO2 generation, and the carbon resources to cause that are not available. Unsupported beliefs.

  37. 1737
    pete best says:

    Re #1725/27, its what some of the skeptics seem to be getting at. I know that GISS/CRU etc have probably given the data and algorithms etc everyone who needs it to make a valid call on the science of AGW but the skeptics have the ears of the media at large because they all want a debate and hence are using the debate meme to argue their case over and over in the public forums.

    Cant we settle the science once and for all or are the scientists not able to sell it right due to its complexity and subtle nature.

  38. 1738
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Stevenc, well, except that Schwartz 2008 took a rather novel definition of the “climate system” that excluded much of the globe’s oceans, and that the lower range of his climate sensitivity is precluded by at least a dozen separate lines of evidence. See here for a summary that builds on Barton Paul Levenson’s list:

    http://agwobserver.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/papers-on-climate-sensitivity-estimates/

    Betting that CO2 sensitivity is below 2 degrees is a betting mankinds future on a worse than 20:1 longshot. Again. Feel lucky?

  39. 1739
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Gilles, I don’t believe anyone is asking you to be afraid. I believe that what is called for is that you (and others in the complacency camp) get off you asses and do something. I fear that you will find this more difficult than being afraid, but it is healthier both for you and for human civilization.

  40. 1740
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Walter Manny says, “RC item explaining Jones’ apostasy coming our way any time soon, I wonder?”

    Sorry, Walter, but RC doesn’t publish fiction. Perhaps you could sell your short story at one of the more lurid blogs devoted to fiction rather than science.

  41. 1741
    Martin Vermeer says:

    stevenc, this is not actually the argument I was trying to make. Rather, that the 90% only refers to seeing the AGW in the observations, not the real existence of the phenomenon — which is proven to the hilt by the reality of the greenhouse effect from laboratory measurements, queantum theory, and IR spectrometer measurements on the ground and in space. The instrumental time series is the “smeared print”, everything else the rest of the evidence.
    To put it still differently, we’re not in statistical testing mode any more; we’re in parameter estimation mode. See http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2008/05/falsifiability-question.html .
    …and (unrelatedly) Schwartz’s revised result is one among a great many, near all of them higher, as summarized in the IPCC. He just barely might be right, but it’s hardly the way to bet.

  42. 1742
    Completely Fed Up says:

    It’s unlikely, Gilles. And you don’t have any science to back that up either.

    Far more likely is that we’ve got 30 years or less to reduce our CO2 to a fraction or we’re boned in the long run. Just as the science reports in climate are showing.

    Funny how it took you so long to go from “it WILL be bad to change our ways” to “isn’t this possible?”.

  43. 1743
    Martin Vermeer says:

    It’s hilarious to see the usual suspects attaching such great importance to statements by the Chief Data Fudger of the Climate Scam — hey, don’t you know you shouldn’t trust him?
    ;-)

  44. 1744
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “1729
    Gilles says:
    14 February 2010 at 10:06 AM

    CFU, you obviously don’t understand the question”

    Which one? You’ve changed them frequently, always saying that THIS is the question you asked (though the memory of the internet lives beyond your own and proves your statements change).

    “I ask what determines the maximum power per capita we extract from fossil fuel ”

    See, you’ve changed it yet again.

    “Question :Why don’t we built a much larger number of heat engines (even with a small Carnot yield)”

    and

    “why haven’t we increased the pace of extraction of fossil fuels above 1,5 tep/yr/cap for 30 years?”

    Was the previous incarnation. Which had scissioned into two questions at that point.

    And as always, you bring in an irrelevant yardstick. The amount of energy we can extract from a coal fired power station (for example) does NOT depend IN ANY WAY with the capita rate.

    The limit of the energy you can extract from fossil fuel burning depends on the carnot cycle.

    Same as PV.

    Except PV works at 6000C whereas you still haven’t said what the temperature in the steam pipes of a coal station is. But the coal is a heap cooler than 6000C when combustion takes place. And the laws of thermodynamics don’t let you push heat against a temperature difference without using energy.

  45. 1745
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Leighton,
    Any time you are finished trying to justify inclusion as part of the scientific process of:
    1) character assassination,
    2) abuse of process,
    3) hacking and subsequent release of cherry-picked emails
    4) fabrication or distortion of quotes by climate scientists
    5) distortion or cherry-picking of research results
    6) cherry-picking of dates or data to reach a pre-determined result
    7) slander and libel
    8) outright accusations of fraud by the entire scientific establishment
    9) distortion of science in Op Ed pages of journals like National Post or Wall Street Urinal
    10) the elevation of glorified fools (regardless of title) to status of expert

    I’d be more than happy to discuss the evidence and science. I’d even be happy to help you understand the science a bit better so that you can expand the repertoire of subjects on which you feel competent to post.

  46. 1746
    Gilles says:

    flxible : would be nice to have some quantitative estimates instead of hand waving. Which amount of CO2 still to be produced would cause a “problematic ” CC ? which minimal amount of CO2 is expected to be produced in the lowest hypothesis, given that it is very unlikely that we stop all fossil fuel production just now? can you quantify the amount of CO2 above which the climatic cost will exceed the benefit brought by the corresponding fuels ?

  47. 1747

    Leighton: Steve Fish (#1688) claims that the information was always reasonably accessible, while Ray Ladbury (#1686) says it was shrouded behind confidentiality agreements. You folks might want to work on telling a consistent story. Right now, you’re falling all over yourselves.

    BPL: Read my lips. 95% of the CRU data was public domain. The rest was under confidentiality agreements, but was available for cash from the national met services CRU got it from. So both statements are true. 95% public domain, 5% restricted but ultimately available.

  48. 1748
    Tom P says:

    Although Jones’ responses in the BBC Q and A are on the whole quite reasonable, I can’t see how he identifies a statistically significant warming period from 1860 to 1880 comparable to twentieth-century and recent values. HadCRUT unadjusted global mean trend is 0.109 C/decade for that period, and is not statistically significant.

  49. 1749

    GM: That the other limits include such things as the availability of concentrated energy in the form of fossil fuels and uranium

    BPL: Why does it have to be “concentrated?” Exactly?

  50. 1750
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Gilles : “would be nice to have some quantitative estimates instead of hand waving. ”

    Would be nice to have something other than handwaving and silly questions, Gilly.

    “can you quantify the amount of CO2 above which the climatic cost will exceed the benefit brought by the corresponding fuels ?”

    Why should he?

    Have you quantified the benefit corresponding fuels would produce?


Switch to our mobile site