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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. 151
    Jerry Steffens says:

    Bill Teufel (131):

    “Can anyone show me a scientific experiment, which can be repeated, that proves man is responsible for the warming of the planet, and does not involve man made computer models? I don’t trust the models since they are extremely complex, and can be adjusted to present the desired results.”

    It’s like asking your mechanic to find out what’s wrong with your car, but insisting that he not use an electronic engine diagnosis machine because they’re just too gosh-darned complicated.

  2. 152


    Plimer thinks the sun is made out of iron. If you think he’s competent at any science but his own field of geology, you have another think coming. His book is filled with pseudoscience from end to end. Check out the “deltoid” blog on to see detailed critiques.

  3. 153
    caerbannog says:

    A bit off-topic, but the folks at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography are *really* ticked-off at John Coleman’s KUSI smear-job.

    The “D-word” is used quite prominently, and on the SIO web-site no less — it’s quite clear that Dr. Richard Somerville has had it **up to here** with the yahoos.


  4. 154

    Bil Teufel: Can anyone show me a scientific experiment, which can be repeated, that proves man is responsible for the warming of the planet, and does not involve man made computer models?

    BPL: John Tyndall showed that CO2 was a greenhouse gas in lab work in 1859, so his approach should be easy to replicate. Flask analysis on Mauna Loa shows that CO2 is rising. Radioisotope lab analysis shows that the new CO2 is almost all from burning fossil fuels. And the CO2 level correlated to temperature anomalies to the tune of r = 0.87 from 1880 to 2007.

    What more do you want?

  5. 155
    Doug Bostrom says:

    There we go, food chain complete:

    Almost, anyway. Last stop will be Fox News.

    Doubters need to find some punctuation errors or something equally significant or this is going to fade from public memory.

  6. 156
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Bill Teufel says: “I’m definitely a skeptic about climate change. Here’s why. Money. There is a ton of money to be made if AGW is real, and a ton of money to be made if AGW is wrong. ”

    Do tell? I agree there is the potential for making somebody very rich if they could find energy or other mitigation solutions. However, I guarantee you the scientists are not making “a ton of money” unless you are paying their grants in pennies. You know, you could check this out. Look at the ads in Physics Today or other publications and see what a post doc or prof makes in climate science. Look what a GS-15 makes in government service. It ain’t much.

    Now as to your distrust of models. Do you refuse to fly airplanes, drive over bridges or take elevators in sky scrapers? Are you similarly skeptical of weather forecasts? Maybe if you learned something about the models you could overcome your fear. You’re not alone. There’s help

  7. 157
  8. 158
    Ernst K says:

    Hank Roberts @ 124:


    If only it were that easy to get what I was asking for! Many of the papers liked there don’t even talk about the Himalayas, if they do they focus on individual sub-basins (understandably), and most of those only estimate the combined contribution of snow melt and glacial melt.

    But it does suggest to me that the situation in the Himalayas is similar to North America in that changes to snow and rain are far more important than glacial melt when it comes to water resources.

    There is a tendency for people here in Western Canada to exaggerate the importance of glaciers and forget about the more important role of mountain snow (and snow in general). I have seen several “pop” hydrology reports (including one linked in one of Gavin’s responses) say things like “glaciers are the headwaters of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, etc.” in such a way that a layman is left with the impression that these rivers might run close to dry if these glaciers were to disappear.

    This is not to suggest that glaciers aren’t a good indicator of climatic change, or that their decline is not troubling.

  9. 159
    Jim Galasyn says:

    Observation from a colleague, who’s a technical editor: Climate change: Where are the editors?

    “It wasn’t copy-edited properly.”

  10. 160
    gary thompson says:

    Doug Bostrom wrote:

    “I don’t know what the GISS data for the United States shows, but the basic answer lies in what a small fraction of the globe is the USA.

    United States: 9.2 million square kilometers. Earth: 510 million square kilometers, or less than 2% of surface area. Not much weight in the US contribution.

    I’m sure you could find other places with the same feature.”

    thanks for reply and associated calcs but but i was going a different direction with my question. why would the US be immune to the 0.8C heating that the rest of the northern hemisphere has undergone (as shown on the northern hemisphere graph)? the last 2 data points show the US temp anomaly at basically 0.0C (for 2008 and 2009).

    the graphs WERE here ( but when i went back to check they have been updated again and now the 2009 data point has been removed from the graph. don’t know why but i guess there was a mistake. anyway, assuming the data point was correct, you now have my rephrased question.


  11. 161
    Craig Allen says:

    Bill Teufel (131): “Can anyone show me a scientific experiment, which can be repeated, that proves man is responsible for the warming of the planet, and does not involve man made computer models? I don’t trust the models since they are extremely complex, and can be adjusted to present the desired results.”

    Bill here are two videos of lab experiments demonstrating that the infra-red absorption properties of CO2 will cause air in flasks to heat up.

    Experiment 1

    Experiment 2

    Of course these demonstrate just one element of the AGW thesis. If you want to calculate the amount of heating expected given a certain amount of increase in CO2 concentrations in the real atmosphere then you are going to have to become very good with some very complex physics and mathematics. If you don’t want to use a computer, then you had better become very deft with a slide rule and get cracking. If you want to do it experimentally you could find a planet and ramp up it’s atmospheric C02 concentration to see what happens. Oh wait, we’re already running that experiment. Get some popcorn and sit back and wait.

  12. 162
    caerbannog says:

    Look at the ads in Physics Today or other publications and see what a post doc or prof makes in climate science. Look what a GS-15 makes in government service. It ain’t much.

    The leading climate scientists are all talented enough to make big bucks on Wall Street. But instead of enriching themselves at everyone else’s expense, they chose to pursue careers with a much lower dollar/effort ratio. And the yahoos still try to smear them as “money grubbers”.

  13. 163
    flxible says:

    gary thompson – the charts are still there to end ’09, with todays date -> US annual means . . . maybe the reason the US is different than the NH is the Arctic and Canada had much higher anomolies than the US, but I’m not sure that you should consider what appears to be about 0.1xC for ’08 and 0.2xC for ’09 to be “basically 0.0C” compared to about 0.6 and point 0.7

  14. 164
    Winny says:

    Doug Bostrom (#118) says: 20 January 2010 at 1:31 PM

    “Really, you read about an error on a NASA public information web page here?”
    Yes, that’s right.

    “Not in Gavin’s article about the IPCC Himalaya cite. Where? Oh, yes, brought in to comments here by a “Jerry”. That make it very important, and you found it all by yourself and became terribly concerned. Right.”
    No, I’m not terribly concerned, just interested.

    Look, you are obviously interested in the subject and have some background (of whatever sort). I don’t. I’m interested because it’s topical and there seems to be a difference of views. I came here because this place appears to present the mainstream view. I noticed the comment about the NASA website and went to look for myself. I found a correction without comment and that struck me as not quite right. I commented as much.

    Why on earth do you think you need to jump all over that? Why do you just ignore my questions and leap to ad-hominem and sarcasm. Do you think it’s unnecessary to note that change? I guess that’s not an unreasonable view to hold even if I disagree with it. If that is your belief, why would you just note your disagreement, explain why and move on?

    I sincerely encourage you to re-read my comments. They were made in good faith and I still struggle to see how anyone could take exception to them.

    I’m a bit gobsmacked at the responses that I’ve had here.

  15. 165
    Garrett Jones says:

    re #152, Hate to break it to you Dude, but the Sun has iron in it and will have a bunch more. Iron is effectively the ash from a sun. Iron is the result of fusion burning of everything else. No net energy from iron.

    [Response: This is completely off topic, but Plimer actually appears to believe that the sun is mostly made of iron based on some crackpot theory from one of the old time ‘skeptics’. The point being that Plimer’s book is just a ragbag of random nonsense picked up from trawling contrarian websites. – gavin]

  16. 166
    Martin Vermeer says:

    > they chose to pursue careers with a much lower dollar/effort ratio

    Ben Santer knows it.

  17. 167
    Didactylos says:

    US population density: 32.04
    UK population density: 253.75

    (People per square kilometre)

    It shouldn’t take a genius to see that energy solutions that fit one country may not work so well for another country. Wind and solar both have low power densities – that is, they need to use a lot of land to produce a lot of energy. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it is a practical limitation.

    On the other hand, the UK has plenty of nearby sea.

  18. 168
    Jamie Alexander says:

    Gary #160 (and Doug) the current anomaly in the the U.S. and Northern Europe seems to be caused by a reduction in the force of a circumpolar wind that ordinarily keeps cold arctic air over the pole. Cold arctic air has been spilling into lower latitudes and depressing the temperatures over land in the mid-latitudes. Here is a cogent explanation in video:

    The particular bit about the Arctic wind starts about 2.5 minutes in…

    Hope this helps.

  19. 169
    Rattus Norvegicus says:

    I actually wasted almost an hour of my life watching the factually challenged KUSI “special” on global warming. I even wasted a few additional minutes of my time checking out the E.M. Smith and D’Aleo charges about the number of “thermometers” used to report temperatures (well, actually temperature anomalies) in California.

    As far as I can tell the claim is that there are only 6 stations reporting in California, a couple near San Francisco and the rest in the LA and San Diego area. They then go on to show homogenized vs. raw data for the station at Davis, CA.

    Now the first claim seemed odd, and they kindly provided me with a starting place by pointing to the Davis station. So I went to the GISS station data page and typed “Davis” into the search box. This brought up several stations which started with “Davis”, among them “Davis Exp Farm 2wsw”. This station shows a record extending to 2009 and although it is at the same latitude as San Francisco (38.5N) in no way can it be considered as being “San Francisco” or even in the San Francisco area. Hmm… Here was at least one station in the GISS station list not in the San Francisco area or in Southern California and which was still reporting in 2009. Being especially inquisitive I clicked on the “*” link next to the Davis station to get a list of nearby stations. Imagine my surprise when I found around a dozen stations within 100 miles of Davis which were still reporting in 2009! Could these people by trying to mislead me?

    Just to be sure, I checked out E.M. Smith’s blog and found that he was claiming that GISS ignored records prior to 1880! This would be a shocking revelation if GISS did not start their record in 1880. Could the esteemed E.M. Smith not have a clue?

    This short bit of investigation led me to believe that E.M. Smith and Joe D’Aleo did not have a clue about what they were talking about. No further effort was necessary. They are clowns.

  20. 170
    Dr. P.S.Negi. India says:

    The ambiguity in Himalayan glacier recession rate may be because of involvement of less ground scientists/workers at higher level of IPCC. Most of the findings are seems to be based on perception/media hype rather than ground realities. Because of high level of geographical diversity, the behavior and response of Himalayan Mountains to the climate change, is different from the rest of the World Mountains.

  21. 171
    Doug Bostrom says:

    gary thompson says: 20 January 2010 at 10:10 PM

    2009 is there. The points are little crushed together, maybe you miscounted?

    It’s still the same answer, slightly restated. The smaller the region sampled compared to the globe, the more variance from the global mean you’ll see. Plus of course the globe’s surface is mostly water, while N. America is mostly land, so that’s going to make the two numbers track even more poorly.

    Same deal as if I were trying to track Seattle’s mean annual temperature. I’m down in a valley, my temperature is not a good sample by itself. Nor is a location on a hilltop. Taken separately, my mean annual temperature is going to be slightly different than a location on a hilltop, put them together and it’s a better indication of Seattle as whole. Add a thermometer located at the middle of the floating bridge over Lake Washington and the total annual mean will be yet again different. That thermometer in the middle of the lake will be tending on the warm side, yet it’s still all Seattle temperature when you take a mean of the three.

    Assume for some reason that Seattle’s temperature is trending upward, you’re still going to see the three individual temperatures bouncing around slightly independently day by day and even as an annual mean. Over time, though, they’ll show the same general anomaly trend. You can see that same effect on the global versus N. America anomaly maps.

  22. 172
    Edward Greisch says:

    134 Kris: “the massive social changes will have occurred due to peak oil even before the effects of AGW start to have any significant impact.”
    GW is already having an impact on agriculture in Africa, Australia, India, the US and other places. In Illinois and Iowa 5% and 6% of the corn was not harvested in 2009 because the fields were too wet. South Texas had a year-long drought. GW moves the rain. When the rain moves, agriculture collapses. Australia no longer grows wheat and the rice crop collapsed last year. While it is true that there is still plenty of food in the US, that isn’t true everywhere. AGW has already had a significant impact. Peak oil hasn’t yet.

  23. 173
    Edward Greisch says:

    139 Mark A. York: I don’t have any of that money and I don’t own any stock. Money has nothing to do with it for me. I am a retired federal bureaucrat. Same for the RC people. Some of them get fixed salaries from NASA. Some of them get fixed salaries from universities. In no case do their incomes depend on the outcome of the debate. What does depend on the outcome of the debate is our future as a species.

  24. 174
    Hank Roberts says:

    Ernst K, a first search is just a start; look for appropriate keywords; find names of authors; use Google Scholar to look for their work. I just gave that initial example and glanced through the first five or six pages of results and saw several that quoted amounts of river flow attributed to rain, snow, melting and runoff — for various watersheds. If you do your best poking through what you can find, and report what you did read and find out, it’s likely to interest one of the real scientists who can help you further — at least, that’s the best method I’ve found. Search, improve the search, find _something. You’ll likely end up finding which authors or government agencies _in_ India are writing about this subject.

    If I have time I’ll look further, but anyone with real search skills and time can do that — so can a reference librarian, and they have far more resources they can search or query, beyond what’s on the web and indexed by Google. Probably several times more total than Google can find.

  25. 175
    Pekka Kostamo says:

    Bill Teufel: You are so right. There are tons of money to be made. Consider two steps (like any wise investor):

    First, evaluate climate science, review the process, the results and physical impacts.

    Second, evaluate social and economic impacts, including the political process and its results.

    (Third, you may follow some business leader you trust to have made the evaluations already (although this is unlikely as an investor always tries to outsmart everyone else).)

    This way you may find some optimal actionable cases for investment. If your evaluations are wrong or right translates into losses or gains in the marketplace. Nothing exotic in this, just part of a reasonable decision process.

    One investor’s loss is another investor’s gain, the better analyst wins.

  26. 176
    Mike says:

    I think the next IPCC report should be posted in draft form first and then invite public comments for a couple of years. Mass peer review.

    [Response: That’s what they did last time too. – gavin]

    Even final version should still an errata section.

    The public should know what areas are settled (AGW is real and serious) and what areas are not (glacier movement, near term regional forecasting, various environmental impacts) and that they should expect to see contradictory studies and debates among scientists in these areas.

  27. 177
    ScaredAmoeba says:

    @ 154 Barton Paul Levenson says:
    20 January 2010 at 8:10 PM

    Isn’t this about the 13C/12C ratio?
    In which case, I think ‘Radioisotope’ should read ‘isotope’

  28. 178
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “why would the US be immune to the 0.8C heating that the rest of the northern hemisphere has undergone”

    They aren’t.

    It’s just that there are variations of something of the order of 1C in regions.

    Therefore if you take any one year, there will be some regions that seem not to have warmed.

    You’re restating the zombie arguments of others: weather is what you’re looking at, climate is what the 0.8C is talking about.

    Check the other years and turn the question about:

    Why is it the US is seeing 0.6+C warming anomalies if there’s no global warming?

  29. 179
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “Pardon? Where do California and Texas come into this? ”

    They are producing wind power at <5c/kWh.

    Nuclear power costs 15-20c/kWh.

    Yet you insist that it costs much more for wind power than nuclear.

    They prove you and the economist wrong.

    "It is simply reporting Govt plans to install massive capacity offshore and its likely costs."

    So when you said you were quoting the economist, you didn't quote them when you said

    “You can add to the awe-inspiring engineering achievements of the offshore wind industry an unparalleled ability to make nuclear power look cheap.”


    "Insufficient permits have been given to build on shore wind farms in the UK on a scale needed to replace a significant part of our power generation"

    Yet the UK has three times its needs in potential shallow water offshore wind farms. Also note that that statement says nothing about how expensive it is.

  30. 180
    Completely Fed Up says:

    trll: “Seems like the key issue is not whether errors are made–everybody makes errors;”

    It’s also the number.

    That book managed well over 100 errors.

    AIT got 9 overstatements (not errors: look at the changes required: just add “this is not yet proven” to them is pretty much all that was required) and look how it’s vilified.

  31. 181
    mondo says:

    “Perhaps you could point to the exert in the Indian Minister’s report where he mentions the IPCC or the 2035 number?”

    Gavin response far above. I think you might mean ‘excerpt’. A PhD education isn’t what it was………..

  32. 182
    Jiminmpls says:

    #150 Matthew L and CFU

    The Economist is also claiming under $2k/kWhr for new nuclear power, which is too low by a factor of at least three. Offshore wind IS expensive, but still much less expensive than new nuclear power plants. Plus, Britain would have to import 100% of their nuclear fuel – the polar opposite of energy independence.

  33. 183
    Jim Roland says:

    Hank Roberts at #62. Thanks. Indeed, whereas with climate change you at least get to know and adjust to the predicament a bit better each day, agrofuel-related developments are mostly one mind-boggle after another.

    Ray Ladbury at #85. You are inferring all-or-nothing thinking where it isn’t. Also, you not I opened the subject of strategies, and we need to distinguish between biofuel crops of different origin, biofuel blending as a policy, measure or instrument, and biofuel strategies.

    Re Brazil getting biofuels “right”, see for example Scharlemann and Laurance’s review of Zah et al. which suggests that sugarcane ethanol is more environmentally harmful than petroleum even leaving aside the questions of indirect impacts including Crutzen’s N2O theory, and the non-environmental perils of depleting mineral phosphorus sources for fertilizer used. This study came too late for the 4AR process, nor will it be the last word on the subject, but it shows it is wrong to assume sugarcane ethanol is better merely on the basis of well-to-wheels emissions.

    Comparing a biofuel’s overall environmental footprint to gasoline is itself a different question from whether incentivised blending of that biofuel is benefiting the environment. It is a quite different question again whether R&D on a particular biofuel is a good strategy.

  34. 184
    Jiminmpls says:

    #160 Gary

    why would the US be immune to the 0.8C heating that the rest of the northern hemisphere has undergone

    You could just as well ask why the Arctic is experiencing temp anomalies that are far greater than the rest of the NH. It’s called regional variability. It’s no secret that the central and eastern US (and Britain and parts of Russia) have experienced far lower than normal temps recently. Other regions – the western US, for example – have experienced temps that a far warmer than normal.

    The climate change that results from global warming ia not linear or evenly distributed – and natural variability will always be there to complicate things even further. That’s the weather.

    Still, on a global basis and over time scales of several decades, the trend is clear: It’s getting warmer.

  35. 185
    Jiminmpls says:

    #158 Ernst

    “glaciers are the headwaters of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, etc.” in such a way that a layman is left with the impression that these rivers might run close to dry if these glaciers were to disappear.

    It’s not that the rivers would run dry. It will continue to snow in the Himilayas. The problem is that rapid spring time melts will cause severe flooding and then the rivers will run close to dry in the summer.

    Sure, we could just build hundreds of dams. That would produce clean electricity, too. But dams are not benigh. The social and environmental costs associated with population displacements and habitat destruction can be enormous.

  36. 186
    Jimi Bostock says:

    172 – Edward, did you really mean to say “Australia no longer grows wheat” I am in Australia and I have just recently travelled through our thriving wheat belt. No wonder people doubt the broader line taken on RC. Ludicrious statements like this just cheapen the debate

  37. 187
    T Barra says:

    OFFTOPIC: A few weeks ago someone posted the URL to the conference proceedings (with PDFs of papers, presentations) of a climate conference that took place in the UK in the last few months. Among the papers were future projections of climate around the world.

    I cannot find this in my bookmark list. Does anyone have the URL handy?

  38. 188
    captdallas2 says:

    “Ray Ladbury says:
    20 January 2010 at 11:03 AM
    Captdallas2 says “Glacier advance and decline is pretty much non_AGW in my mind.”

    And yet your mind is not the real world. Isn’t it funny that you should have glaciers melting in Montana and New Zealand, the Himmalayas and the Andes. Yes local factors probably play a role, but the fact that the effect is seen GLOBALLY suggests there is also a global driver.”

    The GLOBAL decline of glaciers started with the Holocene this time. . Glaciers always retreat during interglacial periods. Teasing out how much the decline is accelerated due to AGW is a tricky problem. No smoking AGW gun in glacier retreat as to date unless you have something peer reviewed and definitive.

  39. 189
    Sou says:

    #172 Edward Just a nitpick – I don’t think Australia is quite ready to give up wheat production just yet. The five year average is 19.5 million tonnes and this season is expected to be 22 million tonnes. Rice has dropped since some of the main producing areas have been in drought for several years, from a 5 year average of 0.415 million tonnes to 0.165 million tonnes this season. (I’m hopeful we will stop producing rice, or at least seriously limit its production. It’s not good for our waterways or water supply.)

  40. 190
    Silk says:

    Re 186 : suggests that Australian wheat production was, in 2006 and 2007, abnormally low.

  41. 191
    Completely Fed Up says:

    Jimnpls (182), do you mean $2k/kW rather than kWh?

    I.e. a 100MW nuclear power plant would cost $200Mil.

  42. 192
    ScaredAmoeba says:

    @ 187 Re T Barra says:
    21 January 2010 at 8:00 AM

    This may be what you were looking for.

    28-30th September 2009
    Implications of a global climate change of 4+ degrees for people, ecosystems and the earth-system
    Environmental Change Institute International Climate Conference
    Despite 17 years of negotiations since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. Since 2000 the rates of annual emissions growth have increased at rates at the upper end of the IPCC scenarios, presenting the global community with a stark challenge: either instigate an immediate and radical reversal in existing emission trends or accept global temperature rises well beyond 4°.
    The immediacy and scale of the reductions necessary to avoid anything below 4°C, and indeed the human and ecosystem implications of living with 4°C, are beyond anything we have been prepared to countenance. Understanding the implications of 4°C and higher temperatures is essential if global society is to make informed choices about the balance between “extreme” rates of mitigation and “extreme” impacts and adaptation costs.

    Google: Environmental Change Institute International Climate Conference

  43. 193
    Forlornehope says:

    Apropos the exchanges on UK offshore wind farms and comparisons with nuclear, there is a very good analysis of sustainable energy for the UK in Prof David MacKay’s “Sustainable Energy – without the Hot Air”. It is available online here: with a further addition here:

    This is pretty much essential reading for anyone who wants to discuss responses to climate change. I follow Real Climate for the information on climate science. How we respond to the science is the domain of engineers and economists. The biggest frustration is that it is quite possible to deal with the problem without all becoming vegetable growing vegans but the way we are going, we’re just not going to do it.

  44. 194
    Completely Fed Up says:

    “The GLOBAL decline of glaciers started with the Holocene this time.”

    And has it accelerated over what you’d get if there was no global warming from human produced CO2?

  45. 195
    Didactylos says:

    Completely Fed Up: why are you repeating errors that we went to all that trouble to correct earlier?

    Just because I agree with you on the basics of AGW doesn’t change the expectation that people should keep their facts straight.

    You know how annoying it is when deniers do it. Please don’t copy them. The most charitable assumption is that you are applying US costs to the UK. The less charitable assumption is that you pulled less than reliable numbers from a less than reliable source, without any consideration to their validity or applicability.

  46. 196
    Charlie Laurel says:

    Hopefully someone here can clear up a point of confusion for me: NPR this morning, a reporter at a meteorological conference talking with a scientist who says that it would be nice if the temperature data was made public. I also read here on RC “Where’s the Data?” that the data is all available. Forgive me if I didn’t dig deep enough to answer this for myself, but I’d like to be able to respond to NPR simply and credibly on this point.

    [Response: I heard the same piece. He was discussing the proprietary data that the Met. Services don’t make freely available for commercial reasons. See this discussion at the UK Met. Office (Question 11 for instance). There is however a lot of free data and you can do a lot with that (GISTEMP for instance, only uses the public domain data). – gavin]

  47. 197
    Frank Giger says:

    Rosie, #27 wrote:

    “Common people don’t really understand science. But they understand not having enough to eat and not being able to sit down on a too-crowded subway. if we can educate people not to reproduce there will be many seats and the fewer people will be happier. Indeed, as the capitalist economies of scale are reduced, the atisfaction from making your own clothes and embracing a low-carbon vegan diet will be so intense, reproduction will come to be seen in the same category as child abuse.”

    This is funny, as it is arguing FOR the effects of AGW, where the planet becomes less habitable for people.

    Which side of the debate is she on?

    It is also why I remain firmly opposed to the politics of AGW activism. [edit – stick to issues, not inflammatory comparisons]

  48. 198
    CM says:

    > Mass peer review.
    > [Response: That’s what they did last time too. – gavin]

    From which we learn that Murphy’s law applies even for very high values of “more eyeballs”.

    (And that if you want the ‘skeptics’ to make themselves useful and catch glaring bloopers, they’ll miss anything that hasn’t got a big smoking hockey stick painted on it.)

  49. 199
    Hank Roberts says:

    > … our thriving wheat belt. No wonder people doubt the broader
    > line taken on RC. Ludicrious statements …

    Your logic here is flawed. Commenters on the blog — remember, most people posting here are just visitors like you or me — do often make mistakes; so?
    People caught the error. That’s how it works.

  50. 200

    Jim Roland, I’m afraid your comment may be misleading to those who don’t follow the link you gave. Zah et al apparently have a scheme which “collapses” impacts into two dimensions: environmental impact and GHG emissions.

    So when you say that Brazilian sugarcane ethanol is more environmentally harmful than gasoline, that means EXCLUDING impacts of GHG emissions–in which the ethanol is immensely superior. Which in itself may suggest that the Zah conceptual map may not be the best way to slice the problem.

    (And even then, the Zah analysis is not in accord with others, such as this one. Hope that link works! If not, it’s to a UNEP report from November 2009.)

    Unfortunately, measuring the environmental “friendliness” of biofuels seems a knotty problem. Not necessarily an insoluble one, but one requiring much attention to detail–and a honest consideration of the problem in the middle of a politicized discourse.