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IPCC report card

Filed under: — gavin @ 30 August 2010

Update: Nature has just published a thoughtful commentary on the report

The Inter-Academy Council report on the processes and governance of the IPCC is now available. It appears mostly sensible and has a lot of useful things to say about improving IPCC processes – from suggesting a new Executive to be able to speak for IPCC in-between reports, a new communications strategy, better consistency among working groups and ideas for how to reduce the burden on lead authors in responding to rapidly increasing review comments.

As the report itself notes, the process leading to each of the previous IPCC reports has been informed from issues that arose in previous assessments, and that will obviously also be true for the upcoming fifth Assessment report (AR5). The suggestions made here will mostly strengthen the credibility of the next IPCC, particularly working groups 2 and 3, though whether it will make the conclusions less contentious is unclear. Judging from the contrarian spin some are putting on this report, the answer is likely to be no.


403 Responses to “IPCC report card”

  1. 151
  2. 152
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “Anyway, since the Arctic thread was shut off for comments, and since we are in the final weeks of the melt season, I was wondering if I could get any experts (or thoughtful amateurs) to discuss the significance of what is looking to be the third or second lowest sea ice extent in September.” – Wili

    There is very little difference between the 2007 and 2008 melts, and unless something truly spectacular happens, the current melt will exceed both. There is still 1.5 weeks left in the average melt season, and the ice is still melting very rapidly.

  3. 153
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “I don’t vist here to read your rants.” – 137
    [edit junk]

    [Response: You’re been warned and admonished, and not just by me. Discuss the science, or topics directly germane to the posts, or discuss nothing. I won’t allow denigration of the work of scientists by you or anyone else, and your politically-based rhetoric accomplishes nothing.–Jim]

  4. 154
    Didactylos says:

    I’m curious, Petey. What source do you trust so much that you are happy to repeat what they say verbatim, without digging deeper? There are plenty of candidates, but in the interests of communicating science, I think it would be valuable to know where people actually get their disinformation from.

    This is a source you rely on so absolutely that you are prepared (even eager) to go face to face with a a professional scientist, and tell him that everything he thinks he knows is wrong, because you know better. Probably you wouldn’t do anything so rude in the real world, but I can’t see why a different standard should apply.

    I know you didn’t come up with these “facts” you quote yourself, we see them far too often for that. So, please tell: who are you quoting?

  5. 155
  6. 156
    jyyh says:

    sounds like something one might get from a scientist involved with satellite measurements.

  7. 157

    UK software engineers simplify NASA’s GISTEMP climate analysis software: 1/8 the size, much clearer, same results: http://bit.ly/ClimCode

  8. 158

    Petey 144,

    Ocean temperature measurements have been made for hundreds of years. Where did you get the idea that there weren’t any?

  9. 159

    I have completed the first draft of The Case For Global Warming. Would any scientist be interested in looking it over before I try submitting it to a publisher? Any recommendations for where to publish it?

  10. 160
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Petey, gotta hand it to you. You sure crammed a whole helluva lot of ignorance into a single statement–and that’s after Jim edited out the really stupid parts!

    So, Petey, Let’s take two thermometers in opposite corners of a room. Both read 27 degrees C and do so for over an hour. What do you think the probability is that the temperature in the center of the room is, oh, say, equal to the temperature of the solar corona? Ponder this.

  11. 161
    Edward Greisch says:

    93 Paul Tremblay “So far as I know, no one has claimed that AGW has killed many people; it only has the possibility of doing so.”
    AGW has killed many people; it is just that we haven’t counted them because we don’t know how many would have died without AGW. Counting them would be a good idea.

    100 Ron R.: Journalists fail to report science correctly because journalists don’t know science and math AND because advertisers include the fossil fuel industry and the advertisers pay more of the cost of newspapers than the subscribers do AND because the readers in general aren’t even as smart as the journalists, ETC.

    108 Secular Animist: I have to agree with Veidicar Decarian that nobody ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of, not just the US electorate but, Homo Sapiens in general. Rapid climate change has driven the evolution of intelligence in the past. That is how we got from Australopithecus to Homo Habilis. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/becoming-human-part-1.html We have chosen to avoid driving our own evolution [let’s not go into that] so Nature will do it for us.

    109 Rod B: “Denying physical reality” is a common problem with Homo So-Called Sapiens. Very few of us hominids are capable of getting passing grades in college level science courses.

    Jim: I forwarded an email from Cognitive Policy Works to RealClimate. There really is a problem with the average “human” mind/brain. Whether Cognitive Policy Works [http://www.cognitivepolicyworks.com/] can help or not I don’t know. I would be willing to give it a try. I don’t think it is a matter of commenters throwing “eggs.” They really are concerned or terrified because of the prospect of GW. There doesn’t seem to be a good path forward. What we are actually doing is spinning our wheels and letting the climate speak for itself. RealClimate is neither read widely enough nor believed. We [scientists and engineers] don’t happen to have the wealth or the authority to do anything effective about it. So politics becomes the scapegoat.

    123 Ricki (Australia): Just keeping on and keeping our hopes up and repeating the message isn’t enough. Perhaps the message will seep through eventually with the help of increasingly bad agricultural reports and rising food prices.

    The IPCC has decided to reorganize to improve its ability to advertise and some other things. They didn’t use that word, but I think that is what is really intended/needed. The IPCC needs an advertising budget of many billions of dollars per year. It can’t get that. Will the new IPCC result in legislation being passed in the US? Did they make enough changes? I think that they made the changes that are possible at this time. Could they have found a way to add “public relations” people? That isn’t in the mandate.

  12. 162
    Edward Greisch says:

    The IPCC should [attempt to] count how many people have been killed by GW so far. The number would be a persuasive argument for action.

    [Response: This would be difficult to impossible! –eric]

  13. 163

    #135 Rod B/Black

    Well, either I assigned you the simile of Joe Black from the movie, or I was just taking a shot in the dark :)

    Glad the last was entertaining. The concern remains in the area of uncertainty. You don’t think there is enough certainty in the science, but it’s so darn solid that I find it awfully strange that you don’t see it yet.

    If a skeptic disagrees with a piece of AGW science he has to have a basis other than his opinion in order to refute the findings. I don’t ever recall a skeptic overturning a piece of truly relevant science in the AGW chain of understanding. I will grant that Steve McKintyre actually did help inconsequentially with his statistics argument. But it remains that the correction pointed out in the Hockey Stick debate was statistically insignificant.

    So, I’m not sure how to attribute his contribution, and because of his apparent motive via association as inferred. I don’t know if he meant to add anything other than to simply add to the noise and confuse people.

    If a skeptic has a problem with a piece of science and has nothing that actually refutes that science, then that skeptic is presenting either a new straw man, a red herring, or simply noise.

    As to your name, I forget why you don’t put it in your signature, but I wish you would. You could be Rod B (realname) so people can still find your moniker.

    As a conservative, that was raised in the military, I learned from the culture, you never misrepresent yourself, you never shy away, and you stand tall and stand by your words and actions (right or wrong). And when you’re wrong, you stand corrected and move on. Anything else, and your in the wrong place, join the civilians, so the culture bespeaks.

    it’s just a little honor and integrity thing.


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  14. 164
    burt says:

    Re Response 144

    Thank you, Gavin and others, for taking the time to formalize the “Attribution” paper. The resource will be effective and often used by the “lay field workers”, as they attempt to communicate greenhouse science.

    The work is much appreciated!

  15. 165

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again — I think the IPCC is way too reticent and conservative. I think it underestimates the problem. And if it does, then that’s a MUCH more serious problem than making a few mistakes in WGII in the other direction.

    I know science is reticent and conservative, needing 90-95% confidence to make a claim. I call that the SCIENTIFIC MODEL. Scientists cannot afford to be the boy who called wolf and have their reputations harmed; they have to avoid the FALSE POSITIVE of making untrue claims. That’s fine for them.

    However, policy-makers and laypersons concerned about life on earth would be interested in avoiding the FALSE NEGATIVE of failing to mitigate true and very serious problems. You’d think. I call this the MEDICAL MODEL — we’d feel shocked and upset if the doc came back and told us the test was only 94% confident the lump was cancerous, so come back in a few years to see it if it couldn’t get up to 95% so he could operate. We the villagers cannot afford to be eaten up by the wolf. The the real moral to that story is the villagers were pretty stupid not to heed the boy’s warning, even if he did make a couple of mistakes.

    Now when you get a bunch of reticent scientists together drawing up a report like the IPCC, having to come to agreements, it’s bound to be more conservative than single studies in erring on the side of avoiding false claims.

    And there is another issue — the way the wind is blowing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the general trend over the past 20 or so years in AGW studies is “it’s worse than we thought.” So even as each IPCC report comes out, they seem already to be dated and underestimating the problem.

    It would be really fine, AOK if the IPCC OVERESTIMATED the problem. (Please do not listen to a bunch of howling denialists on this.) We’d only have things to gain, if we mitigate an untry AGW, like the money saved thru mitigation, and the mitigation of many many other problems (and $billions saved that way), like reducing local pollution, acid rain, ocean acidification, oil wars, you name it. Not to mention the lives saved….

    OTOH, if AGW is underestimated, we have everything to lose. I mean EVERYTHING.

  16. 166
    wili says:

    Good point, LV. I’m afraid that, by intention or not, the IPCC has had the effect of slowing down accurate information on global warming. It has had to wait for scientists from countries whose main export is oil and who inevitably have pressures to be “skeptical” to come around before it could say something accurate. This may have been necessary politically, but I’m not sure it expedited accurate scientific information in every case.

  17. 167
    flxible says:

    AGW has killed many people; it is just that we haven’t counted them because we don’t know how many would have died without AGW

    Wrong, we know that every single one of them would have/will die, regardless of the temperature, and saying any individuals life was been or will be “shortened” by anything such as smoking, train wrecks, or AGW is hand waving, none of us have the ability to live indefinitely.
    The question isn’t what change of temperature or climate will cause the “premature” deaths of how many, but what is the carrying capacity of the planet, how much must the population be reduced to be sustainable? And it does have to be reduced, or at the very least, contained.

  18. 168
    Susan Anderson says:

    I had a weird thought just now reading in the 120s or so, reading RB and responses, as well as the comments about the IAC review of the IPCC, and in the context of reading Stephen Schneider’s Science as a Contact Sport (quite a juxtaposition, what what!?).

    Schneider’s work, as he describes it, cobbling together the work and trying to get a consensus from the wild and unwieldly consortium that was the IPCC (2 and 3, I think mostly) was to bring a broadminded, brilliant, interested human perspective to accomplishing the impossible.

    The problem with the IAC review is that it takes criticism, mostly from a group who overtly or covertly is more interested in undermining than elucidating, and puts it into the mainstream. It fails altogether to acknowledge the miraculous accomplishment of the IPCC in professionalizing the statement of truth in the face of and apparently with the approval of governments overinfluenced by industry: an industry mostly hostile to things that apparently diminish their influence and ability to acquire more wealth, beyond dreams of avarice, you might say.

    By couching this is reasonable and rational terms, as if from the “inside”, it requires the structure to be codified in such a way that original thought and progress are largely stifled.

    Then there’s this business of world government. It is truthfully stated, as if this was something evil, that in the face of an escalating planetary crisis, it will be necessary for all the world’s entities to find a way to work together.

    It will just be much more expensive and controlling to wait; mitigation is always more expensive than prevention.

  19. 169
    Rod B says:

    John P. Reisman (162), there are about four areas of the science that I think are less than robust enough to not “upset the fruit basket,” some less of a concern than others. My most salient relates to the process of molecular absorption as CO2 concentration increases from the level where we are currently, with the process of CO2 leading temperature. This is tied to the “saturation” question: I’m not satisfied entirely with the explanation that saturation is not a factor.

    A skeptic need only a reasonable possible explanation for his skepticism. Having to disprove that what he questions is too great a hurdle and nonsensical: 1) if one could scientifically prove his skepticism is correct, by definition it is no longer a skepticism — it’s the science. 2) the proof requirement is a non-starter which says a credentialed scientist can assert anything he wishes, and it must be accepted until proven otherwise. An astronomer can say the moon is made of cheese and no rebuttals would be allowed unless the skeptic can scientifically prove it is not — which he can hardly do without going there. I’m not pulling my skepticism above out of thin air, but do have reasonable scientifically based “curiosities.” I’m not prepared to debate because I’m still studying (very excruciating and complex it is too) but two of my curiosities: 1) by my so far rudimentary physics and math the pressure broadening assertion seems lacking. I calculate the half width half max absorption bandwidth of CO2 at 1 atm to be roughly 0.05 to 0.2 cm^-1 which amounts to about 0.04% of the center “freq.” of 667cm^-1. I don’t yet know what intensity this represents, but it sure doesn’t seem like much. 2) While the physics of absorption and broadening is proclaimed to be rock solid, all five of the partial texts I’m studying say something like (paraphrasing), “This is a fairly difficult subject….,” “The theory of this. .. is complex, and. .. incomplete,” there is at present no general theory for the far-tail shape….” All of this doesn’t prove or disprove anything but it is at least curious.

    Sorry, the above is too lengthy for what it is.

    There are many here that use pseudonyms or partial names and this does not affect my view of their credibility one iota. But to each his own.

  20. 170
    Rod B says:

    Lynn Vincentnathan (164), I think your suggestion is not, on the whole, helpful to you. Some of the more shrill of my fellow skeptics can take the slightest exaggeration that didn’t prove to be exact and beat the living hell out of you with it — and win more converts in the process. Look how a couple grew the process suggestions of The Inter-Academy Council, as serious as they were, into virtual Armeggedon. I understand your concern and rationale, however. Maybe you can’t win for losing, but being more accurate and less histrionic works better for your case, IMO.

  21. 171
    Edward Greisch says:

    166 flxible: What do you call the genocide in Darfur? It was caused by drought in a region where the Sahara is growing.
    What do you call the diminished wheat harvest in Russia? Who will have no food as a result?
    What do you call the “500 year” floods in Nashville and Pakistan if they happen again next year?
    What do you call the growth of the Gobi desert in China?
    This list could get long. Any one event isn’t attributable to GW, but the longer the list gets the harder it is to say none of them are linked to GW.

    We have a law against murder in spite of the fact that everybody dies eventually anyway.

    [Response: Great care (and good data and models) is required in addressing these kinds of questions, which involve chains of attribution, and are frequently nonlinear and noisy. Your first (over) statement is easily shot down, because genocide always has some social/cultural element to it, and proving that it was “caused” by drought is, as Eric said, essentially impossible. Your last statement is much more accurate (and also MUCH less likely to be quote mined by deniers).–Jim

  22. 172
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    “We [scientists and engineers] don’t happen to have the wealth or the authority to do anything effective about it” – 160

    Collectively you do.

    Some might suggest that someone write a paper and then it could be circulated within the scientific community. Ya, that will show them anti-science denialists. NOT!

    The collective action must be in the public arena.

    I have repeatedly recommended a work stoppage, to bring public attention to the problem, but those recommendations have repeatedly been deleted.

    Three are other alternatives

    Nowhere do I see a discussion of what can be done in a pro-active manner.

    [Response: Then you’re not looking, because proposed solutions are all over the place–Jim]

    And that is why science continues to lose ground not only on this issue, but in the area of evolution, as well.

    [Response: If you think science is “losing ground” in either of these areas, then you simply don’t understand the science. You seem not to understand that science and political/social action and change are two very different things, accomplished largely by two separate groups of people. Scientists primary job is to get the story right, and if you don’t think that’s a big enough job in itself, then why don’t you just give it a try before you fly off with your self-righteous accusations of our effectiveness–Jim]

  23. 173
    Brian Dodge says:

    wili — 3 September 2010 @ 4:23 PM “Are there any accurate, up to date readings on rates of methane release from tundra and sea bed…?”

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100903/full/news.2010.442.html

  24. 174
    Gilles says:

    Edward : “93 Paul Tremblay “So far as I know, no one has claimed that AGW has killed many people; it only has the possibility of doing so.”
    AGW has killed many people;”

    As Eric pointed out, it is almost impossible to quantify such a number. Especially if you want to evaluate the net>/i> number, subtracting number of people whose deaths didnot happen thanks to GW – for instance during mild winters or through better crops. And finally, if you estimate the net change of lives, or better of “QUALY”, due to the use of FF, it is certainly positive (just correlate the life expectancy with the use of FF). Do you think that “advertising” will hide that ?

  25. 175
    David B. Benson says:

    Rod B @168 — It is enough to recall that (i) during the Eemian interglacial the global average temperature was about 2 K warmer than even now and the sea highstand was a few meters higher than current sea levels,while (ii) during the Miocene, with CO2 concentrations about the same as currently, sea levels were several tens of meters higher than curently.

    So indeed, the Aarhenius approximation is once again shown to be satisfactory.

  26. 176
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Today’s climate disruption news.

  27. 177
    Edward Greisch says:

    Jim 171: I don’t disagree with you, but when will we be able to say: “This is GW”?

    [Response:Attribution will always have a probabilistic element to it, but that probability will be highest when (1) the cause and effect chain/web is relatively short (thus minimizing the number of variables that have to be accounted for), (2) the spatio-temporal quality and extent of the data and models is highest, and (3) the signal:noise is relatively high, given the state of the first two conditions. What is “relatively high” is case specific. There is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer; each question must be addressed one at a time, given the state of relevant knowledge. If we take the recent Russian fires as an example, the possibility of attributing the weather conditions over this summer to climate change is simpler (possibly much so) than is attributing the cause, extent and intensity of the fires themselves, which are influenced by things such as the past history of vegetation/fire management, the state of the Russian fire fighting force, the weather conditions during the fires, etc. –Jim]

  28. 178
    Jacob Mack says:

    I like this last explanation of yours Jim. You are explaining things more clearly.

  29. 179
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B. says, “A skeptic need only a reasonable possible explanation for his skepticism.”

    No, Rod, a true skeptic needs to be familiar and understand the evidence sufficiently to posit plausible alternative mechanisms/theories. There is nothing at all in question about the fact that CO2 does not saturate. If you are truly skeptical, then present an argument supporting your position.

    There is nothing at all ambiguous about the levels of CO2 sensitivity supported by evidence. Skeptical? Then present evidence that convincingly favors a lower sensitivity.

    Skepticism is not mere personal incredulity. It requires understanding and evidence of its own. The denialists have neither.

  30. 180
    Rod B says:

    David B. Benson, I’m not sure what to make of the Eemian or Miocene environments. One of my question marks comes from the temperature change looks to be leading CO2 concentration change as opposed to today’s vice versa. Doesn’t prove anything one way or another but does offer a reasonable curiosity that so far is answered with a surmise. The chart I have of the Miocene shows temp and CO2 almost in lockstep; but the temp was calculated from determined CO2 concentration per current models (the study I have wasn’t looking for temp/CO2 correlation). Again, nothing conclusive in my mind though your points are worth pondering.

  31. 181
    Paul Tremblay says:

    Since we are on the topic of the IPCC, what is the best way to read the IPCC for a non-scientific person such as myself? I have read 2 very basic books on AGW. I see that I can by the 2007 IPCC report but it is more than I can afford. A commentator noted that one can benefit from reading the summary of the IPCC rather than the whole thing. Of course, I know it is optimal to read the entire work, but I can see some arguments for reading the summary or getting more background info first.

    Unfortunately, my local library does not have a copy, even though they have several good books on Climate change, including Gavin’s (which I also intend to check out). I know I can get the PDF online, but I don’t relish the thought of reading a thousand pages on a computer screen, and I especially like real books with paper. I think I will ask my library to purchase the IPCC, full version–after all, I don’t have to make much of an argument for the publication that represents the winners of the Nobel prize!

    I know I might be asking an obvious question, but I thought some experts out there might have some useful tips before I launch into a long reading project.

  32. 182
    flxible says:

    EG@171 – I call those things life on this planet. I don’t have any issue with the fact that the climate is changing, I’m aware of direct effects on my own life, but when any of us die it’s from “natural causes”. Many of those situations you cite have been long ongoing, there have always been droughts affecting desert area dwellers, deserts have always been shifting, crop failures have always occured – those folks who are starving in some areas have always been barely scratching out survival. A more prime reason for any increased death rate anywhere [if there is one] aside from the nature of mammalian physiology, is the unsustainable size of the population, including the portion in the “developed world” that insists on operating on principles of self aggrandizing entitlement. Aside from Jims explanation of the uncertainties of attribution wrt AGW, I think it’s pretty plain we can attribute the lions share of any “premature” deaths to unsustainability, of both total numbers and individual consumption.

  33. 183
    Jim says:

    p.s. I should state for those who may think my response to #172 was excessive, that it is based largely on a series of highly critical and derogatory comments that were simply deleted.
    Jim

  34. 184
    David B. Benson says:

    Rod B @180 — Sigh. Wrong again. Temperature/sea levels is determined from the d18O proxy; CO2 for the Eemian from Antarctic ice cores and for the Miocene from leaf stomata counts.

    Over the long term, Miocene to present, CO2 concentration decreases have been leading temperatures down. Except of of course the mid-Miocene temperature increase, due to some natural source of CO2 producing a substantial excess.

    This bit about “temperatures leading CO2″ holds for temperatures being forced by orbital variations, but orbital variations didn’t trigger glacials during the Miocene (or the later Pliocene), only during the Quaternary with its low levels of CO2.

    I suggest you actually bother to learn some (more) geology; it all fits together.

  35. 185

    177 (Edward),

    Jim 171: I don’t disagree with you, but when will we be able to say: “This is GW”?

    I believe the question you want to ask is “when will most people instinctively feel, without need for further justification and beyond any claims to the contrary, that at least some, though perhaps not all, of a number of seemingly anomalous and dangerous events are a result of GW?”

    The points being that (a) any connection of any individual event to climate change can be easily denied or dismissed and (b) a fair number of anomalous events cannot all be denied and (c) for all intents and purposes, it is the belief of the common man that matters, not scientific proof. To misquote Abe: “You can deny some of the events all of the time…”

    The only thing that I can think of that might some day be incontrovertibly be attributed to climate change would be the nearly complete lost of Arctic summer ice for successive years, or perhaps the loss of large tracts of the Amazon to something other than human deforestation.

    I do also think that temperatures are still a little too low to begin to do much in the way of event attribution. I think a favorite denial tack, in fact, is to imply that because we don’t see killer storms and complete loss of Arctic ice now that this means that climate change isn’t happening, which completely ignores the main point, which is that the CO2 we’re pumping out now will commit us to a temperature which, in the future, when it is reached, will cause such events.

    But I’m afraid that trying to pin any events today on climate change is actually playing into their hands.

    It will be an interesting (and sad) day, however, when an IPCC ARx comes out with an entire section (“Possible Climate Effects To Date”) that assigns a statistical probability to some percentage of a series of events (droughts, storm and wild fire frequency and strength, expanding/changing ecosystems, etc.) as being a result of climate change (based purely on an analysis of what tended to happen in the past, to what degree and how often, compared with the “present world” of ARx).

  36. 186
    Edward Greisch says:

    Jim and Bob (Sphaerica): Thanks. Yes, I am trying to figure out how to get our message into the heads of difficult persons. These are the same problems that the IPCC encountered that lead to re-organization. The problem is as Bob (Sphaerica) said; that will be a sad day.

  37. 187
    Silk says:

    can I point out that post #128 contained a very valid question about the IPCC, that seemed to me to be on-topic, and we completely ignored it.

    Does anyone want to touch on that? My personal experience of the IPCC SPM process is that it is a very unsatisfactory process, since it is inherently political. The SPM must be agreed by politicians, rather than scientists. However, in my experience this also means that things get watered down, rather than watered up, if you see what I mean.

    Admittedly my experience is limited. I only attended one SPM meeting.

  38. 188
    Snapple says:

    About politics-

    Some posters here bash “conservatives,” but I don’t see the attack on well-established scientific government institutions, the defamation of our greatest scientists, and the endangerment of our nation and the world as conservative. The denialists are radicals who have kidnapped this conservative label.

    Some posters here bash religious people for opposing global warming, but the Holy See (Vatican) says there is global warming and has asked the UN to solve this problem. I wrote about this here.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/06/vatican-accepts-science-of-global.html

    The persecution of Galileo happened a long time ago.

    In the Catholic school I know about, there are US government posters about global warming on the walls in the science classes, and the books discuss global warming. Catholics teaching is that people should be “stewards of the earth.” Catholic students are encouraged to learn about environmental issues and climate change.

    Virginia’s Attorney General Cuccinelli and his wife went to Catholic high schools in Washington D. C. and Virginia, but he is not on the same page as the Vatican or even some older Catholic sisters who teach science.

    I don’t know the details, but I believe Cuccinelli’s father–also named Ken Cuccinelli–worked for the American Gas Association, which is a lobby.

    http://www.aga.org/

    If you google Cuccinelli “American Gas Association” you will see some information about this, but the dates suggest that this is the father. Maybe Attorney General Cuccinelli has some relationship with this natural gas lobby because of his father, who seems to have worked in the Division of Marketing Services of the American Gas Association.

  39. 189
    Snapple says:

    I think the denialists endeavor to coopt less educated religious people because cynical demogogues do that and because it deflects attention from the real culprits–fossil fuel companies.

    Sometimes denialist politicians also suggest that the scientists are “commies,” but is the Vatican a nest of commies?

    A Russian named Andrei Illarionov works for the Libertarian Cato Institute; but he used to work for Putin and Chernomyrdin, the head of the Soviet gas company. Some of these former “commies” became billionaires because they ended up owning every methane molecule in Russia and they don’t want any regulation or competition.

    Until the fires this summer, the Russian government media sponsored denialist propaganda, but it got a little “tricky” to accuse those crafty US scientists of plotting hoaxes while NASA scientists were pointing out where the fires are. Still, one PhD in history managed to accuse US scientists of CAUSING global warming by beaming climate weapons at certain unnamed countries. It’s kind of funny that our scientists are accused of perpetrating the “hoax” of global warming last winter and of causing global warming this summer.

    According to Newsweek (8-2-10):

    “Broadly speaking, the Russian position has always been that climate change is an invention of the West to try to bring Russia to its knees,” says Vladimir Chuprov, director of the Greenpeace energy department in Moscow [More here]. Case in point: when Medvedev visited Tomsk last winter, he called the global-warming debate “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”

    Doesn’t this sound just like Inhofe and Cuccinelli? Pravda, which carried denialist articles by 9-11 truthers also sounded like FOX, Inhofe, Cuccinelli, and the “scientific” front organizations. Sometimes Pravda even cited FOX as their source.

    Denialists simply want to deflect attention from the truth. To paraphrase President Medvedev: denialism is “some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”

  40. 190
    Snapple says:

    I think it is really divisive and provocative to bash religious people and conservatives. The Bible says Christians should be “stewards of the earth.”

    “Conservative” means saving something–like our climate, our civilization, and the reputations of our greatest scientists.

    Attorney General Cuccinelli is not on-board with the teachings of his Catholic Church. He is not protecting our country or the world from climate change. He is not protecting our greatest scientists from defamation.

    His RADICAL policies are not ONSERVING anything. They are destructive.

    When the Russians spread destructive propaganda that our Pentagon scientists developed AIDS to genocide blacks, this made sick people in America and abroad distrust our government’s health programs.

    The Republican US Secretary of State George Schultz told the Russians to “stop selling bad dope.” If they didn’t stop their destructive lies, the US was going to stop helping Russia with their AIDS problem. The Russians got the message, and the KGB even admitted they were behind that propaganda. The Russian scientists and doctors wanted our help so they could help their people.

    That’s what real American conservatives should do: protect our most valuable scientists and the health and welfare of the whole world.

    Instead, some of them are “selling bad dope.”

    During the fires in Russia, our NASA scientists were helping find the fires, according to the official RIA Novosti press. NASA was CONSERVING the Russian forests. That is good for the whole planet, not just the Russians.

    These fires were made worse because Putin cut the funding to government forestry agencies that had trained people to fight forest fires in the past.

    The logging companies and local officials were put in charge of fighting fires, and look how that turned out. There were no people who were trained in fighting forest fires. I think the Russians are learning that there is a role for the federal government in fighting hundreds of forest fires.

    Putin’s policy turned out to be penny-wise and pound foolish, or as the Russians say, “A Miser Pays Twice.”

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/08/russias-2010-wildfires-miser-pays-twice.html

  41. 191
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re #181

    Neither of the following two suggestions = IPCC AR4 but both are based on it so may be useful to read them first.

    Dire Predictions by Mann & Kump

    You can compensate for its lack of references by using Google Scholar or the full AR4 on line. You may not like the print over pictures but the quality of the text and organisation of the arguments make up for it.

    John Haughton’s ‘Global Warming’ is also based on IPCC; is different, so worth having both.

  42. 192
    Geoff Wexler says:

    Re #180 and #184.

    This bit about “temperatures leading CO2″

    How about this?

    Even when “temperature changes lead CO2 changes” it remains true that there is a feedback loop which means that the temperature changes should be written as the sum of two terms T(orbital), for example, and T(greenhouse-forced). The fact that the ‘lag’ tends to decrease over say 800 years is consistent with the growth of the second contribution relative to the first.

    I don’t have a climate model to play about with to test this. If true it means that a high proportion of the temperature follows the CO2 , even in such examples.

  43. 193

    Fox News Channel had a disinformation full-length show last night attacking the IPCC, Pachauri, publishing scientists, mainstream science, etc. using Michaels- whose work does not stand up, Lindzen- whose work does not stand up, Monckton (a non scientist who was labeled an “expert”, etc).

    I can’t believe a major (arguably the highest rated news channel) can get away with this when the mainstream science is so sound, so thorough and dating back to the 1800s on climate change. Every country on Earth as well as the conservative US military, thinks human-caused climate change is a problem.

    This is, in my opinion, becoming a national security issue.

  44. 194

    180 (Rod B),

    One of my question marks comes from the temperature change looks to be leading CO2 concentration change as opposed to today’s vice versa.

    A common, repeated flaw in the approach of many skeptics is to focus on correlation with no attention to causation, possibly starting from one of three points of view. The first is that the problem is simply too complex, so no one can know. The second is a predisposition towards the (incorrect) belief that science does not know, so there’s no need to look for the information. The third is the belief that the individual himself doesn’t know, but doesn’t have the time to learn, and doesn’t need to do so, that correlation is all one needs to use conduct science and make decisions.

    These beliefs all allow the skeptic to “play the game” using very narrow and limited rules, i.e. with the ability to dismiss out of hand the knowledge and understanding that helps one to interpret apparent correlations, and to tease out actual cause and effect instead of leaping to conclusions based on assumed cause and effect.

    The physical understanding of how and why CO2 impacts temperature exists, and clearly explains the CO2-lags-temperature-in-the-historical-record argument. To dismiss that understanding out-of-hand is a non-skeptical approach.

    I would suggest that the best use of your time would be to out a lot more effort into researching and understanding the physics behind CO2.

  45. 195
    Rod B says:

    Ray Ladbury (179), well, my assertion of “is not” is on equal par with your simple claim of “is so.”

    More direct, for just example, how do you answer that collision broadening at 1 atm is about 0.04% bandwidth around the center absorption frequency of CO2; and here absorbing 50% of the center frequency’s intensity. And at less than 1% of the intensity absorption it has probably spread out almost to the 1st rotational energy state (although scientists say we know little of the precise far spreading function.) Scientists say CO2 absorbs 100% of its primary IR radiation within 10 meters (though that doesn’t address the repeated transfer of energy back and forth): how does that fit with unsaturated?

    I’m using these real questions rhetorically here for discussion (but it is what I’m currently trying to learn, so if you have some answers, or better yet references, I’m very interested). From a logical point of view, a claim that the absorption is unsaturated can only be questioned with the thought that it is to saturated. I still maintain that a skeptic need not have an alternative proof but simply be ‘familiar and understand the evidence’ enough to pose credible questions.

  46. 196

    187 (Silk),

    can I point out that post #128 contained a very valid question about the IPCC, that seemed to me to be on-topic, and we completely ignored it.

    I agree, and it’s one of the few on-topic posts on this thread of late.

    To repeat the relevant section of the IAC report, from that comment:

    Another concern of respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire was the difference in content between the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report. The distillation of the many findings of a massive report into the relatively brief, high-level messages that characterize the Summary for Policy Makers necessarily results in the loss of important nuances and caveats that appear in the Working Group report. Moreover, the choice of messages and description of topics may be influenced in subtle ways by political considerations. Some respondents thought that the Summary for Policy Makers places more emphasis on what is known, sensational, or popular among Lead Authors than one would find in the body of the report.

    To repeat the Thomas Giammo’s take on this:

    Differences in content between the Summary for Policy Makers and the underlying report? Loss of important caveats? Influenced by political considerations? Emphasis on the sensational? These are important issues. Ignoring them only plays into the paranoid accusations of a white-wash by the climate community.

    Like you, I’m also unqualified to comment, as I haven’t even read the full SPM or the full report, so addressing this in a thoughtful manner is difficult.

    I would, however, argue that Thomas’ interpretation of the passage is extreme, and purposely colored in a bad light. He’s quote-mined it for things that sound nasty and presented them as such. [I’m getting soooo tired of the quote mining game.]

    The original is right there for everyone to read, and compare.

    For example, he starts with “differences in content” as if this a horrible breach of trust, implying that the main report says one thing while the SPM says something else. Well, obviously, this is the case because they have different words in them, and have different purposes. In particular, the SPM is a “distillation” of the main report. How can it not have “differences in content?”

    Thomas then quotes “loss of important nuances” all by itself, when the actual statement says that by it’s very nature such a distillation “necessarily results” in such a result. No evil, nefarious intent is stated or even implied, and in fact it says quite the opposite. It says that such losses of nuance and caveats are unavoidable.

    He also quotes “influenced by political considerations” when the actual statement is prefaced “may be” and qualified by “in subtle ways.” Again, it’s not assigning guilt in any way, or saying that such abuse is evidenced. I will repeat, with emphasis, it’s not saying that such abuse is evidenced as Thomas quote-mining implies. It’s just saying that by it’s nature the process is open to such abuse.

    He quotes “emphasis on the sensational” while leaving out “Some respondents thought” (emphasis mine), and that what was emphasized was the “known” and “popular” as well as sensational. Obviously, out of any group in such a highly charged issue, some people will feel this way, so the statement does not say what Thomas implies, i.e. that the report said that the SPM tended toward the sensational. And obviously, there will be a tendency toward the known and popular, and by human nature, even toward the sensational.

    Thomas’ post is an egregious misrepresentation of on paragraph in the IAC report, and is every bit as bad as the misrepresentations elsewhere. I’m tired of quote miners.

    With that said, I do believe that the paragraph from the report, interpreted as it was meant to be interpreted, is worth of intelligent discussion. The question is, how can the SPM be written and policed in such a way as to guarantee that it will not be subject to the abuse which is possible (but not necessarily yet evidenced) in that section of the report.

  47. 197
    Radge Havers says:

    Maybe it bears repeating: It takes years of dedicated effort and study just to get up to speed on the science at a professional level. It’s not like phil. 101 where you can sit around and endlessly debate the nature of free will and get pats on the head for being an intellectual.

    Anybody with a little effort and not much thought can turn themselves into a wind-up objection factory. It’s a trivial, time wasting exercise.

  48. 198

    195 (Rod B),

    Apologies. I suggested you put your time into learning the physics of CO2, which you are clearly attempting.

    To the saturation argument… I cannot find the explicit reference (apologies, I’ll keep looking) but the IR energy absorbed by a CO2 molecule (and “held” as vibrational energy) is in turn very, very, very quickly transferred to other molecules in the atmosphere (O2, N2) through collisions (heating the surrounding atmosphere), and thus becomes translational energy imparted to those molecules, leaving the original CO2 molecule free to absorb more IR. Broadening helps to expand the range of IR absorption, making CO2 an even more effective GHG, but has little to do with saturation. The narrow range in which CO2 absorbs IR has little to do with saturation (because of the rapid transmission of that energy through collisions), and so is not a valid argument at its very core.

    Beyond this, we are talking about layer upon layer (an abstract, not physical, separation of the atmosphere into layers) of atmosphere. Radiation at each layer can be re-emitted (as IR) back down, or up to a higher layer. So any saturation would also depend on the depth of the atmosphere, and is a convergent series problem… it’s not like filling a bucket with water, where a smaller bucket gets filled proportionally faster. It’s more like filling a bucket rocking around on the back of a pickup truck on a bumpy road where some of the water keeps sloshing back out. The fact that you’ve already poured more water than the bucket can hold doesn’t mean the bucket is full, and in fact it’s almost impossible to fill the bucket, because no matter how close you get to full, some water always keeps sloshing out.

  49. 199
    Peter says:

    Dr. Shapiro, the Chair of the IAC review panel, gave an interview on Thursday that essentially shot down the press reporting that this report somehow savaged the scientific basis of the IPCC assessments
    ********************************************************

    QUESTION: If your panel concluded generally that the IPCC’s procedure is reasonable, even if it could use improvement, doesn’t that implicitly suggest that the science is sound?

    HAROLD SHAPIRO: Yes, I think that’s fair. It suggests that it was convincing enough — this organization is not a fraud, this organization wasn’t perpetuating some sort of criminal act on us all — in fact, it’s extraordinary the number of scientists who participated. I know of no other comparable situation.

    The ozone situation might be comparable in some ways. It was a big, worldwide problem, not understood very well at the beginning. It took them a decade or two before they could come to the Montreal Protocol and begin to solve the problem. It wasn’t easy. Because even if you convinced every scientist in the U.S. and Great Britain and western Europe that this was a problem, it was a worldwide problem: you had to convince a lot of people and a lot of governments.

    http://www.climatecentral.org/breaking/blog/chair_of_ipcc_review_panel_backs_climate_science_assessment_process_despite_flaws

  50. 200
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    There is no problem with the IPCC. It continues to do it’s job exceedingly well.

    This introspection is nothing but an attempt to appease the denialists who will never be appeased.

    The scientific community is allowing the denialists to control the agenda. In this case is is the credibility of the IPCC.

    The proper course of action is simply to state that the mistakes are minor, and then state that they will be removed in the next iteration of the report.

    The only failure here is the continued failure of the insular Scientific Community at large to take on the core, corporate origins of this denialism.

    As I have repeately stated, and which has repeatedly been deleted, science has virtually of the battles, and in fact the Conservative American public are so opposed to the reality of Anthropogenic Climate Change that there is now a strong trend in Cosnservative ideology toward abandoning all science when it produces bad news.

    Scientists are generally isolated from these kinds of irrational behaviours and hence are generally incapable of comprehending and hence countering this form of self imposed ignorance and deceit.

    The corporate PR groups, and ideologically driven think tanks who are behind this denialism are very aware of the underlying motivation and are adept at using it to manipulate the ignorant conservative public to further their own ideological ends.

    You can have all the scientific evidence you like. You can whine and moan and scream at the top of your lungs, but when the general public prefer to remain willfully ignorant, you will always remain impotent, and will always lose.

    You can’t win by simply being reactive.
    You can’t sway an ignorant public with technical arguments.

    The cowardly response of the scientific community to current denialism has already committed the failing American State to another 10 years of inaction on climate change.

    How many more decades must pass before you learn from your continual failure?


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