Should Greenpeace Be Writing IPCC Reports?
    By Hank Campbell | June 16th 2011 08:44 PM | 48 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

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    For climate scientists to make positive inroads in policy regarding a problem we know is only going to get worse - pollution and climate change - they need to police the actions of a few in their circle, most notably the very loud.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has existed for over two decades now - they are not new to politics and this is not gotcha journalism from WikiLeaks; they have also already been implicated by an independent commission created by the United Nations for their use of 'gray' literature published as data and for ignoring commentary on what studies it uses in reports.

    They have said they would change their ways but now it turns out a report issued recently was essentially written by a Greenpeace employee.   You have heard of Greenpeace, they are the environmental fund-raising corporation that started out being anti-nuclear and then switched to whaling and then added global warming to the arsenal in their quest to increase revenue.   

    The problem is framing once again.   Politically-minded scientists love framing but it's generally bad when the public looks for scientists to be trusted guides and finds they are only getting a part of the story filtered through politics.   The IPCC examined 164 analyses of how beneficial current fossil fuel alternatives could be - and then they settled on the most optimistic one, and its claim that  renewable sources could provide 77 percent of the world's energy supply by 2050.  Settling on the most optimistic report of 164 may be an IPCC consensus but it is not a fair assessment for the public.    More of a concern is the report they used is so flawed it pumps up the viability of renewable fuels by insisting energy use overall will drop despite adding billions of people.   

    The IPCC has a bad habit of issuing 'media talking points' which groups like the BBC, to their discredit, publish as fact, and then issuing the actual reports later, to less scrutiny because it is already old news.    This time it didn't work.    The press release was dutifully reprinted but  the actual report was examined by a global warming denier group and they noted that Sven Teske, a Greenpeace employee, was a co-author in the optimistic 77% study eventually chosen by the IPCC.  Denial groups should be not be policing the IPCC, they should be relegated to the conspiratorial fringes, but they won't be when they are the only ones actually examining the reports issued by the IPCC.  And they turn out to have good points.      Who lets scientists assess their own study and decide whether or not the study is accurate?   

    If Exxon scientists were writing skewed reports which got published in the mainstream news, would we let that go unchallenged?   Especially if their version was the most optimistic of 163 others and contained a glaring flaw like that 2 billion more people would require less energy, so fossil fuels would mean less emissions then?    If not, climate scientists shouldn't continue to let the IPCC damage their reputations this way.


    If you love the planet, be happy for it and be relieved that the planet you love so much will not experience a life ending crisis of climate change. Climate change was a political and cultural industry, not science and not pollution, or energy or waste or population. It was a specific CO2 death threat to billions of children and it was a mistake and a criminal exaggeration that served as a comfortable lie. Meanwhile, the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 25 years of climate control instead of the obviously needed population control. Nice job!

    You are trying to suggest that IPCC would have tried to hide the fact that one of the 120 lead authors for this report was an engineer working for Greenpeace, nominated by the German government. But the names of the lead authors have been on the IPCC web site the whole time. Greenpeace even put a global press release out on the same day that the summary for policymakers was published.

    Google media search shows that he then gave media interviews, being very open about his role:

    So where's the big secret?

    I never suggested they were keeping the authors a secret - what is irksome is they issue press releases, which disclose no author data, those get printed as fact, except they know there are space restrictions and the BBC fact checks nothing so they bury that whole 'these results have a confidence interval of 65%' concept way down in the release.  It's only a month later the paper is shown and you find out results that should be authoritative are instead advocacy pieces.

    The operative question is, would you (or us) give a study a break if it made a ridiculously optimistic claim about a pet idea and was written by an Exxon employee?
    A good post until you refer to Steve McIntyre as a 'global warming denier group'.
    Your response above is also spot-on - press release first, scare story in the papers, full report comes out later, old news, nobody bothers to read it. And they almost got away with it.

    Does that site exist for any reason other than to deny global warming?   If so, I will retract it.  I don't want mumbo-jumbo about caring about the scientific method or accountability or all of the buzzwords for denier - denying the peril of climate change is the same irrational fetish for the right that denying the evils of communism has been for the left.
    I wonder what suitable pejorative term we should use for those who believe so strongly in global warming they are willing to corrupt their research and publications in order to achieve their aims? The term "denier" has been appropriated for anyone who disputes or critically analyzes climate research so as to equate them with holocaust-deniers. Frankly, these people who stand up and point out flaws are doing valuable public service, and those who denigrate them should not be given any respect,

    This reference to "Deniers" is weak at best. We are less deniers and more accurately skeptics. Skeptics in the sense of what it is Believers think we can do about the issue and for that matter what the source is. Of the two I fervently believe that short of shutting down the world economy we aren't going to have much effect on the outcome of climate change and to think otherwise is a fools errand.

    This babble in the states about cap and trade wherein the U.S.A. will somehow single handedly stop climate change in its' tracks and lead the world to salvation is pure and simple nonsense. Thank You.

    If you read other articles by me on this site (example Who Annoys You More, Climate Change Deniers Or Fetishists?), I term the fringe group on the left - so, the anti-science polar opposite of deniers - as "global warming fetishists".    They want so badly for the world to be destroyed that they are just as annoying to talk to as people who mumble Glenn Beck talking points about how awesome more pollution will be.

    You'll find that on every article of this kind, despite Science 2.0 being the most balanced science site on the Internet, deniers are only outraged at being termed deniers, and are okay with the other side having a label, and fetishists are the same.   To those of us who just care about science, they are the same anti-science people looking to hijack science for their political agenda, yet claim they care more about science than the actual scientists who do science for peanuts.
    Hank, you really should go and read some of McIntyre's stuff at Climate Audit. And read his papers in Geophys Res Lett, Atmos. Sci Lett. and PNAS. You might learn something. When are you going to withdraw your inaccurate and offensive remark?

    When he stops using the word 'trick' to characterize the entire climate science field (how many pages of his site do I need to read?  There are dozens of uses of the term on every page), I suppose I will stop calling him a climate change denier.   I have no problem with him being a climate change denier - politics is much bigger business than science, as the volume of political blogs attests (and even thinly-veiled political blogs by scientists are more popular than actual science) so it serves him well.   What's strange is that he (or you) would find that offensive.  
    Mr. Campbell,

    You should know better than to say that McIntyre's site "exist(s) for any other reason than to deny global warming". If you had bothered to actually read what he writes on his site, you would know that Mr. McIntyre accepts that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere, all else being equal, will result in an increase in global surface temperatures. Indeed, he is also on record on his site as stating that one cannot reject out of hand the possibility of catastrophic increases in global surface temperatures as a result of human-caused increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Mr. Campbell, I urge you to contact Mr. McIntyre and let him show you where in fact he has made such statements over the years on his web site. Then, I hope you issue a retraction of your above statement.

    Caring about scientific method--how narrow minded of citizens.

    "I don't want mumbo-jumbo about caring about the scientific method or accountability"

    This is a joke, right?

    Not a joke at all - people who exist to deny one thing don't care about science, they care about an agenda and invoke mumbo-jumbo about a scientific method they have no more than a remedial knowledge about.    I don't care about being inclusive of global warming denier right wingers any more than anti-vaccine left wingers; both fringes claim to care about the scientific method yet both hate actual science and scientists and instead set out to create doubt and hide behind 'caring' about science. 

    The point I made is that if fringe groups are doing the job climate science should be doing, that is a very bad thing because skeptic fringe groups are doing it for all the wrong reasons; namely so James Hansen and Al Gore can be wrong.  
    If "fringe groups" are doing the work "climate science" should be doing, then don't you think you should reconsider who is the fringe group and who is really capable of competent science?

    Your response is embarrassing. Have you ever spent an hour on McIntyre's site? How about BertRutan's?

    You appear to be stuck halfway to the truth. Climate change true believers are not behaving abominably despite ha ing the facts and the arguments on their side, they are cooking the data and trying to silence critics because they don't have the facts, and can no longer make them up, slant or spin them with impunity.

    But they sure keep trying, and a clueless and lazy press keeps trying to facilitate them.

    Plainly it is a joke. Or the writer is endowed with the ability to read minds. Ad hominem, anyone? Not that there's any reason to doubt the conclusions of groups whose very existence depends on the existence of a problem; it's a billion-dollar industry.

    Perhaps, though by that same logic should you not doubt science produced by, say, the fossil fuels industry?
    Gerhard Adam
    Of course, we should only trust groups that aren't working to solve problems.
    Mundus vult decipi
    This is a no scandal at all - besides this article?

    A report written by scientists, based on top of climate science, per-rewied... Where is the deal? No big deal, no deal at all. It is just science. What is the problem of a environmental group releasing a report with scientific data? What is the problem of IPCC referring to such report, if is science-based? Why don´t you write an article about the so called scientific groups funded by oil companies with the mission to prove that climate change is not related to human activities? This is huge problem and a shame. In case you still don´t know that: IPCC has more than 2500 scientists involved in their reports. Everyone with scientific background on climate related issues could apply to receive the reports under the per-review process. Governments, even those who have been denying climate change, are part of IPCC ('I" stands for Intergovernmental, in the case you are not aware) and have the chance to approve it or not, to change the conclusions as it have happened in the last review-process.

    Therefore, no big deal. Just you and few others trying to communicate something as a scandal. I am affraid you should read the full reports and learn something about science.

    Why don´t you write an article about the so called scientific groups funded by oil companies with the mission to prove that climate change is not related to human activities? 
    You just got done writing " No big deal, no deal at all. It is just science. What is the problem of a environmental group releasing a report with scientific data?" yet you think science funded by an oil company is unethical.   Why is it you think scientists funded by George Soros or Greenpeace or any other political group is ethical yet corporate scientists are liars?

    All I see is that you think the side you happen to agree with is purely honest and the side you don't is purely dishonest.  How positively neo-conservative of you.    Unfortunately, it is not that simple.  This report is suspect both in its genesis and its conclusions and the problem with the IPCC issuing it is that they are not supposed to be tools for corporations - and Greenpeace is a corporation no different than Exxon.    One simply pays a dividend.
    One could also say your article is dishonest. It is not about the side one agree to, it is all about science and methods. Your article did not go through per review. The report issued by Greenpeace did. However, if you are to challenge such methods, you need to prove they are wrong. You did not succeed up to now. Period.

    You have a chance to ask IPCC to send you their reports for review. If you are a scientist, you do can do it. I have done it for the AR4. No big deal. And so, you can send your comments and prove IPCC, this biased scientifc and governmental body, as it seems you see it, is wrong. Do that. It is a better investment of your time than writing articles full of opinion and lacking proper analisys.

    Blogs are opinion.  Unfortunately, a lot of the last IPCC report was also.   The difference is I do not claim it is anything else.

    What climate scientists should not do is attack anyone who does not coo about how awesome your numerical models are.   They aren't.   Some of them are so assumption-based they could be astrology.   And that is the problem when peer review is true believers and not objective.  In biology, if someone claims a missing link in evolution lots of biologists want to prove them wrong.   Who in climate science ever mentions the obvious errors in every IPCC report?  No one.  There is no peer review, there is a peer rubber stamp.

    I prefer, instead of circling the wagons and yelling "but...but... Exxon!" every time the IPCC gets caught do something dumb, to instead say 'here is what the public needs from climate scientists to regain trust' - it is not magic, it is simple, but, no, a bunch of people will read this and see it is not a puff piece on how awesome the IPCC is for picking a completely nonsensical number and saying that is a consensus and shout "Holocaust denier" at anyone who points out the flaws.

    If we just defend them, you make the problem worse because we can never get policy decisions implemented unless the trusted guides in science can show they aren't ideologues.    A blind defense no matter how bad the science is...well, that's what oil companies do.    
    Oh my dear Hank. Your article and this sort of comments should never ever have been published in a so called science blog. Please, give yourself the benefit of reading Popper and IPCC assessment reports (I am sure you have never read not even summary for policy makers). And please, try to apply some basic learning from philosophy of science into your own texts. You could, at some point, become a proper writer. At present, unfortunately, you are just one in a million of those sharing opinions full of intolerance and lacking knowledge and analysis. However, I still see some hope for you. But please, you must open your mind, study and accept criticism as you criticise others. If you commit to do that, I promise I would read you again.

    How would Popper help me decipher this arcane comment?   And I think fewer people - especially journalists - should read IPCC media guides...sorry, assessment for policy makers, which is the same sort of documents lobbyists write.    

    I did a search for 'Adrian' in Google and it had no credibility in science at all while Science 2.0 has 300 million hits and a million readers per month.    

    Tell me how your claimed expertise in philosophy of science helps us know how shills for Greenpeace, or lunatic climate change deniers, will get any closer to actually caring about the world?  
    Thanks for the article Hank,

    The real place for the debate about AGW, it's reality and current and likely impacts, is in the primary peer reviewed literature. That's why whenever I read something in the press that interests me I go off and read the paper it's talking about. That way I get the real message with the nuances intact!

    That there is no argument in the peer reviewed science about the reality of AGW (leaving aside junk like Energy & Environment) shows that what Climate Audit are up to is denial. If they have a substantive point they should publish in the journals, otherwise they should shut up - what they are doing is obfuscating (as they intend it). That some people on both sides of the argument feel it necessary to go beyond what is known and overstate what 'might be' shows that there is doubt as to what the outcome of AGW will be. That doubt is something people should just learn to accept, the doubt swings both ways though - it may not be so bad, or it might be very bad. There are no easy answers here as in most areas of life.

    As for the IPCC, I stick to the Scientific Basis report of Working Group 1. That (in my experience) is an accurate, conservative, and unbiassed assesment of the state of the science, and is written and reviewed by experts in their fields.
    WG1 Scientific Basis:

    People should always bear in mind that there is a real ongoing process in AGW, lies and distortions either way will be shown wrong by events. Likewise, overstating the possible solutions will be proven wrong as, like some elephantine Soviet 5 year plan, they go off the rails having been unachievable in the first place.

    Chris R.

    Chris, absolutely - the scientific method will converge on the best answers, not issue them forth in perfect form the first time.  Climate scientists did themselves a disservice by allowing people like Al Gore to make claims like "the science is settled" and then echo it themselves, and then a month ago when explaining all the things wrong having to state "we are still learning, climate modeling is complex".

    So the cautionary note is that climate scientists need to use the same language the other sciences do if they want the respect the other sciences get - if they make definitive claims that turn out to be incorrect, they look like evolutionary psychology rather than physics.    As far as peer-reviewed literature, it is not as simple as you paint it.    The East Anglia folks were not found to be falsifying data but they were found to be intentionally making sure that articles that disputed numerical models they liked were buried. 

    It is up to climate scientists to police their unethical members - the fact that denier groups are doing a better job of that is why the public no longer regards scientists as trusted guides they way they do other scientists.  It can be fixed but it is impossible to blame Exxon public relations for the chronic mismanagement of the scientific process at the IPCC.
    Agreed mostly,

    I disagree that climate science doesn't use the same language and approach as other sciences. Virtually all of the papers I read are cautious and considered. The models are conservative on several fronts (e.g. Arctic sea-ice and the expansion of the Hadley Cells). When I look at the names of all the researchers on papers I have it strikes me that the vocal minority really are that; a minority. You'll find the same vocal minorities in every area of science that reveals a potential threat (e.g. virology/bacteriology). The same goes for the IPCC assesment report I mentioned, it's couched in such cautious language that anyone casually reading a paragraph or two may really think the uncertainty outweighs what is known.

    That said almost all areas of debate are plagued with 'outliers', it would be better if people could learn to accept them and not allow them to frame the whole debate. For me the real debate is not in the realm of whether AGW is real or not, but exactly what our reaction to it should be. We need to leave the denialists and obstructionists behind, deny them the right to frame the debate, and start seriously considering the balance between economic cost and reduction of emissions. We have a problem, in my opinion it's going to be bad, but it's not the KT event. We'll have to adapt, but we'll do that as we go, something we've had to do in the face of various factors throughout the history of our species.

    Maybe I am mixing my language incorrectly criticizing the IPCC while endorsing climate science and scientists because to the public they are interchangeable - but shouldn't be.   I agree that climate science is generally as measured as any other aspect of science - the IPCC is a problem, and most climate scientists say nothing even though they must know these models are wrong.   In this case, they got 160 studies and picked the one with the most outrageous results.   That isn't because there is a cross-section of researchers - we both know anyone who disagreed on the extent of CO2 in warming got booted off the IPCC before the 2001 report - it's because they are advocates, like guys who work at Greenpeace.

    My recommendation in this piece was that climate scientists worldwide put the IPCC "media talking points" and errors in context for the public before denier groups do it.   Then they will be trusted guides again the way scientists are in other fields.   In the minds of the public, the IPCC is climate science, yet they are a tiny, tiny minority.    They are the 'outliers' in climate science.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    It may worry you Hank, but i totally agree with you.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    Chris R, your ignorance is astonishing. McIntyre has published in PNAS, Geophys Rev Lett, Atmos Sci Lett and Journal of Climate.

    I have just come across a Telegraph Blog with the title:

    Greenpeace and the IPCC: time, surely, for a Climate Masada?

    It strikes me that the German word Schwärmerei could well be applied to the behaviour of the followers of James Delingpole, who gather like wasps to sting anyone who dares to support the idea of Anthropogenic Global Warming.  I got this word from the following article (in English!):

    Germany’s anti-nuclear Schwärmerei

    about the way the German government has caved in to demands to abolish nuclear power, following the demonstrations inspired by Fukushima.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Denier, true believer, where is the role for the skeptic? If Climate Science were settled, it could do a better job of explaining the variability in the natural system. But, green house gases do not explain, e.g., the medieval warming, nor do any conceivable human activities. Thus, we still need more skeptics and fewer deniers or true believes.


    There are elements of climate science that are settled.

    1) More CO2 warms the planet.
    2) The current warming (since 1975) is very likely due largely to CO2 emissions. The evidence for natural drivers is poor - we know it's not the Sun or the Earth's relationship with it (which has been a major driver of past changes e.g. The Maunder Minimum and the glaciations respectively) - we know it's not relaxation from the Little Ice Age (whenever someone suggests that you know their grasp of physics is tenuous) - We know it's not internal dynamics of the Earth system - which can shift heat around (e.g. La Nina/El Nino) but can't cause gross gain in energy.
    3) This warming is likely to be of the order of 3degC at equilibrium for a doubling of CO2.
    4) The warming of the Arctic is de-stabilising both land and ocean methane deposits. The resultant release of methane will compound AGW, although to what degree remains unknown (that means you can't cherry pick the position that "it'll be OK", you must accept that it could be very bad.

    During the MWP there weren't the vast array of satellite and direct observations of the Earth system. So just because we don't know the cause of that with certainty does not mean that we don't know what is happening now and what is causing it.

    In short we know enough to know that we are causing the recent warming, that if we carry on emitting CO2 the warming will continue, and that this is likely to be a problem. Furthermore fossil fuels are a limited resource, so it makes sense on both fronts to start thinking seriously about how to move away from burning them.

    Dear Chris R,

    1) It is settled that increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by humans results, all else being equal, in an increase in global surface temperatures. This result has been known since 1896.
    2) This point is an assertion by proponents of the AGW catastrophic hypothesis. However, the increase in global average temperature from the early 1910's to the early to mid 1940's is remarkably similar in kind, and nearly in degree, to that increase which occurred from the mid-1970's to the late 2000's. Few assert that the increase in the latter period was caused by human interaction; however, these same people assume that a similar increase from the mid-1970's to the late 2000's could only have been caused by humans.
    3) That the warming will be of the order of 3 degrees Celsius remains, of course, an hypothesis. It is widely accepted that a doubling of CO2 will, all else being constant, increase average global temperatures by about 1.1 degrees Celsius. However, the secondary (feedback) effects of such an increase in CO2 remain very much in doubt. Indeed, the fact that past forecasts of average global temperature increases have tended to fall short of actual increases leads rational people to suspect that the aggressive assumptions by many AGW of large temperature increases proponents may be over the top.
    4) It is entirely possible that the Arctic's warming from an increase in CO2 emissions (as predicted by Arrhenius in 1896) is hypothetically destabilizing both land and ocean methane deposits and that such hypothetical release of methane as a result of human-caused warming may significantly increase average global temperatures. there is at present no evidence that this dynamic is actually taking place. In fact, the increase in global surface temperatures as a result in the increase of atmospheric CO2 from the pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million to present levels of about 390 parts per million should have directly increased average global temperatures by about 0.5 degrees Celsius. That the actual increase in average surface global temperatures from 1880 to the present is not too terribly far off of that mark suggests the possibility that catastrophic forecasts by AGW catastrophic proponents may be well off of the mark.

    In short we indeed do know that we are causing at least some portion of the recent warming and we know that if we carry on emitting CO2 the relative warming will continue. However, we have no idea that this will be a problem, that is, we may well be able to adapt to any changes that may take place as a result of such warming, even warming at the bounds as suggested by AGW proponents of catastrophic warming. The assertion that fossil fuels are a limited resource presumes that the price of extracting these resources will become, in the short run, significantly greater than that of procuring other energy resources. Only then does it make sense to "start thinking seriously about how to move away from burning them". However, the relative price of extracting such resources remains significantly less than does the price of alternative energy sources such as solar and wind. Until there are clear, clear indications that the AGW hypothesis of catastrophic increases in global average temperatures is indeed moving in that direction, fossil fuels will continue to rule the day.


    Addressing points in order.

    To claim that because we don't know about something in the past that this means we can't speak without certainty about the present is as ridiculous as a defence lawyer claiming his client can't be convicted because there are unsolved crimes. That said, we actually do know rather a lot about the 1940s warming.

    The 1940s warming was around half of the warming since 1975. There was no single cause for that warming, however increasing solar irradiance and increasing CO2 were driving factors. The post 1940s cooling was due to increases in sulphate emissions, but for that the 20th century would have seen a more exponential appearance in it's warming profile.

    How can we be pretty sure the current warming is due to human activity, primarily CO2 emissions?

    We know it's not solar.
    Insolation rose more in the earlier part of the 20th century, yet has not increased since 1975.
    Neutron flux is used as a proxy for Cosmic Ray Flux which is claimed to affect clouds. There is no trend in Neutron Flux.

    We know it's not relaxation from the LIA as the profile of temperature increase is like this:
    Whereas a warming to new equilibrium has the fastest rate of increase as the new temperature difference is applied, i.e. at the start, not the end, of the series.

    Models show that the recent warming is driven by human activity:
    Consider the model output as a hypothesis - such agreement with observation supports the hypothesis. To appeal to some magical unknown factor X is not science.

    Then there's observational support for the idea that there aren't major unknown factor Xs that could explain the observed warming since 1975. e.g.Murphy et al "An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950."

    1.1dgeC is unfeasibly small. ~3degC is a hypothesis, but it's the best supported hypothesis (do not attempt to use hypthesis as a pejorative term), e.g. Annan & Hargreaves "Using multiple observationally-based constraints to estimate climate sensitivity." GRL 2006.

    Water Vapour feedback is positive:
    "Thus, although there continues to be some uncertainty about its exact magnitude, the water vapor feedback is virtually certain to be strongly positive, with most evidence supporting a magnitude of 1.5 to 2.0 W/m2/K, sufficient to roughly double the warming that would otherwise occur."
    Dessler & Sherwood "A Matter of Humidity." Science 2009 (and references).
    So that's at least 2.2 degC/doubling of CO2.

    Cloud feedback is likely positive:
    i.e. Dessler 2010 "A Determination of the Cloud Feedback from Climate Variations over the Past Decade."
    Which takes us closer to 3degC.

    That's before we get to other factors like Polar Amplification:
    Serreze et al "The emergence of surface-based Arctic amplification." The Cryosphere. 2009.

    Atmospheric CH4 is increasing again having been level since the 1990s. Furthermore there have been depletion spikes during the summer in Arctic station measurements of the 13C fraction of the CH4 (one would expect CH4 from clathrates to be isotopically depleted w.r.t 13C).
    Shakova has found emissions from the East Siberian Shelf that fit the profile expected for emissions from clathrate CH4. For what it's worth I agree with Archer that the likely consequence will be emissions that are "chronic" rather than "acute". Nonetheless there is evidence that the destabilisation of Arctic CH4 deposits is underway.

    Nobody is saying CH4 destabilisation and consequent emission has been underway in the 20th century. Therefore to use that temperature data to comment on it is irrelevant.

    We are using up fossil fuels at a far greater rate than new FFs are being created.

    Chris R,

    You say,

    "To claim that because we don't know about something in the past that this means we can't speak without certainty about the present is as ridiculous as a defence lawyer claiming his client can't be convicted because there are unsolved crimes."

    What on earth does this mean?

    I have gone over what I wrote and realized my intention was to refer to the earlier 1910's to mid 1940's period rather than to the later noted period (which I mistakenly referred to). While one reading closely could parse my actual intention, I accept my wording was confusing but your above comment in response is somewhat silly.

    Please note I accept that some possibly significant portion of the increase in global surface temperature between 1975 and the late 2000's was the result of human activity. However, to state that we absolutely and precisely know at present the relationship between solar irradiation variation and global surface temperatures is simply an overstatement. If we did know such a thing, we should be able to predict, not only in the long run but in the short run as well, movements in average global temperatures. However, if anything, short term movements in average global temperatures seem to be dominated by short term changes in ocean surface temperatures, most importantly changes in the ENSO anomaly. Do you, or does anyone, understand, and therefore can predict, changes in the ENSO anomaly? In regards to the ENSO anomaly, it appears that positive anomalies dominated negative between the mid-1970's and the late 2000's. Did that not contribute something to the increase in the global temperature anomaly over that period?

    As for your assertion I claimed that an approximately 1 degree Celsius increase in average global surface temperatures will result from a doubling of CO2, I claimed nothing of the sort. We know with the greatest certainty that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will, all things being equal, increase average global surface temperatures by about 1 degree Celsius. It is in fact entirely possible that such a doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere will result in an increase in average global surface temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius or even more. But such an assertion is simply an hypothesis at this point however pejorative you may think my use of the term is. You may cite all of the volumes of research as you wish but until the actual future temperature data comes in such work remains hypothetical in nature. If you think you know the water vapor feedback and cloud feedback is positive, then you should be able to tell me, within a reasonable degree of accuracy, the trajectory of global surface temperature change over a number of intervals into the future. If in fact the actual temperature data proves these hypothesis, then I will be in line to accept them as reality.

    In the end, I accept the assertion that significant increases in average global surface temperatures may produce significant increases in average global temperatures but I assert that such claims are yet unproven beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, you claim you know with certainty things that have yet to take place and you reject the possibility that your position could possibly be wrong. I challenge you to tell me what trajectory of global surface temperature change over the next 30 years would cause you to question your current beliefs. I have stated the trajectory that would cause me to question my current beliefs. What about you?

    "The 1940s warming was around half of the warming since 1975."

    What do you mean, the 1940's? Anyone taking the trouble to look at the global temperature anomaly data knows that the increase in average global surface temperature from the early 1910's to the early to mid 1940's was just fractionally less than the increase from the mid-1970's to the late 2000's


    You are saying we don't know with certainty why period A warmed, therefore we cannot say with certainty why period B warmed. This is completely illogical! Especially when we have so much more information pertaining to period B as opposed to period A.

    1910 - 1940 vs 1975 - 2011 OK 2/3 of the recent warming. Using GISS which is the most accurate dataset as it takes into account the Arctic & has been subjected to extensive public examination.

    It's impossible to know exactly what the trajectory of future temperature will be because major issues like emissions remain uncertain. I have 'pegged my flag' to the Charney Sensitivity mast - a probability density function peaking around 3degC warming at equilibrium for a doubling of CO2. I disagree as much with those claiming low (1 to 2 degC) sensitivity as I do with those claiming 10degC (catastrophic) sensitivity. The Charney Sensitivity best explains the available data, including the ice ages, IMHO. e.g. See Hansen et al "Climate change and trace gases." Philosphical Transactions of the Royal Society 2007 - a very good exercise in showing how basic grounded assumptions explain ice age temperatures.

    Actually, I'll just go into that paper, Hansen et a is available here:
    Scrol down to figure 2 on page 3. The top graph shows sea level changes, from which Hansen derives changes in the area of ice on the planet. The ice sheets reflect sunlight into space so that's the first major forcing in the ice ages. Then graph 2 shows the ice sheet reflectance (albedo) and calculated forcing from greenhouse gas levels as obtained from ice cores. In graph 3 the grey line is the temperature change calculated from albedo change and GHG's using the 'Charney' climate sensitivity. The agreement between that and observed temperature changes (oxygen isotope ratios from ice cores) is marked! You can read the detail of the method in section 2 of the paper. The point is, a good agreement is obtained without any magical unknown X factors, but with a 3degC senitivity and GHGs.

    As for what would make me reconsider about AGW: Leaving aside influences like super volcanoes, massive meteor impact etc - Global average temperature will continue to go up such that each decadal average is warmer than the previous. This will continue for as long as we continue to emit CO2 at more than 1970s levels.

    The solar influence is really rather well understood. The effect of the solar cycles has been detected. As my post above shows there's no reason to see any substantive solar role in the post 1975 warming when considering insolation (INcoming SOLar radiATION). A role in influencing cloud cover has been suggested for cosmic ray flux (CRF), as lab experiments show generation of cloud condensation nuclei (CCNs). However the observational evidence suggests an overabundance of CCNs (Leibig's Law of the Minimum doesn't apply), and anyway neutron flux shows no trend that would suggest a role for CRFs (as shown in my post above). There is an interesting meachanism for the Little Ice Age (LIA) cooling (e.g. Lockwood) in that the cooling was mainly in the winter and appears to have been associated with low solar activity, but this is a NH winter effect not global. So I stand by my assertion that there is no role for the sun in the recent warming. I'll just add the findings of Wild et al "Impact of global dimming and brightening on global warming." GRL 2007.

    "Despite the fact that surface insolation at the turn of the millennium is rather lower than in the 1960s, land surface temperatures have increased by 0.8C over this period (Figure 1). This suggests that the net
    effect of surface solar forcing over the past decades cannot be the principal driver behind the overall temperature
    increase, since over the past 40 years, cooling from solar dimming still outweighs warming from solar brightening.
    Rather, the overall temperature increase since the 1960s can be attributed to greenhouse forcing as also evident in the BSRN data outlined above. Thus, speculations that solar brightening rather than the greenhouse effect could have been the main cause of the overall global warming over the past decades appear unfounded."

    If you are saying the sun has a role be specific and say what!

    The ENSO shifts energy around in the Earth system, it can't cause long term warming. The papers that have claimed to find a causal role for the ENSO in the recent warming have first detrended the temperature data since the 1970s then found a correlation. This tells us something important, one has to remove the trend to find an ENSO/global temperature correlation, so whilst ENSO has a role in the 'wiggles' it has no role in the trend. I've actually done such an analysis myself, ENSO explains a large part of the residuals from the trend, not the trend itself. Furthermore there's the issue of 'conservation of energy' which was one of the reasons I cited Murphy et al, which gives a good explanation of the issue (albeit tengentially).

    It may help if I explain something. I was a sceptic, which is to say on this issue I was allowing myself to be mislead by failing to think critically. Then I decided I needed to sort this matter out as my cohort was regularly and obviously being beaten by the opposition and moved into a tight corner by mounting evidence for AGW. So I started to learn climate science - I found I was wrong. But I gained a fascinating new hobby, reading climate science. It's as a result of reading the papers I cite (and many more) that I have formed my opinions, that's why I cite papers - they're evidence for what I'm saying. Primary peer reviewed papers, and understanding them is the core of science.

     Primary peer reviewed papers, and understanding them is the core of science.
    Absolutely, and three times a week we publish pieces on new studies affirming climate change.   To be clear, the IPCC is not the highest authority in actual climate science - the media and politics have tried to make them synonymous, though.   The IPCC published a magazine comment as evidence, though it was not even a comment in any journal much less a peer-reviewed one, and  the media blindly published it as science fact.    They threw out competing theorists for why climate changing is happening.    The IPCC is, overall, as corrupt as...well, the UN.   

    This article was written because the IPCC deserves criticism.    The UN's own committee to investigate the IPCC agreed with virtually all of the criticisms and the IPCC vowed to change.   Instead of changing, they prove denier claims that the IPCC is more progressive-good-works than science-based by ignoring all possible scenarios except the most outrageous one written by Greenpeace.

    "They threw out competing theorists for why climate changing is happening."

    Are there any real competing theories? I don't see them in the literature I read, and as Working Group 1 is meant to assess the state of the science it wouldn't address nonsense like Miskolczi or Gerlich and Tscheuschner. IIRC Lindzen's Iris hypothesis was mentioned in AR3, but by the time of AR4 it has largely been discounted so was not mentioned, although a couple of Lindzen papers were cited.

    From AR4 Summary for Policy Makers:
    "Most of the observed increase in global average
    temperatures since the mid-20th century is very
    likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic
    greenhouse gas concentrations. This is an
    advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of
    the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely
    to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas
    At the time of it's release I remember that a significant number of the scientists involved thought very likely was not certain enough. Nonetheless even had it said 'virtually certain' in principle the complementary implication is that there is a small chance it is not due to humans, and it says 'most' not all.

    It may be superfluous given my earlier posts but my position is that "Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is virtually certain to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations."

    Again, thanks for an interesting article. Back to lurking.

    "They threw out competing theorists for why climate changing is happening."
    There are but, even if they are not as strong, why throw off experts who disagree with one?  A consensus is not built because you throw off everyone who disagrees, it is built by convincing detractors in the discipline with data, the way biology had to do with evolution and physics with quantum mechanics. Surely if one researcher believes methane is an easier problem to fix and will have a positive effect, or soot, or the sun, they shouldn't be eliminated from the science discourse unless they swear fealty to CO2 and cap-and-trade.

    But the IPCC at the top, regardless of the work of outstanding researchers in groups (and that goes for all of climate science) is a political body and not a science one.   As such, they should be corrected by the thousands of researchers who know when the IPCC is wrong and say nothing, leaving it to skeptic groups to look like they are impartial.    When I heard Al Gore make a ridiculous claim during an AAAS presentation a few years ago, I was the only one who wrote about it - the only one among hundreds.  Finally, a few weeks later, others mentioned it in passing and enough did that he removed his claims.   But he was getting those claims from the IPCC and no one corrected him in climate science.
    OK Back from lurking, :)

    You've got me interested in Gore's errors now. The page you linked to doesn't seem to address Gore's error, and the link to the speech abstract is sparse to say the least. Have you linked to the wrong page?

    The main thing that struck me about an Inconvenient Truth was that he should have scaled down the temperature to reflect that portion likely due to CO2 before presenting the CO2/Temperature match with the upwards addition of recent CO2 levels. This could be done fairly simply by using Hansen's approach in the paper I reference above. Overall I've found I've gained a better understanding by reading the science direct, rather than using non-scientist commentators, although some blogs, notably RealClimate, have been essential guides in understanding.

    The problem with trying to persuade with data is that there are almost always a remaining few who won't be persuaded of anything. This is specially the case w.r.t. Lindzen who has used quite outrageous rhetorical devices when talking in public, devices intended to muddy the water not clarify. eg.

    There are past cases, such as with Lamarkian evolution where scientists have refused to reconsider their position regardless of evidence against them. Spencer Weart has offered the opinion that things change with new generations coming in and the old-guard dying off (literally). Sorry but I remain unconvinced that the unsuccessful hypotheses should be covered by the Scientific Basis. They remain in the annals of literature together with the work that undermines them, that is enough.

    However I would strongly disagree with a researcher's thoughts about what to do about AGW being used to vet their research. Such a matter is peripheral to the sort of basic science I'm addressing. The science should inform policy, views on policy should NEVER be allowed to feedback on the science, that undermines the strength of the science!

    That's the wrong piece.  I used the search feature and picked the top result because I have been to a lot of AAAS meetings and thought narrowing it down using the one Gore was at would be enough but I still can't find it.    In my notes that I used for the apparently missing piece (we are not a media company and have had accidents in the past where trying to clean up the database resulted in us removing articles, and sometimes we don't know for a year) he was referring to droughts, floods, whatever and claiming they were related to global warming and threw up some chart.   But the chart was not created by scientists pr science data.    Luckily, even if my piece is in limbo somewhere, AAAS filmed his talk and you can better see what I am talking about than I can describe it, but the blog post I linked to above was written in real-time so it didn't contain the actual gripe I had, that was a different one.    I could go back to the archive from two years ago and extract it but if it hasn't come up in two years since, no one minds Al Gore being making up science the way they did George Bush so it isn't worth the bother.

    I don't want to get us too distracted from the overall point - as I said in that piece, he was much more modest in front of a science audience, less officious and authoritarian, than he is generally.   I thought this slide was unfortunate because it had no scientific foundation, it was a made up correlation/causation and all it does is provide ammunition for deniers, especially when very few people noticed, despite being primarily scientists in the audience.   I was in the front row and said to a person next to me something like, "that can't be right" and just got a strange look.

    His talk was quite good otherwise (as was biologist Sean Carroll before him) but if you are impatient, his slide - he doesn't use it any more - is around minute 7.
    Thanks for clarifying.

    I've seen a graph from Munich Re that's similar to the Gore graph you mention. It shows how claims for weather related incidents have risen far more steeply than claims for other natural causes. Then general picture is akin to the second graph on this page:
    The explanation of this being that if socio-economic factors (population, number of people wealthy enough to insure themselves) caused the claims increase it should lead to a similar increase for all types of disasters. As far as I could see when I read the original document the only plausible explanation for the increase.

    A graph prepared by an insurance company on costs of disasters is not science data making the case for global warming.   That was my objection to him listing that as more reason for a consensus.  
    hank and sacha sitting in a tree K.I.S.S.I.N.G.N.G first comes love then comes marrige then comes a baby in a scientific
    carrage HAHAHAHAHAHA
    SACHA WROTE : hanks the master: aaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    The 'how neo-conservative of you' blast is a dead give-away. Someone else nailed it, Hank is only halfway there. He's still semi-clouded by ideology and fails to grasp that persons faking science to pursue political ends are just as bad no matter left or right.

    Thermal emissions warming

    The following study done by myself and assisted by a scientist is only to demonstrate that the warming can be mostly if not all explained by thermal emmissions or basically a large scale heat island study using energy use data. This is not intended to give any exact warming extent as average values are used and wind land cover etc are not taken into account (this is virtually impossible despite the claims of organisations such as NASA or CSIRO) Also the energy use is not constant and will have greater effects when weather is cold and heating is more widely used.

    The energy use we shall use is the total annual use of fossil fuels and nuclear. These 2 energy sources are being released by humans.

    Numbers used for calculations.

    Area m2 is square metres

    USA 9626091000000 m2

    China 9596960000000 m2

    France 547030000000 m2

    Germany 357021000000 m2

    United Kingdom 244820000000 m2

    Planet Surface 510066000000000 m2

    (Source :

    Annual energy use based on energy use in 2009. Includes fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Does not include others such as wind solar biofuels geothermal or hydro.

    Mtoe is Million tonnes or oil equivalent.

    USA 2119.8 Mtoe

    China 2037.7 Mtoe

    France 228.8 Mtoe

    Germany 285.6 Mtoe

    United Kingdom 197.7 Mtoe

    World 10424 Mtoe

    (Source : Statistical review of world energy full report 2010 (Beyond Petroleum))

    The following formula was used. It basically is working out the amount of energy in continuous watt output per hour per metre squared and then calculating out the expected change in temperature by using the average input of energy from the sun using Albedo and Suns energy per square according to NASA. This is not intended to give any accurate prediction but just a general prediction.

    Mtoe* 11.63*1 000 000 000 000 (conversion of Mtoe to Watts)*0.7 (energy available as thermal energy)/365/24(conversion to Watt output per hour)/land area in square metres(to give energy output per square metre per hour)*Kelvin 287/342/.703(to give estimated temperature change where Kelvin 287 is earth average temperature 342 is available energy from sun and 0.703 is the amount available to the troposphere after the albedo)

    After doing these calculations if the air never left the country and everything else such as albedo remained constant mentioned these would be the approximate temperature changes.

    USA 0.24 degrees increase
    China 0.23 ,,
    France 0.46 ,,
    Germany 0.88 ,,
    United Kingdom 0.89 ,,
    World 0.0224 ,,

    Conclusions: If a climate model printout has not taken this into account the printouts highest value shall be the greater of the recycling price to the use as a biofuel (but watch out for the thermal emissions). Most fuel use is over land and in the northern hemisphere so this is where the expected highest results are likely. Anecdotely this could be the effect in the antarctic peninsular but it is very difficult to get any fuel use figures. If this is the case the increases are likely to be in summer as this is when the scientists travel there.

    Note; The energy available is a very conservative estimation based on average power station efficiency and vehicle efficiency and uses eg. domestic use of energy is far higher with average households spending over 50% of energy dirrectly for heating (hot water cooking and space heating). The amount of energy from sun will not be accurate as the albedo and latitudes on the earth could have a big effect.