Den sidste klimarapport?

Diverse — Drokles on October 5, 2013 at 3:14 am

Klimapanelets længe ventede er blevet offentliggjort, eller det vil sige, den del, der hedder Summary for Policy Makers, de overordnede linier forfattet i et sprog som politikerne kan forstå. Og forstå det kan de, politikerne, for de har selv sammen med embedsmænd, formuleret det ved intens forhandling, sætning for sætning, ord for ord. Et konsensus kommer ikke af ingen. Det er klart at den slags konsensus ikke gør nogen stor litteratur, frembringer nogen sandhed endsige en sammenhængende logik. Omfanget af usammenhængende vrøvl får stadig flere til at spå, hvis ikke ligefrem kalde på enden for klimapanelet. Rupert Darwall er en af dem. I Wall Street Journal opfordrer han FN’s Klimapanel til at pakke sammen.

“Human influence extremely likely to be the dominant cause of observed warming since the middle of the last century,” was the headline from Friday’s release of the first instalment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report. “Extremely likely”—indicating a 95%-100% likelihood—was ratcheted up one notch from the 2007 fourth assessment report’s “very likely.” Yet compared to 2007, the IPCC widened its estimate of the responsiveness of the climate system to carbon dioxide by reducing the lower band to a 1.5°C increase from 2°C, qualifying the new estimate as only “likely.”

This is a glaring discrepancy. How can the IPCC be more confident that more than half the temperature rise since the mid-20th century is caused by greenhouse-gas emissions when it is less sure of the climatic impact of carbon dioxide? The explanation is that IPCC reports, especially the summaries for policymakers, are primarily designed for political consumption.


Politicization is thus an ingrained feature of IPCC reports. After the fiasco of the 2007 assessment, the U.N. secretary general asked the InterAcademy Council to review IPCC processes and practices. The committee, chaired by Princeton economist Harold Shapiro, observed that government representatives and scientists meet to agree the final wording of the summary for policymakers line by line “for clarity of message” and to get government “buy-in.” Perhaps that’s being polite. The real question is who is buying whom.

The committee recommended changes in IPCC governance, which were mostly ignored, and specifically recommended that the IPCC not use the quantitative probability scale that it re-used last week, as in the IPCC’s 95% probability headline. The body’s flagrant disregard for the InterAcademy Council’s findings and its reluctance to address the 15-year warming pause are symptomatic of a failure of leadership. The conclusion is unavoidable: The IPCC is unreformable and the Fifth Assessment Report should be the IPCC’s last.

Og også Judith Curry, der har taget den lange vej fra klimapanelets tro støtte i rørende tiltro til sine forsker kollegaers integritet, til efterhånden fuldblods skeptiker, dømmer FN’s klimapanel ude

Diagnosis: paradigm paralysis, caused by motivated reasoning, oversimplification, and consensus seeking; worsened and made permanent by a vicious positive feedback effect at the climate science-policy interface.


Symptoms of the disease

[W]ith the release of the IPCC AR5, we find ourselves between the metaphorical rock and a hard place with regards to climate science and policy:

  • as temperatures have declined and climate models have failed to predict this decline, the IPCC has gained confidence in catastrophic warming and dismisses the pause as unpredictable climate variability
  • substantial criticisms are already being made of the IPCC AR5 Reports as well as of the IPCC process itself; IPCC insiders are bemoaning their loss of their scientific and political influence; the mainstream media seems not to be paying much attention to the AR5 SPM; and even IPCC insiders are realizing the need for a radical change
  • global CO2 emissions continue to increase at higher than expected rates and a growing realization of the infeasibility of meeting emissions targets
  • failure of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties to accomplish much since 2009 beyond agreeing to establish future meetings
  • Growing realization that you can’t control climate by emissions reductions
  • European countries and Australia are backing away from their emission reductions policies as they realize their economic cost and political unpopularity
  • increasing levels of shrillness on both sides of the political debate, with the ‘warm side’ steeped in moral panic and hyperbole

And finally:

  • after several decades and expenditures in the bazillions, the IPCC still has not provided a convincing argument for how much warming in the 20th century has been caused by humans.
  • the politically charged rhetoric has contaminated academic climate research and the institutions that support climate research, so that individuals and institutions have become advocates; scientists with a perspective that is not consistent with the consensus are at best marginalized (difficult to obtain funding and get papers published by ‘gatekeeping’ journal editors) or at worst ostracized by labels of ‘denier’ or ‘heretic.’
  • decision makers needing regionally specific climate change  information are being provided by the climate community with either nothing or potentially misleading predictions from climate models.

Diagnosis of the cause of the disease

How and why did we land between a rock and a hard place on the climate change issue?  There are probably many contributing reasons, but the most fundamental and profound reason is arguably that both the problem and solution were vastly oversimplified back in 1990 by the UNFCCC/IPCC, where the framed both the problem and the solution as irreducibly global. This framing was locked in by a self-reinforcing consensus-seeking approach to the science and a ‘speaking consensus to power’ approach for decision making that pointed to only one possible course of policy action – radical emissions reductions. The climate community has worked for more than 20 years to establish a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. The IPCC consensus building process played a useful role in the early synthesis of the scientific knowledge. However, the ongoing scientific consensus seeking process has had the unintended consequence of oversimplifying both the problem and its solution and hyper-politicizing both, introducing biases into the both the science and related decision making processes.


With the failure of climate models to simulate the pause and regional climate variability, we have arguably reached the point of diminishing returns from this particular path of climate modeling – not just for decision support but also for scientific understanding of the climate system.  In pursuit of this climate modeling path, the climate modeling community — and the funding agencies and the policy makers — have locked themselves into a single climate modeling framework with a focus on production runs for the IPCC, which has been very expensive in terms of funding and personnel. An unintended consequence of this strategy is that there has been very little left over for true climate modeling innovations and fundamental research into climate dynamics and theory — such research would not only support amelioration of deficiencies and failures in the current climate modeling systems, but would also lay the foundations for disruptive advances in our understanding of the climate system and our ability to predict emergent phenomena such as abrupt climate change.

As a result, we’ve lost a generation of climate dynamicists, who have been focused on climate models rather than on climate dynamics and theory that is needed to understand the effects of the sun on climate, the network of natural internal variability on multiple time scales, the mathematics of extreme events, and predictability of a complex system characterized by spatio-temporal chaos. New structural forms are needed for climate models that are capable of simulating the natural internal variability of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system on timescales from days to millennia and that can accurately account for the fast thermodynamic feedback processes associated with clouds and water vapor.



The diagnosis of paradigm paralysis seems fatal in the case of the IPCC, given the widespread nature of the infection and intrinsic motivated reasoning.  We need to put down the IPCC as soon as possible – not to protect the patient who seems to be thriving in its own little cocoon, but for the sake of the rest of us whom it is trying to infect with its disease.  Fortunately much of the population seems to be immune, but some governments seem highly susceptible to the disease. However, the precautionary principle demands that we not take any risks here, and hence the IPCC should be put down.

Klimapanelets arbejdstese er at skønt CO2’s bidrag som drivhusgast ikke i sig selv er af bemærkelsesværdig betydning, så sætter det gang i nogle begrænsede positive feed-back processer, der forstærker drivhuseffekten og således hæver temperaturen mærkbart. Men det går efterhånden op for flere at de eneste positive feed-back processer er dem frembragt i klimaindustriens eget ekkokammer.

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