Is this the last hurrah for the IPCC?

The IPCC’s Summary for Policy Makers came out on Saturday to a buzz of comment. The buzz lasted just one day. Three days later a few letters to the editor, an op. ed. or two from politicians, one or two editorials, and that’s it. Gone — a 24-hour wonder.

Yesterday I was able to start reading the Report of Working Group 1 on the science of ‘climate change’, a report of which the SPM is said to be the summary, though the IPCC’s protocols seem to suggest that the WG1 report has to be consistent with the Summary, which is a political rather than a scientific report. I have a long way to go, and I’ll report progress from time to time.

But it is already plain to me that what I saw as the great inadequacy in the 2007 Report (AR4) is even more obvious in AR5 — that is, the Report’s complete failure to offer any kind of balanced discussion of the diverse science that has been published in the last six years. What the reader gets is a fait accompli of the kind I set out in my ‘agnostic’ post a few days ago. You have to accept the Report. It is not be argued with. I haven’t yet found any sign that what I would think of as ‘dissenting’ papers have been considered. So far they haven’t been mentioned.

The mainstream media have not even mentioned WG1 yet, and may not do so for some time, if at all. It has 14 chapters, three annexes and a large technical assessment statement, and I’ll be on it for a week or two, if not longer. But what is quite fascinating is the almost total silence out there in Australia.

Six years ago there was a hubbub, excitement, strong political statements — the sort of emotion that one associates with a religious revival of some kind. Today, nothing. Certainly the relevant Minister, Greg Hunt, said that the government accepted the science, though he didn’t say what science it accepted, and his main interest is the abolition of the carbon tax.

It sounds to me (the silence, that is) that the IPCC and its work are no longer interesting to anyone. Even the ALP is being silent about it. What discussion there is appears in the letters columns and the Internet, and it is pretty even, I think.

Jo Nova, a sceptical scientist whose website is in my blog roll, pointed out a couple of months ago that the ‘salience’ of ‘climate change’ seemed suddenly to decline in the middle of 2011. She wondered why, and settled on the collapse of the carbon credits market, which was more or less contemporaneous — and a change in policy at Reuters, the international media agency.

More recently, Jo has proposed a set of questions that journalists ought ask of the climate activists, instead of cutting and pasting the sort of stuff they get from news agencies and climate activists. The questions focus on the holes in the IPCC argument, and go like this. I’ve adapted them a little. I think they’re smack on target. Have a go at answering them!

1 Did the oceans contribute to warming?

  1. If the oceans recently cooled the air, couldn’t they have warmed it before the pause?
  2. In either case, how have the IPCC models been changed to reflect this increased effect of natural variability?
  3. Isn’t it the case that the effect of CO2 is made smaller by this admission?

2 How accurate are those measurements?

  1. By how many degrees has the ocean actually warmed?
  2. Is our equipment accurate enough to measure that? (Don’t get fooled by unrealistic statistical assumptions, such as that all of the ocean simultaneously warms by the same amount  — that amount being “the global warming”).
  3. How did we measure global ocean temperature 50 years ago?
  4. What kind of data was available for water below 700m in the 1960s?

3 How does this tell us the cause of the warming?

  1. Wouldn’t any cause of warming cause the oceans to gain temperature — how do we know it was CO2 rather than something else?
  2. (following on) So are those the same models that failed to correctly forecast global surface temperatures,  tropospheric temperature and humidity, antarctic sea ice, tropical storms, and regional rainfall?
  3. (following on) While skeptics agree that CO2 warms the planet, they question the amount of amplification by feedbacks in the models. What empirical evidence is there that the models’ assumptions about clouds and water vapor feedbacks are correct? Which piece of equipment was that measured on? (No, a computer is not an instrument that measures the atmosphere).

4 The numbers don’t match

  1. How many Watts per meter2 (in radiative imbalance) do these extra Joules of energy imply?
  2. Don’t these ocean heat figures actually support the skeptics’ claim that the effect of the CO2 is minor, and that the models are overestimating warming by a factor of at least two?


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