[Illustrations, footnotes and references available in PDF version]
The IPCC: On the Run at Last
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate alarmism
UN climate body is in panic mode as satellite temperatures turn down and a hard winter lashes both hemispheres
A soprano thrillingly hits her top-A, sighs with relief at achieving the desired effect, and moves on. But not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) whose climate alarmism started to crescendo in 2001 in the Third Assessment Report (3AR) with the statement that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely (>66% probable) to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”.
Recently, in their Fourth Assessment Report (4AR), and faced with their failure to convince the public that the sky is falling, the IPCC delivers even more preposterous advice in ever shriller tones, saying that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (>90% probable) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations”. The wobble around top-A is clearly discernible.
The press, most of who have firmly identified with the alarmist cause, continues to appease the Green gods by faithfully running IPCC’s now unrealistic scientific propaganda, thereby stoking public alarm; the science is a done deal, they say, and the time has come to stop talking. According to UK journalist, Geoffrey Lean, all that is lacking to solve the global warming “crisis” is political will from governments.
Well, thank the Lord for that lack. For the IPCC’s 2007 final Summary for Policymakers shows that the climate alarmists are at last on the run. Their evidence for dangerous, human-caused global warming, always slim, now lies exposed in tatters for all to see.
In contrast, the alternative, persuasive and non-alarmist view of climate change is well summarized in two recently issued and readily available documents. The first is a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations , which was released at the UN’s Bali conference last December, supported by the signatures of 103 eminent professional persons. The second is the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change , the release of which coincided with the launch of the International Climate Science Coalition at a major climate rationalist conference in New York in early March.
The evidence for dangerous global warming adduced by the IPCC has never been strong on empirical science. Endless circumstantial scare campaigns have been run about melting glaciers, more droughts and storms and floods, sea-level rise and polar bears, but all founder on one inescapable problem – as does Mr. Al Gore’s over-hyped science fiction film. And that is that we live on a naturally variable planet. Change is what planet Earth does on all scales, and so far not one of the alleged effects of human-caused global warming has been shown to lie outside normal planetary variation. Sea-level rising? Sure, it happens. And the appropriate response is adaptation, as the Dutch have known for centuries.
Stuck with the absence of empirical evidence for dangerous warming or abnormal change, in 2001 the IPCC turned to graphmanship, giving prominence in its 3AR to the so-called “hockey-stick” record of temperature over the last 1000 years. The hockey-stick graphic, which appeared to show dramatic increases of temperature during the 20th century compared with earlier times, has now been exposed as statistical chicanery and, thankfully, is nowhere to be seen in the 4AR.
No hockey-stick and no empirical evidence, what is a man to do? Well, obviously, turn to virtual reality rather than real reality: PlayStation 4 here we come.
The IPCC’s expensive and complex computer models can be programmed to produce any desired result, and it is therefore not surprising that they uniformly predict warming since 1990. Meanwhile, the real-world global average temperature has stubbornly refused to obey this stricture. It exhibits no significant increase since 1998, and the preliminary 2007 year-end temperature confirms the continuation of a temperature plateau since 1998 to which is now appended a cooling trend over the last 3 years.
Is global cooling next?
“Best fit” of yearly average temperature
Lower atmosphere global temperature differences (deg. C) from 1979 – 1998 average
“Global warming theory indicates that temperature rise due to increasing carbon dioxide emissions should be most prominent at heights of 5-10 km in the lower atmosphere; instead, more warming is occurring at the surface. For the lower atmosphere, the satellite data indicate that, since the 1998 El Nino when temperatures spiked 1 degree C due to a rise in water vapour emissions (the principal “greenhouse gas”), global temperatures dropped sharply, then stabilized and now show signs of continuing down – is global cooling next? (data courtesy of Professors John Christy and Roy Spencer, University of Alabama, Huntsville; a best-fitted spline curve represents longer term temperature trends).”
That there is a mismatch between model prediction and 2007 climate reality is again unsurprising. For as IPCC senior scientist Kevin Trenberth noted recently: “. . . there are no (climate) predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been”; instead there are only “what if” projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios. Trenberth continues, “None of the models used by IPCC is initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models corresponds even remotely to the current observed climate”.
Knowing that their models are non-predictive and that despite their exhortations world temperature isn’t currently increasing, the IPCC has the effrontery to argue in 4AR that a decline in the sun’s activity and increased eruptions from volcanoes would “likely have produced cooling” of the planet were it not for offsetting human-caused warming. And this when there have been no recent volcanic eruptions of global import, and after 15 years during which the warming alarmists have consistently denied that solar activity is a significant cause of recent climate change. The self-serving nature of these arguments is breathtaking, and transparently the alarmists are now positioning themselves to explain away any continuation of the downturn in temperature that is now underway short-term.
Such stunts deny scientific method, because they fly in the face of Occam’s Razor, or the principle of parsimony. Of course volcanic dust or other aerosols might have affected the global temperature over the last few years. But only persons who are searching desperately to save a favourite hypothesis make such assertions in the absence of reliable evidence.
To avoid acknowledging the recent flat-lining of global temperature, IPCC alarmists have another favourite pea and thimble – or is it elephant and circus tent – trick, which is to assert some variation on the statement that “eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record”. Given the cyclicity of the climate record, and that the planet is probably now poised near the peak of an ascending temperature cycle, this statement is no more useful than observing that over an annual cycle the hottest days each year cluster around midsummer’s day.
Having failed to convince the world that human-caused warming of the atmosphere is dangerous, IPCC has been casting around for new causes to espouse. A Royal Society of London report in 2005 on “Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide” has proved to be good feedstock, because of its claim that the average pH of the oceans will fall by 0.5 units by 2100 if global emissions keep rising at their current rate. That this estimate is known to be exaggerated by a factor of about 3 has not prevented the IPCC and others from recently publicizing the ocean acidification legend. Clearly, they now seek to move the epicentre of the climate scare from the atmosphere, which stubbornly refuses to warm, to the ocean, whose depths doubtless still contain many scientific surprises.
The roughly 50 computer experts and scientists who form the core advisory group for the IPCC’s stance must have realized for several years now that the game was up. There is indeed copious evidence that climate is changing, as it always has; and that natural biological and physico-chemical systems – again as always – are changing in response. But as to human causation – the evidential cupboard is bare.
For the last three years, satellite-measured average global temperature has been declining. Given the occurrence also of record low winter temperatures and massive snowfalls across both hemispheres this year, IPCC members have now entered panic mode, the whites of their eyes being clearly visible as they seek to defend their now unsustainable hypothesis of dangerous, human-caused global warming.
To try to top “The Ring of the Niebelung”, composers after Wagner abandoned classical key structures and turned to the apparent aural chaos of atonalism. Similarly, to pursue the higher cause of saving the planet, the IPCC has now largely abandoned classical (empirical) science and adopted the sophistry of deterministic computer modelling. The result is neither melodious nor meaningful, let alone useful for sensible environmental planning. The time has surely arrived for the New Zealand government to commission an independent reassessment of the UN’s hysterical global warming scare.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Cover Photo: Jennifer Marohasy, “Gee Gee bridge, Australia”
Dr. Bob Carter is a Research Professor at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia, who studies ancient environments and climate, and whose website is at http://members.iinet.net.au/~glrmc/new_page_1.htm