The IPCC’s Dilemma In 1 Chart

18 Sep

Cross-posted from the Financial Post (my bold added):

In the next five years, the global warming paradigm may fall apart if the models prove worthless

There has been a lot of talk lately about the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, and whether it will take into account the lack of warming since the 1990s. Everything you need to know about the dilemma the IPCC faces is summed up in one remarkable graph.

The above graphic is Figure 1.4 from Chapter 1 of a draft of the Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The initials at the top represent the First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990, the Second (SAR) in 1995. Shaded banks show range of predictions from each of the four climate models used for all four reports since 1990. That last report, AR4, was issued in 2007. Model runs after 1992 were tuned to track temporary cooling due to the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in The Philippines. The black squares, show with uncertainty bars, measure the observed average surface temperatures over the same interval. The range of model runs is syndicated by the vertical bars. The light grey area above and below is not part of the model prediction range. The final version of the new IPCC report, AR5, will be issued later this month.

The above graphic is Figure 1.4 from Chapter 1 of a draft of the Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The initials at the top represent the First Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990, the Second (SAR) in 1995. Shaded banks show range of predictions from each of the four climate models used for all four reports since 1990. That last report, AR4, was issued in 2007. Model runs after 1992 were tuned to track temporary cooling due to the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption in The Philippines. The black squares, show with uncertainty bars, measure the observed average surface temperatures over the same interval. The range of model runs is syndicated by the vertical bars. The light grey area above and below is not part of the model prediction range. The final version of the new IPCC report, AR5, will be issued later this month.

The figure nearby is from the draft version that underwent expert review last winter. It compares climate model simulations of the global average temperature to observations over the post-1990 interval. During this time atmospheric carbon dioxide rose by 12%, from 355 parts per million (ppm) to 396 ppm. The IPCC graph shows that climate models predicted temperatures should have responded by rising somewhere between about 0.2 and 0.9 degrees C over the same period. But the actual temperature change was only about 0.1 degrees, and was within the margin of error around zero. In other words, models significantly over-predicted the warming effect of CO2 emissions for the past 22 years.

Chapter 9 of the IPCC draft also shows that overestimation of warming was observed on even longer time scales in data collected by weather satellites and weather balloons over the tropics. Because of its dominant role in planetary energy and precipitation patterns, models have to get the tropical region right if they are credibly to simulate the global climate system. Based on all climate models used by the IPCC, this region of the atmosphere (specifically the tropical mid-troposphere) should exhibit the most rapid greenhouse warming anywhere. Yet most data sets show virtually no temperature change for over 30 years.

The IPCC’s view of the science, consistently held since the 1990s, is that CO2 is the key driver of modern climate change, and that natural variability is too small to count in comparison. This is the “mainstream” view of climate science, and it is what is programmed into all modern climate models. Outputs from the models, in turn, have driven the extraordinarily costly global climate agenda of recent decades. But it is now becoming clear that the models have sharply over predicted warming, and therein lies a problem.

As the gap between models and reality has grown wider, so has the number of mainstream scientists gingerly raising the possibility that climate models may soon need a bit of a re-think. A recent study by some well-known German climate modelers put the probability that models can currently be reconciled with observations at less than 2%, and they said that if we see another five years without a large warming, the probability will drop to zero.

“The IPCC must take everybody for fools”

What’s more, the U.K.’s main climate modeling lab just this summer revised its long-term weather forecasts to show it now expects there to be no warming for at least another five years. Ironically, if its model is right, it will have proven itself and all others like it to be fundamentally wrong.

To those of us who have been following the climate debate for decades, the next few years will be electrifying. There is a high probability we will witness the crackup of one of the most influential scientific paradigms of the 20th century, and the implications for policy and global politics could be staggering.

It is the job of the giant UN IPCC panel to inform world leaders of up-to-the-minute developments in the field. With its report due out within days, you would think it would be jumping at the chance to report on these amazing developments, wouldn’t you? Well, guess again.

Judging by the drafts circulated this year, it is in full denial mode. Its own figure reveals a discrepancy between models and observations, yet its discussion says something entirely different. On page 9 of Chapter 1 it explains where the numbers come from, it talks about the various challenges faced by models, and then it sums up the graph as follows: “In summary, the globally-averaged surface temperatures are well within the uncertainty range of all previous IPCC projections, and generally are in the middle of the scenario ranges.” Later, in Chapter 9, it states with “very high confidence” that models can correctly simulate global surface temperature trends.

The IPCC must take everybody for fools. Its own graph shows that observed temperatures are not within the uncertainty range of projections; they have fallen below the bottom of the entire span. Nor do models simulate surface warming trends accurately; instead they grossly exaggerate them. (Nor do they match them on regional scales, where the fit is typically no better than random numbers.)

“This is no time for costly and permanent climate policy commitments”

In the section of the report where it discusses the model-observation mismatch in the tropics, it admits (with “high confidence”) that models overestimate warming in the tropics. Then it says with a shrug that the cause of this bias is “elusive” and promptly drops the subject. What about the implications of this bias? The IPCC not only falls conspicuously silent on that point, it goes on to conclude, despite all evidence to the contrary, that it has “very high confidence” that climate models correctly represent the atmospheric effects of changing CO2 levels.

There are five key points to take away from this situation.

First, something big is about to happen. Models predict one thing and the data show another. The various attempts in recent years to patch over the difference are disintegrating. Over the next few years, either there is going to be a sudden, rapid warming that shoots temperatures up to where the models say they should be, or the mainstream climate modeling paradigm is going to fall apart.

Second, since we are on the verge of seeing the emergence of data that could rock the foundations of mainstream climatology, this is obviously no time for entering into costly and permanent climate policy commitments based on failed model forecasts. The real message of the science is: Hold on a bit longer, information is coming soon that could radically change our understanding of this issue.

Third, what is commonly called the “mainstream” view of climate science is contained in the spread of results from computer models. What is commonly dismissed as the “skeptical” or “denier” view coincides with the real-world observations. Now you know how to interpret those terms when you hear them.

Fourth, we often hear (from no less an authority than Obama himself, among many others) slogans to the effect that 97% of climate experts, 97% of published climate science papers, and all the world’s leading scientific societies agree with the mainstream science as encoded in climate models. But the models don’t match reality. The climate science community has picked a terrible time to brag about the uniformity of groupthink in its ranks.

Finally, the IPCC has proven, yet again, that it is incapable of being objective. Canadian journalist Donna LaFramboise has meticulously documented the extent to which the IPCC has been colonized by environmental activists over the years, and we now see the result. As the model-versus-reality discrepancy plays out, the last place you will learn about it will be in IPCC reports.

8 Responses to “The IPCC’s Dilemma In 1 Chart”

  1. Leigh Evans September 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Barnaby, again you repeat the lie that is 97% of scientists support the global warming fraud.
    You do that I think not because of supporting a lie but you obviously do not know how that figure was arrived at.
    You would do well to acquaint yourself with how it was done.
    It really won’t surprise you at yet another lie that is continually thrown in face of those who question the fraud was “manufactured” to fit.

    • The Blissful Ignoramus September 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

      This blog is not written or endorsed by, or in any way connected to Barnaby Joyce.

      Please re-read the above article, far more carefully. It is a cross-post of an article published at the Financial Post. There is no commentary added to the article by this blogger, or anyone else. The views expressed are those of the original author (see the Financial Post). You should not assume that those views are held by anyone else, other than the original author.

  2. Kevin Moore September 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    I posted this at and got 4 thumbs down, and nothing up. It confirms an opinion I’ve had for a while.

    “The Financialisation of Nature”

    “The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.”

    ― Michael Parenti, Against Empire

    • The Blissful Ignoramus September 19, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      Ala, I’m not surprised. It would have received thumbs down over there because, while denouncing the “financialisation” aspect, it nonetheless supports the view that CO2 is a pollutant and that “something must be done”. So many folks cannot comprehend nuance.

      • mick September 19, 2013 at 9:18 am #

        I note that you did not publish my last 2 posts. Whilst we hold opposing positions I at the very least have an open mind. Sadly you and the other disciples on this post do not. As such you operate a propaganda site. I take your IPPC article with a grain of sale but given that Murdoch has his fingerprints on it one can hardly admit it into the hall of ‘evidence’. I supplied a response to the article; another inconvenient one for you I dare say.

        The truth will emerge in time. It will be an inconvenient truth for you. If I am wrong then it will be humble pie for me. But the common sense I was born with tells me that the probabilities are with me.


        • The Blissful Ignoramus September 19, 2013 at 11:54 am #

          The comments you refer to were not published because they were in flagrant breach of the conditions given to you previously, in particular vis-a-vis this topic.

          “I at the very least have an open mind”

          Your comments steadfastly refuse to focus on the scientific evidence, and instead, focus on ad hominem (ie, “playing the man, not the ball”) attack of those presenting a view you disagree with, and/or, of the publications in which their views appear.

          It is clear — in particular from your perjorative labelling of others and their views — that you have perhaps the least open mind on this topic of anyone commenting at this blog.

          This is why your comments on this topic will continue to be disapproved. If you wish to confirm your belief system, by falsely interpreting that as being evidence of “propaganda” or closed mind, rather than what it is — my choice as blog author to delete perjorative and/or inflammatory comments that add nothing except ad hominem head-butting — then so be it.

          If you want to have comments on this topic published, drop the personal attacks, the ad hominem labelling, and the ‘Straw Man’ + ‘red herring’ fallacies. Play the ball. Not the man.

          If you can not do that, don’t bother trying to comment.

          • mick September 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

            Please do not plagiarise. This is unimaginative.

            >>TBI: Please learn what the word “plagiarise” means, before falsely accusing others of doing it.

            Whilst I normally do not “play the man” …

            >>TBI: Thank you for admitting that you have been playing the man. Now, STOP doing it.

            …I grow tired of reading propaganda driven by a steadfast refusal to see changes on the planet and writing any which do appear off as “natural variation”.

            >>TBI: Straw Man fallacy. Please learn what it means.

            You even now have decided that any amount of CO2 is not a bad thing.

            >>TBI: Straw Man fallacy. Please learn what it means.

            In a manner similar to the cigarette industry you grasp at any straw to substantiate your beliefs…

            >>TBI: Straw Man fallacy. Please learn what it means.

            …whilst media reports of “warmest summer ever” and “three of the hottest summers on record have occurred in the past 10 years” are no more than an inconvenient fact.

            >>TBI: Straw Man fallacy. Please learn what it means.

            I offered Kevin a wager of a free lunch. I am happy to extend this to you. I even intentionally drew the short straw and nominated a 5 year period which in planetary time may not work as changes normally work in over a much longer period, excluding events like asteroid strikes and the like. So having given Kevin (and now you) great odds I wonder why the offer is not taken up. Sounds fair to me. A good opportunity for me to get egg on MY FACE. But what it says is that those who stick to the script are perhaps not all that sure deep down.

            >>TBI: This is childish, illogical, and irrelevant. A nonsense. It adds nothing to the facts of the topic. The truth of a matter is nothing to do with “confidence”, and so is completely unaffected by people betting on it. I also consider it belligerent and obnoxious, to be challenging people to “bet” on future climate outcomes. From your past comments it is perfectly clear that this “bet” of yours is a means of irrationally convincing yourself that you “must” be right when others refuse to play what is in fact a childish, irrelevant game. Grow up.

            This issue is still well in play.

            >>TBI: Your persistent insulting of any who hold a different view to you on the topic strongly suggests that, for you, the issue is NOT “still well in play”. On the contrary, it suggests a very strong emotional attachment to your own view, and thus, a profound discomfort at having the “truth” of that view threatened.

            I may be wrong. But at least I will own up (hopefully before I die). Are you prepared to do the same? And more importantly what event on the planet will it take before you disguard evidence like Mortford and Murdoch publications, which are not worth the paper they are written on?

            >>TBI: Red herring fallacy. Please learn what it means. It is completely irrelevant to the truth of a matter where a claim is published. Either the facts claimed to be true are true, or, they are not true. Who published it is neither here nor there.

            I sent you are link from Tristan Ellis who comments on this issue as a passion more than a job. Tristan debunked your position and the article. So why are you not prepared to take a wait and see position rather than the normal “I told you so” position?

            >>TBI: Straw Man fallacy. Please learn what it means. By the way, this comment is a classic illustration of why I have little time for your frantic, petulant carryings-on on this topic. It is I, and (I suspect) nearly all those whom you perjoratively label as “denialists” etc, who ARE taking a “wait and see position”! Whereas it is the true believers, those who have bought into the “planet is warming dangerously, it’s definitely not normal, and it’s all man’s fault” meme hook line and sinker, who insist that we cannot “wait and see”, that we must “act now”, etc etc etc. Perhaps you might also learn what onus probandi means. Then hopefully you might understand that the “burden of proof” is on those making the claim (ie, that the globe is warming dangerously/abnormally, and, that man’s activities are the chief cause of it). The news stories I have republished here clearly suggest that those making the claim — indeed, at the supposed highest echelons, the IPCC — are discovering to their chagrin that, with the passing of time, the scientific evidence is proving to be nowhere near as certain as their fundamental hypothesis, computer modelling, and previous ‘long bow’ conclusions have claimed.

            As I said in one response: have a real good look around the planet. Things are changing. They are not “natural variation”. They are changes which have never existed.

            >>TBI: That is your view. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the scientific evidence says otherwise; hence, the news stories re the latest IPCC report. If you choose to believe a different view/interpretation of the science, fine. That is your choice. But do not visit here and throw insults and obnoxious irrelevant challenges at those who hold a different view of the science.

            They are changes which are producing change which is not on the normal long period time scale. Ignore them if you choose but those that do live in a fool’s paradise. You only have to look to the last 100 years and the waves which sweep over us are beyond the ability of deniers to hold back. You will not hold this one back.

            >>TBI: Ad hominem fallacy. Please learn what it means.

            The question is: ARE WE TO PUT THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR ON THE THRONE ABOVE ALL ELSE AND RELEGATE FUTURE GENERATIONS TO A SQUALID AND INTOLERABLE EXISTENCE? This is the great moral dilemma which those with a conscience need to address. So where do you stand? Head in the sand and hoping like hell that it all goes away I perceive.

            >>TBI: Begging the question and Straw Man fallacies. Please learn what they mean.

            By all mean keep the issue going. But please stop the one sided propaganda campaign which shows all the signs of the recent election and does not become decent people of any description.

            >>TBI: Straw Man and ad hominem fallacies. Please learn what they mean.


  3. Kevin Moore September 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm #
    The satellite data shows it was not a record
    There are thousands of measurements coming in from satellites that criss cross the nation day and night covering every corner of the land. This data came out within a few days of the propaganda pieces published all over the country, but the “scientists” at The University of Melbourne couldn’t wait, indeed, they were in such a rush you’d think there was an election on, and dare I say, that getting out an inaccurate message before the vote, was more important than waiting a few days to get the science right?
    The satellite measured TLT (meaning Tropospheric Lower Temperature) more accurately shows what the bulk atmosphere above the Australian land-mass is doing – which is the quantity that is most directly related to greenhouse gas impacts. Indeed the models tell us that the rate of warming should be larger in the mid to upper troposphere than at the surface. In other words, if CO2 caused the warming, it would turn up in these satellite records before we saw it in the surface charts.
    Some of the propaganda
    “Australia’s warmest 12-month period on record” [BOM]

    “Warm winter caps nation’s hottest year“
    The Conversation proves its worth as a government funded outlet: happy to print any old science as long as it’s bad enough.
    The Conversation includes this gem of reasoning from David Karoly:
    “However, attributing a single event or a record to human activities isn’t easy. But last year Hurricane Sandy put the spotlight on climate change and extreme weather.”
    In other words, long trends don’t matter, ignore decadal averages, the current drought in hurricanes, forget global compilations of energy that show that storms are not getting worse, throw all your history out the window. If there is ever a bad storm anywhere in the world, it is our fault. Straight from the playbook of the witchdoctors of neolithic times. Send Karoly some conch shells.

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