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Friday, April 19, 2013

Knock me down with a Happer! Anthony Watts Builds a Strawman

Sou | 1:44 PM Go to the first of 5 comments. Add a comment

"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet," Fatih Birol, IEA.

Anthony Watts builds another strawman

Anthony Watts of WUWT is running out of things to write about and is recycling.  He picks a quote from Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency's chief economist, about how we are heading for six degrees of warming.  (The IEA is not the only independent organisation warning about this.  Click here for a similar warning from PwC.)

A trip back in time and across the seas

Anthony had to cross the Atlantic and go back in time to get to the Reuters UK website from May 2012 for the uncorrected version of the quote.  He had to go to such lengths in order to avoid US Reuters where the quote was (sort of) corrected. (See below for different versions.)

Anthony keeps a close eye on Joe Romm and there is no chance he doesn't know what he quoted was wrong (six degrees referred to the end of this century, not 2050).

Let Anthony himself prove what I'm alleging. Anthony writes in the same article:
such as the 6c by 2050 Joe Romm claims, when parroting Fatih Birol in Reuters:
Go on, click the Romm article Anthony links to and read it for yourself! Joe Romm claims nothing of the sort.  In the linked article Romm tells you why - and shows how disinformers like Anthony operate. (How many of Anthony's readers click links? None - going by the comments. Update: - one person finally did. How about giving him a thumbs up for encouragement.  Anthony's dismissives seem to object strenuously to facts.)

Here's Eli Rabett on the denier shenanigans before Reuters made the correction.

Anthony Goes to a Non-Expert

Maths has never been Anthony's strong point, neither is climate science.  Instead of going to a climate expert, Anthony goes to a climate science denier and leader of "clueless geriatrics" William Happer, to ask him to work out some sums.

Instead of thinking about different emissions scenarios, Happer waves his magic natural logarithms and pronounces that it would take 12,800 years for the temperature to hit the plus 6 degree mark. (Yes, really! That's what he says. He fudges the climate sensitivity to the lowest he thinks he can get away with (1 degree), assumes a constant increase in CO2 of  2ppm/year, and even then messes up the calculation so badly that he decides that to get to six degrees of warming, CO2 would need to be 25,600 ppm.  I kid you not.)

Anthony writes:
The answer may surprise you
Well, it doesn't surprise me. Happer is not known for getting things right when it comes to global warming. As for Anthony - well, we know he'll publish just about any denier nonsense on his blog to fool the 8% Dismissives.

My Question: Was it worth the trip back in time and all the way to the UK, Anthony, just to prove how reckless you are with the truth (and how clueless Happer is)?

More Questions:
How much will earth warm in the future? It depends on us and which future we choose.

How long before we decide to stop pouring CO2 into the air?  This is the Critical Decade.

The Quote and MisQuotes

What Fatih Birol actually said:
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius, which would have devastating consequences for the planet,"
Michel Rose of Reuters first reported:
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,"

And later, with a correction notice, changed it to:
"When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (towards the end of this century), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,"


  1. Birol might be correct in the long run. Rose was wrong twice. There's no way we are going to get 6C by the end of the century.

    1. I certainly hope not. This wasn't a prediction, it was a warning. I'm trying to get to the relevant report but the website seems to be down. At a guess, I'd say the IEA based the caution on a continuing growth (probably an acceleration) in carbon emissions, approx half staying in the atmosphere and a climate sensitivity of 3 degrees.

      Whether or not it happens, Harper is dead wrong and Anthony is shoring up his reputation as a serial disinformer.

  2. Sorry, should have fleshed that out a bit. Assume ECS/2xCO2= 3C:

    dT = 3ln(800/280)/in(2) = 4.5C

    Plausible for century's end?

    1. BBD - Looks about right to me. Depends what we do.

      One of the reasons we probably won't get to six degrees for a while is that if/as it gets too hot society will break down or falter at the very least, which will slow down emissions. Even the increase in weather disasters and shifting climates will slow economic growth - which will also slow fossil fuel burning. Remember the GFC.

      If we don't slow down emissions, then we might have a decade or two more of relative stability before it all starts to go haywire. (My opinion only.)

  3. I think the problem for futurity may be a combination of intellectual and thermal inertias.

    Based on the simple calculation above the *equilibrium* response to 800ppmv CO2 would be about 4.5C, so the *transient* response might be ~3C or a little higher. This could be a plausible scenario for the close of the century based on current emissions trajectories.

    But as Verner Suomi observed many decades ago:

    the ocean, the great and ponderous flywheel of the global climate system, may be expected to slow the course of observable climatic change. A wait-and-see policy may mean waiting until it is too late.

    And indeed it might be, because at ~3C the warming is expected to have begun to engage strongly with the carbon cycle. Permafrost melt, plant metabolism, ocean absorption: more GHGs whether we stop emitting or not. More warming whether we stop emitting or not. And remember that at 800ppmv CO2 we are *committed* to 4.5C anyway *plus* the carbon cycle feedbacks...

    Six degrees? Who knows and who wants to find out empirically? Nobody who understands the problem, that's for sure. So it's reasonable to argue that the deniers simply do not understand the problem.

    Yes, Teh Stupid can kill.


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