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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fake sceptics have nothing to latch onto given the greater certainty from IPCC

Sou | 6:02 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment

The IPCC AR5 SPM has been reported fairly well in the mainstream media with headlines like the following:

There are very few articles still attempting to deny climate science.  And those that do misrepresent it.  There are very few denier articles outside of denier blogs and opinion pieces in right wing rags.

We're heading for hot!

One denier, Michael Barrone penned The Great Global-Warming Disappointment for the National Review Online (archived here), in which he wrote at length about a cult called the Millerites, Jesus and religion.  It was difficult to work out what he was trying to say.  He quoted from other science deniers like Matt Ridley to bolster whatever argument he thought he was making, writing:
“The big news,” Ridley writes, “is that, for the first time since these reports started coming out in 1990, the new one dials back the alarm. It states that the temperature rise we can expect as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is lower than the IPCC thought in 2007.”
How Ridley came to that conclusion is perplexing.  The IPCC does not say that.  What it does do is provide a wider estimated range for climate sensitivity.  The higher estimate remains at 4.5 degrees (my bold italics):
The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multi-century time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence)16. The lower temperature limit of the assessed likely range is thus less than the 2°C in the AR4, but the upper limit is the same. This assessment reflects improved understanding, the extended temperature record in the atmosphere and ocean, and new estimates of radiative forcing.
Compare this with AR4 Summary for Policy Makers:
Progress since the TAR enables an assessment that climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range of 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. {WGI 8.6, 9.6, Box 10.2, SPM}
Scientists are conservative.  However, the fact that the IPCC has high confidence that it's "extremely unlikely" to be less than 1°C and has only medium confidence that it's "very unlikely" to be higher than 6°C  in the top end of the range is not cause for celebration.  Regardless, if we listened to the Matt Ridley's of the world we'd overshoot the doubling way before the end of this century, so we could be looking at very rapid climate change in only a few decades leading to severe climate change over coming centuries.

That's on the millenial time frame, what about the near term.  Here is what the report states:
The transient climate response quantifies the response of the climate system to an increasing radiative forcing on a decadal to century timescale. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at the time when the atmospheric CO2 concentration has doubled in a scenario of concentration increasing at 1% per year. The transient climate response is likely in the range of 1.0°C to 2.5°C (high confidence) and extremely unlikely greater than 3°C.
So this century if we continue on our current emissions path, we would be looking at a rise greater than 2.5°C, and 2°C is considered the upper safe limit!

The Daily Mail is wrong, again!

The Daily Mail lives up to its reputation as a denier tabloid with a mix of fact and fiction.  Fiona Macrae writes (archived here):
Climate change scientists warned yesterday that the Earth is set for more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels that could swamp coasts and low-lying islands as greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere.
But despite these dire predictions, they admitted global warming is likely to be more gradual than they previously thought and that world temperatures have barely changed in the past 15 years.
I looked through the report but could find no "admission" that global warming is likely to be more gradual than previously thought.  On the contrary, what I found was examples that things could be worse, for example estimates of sea level by the end of 2100 could be almost half a metre higher than "previously thought".

There is more to write about denier's thrashing about with nothing to focus their denial upon.  But I've got to go out for a bit.  Back later.  Feel free to add more silliness from deniers in the comments.


  1. From The Independent:

    "Dr Pachauri warned that unless a price could be put on carbon emissions that was high enough to force power companies and manufacturers to reduce their fossil-fuel use, there seemed to be little chance of avoiding hugely damaging temperature increases."

    Compare this to the Australian Coalition government's claim that a carbon price is ineffective (even after significant reductions were seen in the first year after its introduction). I'm listening to Greg Hunt at just this moment saying that the government will introduce a carbon purchasing fund - so basically tax-payers are expected to post-hoc pay for polluters' emissions rather than making the very same polluters pay for their own damage. This is crazy talk from a party that is supposed to be all about the market delivering signals to polluters and all about stopping socialist policies that involve tax-payers forking out welfare for those who do not require it.

    The basic problem is that the Coalition's ideological opposition to the facts that industry is screwing the planet, and that burning Australia's large deposits of coal needs to be stopped, subsumes any rational market mechanism with which they might otherwise agree. It's about a clear a case of hypocritical scientific and economic denialism as one could ever hope to see.

    When AR6 is released it will be in a climate of 2020 hindsight, with much hyperbole and finger pointing at scientists no doubt, but I suspect that the media will still be in "who, us?" mode and that conservative politicians the world over will still be blaming everyone else for the planet's ills.

    If there's no serious international summit about global warming arising from AR5 within the next six months we're FUBARed. It's that simple: a passive response from here to the next norther summer will be sufficient to set the stage for the next half a decade, and by then the window for effective mitigation without calamatous damage to the global economy will be well and truly closed. The only things that could intervene would be a serious global influenza pandemic or a Third World War.

    Vale enlightened human civilsation.

    Bernard J.

  2. See below a Reuters article about the first major freight vessel to go through the NW passage.
    In the article (and without a trace of irony) the shipping firm points out that the shorter route reduces carbon emissions. The same can't be said for the massive cargo of coal it was carrying (with 15000 tons extra thanks to the shorter route!).

    Big freighter traverses Northwest Passage for 1st time
    LONDON (Reuters) - A large freighter completed a voyage through the hazardous Arctic Northwest Passage for the first time this week, showing the potential for cutting shipment times and costs as global warming opens new routes...

  3. What we're seeing from the denial machine at the moment is the desperate search for a meme.

    They're hoping to find a 'Himalayan glacier' type errro that they can latch onto. Nothing yet, hence all the rather unfocussed, vague whining.

    Anonymous Etc.

    1. At the moment they can't decide between "all the models are wrong", which isn't getting any traction; and "they didn't specify a best estimate climate sensitivity". No denier that I've read has picked up on the transient climate response estimate - or compared it to the climate sensitivity estimate. I doubt most of the hanger on deniers know the difference. I'll be interested to read the main report this week to see if the report states how paleo data is factored in to these estimates. Although with the speed of change we're in new territory.


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