IPCC WGI Ch10 – Projecting Alarm

In our previous post, we argued that ‘Without WGII and WGIII, there is no grounds for alarm’. Our point being that WGII and WGIII take certain premises for granted in order to be able to talk about the inevitability of Nth-order effects of climate change, especially the human cost. The nature of these presuppositions is the subject of Ben’s recent article on Spiked-Online. Briefly, confusion exists between the ideas of climate’s sensitivity to CO2 on the one hand, and society’s sensitivity to climate on the other.

That post was a response to stories being published in The Guardian – a newspaper with a clear and distinct editorial line that emphasises the catastrophic narrative and the necessity of a far-reaching political response. David Adam – one of the journalists we singled out for criticism – had written a piece about how certain climate scientists were blaming their colleagues from the softer social and biological sciences for the cock-ups recently exposed in the IPCC’s AR4. He has now dropped by to comment:

hello again guys

i think i may have worked out why we disagree on this

you say:

“Without WGII and WGIII, there is no grounds for alarm. All the promises, projections and prophecies are contained in WGII and III.”

Have you read WG1? Please take a look at chapter 10 (not the SPM). There’s no politics in there just science. If you find the non-mitigation scenario contains no grounds for alarm then as I said last year, good luck.

David

Chapter 10 of IPCC WGI is concerned with ‘Global Climate Projections’. It takes a range of climate models and looks for agreement between them, to produce a range of scenarios depicting climate changes most over the next century. It emphasises the following:

  • increases in global mean surface air temperature – “heat waves will be more intense, more frequent and longer lasting.”
  • precipitation extremes and droughts – “Globally averaged mean water vapour, evaporation and precipitation are projected to increase.”
  • snow cover and sea ice extent decrease – glaciers and ice caps lose mass owing to a dominance of summer melting over winter precipitation increases.
  • positive climate-carbon cycle feedback – reduc[ed …] efficiency of the Earth system (land and ocean) to absorb anthropogenic CO2.
  • increasing acidification of the surface ocean – “dissolution of shallow-water carbonate sediments and could affect marine calcifying organisms”
  • sea level rise – between 18cm and 59cm.
  • increases in climate system intensity – Monsoons, sea level pressure, tropical cyclones, fewer mid-latitude storms,

As we have discussed, increases in the severity and frequency of heat waves, storms, and rain or drought – if they really are what the planet faces – are easily seen as mere technical challenges. All you need to demonstrate this is to compare the outcome of such events in regions that differ in their levels of economic and industrial development. Natural phenomena are, and always have been catastrophic in regions that lack wealth, sometimes killing tens of thousands of people, and leaving a terrible legacy for generations. But the human cost of these events are mitigated almost entirely by development. Properly designed and constructed buildings withstand floods, storms and quakes; emergency services respond to people in danger; funds exist for the rehabilitation of an area; skills and resources can be utilised in reconstruction

Therefore, to make the case that there is cause for alarm on the basis of these projections is to bring presuppositions to bear on them, ie, to project the political premise of catastrophism through the scientific projection. There is no reason why any area prone to drought now or in the future cannot be provided with potable water. There is no reason why any population of an area prone to flooding cannot engineer a solution. There is no reason why regions prone to increasing frequency and intensity of storms cannot build on stronger foundations and with materials that offer better climate resistance. (See what we did there?) No reason, that is, except for the lack of wealth. Again, it is the alarmist’s presupposition which says that sufficient wealth cannot be generated. Again, this is a projection of a political premise. And again, this makes alarmism a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether or not the climate is changing, and whether or not that change has been caused by humans.

That is not to say that there is no cause for concern. Indeed, it is a cause for concern – but a cause for concern that ought to demand emphasis on development, especially in poorer parts of the world, rather than the pursuit of a myth: climatic stability, whether or not the climate is changing. But concern is not equivalent to alarm. Likewise, ocean acidification and sea level rise may be causes for concern. This concern ought to be mediated by the uncertainty about acidification – the IPCC agree that it “is not well understood” – and the observation that sea levels have been rising for longer than can be accounted for by anthropogenic global warming. Controversy has raged about the IPCC’s range of projections (18-59cm). Critics, such as James Hansen argue that this massively underestimates the likely sea level rise. This raises an interesting problem for alarmists such as Adam. Suddenly, Hansen – a favourite of the Guardian, who publish him regularly – becomes an outlier, as far away from ‘the consensus’ as any ‘denier’. The IPCC are too conservative in their estimations and projections, the argument runs. But this too only serves to undermine the ‘consensus’ argument. Why should one outlier (an unmitigated alarmist) shade our view of the consensus more than another (a mild sceptic, for instance, who would no doubt be called an ‘industry-funded climate denier’)?

Let us imagine that we face the upper range of sea level rise of 59cm. Would it be catastrophic? Still, it is only as catastrophic as our inability to cope with it. Still, it is a question that is answered by development. People living in such regions have 100 years to walk away from a rise of 69cm, to move inland, to build coastal defences, to find alternative places to produce food, and so on.

Adam reads WGI and finds cause for alarm precisely because he, and more generally, the institution he works for – and more generally still, the environmental orthodoxy in which the Guardian is embedded – is incapable of entertaining the possibility of developing our way out of the problems posed by climate change. As they see it, development is the cause of problems, not the solution. And development requires that we use more resources, not fewer. The likes of the Guardian dislike economic development as much as they dislike poverty. Which limits their options somewhat. Hence they must fall back on token efforts to reduce poverty, such as Fairtrade, which don’t threaten to make the poor any more of a burden on the world’s resources, while at the same time campaigning against climate change in the hope that a marginally different future climate will prevent poverty getting even worse. In much the same way, we find the Third World development charity Oxfam, another stalwart of modern environmentalism, increasingly campaigning against both climate change and Third World development.

Meanwhile, Adam insists that Chapter 10 is politics free. ‘There’s no politics in there just science’, he says. Is that even true? As we can see, alarmism projects itself through the seemingly scientific projection. Might this have been made possible because of the way Ch.10 itself has come into existence? For example, an interesting bias emerges when Ch.10’s authors are surveyed…

Country # researchers Secondary affiliation
USA 28 1
UK 17 3
Germany 7 1
Japan 7 0
France 6 0
Switzerland 6 0
Canada 4 0
China 3 2
Belgium 3 0
Australia 3 0
Russian Federation 2 2
Netherlands 2 0
ECMWF (LINK) 1 0
Finland 1 0
India 1 0
Monaco 1 0
Sweden 1 0
Senegal 1 0
TOTALS 94 9
Non – US/UK 49
US / UK
45

(Some contributors to ch10 are listed as belonging to 2 countries).

Climate modelling, it seems, is a very Northern Atlantic pastime (as we’ve noted before). In the case of the UK, at least, this must be owed to the two decades of emphasis that politicians have placed on climate research, starting with Thatcher in the 1980s. Also interesting is that it is the country which for a long time has been considered the enemy of action to prevent climate change – the USA – which appears to have contributed most to the development of climate models. But on an per-capita basis, no country rivals the UK.

That the UK is a world leader in a field of climate research is not necessarily a bad thing. But it does speak about the priorities and prejudices that dominate the political sphere here, which are reflected in the constitution of academic climate science, represented in Ch.10. The UK, since Thatcher, and increasingly in recent years, has sought to establish its moral authority on the world stage by embracing the climate issue, and making it the principle substance of international relations, and latterly its domestic polices: its ‘Green New Deal’, its Industrial Strategy, its ‘sustainability agenda’, its energy policy, and so on . Whether or not these politics are expressed in the science, it somehow leaves a footprint that is politically-shaped, if it isn’t politically-driven.

It is a mainstay of the argument for action on climate change that the ‘overwhelming majority’ of climate scientists are in agreement on the need for it. Yet as the table above shows, there are just 94 authors responsible for compiling the report in which, Adam argues, the case for alarm rests. ‘Ah, but…’, says the alarmist, ‘it’s the weight of evidence that counts’. Never mind that there is no evidence for something that hasn’t happened yet – the catastrophe which is the object of the alarmism – these 94 researchers do not draw from a wealth of research, but manage instead to cite themselves a whopping 317 times in a document that contains references to just 550 papers (including references to previous IPCC reports). If we excluded those papers in which the chapter’s authors were directly involved, there would be just 292. Just eight researchers manage to cite themselves no less than 110 times – over a third of the chapter’s self-citations, and a fifth of the total.

Researcher Country # Citations
Jonathan M Gregory UK 19
Gerald A Meehl USA 17
Thomas F Stocker Switzerland 13
T M L Wigley USA 13
Myles Allen UK 12
P Huybrechts Belgium 12
Sarah C B Raper UK 12
R J Stouffer USA 12
TOTAL: 110

Between the USA and UK, there are 208 self-citations from the 45 researchers. Authors from just two countries produced nearly half the entire body of ‘evidence’ for alarmism, which they ‘review’ for themselves.

The population of self-citing climate modeller-projectionists are so small in number, and so interconnected that there may be an argument that it constitutes a community with its own insular politics. Given the predominance of certain individuals from that population in the climate debate, it seems hard to argue otherwise. That’s one for sociologists to mull over, perhaps.

Please don’t think we are tossing out these numbers in order to argue that the science presented in ch.10 is rubbish. There is nothing strange about self-citations or geographical bias or the dominance of small subsets of individuals in science. We suspect you’d find similar dynamics in pretty much any other specialist field. We toss out these numbers to give an idea of the workings of a research community that has provided the raw material on which Adam bases his alarmism. The alarmist’s case does not reflect the opinion of an ‘overwhelming majority of scientists’, and there is not an ‘overwhelming’ body of evidence. There is clearly a political dimension to the constitution of both the body of WGI Ch.10 authors, and the research it draws from.

And what about Adam’s claim that the content (rather than constitution) of Ch.10 is politics-free?

It would be hard to argue that to extrapolate from A to B and onwards (ie, projection) is inherently political. But Ch.10 does more than project. For example:

Frequently Asked Question 10.1 – Are Extreme Events, Like Heat Waves, Droughts or Floods, Expected to Change as the Earth’s Climate Changes?

In a warmer future climate, there will be an increased risk of more intense, more frequent and longer-lasting heat waves. The European heat wave of 2003 is an example of the type of extreme heat event lasting from several days to over a week that is likely to become more common in a warmer future climate.

The 2003 heatwave is regularly cited as a cause of many thousands of deaths across Europe – in France, particularly – more than would otherwise have been expected. But is that the whole picture? In fact, such heatwaves are only problematic for old people, just as with cold, when there is no help available to them. Again, we have to ask, is the problem really the climate? If there was no climate to attribute such deaths to, we might instead argue that old people died in 2003 as a result of neglect.

The FAQs of Ch.10 continue:

… over NH land, an increase in the likelihood of very wet winters is projected over much of central and northern Europe due to the increase in intense precipitation during storm events, suggesting an increased chance of flooding over Europe and other mid-latitude regions due to more intense rainfall and snowfall events producing more runoff. […] Some of these changes would be extensions of trends already underway.

This is discussed later in the report:

A number of studies have noted the connection between increased rainfall intensity and an implied increase in flooding. McCabe et al. (2001) and Watterson (2005) show a projected increase in extreme rainfall intensity with the extra-tropical surface lows, particularly over NH land, with an implied increase in flooding. In a multi-model analysis of the CMIP models, Palmer and Räisänen (2002) show an increased likelihood of very wet winters over much of central and northern Europe due to an increase in intense precipitation associated with mid-latitude storms, suggesting more floods across Europe (see also Chapter 11). […] Christensen and Christensen (2003) conclude that there could be an increased risk of summer flooding in Europe.

It really should not be beyond the abilities of Europeans to cope with the ‘increased risk’ of more rain than normal. In particular, the landscape of Western Europe is perhaps the most man-made anywhere on the planet. It is densely-populated, and has a long industrial history, and an even longer history of dealing with its floods, and engineering flood prevention. Such are the skills and abilities of the population of the Dutch, for instance, that 20% of the Netherlands lies beneath sea level, much of it reclaimed from beneath the water.

Why has the IPCC cited such things, seemingly in order to make the case for alarm – if Adam is correct – when there exist the means to overcome them relatively simply? When did a bit more rain than usual become a ‘risk’ that calls for international negotiations, treaties, and supranational political institutions? More to the point, what is true of Europe’s ability to cope with increased ‘risks’ (and risk is an inherently political concept) ought to be true of less industrialised regions. There is only an ‘increased risk’ here, there, or anywhere, if we presuppose that our ability to cope has decreased. The dark implication here is that much of the world is going to be denied any opportunity to cope with any ‘increased risk’ – to develop. That reflects a lack of imagination in Western politics, as well as the assumption underlying all discussion of environmental issues that development is bad for the planet. Without development, you are left with climatic determinism; and it is only climatic determinism that gives cause for alarm.

So, there are three ways in which Ch.10 of WGI AR4 can be seen ‘politically’. There are the politics that are brought to it, eg, Adam brings his own catastrophism. Then there are the politics which shaped the make up of the chapter – such as the proximity of the UK’s establishment to eco-centric political ideas, for instance. Then there are the implicit politics of its claims, projections, and conception of ‘risk’, such as its discussions about heatwaves and floods in Europe.

No doubt, little of this will put Adam’s mind at ease. Maybe we’ve missed what he finds alarming. He is most welcome to tell us. The onus really ought to be on Adam to explain what he thinks is alarming. Ch.10 is 100 pages long, and contains more than we’ve got time for just now. Meanwhile, we won’t be holding our breath.

19 thoughts on “IPCC WGI Ch10 – Projecting Alarm”

  1. The biggest flaw in the IPCC – Agw scare is the discrepancy between the AG1 science section and the rest particularly the Summary for Policymakers. This is discussed in the blog quoted below ( climatesense-norpag,blogspot.com)

    IPCC Scientific Malfeasance.

    The entire IPCC evaluation process is flawed to the point of fraudulence. The Summary for Policymakers was finalised and published before the WG1 (Science) section. The editors of the latter were under implicit pressure and in some cases ,I believe explicit instructions to make the latter fit the former instead of the other way around as should have been the case.Where this was not done the conclusions of WG1 were simply ignored by the editors of the Summary. The most egregious case goes to the heart of and in fact destroys the entire AGW paradigm. The key part of the science is in section WG1 8.6 which deals with forcings, feedbacks and climate sensitivity. The conclusions are in section 8.6.4 which deals with the reliability of the projections.It concludes:

    “Moreover it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining the future projections,consequently a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed”

    What could be clearer. The IPCC says that we dont even know what metrics to put into the models to test their reliability.- ie we don’t know what future temperatures will be and we can’t calculate the climate sensitivity to CO2.This also begs a further question of what mere assumptions went into the “plausible” models to be tested anyway.
    Nobody ever seems to read or quote the WG1 report- certainly not the compiler of the Summary. In spite of the WG1 8.6.4. conclusion the Summary says:

    “The understanding of anthropogenic warming andcooling influences on climate has improved sincethe TAR, leading to very high confidence7 that the global average net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming, with a radiative forcing of +1.6 [+0.6 to +2.4] W m–2 ”

    This statement is fraudulent on its face when compared to 8.6.4.
    Those of us interested in objective science should try to see that the 8.6.4 conclusion gets as much exposure as possible. It deserves to be on the front page of the NY Times, The Guardian quoted by the BBC and read into the Congressional record in the USA.

  2. “Therefore, to make the case that there is cause for alarm on the basis of these projections is to bring presuppositions to bear on them, ie, to project the political premise of catastrophism through the scientific projection. There is no reason why any area prone to drought now or in the future cannot be provided with potable water. There is no reason why any population of an area prone to flooding cannot engineer a solution. There is no reason why regions prone to increasing frequency and intensity of storms cannot build on stronger foundations and with materials that offer better climate resistance. (See what we did there?) No reason, that is, except for the lack of wealth. Again, it is the alarmist’s presupposition which says that sufficient wealth cannot be generated. Again, this is a projection of a political premise. And again, this makes alarmism a self-fulfilling prophecy, whether or not the climate is changing, and whether or not that change has been caused by humans.”

    But, to do all that, we’d have to adopt the proactive approach. That we’d adopt the thought of, “Yes, there’s a problem of that, but it’s not like some innovative individual can never come up with a solution to that”. That we could possibly think there’s a solution to the problem that actually helps people move upwards and forwards. It may be that such a thought is too optimistic for the pessimistics that populate much of science. And if those solutions bring with them their own problems? Well, I’m sure we can solve those, too, when [or even before] we get to them.

    Why should we do any of that? “Why bother doing something? It’s too risky, don’t you know? It’d be better to do nothing than to do something.” [Risk aversion, apparently, is the best way forward.]

    Case in point? One commenter’s idea that using methane hydrates is a bad, bad, bad idea, because the people promoting it are drunk on the awesome of doing something because we can do it. [Or, that’s what it sounded like. I’m not sure what they were getting at, really.]

  3. Rajendra Pachauri has it right when he said recently, “Without the IPCC, who would worry about climate change?”

    Exactly.

  4. Here’s what causes me alarm, and it’s on the very first page

    A1FI: +4.0°C (2.4°C to 6.4°C)

    As you know, that’s a projected most likely average rise in global surface temperature of 4C by 2100. The A1F1 scenario seems the closest to our recent emissions trajectory, though that could change.

    You’re quite right: the impact of changes brought by a 2/3/4C average rise on people depends on their ability to adapt. But adaptation IS action. So, you seem to accept that the science shows we need to act.

    Where, how and how quickly to adapt is legitimate debate. So, to my mind, is the need to mitigate emissions

    Less legitimate is the unsupported projection of motives and opinions onto those with whom you disagree.

    David

  5. On the whole I agree with what you say and I am glad that someone is saying it. But I am not convincied about your views on Oxfam and some other NGOs:

    “In much the same way, we find the Third World development charity Oxfam, another stalwart of modern environmentalism, increasingly campaigning against both climate change and Third World development.”

    As my sister, a keen supporter and volunteer for Oxfam put it: Oxfam will jump on whatever bandwagon is going, they aren’t a climate/environmental charity and they are just using climate change to generate publicity. Their main concern is reducing poverty and if they have to put the words “global warming” into a press release to get in the news then so be it.

    NGO’s like Oxfam have their own agendas. They might be adding to the confusion of the debate a little, but on the whole they are (trying), to help the devloping world, a job which must be done.

  6. It’s good of David Adam to reply here, particularly as he is now Guardian Environment editor, whereas at the time of last year’s exchange he was Science correspondent, I believe.
    Two points:
    1) he is alarmed by a “rise in global surface temperature of 4C by 2100” because “The A1F1 scenario seems the closest to our recent emissions trajectory..”
    But if you look at the 30 year satellite data (since the CRU and GISS surface temperature data are in a total mess, as Phil Jones has just admitted) you find a linear trend of 1.4°C per century, a piece of good news which Guardian Environment has somehow failed to share with its readers. The fact that current CO2 emissions are closest to the scenario which projects (not predicts, remember) 2.4 – 6.4°C is irrelevant.

    2) You can’t mitigate emissions. You can reduce emissions, or mitigate the putative effects of emissions (by investing in flood defences, fresh water treatment plant, etc).
    If it is ever established that we are facing dangerous global warming, then the debate will be about whether to mitigate effects, or curb emissions. Stern, the IPCC 4th report, Copenhagen, government policy, and the Guardian Environment website are all about curbing emissions before the evidence is in and the debate can begin. Maybe Mr Adam could explain why.

  7. David,

    What gave you the idea we are against ‘action’? Yes, adaptation is action. And development works as adaptation. But development protects society against the climate (and every other sort of natural disaster) regardless of whether climate change is/isn’t happening or is/isn’t man-made. That is to say that development makes a strategy of ‘adaptation’ virtually redundant, because development is adaptation. Catastrophism is predicated on there being an overweening crisis which is insurmountable, on the other hand. This crisis has invariably been presented as one which ‘will be worse for the poor’, and cites changes in conditions – drought, flood, temperature, etc – that would not produce anything like the same degree of problem in the West.

    And development is worthwhile in its own right. That is why we are pro-development, not because we are alarmed about climate change or even because of what science tells us about climate change. We think climate change might well be a ‘problem’, but that problems should not be conceived of as terminal, inevitable, tragic, catastrophic, and that such problems do not produce moral or political imperatives by themselves.

    If climate change is a cause for alarm – and for rushing into efforts to slash emissions – then why do alarmists not argue the case for development with the same urgency? That they do not – only sustainable development will do (which is plainly not the same thing) – suggests that climate alarmism actually has rather little to do with what ‘the science shows’.

    When it comes to offering ‘unsupported projection of motives and opinions onto those with whom you disagree’, you are doing precisely that every time you uncritically reproduce the word ‘denier’ (E.g. E.g. E.g.) without bothering to challenge the notion, and anything that it implies.

  8. Sceptical Guardian reader: “Oxfam will jump on whatever bandwagon is going, they aren’t a climate/environmental charity and they are just using climate change to generate publicity. Their main concern is reducing poverty ”

    our argument is that by absorbing environmental language, agencies such as Oxfam fail to criticise the causes of poverty, and begin to see it instead as a ‘natural’ phenomenon. There is a further argument, which is that – as organisations – their interest in development has ceased, for the same reason that development is off the political agenda: in fact, they have no ideas about how to produce it.

    Please put any further comments under the appropriate blog post.

  9. Since Mr Adam is here, I wonder if he would be so good as to explain a few puzzling points about recent articles on Guardian Environment.
    – Comments and recommends on comments on articles on Guardian Environment Climate Change show a clear majority of readers to be sceptics. Yet articles by sceptics are rare (about one in a thousand, I estimate). Why?
    – Until the recent articles by Fred Pearce, the most influential sceptics, like Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, were never mentioned, while much prominence was given to minor figures like Plimer and David Bellamy. Why?
    – Some articles issuing from members of the Guardian Environment Network are unsigned (e.g. the current article from RealClimate, which plugs recent books by Gavin Schmidt and Mike Mann). Why is this?
    – Some members of the Guardian Environment Network, like MIT Center for Global Change Science and Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum, were welcomed on board GE-CC heralded by three articles apiece from the likes of Randersen and Monbiot. I pointed out on comments that the former was financed by Exxon, and that the latter’s much-lauded report was written by a New York PR firm. They haven’t been heard of since. Is your choice of partners in Guardian Network influenced by readers’ comments?
    – Fred Pearce’s 12 part special investigation is a monument of detailed analysis, containing much information not previously available to Guardian readers, though circulating freely on the internet for months, if not years. It is clear that Pearce could not possibly have researched and written the article in the two weeks from its inception to completion. Was it the draft of a book? Who decided to describe it as a ”scoop”?

  10. Nice analysis guys. It complements my analysis of of the preceeding chapter (no. 9) very well (see http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/McLean_IPCC_bias.pdf).

    You started to discuss the European heatwave of 2003 but you missed an important matter – an FAQ in chapter 3 of the IPCC report says that the heatwave was due to relatively stationary pressure cells drawing warm air from North Africa over south-western Europe.

    And personally I find the number of references to papers written by chapter authors to be very disturbing. One way to look at it is to ask whether relatively few other papers could be found to support the authors’ opinions. Another way is to ask if the field is so dominated by authors of this chapter then do they also act as peer reviewers for each others’ papers?

    On the whole though guys, well done!

  11. Further to my questions to David Adam about Guardian Environment coverage of climate change:
    There’s yet another interview with Phil Jones on today’s site, entitled:
    “Climatologist Phil Jones fights back”
    “Olive Heffernan traveled to the University of East Anglia in Norwich to meet with Phil Jones, the climatologist at the centre of the hacked email controversy”

    but as commenter xavierv (16 Feb 2010, 1:01PM) points out:
    “Despite the headline and Olive’s long journey to Norwich and hour spent talking with Jones there is not a single quote from him in this piece (other than one that’s already appeared elsewhere on these pages in David Adam’s piece). I now realise that you need to click through to Olive’s website … This is in effect then an advert for the ‘climate feedback’ website isn’t it? … This links through ultimately to the same Nature piece that David Adam was quoting in his article. They are in effect the same pieces”.

    As the Climate Resistance editors make very clear, they are not primarily concerned with the science, but with the politics, which takes priority over the science, in their view.
    Many of us commenters are concerned about the media, and in particular the environment pages, where environmentalism seems to take priority over the science.
    The presentation of Olive Heffeman’s article is misleading. The article contains nothing which could be described as an interview with Phil Jones. Mr Adam is editor of Guardian Environment. We know he reads this blog. This is an excellent opportunity for him to tell us what is going on; in particular, why the same information is frequently recycled in numerous articles, why an hour-long interview results in not one single informative quote, why Guardian Environment relies so frequently on anonymous articles from its “network”, (oh, and why I’ve been banned for life from commenting on Comment is Free).

  12. From the perspective of a water resources engineer, the general thrust of your article is correct. Most communities in hazardous areas already have inadequate flood protection against extreme events and many water supplies are not designed for a reasonable probability drought condition. The problems we have now can be fixed by investment in infrastructure and any future changes can be dealt with in a similar fashion.

    However, you provide an interpretation of Chapter 10 of WG1 that is more catastrophic than justified by the underlying science. The climate models are claimed to be reasonably good at concluding that globally averaged mean water vapour, evaporation and precipitation are projected to increase. But this does not provide any information on the likelihood of increases in the frequency and severity of floods and droughts. For example, it is possible hydrologically to have an increase in mean annual precipitation and a decrease in flood frequency and magnitude.

    The Chapter 10 conclusion, that extreme events, like heat waves, droughts or floods are expected to change as the Earth’s climate changes, is simply speculative. It is not supported by the model results or statistical analysis of the recorded data.

    This illlustrates a fundamental flaw in the conduct of climate science. Conclusions are drawn that do not reflect the research that was conducted. It is implied that the results of the climate models point to catastrophe but they do no such thing. All they do is project average increases in temperature and precipitation for different scenarios. The IPCC in WG2 and WG3 then pile even more catastrophic projections on the already flawed inferences drawn from the climate models.

  13. H. E. Hurst says: “you provide an interpretation of Chapter 10 of WG1 that is more catastrophic than justified by the underlying science”.

    Who does? We were making an argument against catastrophic readings of Ch.10.

  14. Editors:

    I agree with your argument against catastrophic reading of Ch. 10. You argue very well that, even with the projected changes, catastrophe does not necessarily follow and, given our ability to adapt, highly unlikely. What I was trying to point out is that the projected changes are themselves highly suspect and not well-supported by the underlying science. The studies are not conclusive and are hedged with conditional verbs. The concern about increased extreme events is highly speculative.

  15. For several months now, Guardian Environment Climate Change website has had the same photo at its masthead, depicting the rotting carcass of a ruminant. What is it supposed to represent? The death of a sacred cow? Pachauri’s last stand? Attack of the denialist weevils? No flies on Phil? Perhaps Mr Adam could tell us.

  16. You say:
    “The 2003 heatwave is regularly cited as a cause of many thousands of deaths across Europe – in France, particularly – more than would otherwise have been expected. But is that the whole picture? .. Again, we have to ask, is the problem really the climate? If there was no climate to attribute such deaths to, we might instead argue that old people died in 2003 as a result of neglect”.

    Yet the heatwave is regularly cited as an eample of deaths due to climate change, with 30,000 deaths in France alone.

    Here is what the IPCC has to say on the subject: (IPCC AR4 WGII 8.2.1)

    “A French parliamentary inquiry concluded that the health impact was ‘unforeseen’, surveillance for heatwave deaths was inadequate, and the limited public-health response was due to a lack of experts, limited strength of public-health agencies, and poor exchange of information between public organisations (Lagadec, 2004; Sénat, 2004).
    “In 2004, the French authorities implemented local and national action plans that included heat health-warning systems, health and environmental surveillance, re-evaluation of care of the elderly, and structural improvements to residential institutions (such as adding a cool room) (Laaidi et al., 2004; Michelon et al., 2005). Across Europe, many other governments (local and national) have implemented heat health-prevention plans (Michelozzi et al., 2005; WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2006).
    “Since the observed higher frequency of heatwaves is likely to have occurred due to human influence on the climate system (Hegerl et al., 2007), the excess deaths of the 2003 heatwave in Europe are likely to be linked to climate change”.

    Note that all of the references cited are about how to prevent people from dying in heat waves, and nothing to do with climate change, except the last, which is about climate change, and nothing to do with the 2003 heatwave.

    Their treatment of the 2003 heatwave is a typical piece of IPCC sleight of hand, where a social and political problem is treated as a quasi-scientific problem, the peer-reviewed social science is juxtaposed to the peer-reviewed meta-science, and we are not supposed to notice the join.

    Incidentally, the correct number of deaths in France was 14,000. In 2005, the Italian statistical office adjusted the number of deaths from 5,000 to 20,000, making Italy the worst affected country. This information is available on Wikipaedia in French and Italian, but not in English. Odd.

  17. came into this area following the Climategate and after 30 years of working in drug discovery found myself being ashamed and angry that relatively few scientists have damaged the science in general. I think that instead arguing individual points with anyone, simple statement should be made – what emails (not disputed to be originals) are telling everyone are the following facts (no misinterpretation possible) that the key scientists behind the hypothesis of man-made global warming:

    1. Are now been investigated in UK and USA for scientific fraud, deception, actively suppressing any attempts to publish alternative views, attempts to replace editors and peer reviewers of the key scientific journals who allowed alternative views/papers to be published
    2. Broke FOIA regulations, refusing to allow access to the original data and the computing codes
    3. Labelling and humiliating the scientists who were presenting the alternative views on global warming (that there is none – all part of natural cycles)
    4. Cherry-picking data that fit the model, removing ones that did not
    5. Using programming tools in the code that artificially confirmed the trends wanted and remove the trends (like medieval warm period followed by mini ice-age) not wanted
    6. Same people were authors and reviewers and the policy advisers on IPCC ( see p16 of the attached report)

    The whole science is simply so compromised and fraudulent that there is no point arguing against it any more.
    Have you asked David Alan very simple question – can he reconcile the scientific predictions of AGW with the way the science was actually done as exemplified in those emails? By the way, excellent summary (pdf) by the US Senate (minority) report at SPPI site.

    Greatly appreciate your work. Regards Dr Darko Butina

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