Monday, July 28, 2014

Curious Rabett

The British House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee has issued its report on the AR5 WG I.  While the report strongly supports the IPCC (see below), there is opposition within the Commons and the Murdochsphere.  An important issue is how does one know the opposition is blowing smoke.  There are tells. 

In commenting on climate change, Eli has always been of the opinion that the thin bench is the weakness of denialism.  In this, it was interesting to note that the opponents of the IPCC on the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee invited Richard Lindzen and Nick Lewis accompanied by one Donna Laframboise to give oral testimony.  Bunnies can go back and forth about Lindzen and Lewis.  Lindzen has been wrong about a lot of things.  Lewis has a hammer.  Laframboise, well, it is difficult to say what she is, at least politely, and she was a challenge to the Committee.  A bit of the oral testimony shows that they knew they were being insulted  and oh yes, Richard Lindzen was maybe not held too seriously either.

Q75 John Robertson: I remember a movie that I think was called The Core, and the scientist who was a bit of a pain in the backside made a statement that “science is a best guess”. Nobody knows exactly what it is, but it is a best guess. We have to go on the best guess. You need to help us.

Professor Lindzen: Yes, but the question is, how do you decide on policy? In other words, it is kind of a point of amusement. Somebody says, “There is a problem”, and the politician says, “We have to do something”.

John Robertson: There lies your problem. Your problem is the science. Our problem is the policy. I do not get involved in the science and perhaps probably you should not get involved in the politics.

Donna Laframboise: If I might make a comment. I am a journalist with no scientific background whatsoever and I had left journalism for seven years. I got laid off at the National Post with 130 other people. I decided to do something else with my life. Then I started doing some independent research on climate change and decided I should write a book because I realised that there was a wide diversity of scientific opinion about climate change, but that diversity was not being reflected in the news reports that I was reading. I thought I was writing a book about 10 reasons to be calm, cool and collected about climate change because there are diverse points of view. Instead, I ended up writing an expose of the IPCC, quite unexpectedly, because the more I did some basic fact-checking about what we were told about how the IPCC works as an organisation, the more concerned I got.

I compare it to a criminal trial. If we find out that there was bias among the jurors, then we have to throw out the verdict and start again. What I see is there are so many questions and biases and potential problems with the IPCC process that I do not think it is trustworthy. I do not think any reasonable person can look at the IPCC in depth and say, “We can trust this decision”. It is unfortunate. I wish we could because it would be much clearer what we should do.

John Robertson: With the best will in the world, you are one person and a lot of other people would disagree with you and you have had your chance to sell your book.
One must thank the members of the committee in denial, Graham Stringer and Peter Lilley, for inviting Ms. Laframboise.  It would be hard to think of a clearer marker that denial is not to be taken seriously.  The fact that she was invited shows that there is no there there.

The Committee report issued just now is quite strong:
80. The conclusions of this inquiry are very clear: the WGI contribution to AR5 is the best available summary of the prevailing scientific opinion on climate change currently available to policy-makers. Its conclusions are derived with a high confidence from areas of well understood science. Uncertainty remains in a small number of important areas but these are diminishing. It is important to consider all lines of evidence together when assessing climate change rather than focusing on particular aspects of the report. The overall thrust and conclusions of the report are widely supported in the scientific community and summaries are presented in a way that is persuasive to the lay reader.
81. The size and scale of the report reflects the huge effort by the international climate science community, who volunteer their time and expertise. We can now be more confident than ever that human activity is the dominant cause of the warming witnessed in the latter half of the 20th Century. The most significant human impact is through the release of carbon dioxide, which is predicted to continue to cause warming in the coming decades and centuries.
On the issue of climate sensitivity the report states that
The WGI contribution to AR5 has considered the full range of both Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity and Transient Climate Response and given the best assessment possible within the constraints of the evidence available at the time. It does not appear that a consistent pattern for higher or lower sensitivities than that stated in the WGI contribution to AR5 has emerged since its publication. (Paragraph 48)
and on the global temperature anomaly
Periods of hiatus are consistent with earlier IPCC assessments that non-linear warming of the climate is to be expected and that forced climate changes always take place against a background of natural variability. The current period of hiatus does not undermine the core conclusions of the WGI contribution to AR5 when put in the context of the overall, long-term global energy budget. Despite the hiatus, the first decade of the 2000s was the warmest in the instrumental record and overall warming is expected to continue in the coming decades. (Paragraph 53)
and on models
The models used in the IPCC’s Assessment Reports have a successful history of simulating past climate and their future projection of substantial warming over the next century in all but the most aggressive mitigation scenarios is well founded and overwhelmingly clear. (Paragraph 64) 



32 comments:

john Mruzik said...

Good to see sanity for a change.

John Mashey said...

Ahh, Graham Stringer.
he was the one who brought Murry Salby to Parliament last Fall, apparently not having noticed various credibility issues.

Terri Jackson's Scientific Blog (sic) describes this and one can see Springer start the meeting here.

Anonymous said...

John Mruzik

I second that !

Dave

Fernando Leanme said...

One of these days I´ll have to buy me a new suit and get me an invitation to visit those British MP´s, because London sure has excellent Indian cuisine I can´t find here in Spain.

My comments about the IPCC report would be quite unexpected, because I like to focus on their weak spots: the representative concentration pathways (known short hand as RCPs).

I focused on on their RCP8.5, because the publicity efforts mounted on top of the IPCC reports like to call the extreme forcing cases "business as usual". I happen to think the RCP8.5 case can´t be acvhieved at all, and it doesn´t represent a "business as usual" case at all.

As far as I can see the current "imbalance" is about 0.5-0.6 watts per meter squared. And I don´t see a rational way we can get to 8.5 watts per meter squared by 2100.

And Then There's Physics said...

Fernando Leanme,
I think you're slightly confused. You've compared the energy imbalance today (0.5 - 0.6 W/m^2) with the change in radiative forcing due to an RCP8.5 emissions pathway (which would - by definition - be 8.5 W/m^2 in 2100). The 8.5 W/m^2 is the change in radiative forcing due to anthropogenic emissions relative to 1750. Today, the change in radiative forcing due to anthropogenic emissions is estimated to be about 2.2 W/m^2 with an uncertainty of about 1 W/m^2 (most of which is due to our aerosol emissions). So, even today the anthropogenic radiative forcing (relative to 1750) could be as high as 3 W/m^2. Getting to 8.5 W/m^2 is not as hard as you suggest and - as I understand it - we certainly have enough coal to emit enough that such a change in radiative forcing could be achieved.

I will add, that at no point would we expect the planetary energy imbalance to exceed about 1 W/m^2. The rising temperature produces a negative feedback that acts to drive the system back towards energy balance. If the temperatures didn't rise, then we could have a very large energy imbalance if we continued along an RCP8.5 emission pathway, but that seems highly unlikely and is one reason why a long-term pause, or global cooling, is physically implausible.

Fernando Leanme said...

Thanks, the use of the term "change in radiative forcing VERSUS 1750" for RCP 8.5 escaped me.

However, the case I make stands. Let´s say today´s anthropogenic forcing is the BASE value (I don´t worry about the actual value, whatever it is is irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion).

Key on the imbalance, 0.5 to 0.6 w/m2. THIS FIGURE ISNT EASILY DISPUTABLE.

Now let´s trust the models, to INCREASE radiative forcing by 6.3 w/m2 versus TODAY, which in turn drives temperatures Y value and causes a 1 w/m2 imbalance in 2100 (I assume the imbalance persists because the system won´t be in equilibrium for several hundred years).

To achieve the TARGET or the OBJECTIVE we have to follow an emissions pathway. What I do is look at the reasonableness of the emissions pathway. I don´t bother to dispute the models, I know they need to be improved, but that´s neither here nor there for my purposes.

The problems I see arise because the underlying asumptions built into the integrated model used to deliver the emissions used to INCREASE the anthropogenic forcing by 6.3 watts/m2 versus today´s value are non sense.

What triggered by initial doubts about this particular issue was the curves they used for some parameters I´m extremely familiar with. For example, their methane emissions values are tricked. The previous report (AR4) and the associated model results had a really dumb methane projection. This is one reason why those models over predicted temperatures, but this issue doesn´t seem to be discussed much, possibly because modelers don´t really focus on the GHG pathways or because the really slick ones realize the CH4 concentration is a really good way to trick the model.

There are additional flaws, for example their oil production rates are irrational. We don´t have that much oil to burn even if we wanted to. There are other inconsistencies in the overall dynamic models, for example, they assume GDP growth continues at a really fast pace, coupled to a booming world population. How can they couple intense global warming, fast paced sea level rise, droughts and the associated conflicts with a booming GDP and population?

And this is the point I do want to make to the British MPs. There´s no such thing as business as usual. And there´s no need for me to debate the models to show them the IPCC "work flow" is flawed.

I also realize we can have a debate over the "work flow" process used in creating an Integrated Assessment Model.

My concern is that such a debate doesn´t even exist. And because the prevailing tendency is to take the IPCC as the Masters of the Universe, I don´t see much discussion (which is badly needed) regarding the appropriate methods they should use to create the integrated models.

And Then There's Physics said...

Fernando,

Now let´s trust the models, to INCREASE radiative forcing by 6.3 w/m2 versus TODAY, which in turn drives temperatures Y value and causes a 1 w/m2 imbalance in 2100 (I assume the imbalance persists because the system won´t be in equilibrium for several hundred years).


I don't think you quite understood what I meant. When I said that the energy imbalance can't get much bigger than 1 W/m^2, I meant that the temperatures will typically rise to prevent that.


The problems I see arise because the underlying asumptions built into the integrated model used to deliver the emissions used to INCREASE the anthropogenic forcing by 6.3 watts/m2 versus today´s value are non sense.

To increase anthropogenic forcings by 6.3 W/m^2 relative to today would require increase atmospheric CO2 equivalent concentrations from 400ppm to 1300 ppm. It does seem like a lot, but it is intended to be an extreme scenario. Currently CO2 emissions are increasing at 2.2% per year and the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration is something like 2.2 ppm per year. Projecting this forward (and this is just illustrative, not a prediction) gives an atmospheric concentration of around 950 ppm in 2100.


My concern is that such a debate doesn´t even exist. And because the prevailing tendency is to take the IPCC as the Masters of the Universe, I don´t see much discussion (which is badly needed) regarding the appropriate methods they should use to create the integrated models.

If you were actually interested in a debate, it might help if you weren't so absolutely sure about your own views on the topic, and also didn't make it seem like it's others who are close-minded and don't consider alternative views. Just a thought, mind you.

My personal views is that RCP8.5 is probably unlikely; not impossible though. One issue, though, is that this doesn't mean that we'll follow some pathway that won't do significant damage. As it is, there is already a good chance that we're already in a position where we can't avoid some amount of climate disruption (there's a not-insignificant chance - for example - that there is little we can do to avoid 2 degrees of warming relative to pre-industrial times).

Also, if the more extreme emission pathways are unlikely because we don't actually have the fossil fuel reserves to follow those pathways (or at least, they aren't easily accessible) why is there such an objection to clean alternatives? If we are expecting to have a global economy 10 times bigger in 2100 than today, surely we will need to be generating significantly more energy in 2100 than today (not 10 times as much, but maybe 3-4 times as much). If it can't be fossil fuel-based, what will it be?

Anonymous said...

Fernando is correct to doubt the high end projections of forcing.

A primary reason is that population growth was always too high in the IPCC scenarios compared with what we observe.

It's true that much of the world has an improved standard of living ( thankfully ), but it also appears as if there will be fewer homo sapiens in 2100 than today. And given that many of the developed countries have falling per capita CO2 emissions, the real 'Business as Usual' appears to be at the low end.

Anonymous said...

Fernando: Have you actually read any of the papers by the energy economics modelers who create the SSP scenarios? Say, GCAM or IMAGE or AIM or MESSAGE? If you want a good, publicly available report, I'd suggest CCSP 2.1a on "Scenarios of Greenhouse Gas Emissions" - its from 2007, so a bit dated, but lets you see what different models project about oil, natural gas, and coal consumption, and discusses their projections about tar sands, oil shale, etc.

I have to say it doesn't give much confidence in your critiques when your first comment was so off-base about the meaning of something as basic as 8.5 W/m2...

-MMM

Fernando Leanme said...

ATTP: I think I understand the basic physics (I´m an engineer). So let´s say we agree: when something gets hotter it emits more radiation, unless the radiation is "blocked" between the object and whatever is available to absorb the radiation the object wants to get rid of.

I wish to return back to the original point. Right now the surplus is about 0.5 watts per meter squared, and as the earth warms it will have a 1 watts per meter squared surplus. The surplus arises because the rise in temperature can´t catch up with the surplus.

Now that we got the basics over with...I can´t imagine a means for the planet to achieve the 6.3 watts per meter squared anthropogenic forcing, which leads to the 1 watt per meter surplus, and the associated high temperatures by 2100.

So as you can see, this isn´t really a debate about physics. I don´t want to debate the models, I don´t care to debate the paleoclimate, and I don´t debate the properties of water.

But as Anonymous wrote, some of us do see a problem in the way those pathways were assembled.

Anonymous: I read a really long paper, written by (I believe) a Dutch team leader describing the integrated model architecture. As it turns out, I was running dynamics models back in the 1990´s, so I´m familiar with the basic structure. And if I may add, once we do get into the innner workings, those of us who have structured the input data and built those darned things realize they have a ton of tweaks and spooky knobs.

But I don´t really want to get into that subject either. I´m more focused on the overall set of asumptions. Their weaknesses can be identified in 30 minutes reading the IPCC report´s section describing the pathways. And there are issues involving the way those models are delivered (what I call the "work flows" which I don´t think the IPCC members know anything about (or if they do they didn´t seem to worry much about it).

So, I see this as an fairly fruitless effort by the IPCC, running a ton of models a gazillion times with a set of cases or pathways they can´t really understand or justify.

Like I wrote earlier, I don´t think business as usual ever applies, and it definitely doesn´t now.

Anonymous said...

The latest value: 7,003,772 km2 (July 28, 2014) cold are driving south

And Then There's metaPhysics said...

Fernando....is a song by ???

Now let´s trust the models,what models? i just see 12 different ones
to INCREASE radiative....if you have a gama ray burst ... forcing by 6.3 w/m2 why? why 6,3 or 6,28545.....
versus TODAY, which in turn drives temperatures Y value and causes a 1 w/m2 imbalance in 2100
doubtfull....you have some 900 million cubic miles of water below 4ºc ,,,,

(I assume the imbalance persists because the system won´t be in equilibrium for several hundred years, and you assume that because the last glaciation endure....????? or because the Medieval warming is about some

or because the little ice age is...


you don't think....
i quite understood what you meant. When I said that the energy imbalance can't get much bigger than 1 W/m^2, why?

put some numbers 'kay

And Then There's Physics said...

Fernando,
Your comment makes me think that you don't actually understand the basic physics. You do realise that if our emissions increase atmosphere CO2e concentrations to about 1300 ppm by 2100, then the anthropogenic radiative forcing - relative to today - will be 6.3 W/m^2 in 2100. Precisely what the energy imbalance will be at the time is less clear, but it is unlikely to be much greater than 1 W/m^2 because if it were, it would probably lead to faster warming and a reduction in the planetary energy imbalance.

As far as I'm concerned, if you don't like the term Business As Usual, then don't use it. Making a big deal out of some people referring to RCP8.5 as Business as Usual just seems like an attempt to deflect from the real issue. Climate models that use RCP8.5 simply present the range of future warming if we follow an emissions pathway that leads to a change in radiative forcing (relative to 1750) that is 8.5W/m^2 in 2100.

As I've already mentioned there are 4 main emissions pathways that climate models use. One (RCP2.6) that is probably unachievable; one (RCP8.5) that is probably unlikely given that it would require increasing use of fossil fuels; and two inbetween (RCP4.5 and RCP6.5). Just because the most extreme scenario is unlikely doesn't mean that what is presented doesn't illustrate the range of future warming.

And Then There's Physics said...

Fernando,
I'll add that arrogantly saying things like


which I don´t think the IPCC members know anything about

So, I see this as an fairly fruitless effort by the IPCC, running a ton of models a gazillion times with a set of cases or pathways they can´t really understand or justify.


doesn't instil much confidence that you actually understand much of what you're talking about (especially after earlier confusing radiative forcings and planetary energy imbalances).

Fernando Leanme said...

As I wrote, I don´t think the IPCC panel members know much about the creation of an integrated model. Why? Because such models are quite complex and involve a lot of topics other than climatology. And when I see the basic flaws or contradictions in the way RCP8.5 in particular was prepared it tells me they didn´t have the know how to figure out their effort had a fundamental flaw.

I can see the defensiveness arising when one criticizes the fundamental basis used to create those concentration pathways. But thus far I don´t see anybody addressing this basic problem. In other words, does anybody really think we will have a booming GDP, booming population and huge increases in fossil fuel consumption coupled to the rising temperatures and rising sea levels expected if RCP8.5 does happen? Anyone? Anyone?

And Then There's Physics said...

Fernando,
I don´t think the IPCC panel members know much about the creation of an integrated model. Why? Because such models are quite complex and involve a lot of topics other than climatology.
You do realise that there are IPCC Working Groups made up of people who specialise in developing IAMS?

In other words, does anybody really think we will have a booming GDP, booming population and huge increases in fossil fuel consumption coupled to the rising temperatures and rising sea levels expected if RCP8.5 does happen? Anyone? Anyone?
I don't really get what you're suggesting here. Global Climate Models that use the RCP8.5 pathway tell us something of what might happen to our climate if we were to follow such a pathway. They - of course - do not include the economic impact of following such a pathway, because that is not what they're designed to do. That's what IAMs attempt to do.

What you seem to be suggesting is that the climate disruption resulting from such a pathway would do so much damage that we'd end up not having the economic ability to ultimately follow that pathway. To me, that sounds like an argument for making sure that we don't even try, but maybe I'm misunderstanding your point.

Anonymous said...

RCP 8.5 mean 8.5 W/m^2 more forcing.

Imbalance = amount in - amount out, is not the same as forcing.

For example, current amount in = amount in 1750 + 1.5, imbalance is about 0.5 per Fernando, then amount out = amount in 1750 + 1.0

If the warming is slow enough, then the earth can adjust as forcing increases, so that imbalance is low.

Rib Smokin' Bunny

Anonymous said...

ATTP, here's a game -
see if you can find which previous scenario's forcings actually came closest to verifying.

Then tell me why the lowest scenario isn't the most likely.

Lucifer

And Then There's Physics said...

Lucifer,
Maybe you can explain your definition of "verifying". Maybe you can also tell me why you seem to think that the lowest scenario is the most likely. As far as I'm aware, the emissions pathway that we actually follow will be largely determined by what we choose to do in the future, not by what has happened in the past.

And Then There's Physics said...

Lucifer,
Maybe you can explain your definition of "verifying". Maybe you can also tell me why you seem to think that the lowest scenario is the most likely. As far as I'm aware, the emissions pathway that we actually follow will be largely determined by what we choose to do in the future, not by what has happened in the past.

Lionel A said...

It is interesting who Graham Stringer likes to use as source to backup his claims, none other than WUWT:

http://www.campaigncc.org/climate_change/sceptics/parliament

They are all quite a sorry lot and in a real democracy having somebody like Peter Lilley on your side would be having something of a toxic asset.

Steve Bloom said...

Were I a scientist charged with coming up with a plausible worst-case RCP, I'd want to aim it somewhat high in order to account for poorly-understood carbon feedbacks. Fernando seems uninterested in those, probably unsurprisingly.

Lars Karlsson said...

According to Mikael Höök and Tang Xu Depletion of fossil fuels and anthropogenic climate change – a review and in particular their section 5 which cites a number of other studies, we are unlikely to go above 650 ppm.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating that the 2 dissenters (Lilly, Physics at Cambridge, Stringer, an analytical chemist)were the only scientists on the committee.

Kevin O'Neill said...

Fernando writes: "I don´t think the IPCC panel members know much about the creation of an integrated model. "

Panel?

I doubt Fernando has ever looked at the WGIII list of Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors.

Just as I doubt he's ever read this presentation: IPCC AR5 – Working Group III From: Lead Author Meeting I

The idea of a "panel" really is misleading.

Anonymous said...

ATTP, its important to understand why past predictions of radiative forcing were too high.

One reason is the secondary constituents ( Methane and CFCs ) declined.

Another reason is population trends reached a much earlier inflection than anticipated and appear to be peaking at or sooner than the previous low end scenario the B1.

Another reason is unanticipated energy efficiency ( probably from technology ).

Demographics are destiny and the reason that past predictions were too high is also the reason current predictions are still too high.

But that's a good thing right?
Fewer people? and for those who care, less CO2 than otherwise?

Or are you in love with the idea of calamity?

It happens, but only you can answer that question.


Lucifer

Kevin O'Neill said...

Lucifer - what are you basing your statement on population trends on?

Or for that matter CFC's and Methane.

Yours seems like pretty much a content free comment.

It looks to me like the population predictions are spot on.

And Then There's Physics said...

Lucifer,
Or are you in love with the idea of calamity?
You do realise that I'm not arguing that we should follow a high emission pathway, don't you?

Marco said...

Anonymous, neither Stringer nor Lilly are or were scientists.

Stringer graduated in chemistry and did some lab technician work in industry.

Lilley studiedd natural science and economics and never did any labwork beyond whatever he may have done during his Bachelors.

Robert Smith has a degree in mathematics and Alan Whitehead has done actual research, having a PhD and all that comes with it (even if it is in political science).

J Bowers said...

Fernando says -- "As I wrote, I don´t think the IPCC panel members know much about the creation of an integrated model. Why?"

Because you really don't know what you're talking about. How's your swimming pool feeling today? Cold? No surprise there.

J Bowers said...

Fernando -- "ATTP: I think I understand the basic physics (I´m an engineer)."

You really don't. You can't conclude that the world is cooling because sea level temporarily dropped, or not know that the reason your pool feels cold is because of heat transfer through your skin, and claim you understand the basic physics. You talk a good talk which gets you a number of supporters from Bishop Hill and WUWT, but you really don't have a clue. However, if you do have a clue, then that's even worse for all too often seen reasons.

guthrie said...

Even Mrs Thatcher, who did lab work in industry also, helped set up the Hadley centre to study climate change, or so I have read.
Just having a science degree doesn't make you a scientist or knowledgeable about science. Look at Ridley for instance, has a science PhD but spounts anti-science.

Lionel A said...

In February 2014 a Climate Committee convened in Westminster during which Peter Lilley threw his toys out of the pram because Dr Emily Schuckburgh's comprehensive answer did not appease him.

His performance has to be seen to be believed:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26133916

I did have a link to the video of the complete exchange, on a now relegated computer, but I am confident that I posted a link on Deltoid so I'll go a hunting if there is any interest.