Ben Pile has another article up at Spiked, Apocalypse Delayed: The IPCC report does not justify climate scaremongering.
We should all be dead by now, thanks to overpopulation and resource depletion. The few of us remaining should be scavenging a landscape denuded of life by acid rains and UV rays. Thankfully, we are not. Also still standing are the scientific institutions and the global bureaucracies that predicted our premature demise. One of those is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Ben discusses the origin of the latest IPCC report, SR15, and the disappointment in some quarters (leading to fears that it’s conclusions had been watered down) that the report was not sufficiently alarmist:
The problem for Stern, his financial backers, researchers and PR men is that their political agenda depends on science identifying dramatic risks, which can act as a spur to action: catastrophic increases in the frequency and intensity of storms, flooding and drought, devastating changes to agricultural productivity, increases in diseases and poverty, impacts across society that could lead to civil conflict and war for resources. But so far, signs of these dramatic consequences have not materialised. As a result, these activists, researchers and technocrats are now at odds with the science.
Of course, the media, such as Roger Harrabin and his fellow climate scare-promoters at the BBC, were on hand to fabricate the alarm that wasn’t in the report, for example by using a Greenpeace quote, rather than an IPCC quote, as a news headline.
The IPCC’s work regularly gives licence to hysteria, which it feels no need to correct. For instance, the meteorologist Eric Holthaus claimed that the IPCC suggested that, ‘The world’s top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilisation’. In the same embrace, BBC climate activist Roger Harrabin reported that, ‘Scientists say we ought to eat much less meat’, and criticised the government for failing to force us to be vegetarians. ‘The battle over climate change will have to get personal’, he wrote.
Meanwhile, Harrabin’s colleagues Matt McGrath and David Shukman at the BBC kept changing the headline of their article on the IPCC report. It started as ‘Climate report: scientists politely urge “act now, idiots”’. Then it was changed to ‘Climate report: scientists urge deep rapid change to limit warming’, and finally it became ‘Final call to save the world from “climate catastrophe”’.
The problem for all three BBC journalists, however, is that they quoted no scientists and no science, but factoids, couched in claims that we have heard many times before. Every IPCC report has been the ‘final call’. Every UNFCCC meeting has been the ‘last chance’. Countless climate deadlines have passed but arctic ice still exists. The polar bears still exist. And most frustratingly of all for these environmentalists, the world’s human population is doing better than ever before. It is not the IPCC’s science that appeals to these vapid hacks – it is the cover it provides for their profoundly undemocratic impulses.
Here are three other related articles.
At Climate Etc, Nic Lewis has been working through the numbers of the IPCC’s projections in the new report. He finds that is is indeed a case of “Apocalypse delayed”, as in Ben’s headline. The “carbon budget” – the amount of carbon dioxide the IPCC thinks would get us to 1.5 degrees, is much larger than was stated in its last report.
In The Spectator, Matt Ridley writes Ignore the global warming hysteria: hurricanes are not getting worse. He was in the US during the latest hurricane.
That day Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida, causing devastation and killing 26 people. It had the third lowest recorded atmospheric pressure (919 millibars) of any hurricane to make landfall in America. The lowest (892mb) was the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which killed 423. Yet the media continues to imply that recent hurricanes are linked to climate change, as if they would go away if we stopped driving cars: ‘The Hurricanes, and Climate-Change Questions, Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked’, said a New York Times headline on Thursday. I find almost nobody knows that there is no upward trend in the frequency or strength of such cyclones over the last four decades — a fact reconfirmed in the latest UN report last week. Globally, deaths from floods, droughts and storms are down by 98 per cent in a century, not because of less bad weather, but because of better technology and forecasting.
It’s illustrative of the state of the climate debate today, as Ben points out in his piece, that people who quote the IPCC are regarded as ‘deniers’, while in fact it is the self-reinforcing echo chamber of climate activism that is in denial. (See this twitter conversation in which journalist Sunny Hundal has these facts explained to him by Les Johnson and me and others, but stubbornly refuses to accept that he’s got anything wrong.)
Finally, Donna Laframboise in The IPCC’s Cynical Ploy discusses how the SR15 report was set up and designed to fire up the media – “a cynical ploy to produce alarmist media headlines that succeeded beautifully.” She also draws attention to how the IPCC, in the opening paragraph of its SR15 press release, breaks its long-standing commitment to be policy-neutral.
When the alarmists report on events it is quite selective, showing a cultural bias. Hurricane Michael did cause massive devastation and the deaths of 26 people. On the 28th September an earthquake and tsunami in the Indonesia caused the deaths of more than 2000, yet that is already been forgotten about, as it was not in a tourist area. Too little footage at the time to make headlines, too remote for the massed hordes of reporters to travel to, and few English-speakers to interview on the ground. But then earthquakes cannot be attributed to climate change, so there is no “real” story for the BBC to cover.
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That Twitter exchange with the journalist was rather pathetic.
It is almost as if belief in apocalyptic claptrap has made him unable to distinguish data from dogma.
Nic’s post is interesting. His Figure 1 is the updated version of a figure from AR5 that has been a staple of alarmist efforts to make the point that time is running out. I wonder what the chart would look if they used the TCR from Lewis and Curry?
But I think the bottom line is that all climate projections are quite sensitive to small details and assumptions that simply are choices from a broad ranges of possibilities. This fundamental uncertainty is why the climate debate rages on.
The most important thing to appreciate regarding the IPCC is that it is an ideologue. It is in the nature of ideologues that they force the world to conform to their theories rather than force their theories to conform to the world. This has never been more apparent than it is with the IPCC’s latest report.
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Manicbeancounter says: “earthquakes cannot be attributed to climate change”
People have tried….https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/16/climate-change-triggers-earthquakes-tsunamis-volcanoes
DPY6629 re: “Fundamental uncertainty”:
The confidence levels given by IPCC reports have no statistical base, so “high confidence” is based on what they describe as expert opinion, or expert elicitation. In 1999 a UEA conference on Uncertainty in Climate Models, ECLAT, had this comment:
“The application of expert judgement-based methods to obtain probabilistic assessments of future climate is a controversial approach that is gaining in acceptance in some quarters. However, it exhibits many pitfalls, and in the opinion of some participants at the Workshop these methods rely on ‘belief’ as much as on scientific understanding.”
A NASA/GISs paper in 2014 had this description of the scientific confidence: “We provide complete probability distributions, informed by a combination of expert community assessment, expert elicitation, and process modeling.”
“Even if probability distributions can be constructed, they are inherently subjective and also time dependent. To quote Henry Linden: “The probability of occurrence of long-term trends is inversely proportional to the ‘expert’ consensus.”
They know what they don’t know, but they also know that if the public know what they don’t know, the whole house of cards comes crashing down, so everything has become “unequivocal”.
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It is my subjective opinion that it is highly likely that the IPCC’s declarations regarding likelihood and confidence are deeply subjective (High Confidence).
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Donna has another interesting post up
She points out that the IPCC SR15 website has at the bottom a section labelled
“Changes to the Underlying Scientific-Technical Assessment to ensure consistency with the approved Summary for Policymakers”
You might think that science would work with the scientific detail being done first, and the summary afterwards. But no, in the upside-down world of IPCC pseudoscience, it’s the other way round. The scientific detail is being adjusted to make it fit with the political summery.
But surely, you say, these must be very minor changes? Well, they’ve only changed the definition of things like “global warming”, “global mean surface temperature” and “pre-industrial”…
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If only the MSM had journalists with a tenth of the intelligence and tenacity of Donna Laframboise. Instead we have Evan Davis on BBC’s Newsnight (read the following and weep):
Myron Ebell is right on the money with his comment re the IPCC, that “from Day 1, it has been a promoter, not a neutral scientific body”.
And of course Ebell is thoroughly patronised by Davis, at his most chummily contemptuous: “… let me interrupt, because I think what you’re trying to do is to sort of show that you know more about the science than the scientists, which is, sort of, not the case, ’cause they’re the scientists.”
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I have read the link, and indeed I wept. Most of all, I weep for the demise of journalism. All it would have taken for Evan Davis to know what he was talking about was for him to do some basic journalistic investigation. For example, he could have, with only a little effort, dug out the following from a Climate Change editorial, written back in 2011:
“As [the] IPCC, in a search for objectivity in uncertainty assessment, has turned more to describing uncertainty in terms of the characteristics of ensembles of model outcomes, the deficiency in such an approach (its exclusion or limited treatment of systemic, structural uncertainty in models) has become increasingly apparent to the community (Winsberg 2010; Knutti et al. 2008; Goldstein and Rougier 2009)”.
If Davis had even a modicum of understanding, he would have immediately recognized the significance of excluded or even limited treatment of systemic or structural uncertainty. Suitably shocked, he might then have gone on to read what the editorial had to say regarding important IPCC reform:
“Two proposals have been advanced repeatedly for beginning to address the problem of creating, defending and communicating consensus results as well as departures from the consensus. The degree to which [the] IPCC, through its working group leadership structure, resisted these proposals during the AR4 process is unsettling, given that the scientific communities from which IPCC authors are drawn are supposed to think analytically about the world as a whole.”
And what were the two proposals that had met with such resistance from all those ‘clever’ scientists?
“The first proposal calls for relaxing the focus on consensus and instead putting as much effort into presenting the full range of expert judgments… The second urges that all Working Groups forgo the fiction that expert deliberations are entirely objective and that arriving at judgments by deliberation within what are usually small subgroups is the only permissible approach to assessment.”
Remember, this is not the writing of a climate change denier obsessed with conspiracy theories. It is the writing of IPCC authors reflecting candidly amongst fellow IPCC experts.
Why do journalists find journalism so difficult nowadays. Honestly, it isn’t rocket science!
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One problem is that, despite what the IPCC writes, all over the planet is a bunch of people converting it into word salad. For instance, the blog run by the London Review of Books, a respected home for “progressive” intellectuals currently has a post by one Brian Stone that opens with this pile of seething nonsense:
“For anyone under the age of 30 – more than half the world’s population – the experience of a stable climate is entirely unknown. That is to say, not a single month in their lifetime has fallen within the limited range of temperature, precipitation or storm activity that governed the planet for the previous 10,000 years. ”
How is it possible to combat such blatant lack of rigour when it is everywhere in the media?
Thanks Alex. That’s shockingly rude of Evan Davs to say things like
“I don’t want to hear your argument that the science is wrong, because you don’t know anything about it”
and then just after that to imply, falsely obviously, that the benefits that have come to humanity (from what exactly, we don’t know, because Davis interrupted), is a scientific issue.
The stupidification of intellectuals by belief in climate apocalypse seems to be nearly total.
The claim that we are now in a uniquely unstable climate is literally kookoo. It takes real ignorance of history and an inability to think critically to make such a claim.
The faux journalist not allowing for criticism of the IPCC report is showing a commitment to sustainable ignorance that is inspirational in his mediocrity. The lack of scientists actually writing the political part of the IPCC is plainoy labeled. Apparently for lazy posers to ignore.
MiaB. The Brian Stone piece is utterly appalling – full of untruths. I counted to 20 downright errors before giving up reading in disgust. One of the most blatant was “About 40 per cent of the global population lives in coastal zones; the inexorable inland shift of the seas foretells a migration unseen in human history.” Has Stone no knowledge of the drowning of the Dogger Bank, most of The Netherlands or the Black Sea and much of the southern Persian Gulf?
AK, it’s as if the “progressives” are completely unaware of history, geology, and most other fields of study and yet they seem to prosper in the media. Can you imagine anybody telling you that every month this year in the UK the weather has been outside historical parameters and expecting to be believed?
“every month this year in the UK the weather has been outside historical parameters”
is couched in heavy sciency language, so must be believable. And this guy Brian Stone wrote it in a real intellectual publication, so it has to be true. Who are you, some type of denier?
The consensus exists. That’s all
It seems that, like justice, apocalypse delayed is apocalypse denied.
A huge research opportunity exists for studies into why humans are so susceptible to apocalyptic narrative.
A bigger opportunity would be to find effective ways to cure people and society from the miasma of apocalyptic obsession.