The IPCC’s sixth assessment report (AR6) is due out any day now and I can barely sleep with all of the excitement. In fact, I’m so wide awake that I actually don’t need the wake-up call that it promises to deliver. That said, the scientists and activists have provided so many wake-up calls over the years, I can’t really understand how anyone could possibly still be asleep. And yet, apparently, we all are. Despite everything that the BBC and the Guardian have thrown at us down the years, stomping up and down whilst clashing their cymbals of the Apocalypse, we are still zedding away, waiting for the right fairy prince to come along to deliver the magical kiss of enlightenment. So yes folks, this is the one. All the other wake-up calls were just some geezers messing around. This one is the real deal. This actual wake-up call is actually going to be the actual, real wake-up call. And you know why? Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s because this time there have been developments in science that will shock you to the core. The climate scientists are about to announce a startling new discovery: When things are heated up they get hotter.
I’m sorry, I know, I should have broken it to you more gently. Perhaps if I had expressed myself in the measured language of Detection & Attribution it might not have been such a shock to the system. Perhaps I should have put it the way that Dr Friederike Otto expressed it:
“Every heat wave that is happening today is made more likely and more intense by climate change.”
Think about it. Not just some heat waves, but every heat wave. And not just those that are going to happen in the future, but all those that are happening today. Apparently, heating has that effect. It just can’t help but make things hotter, no matter what their current temperature and no matter when it is applied. This startling discovery has enabled attribution scientists to now speak out with much more certainty. As climatologist, Ed Hawkins puts it:
“That side of science has moved on a lot.”
Now, I’m sure there may be some of you out there scoffing to hear of this breakthrough in climate science. You might have wanted to hear instead of a dramatic reduction in the uncertainty of the climate sensitivity values upon which all model-based attribution studies depend – because, after all, that side of the science hasn’t moved on a lot. But that would be to misunderstand how climate science works. It isn’t the reduction of uncertainty that allows the scientists to talk with more certainty; it is the increased gullibility of their audience. All it really needed was for a whole bunch of them to have the great idea that, rather than allude to a future catastrophe, it would be better to draw attention to current extreme weather to get their message across. And, lo and behold, it starts to happen – current weather starts to get more extreme. Or, more accurately, everything that is happening today turns out to have been much more likely than it might have been had the scientists not had their great idea.
I should say no more. Frustrating though it may be, we are all going to have to wait until AR6 hits the streets before we can say for sure just how much the scientists are saying for sure. But, in the meantime, let me reassure you that they won’t have discovered anything that wasn’t as prescribed by AR5. Just don’t mention sufficiency.