Has anyone read the WG1 SPM yet? 

I’ve tried, I have really. It’s called “The Physical Science Basis summary for Policymakers,” but there’s hardly any science in it, and it would be incomprehensible to a policymaker who wasn’t already well versed in IPCC-speak. 

Take the first two paragraphs of the introduction:

This Summary for Policymakers presents key findings of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report on the physical science basis of climate change. The report builds upon […] AR5 and […] incorporates subsequent new evidence from climate science. 

This SPM provides a high-level summary of the understanding of the current state of the climate, including how it is changing and the role of human influence, the state of knowledge about possible climate futures, climate information relevant to regions and sectors, and limiting human-induced climate change. 

Note that the emphasised parts can’t possibly be described as “the physical science basis of climate change.” They are respectively, predictions, and suggestions for how to limit change. In the very first few sentences the SPM has gone way off topic. 

And it gets worse, since only ten pages are devoted to “the current state of the climate,” compared with 26 pages on possible climate futures, risk assessment and regional adaptation, and limiting future climate change – subjects which are in no way part of the “physical science basis.” And even when they stick to the science, they leave out almost all the stuff that would be most useful to policy makers, like regional variations in temperature, precipitation, sea level rise etc. – stuff that you need to know if you’re in charge of a particular country in a particular place at a particular time, which the policy makers are.

The major part of the Summary is concerned with a discussion of scenarios: namely SSPs or Shared Socio-Economic Pathways which are “climate models participating in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6) of the World Climate Research Programme.” 

Once I’d found the definitions of SSPs and CMIP6 in the footnote to a box, and in a footnote to the footnote, I was ready to tackle the rest of the report, or as ready as I’d ever be, because there was no further explanation of the terms other than the above.

I thought I’d test my understanding on a sample paragraph, and I chose the very last one, assuming the authors would want to end with a zinger. This contained a reference to an acronym I knew – GHG = greenhouse gases – and another one I wasn’t familiar with – CIDs – explained in a footnote thus:

Climatic impact-drivers (CIDs) are physical climate system conditions (e.g., means, events, extremes) that affect an element of society or ecosystems. Depending on system tolerance, CIDs and their changes can be detrimental, beneficial, neutral, or a mixture of each across interacting system elements and regions. CID types include heat and cold, wet and dry, wind, snow and ice, coastal and open ocean. 

Not very satisfactory, since apparently a driver may be a mathematical concept (a mean) an adjective (wet) an abstract noun (heat) or a thing (the ocean.) But let’s live with that and take a look at the final paragraph of AR6 WG1 SPM.

D.2.4 Scenarios with very low and low GHG emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-2.6) would lead to substantially smaller changes in a range of CIDs beyond 2040 than under high and very high GHG emissions scenarios (SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5). By the end of the century, scenarios with very low and low GHG emissions would strongly limit the change of several CIDs, such as the increase in the frequency of extreme sea level events, heavy precipitation and pluvial flooding, and exceedance of dangerous heat thresholds, while limiting the number of regions where such exceedances occur, relative to higher GHG emissions scenarios (high confidence). Changes would also be smaller in very low compared to low emissions scenarios, as well as for intermediate (SSP2-4.5) compared to high or very high emissions scenarios (high confidence). {9.6, Cross-Chapter Box 11.1, 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, 11.5, 11.6, 11.9, 12.4, 12.5, TS.4.3}

Translation:

If we emit less greenhouse gases, in twenty years’ time, and even more so by the end of the century, there will be less variation in wet and dry, heat and cold etc. than if we emit lots of greenhouse gases, and these variations will occur in fewer regions – we’re very confident of that. And if we emit much less greenhouse gases, there will be less variation than if we just emitted a bit less. Likewise, if we emit a medium amount of greenhouse gases, the changes in heat and cold, wet and dry etc. will be less than if we emit lots, and even less than if we emitted a huge amount, and we’re very confident of that too.

Signed: the scientists.

If the 200 or so governments had any guts they’d send the SPM back to the authors and tell them to try again. But they won’t, because no-one likes admitting they’ve been taken for a mug. Especially when it’s for the sixth time running.

And besides, they’ve already booked their flights to Glasgow.

15 Comments

  1. Geoff, you’ve taken one for the team there, and I am duly grateful. I intend to try to plough my way through this in due course, but so long as the sun is shining and we have pleasant late summer weather here, I have better things to do. Nevertheless, although I’m relying at this stage purely on the excerpts you have included in your article, it’s garbage, isn’t it? I appreciate that hundreds of scientists, many of whom might well not have English as a first language (or as a language at all) might struggle to write beautiful and easily comprehensible English. However, this is a vitally important document, which we all know is going to be seized upon to power the next level of climate alarmism. Surely, in view of the massive amounts of money being spent on this stuff, they could have afforded to pay someone who IS capable of writing beautiful and easily comprehensible English to turn it into something that isn’t ugly and difficult jargon? As it stands, it’s like something Google Translate might churn out on a bad day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No doubt they take great pains to point out that under the high-emission scenarios the frequency of extreme cold events would be lower, and that the socio-economic situation under high-emission scenarios would improve the resilience of communities at risk of weather damage.

    I’m sure they also pointed out that the CO2 fertilisation effect is leading to reduced desertification, and will improve crop yields in arid areas under high emissions scenarios.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. MARK
    The poor quality of the English is my least worry (although it does serve to hide the poor quality of the thought.) Paul Homewood has some more cogent criticisms of the science content here:
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2021/08/10/the-ipcc-summary-for-policymakers/
    and he reproduces some of the graphs from the report, including the really cool ones where the earth is divided up into hexagons with codes, instead of boring old countries and continents.

    My point, if I have one (and I sometimes wonder) is that the document fails in its purpose before you even get to the quality of the scientific claims embedded in it. What a scientific summary should do is summarise the premisses (doctrine, dogma, whatever) and spell out the implications of interest to the reader. A clear graph showing how temperatures are slowly zigzagging upwards would do the trick. With links to data on precipitation, sea level rise etc for every region and country, and speculative discussion about the future tacked on to a mass of empirical data. What you’ve got feels and sounds like a barrister’s bundle in a hopeless case, where the defence strategy is to drag the case out for as long as possible by wearing out the judge and jury with tedium.

    Policymakers (heads of government or large enterprises) spend their entire lives reading summaries of things too complex for them to deal with. No doubt bad decisions are often made on the basis of brief bullet points, but at least they’re made. No decision could possibly be made on the basis of this document, because it’s incomprehensible to the human mind, which is what most of us are equipped with.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t know about the rest of your concerns, but about the scientific basis, you are missing this, which is found at the end of the introduction : “The scientific basis for each key finding is found in chapter sections of the main Report, and in the integrated synthesis presented in the Technical Summary (hereafter TS), and is indicated in curly brackets. The AR6 WGI Interactive Atlas facilitates exploration of these key synthesis findings, and supporting climate change information, across the WGI reference regions5.” This means that the SPM contains the conclusions only, not the basis for those conclusions.

    Like

  5. Dunno if people approve of Youtube embeds
    (It only embeds if I put the link on a fresh line, so I sometime precede it with a colon)

    Brand new from Dirty Rotten Politics

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  6. Hi Jit

    “I’m sure they also pointed out that the CO2 fertilisation effect …. will improve crop yields in arid areas under high emissions scenarios.”

    Evidence indicates that increased atmospheric CO2 concentration helps increase yields of most staple crops in all, not just arid, areas.

    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/key-crop-yields?country=~OWID_WRL

    Surely they would have lauded that as a beneficial highlight in AR6 WG1 SPM?

    Like

  7. Terrified by the latest IPCC report? Fear not, for help is at hand!

    Actually, that’s not quite right. Fear is essential, for without fear we’ll never tackle the climate crisis. How about…

    Fear on, ye faithful fearful! Here are some resources to help you rejoice in your terror and share it with others:

    URL:gendread.substack.com/p/resources-for-working-with-climate

    Gen Dread is short for Generation Dread, which is the name of an upcoming book by the blog’s organiser. It’s probably also a pun on ‘gendered’.

    From the book’s blurb:

    ‘An impassioned generational perspective on why climate anxiety is completely natural and necessary, and how we can be stronger for it.’

    Plum Village sounds like the most enjoyable of Gen Dread’s options for embracing climate terror. Here’s a late 1990s review of its founder, Thich Nhat Hanh:

    ‘Vietnamese France-based nose-to-the-grindstone Buddhist. “There are two ways to wash the dishes. The first is to wash the dishes in order to have clean dishes and the second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.” Widely respected. Org = Plum Village / Unified Buddhist Church. Hopefully has moved beyond political past.’

    (The last sentence probably referred to Nhat Hanh’s occasional – but far from uncritical – cosiness with Vietnam’s Communist Party.)

    I think Nhat Hanh was both right and wrong about doing the dishes. Only a nutter would wash clean dishes – and a very selfish nutter, to boot, hogging the sink for purely personal reasons – but there is something very relaxing about washing up.

    So fear on, ye faithful fearful! Embrace the terror brought on by AR6 WG1 SPM by doing the dishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Greenhouse gas emissions must peak within 4 years, says leaked UN report
    Group of scientists release draft IPCC report as they fear it will be watered down by governments”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/aug/12/greenhouse-gas-emissions-must-peak-within-4-years-says-leaked-un-report

    “Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years, coal and gas-fired power plants must close in the next decade and lifestyle and behavioural changes will be needed to avoid climate breakdown, according to the leaked draft of a report from the world’s leading authority on climate science.

    Rich people in every country are overwhelmingly more responsible for global heating than the poor, with SUVs and meat-eating singled out for blame, and the high-carbon basis for future economic growth is also questioned.

    The leak is from the forthcoming third part of the landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the first part of which was published on Monday, warning of unprecedented changes to the climate, some of them irreversible. The document, called the sixth assessment report, is divided into three parts: the physical science of climate change; the impacts and ways of reducing human influence on the climate.

    Part three is not scheduled to be released before next March, but a small group of scientists decided to leak the draft via the Spanish branch of Scientist Rebellion, an offshoot of the Extinction Rebellion movement. It was first published by the journalist Juan Bordera in the Spanish online magazine CTXT.

    Bordera told the Guardian that the leak reflected the concern of some of those involved in drawing up the document that their conclusions could be watered down before publication in 2022. Governments have the right to make changes to the “summary for policymakers”.”

    The leaked report is here (at least it’s the link the Guardian provides):

    https://ctxt.es/es/20210801/Politica/36900/IPCC-cambio-climatico-colapso-medioambiental-decrecimiento.htm

    I’d like someone to explain this piece of wishful thinking:

    “Providing modern energy to all those who currently lack it (800m people have no access to electricity) would have a “negligible” effect on increasing emissions, the report notes.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Mark: Thanks for highlighting that. It’s a Fiona Harvey article for The Guardian and at this crucial juncture it points to another Harvey piece in February. My bold in what follows:

    The former prime minister [David Cameron] has joined Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia, former Irish president Mary Robinson, and other current and former heads of state, to focus attention on fragile states, and the opportunity to use solar and wind power to bring electric power to the 800 million people who lack it.

    The Council on State Fragility, of which Cameron is co-chair, issued a call to action to the G7 on Wednesday, with a report that found 90% of the world’s 800 million people who lack electricity live in fragile states.

    Aid donors gave only $460m for fragile states to gain energy access in 2018, which the council said fell well short of the sums needed. Sirleaf warned: “The Covid-19 crisis has derailed decades of progress on extreme poverty and will continue to have devastating indirect effects on fragile states. A global, concerned push to invest in clean energy in fragile countries could transform lives by powering homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, which will be critical for these countries to recover.”

    Cameron said solar and wind power were now cheap options to bring power to countries beset by conflict, deepening poverty and instability. “All the stars are in alignment, because distributed green energy systems have become way more cost effective, they’re way more available, and this links in with people’s desire to see action taken to deal with climate change and shortage of electricity in a sustainable way,” he said. “This year with the [UK presidency of] the G7 and the Cop coming at the same time, it’s a very good moment to try and get it done.”

    That in turn point to Wind and solar plants will soon be cheaper than coal in all big markets around world, analysis finds in March last year.

    So that’s what it means by ‘modern energy’. At least they were/are talking about shortage of electricity as something that needs to be considered. But the reliability word is not mentioned. That costs extra in this highly unethical game of bait and switch.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. @richard – did Cameron really say ” solar and wind power were now cheap options to bring power to countries beset by conflict, deepening poverty and instability. “All the stars are in alignment”

    well if “All the stars are in alignment” solar should even work at night (clouds may cause a tiny problem)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ahh, just realised by “All the stars are in alignment” – he probably means all the Pop/Movie/Sport/Celeb/Science… etc Stars (makes sense now – he’s not as daft as I first thought)

    Like

  12. Steve Mc calls it the new ‘woke hockey stick’. His critics hit back.

    Worth reading all the responses there. Like this.

    Like

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