No contest, I’m afraid. Judith Curry writes in The Australian this morning on the skewed nature of the climate consensus:
The IPCC’s consensus-building process relies heavily on expert judgment; if the public and the policymakers no longer trust these particular experts, then we can expect a very different dynamic to be in play with regards to the reception of the AR5 [Fifth Assessment Report, due later this year] relative to the release of the AR4 [Fourth Assessment Report] in 2007.
THERE is another, more vexing dilemma facing the IPCC, however. Since the publication of the AR4, nature has thrown the IPCC a curveball: there has been no significant increase in global average surface temperature for the past 15-plus years. This has been referred to as a pause or hiatus in global warming.
Almost all climate scientists agree on the physics of the infrared emission of the CO2 molecule and understand that if all other things remain equal, more CO2 in the atmosphere will have a warming effect on the planet. Further, almost all agree that the planet has warmed across the past century and that humans have had some impact on the climate.
But understanding the causes of recent climate change and predicting future change is far from a straightforward endeavour.
My chain of reasoning leads me to conclude that the IPCC’s estimates of the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gas forcing are too high, raising serious questions about the confidence we can place in the IPCC’s attribution of warming in the last quarter of the 20th century primarily to greenhouse gases, and also its projections of future warming. If the IPCC attributes the pause to natural internal variability, then this prompts the question as to what extent the warming between 1975 and 2000 can also be explained by natural internal variability.
Nevertheless, the IPCC concludes in the final AR5 draft of the summary for policymakers: “There is very high confidence that climate models reproduce the observed large-scale patterns and multi-decadal trends in surface temperature, especially since the mid-20th century.”
SCIENTISTS do not need to be consensual to be authoritative. Authority rests in the credibility of the arguments, which must include explicit reflection on uncertainties, ambiguities and areas of ignorance, and more openness for dissent. The role of scientists should not be to develop political will to act by hiding or simplifying the uncertainties, explicitly or implicitly, behind a negotiated consensus. I have recommended that the scientific consensus-seeking process be abandoned in favour of a more traditional review that presents arguments for and against, discusses the uncertainties, and speculates on the known and unknown unknowns. I think such a process would support scientific progress far better and be more useful for policymakers.
The Editorial takes up the same theme:
The issue of climate change is a significant political, economic and environmental dilemma confronting our nation and the international community. At its heart is science. While we can engage in complex debates about the variety of mechanisms, technologies and practices that can be employed to deal with the issue, none of it makes perfect sense until we grasp the dimensions of the problem. And this is where science is pre-eminent. Yet, thanks largely to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the debate has been centred not on scientific claim and counter-claim — or scientific theory and measurable results — but on what’s referred to as the “scientific consensus”. This is almost an oxymoron; to at least some extent, the two words don’t belong in the same sentence.
John Cook, also writing in The Australian, simply rehashes the same old tired arguments we have seen so many times before, plugging his junk-science ‘97% consensus’ paper to justify his incessant alarmism. At no point is there any acknowledgement from Cook about the problems with the IPCC process, and the unexpected halt in warming, which is becoming too big for even the mainstream media to ignore.
He also oddly fails to disclose his authorship of the climate activist website Skeptical Science (Curry, on the other hand, is open about her blog) – is he embarrassed by its zealotry, perhaps? Cook also claims his “server” was “hacked” and emails were “stolen” last year, when in fact it appears more likely a back door was simply left open at the SkS website, and the files were inadvertently made public. This is a cheap attempt to portray his critics as prepared to engage in unethical or illegal behaviour when in fact it was a self-inflicted wound.
The only positive is that Cook manages to avoid the “D” word for a change. Well done…
UPDATE: The Daily Mail reports that many countries have tried to suppress the inconvenient truth of a warming halt:
“Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries.
Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change.
Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat – and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upward-pointing curve.
The United States delegation even weighed in, urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more heat being absorbed by the ocean – which has got hotter.“
When the facts don’t fit the political agenda, don’t change the agenda, spin the facts. Shocking.