FAIL: 34 years and billions of dollars… for what?

Texas TI99 from 1979

Texas TI99 from 1979

UPDATE: Stewart, in the comments, makes an excellent point:

“There is a great analogy with the development of hydrological models in the 1960′s (because we could automate computation) – in 2013, we are still unable to simulate process accurately – it doesn’t stop us from building the models with increasing complexity which many then blindly believe however the programmer has decided to represent individual processes…

In 1979, personal computers looked like this.

In 2013, you carry around a supercomputer in your pocket (a smartphone), with the processing power of a warehouse full of TI 99s, and millions of times the 16k storage capacity.

Such is the speed of progress in computer technology. How has climate science fared by comparison?

In climate, the only number that really matters is the sensitivity of the climate to a doubling of CO2. Normally, over a period of years, greater understanding, better modelling and greater computing power will reduce the margins of error as the theories become more finely tuned.

So how has the IPCC done, after 34 years and billions of taxpayer dollars? The following plot shows the range of climate sensitivity since the Charney Report of 1979, and then through the IPCC’s FAR, SAR, TAR, AR4 and AR5:


Epic fail

As as you can see, despite a slight narrowing of the range in AR4, the precision of the sensitivity value hasn’t improved at all from 1979 to today. Not one bit. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Despite billions of dollars of taxpayers’ hard earned cash, thousands of scientists and years of research, the entire climate science community has failed to improve on the original estimate for climate sensitivity made 34 years ago.

Prof Nir Shaviv writes:

if the basic premises of a theory are wrong, then there is no improved agreement as more data is collected. In fact, it is usually the opposite that takes place, the disagreement increases. In other words, the above behavior reflects the fact that the IPCC and alike are captives of a wrong conception.

Full story here.

(h/t Lubos)

Climate sensitivity “lower than previously thought”

Not as bad as thought?

Not as bad as thought?

It’s only taken years of effort from “deniers” but now the mainstream media is finally catching up. Climate sensitivity is likely to be far lower than the alarmists claim, making frighteningly expensive attempts to regulate CO2 even more futile:

GLOBAL temperature increases as a result of increased carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are likely to be lower than previously thought, an international research team has found.

The Oxford University-led study found that a predicted doubling of CO2 concentrations, expected to occur later this century, is likely to raise global temperatures in the short term by between 1.3C and 2C.

Previous estimates, based on climate data from the 1990s, predicted steeper rises of up to 3.1C. The new study, published today in the journal Nature Geoscience, used data gathered more recently, when the average rate of global warming was slowing down.

The latest estimate is “arguably the most reliable”, the paper says, partly because it is less affected by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in The Philippines, but caution is still required in interpreting the available data.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously estimated a temperature rise of between 1C and 3C, with increases outside that range described as “very unlikely”. The new study team, which included an oceanographer from CSIRO’s marine and atmospheric research division in Hobart, estimates this rise could be as little as 0.9C.

The researchers also found that some of the modelling being used for the fifth IPCC assessment report, which is due next year, could be inconsistent with their observations.

As always, however, dogma must come first:

Ultimately, however, they found their new predictions suggested little difference to the global temperature increase in the long run. Their best estimate of the “equilibrium climate sensitivity” – the long-term temperature rise once the effects of higher CO2 concentrations had bedded down – was 2C, with an upper limit of 3.9C. This compares with other previous estimates, the study said.

Steven Phipps, a research fellow with the University of NSW, said the study provided “the most accurate estimates yet of climate sensitivity” and, in broad terms, confirmed what has long been known.

“Our planet faces a very uncomfortable future if our emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated,” he said. (source)

If we actually spent even a tenth of the money wasted on greenhouse gas mitigation on research into alternative energy sources, we wouldn’t need unabated emissions to continue. However, it’s a step in the right direction.

Apocalypse delayed?

© The Economist

Times are changing…

The Economist tackles the issue to which many are intentionally blind, including the usual headbangers, our own Climate Commission, the IPCC and the majority of Western governments, namely, why have global temperatures levelled off despite ever increasing CO2 in the atmosphere?

In an editorial, it writes:

IT MAY come as a surprise to a walrus wondering where all the Arctic’s summer sea ice has gone. It could be news to a Staten Islander still coming to terms with what he lost to Hurricane Sandy. But some scientists are arguing that man-made climate change is not quite so bad a threat as it appeared to be a few years ago. They point to various reasons for thinking that the planet’s “climate sensitivity”—the amount of warming that can be expected for a doubling in the carbon-dioxide level—may not be as high as was previously thought. The most obvious reason is that, despite a marked warming over the course of the 20th century, temperatures have not really risen over the past ten years.

And it dares to question the drive for alternative energy without regard to consequences:

Bad climate policies, such as backing renewable energy with no thought for the cost, or insisting on biofuels despite the damage they do, are bad whatever the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases.

In an accompanying article it deals with the science in some detail:

OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise. Ed Hawkins, of the University of Reading, in Britain, points out that surface temperatures since 2005 are already at the low end of the range of projections derived from 20 climate models (see chart 1). If they remain flat, they will fall outside the models’ range within a few years.

The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now. It does not mean global warming is a delusion. Flat though they are, temperatures in the first decade of the 21st century remain almost 1°C above their level in the first decade of the 20th. But the puzzle does need explaining.

The mismatch might mean that—for some unexplained reason—there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-10. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or, as an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.

It is a very encouraging sign that finally some in the mainstream media are beginning to acknowledge the divergence between models and observations, and are starting to ask questions. I encourage you to read it all.

(And wait for the inevitable headbanger backlash at Un-Skeptical Pseudo-Science, amongst other places, where they are always desperate to defend their religion at any cost. UPDATE: As predicted, here it is.)

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