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World Federation of Scientists changes its policy: “Climate change in itself is not a planetary emergency.”

29 August 2013

Summary: While climate scientists quietly work, the noisy action has been on the policy frontiers. Activists on both sides play for the crowds, often using the standard sales tools of exaggeration and misrepresentation. Advocates of action had more supporters among journalists, and were able to do this on a larger scale. Unfortunately Mother Nature responded with the pause, undercutting their forecasts of imminent doom (forecasts beyond anything in the IPCC’s work). Now come the consequences, as people defect from the cause.

London Bridge flooded

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Contents

  1. International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies
  2. Update
  3. What to do about climate change
  4. Background Information
  5. Who is the World Federation of Scientist?
  6. Key things to remember about global warming!
  7. For More Information

(1) The International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies

Report by Christopher Monckton of Brenchley about the 46th Session of the International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies of the World Federation of Scientists in Erice, Sicily. Posted at WUWT. This report remains uncorroborated, and its significance is as yet unknown. But it’s certainly a step backwards.

Excerpt:

The World Federation of Scientists, at its annual seminars on planetary emergencies, has been advised by its own climate monitoring panel that global warming is no longer a planetary emergency. The President of the Italian Senate, Judge Pietro Grasso … and the President of the Federation, Professor Antonino Zichichi {emeritus professor of Physics, U of Bologna}, said that care should be taken to examine carefully the basis for concern about CO2 emissions as well as the relevance and cost-effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures.

… This year Dr. Christopher Essex, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario and chairman of the Federation’s permanent monitoring panel on climate, gave the Federation’s closing plenary session his panel’s confirmation that “Climate change in itself is not a planetary emergency.”

… {Essex said} “Human societies have lived and thriven under every conceivable climate, and modern technology makes adaptation to changing weather conditions entirely routine.” The increasing fraction of CO2 in the air could be expected to result in some warming, but it had been accepted that “the benefits of food production and the relief of starvation overwhelm concerns about the potential climate changes induced by land-surface modification.”

… “Our greatest concern at present is that the intellectual climate for scientific investigation of these matters has become so hostile and politicized that the necessary research and debate cannot freely take place. Political constraints take the form of declaring the underlying science to be settled when it clearly is not; defunding or denigrating research that is perceived to threaten the case for renewable energy; or the use of odious pejoratives like “denialist” to describe dissent from officially-sanctioned views on climate science.”

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… Professor Essex called for “free and open debate on all aspects of climate science, even where hypotheses are put forward for examination that openly contradict the official positions of political entities.”

He said the panel found persuasive indications that climate models systematically understated natural climate variability and significantly exaggerated the impact of CO2 emissions. Accordingly, past, present and proposed policy measures could be shown not to provide net benefits to society regardless of the rate at which the planet might warm. Limited resources would be better devoted to more pressing issues.

(2) Update

Comment by Steve McIntyre posted at the WUWT article:

Despite the opening sentence in the above post (“It’s official”), no such position was officially taken by the WFS. Indeed, many participants in the conference hold diametrically opposite views.

That was my impression as well, that Mockton was overstating in his opening line — so I omitted it from the excerpt shown here.

(3)  What to do: website page for the Permanent Monitoring Panel – Climatology

World Federation of Scientists

The page now shows:

Summary of the Emergency:

Being revised.

Priorities in dealing with the Emergency:

Being revised.

From the Wayback Machine, the page formerly read:

Summary of the Emergency

The safety and well-being of human populations are threatened by the variability and change in both the climate and the composition of Earth’s atmosphere. Research into these trends is being significantly influenced by a number of factors:

  1. What was once a relatively easy and low-cost task of obtaining data for studying and predicting these changes, is now becoming expensive, complicated and threatening as data are copyrighted and offered on a ‘for sale’ basis by international co-ordinating bodies.
  2. Global monitoring of trends requires inter-comparability and continuity of key observations, combined with the recovery of historical information. Unfortunately, observation systems for gathering climatic data are becoming increasingly costly and difficult to maintain. Furthermore, some of the standard systems upon which climate research depends (e.g. the international upper-air sounding system) are being eroded.
  3. The quality of the information provided to the lay public, industry and governments is critical to the public perception of this issue and the scientists studying it. This, in turn, affects the allocation of limited resources for research and, ultimately, to public well-being. Unfortunately, the quality and reliability of the information is highly variable and is sometimes distorted. Scientists need to do a better job of communicating such information to present an accurate and timely perspective on the significance of their research and its accomplishments.

Priorities in dealing with the Emergency

  • To encourage and support free access to data on climate change
  • To monitor the monitoring of the global environment
  • To stimulate the education of the public with regard to the causes and effects of climate change.

To monitor:

  1. The increasing vulnerability of human society to the effects of climate change (e.g. More and more people living on flood plains and in areas threatened by tropical cyclones).
  2. Climatic extremes (e.g. droughts) to determine the extent of change and variability.
  3. Ways in which vulnerability to climatic disasters can be reduced (e.g. forecasting drought in order to avoid famine).
  4. Improved methods of forecasting variability and change (e.g. improved models for predicting El Niño) and the responsible issue of forecast products.
  5. The adequacy of climate-observing networks in light of the present and continuing deterioration of the current systems.
  6. Possible human influences on climate and on atmospheric composition and chemistry (e.g. increased greenhouse gases and tropospheric ozone).
  7. The possible effects of natural episodic influences on the climate (e.g. volcanic activity).
  8. The effects of the commercialisation of national meteorological services on data and information services, observation networks and prediction research.

Walking home after climate change

Permanent Monitoring Panels and Working Groups:

(4) Background information

(5) What is the World Federation of Scientist?

“About the Organization”

The World Federation of Scientists (WFS) was founded in Erice, Sicily, in 1973, by a group of eminent scientists led by Isidor Isaac Rabi and Antonino Zichichi. Since then, many other scientists have affiliated themselves with the Federation, among them T. D. Lee, Laura Fermi, Eugene Wigner, Paul Dirac and Piotr Kapitza.

The WFS is a free association, which has grown to include more than 10,000 scientists drawn from 110 countries. All members share the same aims and ideals and contribute voluntarily to uphold the Federation’s Principles. The Federation promotes international collaboration in science and technology between scientists and researchers from all parts of the world – North, South, East and West. The Federation and its members strive towards an ideal of free exchange of information, where scientific discoveries and advances are no longer restricted to a select few. The aim is to share this knowledge among the people of all nations, so that everyone may experience the benefits of the progress of science. {from their website}

“Organising the Fight”

The World Federation of Scientists … has been addressing the planetary emergency problems for over 20 years. A major turning point was reached, in August 1997, with the decision to establish Working Groups and Permanent Monitoring Panels to follow up each identified Planetary Emergency. The motivation for reaching such a decision is expressed in the opening address (Handling of Planetary Emergencies – The search for New Solutions) made by T. D. Lee, K. M. B. Siegbahn and A. Zichichi, during the 22nd Session of the International Seminars on Planetary Emergencies, held in Erice. {from their website}

(6) Some of the key things to remember about global warming!

While cheering for their faction of scientists, laypeople often lose sight of the big picture — the key elements for making public policy about this important issue.

  1. The work of the IPCC and the major science institutes are the best guides for information about these issues.
  2. The major global temperature measurement systems tell — broadly speaking — the same story since the 1970s: two decades of cooling, two of warming, followed by a pause.
  3. This is consistent with the larger firm conclusions of climate scientists: two centuries of warming, coming in pulses (ie, waves), with anthropogenic factors becoming the largest (not the only) driver since roughly 1950.
  4. There is a debate about the attribution (causes) of past warming — which probably varied over time — between natural drivers (eg, rebound from the Little Ice Age, solar influences) and anthropogenic drivers (eg, CO2, aerosols, land use changes). The IPCC’s reports make few claims about attribution of climate activity, as this remains actively debated in the literature.
  5. There is an even larger debate about climate forecasts, both the extent of future CO2 emissions and the net effects of the various natural and anthropogenic drivers.

For the past five years my recommendations have been the same:

  1. More funding for climate sciences. Many key aspects (eg, global temperature data collection and analysis) are grossly underfunded.
  2. Wider involvement of relevant experts in this debate. For example, geologists, statisticians and software engineers have been largely excluded — although their fields of knowledge are deeply involved.

The End

(7) For More Information

Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

Other posts in this series about global warming:

  1. Still good news: global temperatures remain stable, at least for now., 14 October 2012
  2. When did we start global warming? See the surprising answer., 18 October 2012
  3. The IPCC sees the pause in global warming!, 18 December 2012
  4. Lessons about global warming from Alaska, 9 January 2013
  5. Secrets about global warming that you must not know, least they ruin the narrative, 22 January 2013
  6. Hidden news about our weather in July: experts tell us what even well-informed people do not know., 8 August 2013
  7. The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT), 18 August 2013
  8. One of the most important questions we face: when will the pause in global warming end?, 25 August 2013
  9. Possible political effects of the pause in global warming, 26 August 2013

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Climate Apocalypse

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. nnoxks permalink
    29 August 2013 7:56 pm

    Here is some additional interesting information. From the wayback machine link you provided:

    “Members of the Panel:

    Chairman: William A. Sprigg (USA)
    Members: Congbin Fu (China); Mario Molina (USA); Antonio Navarra (Italy); Neville Nichols (Australia); Warren Washington (USA).
    PMP Associates for the drafting of the Data Access Statement: Mohamed S. Boulahya (Niger); Joel Scheraga (USA); Martin F. Yerg (USA).

    Associate Panel Members: Robert Clark (USA); Charles Hutchinson (USA); Arnaldo Longhetto (Italy); Douglas Morrison (Switzerland); Amador Muriel (Philippines); Carlos Ordonez (USA); Margaret Petersen (USA); Soroosh Sorooshian (USA); Glenn Tallia (USA); Paul F. Uhlir (USA); Sixion Zhao (China).

    What the website now says:

    “Members of the Panel:
    Chairman: Christopher Essex (CANADA)
    Members:
    Associate Panel Members:

    Here’s another website from the wayback machine, advertising a book written by Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick in 2002: “Essex and McKitrick explain the science of climate change and show that the widespread belief in global warming is really a house of cards.”

    You characterize the recent change in the WFS statement as “people defect[ing] from the cause.” But as far as the information available reveals, the change in the statement comes from a single (and indeed the only!) panel member, who has been highly suspicious of climate science for at least the past 11 years. That does not really seem like an example of anyone “defecting” as a result of recent observations.

    Like

    • 29 August 2013 9:47 pm

      I am always amazed by people who make guesses, and then consider the result as fact. The California Commission on Self-esteem has much to answer for.

      Nnoxks,

      What we know is that someone in the WFS has taken down the panel’s information. Probably as a result of decisions taken during the conference. That is shown by the erased info on both the panel’s recommendations and members.

      While you might use the Force to make wild guesses, such as that Prof Essex made this decision by himself — without approval of fellow panel members, the WFS’ officers, or both — the rest of us will wait for further information before drawing conclusions.

      Which is why I said this information is unconfirmed.

      My guess is that your guess is unlikely. That you offer it as fact suggests there is a serious flaw in your judgement.

      As to your opinion of Professor Essex: perhaps you consider yourself Pope of Science, able to excommunicate heretics. Whatever. I assume the WFS had good and sufficient reasons to appoint him to Chair this panel.

      Professional organizations usually have strong internal politics, which is why their conclusions are not regarded as highly as those of organizations like the IPCC. So the WFS news, like the opposite report of the recent AGU committee about climate, are indicators of political opinion — as much or perhaps more than the science.

      My personal opinion is that professional literature is by far the most reliable guide to the state of knowledge, and location of the debate frontiers. Which is why I cite peer-reviewed research in addition to reports by climate science organizations (eg, IPCC, NOAA, CRU). That requires a lot of work, which is why so many scientists recommend relying on the quite clear work of the climate-related organizations.

      Like

  2. 31 August 2013 4:10 am

    Ooops, guess those Federal grants are running out. What new fad to pursue? I am guessing aliens.

    Like

    • 31 August 2013 4:27 am

      I will take the other side of that.

      History shows that climate has varied a lot, and taken down quite a few societies. And there is no doubly that our changes — co2, aerosols, land use, etc — are having a large effect.

      This is something we must understand, in order to survive. Climate change — warm or cold, tropical storms or drought — is an existential threat on both regional and global levels.

      Another Little Ice Age, or return of the century-long droughts to Australia or the American Southwest, would have horrific consequences. Warnings might make a big difference.

      The first step is reliable forecasts. That will not come cheap or easy. I believe we are not trying hard enough.

      Like

  3. Nathan Keith permalink
    31 August 2013 4:44 am

    I’m running out of grant money too. I thought about aliens as one of the other commentators suggested. I think it’s even weaker than the climate scam. I’m thinking about doing something related to sex. Always popular, always controversial and something the general population can identify with. I’m thinking that we need to promote the virtues of oral sex as a correlate of martial fidelity and marriage longevity. Global Blowing, that’s the ticket.

    Like

    • 31 August 2013 1:47 pm

      Keith,

      Good point about the high profile of sex! And there is a possible direct threat to sex from the rising levels of hormones in our water. Seems odd to me that this gets so little attention.

      The research on this is controversial, with strong findings on both sides. Here is a post from 2009 with some details.

      I have not followed it (it’s off topic to the FM website), but seems important.

      Like

  4. 31 August 2013 5:01 am

    Now that they’ve all profited from the fiction, it’s time to switch to global cooling, to profit from it.

    Like

  5. 31 August 2013 7:44 am

    Reblogged this on pundit from another planet.

    Like

  6. Arthur permalink
    31 August 2013 3:04 pm

    The alarmists have been crying wolf so long and so loud that there are many who will never fully believe anything scientists say again.

    This agenda driven pseudo-science where its adherents sell out to the almighty dollar has severely damaged the credibility of a whole field of study. Several generations of children have been scared silly because of greed and politics, and the earth keeps heating and cooling as it has done since its birth. Despite any revisions the new religion of environmentalism with its messiah Al Gore will continue to thrive.

    Like

  7. Fractally Speaking permalink
    31 August 2013 7:54 pm

    How delicious tha the the President of the World Federation of Scientists is an emeritus professor of Physics at the University of Baloney (Bologna)! LOL

    Like

    • 31 August 2013 8:42 pm

      Not funny to mock someone with career achievements far beyond your — or mine. Esp on the basis of a English pun on his University’s name.

      Zichichi is an eminent physicist, with many influential publications (he is on the Reuters list of Highly Cited Researchers), and has held many responsible offices.

      Leadership of a prestigious institution like the WFS is the well-deserved capstone of his long career.

      Like

  8. 31 August 2013 8:00 pm

    Monckton has never published a peer-reviewed article on science. He consistently misrepresents data and opinion of real scientists. Here is a point by point takedown of his stupid, lying address and slideshow:

    http://www.stthomas.edu/engineering/jpabraham/

    Like

    • 31 August 2013 8:36 pm

      Haydn,

      I do not understand the nature of your objection.

      (1). Mockton is reporting on an event. This is first person evidence. How many reporters at the BBC or NY Times have published peer-reviewed research?

      (2). As evidence supporting his report:
      *. I show the Climate pages of the WFS as “under revision”.
      *. This report has been widely distributed, with as yet no correction from the WFS.
      However, in this post I describe his report as “uncorroborated”.

      (3). Why are Mockton’s opinions on climate relevant to this report on the WFS? Witnesses often have strong opinions on the subject they report on. If you believe Mockton’s report is inaccurate, please say so — and give your reasons why.

      (4) While irrelevant to this issue, about that link you gave — by your own criterion it is not relevant testimony. Abraham is an Assoc Professor of Engineering. His CV shows much research about heat transfer, applied to a broad range of fields. I see no peer-reviewed research about climate change (discussions of “communication” and instrument design are distinct fields from climate change).

      Like

    • 31 August 2013 9:23 pm

      Haydn,

      Follow-up comment. It is a mystery to me why so many people listen to people like Mockton, whether they speak for or against CAGW (human-caused future catastrophic global warming). There are so many actual experts to listen to, easily accessible. Yet these amateur experts have come to dominate the public debate on both sides, reducing it to a cacophony.

      Considering the stakes, that’s a very bad development.

      Like

  9. JoyO permalink
    31 August 2013 9:54 pm

    After the findings of the East Anglia University hacker which revealed that the global scientists not following the Scientific Method of conducting research, I lost interest in global warming research. The East Anglia folks were selectively keeping data that promoted their global warming concept while discarding data that proved to be negative to the global warming concept; that these scientists were limiting peer reviews to their own little circle of global warming colleagues; that they refused to allow scientists with data that presented opposing views to publish in their technical publications or speak at their conferences; and that they refused to “share” their data with other scientists — i.e., Mann’s infamous hockey stick.

    I have lost all faith in these scientists–they are conducting research to prove whatever the government or entity funding their research wants to prove.

    Like

    • 31 August 2013 10:10 pm

      JoyO,

      Yours is a natural reaction to some of the darker aspects of the climate debates. But, unfortunately, science is an activity of people. Like you and me. And so it sometimes goes bad. We saw this with aspects of nuclear science after WW2. It’s happened before, and will happen again.

      Also, there are many scientists struggling against the politicization of the climate scientists. Such as Judith Curry (Prof climate science, GA Institute of Technology). Many of them have struggled quietly; some (like Curry) have struggled publicly — and suffered because of it. Don’t lump everybody in one bin.

      “Though the mills of Science grind slowly;
      Yet they grind exceeding small;
      Though with patience he stands waiting,
      With exactness grinds he all.”

      — Slight tweak of Henry W Longfellow’s poem “Retribution”, which is based on an ancient aphorism.

      Like

  10. 31 August 2013 9:54 pm

    Update: an important point

    Comment by Steve McIntyre posted at the WUWT article:

    Despite the opening sentence in the above post (“It’s official”), no such position was officially taken by the WFS. Indeed, many participants in the conference hold diametrically opposite views.

    That was my impression as well, that Mockton was overstating in his opening line — so I omitted it from the excerpt shown here.

    Like

  11. 31 August 2013 10:58 pm

    Why Science and Politics Don’t Mix“, By Clive Crook, Bloomberg, 20 August 2013

    Conclusion (why isn’t this obvious to all?):

    What to do about climate change is indeed a political question. Good science, along with good economics, is needed to inform the political judgment, but to claim that the science is settled and that the right policy is dictated by undisputed facts is false. The science isn’t settled, and even if it were, it wouldn’t dictate the policy. Voters know this, which is why the tactic didn’t work. Science, for its own sake and everybody else’s, should keep a cautious distance from politics.

    Like

  12. richard40 permalink
    1 September 2013 10:14 pm

    So the “universal scientific consensus” is not quite as universal as we thought, and the science is not quite as settled as we thought, and the world is not due to end in a few years unless WE DO SOMETHING NOW. I am glad that some scientists are waking up to the threat that the leftist politicization of the climate science field is to science as a whole. There might be something underneath all the leftist panicking over global warming, but until you replace the leftist politicized hacks with some real scientists, you will never find that underlying truth.

    Like

    • 1 September 2013 11:30 pm

      I think that is a bit harsh.

      Scientists are people, and so share the political currents of their time. Stephen Jay Gould’s books show that, esp the long history of white American scientists whose research “proved” white’s superiority.

      As for scientists acting as a mob to defend the reigning paradigm, that is standard operating procedure as described by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

      Under pressure, climate science has become a jacked up version of normal science — with these features intensified. This is bad, as we need something more like pharmaceutical research than the current carnival . Conflict of interest regulations, multidisciplinary teams, third party reviews of research, close attention to quality control.

      We know how to make this work. It probably will not happen without pressure from outside the science establishment.

      Like

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