The world is warming. Do you know how fast? How much it has warmed?

Summary:  One of the larger themes of the FM website has been documentation about the extent to which we have become gullible. The Left sees this in the Right. The Right in the Left. Both are right, since we are all Americans. Many posts have documented the faux history and faux economics of conservatives. The same phenomena is clearly seen in the Left’s signature issue: global warming. A high fraction of articles on every subject by Leftists mention the coming climate doom. Their articles about climate have graphics suggesting a world aflame, listing the already-severe effects of man-made warming. I wonder if one in a hundred activists can state even closely the degree of warming during the past 34 years that satellites have measured the Earth’s temperature. It’s very small.

This strikes at the core of our ability to govern ourselves. We have to do better. The truth is out there. We need only harden our resolve to see it, no matter what our tribal beliefs. No matter what our tribal leaders tell us.

Pure alarmist propaganda
Pure alarmist propaganda

Contents

  1. Status report: what do satellites tell us about global warming?
  2. The UK Met Office shows the long-term history of warming
  3. Who produces this satellite data & analysis?
  4. About The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)
  5. A few key things to remember about global warming!
  6. For More Information

To the right is a typical over-the-top image to arouse fear, about a world now less than one °F warmer than the 30-year average.

(1) Status report: what do satellites tell us about global warming in October 2013?

Satellites provide the most comprehensive and reliable record of the atmosphere’s warming since 1979.

The October 2013 Global Temperature Report
by the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (blue is cold; red warm}

October 2013 World Temperature
Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

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Key points from the report, which show a world that has warmed since 1979, but only slightly (few alarmists know this; fewer admit it):

  • Global composite temperature in October: +0.16°C (0.40°F) above the average for October during 1981-2010.
  • Global climate trend of temperature starting in 16 November 1978: +0.14°C (0.3°F) per decade.
  • Compared to seasonal norms, in October the coolest area on the globe was Kara Sea north of Russia, where temperatures in the troposphere were about 2.59°C (4.7°F) cooler than normal,
  • The warmest area was the Gulf of Alaska near Juneau, where tropospheric temperatures were 3.93°C (about 7.1°F) warmer than seasonal norms.
  • Anomalies are computed vs a 30 year base period. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recommends using the latest decade for the 30-year average.

Let’s look at the data since 1979 (the satellite dataset). The following graph shows, very roughly, 2 decades of cool weather, then 15 years of warm:

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October 2013 World Temperature Anomalies
Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville

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Roy Spencer (principal scientists on the team) shows another perspective on this data (at his website). Wide swings in temperature; relatively flat trend since 1998. For more about the pause see summaries of the growing body research about it here, and the IPCC’s view here.

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World Temperature History
From Roy Spencer, U AL-Huntsville

(2) The UK Met Office shows the long-term history — the vital context

These numbers cannot be properly understood until put in a historical context, from page 10 of “The Recent Pause in Global Warming” published by the UK Met Office in July 2013. Anthropogenic factors became the largest (not the only) driver since roughly 1950.

UK Met Report, July 2013
UK Met Report, July 2013

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(3) Who produces this satellite data and analysis?

About the global satellite data

As part of an ongoing joint project between The University of Alabama in Huntsville, NOAA and NASA, John Christy (professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at U AL-Huntsville) and Dr. Roy Spencer (an ESSC principal scientist) use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about 8,000 above sea level.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

(Source here)

(4) 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 (see summaries of the growing body research about it here, and the IPCC’s view here).
  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). Other that that stated in #3, 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.

(5) About The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)

Global warming
Global warming

Q. What exactly do we mean by Surface Air Temperature?

A. I doubt that there is a general agreement how to answer this question. Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. A reasonable suggestion might be to use the average temperature of the first 50 ft of air either above ground or above the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted. Even if the 50 ft standard were adopted, I cannot imagine that a weather station would build a 50 ft stack of thermometers to be able to find the true SAT at its location.

Q. What do we mean by daily mean SAT ?

A. Again, there is no universally accepted correct answer. Should we note the temperature every 6 hours and report the mean, should we do it every 2 hours, hourly, have a machine record it every second, or simply take the average of the highest and lowest temperature of the day ? On some days the various methods may lead to drastically different results.

Read the rest here.

(6) A few important 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.

(a)  The work of the IPCC and the major science institutes are the best guides for information about these issues.

(b)  The world has been warming during the past two centuries, in a succession of warming, cooling, and pauses. Since roughly 1950 anthropogenic causes have been the largest driver. Warming paused sometime in 1998-2000.

(c)  There is a debate about the attribution (causes) of past warming — which probably varied over time — between natural drivers (e.g., rebound from the Little Ice Age, solar influences) and anthropogenic drivers (eg, CO2, aerosols, land use changes). Other that that stated in #3, the IPCC’s reports make few claims about attribution of climate activity, as this remains actively debated in the literature.

(d)  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.

(e)  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.

(f)  Posts about preparing for climate change:

(7) For More Information

(a) Reference Pages about climate on the FM sites:

(b)  Other posts in this series about global warming:

  1. Lessons about global warming from Alaska, 9 January 2013
  2. Secrets about global warming that you must not know, least they ruin the narrative, 22 January 2013

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23 thoughts on “The world is warming. Do you know how fast? How much it has warmed?

    1. Nnoxks,

      Thanks for posting this!

      Nothing much can be said about this article without access to the subscription-only Quarterly Journal of the Royal Met Society. The authors’ method is to correct the surface station record by use of satellite data. The abstract does not mention how to reconcile the adjusted result with the satellite data, which seems like an important step.

      It will be interesting to see others review and replicate their findings.

      The RealScience post, in keeping with its role of advocacy only, does not mention this rather obvious question. If they follow their usual policy, anyone asking about this will be fobbed off brusquely or deleted.

      Given what we know of the grossly underfunded surface temperature networks, with minimal quality control and little transparency, my preference in these posts is to rely on the two satellite datasets (available back to 1979).

      Before 1979 we have only the surface stations, with their limited coverage and complex adjustments — plus the far more scanty sea surface temperature readings.

      Fortunately the most interesting activity is since 1979, with the rapid and accelerating CO2 levels.

    2. About “Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends“, Kevin Cowtan and Robert G. Way, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Met Society, in press.

      From The Guardian:

      This is of course just one study, as Dr. Cowtan is quick to note. “No difficult scientific problem is ever solved in a single paper. I don’t expect our paper to be the last word on this, but I hope we have advanced the discussion.”

      Lots of chatter on Twitter:

      1. Dana Nuccitelli (usual chaff from a climate activist): This new study kills the myth of the global warming pause.
      2. John Kennedy (scientist, UK Met Office): The irony is that the study being used to bash HadCRUT4 assumes that HadCRUT4 is correct where we have data.

      Judith Curry (Prof Atmosphere Science, GA Institute of Tech) has a post with comments about this study. Her bottom line:

      So I don’t think Cowtan and Wray’s analysis adds anything to our understanding of the global surface temperature field and the ‘pause.’

      There are many interesting papers coming out about climate. Here is another: “A review of uncertainty in in situ measurements and data sets of sea-surface temperature“, John J. Kennedy, Review of Geophysics, in press. Full copy here. Abstract:

      Archives of in situ sea-surface temperature (SST) measurements extend back more than 160 years. Quality of the measurements is variable and the area of the oceans they sample is limited, especially early in the record and during the two World Wars. Measurements of SST and the gridded data sets that are based on them are used in many applications so understanding and estimating the uncertainties are vital.

      The aim of this review is to give an overview of the various components that contribute to the overall uncertainty of SST measurements made in situ and of the data sets that are derived from them. In doing so, it also aims to identify current gaps in understanding.

      Uncertainties arise at the level of individual measurements with both systematic and random effects and, although these have been extensively studied, refinement of the error models continues. Recent improvements have been made in the understanding of the pervasive systematic errors that affect the assessment of long-term trends and variability. However, the adjustments applied to minimize these systematic errors are uncertain and these uncertainties are higher before the 1970s and particularly large in the period surrounding the Second World War owing to a lack of reliable metadata.

      The uncertainties associated with the choice of statistical methods used to create globally complete SST data sets have been explored using different analysis techniques but they do not incorporate the latest understanding of measurement errors and they want for a fair benchmark against which their skill can be objectively assessed. These problems can be addressed by the creation of new end-to-end SST analyses and by the recovery and digitization of data and metadata from ship log books and other contemporary literature.

  1. I understand that you are not a climate change denier. And you ask a valid question about the vaildity of models.

    Everyone should remember, thought that we cannot treat the findings of latest IPCC report as a finality. There is still on-going research, new data and new hypotheses. As I’m sure everyone understands, this is how science works: constant revisions, constant challenges to findings, new research and better explanations. The same process of revision and change applies to the development of models. We will have better answers as time goes on–maybe sooner than later.

    For example, there is “Coverage bias in the HadCRUT4 temperature series and its impact on recent temperature trends,” Cowtan & Way (2013), summarized for a lay audience here. It presents findings that assert warming is greater, not less, in the last fifteen years:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhJR3ywIijo

    Moreover, there is a clear lay explanation of what the IPCC actually says when it says that warming has slowed here: “Does the global warming ‘pause’ mean what you think it means?“,Dana Nuccitelli, blog of The Guardian, 18 October 2013 — “The slowed warming is limited to surface temperatures, two percent of overall global warming, and is only temporary”

    In fact this article explains:

    “The speed bump only applies to surface temperatures, which only represent about 2 percent of the overall warming of the global climate … As the IPCC figure indicates, over 90% of global warming goes into heating the oceans, and it continues at a rapid pace, equivalent to 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second.

    “Another important piece of oft-omitted information: while the warming of surface temperatures was relatively slow from 1998 to 2012, it was relatively fast from 1990 through 2006. Over longer time frames, for example from 1990 to 2012, average global surface temperatures have warmed as fast as climate scientists and their models expected.”

    Like they say, atmosphere CO2 increases and the sun continues to shine. That energy has to go somewhere. The real question is, how warm is it going to get?

    1. Marc,

      You are obviously a well-educated and intelligent person, and concerned. But you comment illustrates what I have written so long about, how we have become both gullible and indoctrinated. Let’s take this by line. All I have are questions.

      (1) “everyone should remember, thought that we cannot treat the findings of latest IPCC report as a finality.”

      While correct, what is the point of this? In the climate debate it is the activists who claim “the science is settled”, the skeptics who point to the unknowns and the ongoing research.

      As for my posts, that is something I mention in every post. In this post I mention several times the “growing body of research” and refer to the debate among scientists.

      (2) Dana Nuccitelli’s blog at the Guardian.

      This is absurd. The IPCC is designed to produce clear briefings for politicians. They do not write in Sanskrit for priests. There is no need to rely on an activist to explain what they say. That’s exactly what liberals condemn in the Tea Party, the epistemic closure so that all information is filtered thru true believers who screen out that which would disturb the flock.

      That is the point of these posts, showing that climate scientists speak quite clearly about these issues.

      (3) “And you ask a valid question about the vaildity of models.”

      To what are you referring? There is no mention of models in this post.

      (4) “Like they say, atmosphere CO2 increases and the sun continues to shine. That energy has to go somewhere. The real question is, how warm is it going to get?”

      I have cited the research of dozens of climate scientists, plus summaries of major climate science agencies. What is your point? Were they not clear?

      (5) A broader thought about these things, the point of these posts about climate.

      It’s a symmetry, Left and Right, both marching behind their leaders, eyes closed, ears covered. Where do you stand in this parade? Perhaps this is the top question facing each America today.

    2. Joao,

      Thanks for the calculation! Reminds me of the activists use of the idiotic atomic bomb metric (the equivalent of right-wingers use of similarly inappropriate measures to suggest that the Federal government is way to big).

      From Bob Tilsdale:
      http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/comments-on-stefan-rahmstorfs-post-at-realclimate-what-ocean-heating-reveals-about-global-warming/

      Stefan {Realclimate} included the nonsensical “Hiroshima bomb” metric:

      “The increase in the amount of heat in the oceans amounts to 17 x 1022 Joules over the last 30 years. That is so much energy it is equivalent to exploding a Hiroshima bomb every second in the ocean for thirty years.”

      But Stefan failed to put it into perspective. As I wrote in Climate Models Fail, based on Stephens et al (2013):

      “Note: Radiative imbalance is the metric that alarmists like to portray in terms of atomic bombs. What the alarmists fail to tell their readers is that sunlight and natural levels of infrared radiation at the surface are almost 890 times the number of atomic bombs they’re claiming, and that the uncertainties in radiative imbalance are 28 times the radiative imbalance.”

    3. You quote me and then ask:

      “(1) “everyone should remember, thought that we cannot treat the findings of latest IPCC report as a finality.”

      While correct, what is the point of this?”

      The point is that the conclusion you cite about the snowdown in warming is not a final, definitive conclusion. I produced two examples, one from that very IPCC report, that question that conclusion and provide counter evidence that it is still warming.

    4. Marc,

      “The point is that the conclusion you cite about the snowdown in warming is not a final, definitive conclusion. I produced two examples, one from that very IPCC report, that question that conclusion and provide counter evidence that it is still warming.”

      People are playing with your mind.

      As this post states, echoing the IPCC, UK Met Office, and a large body of peer-reviewed research — this pause is a change in the trend of the Earth’s surface temperature. Each of the graphs is explicit about that — section five discusses this in detail.

      The surface temperature is the metric of primary interest with respect to Earth’s climate, as seen in the past IPCC reports which focused almost exclusively on it. All predictions were of the surface temperature.

      Some climate scientists, such as the eminent Roger Pielke Sr (see Wikipedia), said this focus was inappropriate, and that the focus should be on the larger heat content of the atmosphere-ocean system (source). For this he was smeared, called a denier, by activists. Such as by the activists at Skeptical Science (Dana Nuccitelli’s launch pad). See this page calling him a “climate misinformed” (note all of his quotes now appear correct).

      Now that the surface temperature has paused, attention turns to the larger climate system — no acknowledgement, of course, by activists that their forecasts and dire predictions were wrong. No apologies to scientists they smeared, who have been proven correct. And the spin begins anew.

      Even funnier is activists’ reaction to research questioning the accuracy of the surface temperature record. One year ago doing so was the ticket to instant condemnation as a denier. Now activists say a single study becomes the definitive rebuttal to the large body of research — using all the available datasets, which agree that warming has paused.

      Equally sad is their continued misrepresentation of the scientific research. As the many peer-reviewed articles I have quoted show — as does the IPCC — the deep ocean might be warming. Which is one of several theories about the cause of the pause. That is a preliminary conclusion from the Argo data. The difference is hundredths of a degree, at or perhaps beyond its measurement capabilities. Also the Argo system’s calibrations are an ongoing project (and have been controversial since the start).

      Two more specifics about your comments:

      (1). “I produced two examples, one from that very IPCC report”

      You did NOT quote the IPCC report. You quoted an activist telling you what the IPCC says. Not the same thing, as I have shown in many posts.

      (2). More generally, you state as corrections or rebuttals to me things I have said for years — and for which I have been condemned as a denier for saying.
      * The science is not settled.
      * Science research is about probabilities, which is how the IPCC states it’s conclusions.

      There are several possible explanations for this oddity. This might be the first climate-related post here that you have read (though your comment implies otherwise) — so you are unaware that these are the two major points of my several score posts about climate. Or you have a poor memory.

    5. Marc,

      Short version reply…

      “The point is that the conclusion you cite about the snowdown in warming is not a final, definitive conclusion.”

      To bad you were not at Naked Capitalism to defend from me from the Leftists when I said that. DENIER DENIER. DENIER.

      I said that stating the conclusions of the IPCC and major climate agencies — formerly described by activists as the unquestionable “gold standard” — was an OK thing to do. DENIER. DENIER. DENIER.

      Seeing my themes from a hundred posts given back to me as rebuttals is a bit much.

  2. Just wanted to stop by and say ‘thank you’ for compiling this. Not always easy to sift scientific wheat from activist tares. Thank you for taking the time to do so.

    1. Greer,

      Thank you for the feedback.

      I wonder however if there is any point to this. Looking back at the 31 thousand comments since starting this project in 2007, I wonder if this is best seen as a large home science project.

      I have mostly focused the FM website on the obvious, things easily documented. The consistent push-back in comments gives the conclusion, quite robust, that Americans are hopelessly gullible — and so have become thoroughly indoctrinated.

      Look at the posts on the PREDICTIONS page (top menu bar). Those had two kinds of reactions when posted. Few hits (like my this week’s post about QE, which I suspect might prove prophetic). Or lots of hits with intense criticism in the comments — like my posts in early 2008 saying that we might be in a recession.

      Giving information to Americans is, I fear, like pouring water on a rock. Only a surface change, quickly reversed. It is like giving diamonds to a duck, who prefers corn.

    2. I think it is a bit facile of you to associate push-back in comments (particularly in the climate posts) with thorough indoctrination.

      There is certainly room for rational, unindoctrinated, people to disagree with your particular views on climate change (or indeed any of the subjects you address). There is strong evidence that climate change and its cousin, ocean acidification, are cause for deep concern, and will likely present grave threats to the future stability of our increasingly global civilization. The scientific community is largely in agreement on that point.

      But your posts are dedicated, it seems, to downplaying such concerns, and implying that those that express them are “hopelessly gullible.”

      We have in the past established that we agree that money should be poured into climate and alternative energy research, and carbon emissions reduced as soon as possible. I can’t argue with that. But it is not reasonable to dismiss those who are more concerned than yourself (a position which describes an enormous number of professional scientists) as completely indoctrinated and incapable of examining the evidence for themselves.

    3. nnoxks,

      “But your posts are dedicated, it seems, to downplaying such concerns, and implying that those that express them are “hopelessly gullible.” ”

      That is a reading FAIL But it is a common type of rebuttal to these posts, #2 on the list I wrote in 2008 about generic replies to posts describing climate science (I could reply to almost all comments by just citing one of these 8 generic fallacies):
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/2008/11/17/agw-2/

      In fact I have said that we should be guided by the peer-reviewed climate literature, with heavy weight given to the conclusions of scientists thru the reports of the IPCC and major scientific agencies.

      The gullibility is on the part of people who listen to activists that misrepresent the state of climate science, expressing with confidence forecasts that the IPCC etc consider of low probability — as in much of the hysteria about extreme climate. And even to the extent — as I and others have repeated documented — misrepresenting or even lying about what is known.

      This post is a prime example of the result of concerned people fed propaganda — which you can verify. Ask some concerned people how much the work has warmed since 1979 (per the major global temperature datasets). Report back their answers. I have done so; their answers are typically several times the actual number.

      The most common thread of rebuttals to these posts is that climate scientists are ignorant, unless they believe in extreme climate outcomes (generic reply #8). I have written posts collecting examples of these. See section 9:
      http://fabiusmaximus.com/science-nature/

    4. Nnoxks,

      Short answer:

      “There is strong evidence that climate change and its cousin, ocean acidification, are cause for deep concern, and will likely present grave threats to the future stability of our increasingly global civilization. The scientific community is largely in agreement on that point. But your posts are dedicated, it seems, to downplaying such concerns, and implying that those that express them are “hopelessly gullible.”

      I’ll call you on that claim. Provide an example of a post here about climate that “downplays” the climate science consensus on “that point”.

    5. Fabius,

      I know even less about climate science than I do about economics. (Yes, that is possible. Quit laughing!)

      One of the things I’ve found is that when a question or subject has become politicized, it can be very difficult for a person who is not educated in the field to learn a little about it.

      I don’t expect to be able to “do” economics or climate science, nor do I expect to be able to read the papers experts write for one another. If I’m not prepared to invest the years of study and hard work necessary to become fluent in those subjects (and I am not), I can’t expect to have that level of understanding.

      However, there are three things to which I aspire in subject areas in which I never expect to become well-versed:

      First, to get past the “Dunning–Kruger threshold”: not to be so ignorant that I have no clue as to just how ignorant I am. (In my experience, one can often guess that a person has not yet reached that threshold by their use of the phrase “common sense” and their conviction that everyone else lacks it.)

      Second, to have a simplified but useful idea of what the field encompasses, what is known, and what is unknown.

      Third, to be able to recognize common bullshit: nonsense perpetrated by people who either are beneath the D-K threshold themselves, or presume we are gullible enough to believe whatever story they tell us. (Experts will, of course, always be able to mislead those who know little; our only defenses against them are other experts who won’t let the deception pass, and intermediaries—e.g., journalists, teachers, sites like this one—who have invested the effort to understand the experts well enough to sort out the arguments between them and clarify which represent legitimate debates and which are attempts to exploit our lack of detailed knowledge.)

      I’ve found this site very helpful regarding matters like climate change and war. Any one of us will know very little about most things. It is not humanly possible for it to be otherwise. It can still be worthwhile to gain a sense of the nature and scope of those things, of what is known and what is not, even if one is not prepared to marshal and apply that knowledge oneself. And it’s always good to refine one’s sense of smell for bullshit.

      Economics remains baffling to me. I do recognize that my persistent intuition that I have almost grasped something that everyone else is missing is a strong indicator of a D-K trap. The funny thing is, that still doesn’t kill the intuition.

      I have mostly focused the FM website on the obvious, things easily documented. The consistent push-back in comments gives the conclusion, quite robust, that Americans are hopelessly gullible — and so have become thoroughly indoctrinated.

      Don’t be too discouraged. When people agree, they cheer. When they disagree, they argue. When they understand something they didn’t understand before, they tend to sit quietly and think about it.

  3. My reaction—I’m not sure if it’s a good one—to discussions like this is to want to step back and recall what it is that we need to know in the first place, and see if we’re getting anywhere. So, here are what I think must be the important questions for those of us to whom climate science is not an end in itself:

    1. How likely is it that human factors which we could change, if they continue unchanged, will result in significantly disruptive climate changes in the foreseeable future?

    2. What changes would we need to make, and how soon would we need to make them, to accomplish what reduction in the risk of undesirable outcomes?

    I gather that the answer to the first question is, “very likely”; and to the second, “no answer that is both specific enough and reliable enough to be useful is available.”

    Hence, I take it, the call for more research and broader interdisciplinary study as the only policy prescriptions in your articles.

    1. Coises,

      Those are important questions, but the answers are insufficient to make public policy decisions.

      These answers are meaningful only when we have a better understanding of the timing, magnitude, and effects of the risk — in this case, warming of the lower atmosphere and resulting climate change.

      People concerned about this tend to get their information from activists — just like members of the Tea Party Movement. The latter worry about decay of American civilization from immigration, rise of the moochers, and hyperinflation very soon. People concerned about climate laugh at the weak analytical basis of these claims, while usually ignoring how their worries are only weakly supported by the IPPC’s work.

      Hence the oddity — central to this issue — of people citing the IPCC being called “deniers”, and eminent climate scientists whose analysis has been proven correct being smeared by activists whose forecasts have repeatedly been proven wrong.

      Until the problems causing these results are fixed, I consider it unlikely to get any significant public policy action — even obvious ones (like those I have recommended) — approved.

      My guess as to the likely result is that climate policy follows the same path as peak oil. Noise, heat but little light — until Nature provides an answer that resolves the debate. Not “the” answer; merely one that shifts public support decisively to one side.

      For peak oil that was the fracking boom and slow economic growth, ending public policy action to prepare for peak oil. That does not mean that we will not react peak oil within the 20 year window forecasted in 2005 — merely that if so we will be unprepared for it.

      For climate science, if the pause in SAT warming continues for another decade or more before warming resumes — as some scientists have predicted — then there will be little or no public policy action. Perhaps even a reduction of research funding from the already crazy-low levels.

      If so, then we should pray for new energy technology (e.g., the Polywell or other fusion device) to become commercially feasible soon. Other than that the only hope would be that current estimates of the climate’s sensitivity to CO2 are far too high, as some research suggests.

      The bottom line: the situation is complex. Far more so then activists tell you.

  4. The IPCC may be the best source for information about global warming, but it is not very good. I would encourage people to read the InterAcademy Council IAC) report on IPCC procedures that was commissioned by the IPCC following the revelation of many errors in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/

    The IPCC claims to have adopted many of the reforms recommended by the IAC, but events, beginning with the leaking of the Secord Order Draft (SOD) of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of Working Group 1 (scientific basis) on December 13, 2012 and a subsequent leak by Walter Mims III (another IPCC reviewer) on December 14, 2012 gave strong indication that the problems highighed by the IAC have not been resolved.

    Press reports of the protracted negotiations regarding wording of the final AR5 Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) prior to its release in September 27, 2014 should realize the SPM is heavily influenced by political consideration, and is not an apolitcal summary of climate science.

    For example, Figure 1-4 of the SOD clearly demonstrated that previous projections of global temeratures by the IPCC have failed to come close to matching actual observed temperatures. Figure 1-4 or anything similar to it are missing from the AR5 SPM.

    Another example involves GCR (Galactic Cosmic Radiation)

    The key sentence from Chapter 7 (Clouds and Aerosols) of Working Group 1 (“The Scientific Basis”) is
    “Many empirical relationships have been reported between GCR or cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system (e.g., Bond et al., 2001; Dengel et al., 2009; Ram and Stolz, 1999). The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance [TSI] alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link. We focus here on observed relationships between GCR and aerosol and cloud properties.”

    The Chapter 7 authors are saying there is strong evidence (“many empirical relationships”) for enhanced solar forcing beyond total solar irradiance (TSI), even if they don’t know what the mechanism is. The concept that GCR could influence cloud formation was established by experiments conducted at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in 2011 which showed increased radiation could greatly increase cloud formation.

    There is no mention of GCR issue in the final AR5 SPM.
    There is nothing even hinting at GCR

    1. SLEcoman,

      Thank you for bringing this up!

      The IPCC is a political creature, and as such is quite imperfect. Any organization created to give public policy advice on something so political and economically significant as climate will be political.

      The IPPCC is IMO the best we have. Many recommendations have been made to improve it. Like most such organizations, it is resistant to criticism.

    2. The IPCC reminds of the joke.

      Dan: Why do you play poker in the back room at the Green Street Tavern? The game is crooked.

      Joe: It’s the only game in town.

      If one is going to rely on the IPCC for information, I would recommend utilizing the leaked SOD of WG1’s AR5, as this document has less political influence, though certainly not without political issues (e.g. not citing NASA’s MVAP study because it shows no increase in atmospheric water vapor levels) than the more politically driven SPM or the final WG1 AR5 which is currently being modified to conform with the SPM (yes Virginia, a scientific report is being edited to match political needs).

      Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time to wade through the 2,000+ pages of WG1’s SOD of AR5.

      I notice that in your blog roll you have links to Judith Curry’s Climate, etc. I would encourage people to go to Climate, etc. and type in the search word “IPCC” and read some of her blog posts including: “IPCC: Solar Variations Don’t Matter”, “Negotiating the IPCC SPM”, and “IPCC: fit for its purpose?”

      I think the IPCC is merely the most obvious example of the problem of advocacy science and the inherent ptoential problems with government funded research. Many liberals are very good at reminding us of Pres. Eisenhower’s farewell address where he warned of the dangers of the military industrial complex, but they seem to have forgotten his second warning regarding the dangers of government funded research.

      The problem with advocacy science is that informed public debate is not possible because relevant information is withheld from the public.

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