Tag Archives: causation

IPCC- the dangers of asking the wrong question

JR Max Wheel

30th September 2013

Anyone wishing to comment on the matter of climate changes runs into a wall of noise and vituperation. This has degenerated into a quasi-religious debate, accompanied by strong overtones of original sin- it is our fault and we must adjust according to the IPCC’s highly prescriptive views, which means a massive shift to decarbonise economies in a time scale that is both increasingly unaffordable and too rapid to be achievable.

The mandate of the IPCC was not however to ask what causes climate change and what, if anything can be done about it, it was an entirely different question. It was “for the purpose of assessing “the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. It does not carry out new research nor does it monitor climate-related data. It bases its assessment mainly on published and peer reviewed scientific technical literature”. In other words it assumes that climate change is a human induced matter from the outset, so asking and funding climate scientists ( and many who are not) produces an unequivocal answer that 95% of expert opinion understands that humans are indeed responsible for it.

In a devastating critique of IPCC’s methodology and practice, Professor McKitrick, a member of the IPCC demonstrates that there is an opaque method of lead author selection, an absence, even a suppression of of giving space to dissenting reviews, conflicts of interest, deliberate rewriting by lead authors, and manipulation of data. If this were not bad enough, the appointees from the 195 countries contain many who lack specific expertise on climate science. Stunningly a journalist, Donna Laframboise, unearthed that the World Wildlife Fund had appointed 130 scientists in a targeted campaign, who were responsible for penning 28 out of 44 articles and were coordinating lead authors in 15 of the 44 chapters of the last report AR4. This does not even address the now infamous Climategate scandal.  McKitrick recommendations are for improvement in the whole methodology and management of the IPCC system. Link here: http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/mckitrick-ipcc_reforms.pdf

This matters deeply because it is a UN body and should have an unimpeachable standing. It does not and is leading to ever growing public dissatisfaction with IPCC alarmism and myth creation (melting glaciers and declining polar bear populations). The green lobby has already landed the public with inefficient wind and solar technologies supported by large subsidies and expensive back-up for intermittent and hence non-dispatchable power supply.

Instead of asking what is causing climate change, the IPCC have sought to focus on scientific papers which answer the question that they have asked themselves, the evidence that it is caused solely or mostly by human behaviour:  this is the antithesis of scientific methodology and at worst and exercise in pure propaganda. As it happens there are a number of competing views about causes of climate change from cosmic radiation and cloud formation, sun cycles, variable earth orbits, volcanic activity, ocean current circulations, these may or may not be exaggerated or diminished by human activity. The truth is we do not know and in such circumstances, scientists should follow the scientific method and establish testable hypotheses.

This is, however, a political battle as much as a scientific one and as such it is open to a mix of dogma and self-interest (attractive funding streams for academics). Climate change is certainly no new phenomenon or life on earth would simply not have evolved. In such long time scales and such complex interactions, we do not know. Why then should Lord Stern assert that “Business will be watching world leaders and their ministers to check they understand the findings of the IPCC”. Perhaps the question should be that the public ( and its leaders) should examine the workings of the IPCC and its supporters and ensure that they deliver properly structured, transparent and sensible science and policies and not assume that the rot set in 1750 with Western industrialization

Climate Change & UK Energy chaos

JR Max Wheel

4th July 2013

Two irritating items caught my attention on the BBC, particularly appropriate at a time when the Broadcaster has been hauled over the coals for accusations of bias. Firstly, a fatuous piece from science correspondent David Shukman, standing in Death Valley, and delivering an apocalyptic piece about the highest temperature recorded on the planet at 52.5C and the possibility that it might reach 53C, shock horror! The second was a report on the decadal statistics showing that the period of 2001-2010 were the hottest ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization and linking it back to rising sea levels, increased deaths from heat waves and extreme weather events.  The usual subtext is of course it’s all our fault because, like original sin, it’s man-made and hence the other sub text that goes with this type of reporting we should all get behind renewable energy because it is the only hope of reversing or managing this trend.  Contrary views are neither welcome nor encouraged. The truth is that no one actually knows what causes climate change, but without it we would certainly not be here at all.

It is part of the amazing 97.4% of climate scientists are in consensus that global warming is a man-made problem. All your fault then, turn the lights off, unplug the fridge and get back to your cave.

Well-known author Michael Crichton nailed this a decade ago when he pointed out that consensus in science is not a healthy issue at all and that it is precisely the challenges to the status quo that has allowed the most profound insights, so no Galileo, Newton, or Einstein welcome then.

The tissue of fabricated evidence and manipulated figures from the IPCC, not many climate scientists there, and the scandal of Climategate e-mails, pontifical interventions from politicians like Al Gore make for dire reading.

We need some facts because we cannot base any rational policy decisions on the ever-growing pile of selective science and some of it from both sides of the divide.

For the serious review of the literature, it is worth reading the detailed review of SINTEF, a Norwegian think-tank based in Trondheim. Link here: Report A 24071 dated April 2013.

First, here is that famous 97.4% consensus- oh dear only 77 peer reviewed climate scientists, not quite so impressive.

Let us continue the now established practice of selective quotes.

1997/8 was the hottest year on record in the very warm 1990s until the WMO produced its latest figures, (Mann et al) oh no it wasn’t !Go back just a few hundred years more to the period 1000 – 1200 AD and you find that the climate was considerably warmer than now. This era is known as the Medieval Warm Period.” It said, “By 1300 it began to cool, and by 1400 we were well into the Little Ice Age. It is no surprise that temperatures in 1997 were warmer than they were in the Little Ice Age”, and so if “1997 had been compared with the years around 1000 AD, 1997 would have looked like a rather cool year” rather than being the warmest on record. It said that the Medieval Warm Period predated industrial greenhouse gas emissions, and had a natural origin.

Also, measurement is a big problem. A study by Watts et al. (2012) showed that half of the recent warming measured in the US is artificial, caused by measuring problems:

Ah well but it is the dangerous C02 then, – um, no apparently. This paper argues even causality is wrong

Implications of the Secondary Role of Carbon Dioxide and Methane Forcing in Climate Change: Past, Present, and Future (Physical Geography, Volume 28, Number 2, pp. 97-125, March 2007)- Willie H. Soon

The paper argues that: “A review of the recent refereed literature fails to confirm quantitatively that carbon dioxide (CO2) radiative forcing was the prime mover in the changes in temperature, ice sheet volume, and related climatic variables in the glacial and interglacial episodes of the past 650,000 years, even under the “fast-response” framework where the convenient if artificial distinction between forcing and feedback is assumed. Atmospheric CO2 variations generally follow changes in temperature and other climatic variables rather than preceding them.”

If this were not mad or bad enough we have chosen renewable energy, supported by mass subsidies argued by some to be one the largest transfers from poor to rich in history. No objections to sensible renewables, hydro power, tidal and geo-thermal but who seriously would argue that solar is suitable for the latitude of the UK or that wind power is anything less than intermittent, lacks scale, is destructive of the landscape and requires hefty conventional back-up.

The world it is now slowly being realised is swimming in hydrocarbons, conventional and alternative, yet we have closed coal stations at Didcot and we have also embarked on the conversion of the largest power station at Drax from coal to wood biomass. This requires chopping down trees and shipping the feedstock thousands of miles from Canada, the US and Sweden. How green a solution is that? The Electricity Market Reform is so badly drafted as a Bill as to need a complete rewrite to keep the lights on in the UK. Meanwhile Germany racks up new emissions levels and builds more coal-fired stations, albeit not at anything like the rate of China and the pariah state the US has virtually halved emissions by shifting from coal to gas.

The complex science of climate is driven by many factors from ocean temperatures to space weather, so a consensus from the self-interested and doom sayers is no basis for framing policy whatsoever,