Monday, July 22, 2013

Was The Economist Irresponsible?

I just can't agree that The Economist did anything "irresponsible" by publishing their article about a possible lower climate sensitivity in (leaked) draft reports of the IPCC 5AR.

The Economist's allegiance is to journalism and their readers, not to the IPCC. If indeed the IPCC is near concluding that equilibirum climate sensitivity -- or the transient climate response, the warming at the time of doubled atmospheric -- is lower than thought, as the recent paper by Otto et al suggested (for TCR, not ECS), that is indeed a huge deal, and no one can be blamed for reading every tea leaf they can find. The Economist gave plenty of appropriate caveats that put the information in the appropriate context.

It's a big deal because if the world has an extra 15 or 30 years to reach a given level of warming, then it has more time to develop/perfect alternative energy producing technologies -- and they are the real solution to the carbon problem, because CO2 emissions cannot be cut nearly enough without them.

Given the cost curve it's been on, large-scale solar energy could well be much cheaper then, cheaper even than fossil fuels. And it gives more time to buld up wind and nuclear, and maybe even see real advances in wave power or fusion.

The IPCC has made a fetish of secrecy, and I don't think it accomplishes much of anything. Sure, these documents are drafts and they may well change. But their final conclusions aren't holy writ, independent of how they got there. Given the publication of Otto et al and recent thinking like it, a final IPCC 5AR that had identical conclusions to the 4AR wouldn't be believable anyway. So what if the world knows the 5AR is leaning in a slightly different direction? I don't see that that information harms anyone, and it may well be useful for planning (to the extent anyone is planning, anyway).

8 comments:

Jay Alt said...

Taking a page from Gullible's Travels?
Richard Alley puts climate sensitivity and climate zombies into perspective.
From 11 to 17 minutes.

A Historic Look at the Future

Unknown said...

I agree about the Economist but surely the IPCC would be false to its charter if it embraced single study syndrome?

Neill Stokes said...

Heretic.

charlesH said...

All I can say is:

Wow! You almost sound reasonable.

"If indeed the IPCC is near concluding that equilibirum climate sensitivity -- or the transient climate response, the warming at the time of doubled atmospheric -- is lower than thought,"

"more time to buld up wind and nuclear,"

charlesH said...

Jim Hansen Presses the Climate Case for Nuclear Energy

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/jim-hansen-presses-the-climate-case-for-nuclear-energy/

Neill Stokes said...

So David, did you receive an order over your earbud to reverse course?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sensitive is the climate to increasing levels of C02?

The temperature record of the last 15 years indicates not so much.

9:33 PM
Blogger David Appell said...

The temperature record of the last 15 years indicates not so much.

False. You are making the mistake of looking at a tiny sliver of the climate picture, the surface, which is subject to great variability.

The surface is probably the absolute worst place to look for the energy imbalance caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases.

8:16 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAH!

CAGW was sold to the world largely through surface data.

I can smell the desperation....

12:33 PM
Blogger David Appell said...

No, it wasn't -- the warnings were/are that the Earth's greenhouse effect is being enhanced, i.e. is it receiving more energy than it is emitting, and that this leads to surface warming, sea level rise, and ice melting. And it is. It's just that lately natural cycles (especially ENSOs and the PDO) are working to mask surface warming, whereas in the last decades of the 20th century it was acting in concert with surface warming, enhancing it. Aerosols too, probably.

Has there been a recent renewed recognition of the role of natural variability? Yes. It was easier to overlook in the 80s/90s when it added to warming. This is how science advances.

This really isn't a difficult concept, and I don't know why deniers are pretending they don't understand it.

(Well, actually I do understand, but you know what I mean.)

The surface will warm further -- it has to. Then people like you will be pointing out the effect of natural cycles. That will be fun.

12:52 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for acknowledging that climate is far less sensitive to increasing CO2 than supposed, and that natural variability dominates.

"This really isn't a difficult concept, and I don't know why deniers are pretending they don't understand it."

"Deniers" have long propounded the dominant role of natural variability -- as you know despite the previous incredibly disingenuous statement.

Look at a comparison graph over the 20th c of PDO phase shifts, temperatures and CO2 levels, and it becomes very clear what is much more likely driving temperature change and what is not.

Y'all have moved the goal posts so far so many times, isn't it time to just toss 'em over the cliff?

1:27 PM
Blogger David Appell said...

I didn't acknowledge any such thing, so keep your thank you.

Neill Stokes said...

And btw, 'unadjusted' ARGO data shows ocean warming has slowed.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/24/reactions-to-the-pause-grasping-at-strawmen-in-hidey-holes/

Unknown said...

Ah, yes, WUWT, the Biblical source of all good deniers. Ever heard of peer review?

As for "natural variability", kindly explain how "natural variability" can generate enough energy to case an imbalance at the top of the atmosphere? There is a little think called Conservation of Energy which means you have to explain where the extra energy is coming from.