UPDATE: Annan now suggests the IPCC “is in a bit of a pickle”, see below.
UPDATE2: Title has been changed to reflect Annan’s new essay, suggesting lying for political purposes inside the IPCC. Also added some updates about Aldrin et al and other notes for accuracy. See below.
Readers may recall there has been a bit of a hullabaloo at Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth of the New York Times over the press release I first carried at WUWT, saying that I had “seized on it”.
I beg to differ with Andy’s characterization, as I simply repeated the press release verbatim without any embellishments. My only contribution was the title: Yet another study shows lower climate sensitivity. It turns out to the surprise of many that the subject of the press release was not peer reviewed, but based on previous cumulative work by the Norwegian Research Council. That revelation set Andy off again, in a good way with this: When Publicity Precedes Peer Review in Climate Science (Part One), and I followed up with this story demonstrating a lack of and a need for standards in climate science press releases by the worlds largest purveyor of Science PR, Eurekalert: Eurekalert’s lack of press release standards – a systemic problem with science and the media
It turns out that all of this discussion was tremendously fortuitous.
Surprisingly, although the press release was not about a new peer reviewed paper (Update: it appears to be a rehash and translation of a release about Aldrin et al from October), it has caused at least one scientist to consider it. Last night I was cc’d an exceptional email from Andrew Revkin forwarding an email (Update: Andy says of a comment from Dot Earth) quoting climate scientist James Annan, who one could call a member of the “hockey team” based on his strong past opinions related to AGW and paleoclimatology.
Andrew Revkin published the email today at the NYT Dot Earth blog as a comment in that thread, so now I am free to reproduce it here where I was not last night.
Below is the comment left by Andy, quoting Annan’s email, bolding added:
The climate scientist James Annan sent these thoughts by email:
‘Well, the press release is a bit strange, because it sounds like it is talking about the Aldrin et al paper which was published some time ago, to no great fanfare. I don’t know if they have a further update to that.
Anyway, there have now been several recent papers showing much the same – numerous factors including: the increase in positive forcing (CO2 and the recent work on black carbon), decrease in estimated negative forcing (aerosols), combined with the stubborn refusal of the planet to warm as had been predicted over the last decade, all makes a high climate sensitivity increasingly untenable. A value (slightly) under 2 is certainly looking a whole lot more plausible than anything above 4.5.’
And this is what many have been saying now and for some time, that the climate sensitivity has been overestimated. Kudos to Annan for realizing the likelihood of a lower climate sensitivity.
The leader of the “hockey team”, Dr. Michael Mann will likely pan it, but that’s “Mikey, he hates everything”. I do wonder though, if he’ll start calling James Annan a “denier” as he has done in other instances where some scientist suggests a lower climate sensitivity?
UPDATE: over at Annans’ blog, now there is this new essay expounding on the issue titled: A sensitive matter, and this paragraph in it caught my eye because it speaks to a recent “leak” done here at WUWT:
But the point stands, that the IPCC’s sensitivity estimate cannot readily be reconciled with forcing estimates and observational data. All the recent literature that approaches the question from this angle comes up with similar answers, including the papers I mentioned above. By failing to meet this problem head-on, the IPCC authors now find themselves in a bit of a pickle. I expect them to brazen it out, on the grounds that they are the experts and are quite capable of squaring the circle before breakfast if need be. But in doing so, they risk being seen as not so much summarising scientific progress, but obstructing it.
Readers may recall this now famous graph from the IPCC leak, animated and annotated by Dr. Ira Glickstein in this essay here:
Yes, the IPCC is “in a bit of a pickle” to say the least, since as Annan said in his comment/email to Revkin:
…combined with the stubborn refusal of the planet to warm as had been predicted over the last decade, all makes a high climate sensitivity increasingly untenable.
UPDATE 2: Annan also speaks about lying as a political motivator within the IPCC, I’ve repeated this extraordinary paragraph in full. Bold mine.
Note for the avoidance of any doubt I am not quoting directly from the unquotable IPCC draft, but only repeating my own comment on it. However, those who have read the second draft of Chapter 12 will realise why I previously said I thought the report was improved :-) Of course there is no guarantee as to what will remain in the final report, which for all the talk of extensive reviews, is not even seen by the proletariat, let alone opened to their comments, prior to its final publication. The paper I refer to as a “small private opinion poll” is of course the Zickfeld et al PNAS paper. The list of pollees in the Zickfeld paper are largely the self-same people responsible for the largely bogus analyses that I’ve criticised over recent years, and which even if they were valid then, are certainly outdated now. Interestingly, one of them stated quite openly in a meeting I attended a few years ago that he deliberately lied in these sort of elicitation exercises (i.e. exaggerating the probability of high sensitivity) in order to help motivate political action. Of course, there may be others who lie in the other direction, which is why it seems bizarre that the IPCC appeared to rely so heavily on this paper to justify their choice, rather than relying on published quantitative analyses of observational data. Since the IPCC can no longer defend their old analyses in any meaningful manner, it seems they have to resort to an unsupported “this is what we think, because we asked our pals”. It’s essentially the Lindzen strategy in reverse: having firmly wedded themselves to their politically convenient long tail of high values, their response to new evidence is little more than sticking their fingers in their ears and singing “la la la I can’t hear you”.
Oh dear oh dear oh dear…