The Royal Society's Toned Down Climate Stance

The statement and document from the Royal Society follows this press release

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 30 September 2010

LONDON, 30 September – The Global Warming Policy Foundation has welcomed the Royal Society’s decision to revise and tone down its position on climate change. Its new climate guide is an improvement on their more alarmist 2007 pamphlet which caused an internal rebellion by more than 40 fellows of the Society and triggered a review and subsequent revisions.

The former publication gave the misleading impression that the ‘science is settled’ – the new guide accepts that important questions remain open and uncertainties unresolved. “The Royal Society now also agrees with the GWPF that the warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years,” said Dr Benny Peiser, the Director of the GWPF.

Dr David Whitehouse, the science editor of the GWPF said: “The biggest failing of the new guide is that it dismisses temperature data prior to 1850 as limited and leaves it at that. It would cast a whole new light on today’s warming if the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period and the Bronze Age Warm Period were as warm as today, possiblity even warmer than today. A thorough discussion of the growing empirical evidence for the global existence of the Medieval Warm Period and its implications would have been a valuable addition to the new report.”

In their old guide, the Royal Society demanded that governments should take “urgent steps” to cut CO2 emissions “as much and as fast as possible.” This political activism has now been replaced by a more sober assessment of the scientific evidence and ongoing climate debates.

“If this voice of moderation had been the Royal Society’s position all along, its message to Government would have been more restrained and Britain’s unilateral climate policy would not be out of sync with the rest of the world,” Dr Peiser said.

###

The statement and document from the Royal Society follows:

Climate change: A Summary of the Science

The Royal Society, 30 September 2010

Climate change continues to be a subject of intense public and political debate. Because of the level of interest in the topic the Royal Society has produced a new guide to the science of climate change. The guide summarises the current scientific evidence on climate change and its drivers, highlighting the areas where the science is well established, where there is still some debate, and where substantial uncertainties remain.

The document was prepared by a working group chaired by Professor John Pethica, Vice President of the Royal Society and was approved by the Royal Society Council.

Download the guide here (PDF).

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Enneagram

Common sense and cold reasoning will hopefully prevail. Passion has no place in rational discourse. Always “pathos” leads to pathology.

Jimmy Haigh

The Royal Society disappoints.

BUCKO36

An overdue “CRACK in the DIKE”!

Daniel H

My first thought was: “Why is there a picture of a thresher on the cover?”
Then I downloaded the report and discovered that the image is actually an illustration of Europe’s CryoSat research satellite. Interesting!

Dave Springer

Every major organization that has parroted the settled science dogma is disappointing. Those that extrapolated unsettled science into catastrophism are even worse.

R. Shearer

Perhaps they’ve concluded that cats and dogs don’t cause bubonic plague after all.

Policyguy

So the Royal Society comes to its senses, while at the same time, President Obama’s Science and Technology Adviser, John Holdren directs the US off the cliff (see yesterday’s post).

Engchamp

Let’s be thankful that someone amongst this erstwhile authority on science has had the integrity to question their “misleading impression that the ‘science is settled’”.
All is not lost.

Steve from Rockwood

They are scientists. We must show them the way.

BC Bill

Contrary to what is reported above, guide says that global warming has continued every decade since the 1970’s, including 2000 to 2009. While the report acknowledges the inability to model cloud cover, it still leaves the impression that models/modelling are somehow useful. Fear is generated that there is no turning back from current levels of warmness even while including a doubt laced acknowledgement that similar to the present warm periods have been experienced in the recent past. This guide is an improvement, but it is still laden with inuendo and fear mongering that betrays its real purpose, i.e. to maintain support for the AGW industry.

Seems odd, and is a bit sad, that we are thanking the Royal Socitey for slowly returning to what is was chartered to do in the first place – uphold the science.

I quite like this new report. However, nothing I can see supports Dr. Peiser’s claim that the “warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years”. Quite the opposite, in fact:
“When these surface temperatures are averaged over periods of a decade, to remove some of the year-to-year variability, each decade since the 1970s has been clearly warmer (given known uncertainties) than the one immediately preceding it. The decade 2000-2009 was, globally, around 0.15oC warmer than the decade 1990-1999.”

John from CA

#19 from the pdf:
“From such simulations, one can derive the characteristics of climate likely to occur in future decades, including mean temperature and temperature extremes.”
Nonsense – the input data is flawed!!!

Well, there’s some interesting stuff, some harmless stuff, some stuff we can all agree with, but other stuff that will cause further squawking. For example:

45 Because of the thermal expansion of the ocean, it is very likely that for many centuries the rate of global sea-level rise will be at least as large as the rate of 20 cm per century that has been observed over the past century. Paragraph 49 discusses the additional, but more uncertain, contribution to sea-level rise from the melting of land ice.
49 There is currently insufficient understanding of the enhanced melting and retreat of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica to predict exactly how much the rate of sea level rise will increase above that observed in the past century (see paragraph 45) for a given temperature increase. Similarly, the possibility of large changes in the circulation of the North Atlantic Ocean cannot be assessed with confidence. The latter limits the ability to predict with confidence what changes in climate will occur in Western Europe.

I’m sure Axel Moerner would have something to say about the 20 cm and the future rate. Also, if the paper described in http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/09/29/pielke-on-ground-water-extraction-causing-sea-level-rise/ is right, then an important chunk of sea level rise ascribed to melting ice is wrong. Some “fossil aquifers” that are currently being drained are running low and cannot keep up the use rate of the past decades.
—————–
Also, while the word “cooling” is used twice, there is no mention of medium scale climate change related to the PDO or AMO. The tenor seems to be steady warming over the previous and next century with minor deviations due to volcanoes.

MarkR

Many of the statements are pretty much lifted from (or paraphrased versions of) the IPCC AR4; so the crowing of the media (like the Daily Mail) looks ridiculous in this context: by supporting this report they are supporting the IPCC AR4 they have attacked so often in the past!
I like how it splits up findings into different levels of ‘consensus’, but I think it is missing some more discussion on observational/palaeo methods to calculate climate sensitivity. There are plenty of them about!
And what Zeke said.

Andrew W

Thanks Zeke, when I saw that “warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years” I thought the Royal Society may have gone nuts. Looks like Dr Benny Peiser was just making that bit up.

Zeke Hausfather says: I quite like this new report. However, nothing I can see supports Dr. Peiser’s claim that the “warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years”
I think this refers to this:
“This warming has not been gradual, but has been largely concentrated in two periods, from around 1910 to around 1940 and from around 1975 to around 2000.
The warming has largely occurred in these periods clearly indicates that warming has not been significant outwith these periods, which given the end date of 2000 clearly confirms the assertion that there has been no significant warming recently! (it has cooled this century!!!!!!!)

O/T: “EATING MEAT IS GOOD FOR THE PLANET”. The following article from the UK’s Daily Mail is interesting and has a bearing on the sad plight of the Thompsons family in Australia:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-1316382/Carnivores-rejoice-Eating-meat-good-planet.html#comments

Matt

Zeke,
I think it is misleading to say that warming is continuing because the decade 1990-1999 was not as warm as the decade 2000-2009. Theoretically, if the shape of those decades was an upside down V with the peak of the V occuring in the last year of 1990-99 and first year of 2000-09, it would be inaccurate to say that the trend continued as the trend reversed at the peak of the upside down V. This is still true even if the averages of the two decades show the latter one to warmer.
In our case, global temperatures hit a peak in 1998 and have since leveled out (no noticeable increases or decreases). Since this decade started out at a higher level than the early 1990s, of course the average is higher, but that does not mean the temperature is still increasing.
This, in itself, does not prove or disprove AGW, but we’d be a lot better off if both sides could agree that global temperatures have not shown significant increases or decreases since 1997-1998.

jcl

Hmm, maybe they checked the latest Arctic ice graphs and thought they might want to tone it down a tad??

Keith at hastings UK

Ok so it’s a bit better than before, but still full of scaremongering and side stepping of key factors. Eg, it mentions the 1910/1940 warming, but in a way that implies it was a warming on the way to the 1970/1990 warming, ie a step up to it. Does this by not mentioning the cooling after 1940. Then side steps the possibility of current cooling by comparing decades – we know that 2000 – 2009 was warm, but trends are ignored.
Also, ignores the pre 1850 temp issues. Also, assumes the CO2 concentrations from ice cores – essentially proxy measurements – are undisputed: no mention of the chemical analyses. And assumes the surface temp sets are reasonably accurate. No discussion of water vapour/evaaporation/precipitation as a cooling/heat distribution mechanism, and etc etc etc across many aspect.
4/10 in my book; and quite unhelpful really. Still, a step back from “the science is settled and were all going to die”, but not much. Maybe next time the step back will be bigger…. but what a waste of resources and wrong policy impacts meantime!

homo sapiens

Who knows – perhaps the Royal Society will soon decide that cholera is not spread by “bad smells”, and that maybe smallpox is not best cured by bleeding.

Theo Goodwin

BC Bill writes:
“This guide is an improvement, but it is still laden with inuendo and fear mongering that betrays its real purpose, i.e. to maintain support for the AGW industry.”
Absolutely, sir. Our duty is to take them point-by-point and teach them what they still do not know. Now, we know that there are open minds within the Royal Society who are open to what we have to say. Lawson’s group deserves praise. By the way, the inuendo and fear mongering amounts to soft pitches that folks should hit out of the park. I would offer my own point-by-point analysis right away, but this darn day job nags the heck out of me.

Dr T G Watkins

Very disappointing! Marginally better than the previous report but both the introduction and concluding remarks shows they are still wedded to the AGW hypothesis.
No thermometer records before 1850, no proxy and historical evidence of various temp. fluctuations in the last 2000 years,no mention of CO2 levels in geological time scales, limited exploration of alternative explanations for 0.8C temp. rise etc.
Still fixated with ‘sophisticated’ climate models with their ‘approximations’ and ‘parameterisations’ aka guesses.
Nothing here, sadly, to prevent or dissuade our politicians on both sides of the pond from building windmills and other ways of destroying our economies and redistributing wealth (hard work) to the developing countries.
Ironic that the UK govt. is about to slash ‘Defence’ with an ongoing war and other potential but likely threats while simultaneously wasting untold millions on mitigating a non-existent threat.
On a brighter note, the Ryder Cup starts tomorrow in ‘sunny’ Wales at the Celtic Manor G.C. Don’t miss it.
BTW there is a reason we are a green little country and we supply most of the water for Birmingham, Warwickshire not Alabama.

KPO

Meanwhile from Dr J. Curry’s blog – curryja says “Some relative sanity on the climate policy front, see” http://www2.ucar.edu/news/united-states-must-take-steps-adapt-climate-change-report-says – Gee, it still presents as the “science is settled” – we’re going ahead – with all the backing and sanction from on high. Is Judith saying she supports the report?

Brian G Valentine

I wonder what Tom Edison would have to say about the Company he founded having a part in writing a Government reg that removed (one of) his inventions from the marketplace?
One wonder what “sceptikal chemyst” Robert Boyle, who helped found the Royal Society and demanded evidence for anything anybody claimed would have to say about the mealy-mouthed Government rubber stamp for British regulation the Royal Society has become?

Oh hell. Scratch that – I’ve been tooled. The Hans-Rudolf Merz video is apparently a spoof, in the ‘Downfall’ style.
[Reply – OK – just did ~jove, mod]

Matt,
Few people who look at the data would argue that there has been much of a warming trend for the specific period from 1998 to present (though, depending on the data set, one could conclude that there has been a large warming trend since 2002). The more important questions are 1) is the last 10 years inconsistent with the trend and distribution of temperatures over the past three decades (no) and 2) is it inconsistent with projections of climate models (possibly yes to the multi-model mean, but no to the range of projections from individual runs).
However, that is a lot more nuanced than simply saying “the warming trend of the 1980s and 90s has come to a halt in the last 10 years”. In fact, if I had created an empirical forecast using data available from 1975 to 1997, I would have underestimated the warmth of the last decade. See http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2009/08/warmest-by-fair-margin/ for example.
As far as the Royal Society position paper goes, it could have been mostly lifted from the WGI SPM from the latest IPCC report. Its not necessarily activist in its policy prescriptions (though neither is WGI really), but I don’t see anything there that seems particularly novel or controversial.

AdderW

Sorry for the O/T [Reply – use ‘Notes & Tips ~jove, mod]
Watch this stupid video from the Guardian
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UHN3zHoYA0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

Kev-in-UK

Having read the report I concur with many comments – yes it is better than before, but it is still ‘glossing’ over many important points and I suspect the ‘review’ type nature of the document (rather than a detailed scientific review) was deliberately intended to allow important points to be bypassed for closer inspection!
Did anyone notice how many folk were involved – and they spent several months producing this blase report? Hmm – methinks this a kind of temporary device to try and beef up the failing AGW campaign during all the recent hiatus!
generally, am not impressed, grade C-; could do better!

Dr T G Watkins says: “Nothing here, sadly, to prevent or dissuade our politicians on both sides of the pond from building windmills and other ways of destroying our economies and redistributing wealth (hard work) to the developing countries.
Ironic that the UK govt. is about to slash ‘Defence’ with an ongoing war and other potential but likely threats while simultaneously wasting untold millions on mitigating a non-existent threat.”
The writing was on the cards before this report:- BRITAIN’S CLIMATE CHANGE DEPARTMENT MAY BE CUT.
Let’s put it another way. The UK renewables “industry” (aka scam) steals around £1billion from our electricity bills each and every year. That is some £5billion of unearned, undeserved unwarranted income which any sensible government in a time of economic cuts is going to prune. After all, when every other area of spending, when every other area of the economy (except banks!!!) are having to pull in their belts …. why on earth are those fraudsters** who run the renewables scam in the UK getting increases in funding rather than reductions like everyone else?
**where are the 45,000 jobs that we were promised would be created if we spent £1billion/year on this scam?

Athelstan

I suppose it was asking too much for them to aver; ” we were wrong and the science is incorrect” and admit it was down to mainly, computer climate modelling, the (GIGO) conclusions of which have driven the hype of a dubious (MM CO2 e = global warming) hypothesis.
So the question remains when will they ever come (totally) clean and properly recant?
Pride comes before a fall, the greatest scientists possessed the humility to admit they were wrong and that, this indeed makes a person stronger.
Scientists, in dialogue and discussing their; hypotheses, experiments, results and conclusions openly is the scientific method, is it not?
What happened to the Royal Society, they have debased themselves and let down, their more famous and illustrious past fellows of the Society, for the sake of political and dogmatic expediency and in unqualified advocacy.
Unbelieveable but true.
Science loses.

jazznick

I’ve read through the report again following your headline but see very little ‘toning down’. The basic IPCC propaganda is restated but in a less strident tone.
A vague statement ‘unknown aspects of the climate and climate change could emerge and lead to significant modifications in our understanding’ seemed rather a sop
to the GWPF but will not alter RS thinking as they don’t intend taking any theory on-board that doesn’t have CO2 in the title.
Quite telling when you read item 47 regarding the admitted poor understanding of clouds in climate models when according to Henrik Svenson clouds and their relationship to solar effects are key to our climate.

Small wonder the RS wish to remain ignorant of Svensmark’s findings as it invalidates everything they stand for.

David

Perhaps we should cheer the sinner’s return towards sanity, but belief in the usefulness of climate models, in the IPCC’s estimates of sensitivity, the reliability of the data and lots else in the dogma remains intact.
This is no Damascene moment. At best it is one small step on what for the Royal Society will be a long road back towards its former scientific credibility

I wonder if anyone has told the 10:10 Campaign, about the uncertainty..
BREAKING NEWS of a CAGW PR Disaster, surely?!? 30th Sept, 2010
The CAGW media PR campaign is going to GET NASTY…
watch the video here… DON’ WATCH if you are squeamish or young….
Anyone sceptical persuaded by this short film…. to be shown in Cinemas.
Quote from the Guardain:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2010/sep/30/10-10-no-pressure-film
“Had a look?

Well, I’m certain you’ll agree that detonating school kids, footballers and movie stars into gory pulp for ignoring their carbon footprints is attention-grabbing. It’s also got a decent sprinkling of stardust – Peter Crouch, Gillian Anderson, Radiohead and others.”
10:10 Campaign – What on earth are they thinking!!!!
Is that really supposed to persuade people!
Stay with it until 1min 10 seconds, and the red button..
(a school setting, of course, with children, then watch the rest, in fascinated horror, this makes the ‘Bedtime Stories’ pr video, look like a .. bedtime story)
Surely a PR disaster….

James Sexton

“The warming periods are found in three independent temperature records over land, over sea and in ocean surface water.”<————#21……Still with the "independent" blathering?

Myron Mesecke

Daniel H says:
My first thought was: “Why is there a picture of a thresher on the cover?”
It looked like farm equipment to me too.

Gary Hladik

One small step for a Royal Society…

kwik

Will the Royal Society now be added to the Black List?
All of them?

Chris B

From Wikipedia:
In September 2008, the Royal Society’s Director of Education Michael Reiss suggested that, rather than dismissing creationism without discussing it, teachers should take the time to explain why creationism had no scientific basis.[36] His views were presented in some media reports as lending support to teaching creationism as a valid scientific theory, but both he and the Royal Society later stated that this was a misrepresentation.[37][38] Reiss resigned within days.[39]
I suppose CAGW skepticism is a little easier to accept for the Society than discussing the theory of Creationism.

Neal J. King

The Royal Society states where the science is certain, and states where it is uncertain – just as it did before.
And just as the IPCC has done before.
There’s no climb-down.

homo sapiens says: September 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Who knows – perhaps the Royal Society will soon decide that cholera is not spread by “bad smells”, and that maybe smallpox is not best cured by bleeding.

touché touché sir

R. de Haan

Climate Research Has Been Hampered by the IPCC and Governments for over Twenty Years
By Dr. Tim Ball Full Story
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/28222

The Royal Society has forever soiled its nest, which should never be forgotten for future generations. Did you ever read the nonsense they wrote, now removed from their website? Well, here it is, saved and rebutted forever.
http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/royalsoc.htm
– lest we forget.

kwik

If any member of the RS visits here today, then please have a look here;
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/09/shattering-greenhouse-effect.html

John Whitman

KPO says:
September 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm
Meanwhile from Dr J. Curry’s blog – curryja says “Some relative sanity on the climate policy front, see” http://www2.ucar.edu/news/united-states-must-take-steps-adapt-climate-change-report-says – Gee, it still presents as the “science is settled” – we’re going ahead – with all the backing and sanction from on high. Is Judith saying she supports the report?

————
KPO,
The urgency to get the gov’t policies in place by the supporters of CAGW or cAGW or AGW is not any actual significantly impending climate change risks.
The urgency now for the AGW supporters is to put the policies in place before it is too late due to the ongoing gradual collapsing of the “settled” AGW science.
John

Ken G

“guide says that global warming has continued every decade since the 1970′s, including 2000 to 2009.”
According to the NOAA’s State of the Climate Report 2008 that was released in 2009, after removing ENSO the trend was 0.00c (+/-.05) for the decade 1999-2008.
So yeah it was warmer than the previous decade, but it was also attributed entirely to ENSO.

RobW

“This, in itself, does not prove or disprove AGW, but we’d be a lot better off if both sides could agree that global temperatures have not shown significant increases or decreases since 1997-1998.”
Andrew W Your take on this fact?

Tim Williams

Super stuff, I’m glad we’re all agreed that…
“There is strong evidence that changes in greenhouse gas concentrations due to human activity are the dominant cause of the global warming that has taken place over the last half century. This warming trend is expected to continue as are changes in precipitation over the long term in many regions. Further and more rapid increases in sea level are likely which will have profound implications for coastal communities and ecosystems.”

mike sphar

“the science is settled” only a maroon or a former VP would have thought that. Evidently there are a lot of maroons in this world, some of which inhabit societies as well as a few of those that post here.