Uncertain Climate Risks (Nature Climate Change)

Guest Post by Ira Glickstein

Clouds cast a shadow over IPCC climate models.

As I continue to plow through Vol 1 Issue 1 of the new Journal Nature Climate Change, I came to the following amazing statement:

Communicating the value of climate modelling … requires confronting such apparent contradictions as the fact that increasing a model’s complexity — by adding the behaviour of clouds, people or ecosystem feedbacks, for example — may actually increase the uncertainty in climate projections. Atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth of the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, has explicitly warned that unless such seemingly paradoxical results are communicated carefully, the more complex modelling being used in climate simulations for the upcoming fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) may confuse both the public and decision-makers, thereby reducing their willingness to act. [My emphasis]

“Apparent contradictions”? Heck yes, and more than simply “apparent”! The Warmists finally understand that including the major natural cycles and processes that affect climate change in their models will make it that much harder for them to convince the public that human activities are the main cause and, therefore, changing our activities the main solution!

Yet, the title of the paper that includes the above quote is The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks – as if communications was the major problem, rather than the fact it is largely nonsense they are trying to communicate.

They base their opinion on Trenberth’s 2010 paper which includes these equally amazing words:

[An IPCC AR5 chapter] will deal with longer-term projections, to 2100 and beyond, using a suite of global models. Many of these models will attempt new and better representations of important climate processes and their feedbacks — in other words, those mechanisms that can amplify or diminish the overall effect of increased incoming radiation. Including these elements will make the models into more realistic simulations of the climate system, but it will also introduce uncertainties.

So here is my prediction: the uncertainty in AR5’s climate predictions and projections will be much greater than in previous IPCC reports, primarily because of the factors noted above. This could present a major problem for public understanding of climate change. Is it not a reasonable expectation that as knowledge and understanding increase over time, uncertainty should decrease? But while our knowledge of certain factors does increase, so does our understanding of factors we previously did not account for or even recognize. …

Trial and error

It has been said that all models are wrong but some are useful. …

Performing cutting-edge climate science in public could easily lead to misinterpretation, and it will take a great deal of work communicating carefully with the public and policymakers to ensure that the results are used appropriately. … what to do about climate change is a high-profile, politically charged issue involving winners and losers, and such results can be misused. In fact — to offer one more prediction — I expect that they will be.

[My emphasis]

When confused, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.

Here is what they say (and what they may be thinking):

  • Including important forcings, such as clouds, will increase uncertainty. (Yeah, we were much more certain when our simple models gave nice crisp conclusions that matched our political biases. Then we added some of the complexity of the real-world climate, and now the conclusions are uncertain. Could it be that our political biases are at fault? Nope, we just have to work on our communications tactics and “social and decision sciences” to sell this load of baloney to the great unwashed public.)
  • The contradictions are merely “apparent” and the results merely “paradoxical”. (Yeah, if we merely communicate this stuff carefully so as not to confuse the public and decision makers and make them unwilling to act in the politically-correct way.)
  • There are mechanisms that can amplify or diminish the overall effect of increased incoming radiation. (OOPS, we forgot about those effects that diminish the overall warming. How can we include them in a way that does not add to public uncertainty about our competence?)
  • Scientific knowledge and uncertainty are supposed to increase over time. (So how come we keep looking dumber?)
  • All models are wrong, but some are useful. (Why is it that as our models become less wrong they become less useful to our political agenda?)
  • Public disclosure of climate science research results can lead to misinterpretation and results can and will be misused. (We better keep our climate research results away from the public until we get a chance to misinterpret and misuse them before the skeptics find out the truth behind our methods.)
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Ted

Slightly of topic!
Hey fellow skeptics, here a really great Idea!
I like this one. It’s real simple, non-destructive and gets the point across. All you need to do is get a pad of sticky yellow notes and write on each one…….
“How’s that Hope & Change working out for you?”
Every time you stop to fill your vehicle with gas, place your sticky note somewhere on the pump before you drive away.
DO NOT be destructive in ANY way! Place your sticky note somewhere, so as not to impede the next customer’s ability to read the pump’s digital readout.
You can go to their Facebook page here. The hashtag on Twitter is #stickynote if you want to tweet about it.
I’m stocking up on sticky notes tomorrow!
Source: The ‘Hope and Change’ Sticky Note Campaign (Until Jan. 20th, 2013)
co2insanity.com/2011/04/28/join-the-hope-change-sticky-note-campaign/

Ian

I’m a research scientist in endocrinology and have discovered the more I know the less I know, as every result leads to a whole heap of other questions. Hence the belief the “Science is settled” doesn’t happen in areas other than climatology. It seems Dr Trenberth is now of similar opinion. Or is this just wishful thinking?

RockyRoad

As concerned as they may sound, I call bollocks on their statements–they don’t want to add clouds to their models not because it may increase uncertainty in the outcome, but because it will show, with certainty, that the earth is actually not going to overheat just because of a little extra CO2.

rbateman

Sound like a job for Occam’s Razor.
What they should be doing is examining the risks each climate region are known to experience in both warming and cooling, and identify what particular regions are presently doing.
Just like they do for earthquake, volcano, flood, drought etc.
Chuck the global schmobal programs until the time in the distant future when the possibility of reducing uncertainties to a managable level occurs.
Dump the trend without amen junk and get some credibility back into the modeling systems.

Lew Skannen

This tells me that the models they have used so far have NEVER had proper error bars.
They have NEVER been as accurate as they claim.
It also seems to me that these ‘scientists’ are only now discovering what error bars are…
I think that WUWTs new section on “Climate FAIL Files” highlights this fact rather well.

Tom Jones

That is simply stunning. As the models become better they become politically useless.
A perfect physical model is perfectly useless politically. A physically useless model is politically perfect.

a jones

Quite so Sir, quite so. You have a fine appreciation of the matter. Why anyone should have written such a damning commentary is another matter entirely. Still intelligent people, as they imagine they are, can be unbelievably stupid at times. I don’t know why.
Kindest Regards.

NoAstronomer

“… thereby reducing their willingness to act.”
Just like the UEA admission from yesterday, Trenberth states clearly that the point of the IPCC report is not to inform the decision makers but to get them to follow his desired course of action.
Mike.

Brian H

The more they know, the more they know how little they know. But Heaven forfend that they acknowledge not knowing! That would just discredit The Narrative™.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

Again, it amazes me: Climate Scientists in Glass Houses who Throw Stones. It’s as though they don’t think anyone is watching. Some of these convolutions are so blatantly tortuous as to defy the politicians themselves. Basically, they say nothing of substance except that which is outlined in the bulleted points listed above. And, yes, that is nonsense. These people are no longer scientists. They are genuiflecting, cynical, jaded toadies all scrabbling up the talus slope below the bulwark of world Power, hoping to grab a morsel from those who would annoint them with favor. It’s sickening to read stuff like this….because it means that these people are engaged full time with coming up with such tripe, while people elsewhere are unemployed, thirsty, starving, and generally ignorant…a fact guaranteed by the likes of this seething klatsch of self-flagellating contortionists.
Who the heck is John Galt indeed.

“What we need from scientists are estimates, presented with sufficient conservatism and plausibility but at the same time as free as possible from internal disagreements that can be exploited by political interests, that will allow us to start building a system of artificial but effective warnings, warnings which will parallel the instincts of animals who flee before the hurricane, pile up a larger store of nuts or grow thicker coats before a severe winter.”
… Margaret Mead in 1975, laying out the plan of the scam.
Not much progress, eh? Still looking for plausible uncomplicated explanations after all these years.

Truly remarkable!

ew-3

Anyone remember John Sununu ?
He was White House Chief of staff for Bush 41.
He earned a BS in 1961, a Master’s degree in 1963, and a Ph.D. in 1966 from MIT in Mech Eng.
IIRC in 1990 he brought out the facts the warmistas back then were using 2D models for a 3D problem. They were ignoring cloud effects on climate. And the media hated him.
Wow, 21 years later, it’s what John said.
Meanwhile Al Gore, who has no scientific or engineering credentials is the media darling.

netdr2

The alarmists and everyone else agree that the amount of warming from doubling CO2 is about 1 ° C. The remainder is supposed to come from increased water vapor.
The problem for the alarmists is that the water vapor isn’t increasing in fact it is decreasing.
http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c0147e2fc6895970b-pi
As you can see since 1950 there has been a steady decrease in water vapor.
Since the amplification is based on increasing water vapor which isn’t happening then it follows that the amplification isn’t happening either.
An increase in temperature of 1 ° C in 100 years is not a problem worth crippling our economies for is it ?
Do the scientific based alarmists not know this fact ?

Jack

hahahahahahahaha.
How much wool can a warmist pull
Over everyones eyes?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

As we try to incorporate more of reality into the models, the models stop giving us the certain results we want, since their uncertainty begins approaching that of reality.
We must hide this from the unwashed unscientific un-peer-reviewed masses, lest they falsely think we never did know what we were doing, even though we didn’t, and deny the results of our catastrophe-predicting models can actually foretell reality, even though they never have (and never will).

Gary

Is it not a reasonable expectation that as knowledge and understanding increase over time, uncertainty should decrease? But while our knowledge of certain factors does increase, so does our understanding of factors we previously did not account for or even recognize.

Reasonable expectation when young and naive…. then you (hopefully) grow up.

GixxerBoy

Either:
1. They have just painted targets on their foreheads by finally acknowledging their models have been primitive and inaccurate, unable to ‘model’ what the climate does at all (i.e. they are too dumb or too blinded by fanaticism to see that this leaves them vulnerable), or
2. They are smug because they know they are invulnerable – they have stacked academia, the political class and the media with their fellow travellers. They feel they can admit that their models have been poppycock because it won’t matter. They’re in charge, they can manipulate the mass’s opinion how they choose, so no one will care.
I hope it’s #1. I fear it’s #2.

Steve Oregon

As more of these AGW whoppers roll out they elevate that point in the AR4 or AR5 about the “the uncertainties being understated” to nearly the most severe understatement in history.

Jack, I do not know.
How much wool can warmists pull over people’s eyes?

tokyoboy

A research field, for which no control experiment is possible, allows for any enunciation and can live out as long as funds are available.

Is it just me or do I detect a huge case of congestive dissonance here? That along with a whopping heap of demagoguery. I am beginning to think Tremberth and others wouldn’t recognize real science if it bit them in the ass.

Phyllograptus

A welcome to the science of climatology to the real world of natural sciences. As a geologist I am continually confronted with the problem that every time I have a good theory and explanation for a problem, I test the prediction and more often than not I’m wrong. New data doesn’t reduce uncertainty in complex natural systems it increases uncertainty. 2 points can always be joined with a line and a 100% correlation. 3 points almost always reduces your correlation coefficient. It just keeps getting worse as data and knowledge is added. Eventually the trend starts going down again but at any time, expect the unexpected and be prepared for an outlier that you can’t explain. That’s the world in the natural sciences. Accept and embrace uncertainty because it is not going away!

Andrew30

netdr2 says: April 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm
“The alarmists and everyone else agree that the amount of warming from doubling CO2 is about 1 ° C.”
I disagree; show me the actual measured data that supports that conjecture.
You indicated:
Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations from 0.00000001 ppm to 0.00000002 ppm causes a 1 degree C increase in global temperature.
Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations from 1,000 ppm to 2,000 ppm causes a 1 degree C increase in global temperature.
Increasing carbon dioxide concentrations from 100,000 ppm to 200,000 ppm causes a 1 degree C increase in global temperature.
You conjecture is a simple as the Models, which are incomplete, simplistic and wrong.
Your statement is constructed as a continuously moving threat that implies that that it is true at all times and at all concentrations.
Your statement as written is not true for both clauses:
“everyone else agree”, is incorrect since I do not agree.
“amount of warming from doubling CO2 is about 1 ° C.”, incorrect since it contains no actual starting value.
Prove what you have claimed with Actual Measured Data.

Rick Bradford

Let me point interested parties to a document which covers these issues and more from the point of view of Ken Wilber’s Integral Philosophy. I think many people will find it impressive.
It starts from the position that nobody is totally wrong, but that most people miss some dimensions of every problem.
http://s3.amazonaws.com/integral-life-home/Zimmerman-AnIntegralApproachToClimateChange.pdf

mr.artday

My, their web is getting extremely tangled isn’t it? I’ve been working on an explanation of highly intelligent, well educated people behaving like Dr. Trenberth. Working title:”Functional Idiocy.”

Joe Miner

Don’t confuse them with facts, baffle them with BS!

HAS

The nonsense in Trenberth is the idea that uncertainty is simply an artifact of what goes on in the model, not an artifact of what goes on in the real world.
As some one has said much of climate science occurs inside a virtual reality created by the models – too many gamers in the discipline if you get my drift.
I said when the paper was published that I thought that expectations were being managed now that more of reality is having to be owned up to.

Jack

Deadman,
The real answer is billions of dollars worth. But the fun answer is enough to spin a story.

JDN2

Unfortunately, I think many in the public believe this is how real science is done. In the case of uncertainty just get a bunch of pointy-headed gurus who can tell us what to do, even if it’s just gut feel or instinct. This is where the IPCC comes in.

Robert M

So… by adding clouds and other things to the models to make them behave more like the real world increases the danger of them… behaving less like the real world? Yep, the science is settled. Thanks Kevin, you have cleared up everything… If only we weren’t spending the rent money on this stuff it would be funny.

wayne

“The Warmists finally understand that including the major natural cycles and processes that affect climate change in their models will make ….”
… will make the models much closer a match the semi-chaotic solar/Earth system that it actually is, unpredictable.
Sigh.

wayne

All climate change is local.

SSam

OT from the closed thread, but this isn’t about that subject anyway.
“Dave Springer says:
April 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm
… Lesson 1: Never ascribe malicious intent when incompetence can explain the situation…”
Noble statement, but I am growing sick and tired of attributing actions of malice due to simple ignorance. These buffoons know exactly what they are doing and are relying on the public being either to stupid or too lackadaisical to hold them any standard whatsoever. So, they get a “free pass,” carry on smartly and continue to push the scam.
It’s time for the B/S to stop. Period.

juanslayton

Scientific knowledge and uncertainty are supposed to increase over time.
Did you perhaps intend to write certainty?

Roger Carr

tokyoboy says: (April 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm)
      “A research field, for which no control experiment is possible, allows for any enunciation and can live out as long as funds are available.”
Very nice, tokyoboy! Bears repeating.

Douglas

GixxerBoy says: April 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm
Either:
[1. ——finally acknowledging their models have been primitive and inaccurate, unable to ‘model’ what the climate does at all —-( too dumb or too blinded by fanaticism to see that this leaves them vulnerable), or
2. They are smug because they know they are ——They’re in charge, they can manipulate the mass’s opinion how they choose, so no one will care.]
—————————————————————————-
I hope it’s #1. I fear it’s #2.
GixxerBoy. Forget 1 –accept2. But people only accept BS for so long – then they get angry. History tells us that the greater the anger the greater the punishment. We can see this anger happening even now (other issues though) in certain parts of the world when enough is enough.
Douglas

Dr Trenberth, thanks for finally confirming my deeply held conviction that CAGW is a crock.

Martin Brumby

The irony is that, at the same time that even the most activist pseudoscientists are having to confess that their “science is settled” projections are little better than hunches and wild stabs-in-the-dark; the political machine is in overdrive to introduce ineffective “solutions” to the catastrophic crisis the pseudoscientists projected.
This is particularly the case in the UK when EVERY political party with any representation, except the (out in the wilderness) UKIP and the (racist and fascist) BNP are 100% committed to the scam.
OK, there are a decent number of honourable individual exceptions. But the policy of the leadership is monolithic.
Our real masters, the unaccountable and anti-democratic European Union, are actively working up a Carbon Tax at the moment. Parts of it (direct taxes on high energy users in Industry) are already in place. Other parts (increased tax on red diesel used in agriculture and construction plant) are about to be imposed. All this will increase prices of just about everything. It is in addition to the hidden subsidies and stealth taxes for BigWind and bungs for WWF, Greenpiss and the rest, extracted through electricity, gas and fuel bills.
Inevitably, the truth will out. But I genuinely fear it will get very messy.

jorgekafkazar

As I read Trenberth’s statement, above, they’re going to build a new gun that will shoot farther and have less windage than the old one, but will have even less chance of hitting the elephant. If people find this out, the sillies will use this information against those responsible.
There are idiots in climatology, and there are incompetents in climatology, and there are lunatics in climatology. Kevin Trenberth is none of these. There are only one or two categories left, and I’m really not sure which he falls into. I’ll just say he’s amazing and let it go at that.

pat

The bases are always covered by Warmists. It is just now they are sounding a bit silly.

Eyal Porat

What struck me the most is the fact that these guys already KNOW what the outcome of the so called “cutting edge” models will be!
He knows that it will predict doom and the only problem will be how to convince the public about it.
They are amazing, one have to admit.

Jack, my last response
typed as a haiku of sorts
lost its formatting.
How Much Wool?
It’s enough to weave
a tangled web, I believe,
wherewith they deceive.

Richard Briscoe

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts., but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
Francis Bacon

Douglas

Trenberth
‘So here is my prediction: the uncertainty in AR5′s climate predictions and projections will be much greater than in previous IPCC reports —But while our knowledge of certain factors does increase, so does our understanding of factors we previously did not account for or even recognize. …’
———————————————————————-
Can Trenberth be for real? ‘Rumfeldian’ statement – re the Iraq war – and we all know how many unknowns were involved in the decision making then. Trenberth’s statement amounts to ‘No matter about any of this though, what we say is right and always was so’ – As it was in the beginning is now and ever more shall be – world without end – amen!
Douglas

Michael J

I think many have missed the really alarming bit of Dr Trenberth’s statements. He really doesn’t understand how uncertainty works.
If a model has ‘n‘ parameters, they sum the uncertainties of the parameters and call that the uncertainty of the system. Adding new parameters, with their own uncertainties, thus increases the “uncertainty” if the system. Thus they equate known uncertainty with total uncertainty. If I cannot see it, it isn’t there. (Ostrich uncertainty?)
Of course, the problem is that those uncertainties were already in the system — they just had not been identified.
This practice of ignoring the presence of unknown uncertainty will inevitably lead to overestimation of the accuracy of the model — which is exactly what we have seen.

Louis

How can ignoring important data make your models more certain than including it? Ignoring uncertainties doesn’t make them go away. It’s like saying, “I don’t know how to model the real world, so I’ll just pick and choose a few easy things to model and ignore all the other key factors. Then I’ll present my findings as settled science.”
Trenberth is like the drunk who dropped his keys in the dark on his way home from the bar and then went to the nearest streetlight to look for them because the light was better there. Just because uncertainties are greater in the dark, doesn’t mean you can find the answer under the streetlight.

Geoff Sherrington

The near-future history is silly. It has illogical phrases like this: “Prediction b: By 2015, a punitive tax on non-renewable carbon-based energy will quadruple costs of coal, oil, and natural gas. All or most of the Carbon Tax revenue will be returned to the people, making it (almost) revenue-neutral. ”
What’s the flaw? Well, the money returned to the people will mostly be spent on activities that generate GHG. Indeed, because of inefficiencies compared to producing GHG in optimised fossil fuel plants, this fragmented activity by the peasants will probably increase the per capita production of GHG.
Time after time, I have asked the authorities for lists of ways that peasants can spend windfalls WITHOUT producing GHG. Time after time, no anser has been given. This is because the ONLY way of significance is through spending on more nuclear power production. Even then, it merely inserts another step in the human chain of production of GHG. Does anyone know of such a list?
It is almost impossible to envisage a large scale way for billions of people to spend money while reducing total GHG. The economists’ faulty models need to be run again, with a boundary assumption that a person has a cradle to grave emission quota of GHG and there ain’t much that can be done to alter that. If you need an analogy, every person will breathe in an amount of oxygen in a lifetime, an amount that can be measured. If they do not, they get ill or die.
Likewise, unless they emit a calculatable amount of GHG over a lifetime, they will get sick or die from one of many ailments precipitated by energy shortage.

Ziiex Zeburz

The problem with today’s professional theorists is that they have no practical knowledge. Knowing a Professor of ignorance with more degrees than I can count, I asked him why, if he was so concerned about the environment he drove his hybrid puddle jumper with the lights on all the time, his reply was for safety and it should be a law for all. After 5 minutes of trying to explain that it requires energy for the lights and it costs on average $80.00 per year per car I could see that I was talking to myself and gave up.

Magnus

“…by adding the behaviour of clouds, people or ecosystem feedbacks, for example — may actually increase the uncertainty in climate projections.”
This is so basic that I cannot begin to describe it. OF COURSE it does. The models are a system put together of uncertainties. There are few understood constants and the whole project is an increasingly comical effort to deny the obvious chaos. Of course there can be climate science… but the model predictions as “settled science”? Don’t try to fool me with something this obvious.