By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley in Rio de Janeiro
“BUT what about the ickle birdies?” wailed the ancient, off-blonde representative of the planet’s indigenous peoples in the shapeless, grimy, crumpled eco-sackcloth shift that is de rigueur this season among the female of the species here at the shapeless, grimy, crumpled Rio conference center.
“Don’t you care? Because of global warming the ickle wormies that the ickle birdies eat won’t hatch out at the right time for the ickle birdies to eat them and the ickle birdies will all die! Don’t you even care about all the millions of humans that are running away from all those droughts and floods and things? It’s all our fault!”
She got up untidily and flounced out (insofar as it is possible to flounce convincingly while wearing hemp flip-flops and a shapeless, grimy, gray eco-sackcloth shift).
One imagines the ickle wormies would be happy about global warming if it saved them from the ickle birdies. But I’m being unfair to this gallant champion of the ickle birdies and humans. She did not really talk like an infant. But she might as well have done. For the intellectual content of what she said was little better than baby-talk.
On the whole, I liked the cut of her jib (though not of her sackcloth). She had had the guts to come to a press conference given by the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the sole environmental group recognized by the UN that does not believe the ickle birdies and humans will come to much harm as a result of warmer weather.
She had been courageous enough to speak up for her point of view. Nevertheless, if one really cares, mere self-indulgent, hand-wringing emotionalism is not enough. Rational thought is essential.
It is hard not to be dismayed by the feeble-mindedness of the useful idiots who are the cannon-fodder of Greenpeace, the World Wide Fund and suchlike sinister, corrupt, stinking-rich, taxpayer-subsidized environmentalist mega-corporations that cynically profit from the doom-laden falsehoods they so artfully but mendaciously peddle to the ignorant and the innocent.
As I watched the indigenous person trying not to catch her eco-sackcloth shift on the door as she did her best to flounce out, I wondered – not for the first time – whether it would ever be possible to find arguments clear enough to pierce the dark, dense cloud of unknowing in which so many of the drones of the environmentalist movement seem to dwell.
And then I thought of Table SPM.3 and Figure 10.26 in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, as one does. An idea began to form.
Why is it that these true-believers truly believe the untrue and the unbelievable? Surely it is because they find it comfortable, and safe not to question whatever they are told is the Party Line (now excitingly rebranded as the “consensus”). To convince the shiftless, shift-wearing, sandal-shuffling enviro-zombs that the climate scare is nothing to be scared about, it will be desirable to demonstrate to them that what the scientific consensus holds to be true is in fact harmless.
This is where Table SPM.3 and Figure 10.26 come in.
Please write down on a piece of paper the IPCC’s current central estimate in Celsius degrees of the global warming that will occur by 2100 as a result of the carbon dioxide we add to the atmosphere this century.
That’s what it’s all about, right? Warming that does not happen until beyond 2100 is not a problem because we shall have plenty of time to adapt and adjust. It is the notion of rapid warming this century that is alarming, because damage may arise before we have the time to react. Besides, if warming is slow this century, there is no good reason why it should accelerate in subsequent centuries.
So, is the IPCC “consensus” looking at 3, 4, 5 or even 6 Celsius degrees of warming by 2100 as a result of the CO2 we add to the atmosphere this century?
Remarkably, no, it’s not. Nothing like. Be prepared for a welcome surprise.
Table SPM.3 in the Summary for Policymakers shows the manmade warming to be expected over the next 100 years on six distinct “emissions scenarios”. But the IPCC says each of the scenarios should be accorded equal weight, so we shall do just that by taking the unweighted average. It is 2.8 Celsius degrees.
But look more closely. Of this predicted warming, 0.6 C° is supposed to be locked-in or “committed” warming that will arise as a result of our past sins of emission. However, after a decade and a half without any statistically-significant warming, it is becoming questionable whether we can expect much warming as a hangover from the last century. In any event, if that warming really is “committed warming”, we cannot now do anything about it. So let us deduct it, for it is not policy-relevant.
That leaves 2.2 C° of warming predicted for the 21st century. From this we must deduct the contribution to global warming from greenhouse gases other than CO2. This is where the graphs in Fig. 10.26 are helpful. They are the size of postage-stamps, but they allow us to calculate that, on each scenario, the IPCC reckons non-CO2 gases will account for 30% of all 21st-century manmade greenhouse warming.
In reality, other greenhouse gases will contribute far less than this. The concentration of methane, the only significant non-CO2 greenhouse gas, has risen by just 20 parts per billion in the past decade, and that would cause a mere 1/350 C° of warming over the decade, or a quarter of a degree by 2100, so there is no need for what Jim Sensenbrenner calls a “cow-fart tax”.
Be that as it may, the IPCC’s implicit central estimate of the warming by 2100 driven by the CO2 we add to the atmosphere this century is 70% of 2.2 C°, or just 1.5 C°.
Now retrieve your piece of paper. Was your central estimate of the IPCC’s central estimate anything like as small as that? If so, be careful. You have been thinking for yourself, and that is dangerous to your reputation, I can tell you.
Check the result by another method. First, recall the IPCC’s view that the radiative forcing from a change in CO2 concentration is 5.35 times the logarithm of the proportionate change. Multiplying this forcing by an appropriate climate-sensitivity parameter gives the warming to be expected over any chosen period.
By combining the data from Table SPM.3 and Fig. 10.26, one deduces (for the IPCC makes none of this explicit) that its favored climate-sensitivity parameter for the 20th and 21st centuries together, on each of the six scenarios, is 0.5 C° per Watt per square meter of forcing. However, we are concerned only with 21st-century warming, so one should reduce this to, say, 0.4 C° W–1 m2.
The CO2 concentration predicted by the IPCC for 2100, taken as the average for all six emissions scenarios, is 713 parts per million by volume, compared with 368 ppmv in 2000. So the CO2-driven warming of the 21st century, excluding any hangover of committed warming from the previous century, is 0.4(5.35 ln 713/368), or 1.4 C°. This result from Fig. 10.26 broadly agrees with the 1.5 C° implicit in Table SPM.3.
But wait. There has been no warming during the first one-eighth of the 21st century. So it could be argued that the equation should read 0.4(5.35 ln 713/392), or less than 1.3 C° of warming to 2100 caused by the CO2 we add to the atmosphere this century.
Now for a real-world observational fact-check, just like what real scientists used to do. What has been the measured rate of warming since 1950? I choose that year for two reasons. First, it was from then on, as the world rebuilt itself after the Second World War, that manmade CO2 emissions became potentially significant. Secondly, 62 years have passed since 1950, and a complete warming and cooling cycle of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation takes about that long, so that choosing that time-frame cancels out a major potential natural distortion.
The rate at which the world has warmed since 1950, taken as the least-squares linear-regression trend on the Hadley Centre’s monthly temperature series, is equivalent to 1.2 C° per century. One would not expect much acceleration in this observed rate of warming, because even though Man’s CO2 emissions will rise quite sharply over the 21st century the consequent forcing and warming will respond logarithmically: each additional molecule of CO2 will have less warming effect than its predecessor.
If other greenhouse gases had indeed contributed 30% of the 1.2 C° warming since 1950, then CO2’s contribution was equivalent to just 0.8 C° per century. But if half of the warming since 1950 was natural (within the consensus range given by the IPCC), make that 0.4 C°/century.
The results of this inquiry:
|Mean predicted CO2-driven 21st-century warming (SPM.3)||1.5 C°|
|Mean predicted CO2-driven 21st-century warming (10.26)||1.4 C°|
|10.26 adjusted for no global warming from 2000-2012||1.3 C°|
|Observed rate of warming per century since 1950||1.2 C°|
|Observed rate per century since 1950 from CO2 alone||0.8 C°|
|Observed warming rate from CO2 if half was natural||0.4 C°|
Every line of this unalarming table is mainstream, consensus science. I have merely made explicit what is implicit but carefully unstated in the IPCC’s predictions. One can only get faster warming than this by assuming improbably large contributions from greenhouse gases other than CO2 and from previously-committed warming.
Notice that the observationally-based CO2-driven centennial warming rates in the table are below the rates predicted by the IPCC’s model-derived data and methods.
Nearly all current mitigation strategies concentrate exclusively on CO2. The table shows that the most warming we could possibly forestall by these strategies, even if all worldwide CO2 emissions had ceased in 2000, would be just 1.5 C° by 2100, and it may well be considerably less than that.
I did not get the chance to make this entirely consensus-based argument to the indigenous person in the sackcloth shift, but I have tried it on other true-believers here, and it does make them worry just a little less about the ickle birdies.
Here’s a video summarizing Rio+20