BREAKING: an encouraging admission of lower climate sensitivity by a 'hockey team' scientist, along with new problems for the IPCC

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”.

Purveyors of climate doubt have seized on a news release from the Research Council of Norway with this provocative title: “Global warming less extreme than feared?”

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  It turns out to the surprise of many that the subject of the press release was not peer reviewed, but based on previous cumulative work by the Norwegian Research Council.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:

IPCC AR5 draft figure 1-4 with animated central Global Warming predictions from FAR (1990), SAR (1996), TAR (2001), and AR5 (2007).

IPCC AR5 draft figure 1-4 with animated central Global Warming predictions from FAR (1990), SAR (1996), TAR (2001), and AR5 (2007).

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…

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Jimmy Haigh

James Annan disappoints. -gavin.

Aldous

10 bucks sez Annan catches ton of flack from peers a la “WATTS IS QUOTING YOU!” “YOU JUST GAVE THE DENIERS A GIFT SOUND BYTE!!!” and Annan subsequently issues public statement angrily clarifying “seriousness” of the issue and that global action still immediately required

Jimbo

You forgot to bold:

“….combined with the stubborn refusal of the planet to warm as had been predicted over the last decade,….”

JC

Annan doesn’t seem to be suggesting that CS is < 2, but rather that it isn't above 4.5. I'd bet he still thinks it hovers around 3.
I'm more interested in this bit:
"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."
That's fraud. That's blatant fraud. Conspiracy theory my @$$.

S. Geiger

“‘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?”
Can you please provide reference for this statement (i.e, who did Mann call a ‘denier’ for opinions on lower sensitivity?) I don’t doubt it, but I am curious as to who he was calling out.

‘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.’
###
Lukewarmer.

Mike Bryant

Mr. Mosher,
I’ve always respected you, please clarify your post… I have no idea what you’re saying.
Thanks,
Mike

Anthony:
Thankyou for this news.
James Annan admits that
“A value (slightly) under 2 is certainly looking a whole lot more plausible than anything above 4.5.”
Good, he is halfway there. Hopefully he will ‘pull’ others with him.
Richard

Peter Miller

The Global Warming Industry’s gravy train just got another squeaky wheel.
Enough squeaks and hopefully it will seize up and fall off its tracks.

Layman Lurker

Anthony, I would argue the point with you that James is a member of the “hockey team”. He is certainly not a skeptic but has shown that he is willing to argue publicly against the consensus.

Wamron

“….combined with the stubborn refusal of the planet to warm as had been predicted over the last decade,….”
What is instructive to observe, ever more often recently, is the dissapointed tone with which the AGW faction respond to every bit of good news about the climate. They really do not give a fig for the climate. They just use it as a device for their other ends.

Anthony–
Your mention of Mann reminded me that these climate “scientists” are working most closely with research universities like PSU and Boulder that are simultaneously taking the lead on using their colleges of education and psych and sociology departments to change the focus of K-12 more to social and emotional learning and behavioral interventions that apply to all students.
Given the expressed goal to change beliefs to accept the models via schools no matter what the temperature trends, it’s hardly coincidental that PennState is pushing Patterning Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) for All Students while Boulder is pushing Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems for All Students.
Both Boulder and Penn State are determined to change the students since they cannot control the weather or the climate. Not that they recognize the difference much anymore.

John Russell

Well, I think any discussion on here about ECS even approaching 2°C is a major step forward. Is lukewarmism the new normal? Actually that’s major progress.

Sean

The IPCC places climate sensitivity somewhere between 1.5-4.5C.
James Annan’s own study gives a value of around 3C for climate sensitivity.
That still makes him alarmist in my book.

We have a serious problem in that nearly an entire field of science depends on this issue for its revenue. How many people were in the field of “climate science” in 1965 vs. 2005? Now compare that to the number of people in other areas such as geology. This issue has created a huge amount of money and the issue itself is what has driven many to enter this field of science over the past 20 years. If this issue “goes away”, so does the foundation for their chosen career. So this is a very personal and very emotional issue to many.
There are also a lot of influential scientists, politicians, and various other personalities who have put their personal credibility on the line by making statements on the absolute certainty of this issue. It is going to be very difficult for them to admit they were wrong as people in high profile public positions tend to be more narcissistic than the general population. They believe they are smarter, they believe they are better informed, and they believe their own judgement to be better than that of the average person. For them to say that those whom they called “Neanderthals” were actually correct is going to be nearly impossible for them to pull off. The best we can hope for is something along the lines of “I made the best call I could with the information we had at the time” or something.
But it is even bigger than all of that. This issue causes a great synergy where a political group uses the issue to get buy-in for spending billions of dollars for their political objectives. Environmental groups use the issue to get buy in to spend billions of dollars for their objectives. People champion the issue and themselves are launched to celebrity status. And finally we have the people whose careers were built on the issue and maybe those careers would be at stake if it turns out the world needs fewer “climate scientists”. So we are going to have a great circling of the wagons with the celebrities and the politicians and the “scientists” all working together to keep the issue that any changes in climate are due to human actions by people in industrialized countries. Where would Andy Revkin be today without this issue? Even his career and credibility rest on this issue. Of course he is going to keep this issue alive. There is too much water now under the bridge to go trying to pump it all back.
The first indication that any argument is without merit is the appeal to consensus. We are supposed to believe something is true simply because a majority of influential people believe it is true. When the proponents of ANYTHING trot that logical fallacy out as their primary defense, then you know it is likely false and they have little else on which to stand other than speculation.

Latimer Alder

Expect renewed focus on ‘ocean pH decrease’ as the cause du jour.
But before biting this particular hook, make sure that you ask to see all the confirmatory observational data from all around the world that shows the effect.

Doug

Good for James Annan.
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
― John Maynard Keynes

John Russell says:
February 1, 2013 at 11:14 am
Well, I think any discussion on here about ECS even approaching 2°C is a major step forward. Is lukewarmism the new normal? Actually that’s major progress.

The problem seems to me to be that they take temperatures from 1980 to 2000, compare that to CO2 increase and come up with a climate sensitivity number. Then when they add 2000-2010 to their equations, the climate become less “sensitive”. They they have always had the means to do this. They could have gone back to 1910 to 2000 compared temperature change to CO2 increase and would have found less climate sensitivity. They intentionally picked a portion of the temperature record where the slope of the curve was close to the slope of CO2 increase and decided that there was a cause / effect relationship. They could have noticed that the change in temperature from 1910 to 1940 (using unadjusted data) was nearly identical to the the change in temperature from 1975 to 2005 and the curve of CO2 change was quite different during the two periods. Now they are being forced to reckon with the lack of recent change while they are going back into the databases and altering them to remove the previous rise. I have little doubt that 20 years from now we will see in the databases that warming never stopped after 2000. The hiatus in warming will simply be adjusted away as if it never happened. I would say these people are charlatans but that would be kind. They are stealing from our children and grandchildren and putting the money in their own pockets.

Betapug

“…stubborn refusal…to warm”? Sounds like correction is called for.

Annan has demonstrated integrity and openness previously, giving McIntyre credit where it was obviously due.
http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2008/05/oops.html

Stephen Richards

He is still sticking to a sensitivity of 2 to 4 whichis still much higher than noted elsewhere.

JC

“Doug says:
February 1, 2013 at 11:34 am
Good for James Annan.
‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?’
― John Maynard Keynes”
Never quote Keynes… ever. The sooner he is buried in the history books the better. What an idiot.
Also, glad to see Anthony picked up on what I commented about earlier. That’s the real story here.

wikeroy

0.1 degree here, 0.1 degree there…..for us Norwegians the only consequence will be that they change the name of some tax. Yesterday there was a tax per horsepower on your car, then they changed the name to CO2 tax. What it will be tomorrow? NOx-tax? Window tax? Beard-tax?

Latimer Alder

It is good to see that Nobel Prize Winner Svante Arrhenius’s work of 1907 looks likely to be proved right (sensitivity =~2K).
It is often a good idea to listen to practical people and their observations rather than rely on theoreticians and their unverified models.
The chemists ‘show me’ test is a much neglected tool in ‘climatology’. ‘Models predict’ is a very weak argument compared with ‘experiments and observations show’.
Arrhenius was a fine chemist.

jeanparisot

JC, if not fraud, it certainly indicates that those surveys of opinion shuld have little or no role in a science conversation. For years I have shut down anyone who drags out that silly, “but, 99% of scientists agree …”, crap.

JC

“JC, if not fraud, it certainly indicates that those surveys of opinion shuld (sic) have little or no role in a science conversation. For years I have shut down anyone who drags out that silly, ‘but, 99% of scientists agree …’, crap.”
— Nope. Fraud is fraud. Repercussions should result, but they won’t.

Phil

Another look at all of the adjustments done for decades to temperature data is warranted.

Francis

What does he mean by “Lindzen strategy in reverse”? I mean, what is “Lindzen strategy”?

apachewhoknows

Connections:
Al Gore can read, he may be an ass, but, he knows the jig is up that is why he took the oil ticks money.He knows the CO2 well of cash has caved in. So he starts to cash out.

JC

I still think even Nic Lewis’ estimate is too high and that negative net feedbacks can’t be ruled out with high confidence.

Big D in TX

I am ready for The Nuremberg Trials: Climate Change Edition.
Anyone who knowingly perpetrated lies to world governments is highly culpable.
Anyone who did so also willfully (as opposed to under orders or by association, e.g. ‘consensus’) demands a heavier sentence still.
I fear far too many involved will slowly “come out” with reserved back-walking statements such as this to cover their butts when consequences will finally fall.

Bob

Steve Mosher, you need to go to the next step. Now that you’ve characterized Annan as a “Luke”, do you feel we should mitigate for CO2 emissions or promote it as a boon to the undeveloped countries. Which way do you lean, Sir.

RHS

For a moment, actually the brief instant before I read the article, I thought, wow, Kofi Annan was pointing out flaws/problems with the UN. It was a fun brief instant, lousy reality…

It’s all coming out. I’m sure the team won’t like to hear in the public arena that there has been more cheating and exaggeration admitted to. Oh my, where will it end?
As for those relying on the distaster meme for their jobs and their money – this ship has been sinking for a while now. They’ve known it’s been rotten and they’ve had years to get out safely – people do change careers – but they chose to stay. Choice is still there, but time is running out. They need to think about getting out now or going down with the ship. I don’t care which. The point is they have a choice, it might not be a choice that they like, but it is a choice. Lets see how “wise” they are. Quite a few who don’t jump will be left carrying the can, because the big boys will be over the hills and far away. Who’s going to do jail-time? That’s what they should be asking themselves.

pottereaton

As was noted at Bishop Hill, don’t confuse James Annan with Caspar Amman, the Texas Sharpshooter

Ed

“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.”
That’s easily rectified – they’ll just “adjust” the observational data.

Mac the Knife

Ahhh, the forces of Chaos are at it again!
Missed it by THAT much, Chief!
http://youtu.be/oPwrodxghrw
My personal favorite…
http://youtu.be/gvZinTjPtyY

The quote: “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.”
The question: Are there minutes of that meeting?

Jim Clarke

Slowly…very slowly…folks in the warmest camp are gradually coming in line with everything that the skeptics have been saying for over a decade, not only about the science, but about the politicization of the science.
For some reason…this is making me nervous.

Frank K.

WHOA!
“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.”
Definition of PROLETARIAT
1: the laboring class; especially : the class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labor to live
2: the lowest social or economic class of a community
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/proletariat
It appears the worker-bees in the CAGW dictatorship are revolting against their Marxist leaders…

John F. Hultquist

Many years ago my high school math teacher set us to “squaring the circle” and “trisecting an angle” – two of the three classical problems. Thus, when James Annan writes . . .
they are the experts and are quite capable of squaring the circle before breakfast if need be
. . . I doff my hat in this man’s direction.

Jenn Oates

wikeroy says: 0.1 degree here, 0.1 degree there…..for us Norwegians the only consequence will be that they change the name of some tax. Yesterday there was a tax per horsepower on your car, then they changed the name to CO2 tax. What it will be tomorrow? NOx-tax? Window tax? Beard-tax?
I was rather shocked to find that a trip on the Flytoget from Oslo Sentralstasjon to Gardermoen cost me nearly US $40, even though I was being environmentally conscious by taking the train rather than driving. God only knows how much of that was taxes.

Birdieshooter

How could a soap opera be any better. Never have I wanted to see what will happen in such an intriguing drama. I cant wait until 2014 when more and more cracks in the armor will have shown up.

Mike Bryant says:
February 1, 2013 at 10:56 am (Edit)
Mr. Mosher,
I’ve always respected you, please clarify your post… I have np idea what you’re saying.
Thanks,
Mike
###############
Ok,
back in 2007 or 2008 we did a poll on Climate audit asking the question
How much of the warming we see today is due to GHG.
There was a distinct group of us that said ‘some, but not all ” heck even Willis said 30%
We called ourselves Lukewarmers.
Over the years a few of us have worked to define what we mean by Lukewarmer and what defines the position.
1. Acceptance of radiative physics.
2. Acceptance of a lower bound to sensitivity. basically the no feedback estimate is 1.2C per
doubling. We think that the true sensitivity will be above 1.
3. over/under line. The over under line is 3C. That is, if offered a bet that the climate sensitivity
is either ‘between 1 and 3 or over 3, we take the under bet.
ballpark:
less than 1.2 5%
1.2 to 3. 50%
3 to 4.5 45%
4.5+ 5%
So if you believe that GHG can warm the planet and not cool it, and you think that the mean estimate of the IPCC of 3.2 is more likely high than low, then you are a lukewarmer. But you have to drop the crazy refusals over radiative physics.
Note: lukewarmers dont have to attack the surface record, its probably correct to within .2C
we also dont have to slam models, or invent kook theories about the sun. everything we
believe is well within the consensus and we think that you can change the consensus from
inside the tent rather than attacking everything and everyone. Focus on sensitivity, work
to refine that. You see there is a debate in climate science, its a debate about sensitivity.
When folks start putting their effort into that ( instead of frittering away time on tangents)
then you will see changes.

Theo Goodwin

Philip Finck says:
February 1, 2013 at 10:56 am
“James Annan is to be commended. He has looked at more recent peer reviewed literature, assessed it on its merit, and offered a revised personal opinion on the climate sensitivity issue.”
Maybe just a quibble, but if he assessed it on its merits then he offered more than a personal opinion. He offered the best that his science has to offer.

Theo Goodwin

Read Ben Pile’s comments on “The Edge of the Academy” at bishophill.squarespace.com. It seems that re-education is the cutting edge of “science communication.”

Theo Goodwin

Oops! My comment above was in response to Robin:
Robin says:
February 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

Anthony:
Your UPDATE 2 reports that Annan has said

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.

“published quantitative analyses of observational data”?
It seems appropriate to again draw attention to these determinations based on “quantitative analyses of observational data”.
They each indicate climate sensitivity is less than 1.0deg.C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 equivalent.
Idso from surface measurements
http://www.warwickhughes.com/papers/Idso_CR_1998.pdf
and Lindzen & Choi from ERBE satelite data
http://www.drroyspencer.com/Lindzen-and-Choi-GRL-2009.pdf
and Gregory from balloon radiosonde data
http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/OLR&NGF_June2011.pdf
If climate sensitivity is less than 1.0 deg.C for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration and, therefore, any effect on global temperature of increase to atmospheric CO2 concentration only has an abstract existence; it does not have a discernible existence that has observable effects because climate variability is much larger.
Richard

MikeG

“Terje Berntsen emphasises that his project’s findings must not be construed as an excuse for complacency in addressing human-induced global warming. The results do indicate, however, that it may be more within our reach to achieve global climate targets than previously thought.”
Not sure how you read this, but I read it as: Now that it’s “within our reach”, let’s go “all in”

Rud Istvan

Annan: “A value (slightly) below two is certainly looking a whole lot more plausible…”
Which is what his most recent paper showed, although did not mention it at all. Annan et. al. Climate Change 104: 423-436 (2011). I pointed this out in 2012 in The Arts of Truth. Nice to see him now acknowledging the main message of his own recent work.
Perhaps the fact that the IPCC is ignoring his paper and his comments brought him the the realization that “pal poling” and pal review eventually get it so wrong one has to make difficult choices about remaining a member in good standing of the clique. He made the right choice to come down on the side of observational evidence and his own unspoken conclusions.