Lindzen: Understanding The IPCC AR5 Climate Assessment

Guest essay by Dr. Richard Lindzen

Each IPCC report seems to be required to conclude that the case for an international agreement to curb carbon dioxide has grown stronger. That is to say the IPCC report (and especially the press release accompanying the summary) is a political document, and as George Orwell noted, political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

With respect to climate, we have had 17 years without warming; all models show greater tropical warming than has been observed since 1978; and arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth. And yet, as the discrepancies between models and observations increase, the IPCC insists that its confidence in the model predictions is greater than ever.

Referring to the 17 year ‘pause,’ the IPCC allows for two possibilities: that the sensitivity of the climate to increasing greenhouse gases is less than models project and that the heat added by increasing CO2 is ‘hiding’ in the deep ocean. Both possibilities contradict alarming claims. 

With low sensitivity, economic analyses suggest that warming under 2C would likely be beneficial to the earth. Heat ‘hiding’ in the deep ocean would mean that current IPCC models fail to describe heat exchange between surface waters and the deep ocean. Such exchanges are essential features of natural climate variability, and all IPCC claims of attribution of warming to mans activities depend on the assumption that the models accurately portray this natural variability.

In attempting to convince the public to accept the need to for the environmental movement’s agenda, continual reference is made to consensus. This is dishonest not because of the absence of a consensus, but because the consensus concerning such things as the existence of irregular (and small compared to normal regional variability) net warming since about 1850, the existence of climate change (which has occurred over the earths entire existence), the fact that added greenhouse gases should have some impact (though small unless the climate system acts so as to greatly amplify this effect)over the past 60 years with little impact before then, and the fact that greenhouse gases have increased over the past 200 years or so, and that their greenhouse impact is already about 80% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 are all perfectly consistent with there being no serious problem. Even the text of the IPCC Scientific Assessment agrees that catastrophic consequences are highly unlikely, and that connections of warming to extreme weather have not been found. The IPCC iconic statement that there is a high degree of certainty that most of the warming of the past 50 years is due to man’s emissions is, whether true or not, completely consistent with there being no problem. To say that most of a small change is due to man is hardly an argument for the likelihood of large changes.

Carbon restriction policies, to have any effect on climate, would require that the most extreme projections of dangerous climate actually be correct, and would require massive reductions in the use of energy to be universally adopted. There is little question that such reductions would have negative impacts on income, development, the environment, and food availability and cost – especially for the poor. This would clearly be immoral.

By contrast, the reasonable and moral policy would be to foster economic growth, poverty reduction and well being in order that societies be better able to deal with climate change regardless of its origin. Mitigation policies appear to have the opposite effect without significantly reducing the hypothetical risk of any changes in climate. While reducing vulnerability to climate change is a worthy goal, blind support for mitigation measures – regardless of the invalidity of the claims – constitutes what might be called bankrupt morality.

It is not sufficient for actions to artificially fulfill people’s need for transcendent aspirations in order for the actions to be considered moral. Needless to add, support of global warming alarm hardly constitutes intelligent respect for science.

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Richard S. Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 5th, 2013

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This piece makes an excellent point that I find myself reminded of on a weekly if not daily basis:
The IPCC makes carefully crafted statements that are easily misinterpreted by the faithful. I’ve encountered dozens of activists and true believers so far who have seen the statement about increased certainty regarding human influence on the climate and clearly read into it that this that it refers to some kind of imminent fire and brimstone Armageddon.

Dr T G Watkins

The usual good sense, and good prose from Prof. Lindzen.
How many of our politicians will read it is another matter.
Things in the UK will only change when winter blackouts start occurring, possibly 2014-15.

Dingo

About the “pause”, who invented the pause and has global warming really paused?
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/global-warming-pause-ipcc

Great post, found some more great information about climate change your readers may like here http://www.climal.com/climate-change.php

Brad

Common rebukes of Dr. Lindzen are the typical “big oil”, “liar” blah blah blah. You see he is a scientist but to the CAGW believers, he is anti science.

Jon

UNFCCC and IPCC was established in the aftermath of western world Reagan and Thatcher liberalisme. It’s more about saving the leftist ideology and solutions than climate and environment.

KevinM

“arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth”
Please don’t jump on that. If you take last year’s storm-induced low off the chart, this year’s JAXA is indistinguishable from natural variability on the steady down trend. Sudden surprising growth can be claimed the next time the yearly low comes in higher than the 1990s average low. At that point global warming (with or without an A) would be dead, dead, dead.

A very balance essay and full of wise common sense as you would expect from a great scientist. One of the biggest problems with the IPCC and the alarmist AGW movement is the attaching of ‘catastrophe’ to climate change. Dr Lindzen captures the nonsense perfectly thus:
“Even the text of the IPCC Scientific Assessment agrees that catastrophic consequences are highly unlikely, and that connections of warming to extreme weather have not been found. The IPCC iconic statement that there is a high degree of certainty that most of the warming of the past 50 years is due to man’s emissions is, whether true or not, completely consistent with there being no problem. To say that most of a small change is due to man is hardly an argument for the likelihood of large changes.”
Here, here! The IPCC is manufacturing science which is highly political and is designed to ‘make lies sound truthful’.

John W. Garrett

Thank you, Dr. Lindzen.
Clear, concise and direct (as usual).

Chip Javert

Dingo says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
About the “pause”, who invented the pause and has global warming really paused?
============================================================
Just a wild and crazy guess: mother nature invented the pause.
Troll, troll go away
And don’t come back some other day.

Guest Essayist Richard Lindzen wrote,
“. . .
It is not sufficient for actions to artificially fulfill people’s need for transcendent aspirations in order for the actions to be considered moral. Needless to add, support of global warming alarm hardly constitutes intelligent respect for science.”

– – – – – – – –
Richard Lindzen,
Your essay is wonderful. Thank you.
For actions to be considered moral it is not even necessary, much less sufficient, to have ‘transcendent aspirations’ at all.
Global warming is supported (à la IPCC) by an irrational conception of science defined as a pragmatic tool useful only to support the needs of ideology. That is the new conception of science in the world of post-modern philosophy; the IPCC is its prototype.
John

I have never seen any proof that the net effect of more COtwo is that of warming rather than. What is your opinion abt that,
Prof. Lindzen?

@ Dingo. Really? Mother Jones? it’s laughable, but, then having a leftist rag even to pretend a passing knowledge of statistics is laughable.
They of course, mention selecting a start time of 1998, pretending as if that’s the only year you can start and show a flat or decreasing trend. This, of course, is a lie. Depending on the data set, you can start at 1997, 1998, 2001,2002, 2003, and that’s only for a true trend. To discuss statistically significant warming that’s another story. Pick your poison … http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss/from:1997/plot/rss/from:1997/trend/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2001/trend/offset:-0.2/plot/gistemp/from:2002/trend/offset:-0.2/plot/uah/from:2002/trend
As to the vacant step graph put out by SS, there’s a couple of things funny about it. First, they used a data set they themselves were critical of, and they created it even before it passed peer review! Also, have you looked at the duration of those steps? None are anywhere close to 17 years.
MJ is hysterical.
Dingo, did you actually believe the tripe about starting at 1998? Did you bother to check?
As far as who invented it? You needn’t look any further than the lunatic alarmists who paraded the temp record every time an El Nino occured as proof of global warming. Including the grand year of 1998.

milodonharlani

Dingo says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
Nature invented the “pause”; NASA, NOAA, the Met Office & every other relevant national & international organization has observed it.
If Mother Jones hasn’t gotten the news, then they should contact Dr. Phil Jones, former director of inept T data gate-keeper HadCRU & infamous co-conspirator revealed by Climategate, who never the less to his credit admits that there has been no statistically significant warming since 1996, not 1998.
Remains to be seen if the pause is that or a plateau before a drop, as after the 1920s-40s warming spell, which showed the same slope as the 1970s-90s interval.

Thom

Why is it that I never hear any ideas on how to mitgate what is already in the atmosphere rather than ideas to mitigate what we are about to send there? If things are so dire we should concentrate on getting rid of the cancer not worrying about how we got it and whether or not we should stop smoking some time in he future.

Don

Viktor says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:21 am
Great post, found some more great information about climate change your readers may like here http://www.climal.com/climate-change.php
===================
Great post, found some contrary stale unscientific CAGW boilerplate propoganda your exceptionally intelligent and informed readers may disdain here http://www.climal.com/climate-change.php
There, fixed that for ya, Viktor!

Excellent article Dr. Lindzen!
I love this phrase: “…The IPCC iconic statement that there is a high degree of certainty that most of the warming of the past 50 years is due to man’s emissions is, whether true or not, completely consistent with there being no problem…”.
Solidly in agreement with Dr. Curry’s similar observation about IPCC’s supposed increased ‘confidence’ in man caused AGW.

Kasuha

“arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth”
I don’t see anything like that in the data. Yes, this one year the ice was higher than expected but it’s a bit early to make a trend from it, One year ago it was lower. When I’m looking now at data from and since 2007, I can tell that the descent did not stop by then. What’s happening right now, we’ll see in 5 more years. Hardly sooner.

John West

Both possibilities contradict alarming claims.
YES!

Richards in Vancouver

Dingo says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
‘About the “pause”, who invented the pause and has global warming really paused?’
Dingo, the “pause” was invented decades ago by none other than Coca-Cola. They ran a very long ad campaign under the slogan, “The Pause that Refreshes!”.
Who would have suspected that such a neo-Fascist, right-wing, capitalist outfit like Big Coke could have been so prescient?

I have a problem [as does Dr Lindzen] with the word “pause”.
Something can only be labeled a ‘pause’ if it resumes. But at this point, global warming has stopped.
Global warming may resume. Or not. But to call it a “pause” is disingenuous. It is a baseless assumption, intended to convince readers that it is only temporary. Maybe so; maybe not.
There is a non-zero probability that global cooling will commence, but that is never mentioned.

Theo Goodwin

Dr. Lindzen poses a plain and simple challenge for the IPCC. He explains that their positions on the science do not support their claims about the dangerous consequences of manmade global warming. The ball is in their court. They must show that their scientific claims do support their claims about the dangerous consequences.
I wonder when the IPCC will respond. Can some supporters of the IPCC give us some insight into the timing of the IPCC’s response.

JJ

KevinM says:
“arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth”
Please don’t jump on that.

+1
The BS kiddie arguments should be left to the warmists. Mars an otherwise good essay.

Thom says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:58 am
Why is it that I never hear any ideas on how to mitgate what is already in the atmosphere rather than ideas to mitigate what we are about to send there? If things are so dire we should concentrate on getting rid of the cancer not worrying about how we got it and whether or not we should stop smoking some time in he future.

Several experiments and pilot projects have been tried at Carbon Capture and Sequestration. All have proven to be too hideously expensive to even attempt to implement on the scale projected to be required. I question the need to even contemplate it. And I find the cancer/tobacco analogy offensive.

Just an engineer

Thom says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:58 am
If capturing CO2 from stack gases with a concentration at 11% is already unaffordably expensive, how much do you suppose it would cost trying to remove it from a gas stream containing 0.04%?

Jimbo

Dingo says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
About the “pause”, who invented the pause and has global warming really paused?
http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/global-warming-pause-ipcc

Chris Mooney should learn to do some solid background research. Here are the inventors of the pause, the climate scientists themselves! No need to blame sceptics.

Frank

Dingo: The first reliable information I heard about the pause in global warming came from Science magazine in 2009 titled: “What Happened to Global Warming? Scientists Say Just Wait a Bit.” The article can be read here without a paywall: http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/v1003/readings/Kerr.Science.2009.pdf
We have “waited a bit”. The pause is now 15 years long and such events are rare in the output from climate models.

milodonharlani

milodonharlani says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:56 am
Dingo says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
For lack of significant warming, instead of 1996 I should have said 1995 as per Phil Jones & Mother Nature, as opposed to Mother Jones.
Corrected by Jimbo’s massive compilation:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/24/reactions-to-the-pause-grasping-at-strawmen-in-hidey-holes/#comment-1370200

Amber

Isn’t it time we lift the mask(s) off the IPCC Wizard Of Oz .No one that lies this big should get away with it . Yes …this is an Oz hunt but it is long ,long overdue.

Ursus Augustus

The missing energy hiding in the deep blue sea seems like a good plot for the next Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Rescuing the missing heat from that dreadful hoarder Davey Jones will be a challenge for the usual suspects so it should be entertaining. As an ironic counterpoint, it could then just disappear back into space and go back to the stars whence it came once released from Mr Jones’s clutches.
As is said here in Australia about such things, you know it makes sense.

Ursus Augustus

Dingo,
my first memory of official recognition was by Hansen who, having admitted publicly that the models were not up to the job, thought it was the aerosols wot dunnit . That was a few years ago now.

Robertv

I always wonder why most people go to dry warm places for holiday or retirement . I also never understood why rain is bad weather and what exactly is extreme weather. The same weather can be fun or misery depending on in what family you were born.

Ken Hall

If the IPCC position can be distilled into, “We are 95% certain that human emissions of CO2 mean very modest warming in addition to natural cycles, with the likelihood of climate catastrophe being highly unlikely and there being no increase in extreme weather events.” Then I am inclined to agree with them. The more I read both the summary and the reaction to it, this is what I see in it.
The passages which are alarmist, have no scientific basis in fact as the measured data clearly falsifies CAGW.
The overwhelming evidence derived from measured data, (not taken from, nor filtered through models) suggests that a very modest warming, (and mostly beneficial) not outside the boundaries of natural variability, is the most likely outcome from human emissions of CO2.
They were careful to write it to make it look far more alarming than it really is.

John Shade

Lindzen’s points are good ones. Penetrating and informative. Calmly reasoned and presented. They deserve to carry more weight with politicians than the entire set of WG1 reports and all of the highly-spun SPMS.

clipe

Dingo says:
October 8, 2013 at 11:17 am
About the “pause”, who invented the pause and has global warming really paused?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/30/crus-dr-phil-jones-on-the-lack-of-warming/

Chad Wozniak

@Theo Goodwin –
The problem is that people of the mentality seen at the IPCC simply will not acknowledge that there is any other point of view besides theirs. It isn’t even that they do not deign to respond, for them it doesn’t even exist – even when the evidence slaps them upside the head. The first principle of ideologue belief systems is not merely ignore any countervailing evidence or opinion, it’s that no such evidence or opinion exists.
The IPCC will continue to publish its rubbish and be 99 percent or whatever confident that man’s activities are burning up the Earth even as the nexrt ice is descending upon us.

brians356

Dingo done gone! [sound of screen door slamming]

Chad Wozniak

next ice AGE, I meant to say

Beautiful and succinct summary of the sceptics’ arguments. Should be made a sticky for a couple of days.

Ulric Lyons

“With respect to climate, we have had 17 years without warming; all models show greater tropical warming than has been observed since 1978; and arctic sea ice is suddenly showing surprising growth.”
Due to fortunate stretch of more positive NAO conditions. Though with this weaker solar cycle we should expect more summers with negative NAO conditions like 2007 and 2012 and greater reductions in summer ice extent again.

clipe

Best, Mike MacCracken [Note that Obama’s chief science advisor, John Holdren, is copied on this email]
This makes me wonder what happened to CG3.

I greatly admire Richard Lindzen.
Not only does he make sense, but the man writes like an angel.
Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal, 2001:
June 11, 2001
Scientists’ Report Doesn’t Support the Kyoto Treaty
By Richard S. Lindzen
http://eaps.mit.edu/faculty/lindzen/OpEds/LindzenWSJ.pdf
The full IPCC report is an admirable description of research activities in climate science, but it is not specifically directed at policy. The Summary for Policymakers is, but it is also a very different document. It represents a consensus of government representatives (many of whom are also their nations’ Kyoto representatives), rather than of scientists. The resulting document has a strong tendency to disguise uncertainty, and conjures up some scary scenarios for which there is no evidence.
Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens. This is what has been done with both the reports of the IPCC and the NAS. It is a reprehensible practice that corrodes our ability to make rational decisions. A fairer view of the science will show that there is still a vast amount of uncertainty — far more than advocates of Kyoto would like to acknowledge — and that the NAS report has hardly ended the debate. Nor was it meant to.
******************************

I love the latest nonsense about the “hidden heat”.
Where is the hidden heat really hiding?
Read on…
*********************************
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/19/uh-oh-its-models-all-the-way-down/#comment-1421787
Just read the comments at Judith Curry’s site
http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/17/consensus-denialism/
Some common sense, but also some rather disturbing nonsense from the warmist camp – like watching a slow motion car crash with real-live crash test dummies.
Some of these people actually claim to believe in the following falsehoods:
– excessively high ECS (climate sensitivity to CO2) used in climate models;
– existing climate models accurately hindcast the past;
– existing climate models can accurately forecast the future.
They are apparently unaware or ignore the fact that the climate models use fabricated aerosol data to enable their hind-casting, thus enabling the use of high ECS values. Repeating, the aerosol data is fabricated, literally from thin air, to force-fit the models to hindcast. Then the models are claimed to be credible, and are used to forecast catastrophic global warming as atmospheric CO2 increases.
Problem is, despite increasing atmospheric CO2, Earth has not warmed in about 17 years!
But don’t worry, they say, the heat is hiding; stuck in the deep oceans (or somewhere else that the Sun don’t shine).

james griffin

Well put and should of course be headline news…but it’s not. We all know why…it would be the end of a religion, a way of life and taxation and the beginning of the litigation against the shysters!

“the fact that greenhouse gases have increased over the past 200 years or so, and that their greenhouse impact is already about 80% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2 are all perfectly consistent with there being no serious problem.”
That would be around an extra 2.5 W m2, or around 0.7 deg C with no feedbacks and aerosol fudges. 2 deg C with feedback, where is the 1.3 deg C? No wonder people are becoming suspicious, in light of the hiatus.

geran

Thanks Dr. Lindzen for your clear assessment of the actual SCIENCE (and the lack thereof)!

nutso fasst

Assuming that 17 years ago ‘greenhouse’ heat suddenly decided to stop warming the atmosphere and began hiding in the ocean, shouldn’t there have been a sudden acceleration in sea level rise?

RC Saumarez

This is the opinion of a genuine scientist

Steve Obeda

Based on prior history, I think we can all write summaries for AR6 already.

I love Richard Lindzen. His droll delivery is fabulous in hammering the nail directly on the head. He never waivers. This time is no exception.