Guest post by Alec Rawls (see part 1)
Ex-physics teacher Christopher Keating, who strongly believes that human activity is causing dangerous global warming, is offering $30,000 to anyone who can prove that “claims of man-made climate change” are not supported by the science. What claims? He gives as an example the IPCC’s central assertion that: “It is extremely likely (95-100%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” Easy money (if he would actually give it, but that is secondary). There are several grounds, already laid out by a variety of skeptics, why this claim of extreme scientific certainty is prima facie unscientific.
The climate models that give rise to the IPCC’s human-attribution claim also predicted that the rapid continued rise in CO2 would cause rapid continued warming. After 15+ years of no warming these models are on the verge, or past the verge, of falsification. That is the extreme opposite of certainty, and in a series of desperate attempts to stave off falsification the IPCC’s “settled science” now hinges on a parade of freshly concocted and highly speculative possible explanations for the “pause,” such as Kevin Trenberth’s hypothesis that the warming is hiding in the deepest oceans. Sorry, but if your theory fails in the absence of freshly concocted and highly uncertain further theories then it is not well established and highly certain.
The IPCC’s attribution claim was actually produced, not by a scientific evaluation at all, but by a political process, driven by the representatives of numerous governments that see the demonization and taxing of CO2 as a vast untapped source of tax revenue. As will be seen below, this political influence is well documented. The attribution claim is part of the Summary for Policymakers which has a long history of contradicting the findings of the scientific review. So of course the attribution claim is not scientific, when it is not even arrived at by a scientific process.
Beyond the prima facie case the IPCC “consensus” works deep and profound perversions of the scientific method that require more detailed exposition. That will be part 3, but the overt conflicts with scientific reason and evidence are sufficient in themselves to prove that, given the current state of knowledge, any attribution of most post 1950’s warming to the human burning of fossil fuels must be highly uncertain, the opposite of the IPCC’s assertion of extreme certainty.
Evidence against a hypothesis logically decreases the certainty that it is correct
As climatologist Judith Curry notes: “[s]everal key elements of [AR5] point to a weakening of the case for attributing [post-1950] warming of human influences.” She lists:
■ Lack of warming since 1998 and growing discrepancies with climate model projections
■ Evidence of decreased climate sensitivity to increases in CO2
■ Evidence that sea level rise in 1920-1950 is of the same magnitude as in 1993-2012
■ Increasing Antarctic sea ice extent
■ Low confidence in attributing extreme weather events to anthropogenic global warming
Yet in the face of this buildup of contrary evidence, documented in its own report, the IPCC increased its claimed level of certainty that post-1950 warming was human caused [emphasis added by Curry]:
■ AR4 (2007): “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely (>90% confidence) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gases.” (SPM AR4)
■ AR5 (2013) SPM: “It is extremely likely (>95% confidence) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century .” (SPM AR5)
The change in AR5’s attribution claim runs opposite to the evidence it put forward. Going against the evidence is not science. It is anti-science.
The IPCC’s attribution claims are the product of a political process, not a scientific one
Judgments about science issued by a political process could happen to agree with sound scientific judgment. The political nature of the IPCC’s attribution claim does not itself prove that this claim is at odds with the science, but understanding the influence of politics is still very important to understanding the unscientific nature of the IPCC’s claims.
Believers (“consensoids” if one prefers), are often aghast that there are all these skeptics out there who don’t trust scientists. This is particularly true of believers like Keating who are not themselves familiar (see part 1) with the actual points of scientific debate . They are stumped by the “why” of distrust and think it has to be that skeptics are just anti-science. The political nature of the IPCC, and the politicized nature climate science in general, explain the “why.”
Not only is climate science close to 100% government funded but in the United States that government funding is all channeled through funding structures set up by Vice President Gore to finance only those who agreed with Gore’s CO2-centric views. Internationally funding is channeled by the funding structures put in place by Canadian leftist and IPCC-founder Maurice Strong. Is it really hard to understand how a research effort that is 100% politically funded could become politicized?
The IPCC is a politicized body that sits at the top of this heap of politicized science and bends its declarations in an even more politicized direction, especially in the Summary for Policymakers. As seen above, AR5’s increased certainty of human attribution runs directly counter to the evidence that it presents, but this is just the latest increment of political interference. Where did AR4’s “very likely” claim of human attribution come from, and TAR’s “likely” claim?
It all traces back to the first human-attribution claim in the Summary of the Second Area Report (1995), which ran strongly counter to the scientific report, which was then edited to conform with the politically negotiated Summary. This case was recently discussed here at WUWT by Tim Ball:
An early example of SPM increased alarmism occurred with the 1995 Report. The 1990 Report and the drafted 1995 Science Report said there was no evidence of a human effect. Benjamin Santer, graduate from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and shortly thereafter lead author of Chapter 8, changed the 1995 SPM for Chapter 8 drafted by his fellow authors that said,
“While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”
“The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.”
As planned the phrase “discernible human influence” became the headline.
This scandal was first exposed in a June 1996 Wall Street Journal op-ed by Frederich Seitz:
In my more than 60 years as a member of the American scientific community, including service as president of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society, I have never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report. A comparison between the report approved by the contributing scientists and the published version reveals that key changes were made after the scientists had met and accepted what they thought was the final peer-reviewed version. …
The following passages are examples of those included in the approved report but deleted from the supposedly peer-reviewed published version:
■ “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”
■ “No study to date has positively attributed all or part [of the climate change observed to date] to anthropogenic [man-made] causes.”
■ “Any claims of positive detection of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”
The reviewing scientists used this original language to keep themselves and the IPCC honest. I am in no position to know who made the major changes in Chapter 8; but the report’s lead author, Benjamin D. Santer, must presumably take the major responsibility.
That shook out information from inside the IPCC, as noted by Fred Singer in another WSJ op-ed:
“IPCC officials,” quoted (but not named) by Nature, claim that the reason for the revisions to the chapter was “to ensure that it conformed to a ‘policymakers’ summary’ of the full report….” Their claim begs the obvious question: Should not a summary conform to the underlying scientific report rather than vice versa?
Santer’s defense of the changes he had made to the peer-reviewed report is highly revealing. He pled that the IPCC rules were designed to allow and even require that the final report be changed in response to political input from governments and NGOs after the scientific report had been completed:
All IPCC procedural rules were followed in producing the final, now published, version of the Chapter 8. The changes made after the Madrid IPCC meeting in November 1995 were in response to written review comments received in October and November 1995 from governments, individual scientists, and non-governmental organizations. They were also in response to comments made by governments and non-governmental organizations during plenary sessions of the Madrid meeting. IPCC procedures required changes in response to these comments, in order to produce the best-possible and most clearly explained assessment of the science.
Okay, so the whole thing is designed from the outset to be a political document not a scientific document, resulting from a political process not a scientific process, and as we well know, politicians tend to have their own strongly preferred conclusions. The environmentalist component is overwhelmingly anti-capitalist (at a UN-backed conference in Venezuela this week: “130 Environmental Groups Call For An End To Capitalism”), and a much broader spectrum of politicians are eager for expanded government revenues and government control, both of which are served by the demonization of CO2.
These same politicians also control who gets scientific funding in the first place, but the IPCC, and in particular its Summaries, are markedly more unscientific still. The history of the IPCC’s attribution claims prove that these politicized judgments have not managed to comport with scientific reason and evidence but have worked persistently to overthrow it. AR5 fits squarely in that train, asserting increased certainty that humans caused most recent warming when the scientific evidence they put forward points to decreased certainty.
The actual scientific question at the present moment is whether the “consensus” climate models have been definitively falsified by the lack of 21st century warming
Even Ben Santer has had to admit that this is the case, putting off claims that the “consensus” models had already been falsified by offering in 2011 a falsification criterion of 17 years with no warming:
Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.
Santer and his colleagues are leaving themselves some wiggle room by saying “at least,” but they are clearly admitting that at 17 years the models should be near falsification, which is where we are now.
In a 2013 interview with Der Spiegel German climate scientist Hans Von Storch summarized the difficulty that the “consensus” view is now facing:
Storch: If things continue as they have been, in five years, at the latest, we will need to acknowledge that something is fundamentally wrong with our climate models. A 20-year pause in global warming does not occur in a single modeled scenario. But even today, we are finding it very difficult to reconcile actual temperature trends with our expectations.
SPIEGEL: What could be wrong with the models?
Storch: There are two conceivable explanations — and neither is very pleasant for us. The first possibility is that less global warming is occurring than expected because greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have less of an effect than we have assumed. This wouldn’t mean that there is no man-made greenhouse effect, but simply that our effect on climate events is not as great as we have believed. The other possibility is that, in our simulations, we have underestimated how much the climate fluctuates owing to natural causes.
Both of these explanations are devastating to the IPCC’s attribution claims, and it pretty much has to be both. If late 20th century warming was not caused by CO2 it has to have been caused by something else, like the 80 year grand maximum of solar-magnetic activity that began in the early 1920’s and ended just about when “the pause” began.
Some solar scientists claim that 20th century solar activity was merely “high” without warranting the “grand maximum” label, but that is a distinction without a difference. Whether “high” or “grand,” since we don’t yet understanding all of the ways that living inside the sun’s extended corona might affect global temperature (and there is the rub, that this understanding is still very immature), 80 years of any high level of solar activity could very well account for most or all of the modest warming over this period.
There could also be purely internal sources of natural variation, unforced by external influences from either mankind or the sun. These could be merely oscillations in how much of the heat-content of the climate system is present in surface temperatures or they could be self-reinforcing processes that alter heat content (see Bob Tisdale’s theory of El Nino driven warming). The deeper problem with the IPCC is the unscientific grounds on which it has dismissed these competing theories.
It claims certainty for its politically preferred CO2-driven theory when the actual evidence points overwhelmingly in the other directions. CO2 is the least likely of the available explanations. There is actually no evidence that feedback effects are even positive. The proclaimed evidence is purely circular (climate sensitivity estimates that are based on the assumption that warming was caused by CO2), making it a classic petito principi, but that is part 3.
For the prima facie case it is sufficient to note that if natural cooling can be responsible for “the pause” it can also be “the cause” (to quote The Hockey Schtick) of late 20th century warming. Keating himself explains “the pause” as a result of natural cooling effects that must at least be similar in strength to the hypothesized human warming effects:
Christopher Keating, June 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM
What I believe I said is that we are in a natural occurring cooling period. In other words, if it wasn’t for us, the climate would be cooling right now. All of the warming above the average (actually, above what it would be without us) is due to the effects of our greenhouse gas emissions.
Somehow it doesn’t dawn on him that if ill-understood forces of natural temperature change can be at least as strong as the hypothesized human effects in the cooling direction then they could also be responsible for the two decades of warming that the IPCC is attributing to human effects, and there goes your certainty.
The two sides of Keating’s “option 1” are sides of a coin
In addition to challenging skeptics to prove that the lack of scientific support for the IPCC’s extreme certainty that most post 50’s warming was human caused Keating’s “option 1” also asks skeptics to prove the lack of scientific support for the IPCC’s climate sensitivity claim, that:
Climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C and extremely unlikely (95-100%) less than 1°C.
These to halves of “option 1” are sides of a coin. What is driving falsification is the conflict between the high climate sensitivity necessary for the very small CO2 forcing to explain late 20th century warming and the low climate sensitivity necessary for the lack of 21st century warming to be consistent with the continued rapid increase in CO2. If these two sensitivity requirements can’t be reconciled then the theory of human caused warming collapses, and right now, they are very close to un-reconcilable.
“Settled Science” now stands on the strength of one newly concocted speculation after another
To save their CO2-driven climate models from falsification by “the pause,” “consensus” scientists have been offering a string of highly speculative rationales for how human caused warming could still be dominant, even though it is not showing up in surface temperatures. An early example was the 2010 “missing heat” paper by Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo, described in this UCAR press release:
“MISSING” HEAT MAY AFFECT FUTURE CLIMATE CHANGE
April 15, 2010
BOULDER—Current observational tools cannot account for roughly half of the heat that is believed to have built up on Earth in recent years, according to a “Perspectives” article in this week’s issue of Science. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) warn in the new study that satellite sensors, ocean floats, and other instruments are inadequate to track this “missing” heat, which may be building up in the deep oceans or elsewhere in the climate system.
“The heat will come back to haunt us sooner or later,” says NCAR scientist Kevin Trenberth, the lead author. “The reprieve we’ve had from warming temperatures in the last few years will not continue. It is critical to track the build-up of energy in our climate system so we can understand what is happening and predict our future climate.”
Nice, a falsification dodge that won’t be falsifiable until we build a more extensive ocean monitoring system, but four years later what little evidence there is about the deep oceans is pointing in the other direction: they are cooling, not warming. .
However that turns out, if the viability of the CO2-dominant theory hinges on a highly uncertain new speculation then the theory itself cannot be more certain than that new speculation. There have been a host of such rescue attempts: that Chinese coal burning is causing the pause, that the Montreal Protocol caused the pause, that volcanic aerosols caused the pause, that a slow down in Pacific trade winds caused the pause, and on and on.
All are highly speculative, thus none can confer any significant level of certainty on the otherwise now highly uncertain IPCC attribution claim. Von Storch again:
So far, no one has been able to provide a compelling answer to why climate change seems to be taking a break. We’re facing a puzzle. Recent CO2 emissions have actually risen even more steeply than we feared. As a result, according to most climate models, we should have seen temperatures rise by around 0.25 degrees Celsius (0.45 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past 10 years. That hasn’t happened. In fact, the increase over the last 15 years was just 0.06 degrees Celsius (0.11 degrees Fahrenheit) — a value very close to zero. This is a serious scientific problem that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will have to confront when it presents its next Assessment Report late next year.
But they didn’t confront it. They ignored this “serious scientific problem” and pretended that their human-warming theory had been strengthened, not weakened, by developments since AR4. This fixed determination to ignore the available reason and evidence is the opposite of science.
The unscientific and anti-scientific nature of the IPCC’s attribution claims is unambiguous. They are asserting extreme and increasing certainty as the foundations of their CO2-dominant theory are on or past the verge of falsification. The only degree of certainty they can legitimately assess is very low. It is certainly not extremely high, and if Keating has any integrity he will admit it.