RCP 8.5, Part Deux: "The stuff nightmares are made from."

Guest post by David Middleton

Featured image borrowed from here.

In light of the fact that I totally glossed over the distinction between “CO2” and “CO2 equivalent” in my previous post on RCP 8.5, I decided to pen a more serious post on the subject.  I will do my best to avoid humor.

In most, if not all, catastrophic AGW papers, RCP 8.5 (or an equivalent) is invoked as a “business as usual scenario.”  A recent example can be found here.  The peer-reviewed paper said, “Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a metre of sea-level rise by 2100.”  This was translated by journalists into, “Antarctic ice sheets are expected to double sea-level rise to two metres by 2100, if carbon emissions are not cut.”

There is a world of difference between “has the potential to” and “are expected to,” particularly when the “potential” is based on an insanely unrealistic scenario.

The Stuff Nightmares Are Made From

Dr. Judith Curry has a very thoughtful discussion of RCP 8.5, “the stuff nightmares are made from,” on her Climate Etc. blog


In AR5 four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) describe scenarios for future emissions, concentrations, and land-use, ending with radiative forcing levels of 2.6, 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5 W/m2 by 2100. Strong mitigation policies result in a low forcing level (RCP2.6). Two medium stabilization scenarios lead to intermediate outcomes: (RCP4.5, RCP6.0).

IPCC's AR5: 4 RCPs

RCP8.5 gets the most attention. It assumes the fastest population growth (a doubling of Earth’s population to 12 billion), the lowest rate of technology development, slow GDP growth, a massive increase in world poverty, plus high energy use and emissions. For more about the RCPs see “The representative concentration pathways: an overview” by Detlef P. van Vuuren et al, Climatic Change, Nov 2011.

RCP8.5 assumes a nightmarish world even before climate impacts, resulting from substantial changes to long-standing trends. It provides AR5 with an essential worst case scenario necessary for conservative planning.

Unfortunately scientists often inaccurately describe RCP8.5 as the baseline scenario — a future without policy action: “a relatively conservative business as usual case with low income, high population and high energy demand due to only modest improvements in energy intensity” from “RCP 8.5: A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions” by Keywan Riahi et al in Climate Change, November 2011, This is a material misrepresentation of RCP8.5. Scientists then use RCP8.5 to construct horrific visions of the future. They seldom mention its unlikely assumptions.

“Scientists then use RCP8.5 to construct horrific visions of the future.”  Why would “scientists” feel compelled “to construct horrific visions of the future”?  Furthermore, why would they so often describe these “horrific visions of the future” as baseline, expected or “business as usual” scenarios?

Testing RCP 8.5

One of the commenters to my previous post was kind enough to direct me to the RCP database.  Using the RCP data and BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2015, I will demonstrate the absurdity of RCP 8.5 in a more “apples to apples” manner than my previous post.  I will  compare the carbon emissions and atmospheric CO2 concentrations depicted in RCP 4.5, 6.0 and 8.5 to real world data.

From my previous post:

Using BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2015, I built a “model.”

Figure 1. Cross-plots of (top) cumulative fossil fuel consumption (MTOE) vs. atmospheric CO2 (ppm) as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO) and (bottom) annual fossil fuel consumption (MTOE) vs time.

This “model” derives two equations:

  1. CO2 (ppm) = 0.0002*(MTOE) + 320.87 (R² = 0.9986)
  2. MTOE = 142.16*(Year) – 275,639 (R² = 0.9698)

Note:  MTOE = Millions of Tonnes of Oil Equivalent.

Note to nitpickers:  Yes, I know the top and bottom charts and equations 1 and 2 should have been listed in the opposite order.

These two equations enable me to project fossil fuel use and atmospheric CO2 into the distant future (beyond my retirement date… which with oil at $30/bbl is either very far off in the future or sooner than I would prefer).  Using the assumption that the mix of crude oil, natural gas and coal would remain at a constant ratio (that of the period 2005-2014), I come up with an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 683 ppm in 2100, about half of RCP 8.5 (Venus) and comparable to RCP 4.5 (non-catastrophic).

Figure 2. GIGO is as GIGO does.

To better reflect reality, I looked more closely at the evolution of the ratio of crude oil, natural gas and coal in the fossil fuels mix and I noticed that natural gas and crude oil exhibit very robust trends…

Figure 3. Natural gas is gradually replacing oil as the top fossil fuel… Thank God for George Mitchell!

Combining my previous method of projecting total fossil fuel use and the trends in Figure 3, I came up with this…

Figure 4. The return of Peak Oil.

No doubt Peak Oilers will welcome the return of Peak Oil some time around 2060.

Using BP’s numbers for carbon dioxide emissions…

oil – 73,300 kg CO2 per TJ (3.07 tonnes per tonne of oil equivalent)

natural gas – 56,100 kg CO2 per TJ (2.35 tonnes per tonne of oil equivalent)

coal – 94,600 kg CO2 per TJ (3.96 tonnes per tonne of oil equivalent)

I built carbon emissions scenarios for two cases:

  1. Constant ratio of oil, gas & coal based on 2005-2014 averages (left).
  2. Decreasing oil, increasing gas and relatively stable coal, based on trends in Figure 3 (right).


Figure 5. RCP 8.5 might be “business as usual… On Venus! The graph on the left uses a constant ratio of oil, gas and coal.  The graph on the right displaces oil with gas.


Based on a real world “business as usual” emissions scenario, with natural gas displacing oil at its current pace and no carbon tax, I come up with a CO2 right about inline with RCP 6.0, “a mitigation scenario, meaning it includes explicit steps to combat greenhouse gas emissions (in this case, through a carbon tax)“.

Figure 6. QED

Then I took my real world “business as usual” relative concentration pathway and applied three reasonable climate sensitivities to it: 0.5, 1.5 and 2.5 °C per doubling of atmospheric CO2, starting at 280 ppmv (TCR 0.5, TCR 1.5 and TCR 2.5).  HadCRUT4, referenced to 1850-1879 is clearly tracking very close to TCR 1.5…

Figure 7: A real world (this world, not Venus) “business as usual” scenario would barely nudge the dreaded 2 °C limit by the year 2100… Assuming that all of the warming since 1850 is due to greenhouse forcing… Which it isn’t.


Since it is generally assumed that at least half of the warming since 1850 was natural, the actual climate sensitivity would have to be significantly lower than 1.5 °C per doubling.  Therefore, RCP 8.5 should never be described as “business as usual,” “expected” or a “baseline case.”  Since its assumptions are mind mindbogglingly unrealistic, it shouldn’t be used in any serious publication.  It is bad science fiction.



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George McFly......I'm your density
April 6, 2016 3:04 pm

Excellent article David

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  George McFly......I'm your density
April 7, 2016 12:06 am

This analysis is what should give the next IPCC lead authors (if there is an AR6) some reflection on how bad the science was in AR’s 4&5.
But dependening on how politically and reputationally invested those chapter authors are will unfortunately determine how much human humility and honesty they will exhibit.
The biggest problem in climate science honesty is the political regime that currently holds the purse strings to their grant funding. With regime change (as in D to R) the Lysenkoism we currently now have will likely come to an end.

April 6, 2016 3:11 pm

I don’t know why we continue to obsess over the IPCC. It is a political organisation that produces political polemics. By continuing to obsess over it we only lend it legitimacy. Its only purpose is to lead us toward World Government by the mega-rich.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 7:44 pm

Yeah, but pochas94 is right: Stop citing the IPCC and start campaigning to abolish it. Maybe President Cruz will do it.
/Mr Lynn

Reply to  pochas94
April 6, 2016 8:51 pm

Smashing the IPCC might delay the inevitable World Government, but not for long.

April 6, 2016 3:11 pm

Coal will decrease replaced by NG. I see no trend for reducing oil w/ NG.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 6:35 pm

Yup. Great post, even if an over reaction to Shollenberger, with whom I penned a CE guest post on IEA peak oil two some years ago.
Fracked oil, quite limited TRR due to low recovery factor maybe 1.5 %. Fracked nat gas recovery maybe 15%, and there is more gas window shale than oil window shale. Simple result of deep shales and thermogenesis windows.

Don K
Reply to  Nicholas Schroeder
April 7, 2016 6:06 am

“I see no trend for reducing oil w/ NG.”
It’s happening — in the US at least — because NG is a cheaper energy source than petroleum. But the process is slow because it requires capital investment so changeovers don’t occur until the old infrastructure wears out and needs replacement. Moreover, there is very little public infrastructure in place in North America to support CNG vehicles other than fleet vehicles with sufficiently large fleets to make providing their own fueling stations economically sound. Curiously, CNG vehicles are said to be quite common in Iran and Pakistan. It seems reasonable to expect the trend to continue as virtually no one who has actually looked at the situation thinks there is enough petroleum in the ground to power transportation for 8-10 (or more) billion people living at a reasonable standard.

Tom Halla
April 6, 2016 3:15 pm

Good post. I assume you are using the IPCC models for the sake of argument,not claiming that the models are valid.

April 6, 2016 3:16 pm

Great work extending my article at Climate Etc with some insightful calculations! I’ll add a cite to this post.
RCP8.5 is the worst of the RCP’s used in AR5. It’s an appropriate “worst plausible” case. But I suspect further analysis like your would show your curve (roughly RCP6.0) to be a more appropriate “worst plausible” case, because it more realistically describes slow technological progress in the production and use of energy (RCP8.5’s coal-burning late 21st century would take us back to the late 19thC).
Considering what’s happening now, it seems possible but unlikely that we’ll have no radical changes by 2050 — and be relying on fossil fuels for a majority of our energy by 2075. Even fusion – for 50 years the “fuel of the near future” — is attracting large amounts of savvy private capital.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 3:29 pm

David Middleton
April 6, 2016 at 3:21 pm
Yoikes I’m only a baker’s dozen away from that age. But, I’m still consulting full time in mine development and mineral processing so I’m hoping get to see 2040 or so!

Steve O
April 6, 2016 3:19 pm

Bad Science Fiction and Bad Political Science. RCP 8.5 is not Climate Science.

Reply to  Steve O
April 6, 2016 3:27 pm

RCP8.5 is a scenario. Understanding the future requires building many scenarios, followed by analysis. We understand tail risks by looking at the extreme ones to determine their consequences and probability.
AR5 accurately described RCP8.5. Unfortunately others misrepresented it as a “business as usual” scenario, and many scientists ran simulations on that assumption.
David asks “Why would scientists feel compelled ‘to construct horrific visions of the future’? I assume that’s a rhetorical question. They do so for the same reason that robbers steal from banks. The breakdown of the system is that these misrepresentations of RCP8.5 have not been caught by peer-review — or attacked by individual climate scientists.
But science is done by people, and this kind of error is “business as usual”. It will sort itself out, eventually. But not necessarily without damage along the way.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 6, 2016 4:10 pm

Nightmarish worst-case scenarios are properly the stuff of fiction.
I imagined a terrifying catastrophe for polar bears and rightly called it fiction (a polar bear attack thriller – EATEN). Shameless plug: http://www.amazon.com/Eaten-novel-Susan-J-Crockford/dp/151930255X
Polar bear specialists used RCP8.5 to suggest all polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago would have 2-5 months of open water (where they currently have none). http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0113746
Which is more plausible and thought-provoking? Personally, I think the over-hyped RCP8.5 scenario turns people off.

Reply to  susanjcrockford
April 6, 2016 10:32 pm

Your work on polar bears is first-rate, but this comment conflates two distinct things.
Understanding tail risks — nightmarish scenarios — is vital. For example, the programs to control air and water pollution starting in the 1960s — including the ban on above ground nuclear testing — were a response to some horrific scenarios that could have come true.
Distinct from that is the misuse of these scenarios, as has been done with RCP8.5. Lots of useful things are exploited for political purposes, including mothers’ love and children’s innocence. That does not mean we should throw them away.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 6, 2016 6:16 pm

Hurrreeeyy. . . hurrreeeyy. . . hurrreeeyy! Step right up to the climate midway folks! See millions, billions, trillions traded for pigs, pokes, and lies . . . starving polar bears straight from the sands of a sinking arctic . . . snarling snow leopards swept away by melting glaciers . . . gasping Gurkhas in search of water. . . coastal residents on stilts . . . climate grifters juggling semi-intelligent humans . . . grim reapers galloping the streets . . . massive throngs wandering aimlessly . . . You there in the back! Why are you wearing that parka?! Hurrreeeeyy . . . hurrreeeyy folks! . . . see the Guinness record for limos and Lear jets parked in one spot . . . hear tragic tales of total destruction from Nobel laureates . . . You there on the right! Can you spare us a billion? That’s it! Step right up and empty your pockets on stage . . . brothers Barack and David and Al will assist you . . . hurrrreeeyy. . . hurrrreeeeyy. . . hurrrreeeyy . . . folks! Alternate energy is on the way! Please, please be patient!
Great article, David.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 7, 2016 12:14 am

Editor RCP 8.5 is clearly designed to cause fear, nothing more.
With nuclear the worst case scenarios are possible, if not probable, but RCP 8.5 scenarios are science fiction, they are not based on any scientific findings, they are imaginary doomsday predictions akin to Mayan calendar misconceptions.
Just because the scaremongering is wrapped up in a scientific cloak, that doesn’t make it any less junk science. It is crystal ball gazing a terrible future, there are enough fictional shows and books on that already, 8.5 won’t be winning any emmy awards.
To be valid RCP 8.5 would need to have some relevance in order to consider policy based on it’s results, fudging models to produce results with parameters that have no bearing on the real physical world is pointless. One must assume this is exactly what is needed for the media and environmentalists to scare everyone. After all, the likes of the Granuiad NYT AP focus on these 8.5 results as do most of rest of the liberal media.
It’s not science

Don K
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 7, 2016 6:18 am

NIghtmarish scenarios are perfectly appropriate for many situations. If you’re building a bridge, you want to imagine the worst possible simultaneous traffic, wind, snow, etc loads then add some margin. But David is right. You do NOT want to (mis)represent the worst case as typical or likely. Unless it is. Which isn’t remotely true of RCP8.5

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 7, 2016 2:51 pm

OK so we might as well predict what gravitational waves two super massive unicorns would create as they rotated around each other.
It is so far removed from reality that it is actually pointless and serves no other purpose than fodder for social engineering, that is what we ARE seeing with the media and environmentalists and politicians, they are striving to indoctrinate the next generations and have no interest in debating the current generations engaged in questioning the assumptions.
I dont mean it is far removed from reality because of the model’s output. Absolutely not. The scenario encapsulates so much BS from assumptions, ignorance of observational trends, rational action on big and apparent dangers, and then there is the data sets, the models, the potential for bias, did I mention the assumptions.
Given what models cannot do, it is the worst case scenario of a guess. Just because the process took more than a horse cart and old Gypsies with glass balls, doesn’t make it any different than fortune telling, if you dont know you dont know, forecasting BAU on such shakey foundations is one thing, but flaunting the worse case scenario in any other way than as parody is insane, and as I said, serves the political agenda, serves the tap at the end of the Green Circle jerk trough

Jean Parisot
April 6, 2016 3:29 pm

RCP8.5 is less plausible as a worse case scenario than a super volcano emerging over the next decades or an asteroid strike.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Jean Parisot
April 6, 2016 3:36 pm

Bet on a supervolcano or two before the century is out and an asteroid strike is not terribly remote a possibility. We’ve even had one not long ago pass between the earth and the moon and a fortunately small one hit near Cheylebisk, Russia a couple of years ago.

Reply to  Jean Parisot
April 6, 2016 4:37 pm

Speaking of super volcanoes, take a gezza at this, especially those living in the USA:

Reply to  BruceC
April 6, 2016 6:08 pm

I don’t see any reason to take that post seriously. I generally ignore the seismograph data. USGS and YVO are still logging earthquakes, see http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/yellowstone/yellowstone_monitoring_47.html
It only shows one EQ this month, which seems very low to me. Maybe some equipment is down. I think there’s been “interesting” weather around there lately.

Reply to  BruceC
April 7, 2016 11:38 am

The University of Utah website underwent changes recently. They aren’t hiding anything. You can find the earthquake pages here: http://quake.utah.edu/earthquake-center/heli-map
This article is the worst kind of sensationalism.

Reply to  Jean Parisot
April 7, 2016 12:20 am

indeed, the former is not based on anything real, but we know the Yellowstone caldera is real, as is asteroid strikes.
If one can use RCP 8.5 to make scenarios then why not RCP 10.5 or 12.5? They would be just as valid as 8.5, as in not.
More junk

Reply to  Mark
April 7, 2016 9:55 pm

“why not RCP 10.5 or 12.5? They would be just as valid as 8.5, as in not.”
What do you mean by “valid”? They are scenarios, providing a useful exercises to assess the probability of each.
Since getting 8.5 watts/m2 above pre-industrial is unlikely, then 10.5 or 12.5 are even less likely. What are you attempting to say?

April 6, 2016 3:33 pm

For more information
(1) See this post giving links to some of the papers and news articles misrepresenting RCP8.5 as business as usual — and a dozen studies manufacturing nightmares using it.
(2) To see the weakness of the alarmists’ case, see the 560 comments to my post at Climate Etc. Prof Curry asked readers to “keep your comments relevant and civil.” They didn’t. Watch the alarmists squeal!

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 4:04 pm

You’re a stronger man than I, Gunga Din!
Their swarming and dishonest debating tactics wear me out, as they are designed to do. Their fav tactic — misstating what I said (usually in a daft form) — makes rational discourse difficult or impossible.
But their recourse to such methods shows the weakness of their case. Unfortunately most of the attacks on the alarmists’ case consist of technobabble (all technical debate is technobabble to the general public) and conspiracy theories (history shows that some of the scariest conspiracy theories were correct) — neither of which is likely proof against the public’s’ panic following one or two extreme weather events.
The alarmists have set up a potentially game-winning situation for the next 5 or 10 years. If they win, it will not matter who is correct when the data is finalized 20 years from now.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 7:03 pm

E ot FM,
i don’t think it’s about winning the argument for them… It’s about winning the larger power play. (the argument is just the means to that end) This is just “alinski 101”. They couldn’t care less if they win the argument. Now, the power play can be lost for them with effective argumentation against them. So the real job for the skeptic is a tactical representation of the argument. Not only to have an effective argument, but to be effective in making the argument. The nice thing about blogs is that time is on the skeptic’s side. Arguments can be visited and revisited; skills can be honed as time goes on. (it’s a marathon, not a sprint) Not much fun, perhaps, for the gifted intellectual, but that’s, i’m afraid, what it is…

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 8:44 pm

” It’s about winning the larger power play. ”
I agree. My posts refer to the “public policy debate about climate change”. Debates are part — only part — of that.
The debate among scientists runs on parallel tracks. They affect each other, of course.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 7, 2016 2:18 am

You should try commenting on a ‘97% Consensus’ article on the
UK guardian if you feel that way. It’s like being trapped in a
septic tank and being forced to eat your way out.
Even the author of the article (if it’s Dana or John Abraham)
feel it’s OK to wade in with ad hominems.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 7, 2016 7:04 am

“You should try commenting on a ‘97% Consensus’ article on the UK guardian if you feel that way.”
Afonzarelli nailed it: the brass ring in the climate wars is public policy action. Climate activists want laws and regulations.
As for the chatter in The Guardian’s comment section, “the dogs bark but the caravan moves on.” Their impact on public opinion and decision-makers is near zero.
The impact of comment sections discussing climate has dropped as they have become one-sided communities. Each side talking to itself. Curry’s is one of the few with both sides clashing, and most of that debate is little more than chaff in the air.

Reply to  David Middleton
April 8, 2016 2:27 am

“It’s like being trapped in a
septic tank and being forced to eat your way out.”
OK, you win this years most effective metaphor and the year is only 4 months old. I don’t think that one can be topped!

Anna Keppa
April 6, 2016 3:34 pm

I hope this isn’t considered off-topic, but does anyone have time to write a critique of this article, which appeared on Bloomberg.com?
“While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.
One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). ”
It seems at complete odds with the many articles posted here showing how solar and wind are failing.
What say you, WUWT’ers??

Reply to  David Middleton
April 6, 2016 4:21 pm

I think what we are seeing is that the infrastructure is already in place for fossil fuels and therefore does not require massive amounts of investment.

Dave in Canmore
Reply to  Anna Keppa
April 6, 2016 3:54 pm

“Clean energy broke new records…”
The only record that matters is how much energy renewables produce and how much that energy costs.

Green Sand
Reply to  Anna Keppa
April 6, 2016 4:01 pm

said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). ”

Clue – what else would you expect the chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance to say?

Reply to  Anna Keppa
April 8, 2016 2:32 am

Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.
Twice the amount of Government global “funding”, that should read, I think.That is the problem. Governments, i.e us, fund it and people, including the poor, must pay much higher energy costs.
Big Wind’s Bogus Subsidies
Giving tax credits to the wind energy industry is a waste of time and money.
Despite being famous for touting the idea that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, investor Warren Buffet seems to be perfectly fine with receiving tax breaks for making investments in Big Wind. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” Buffet told an audience in Omaha, Nebraska recently. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”
But while the wind production tax credit may be great for Buffet’s bottom line, it’s harmful for American taxpayers and energy consumers.
If private companies like Berkshire Hathaway are not willing to jump in without government incentives, it is a sign that the energy technology is a bad investment. It simply does not make sense for the government to subsidize energy technologies that are economically unviable, while attempting to restrict other options that provide reliable and affordable energy for everyday Americans.Despite the statements of subsidy supporters, artificially propping up industries has a very real cost….
Not only are federal wind subsidies a colossal waste of money and detrimental to the economy, but they subsidize an industry that is actually harmful to the environment. The alleged goal of incentivizing “green energy” industries is to help protect the environment, but with wind energy comes a slew of environmental problems. For example, it is estimated that wind turbines in the U.S. kill up to 328,000 birds annually, and, last year alone, wind turbines killed 600,000 bats. What’s more, the amount of land needed for wind farms to be effective is staggering. For New York City to be powered by wind alone, every square meter of Connecticut would need to become a wind farm….
At the end of the day, competition and free markets should shape U.S. energy policy, not handouts or favors for special interests like Big Wind.

Steve O
April 6, 2016 3:41 pm

RCP 8.5 is a fictional scenario, thus Science Fiction. RCP 2.4 is a more realistic baseline for CO2 doubling forcing temp..

Reply to  Steve O
April 6, 2016 3:50 pm

All future scenarios are “fiction”. The odds are low of getting much correct when looking 50-100 years ahead.
The value of these comes from working backwards. What might produce anthropogenic forcings of 8.5 W/m2 above pre-industrial values? We don’t know the answer without doing the analysis. Then we can assess the probability of that happening.
Science is a process.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 6, 2016 4:11 pm

“The problem is when they are used as if they were actual forecasts… or worse, as if the model outputs were real data.”
Yes, those kinds of misinterpretation is bad — and too common in the climate wars. Especially considering model output as “evidence”.
For RCP8.5 we have something different. Activists misrepresent RCP8.5 by calling it a :business as usual” scenario, when the actual description shows it to be nothing like that. That’s why the misuse of RCP8.5 is so powerful: a clear demonstration that climate science has become somewhat dysfunctional.
Every study predicting doom using RCP8.5 — and especially the news stories which do so (often when the study correctly describes RCP8.5) should be protested. The usual getting down in to the weeds, focusing on the complex science, just dilutes the message.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 6, 2016 4:38 pm

Using climate models to make projections is not doing science. Nor is it doing engineering.
Climate model projections are mere elaborations of unfounded assumptions.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 7, 2016 12:53 pm

Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
April 6, 2016 at 3:50 pm
All future scenarios are “fiction”. The odds are low of getting much correct when looking 50-100 years ahead.
Hello there.
Just expressing my understanding in the above point you made.
As far as I can tell, there is a serious difference between “fiction” and “imagination”.
Imagination as I do understand it is a kind of a projection of future possibilities in a given aspect based in an given experience and the degree of contemplating the best possible range of futuristic outcomes.
In its own way does not mean by default correctness, accuracy or a satisfactory precision, but never the less is what it always happens when trying to have a look, a “prediction”, a hint or an evaluation of the future and its outcomes in any regard you can think and concern about.
I think “fiction” is quite a different thing all together.
To explain this point made I will consider the “conning” and a con artist as per the “fiction” versus “imagination”.
The main point of approach by a con artist and the resulting effect of conning relies in one particular point of “engagement” ………touching your imagination and fire it up to a point that the actual reasonable range of your imagination in any given condition turns first to a fiction, a much larger and wider range of possibilities you had ever or will have ever considered as rational enough to imagine.
That will allow the con to implant in your mind more extreme and improbable scenarios…and one or two of these scenarios will the ones the con is based and depend on.
After that, in time, all this new range “the fictional” one at that point it will be cut down slowly but surely, when there are left the very few and the most ridiculous scenarios to consider and the very scenario of the con itself.
And due to the skill of the con artist (through the applying of the power of autosuggestion mostly) the victim will have some kind of “revelation” , by which and through it, he or she discovered so “cleverly”, all by himself, the main and the very certain way to success by “intellectually” valuating the best benefits in regard to future outcomes,,,,,,,,,,, in a single moment moving from imagination or otherwise a projection to a revelation or what otherwise could be considered as a very certain prediction.
So as far as I can tell the main point and the start of a con is by trying to tap at and effect or affect ( alter) the imagination by turn it in to a fiction with no much awareness by the victim……….and all there is then between a victim and a predator is only time for the victim to accept willfully the “cookie” offered, as his own discovery and act upon with no any doubt at all………with a 95-97% certainty of accuracy and precision……..completely ending up in a worse than a normal “fictional” condition, as a result of fired imagination further and further in to a ridiculous “fiction” by a con and the con artist.
Does this sound any bit as familiar! 🙂
All this said was simply to make a point that what actually the difference between “fiction” and “imagination” could be……….and the actual meaning of what could the manipulation of the human imagination be, in the regard of a goal or aim of manipulating the human mind and the human intellect.
Maybe I have got this all wrong!
Any way that is the way I look at it and I am not going a alter it just like that…..by simply accepting more and more unjustifiable and ridiculous “fiction” and ever crazy escalating inflation of it………I am fun of imagination..: as much as I can tell….and of the “fiction” too to a given degree, but not at all when the later is imposed by means of intellectual “violence” based only in the mesmerising and persuasive power of “authority” or likes as such as…… when also no any care or respect is shown to the human imagination…….
thank you

Reply to  Steve O
April 6, 2016 5:57 pm

Wait till you see RCP-Eleventy-Seven. It’s a doozy!

April 6, 2016 4:22 pm

Once the government subsidies go away, the investors in ‘renewable’ energy lose interest as they suddenly notice that the ‘renewables’ are not cost-effective. They are more worried by losing money than by all the CAGW-IPCC scare story nightmares.

Reply to  ntesdorf
April 8, 2016 2:43 am

You are exactly right. See my post above. Warren Buffet agrees with you 100% and he admits that subsidies are the only reason he invests in wind energy as they are not profitable and don’t make any sense otherwise.

Michael Jankowski
April 6, 2016 4:42 pm

…“Scientists then use RCP8.5 to construct horrific visions of the future.” Why would “scientists” feel compelled “to construct horrific visions of the future”? Furthermore, why would they so often describe these “horrific visions of the future” as baseline, expected or “business as usual” scenarios?…
We can go back to Stephen Schneider for that, and then a few dolts will claim his statements were taken out of context and what he was really saying was that scientists just don’t have the time and space to provide caveats, assumptions, if/and/but, etc, even though he clearly advocated resorting to this very thing.

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
April 7, 2016 2:56 pm

Also they feel fine putting corals in acid too to apparently to see what happens a coral in acid, something already known by science, a 14 year old with no experience can guess what happens.
Bloody weirdos

April 6, 2016 5:21 pm

Sure would like to know what RCP stands for. Went to the link and no explanation.

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 6, 2016 5:23 pm

I hate acronyms – just spell them out in words. – Phil

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 6, 2016 5:29 pm

Oh, I see Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) is stated earlier. Why not just say Representative Concentration Pathways each time rather than RCP?

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 6, 2016 5:41 pm

Representative Concentration Pathways

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 6, 2016 6:32 pm


Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 7, 2016 1:11 am

David Middleton on April 6, 2016 at 5:40 pm
RCP is easier to type. If I couldn’t use acronyms and abbreviations, I couldn’t do my job… AVO, HBP, PDP, PDNP, PUD, DHC, CWC, csg, WOW to MIR.
If you append it to your thesarus MSWord is eager to give acronym and / or expanded version. kind of politeness to the adressed.
Regards – Hans

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 7, 2016 2:57 pm

Really Convoluted Process

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
April 8, 2016 2:57 am

I understand the need for acronyms in professions but it would be nice if the first time one is use, it is spelled out. Every profession has acronyms which are readily understood by those in the profession but not by those who are not.
My son joined the USMC, United States Marine Corps. I did not understand more than one out of every five words he spoke for his entire five years of service.
I was in healthcare. I would not expect anyone who was not to know what SOB, DVT or TIA, to give a few examples, mean. Just as a courtesy, spell them out just once, please.

April 6, 2016 6:55 pm

Since it is generally assumed that at least half of the warming since 1850 was natural….
…..first they convince you the LIA ended in 1850

Reply to  Latitude
April 7, 2016 3:01 pm

in around 1650 it ended did it not? The deep trough lasts around 150 years
All that people skating on the Thames stuff was not the LIA as often stated

Reply to  Mark
April 8, 2016 3:02 am

in around 1650 it ended did it not?
Mark, no, it did not. It did not end until around 1850. That is supported by many first-hand accounts of our own settlers in America, besides other data.

Reply to  Mark
April 8, 2016 7:05 am

Sailor it was bloody cold in the 1700s and 1800s, but not as cold as the LIA, temperatures went back up by 1650, the deep trough in temp drop was 1500ish to 1650, temps went up a bit and plateaued and started rising again round 1950, so no, the earth has been on a warming trend since 1650

Reply to  Mark
April 8, 2016 7:08 am

*Rising again around 1850, not 1950.
The LIA is the low dip in temps, the 1700s and 1800s were a fair bit more warmer.
The cold plateau from 1700ish to 1850 is not the LIA, warming started 50 years before, albeit some parts of the globe would have remained cold during the warming years up to 1850.
First hand accounts are not relevant to climate science otherwise the world of records we have for far worse ice situations would put todays ice lows in context.

April 7, 2016 9:01 am

David Middleton’s point in the original post seems a good, succinct way of dealing with RCP8.5, whether the projected CO2 ppm is 1370 or 930. This may be better set in context by subtracting the ‘baseline’ pre-industrial concentration, say 280, and addressing ppm changes. Then RCP8.5 claims an increase of 530ppm (930 – 400) in the next 85 years, compared to an historical increase of 120ppm over the past 150 odd years. The evident implausibility of that should be apparent to all but true climate fanatics.

Brandon Shollenberger
April 7, 2016 1:24 pm

Since it is generally assumed that at least half of the warming since 1850 was natural,

This isn’t true. Not only is this not generally assumed to be true, it is something the “consensus” position would likely say isn’t true.

Brandon Shollenberger
Reply to  David Middleton
April 8, 2016 10:09 am

Being highly confident more than half of the observed warming since 1950 is due to human influpences does not mean you believe human influences caused no more than half the observed warming since 1850. There’s no connection between the ideas. At a minimum, a person may be 90+% sure back to 1950 and only 80+% back to 1930, 70+% back to 1910, etc.
But more importantly, we’re not talking about a singular quantity. Suppose a factor, such as natural variability, caused a certain amount of warming from say, 1930-1950. Let’s say it was .2 degrees. That would mean .2C of warming observed up to 1950 was not caused by man. Now let’s say that factor reversed itself by 1970, having 0 effect after that point. That would mean it has no effect on the total amount of warming even though it did alter the attribution of warming in certain periods.
Put simply, saying one is 90+% sure humans caused at least half of the warming since 1950 does nothing to indicate one believes humans are responsible for less than half the total warming since 1850.

Reply to  Brandon Shollenberger
April 8, 2016 7:03 am

Disagree Brandon, getting everyone to agree humans have caused around half of the warming was a coup for the alarmists, because we have no idea whatsoever who has created what warming

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