Guest essay by Leo Goldstein
I’ve already written about the epic moment, when IPCC apparently recognized that most of the recent warming had been due to the natural variability. Instead of telling that to the world, IPCC has just altered the definition of climate change in its Third Assessment Report (TAR, 2001) to include natural variability and changes in solar activity, and proceeded as if nothing happened. This point should have marked the end of climate alarmism. Instead, it became a new beginning.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We should occasionally have fun by ridiculing selected passages from IPCC texts. Let’s look at some of its self-serving terms and definitions. For example, IPCC AR5 WG1, Summary for Policymakers, defines the equilibrium climate sensitivity as:
“The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multicentury time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration.” (p. 16)
This “definition” is found in the IPCC AR5 Summary for Policymakers. In its usual repertoire, the IPCC gives two different definitions for the same term, and uses semantic trickery to make the reader feel they are equivalent. The definition assumes that all radiative forcing is caused by change in the atmospheric CO2 concentration, something that the IPCC wanted to prove.
Also, this definition is substantially different from the Glossary in the full assessment. The following definitions are from the IPCC AR5 WG1, Glossary (starting at p. 1448; red color is in the original):
“Climate. Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.”
The word climate does not need to be defined. This attempt at defining it is intended to give the word climate a meaning different from the conventional one. But this definition is also formally defective because it is a) circular; and b) attempts to define the simple term climate through the complex and obscure “climate system.”
“Climate change. Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings such as modulations of the solar cycles, volcanic eruptions and persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Note that the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’. The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes. See also Climate change commitment, Detection and Attribution.”
The mother of formal fallacies in the climate alarmism. See Abusing Semantics is the First and Last Refuge of Climatism.
“Climate change commitment. Due to the thermal inertia of the ocean and slow processes in the cryosphere and land surfaces, the climate would continue to change even if the atmospheric composition were held fixed at today’s values. Past change in atmospheric composition leads to a committed climate change, which continues for as long as a radiative imbalance persists and until all components of the climate system have adjusted to a new state. The further change in temperature after the composition of the atmosphere is held constant is referred to as the constant composition temperature commitment or simply committed warming or warming commitment. Climate change commitment includes other future changes, for example, in the hydrological cycle, in extreme weather events, in extreme climate events, and in sea level change. The constant emission commitment is the committed climate change that would result from keeping anthropogenic emissions constant and the zero emission commitment is the climate change commitment when emissions are set to zero. See also Climate change.”
A whole dissertation hidden inside of a definition! It implicitly assumes that the addition of 0.01-0.02% of CO2 molecules to the atmospheric composition substantially affects climate. Further, it suggests that nothing else matters until “the climate system have adjusted to a new state”. Even better hidden is the hint that a change in the atmospheric composition is irreversible, and can only be held fixed.
“Climate model (spectrum or hierarchy) A numerical representation of the climate system based on the physical, chemical and biological properties of its components, their interactions and feedback processes, and accounting for some of its known properties. The climate system can be represented by models of varying complexity, that is, for any one component or combination of components a spectrum or hierarchy of models can be identified, differing in such aspects as the number of spatial dimensions, the extent to which physical, chemical or biological processes are explicitly represented or the level at which empirical parametrizations are involved. Coupled Atmosphere–Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) provide a representation of the climate system that is near or at the most comprehensive end of the spectrum currently available. There is an evolution towards more complex models with interactive chemistry and biology. Climate models are applied as a research tool to study and simulate the climate, and for operational purposes, including monthly, seasonal and interannual climate predictions. See also Earth System Model, Earth-System Model of Intermediate Complexity, Energy Balance Model,Process-based Model, Regional Climate Model and Semi-empirical model.”
Another dissertation, in which each sentence is false. In short, it defines that IPCC models correctly represent the climate system, all evidence to the contrary to be damned.
“Climate sensitivity. In IPCC reports, equilibrium climate sensitivity (units: °C) refers to the equilibrium (steady state) change in the annual global mean surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric equivalent carbon dioxide concentration. …”
This definition implicitly assumes that CO2 concentration determines or significantly impacts surface temperatures – something that the IPCC wanted, but failed, to prove.
“Extreme weather event. An extreme weather event is an event that is rare at a particular place and time of year. Definitions of rare vary, but an extreme weather event would normally be as rare as or rarer than the 10th or 90th percentile of a probability density function estimated from observations. By definition, the characteristics of what is called extreme weather may vary from place to place in an absolute sense. When a pattern of extreme weather persists for some time, such as a season, it may be classed as an extreme climate event, especially if it yields an average or total that is itself extreme (e.g., drought or heavy rainfall over a season).”
According to this definition, a weather event that happens once a week is an extreme weather event. For example, a summer rain in Southern California is an extreme weather event per this definition. A rainy summer is classified as an extreme climate event, too. Even when treated as a broad explanation rather than a definition, this passage suffers from at two defects: a) failure to limit the definition to events with significant negative consequences associated with the word extreme; b) too broad of allowance in percentiles; outside of the range of 0.5 – 99.5 percentiles would be more appropriate. The effect and intent of these defects is typical for IPCC texts. It allows scientists to report something innocuous, and the media to use the same words to paint a scary picture.
“Global mean surface temperature. An estimate of the global mean surface air temperature. However, for changes over time, only anomalies, as departures from a climatology, are used, most commonly based on the area-weighted global average of the sea surface temperature anomaly and land surface air temperature anomaly.”
The word “anomaly” implies that the Earth has a “normal global temperature.” There is no such thing. This is something only flat-Earthers could believe. Departures from climatology are not anomalies, but variations.
“Heat wave. A period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot weather. See also Warm spell.”
“Warm spell. A period of abnormally hot weather. For the corresponding indices, see Box 2.4. See also Heat wave.”
In September 2016, I submitted a long affidavit with criticism of the IPCC terminology, rules, and actions. with a Motion to Intervene in the big lawsuit Exxon against Maura Healey, a nutty Attorney General of Massachusetts (TX-ND, 4:16-cv-469-K). Enjoy reading!