The hype around the soon to be released UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) does make me a little ill. The last such report was issued in 2007 and it does not seem that the assemblers of the report have learned much in that time. It is not that they have completely ignored reality but just mostly ignored it.
The full, 2000+ page report will not be released for several months. ‘The SPM is a short(30 pages or so) “executive summary” type document and is said to be based on the full report.
But here is how the SPM will be finalized, quoting from the Daily Mail posting:
“Starting a week tomorrow, about 40 of the 250 authors who contributed to the report – and supposedly produced a definitive scientific consensus – will hold a four-day meeting in Stockholm, together with representatives of most of the 195 governments that fund the IPCC, established in 1998 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The governments have tabled 1,800 questions and are demanding major revisions, starting with the failure to account for the pause.”
In the past the authors have made many of the revision to the SPM that the various governments demanded. Once finalized, the full report will be changed to reflect politician’s view of how it should read, not necessarily how the science speaks to the issues. Listen to what Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, wrote about the SPM that accompanied the last major IPCC report issued 2007 saying:
“So the purpose of the three-month delay between the publication of the (IPCC) Summary for Policy-Makers and the release of the actual WG1 (Working Group 1) is to enable them to make any ‘necessary’ adjustments to the technical report to match the policy summary. Unbelievable. Can you imagine what securities commissions would say if business promoters issued a big promotion and then the promoters made the ‘necessary’ adjustments to the qualifying reports and financial statements so that they matched the promotion. Words fail me.”
The final draft of the SPM was leaked to the Daily Mail. The box below is a summary by the Daily Mail of the major changes from the last 2007 SPM.
‘A REFLECTION OF EVIDENCE FROM NEW STUDIES’… THE IPCC CHANGES ITS STORY
What they say: ‘The rate of warming since 1951 [has been] 0.12C per decade.’
What this means: In their last hugely influential report in 2007, the IPCC claimed the world was warming at 0.2C per decade. Here they admit there has been a massive cut in the speed of global warming – although it’s buried in a section on the recent warming ‘pause’. The true figure, it now turns out, is not only just over half what they thought – it’s below their lowest previous estimate.
What they say: ‘Surface temperature reconstructions show multi-decadal intervals during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (950-1250) that were in some regions as warm as in the late 20th Century.’
What this means: As recently as October 2012, in an earlier draft of this report, the IPCC was adamant that the world is warmer than at any time for at least 1,300 years. Their new inclusion of the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ – long before the Industrial Revolution and its associated fossil fuel burning – is a concession that its earlier statement is highly questionable.
What they say: ‘Models do not generally reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10 – 15 years.’
What this means: The ‘models’ are computer forecasts, which the IPCC admits failed to ‘see… a reduction in the warming trend’. In fact, there has been no statistically significant warming at all for almost 17 years – as first reported by this newspaper last October, when the Met Office tried to deny this ‘pause’ existed. In its 2012 draft, the IPCC didn’t mention it either. Now it not only accepts it is real, it admits that its climate models totally failed to predict it.
What they say: ‘There is medium confidence that this difference between models and observations is to a substantial degree caused by unpredictable climate variability, with possible contributions from inadequacies in the solar, volcanic, and aerosol forcings used by the models and, in some models, from too strong a response to increasing greenhouse-gas forcing.’
What this means: The IPCC knows the pause is real, but has no idea what is causing it. It could be natural climate variability, the sun, volcanoes – and crucially, that the computers have been allowed to give too much weight to the effect carbon dioxide emissions (greenhouse gases) have on temperature change.
What they say: ‘Climate models now include more cloud and aerosol processes, but there remains low confidence in the representation and quantification of these processes in models.’
What this means: Its models don’t accurately forecast the impact of fundamental aspects of the atmosphere – clouds, smoke and dust.
What they say: ‘Most models simulate a small decreasing trend in Antarctic sea ice extent, in contrast to the small increasing trend in observations… There is low confidence in the scientific understanding of the small observed increase in Antarctic sea ice extent.’
What this means: The models said Antarctic ice would decrease. It’s actually increased, and the IPCC doesn’t know why.
What they say: ‘ECS is likely in the range 1.5C to 4.5C… The lower limit of the assessed likely range is thus less than the 2C in the [2007 report], reflecting the evidence from new studies.’
What this means: ECS – ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’ – is an estimate of how much the world will warm every time carbon dioxide levels double. A high value means we’re heading for disaster. Many recent studies say that previous IPCC claims, derived from the computer models, have been way too high. It looks as if they’re starting to take notice, and so are scaling down their estimate for the first time.
The draft shows that the warmers are becoming aware that the old, failed computer predictions and the faulty assumptions about ECS are no longer tenable. After a 16 year pause in global warming, they have had to modify their stance on these issues. Probably they are still hedging on the high side to keep their funding coming. Surely some of them must be wondering if they shouldn’t move on to a new career now, before the funding dries up.