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« Back on Black | Main | Nature: no scrutiny of the academy »
Wednesday
Nov092011

Dangerous climate change?

This is a slightly edited version of a comment Richard Betts left on the discussion forum. I thought it was quite challenging to much of what we hear about climate change in the mainstream media and therefore worthy of posting here as a header post. (Richard, for anyone visiting for the first time, is head of climate change impacts at the Met Office).

Most climate scientists* do not subscribe to the 2 degrees "Dangerous Climate Change" meme (I know I don't). "Dangerous" is a value judgement, and the relationship between any particular level of global mean temperature rise and impacts on society are fraught with uncertainties, including the nature of regional climate responses and the vulnerability/resilience of society. The most solid evidence for something with serious global implications that might happen at 2 degrees is the possible passing of a key threshold for the Greenland ice sheet, but even then that's the lower limit and also would probably take centuries to take full effect. Other impacts like drought and crop failures are massively uncertain, and while severe negative impacts may occur in some regions, positive impacts may occur in others. While the major negative impacts can't be ruled out, their certainty is wildly over-stated.

While really bad things may happen at 2 degrees, they may very well not happen either - especially in the short term (there may be a committment to longer-term consequences such as ongoing sea level rise that future generations have to deal with, but imminent catastrophe affecting the current generation is far less certain than people make out. We just don't know.

The thing that worries me about the talking-up of doom at 2 degrees is that this could lead to some very bad and expensive decisions in terms of adaptation. It probably is correct that we have about 5 years to achieve a peak and decline of global emissions that give a reasonable probability of staying below 2 degrees, but what happens in 10 years' time when emissions are still rising and we are probably on course for 2 degrees? If the doom scenario is right then it would make sense to prepare to adapt to the massive impacts expected within a few decades, and hence we'd have to start spending billions on new flood defences, water infrastructure and storm shelters, and it would probably also make sense for conservationists to give up on areas of biodiversity that are apparently "committed to extinction" - however all these things do not make sense if the probability of the major impacts is actually quite small.

So while I do agree that climate change is a serious issue and it makes sense to try to avoid committing the planet to long-term changes, creating a sense of urgency by over-stating imminent catastrophe at 2 degrees could paint us into a corner when 2 degrees does become inevitable.


*I prefer to distinguish between "climate scientists" (who are mainly atmospheric physicists) and "climate change scientists" who seem to be just about anyone in science or social science that has decided to see what climate change means for their own particular field of expertise. While many of these folks do have a good grasp of climate science (atmospheric physics) and the uncertainties in attribution of past events and future projections, many sadly do not. "Climate change science" is unfortunately a rather disconnected set of disciplines with some not understanding the others - see the inconsistencies between WG1 and WG2 in IPCC AR4 for example. We are working hard to overcome these barriers but there is a long way to go.

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    - Bishop Hill blog - Dangerous climate change?

Reader Comments (285)

I don't like anything about this statement. Sorry. While I appreciate greatly Richard's foray into the bloggesphere I find the statement wishy washy, without contriteness and desperately trying to maintain the funding for their new computer which they were pleading for yesterday in parliament.

Along with their fellow travellers, the BBC, they still can't let go of the need to blame humans for everything in order to maintain the governments need for tax. Lots of the usual language of, probably, could might. Just as always. I agree totally with JOHN SHADE on this. I have to admit a certain vehement dislike of the Met Off, their propaganda and their dishonesty.

Stephen Richards BSc MSc Physics.

Nov 10, 2011 at 7:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Richard, a great post! That you also work for the Met Office is most encouraging too.

I feel the call of blank paper...

Nov 10, 2011 at 7:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Re Richard

If the doom scenario is right then it would make sense to prepare to adapt to the massive impacts expected within a few decades, and hence we'd have to start spending billions on new flood defences, water infrastructure and storm shelters,

Nice article, but isn't this part of the problem? We haven't been spending enough to adapt to urbanisation, so poorly considered building developments increase flood risk. Then lack of investment in flood defences and drainage infrastructure mean increased costs when perfectly natural events cause storm damage.

We recently had some severe flooding here and the damage was probably increased by drains being blocked by leaves. Councils or water companies have been saving money by not clearing drains or drainage channels, or they're simply not scaled to cope with runoff from new developments. Or we have situations like the flooding in Thailand which have caused wider economic impacts after disk manufacturers and other component maker's plants have been flooded. But those were built on flood prone areas or flood plains. We seem to have ended up with a situation where we prefer to compensate rather than mitigate, probably because the risks end up being transferred to the property owners.

.

Nov 10, 2011 at 7:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

@Richard Betts

Your boss, Julia Slingo said "the world should keep the 2C target to aid negotiations"....

And as we know here, it is already leading to some very bad and expensive decisions in terms of adaptation.

Nov 10, 2011 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Richard Betts

Many thanks for allowing this post, I hope that the informed opinion that you, Richard Toll, and Tamsin Edwards express is, in the background, associated with many other climate scientists.

I do hope that this opinion can be expressed more widely and I suspect that the transforming direction of the BBC with respect to climate science is also an indication of influence by the UK met office.

Unfortunately I must urge you and your colleagues to take a step further though and get together as a group to write a formal letter to our politicians to inform them of this scientific opinion. The need to inform Chris Huhne, George Osbourne and David Cameron cannot wait until the release of AR5, which I suspect will not portray the same position, as the next twelve months, is a critical period for the economic future of the UK. Please don’t take this as a call for you to take a political stance, purely allow the politicians and the public to realise the opinion of our nation’s scientists in their endeavour to get this country back on its feet. This need, you may have already realised and if so I apologise for having to bring it to your attention but the future of so many relies on the decisions of so few and economically the decisions faced now are going to shape this country for generations.

Nov 10, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

With regard to: "By simply redirecting all the fossil fuel subsidies to renewable energy programs the 2 billion poor people would have access to energy not only by 2030, but within this decade," as stated in a previous post.

Please could someone tell me what is meant by fossil fuel subsidies? I always thought that coal and oil were pretty profitable.

Nov 10, 2011 at 8:51 AM | Unregistered Commenteroxonmoron

The climate "scientists" are like the Euro... what they say seems such sense at the time, but when it all starts to fall apart everyone will suddenly turn out to be a Euro sceptic and not listen to a word they say.

Likewise all this rubbish about impending doomsday looked a sensible way to get the public to "take it seriously", but the real effect is that after 40 years of "unprecedented" climate change no one can point to a single actual effect of this unprecedented change.

Now, irrespective of whether they were right, no one will take this subject seriously, nor will they take scientists seriously for a very long time.

Indeed, like the Euro, we may be heading for a "two speed" science: on the one side we have the hard sciences ... the evidence based sciences like physics, chemistry etc. And on the other side we have the "social sciences" like climate science, economics, sociology, which are "consensus" based.

And I needn't point out which would be closer to Germany and which to Greece and Italy!

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

I agree with Stephen Richards and John Shade on this. Moreover I would ask the following question.

Given the sparse scattering of temperature measuring stations across the world, the preponderance and undue weighting given to the sites in the USA, plus the poor siting of many of the latter as revealed by Anthony Watts and his team of volunteers, on what basis can we quibble over one or two degrees of perceived global average warming?

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

"these things do not make sense if the probability of the major impacts is actually quite small"

Precisely.

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Richard,
This is all very well, and it is encouraging to hear you say this, but you are preaching to the converted here.
As Lord B and Geoff say, the message needs to be got out to our deluded media and politicians, and you need to stand up and say this to your fellow climate scientists - what really worries me about the climate science community is that so few are prepared speak out against the activist wing.

Even worse than the arbitrary 2 degrees threshold is the absurd claim that we have to keep C02 levels below 450ppm to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees
(see for example here, also often heard at 'climate talks').

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

I'd like to add my thanks to Richard for posting his thoughts. If all climate scientists behaved like this, we wouldn't have such a war on our hands.

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Richard, interesting post. I am assuming most of the climate science, and indeed the climate change, communities have the same views as you on the uncertainties, even the activists, because that's the scientific way. So I have this request of you, could you please read the AR4 Synthesis Report and tell us why the scientific community did not, with one voice, decry the certainties in that report? Is it fear for your jobs, fear for your funding. What is it that's keeping you all silent in the face of the biggest distortion of science for political ends in history?

I've said this on many occasions before, but I'll reiterate it for emphasis. When this scam comes to it's inevitable end, as it most surely will, the politicians, and the voters, if we aren't run by a World Government consisting of Environmental NGOs, will righty ask why the entire science establishment remained silent, and indeed actively supported the scam by participating in, and approving of ("blinder played"), sham investigations.

Remember energy policies throughout the western world are now in tatters because real scientists have been silenced, or silent, about the vast uncertainties, and because many of your colleagues are going to the media and with perfectly straight faces telling them they can foretell the future. And not a peep from the rest of you, except for now. Well done for that anyway, I cannot help but feel, given Dr. Slingo's position on this your actions are extremely brave, it's one thing sharing your doubts and differences with your colleagues, but quite another sharing them with the oicks outside th scientific community.

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Richard Betts
Thankyou again for the original posting and your slightly more cool-headed approach to this. I understand you are not an alarmist, at least in the usual sense of the word so my questions are not really directed at you but I really would like to get this straight.
A 2C rise in global average temperature over and above "pre-industrial levels" is going to lead to .... what, exactly?
Question One. Will we know that we have reached that magic 2 degree figure when the world comes to an end overnight or is this going to creep up on us gradually?
Question Two. Do we actually know (as opposed to deduce from bristle-cone pines) what the "pre-industrial" temperature was? And which "pre-industrial" period to we mean? Little Ice Age? MWP? Younger-Dryas?
On the assumption that climate does not actually change overnight and that we are (allegedly) about 0.9C warmer than 100 years ago then we are about 40% of the way towards this magic 2 degrees, So there ought to be fairly firm evidence by now of which of these projected disasters are going to overtake us and what progress they are making towards coming about.
Question Three. Where are the proofs?

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Um, CO2 continues to rise but global temperatures have flatlined for 15 years ... and the response here to this guy is that of loveless children patted on the head by a passing adult. Pathetic.

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeal Asher

@Iapogus
The Dublin-to-Brighton analogy was, of course, in jest. Only a fraction of the world population lives in Dublin, and the rest of world will experience climate change differently.

That said, the most important fraction of the world population (my wife and kids) live in Dublin and climate change is not the first threat to their well-being that comes to mind.

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

@Richard if you really believe what you have written here then either you have changed your views in a dramatic way or you have spent the last 10 years sitting on your hands and watching silently while your colleagues in "climate science" made all kinds of wild claims that you knew were untrue.

Which is it?

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

"I'd like to add my thanks to Richard for posting his thoughts. If all climate scientists behaved like this, we wouldn't have such a war on our hands.

Nov 10, 2011 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames"

I can't disagree more!

The scientist I admire is Kirkby, who when I approached him to get support sent me back a very kurt note saying: "I don't want this kind of thing ... I just want to get on with the science ... in the end it will be good science that shows us what we need to do or not do" (I paraphrase).

The problem is not that too few climate scientists engage with the public, it is that far far too many seem to revel at this kind of thing and these scientific charlatans are never reprimanded for the damage they are doing to all the decent scientists whose work they undermine by their partisan behaviour.

In other words, the way to get politics, and self-seeking publicists and Point of View pushers out of science is not to encourage more point of view pushers

The only point of view I want to hear from scientists ... is that those who bring science into disrepute by pushing their views should be booted out!

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Haseler

Earlier in this thread there were references to "pre-industrial levels" of temperature and CO2, and how increasing anthropogenic CO2 may increase temperatures. I would like to make two simple points:

1. Pre-industrial temperatures were consequent upon a world energing from the (perfectly natural) Little Ice Age, and we would naturally expect temperatures to rise for several centuries, and,

2. Pre-industrial levels of CO2 are far from certain. Many (myself included) strongly suspect that the ice core methodology of measurement is hopelessly flawed, and place greater reliance upon the thousands of chemical measurements by respected scientists over more than a century that showed that CO2 concentrations 100 years ago were the same as today.

Unless both of these points can be refuted there is no need for a AGW or CAGW hypothesis (and certainly not a theory), and clearly no need to consider expensive mitigation strategies. For what it is worth, my own view is that surface temperatures are solely the result of insolation, gravity and atmospheric density (of an atmosphere well mixed by planetary rotation), as determined by the gas laws and conservation of Energy. The doubling, or tripling of CO2 concentrations would have no measurable effect (except that the plants would love it, and we may be able to grow more food to feed 7 billion people).

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I did say "climate scientists" not "pundits". Richard himself makes the distinction between atmospheric physicists" and self-penned "climate change scientists". Why I get so angry at science is because scientists have NOT said enough, leaving the field open for pundits.

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Bishop,

Would you believe science never considered velocity?
http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/guest/lalonde-joe/world-calculations.pdf
http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/guest/lalonde-joe/world-calculations-2.pdf

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Lalonde

Thank you, Richard Betts. I would like to see your statement more widely published.

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

Be nice if the MET would publicly admit that they don't know what the weather will be like next weekend let alone what will be happening in 100 years, anyone remeber a few weeks ago all the front page stories about how we where about to see minus temps and freezing conditions? still waiting for that and I wonder who gave the papers this idea.

Now we get http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2059630/A-forecast-confusion-New-weather-use-percentage-chance-rain.html seems easy enough it's a percentage of the chance of the MET getting it wrong......again.

Nov 10, 2011 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterShevva

Quote, Richard Betts, "The most solid evidence for something with serious global implications that might happen at 2 degrees is the possible passing of a key threshold for the Greenland ice sheet, but even then that's the lower limit and also would probably take centuries to take full effect."

Greenland recently incurred record high temperatures and ice loss by melting, adding to concerns that anthropogenic warming is impacting the Greenland ice sheet and in turn accelerating global sea‐level rise. Yet, it remains imprecisely known for Greenland how much warming is caused by increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases versus natural variability. To address this need, we reconstruct Greenland surface snow temperature variability over the past 4000 years at the GISP2 site (near the Summit of the Greenland ice sheet; hereafter referred to as Greenland temperature) with a new method that utilises argon and nitrogen isotopic ratios from occluded air bubbles. The estimated average Greenland snow temperature over the past 4000 years was −30.7°C with a standard deviation of 1.0°C and exhibited a long‐term decrease of roughly 1.5°C, which is consistent with earlier studies. The current decadal average surface temperature (2001–2010) at the GISP2 site is −29.9°C. The record indicates that warmer temperatures were the norm in the earlier part of the past 4000 years, including century‐long intervals nearly 1°C warmer than the present decade (2001–2010). Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene Thermal Maximum. Notwithstanding this conclusion, climate models project that if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue, the Greenland temperature would exceed the natural variability of the past 4000 years sometime before the year 2100. Kobashi, T., K. Kawamura, J. P. Severinghaus, J.‐M. Barnola, T. Nakaegawa, B. M. Vinther, S. J. Johnsen, and J. E. Box (2011), High variability of Greenland surface temperature over the past 4000 years estimated from trapped air in an ice core, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L21501, doi:10.1029/2011GL049444.

So what constitutes dangerous climate change with regard the stability of Greenland Ice Sheet?

It can't be 2 degrees or even 3 degrees.

Could it be that the Greenland Ice Sheet is actually impervious to any degree of global warming?

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mac
So we can tick off the "40-metre sea level rise" then, I take it?
Howe many Prophecies of Doom does that leave???

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

The sort of predictions made in real science are for purposes of testing -- they include claims such as "the solution will turn blue", "the needle will point to the 5", and so on. Real science does not do "futurology" -- which includes claims about how bad the economy will be, or how many millions will die, or any of that sort of thing. That's speculative "what if" history, not science.

Real science makes statistical claims such as "30% of the electrons will end up in area A". Real science does not makes claims about "how much a theory ought to be believed".

Climate change scientists are in the "futurology" and "belief" game, unlike real scientists. What they do should be dismissed as pseudo-science -- and would be widely dismissed if the general public's scientific education were not so poor. The word 'science' has become an empty honorific used by every con-artist to describe their own dodgy activities. No wonder so many describe themselves as "scientists" -- they are respected as "authorities" by those who cannot judge for themselves.

No one has a clue whether climate change would even be a bad thing at all, let alone how bad. Not all change is change for the worse, and on the face of it more CO2 and more warmth means more plant growth, which -- on the whole -- would be good for all life on the planet.

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterbowmanthebard

One is left wondering if there has been any meaningful communication between Richard Betts and Sir John Beddington, and should there have been, was RB satisfied with the result of that when viewed against SJB's advice to government in his capacity of provider of that.

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Mike Jackson

Combining the results from Kobashi et al with this latest research on reduced climate sensitivity .........

Schmittner, A., et al., 2011. Climate sensitivity estimated from temperature reconstructions of the Last Glacial Maximum, Science, in press

Assessing impacts of future anthropogenic carbon emissions is currently impeded by uncertainties in our knowledge of equilibrium climate sensitivity to atmospheric carbon dioxide doubling. Previous studies suggest 3 K as best estimate, 2–4.5 K as the 66% probability range, and non-zero probabilities for much higher values, the latter implying a small but significant chance of high-impact climate changes that would be difficult to avoid. Here, combining extensive sea and land surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum with climate model simulations we estimate a lower median (2.3 K) and reduced uncertainty (1.7–2.6 K 66% probability). Assuming paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future as predicted by our model, these results imply lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.

.............. you are left with the view that there is nothing 'solid', as Richard Betts puts it concerning the long term stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet. It appears the stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet is now NOT a matter of human concern.

What we have here is the start of a debunking of a favourite AGW scaremongering story spouted by scientists, environmentalists and politicians.

We have always suspected that 2 degree meme was junk science, now we have two independent cources of evidence that supports our suspicion.

Those millions of people who live on this planet's coastline having nothing much to fear from sea level rise - there is plenty of time to adapt to the modest levels of change that has happened in the past.

Nov 10, 2011 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mac

Selective understanding syndrome I think ;-)

Therefore, we conclude that the current decadal mean temperature in Greenland has not exceeded the envelope of natural variability over the past 4000 years, a period that seems to include part of the Holocene Thermal Maximum. Notwithstanding this conclusion, climate models project that if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue, the Greenland temperature would exceed the natural variability of the past 4000 years sometime before the year 2100.

Current thinking about SLR is changing. The Greenland NEEM drilling project is turning up surprises.

Mean sea level (MSL) at the height of the Eemian was about 5m higher than the present. GAT was between 1C and 2C higher than the present. If Dahl-Jensen's interpretation of the extent of the GIS in the Eemian is correct, then the only plausible source for the remaining 3 - 4m of the Eemian 5m MSL is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Blanchon (2009) provides a paleoclimate insight into what may occur at ~1 - 2C above current GAT.

As others frequently observe: it all depends on your attitude to risk.

Nov 10, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

And Mac, let's wait and see on Schmittner et al. The link to the preview paper at Patrick Michaels' site is still not working.

I for one want to see this paper before further comment. And do bear in mind that the estimated ECS is still 2.3C. See my previous comment.

Nov 10, 2011 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

It must be galling for Betts and Edwards to see colleagues, ones that Betts now defines as 'climate scientists', indulging in junk science.

The best gloss you can put on the future stability of Greenland Ice Sheet is that similar to other AGW impacts like drought and crop failures it is massively uncertain.

What seems to connect climate science and climate change science is junk.

Nov 10, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@BBD: "Notwithstanding this conclusion, climate models project that if anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continue, the Greenland temperature would exceed the natural variability of the past 4000 years sometime before the year 2100."

As I've pointed out elsewhere that statement, like the "World Peace" for the contestants in the Miss Congeniality beauty contest is de rigour if you want to have your paper published.

What they are saying is that the current mean temperatue is withing the bounds of the temperature of Greenland over the last 4000 years, but the models, when fed information be scientists are telling us that it will melt sometime before the year 2100.

Here's Trenberth on the models, I think he bitterly regrets this momentary lapse into truthfulness:

"...None of the models used by IPCC are initialized to the observed state and none of the climate states in the models correspond even remotely to the current observed climate. In particular, the state of the oceans, sea ice, and soil moisture has no relationship to the observed state at any recent time in any of the IPCC models. There is neither an El Niño sequence nor any Pacific Decadal Oscillation that replicates the recent past; yet these are critical modes of variability that affect Pacific rim countries and beyond. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, that may depend on the thermohaline circulation and thus ocean currents in the Atlantic, is not set up to match today’s state, but it is a critical component of the Atlantic hurricanes and it undoubtedly affects forecasts for the next decade from Brazil to Europe. Moreover, the starting climate state in several of the models may depart significantly from the real climate owing to model errors. I postulate that regional climate change is impossible to deal with properly unless the models are initialized."

Read the whole thing here:

http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/2007/06/predictions_of_climate.html

Nov 10, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Welcome back BBD by the way.

Would you bet the ranch on these models BTW? Because our government is.

Nov 10, 2011 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Greenland has been much warmer in the past on century long basis but the Greenland Ice Sheet remained stable.

GCMs overstate climate sensitivity so undermining claims over dangerous slimate change.

If the stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet is the one thing that humanity has to fear and worry about throughout this century, then worry no longer - the latest evidence at hand shows that we and future generations of humans have nothing to fear because the 2 degree meme is simply junk science.

Lets all kick some scare-mongering climate scientists and say, "I refute it thus."

Nov 10, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@Jack Hughes
@Richard if you really believe what you have written here then either you have changed your views in a dramatic way or you have spent the last 10 years sitting on your hands and watching silently while your colleagues in "climate science" made all kinds of wild claims that you knew were untrue.

Which is it?

Good question , and it all gets back to the temperature record. There has been enough independent evidence accumulated to know (not surmise, know) that the temperature record has been adjusted down in the 1920's & 1930's.

This whole thing depends on the temperature record and if you pull out any long continuous record from around the world they show more likely than not it was as warm or warmer in the 1920-40's as it is today.

@Rick Bradford

The Guardian article really is a regurgitation of all the usual alarmist climate droppings -- it's part of their "run-up to Durban" series, which is appearing, ever more shrilly, several times a week.


You can just about set you watch to them nowadays in the run up to a Durban/Cancun/ Copenhagen.

Nov 10, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterRipper

Joe Lalonde

"velocity"

Are you saying that because the world is effectively a giant centrifuge, that all the heavier stuff in the atmosphere (e.g. CO2!) should be concentrated around the equator? I should have thought that the Coriolis and other effects would outweigh this, but I'm not a meteorologist...

Nov 10, 2011 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

BBD
Surely there is a question to be asked about what else was happening around the world during the Eemian period. As Mac says, Greenland (or at least parts of it) have been warmer within historic memory. The tales of Vikings' farming at least part of that country during the MWP are not myths.
So if 1000 years ago Greenland was warmer and its ice cap intact we must look elsewhere for the fact that during the Eemian sea levels were 5 metres higher than they are today.
Dahl-Jensen concludes that

there was an (sic) significant ice sheet covering Greenland during the warm Eemian period and that the reduction of the Greenland ice sheet at most contributed with a sea level rise of 1-2 m of the observed 5 m.
Assuming that Kobashi et al 2011 is correct (and I can quite understand that the paper is only just published) then any projected temperature increase is not about to result in a catastrophic melting of the Greenland ice sheet and concomitant rise in sea level any time soon.
Hence my comment that we can tick that one off the scary list.

Nov 10, 2011 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike

Wow. What's wrong with everybody today?

Can you do me the minor favour of actually reading my comment at Nov 10, 2011 at 12:03 PM before saying anything else?

Thanks

Nov 10, 2011 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Recriminations are going to solve nothing if the country is bankrupt. The priority should be that Westminster is informed that the current scientific opinion is substantially different from that in 2008. This enables a change to the Climate Change Act limitations which removes the need for immediate government intervention in the way that electricity is produced. Sustainability of supply and consumer cost can then be discussed without the need for unworkable technology being shoehorned into the equation by those who couldn’t wire a plug, it also removes the need for NGO participation, another bonus and cost saving.

If this is not a part of the EU recovery plan currently being formulated then we can all kiss our pensions and jobs goodbye. Europe is crying out for a reason to reinvest in manufacturing, now is the time to provide that stimulus in a fashion that industry recognises will work.
Trillions of Euros are at stake here and the UK has the opportunity to lead the financial recovery and force German and French politicians onto the back foot. The only problem faced with offering this to Westminster at the moment is how fast you can get your hand back before your fingers are bitten off.

10:10 No Pressure.

Nov 10, 2011 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

BBD
Result of trying to do two things at once and not concentrating properly on either of them. Apologies.
In fact I can't have read it properly at all because I completely missed your mention of the Antarctic ice sheet (or possible lack of) which seems to me to be the only other plausible culprit for the extra sea level rise.

Nov 10, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

Who would have thought...following a most recent report, the Head of Climate Change Impacts at the Met Office can now be publicly classified as a "skeptic" (and should expect the Daily Express to interview him shortly).

Welcome to the Club, Richard!!

Nov 10, 2011 at 2:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

There is no way the Antarctic Ice Sheets are going to a major source of concern regarding sea level rise in this century, next century or the centuries that follow that.

Nov 10, 2011 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mac

I love the way you just say stuff!

Now back it up.

(And read my comment at Nov 10, 2011 at 12:03 PM PROPERLY) before further comment.

Thanks.


>>Mike

No problem. Thanks for looking again.

Nov 10, 2011 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Prof Betts says- "Most climate scientists* do not subscribe to the 2 degrees "Dangerous Climate Change" meme (I know I don't)."

It only takes one turd to foul the punchbowl, especially when the turd creates a big, grant-controlling splash.
But the worst part is that most climate scientists know the punchbowl is rancid, yet happily ladle generous helpings to the public.

Nov 10, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterchris y

While it is refreshing to read the debate in this blog thread, it would be far better to see Richard Betts' concerns and opinions expressed in a more public forum, such as the newspapers.

To repeat a very good question asked by Jack Hughes


@Richard if you really believe what you have written here then either you have changed your views in a dramatic way or you have spent the last 10 years sitting on your hands and watching silently while your colleagues in "climate science" made all kinds of wild claims that you knew were untrue.

Which is it?

Perhaps it is because of my tired old eyes, or perhaps I need new glasses again, but I have somehow missed Richard's reply. I believe we are owed an answer, Richard, given your position in this issue and the fact you are supported financially by it.

Nov 10, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

@ BBD

It does all indeed depend on your attitude to risk.

The IPCC would have us believe we should spend money to alleviate a problem others 9x richer than us may have in 100 years' time that may be a net benefit, not a problem.

Doesn't the precautionary principle demand that we spend money instead on problems known and quantified with 100% certainty now, rather than on conjectural ones that will affect only rich people in the future, and may not be problems at all?

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

"Most climate scientists do not subscribe to the 2 degrees "Dangerous Climate Change" meme (I know I don't)."

But the meme was created by climate scientists, and is defended by reference to climate science. If ruinous billon pound government policies are being based on the false premiss that “the science tells us we must do it” why don’t “most scientists” speak up?
I take Richard Betts’ silence as a good sign. Perhaps he’s busy preparing an authoritative reply to Damian Carrington’s latest jeremiad in the Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2011/nov/09/iea-energy-outlook-carbon-climate-change
Carrington regularly cites Betts and his Met Office colleagues in support of his catastrophic position. One word from Betts could put him right. Comments are open.

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

BBD
Do I infer from your reply to Mac that you anticipate the West Antarctic ice sheet melting to the extent that it will raise global sea levels by 3-4 metres within a timescale that need concern us (by that I mean the next 100-150 years)?
As you say, it's a question of risk assessment which I think means that we have already got enough evidence not to bother with insurance against the 40-metre figure that the alarmists have been bandying about and I'm not sure I see anything in the state of the Antarctic peninsula that suggests that a temperature similar to that of the MWP is going to have me ringing my broker in a hurry either.
To add to J4R's point, our great-grandchildren will not thank us for trying to solve their problems because (a bit like generals always fighting the last war) we are as sure as can be to get it wrong.
The extrapolation that they will be nine times richer than we are is fairly well accepted (all other things being equal) and they will curse us if we impoverish them in our attempts to second-guess the state of the planet — climatic or otherwise — in 100 years time.

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Jackson

and the best comment of the day goes to .....

Um, CO2 continues to rise but global temperatures have flatlined for 15 years ... and the response here to this guy is that of loveless children patted on the head by a passing adult. Pathetic.
Nov 10, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Neal Asher

Neal, I started a post along the same lines around 7.00 Cyprus time but the bloody wife dragged me out shopping! Thank you for posting! Yesterday was bad enough but this was truly sad!

My comment was going to be along the lines of ..."Hmm, so when was empirical proof that CO2 was/is the cause peer reviewed? What has happened in the last in the last decade"......

Ta Neal! Come on guys! Richard seems to be a nice enough guy but for heavens sake!

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

is anyone curious about what has happened to the rapid response disinformation team? I am surprised that Zeds and Hengist have not popped up yet...given the prominence of Dr Betts, I was hoping for someone from the RC crowd to come pitching in to call us evil denialists.

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Isn't it usually said that inner London is always 2-3degC higher than the surrounding countryside? If this is the case what effects has it had on local habitability and the adaptability of local flora and fauna?

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commenteramoorhouse

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