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« Harrabin on the Royal report | Main | To frack or not to frack? »

A right royal contradiction

Today the Royal Society publishes its report on resilience to extreme weather events and it's a bundle of laughs. I confess I haven't read the whole thing - it was only sent to me late last night - and you will see why I didn't want to persevere.

As ever with these things it's good to start at the back, where we learn that the project was funded, among others, by Jeremy Grantham. (I wonder who approached whom?). The list of those consulted was also interesting, including familiar names such as:

  • Sam Fankhauser
  • Geoffrey Boulton
  • John Beddington
  • Brian Hoskins
  • Keith Shine
  • Eric Wolff

Also prominent among the list of contributors are several environmental groups, such as:

  • Farooq Ullah, Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future
  • Iain Watt, Forum for the Future
  • Dr Johan Schaar, World Resources Institute
  • Edward Perry, Birdlife International
  • Dr. Borja Reguero, The Nature Conservancy
  • Ayesha Dinshaw, World Resources Institute

I focused my reading on the science section rather than the "what shall we do" sections. In it I learned that the authors decided they would base all their projections on the IPCC's RCP8.5 concentration pathway for carbon dioxide. In other words, the one with the highest carbon dioxide concentrations. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I read that!

There is a brief summary of RCP8.5, what it means, and why the Royal decided to use it:

The RCP 8.5 emissions trajectory is used throughout the report. The RCP 8.5 pathway is projected to lead to an increase in global mean surface temperatures of 2.6 °C to 4.8 °C for 2081–2100 relative to 1986–2005.62 Although RCP 8.5 is the highest emission scenario considered in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, current emissions trends are closest to this scenario.63

I wondered if the authors thought nobody would understand the difference between an emissions scenario and a concentration pathway. Everybody at BH knows that, in order to reach its outlandish picture of the future, RCP8.5 is forced to make some outlandish assumptions, most notoriously that the efficacy of carbon sinks will decline over time, despite the literature not actually supporting such a case. There are also some wild assumptions about energy use and population growth that have been documented elsewhere.

Readers will also notice that the Royal uses the IPCC's projections of future warming, which are based on climate models that incorporate climate sensitivities much higher than observations would indicate are valid, and produce future warming higher than even their own climate sensitivities would suggest.

By this time I was beginning to get a feel for where the report was going with all this. What else did I notice? Well, there's this old chestnut:

In general, wet regions are likely to get wetter under climate change whilst dry regions become dryer.

As I pointed out in my recent GWPF briefing paper on rainfall, this is precisely the opposite of what has been observed during the period of global warming at the end of the last century. Indeed, just yesterday there was a tweet from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science, which reported the presentation of one Professor Roderick:

Climate models do not project that the wet get wetter and dry get dryer. (They never did).



My GWPF paper had two citations to papers that contradicted the Royal Society's claim. Another tweet yesterday pointed at another. There do appear to be the most extraordinary contradictions between the Royal Society's report and what scientists believe.

Finally, I chanced upon the Royal Society's take on climate models and rainfall. It begins:

Climate models are much more reliable over long time periods and large spatial areas,
for example over several decades and on global scales.

To which the obvious question is, "How do they know?". I also discovered that climate models...

...are also more reliable for temperature than for precipitation and wind.

This is a bit like saying that Mother Theresa was a nicer person than Josef Stalin. True, but not exactly putting the reader in the picture. Really, the failure to tell the reader that climate models have little or no ability to predict precipitation makes the whole thing look as though it was written at the behest of an environmentalist (wait a moment...)

Perhaps though there is a hint of a scientist trying to make himself heard:

For weather extremes, which often occur at a more local level over shorter time scales, the ability to project changes due to either natural or anthropogenic climate change is more limited. Models also underestimate the high intensity, low probability events; the category into which weather extremes fall.

But by this point I'd lost the will to read further. Perhaps someone else can bear it.


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Reader Comments (31)

BBC / Harrabin all over this like a rash this morning, as you'd expect. Accompanied by the customary scary footage of floods, pestilence and plagues of locusts.

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterNorman Howick

Bish, this post isn't appearing on the front page yet, only accessible by direct link....

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

But I don't suppose the errors will get corrected - evidence shows that they never do. This is just the standard green blob appeal to authority which the Harridan laps up and gives the BBC seal of approval.

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The usual suspects. No wonder the Royal Society is laughed at

Note how quickly they get it into the MSM

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

One retweet vs full bore Harrabin on prime time R4 Today slot.... yeah, there's a real move to truth in the air...

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Looking through the report, it is all emotive pictures and vacuous graphics. There's virtually no science in it at all. I'll do a blog post later.

In the intro, Nurse claims "By presenting evidence of trends in extreme weather .."
but the report fails to do that. There's not a single graph of floods, hurricanes etc in the entire report.

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul: I bet that the 'evidence' that Nurse claims to present is all derived from dodgy models. Want to Bett that someone here can tell us?

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

You have to ask the question; why should the Royal Society be such a cheerleader for the climate alarmist cause. It will do their credibility no good in the long run. I must presume that they are looking at currying favour with the government in the short term for financial gain. It has simply sold out to become an establishment mouthpiece.

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterDerek

Extreme weather? Just look what they had to put up with in the 17thC.

Anybody feel like swapping?

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

It’s a pure political report which is why its selected the worst case and lest accurate claims from the IPCC . But then the RS handing Lew paper 30,000 and have repeatedly made it clear that it is not the value of the ‘science’ that matters, but how a big an impact the claims have in press.

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

Living through social manias is so tedious.
This old proverb just came to mind:
Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.
In a very real sense the climate obsessed are fulfilling that proverb.
The obsessed talk endlessly about the climate, but not one thing they have done has accurately predicted, much less produced a change in the climate at all. The difference is that those obsessed with climate in today's world have figured out how to make a good living talking much about it and still doing nothing about it.
A pretty neat trick, if one thinks about it.

Nov 27, 2014 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Surely a Royal Society climate report is really a report by Hoskins. And Richard disagrees with him?

Nov 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Clearly then we should ban pensioners from retiring to Spain to protect them from the extreme heat.
Do they really think that the death rate in Madrid is 3 times higher than that in London?

Nov 27, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterClive Best

weird that the papers are harping on about heatwaves causing 2000 extra deaths way out in the future..

But seem to have forgotten about the 30,000+ extra deaths in the UK due to the cold

I don't think the pensioner's would mind a bit more warmth...

Nov 27, 2014 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered Commenternot impressed

You'd think the Treasury would welcome an opportunity to axe the heating allowance, but perhaps they still lack the real evidence for all this speculative warming?

Nov 27, 2014 at 1:20 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Would the GWPF be so kind as to offer Paul Nurse an opportunity to engage with some scientists in order to better inform the Royal Society?

Nov 27, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

It seems the scary stories can't be told without using the most extreme scenario available.

Polar bear folks have discovered that too - new paper out yesterday in PLoS One:

“Under business-as-usual climate projections, polar bears may face starvation and reproductive failure across the entire [Canadian Arctic] Archipelago by the year 2100.”

“Our model projection is based on the RCP8.5 scenario, which estimates the global average radiative forcing at 8.5 W/m2 by 2100, and mean global temperature changes of ~3.5°C in 2071–2100 when compared with the historical period of 1961–1990 [35], and represents a worst-case scenario.”

Co-author Derocher, graduate supervisor of the lead author, told reporters that ”I'm not as optimistic as I used to be."

Huge waste of time, effort and resources, if you ask me. Not even worth rebutting.

Susan Crockford, PolarBearScience

Nov 27, 2014 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan Crockford

p 109: "This report has been reviewed by an independent panel of experts, before being approved by the Council of the Royal Society. The Review Panel members were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of the report, but to act as independent referees of its technical content and presentation."
Followed by the list of 8 expert reviewers who failed to spot the error that Andrew found so quickly.
Peer review at it's finest.

Nov 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Heh, 'tsk'. Where's the fury Richard?

Nov 27, 2014 at 2:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

”I'm not as optimistic as I used to be."
lol. I guess that means "It's worse than I thought." Again.

My model projections are that we are going to continue to have our ears assaulted by people who couldn't model their way out of a brown paper bag, much less report reality with any degree of apolitical competency.

Nov 27, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Betts on WUWT: "drawing parallels between climate scientists and Hitler – doesn’t do anyone in the climate change debate any favours"

Richard Betts, tweeting "Tsk" as a response to a big fat lie "doesn’t do anyone in the climate change debate any favours"

Nov 27, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Prof Georgina Mace still doesn't grasp, at least in public, that the IPCC "projections" of temperature over the next century are a political ruse without any basis in science. I conclude that the BBC are on a three-line whip to scrape the barrel to get these sound-bites out before and during Lima and recycled at Paris.

PS: will the Gore Effect strike Lima?

Nov 27, 2014 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSuffolkBoy

I have written a blog post concentrating on the lack of any data in the report.

Nov 27, 2014 at 6:08 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The report is not totally without merit. For example in the Summary they acknowledge:

"Globally, the risks from extreme weather are significant and increasing, mainly because larger numbers of people and their assets are being exposed to extreme weather."

It is unfortunate that to promote the need for flood mitigation they feel they have to wrap it all up in wooly climate change rhetoric.

Nov 27, 2014 at 8:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

I think it should have been subtitled - 'Resilience to Extreme Weather - Building Bureaucracies'.

Nov 27, 2014 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

Nov 27, 2014 at 6:08 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul, I like the 'vacuous graphic', I think vacuous is a bit of an understatement there.

Nov 27, 2014 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Yeah, Richard, 'tsk'. Appears to be, a willing servant, ye. What's to be, this hint of 'Oh, I see'?

Nov 28, 2014 at 3:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim


Betts on WUWT: "drawing parallels between climate scientists and Hitler – doesn’t do anyone in the climate change debate any favours"
Betts (aided and abetted in this case by Tamsin Edwards) is engaging in a certain amount of obfuscation or diversionary tactic.
Ball's article on WUWT does nothing of the sort. He quotes Mein Kampf to remind everyone what Hitler wrote there about the Big Lie. He is not comparing climate scientists to Nazis but he is pointing out that the Big Lie continues to this day.
I would urge everyone to read Ball's article and draw their own conclusion about what he is actually saying about how the global warming scam has evolved.

Nov 28, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson - yes I agree.

If Richard Betts really wants to improve the debate and dialogue, he would do better to respond to direct questions instead of posting drive by comments here and then disappearing elsewhere to build and stab strawmen.

He would also be on the phone to the BBC requesting to be a balancing voice to Harrabin's bias instead of tweeting a totally inconsequential "tsk" as a result of prompting from the Bish.

Nov 28, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Potentilla, you fell for this too easily.

"...because larger numbers of people and their assets are being exposed to extreme weather"

is very different from, for example,

"...because larger numbers of people and their assets are exposing themselves to areas where extreme weather is known to occur frequently."

As the report is worded the conclusion is more logically that people and assets are getting hit by more extreme weather without changing anything about themselves. Using the third person passive for the people and assets, it's the weather that is encroaching on the people. So, without telling an outright lie--the truth is included in the phrase--the coded meaning leaps out at the reader.

Nov 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterParma John

And today

Tell's Us that winter deaths went down last year, due to milder winter...So global warming is good news!!!

Nov 28, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered Commenternot impressed

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