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« Justiciable climate? | Main | Guenier on Sands »

Is good news actually news at all?

Over the weekend there was a minor kerfuffle when the Sunday Times' Jonathan Leake breached the embargo on a press release about the latest GWPF report. Ho hum.

The report itself is by Indur Goklany and is about the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels - increased crop yields and a general greening of the planet being the principal ones. Richard Betts has been taking a look and has come up with some interesting and some not so interesting points.

For example, he reckons that Goklany is inconsistent, accepting climate model predictions of a reduced threat from water shortages but pointing to the failures of climate models in general. This doesn't seem an unreasonable point to make, although neither do I think it unreasonable of Goklany to point out that even the models, flawed though they may be, are predicting benefits from global warming.

Richard also notes that the IPCC discusses carbon dioxide fertilisation in its reports and reckons Goklany's contribution is therefore not newsworthy.



This is true, but I'm not sure that represents a criticism of Goklany's report. I'm struggling to recall an occasion on which the IPCC has proclaimed the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels to the general public, so the new report represents a valuable contribution to the public debate, filling in the bits the IPCC didn't want to discuss in public.

I hope Richard welcomes the public gaining a deeper understanding of climate science, both the bad news and the good news.

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Reader Comments (58)

...Is good news actually news at all?...

The apocryphal story is told of a small-town New Zealand magazine editor who decided to put only good news in his publication, but had to reverse the decision after a month as his circulation plummeted.

So, no, good news, is not news at all, at least, not news that people want to listen to...

Oct 12, 2015 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

[Snip - can we make this about Richard's arguments please.]

Oct 12, 2015 at 9:23 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Richard Betts' comments (by your description, Bishop; I haven't yet read them myself) come over as bit huffy which surprises me. As does the speed of the response. Is he trying to out-Ward Ward, I wonder.
Certainly the point that even the models can see benefits in increased CO2 is something worth bringing to the attention of the general public.
The IPCC and most especially the various Summaries for Policymakers has always been keen that any upsides to higher CO2 levels should be kept from the sheeple if at all possible. Now to say, "well, of course, the IPCC has been saying this all along" simply asks for the question, "where, to whom, and how loudly?"

Oct 12, 2015 at 9:23 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I suspect that Dr Betts would like to consider himself a communicator of science. However, his attempted put-down reveals otherwise. That rising CO2 does bring benefits for humankind (as evidenced by the greening of the planet) is something he would apparently rather downplay than share with the public at large otherwise that would allow the public to get things into proper perspective. Instead, like many of his colleagues, he is apparently happy to stand on the sidelines while the public is constantly regaled with one-sided propaganda including the discredited "97% of scientists" meme.

The evidence of benefit from increased CO2 is there for all to see without the aid of models. In contrast, the observational evidence for dangerous warming of the planet due to increasing levels of human-induced CO2 is non-existent. Perhaps Dr Betts would care to communicate that more balanced message to the public rather than attempt to undermine those who are actually doing so.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterTC

he reckons that Goklany is inconsistent, accepting climate model predictions of a reduced threat from water shortages but pointing to the failures of climate models in general.

Easily solved, preface the report with: "The IPCC models have been repeatedly proven to be a crock of sh*t, but EVEN IF we accept the output from these useless waste of taxpayers' money, then they show that increased CO2 has many benefits."

I also think it is important to highlight what "considered in the IPCC" reports mean. Therein lies the plausible deniability for these clowns when their soothsaying is shown up for the astrology it is. It is similar to the MOs 15,20,20,20,25 forecasts. Predict everything and you cannot be wrong.

Dr Betts can shout about the benefits of CO2 now to the public if he wants but not keep quiet about it until the CAGW story all comes crashing down then claim he said so all along. Which is it?

These are the trenches they will retreat to as the story unfolds. Don't let them.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterSimonW

CO2 fertilization is already considered in IPCC reports
So this is mainstream science then.
The GWPF has, as usual, published uncontroversial knowledge... and not fringe views at all.

I fail to see how this response from Dr Betts is anything but an endorsement of the GWPF paper.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:15 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

I hope Richard welcomes the public gaining a deeper understanding of climate science, both the bad news and the good news

Nice. Subtle but clear. Well done Bish.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

The IPCC does mention carbon fertilisation, but the mention is hesitant and always followed by a long and elaborate "but". Yes, but the effect is not large; yes, but the FACE experiments show the effect is half the size previously estimated with closed chamber experiments; yes, but there is also a deleterious effect of ozone offsetting the effects of CO2 (this one is the chosen "but" in AR5.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Huemul

Why are Betts and the IPCC not shouting the benefits of CO2 from the rooftops? Why indeed? Perhaps because if they did the more open-minded out there might start to think they'd been deceived for years by a bunch of unscrupulous self-serving crooks and charlatans.

Such a report is long overdue. A shame it's taken so long for the real truth about this miraculous, wholly beneficial chemical compound to be made available to the public. The miracle is that the very existence of the whole biosphere should rest on such a quantitatively insignificant trace gas.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

I'm not convinced the greening of the planet is due to CO2 fertilization rather than just the planet warming. It could have been either until Steve Running reported that MODIS was showing a stall in the greening from 2000 onwards. Of course he unfairly presented it as a small decline (by cherry-picking the start point) but nevertheless when you tack it onto the previous 20 odd years data of greening it looks just like another pause/plateau/hiatus.

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

During a period as a scientific adviser in Whitehall, I quickly learned the elements of sound advice given to politicians — a process that is quite distinct from lobbying. A well-briefed minister knows about the general area in which a decision is sought, and is given four scenarios before any recommendation. Those scenarios are the upsides and the downsides both of doing nothing and of doing something. Those who give only the upside of doing something and the downside of doing nothing are in fact lobbying. This also applies in the area of public discourse. A complete description would also include the inability of renewable energy technologies to 'actually solve the climate change problem'. To the extent that an adequate coverage of the upsides of doing nothing and the downsides of mitigating carbon emissions are missing from the IPCC, it is lobbying.

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichael Kelly

... It's really quite a remarkable phenomenon here. Because of the burning of fossil fuels, we're making the planet greener . It's an astonishing discovery, I think. I think it's rather amazing.

Of course, it's an incredibly unwelcome discovery for the environmental movement. They don't want to hear this at all....

Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:01 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

".... even the models, flawed though they may be..."

Sorry, but I have yet to see anything which demonstrates that climate models produce a single useful output for policy purposes, reduced threat of water shortages included.

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

The IPCC reports have only ever been used to publicise the bad consequences of a rise in CO2. None of them have happened.

Goklany points out the good consequences of a rise in CO2, some of which are happening, and have been noticed.

Richard Betts is a bit annoyed that someone else is getting the credit, for pointing out what he should have been pointing out. Has Richard Betts been paid to downplay the benefits of more CO2, and only concentrate on the negatives?

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:15 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Towards the bottom of the article is a quote:-

"Andy Challinor, professor of climate impacts at Leeds University, said raised CO2 would accelerate weed growth more than crops."

Can someone please remind me - what is the difference between the ways "weed" plants and "crop" plants do photosynthesis?

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterauralay

auralay 12:01, climate science weeds always strangle fertile and productive growth.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Excellent work by Goklany and the GWPF to bring us this new resource.

Re the (anguished?) squeeks of Richard Betts, the also very valuable Foreword to the Report, by Freeman Dyson, is illuminating:

I am suggesting that the thinking of politicians and scientists about controversial issues today is still tribal. Science and politics are not essentially different from other aspects of human culture. Science and politics are products of cultural evolution. Thinking about scientific questions is still presented to the public as a competitive sport with winners and losers. For players of the sport with public reputations to defend, it is more important to belong to a winning team than to examine the evidence. Cultural evolution was centered for a hundred thousand years on tales told by elders to children sitting around the cave fire. That cave-fire evolution gave us brains that are wonderfully sensitive to fable and fantasy, but insensitive to facts and figures. To enable a tribe to prevail in the harsh world of predators and prey, it was helpful to have brains with strong emotional bonding to shared songs and stories. It was not helpful to have brains questioning whether the stories were true. Our scientists and politicians of the modern age evolved recently from the cave-children. They still, as Charles Darwin remarked about human beings in general, bear the indelible stamp of their lowly origin.

As they say, read the whole thing. I think this helps hugely to understand the biggest puzzle of all: how on earth did a feeble conjecture (about CO2 having a catastrophic impact on climate) gain such dramatic traction and political success?

Richard Betts, having ridden the career wave made possible by the CAGW scaremongering, now sits on dry land as the PR tide seems to be receding a little, and as far as I recall, he now takes the calmer view that there is a 'possibility' of 'dangerous' global warming and therefore we would be wise to study the options. That's fair enough, although it would seem just a little bit wiser to study the possibility of troublesome cooling. But while he can use this device to help him sleep at night, the fact is that there are powerful people, NGOs, and sundry other organisations acting as if the end of the the world is nigh, and we must, as result, wreck our industrial society in order to try to prevent it. It is against such a view that this new report from the GWPF is particularly valuable as it can help more open-minded observers of the spectacle retain a more rational perspective. It is of course, by itself, but another snowball thrown against advancing political elephants. But who can tell when they will turn, and what will make them? Maybe one day Richard will help with that if he ever gets the notion that things have gone too far.

Paris will be interesting. Presumably wheeling, dealing, and posturing in the meeting rooms that will need careful interpretation to find any directional changes. Meanwhile if the NGO circus hits town, there could be silly exhibitions of mindless bias for alarm on the streets. Weather permitting.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Certaunly, Auralay : the IPCC report discusses how the different metabolic pathways of C3 and C4 plants result in diferent drought stress responses , and hor irrigation and hothouse watering must be adjusted to CO2 levels to maximize plant grow and productivity -- within limits

At high concentrations CO2 is swiftly lethal- Back when Reagan was Governor, it gained approval for euthanizing lab animals in California.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Betts' claim that Goklany paper 'trusts' climate models, thereby being inconsistent with itself depends on a reading of the the following paragraph as a statement of trust in climate models.

Thus attributing runoff changes, if any, to carbon dioxide relies on computer modelling,85,86,87 but the results are fraught with uncertainty. Nevertheless, some studies indicate that, all else being equal, higher water-use efficiency could in the future reduce global irrigation demand and increase global runoff, which should reduce water stress.88,89,90,91 However, none of these studies included any allowance for human adaptation, so they exaggerate the net negative impact (and understate the positive). Konzmann et al. estimate that by the 2080s global irrigation demand will decline by ‘~17% in the ensemble median, due to a combination of beneficial carbon dioxide effects on plants, shorter growing periods and regional precipitation increases’. With respect to water availability, Wiltshire et al. estimate that the net global population at risk of high water stress will increase from 2.6 billion in 2000 to 4.1 billion in the 2080s because of population growth alone. However, under the IPCC’s A1FI scenario (the one with the fastest warming) , they expect this number to be reduced to 3.2 billion because of climate change (but ignoring the direct effects of carbon dioxide; see Figure 4).[92] Direct carbon dioxide effects should further reduce the net population at risk of high water stress, to 2.9 billion. Notably, as indicated by Figure 4, the warmer the scenario, the greater the reduction in the population at risk of water stress from climate change alone. Similarly, the higher the carbon dioxide levels, the greater that reduction.

Specifically, reference 92 also referred to inline as 'Wiltshire et al.', is a study which Betts is amongst the et al, and which is also the source of figure 4 .

Goklany in fact makes clear that modelling is 'fraught with uncertainty'. He then considers studies including Wiltshire et al in relation to IPCC claims, 'nevertheless', and under the 'all other things being equal' caveats.

Betts' objection here is petty, to say the least. Rather than being a fatal flaw, it demonstrates Goklany has reviewed the literature. And rather than being promiscuous with research based on modelling, Goklany points to a more complex picture of water stress than is often presented.

The take-home point of the paragraph, however, is not 'the models are right', but that a serious limitation of models is that they often deny human agency ("none of these studies included any allowance for human adaptation"). We know that in spite of 'water stress', a number of regions of the world thrive, and have created an abundance of water for agriculture. It is remarkable that behind many claims about climate change is the idea that the most common substance on the face of the planet will be in short supply.

There are two possibilities for Betts' tantrum. Either he hasn't read the paper properly, and has merely seen that a paper he co-authored that depends on models is cited, and presumed Goklany's views on modelling; or he is angry about his research being cited by a climate sceptic. Neither possibility is flattering. Perhaps Betts could explain the contradiction, as it seems to be a figment of his own imagination.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

I think we all know how the propaganda effort works by now:

The scientists present a balanced view in their papers. This list is cherry-picked to find the ones with the "approved" view so they can be included in the latest Assessment Report. The most damning report is chosen for the headline of the Summary for Policy Makers. This message is repeated ad nauseam throughout the SPM.

Somewhere in a footnote to a description of a figure in an appendix of a technical report buried in the Working Group 1 section it will say that the SPM headline may not be true.

The scientists are satisfied that a balanced view was presented. The politicians have succeeded in getting their views across. Everyone can play the plausible deniability card and the scientists just stand by and watch it happen.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Edmund Burke

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Not newsworthy because the IPPC mentioned it years ago?

In that case, we can no doubt look forward to reading no more alarmist stories from the Met Office

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

At high concentrations CO2 is swiftly lethal...
Oct 12, 2015 at 12:18 PM Russell

As with nitrogen - the dominant component of Earth's atmosphere. What's your point Russ?

Oct 12, 2015 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

John Shade

A delight to read, as usual - both you and Freeman Dyson.. :-)

Oct 12, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


"At high concentrations"

I think that's a bit higher than the 400ppm (0.04%) we are currently enjoying!

1% (10,000ppm) is bearable, but 5% (50,000ppm) causes 'signs of intoxication', apparently.

Deadly stuff.

Oct 12, 2015 at 1:18 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Recent Advances in Weed Management (2014) gives some experimental evidence and says (p.27):

"although increased CO2 levels clearly promote enhanced weed growth in general, weed-crop competition relationships should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis."

Oct 12, 2015 at 1:36 PM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Russell could perhaps explain at what concentrations of CO2 it becomes toxic?

Is it 10% higher than 300ppm? 100% higher? 1000% higher? Or even more?

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The weeds will provide more organic matter and recycled nutrients for the soil when they are killed by the Roundup® weedkillers‎.
Whats's the problem?

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart


It’s just occurred to me that the toxicity is by proxy - we all get strangled by the explosive growth of bindweed...

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:25 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Splitpin, you are presently breathing 78% nitrogen

Even if oxygen is kept constant, 7.8 % CO2 will debilitate you in an hour and kill you in a day

CO2 kills not by asphyxiation, but acidosis- carbonic acid build-up will swiftly lower your blood ph below 7, and if gets to 6.5 the likliest side effect of this life giving plant food is death.

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

And how soon Russell are we going to see atmospheric concentrations of 78,000ppm of CO2?

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ronan

Charlie has lowballed realy by a quarter global CO2 went past 400 ppm last year.

People begin to complain of 'stale air ' at around 1000 ppm

The OSHA threshold limit for breathing for CO2 for 8 hours is 5000 ppm ~ 12.5 times the present atmospheric concentration

Indur's book of glad tidings neglects these acute symptoms., which lead to several hundred industril fatalties a year:

2 to 3 % Shortness of breath, deep breathing
5% Breathing becomes heavy, sweating, pulse quickens
7.5% Headaches, dizziness, restlessness, breathlessness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, visual distortion
10% Impaired hearing, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness
30% Coma, convulsions, death

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

And the number of fatalities due to water? or motor cars? or to electricity? or sewage works? Russell, you are seriously trying to compare overdoses in confined industrial spaces to the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

Oct 12, 2015 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ronan

Thank you, Ben. [I'll hire you as my lawyer to shield me against unwarranted attacks.]

Indeed, the point that I was making and you seem to get is that despite impact models being suspect, not to mention being prone to overestimation of negative impacts, some of them even estimate positive outcomes for the future.

BTW, one more reason for Betts' tweet may be that he didn't read the document before tweeting. This seems to be a frequent failing of many a climate impact assessor, it seems many have not read or absorbed their own research, as noted in the paper, Is Climate Change the Number One Threat to Humanity?, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 2012, 3:489–508. [He says with a smile.]

Oct 12, 2015 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterIndur M. Goklany

Read Charlie's question , joe.

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell


"People begin to complain of 'stale air ' at around 1000 ppm"

As I've mentioned here before, I've worked in greenhouses with 1200ppm CO2 and I don't remember anyone complaining, or even noticing. Some of them were working hard, too, picking tomatoes for piece rate in considerable heat.

I'm not quite sure what your point is, beyond the suggestion that levels will have to increase by an order of magnitude for it to be serious, but I imagine the plants will be busy turning it back into oxygen a long time before then. The greenhouses have to have CO2 fed into them continuously to keep the level constant...

Oct 12, 2015 at 5:33 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Russell could you put 2% CO2 levels into PPM please, just so no one is confused by switching from one method of measurement to another?

When people complain of stale air at 2% CO2, are they complaining of high CO2, or low O2?

When people are given the 'Kiss of Life' or respired air resuscitation, shouldn't the massive increase in CO2 be fatal under your logic? Not to mention the reduced O2.

Your arguments are the kiss of death for global warming, thank you!

Oct 12, 2015 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Funny how multi-cellular organisms evolved when CO2 levels were around twenty times today's in the atmosphere. Seems remarkably fortuitous that no one told them how dangerous the stuff is or they might not have bothered. Since the Pre- Cambrian however much has been locked away irretrievably in rocks and sediments by marine organisms. Hence even if all available fossil fuels were eventually to be consumed, itself unlikely, it would never be possible to approach anywhere near even those primeval levels of CO2.

Oct 12, 2015 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Reed

You miss the subtlety in Golf Charlies question Russell. He's making the same point I am - you are trying to link outrageously high levels of CO2 which are not even contemplated in the atmosphere with levels that are currently moving up into ranges that are arguably more optimal for life on earth (as shown in the report being discussed). Remember that the CO2 levels much below 180ppm are also dangerous to life on earth, and we're far closer to those boundaries than the upper thresholds that you're trying to frighten the children with.

Oct 12, 2015 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ronan

Betts loads his gun.

Betts takes careful aim.

Betts squeezes the trigger.

Betts now needs a top-class chiropodist.

Oct 12, 2015 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered Commenterjolly farmer

Splitpin, you are presently breathing 78% nitrogen

Even if oxygen is kept constant, 7.8 % CO2 will debilitate you in an hour and kill you in a day

CO2 kills not by asphyxiation, but acidosis- carbonic acid build-up will swiftly lower your blood ph below 7, and if gets to 6.5 the likliest side effect of this life giving plant food is death.
Oct 12, 2015 at 2:33 PM Russell

Russ - as you said, you are currently breathing 780,000 ppm nitrogen. If that proportion were to increase by a mere 30 percent, to 1,000,000 ppm, there is no question it would be fatal. By what percentage would current atmospheric CO2 have to increase to be toxic to human beings? An awful lot more than 30%.

But, as I asked before, what is your point?

Somebody suggested in response to one of your earlier comments on BH, if you can only come up with inanities, you'd be better off saying nothing.

Oct 12, 2015 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Another possible benefit from increased carbon dioxide concentration was mentioned in a throw away remark at the end of the Ices Ages episode of Melvin Bragg's In Our Time series on 14 February 2014. One of the geologists pointed out that a further ice age is unlikely at or above the present concentration. Listen at;

Oct 12, 2015 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

I'm sorry. I know some on here, including the Bish, like to think of Richard Betts as being somehow the slightly more rational and amenable side of the MO.

Well, compared with the spittle flecked Sligo and Pope, maybe.

But I haven't forgotten his 'contribution' to the Grauniad reports on the Cyclone Pam impacts on Vanuatu, earlier this year. He pretended that there was some scientific evidence that "Climate Change" (=cAGW) made such cyclones and the consequent destruction and deaths, more likely. As it turned out, despite the political grandstanding, only eleven people died (no doubt to the chagrin of our greenie chums) because the Vanatuans have been surviving similar cyclones for centuries and despite the fact that their 'president' was more interested in swanning about at a 'climate and disaster' UN bunfight in Japan than in helping at home.

When I accused him of obvious shroudwaving, Betts tried to wriggle out of this by pointing to some weasel words in the IPPC's overtly political "Summary for Policymakers" as 'scientific evidence'.

Of course, events being 'consistent' with the MO's little models isn't very convincing. They are equally 'consistent' with Divine Wrath.

It is clear that Betts is far more interested in keeping the scary stories going (and the nice salary coming in) than in scientific evidence.

Oct 13, 2015 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Joe Ronan (Oct 12, 2015 at 2:55 PM): most industrial incidents involving enclosed spaces are more to do with lack of oxygen than preponderance of CO2 (usually by the metal – predominantly iron in the form of mild steel – within the space absorbing the O2, though there could be other factors involved). I would think that those who suffer excess CO2 probably are a small representative of the overall figure.

Oct 13, 2015 at 2:40 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Indur M. Golkany

Thank you for citing our work (Wiltshire et al, 2013) in your report, and for the citations of sections of the IPCC AR5 report that I worked on. Contrary to Ben’s suggestion that I am “angry about being cited by a climate sceptic”, I’m actually quite pleased – it shows that (contrary to some comments above) my colleagues and I are quite happy to discuss the upsides of increased CO2 as well as the downsides. This flatly contradicts the suggestions that we’re only interested in the bad news.

My issue with your report is that you seem to want to have your cake and eat it when it comes to climate models. In our study shown in your Figure 4, the model projected fewer people under water stress because it simulates increased precipitation in a warmer world – but you don’t actually mention the increased precipitation. Later in your report, you say “Climate models don’t do precipitation well” and say “impact assessments that use as their starting point the outputs of these climate models cannot and should not be relied upon to develop policies”. But, you have prominently cited the output of one of these models in your report which is presumably intended to try to influence policy (the P in GWPF). This seems rather inconsistent to me.

Also, you say “Climate models overstate global warming”. Did you know that including CO2 effects on transpiration in climate models causes them to simulate more warming at the surface? This is because transpiration, as a form of evaporation, has a cooling influence, so reducing it causes surface warming. Excluding the CO2 effect on plants leads to less warming in the models – so in your Figure 4, it is column (c) that would be more believable by your metric, as it excludes CO2 effects so warms less. Column (d), including CO2 effects, warms more and hence (by your metric) should be regarded as less believable. So again, this is inconsistent with your preference for the result in which increased water use efficiency leads to reduced water stress.

Oct 13, 2015 at 11:00 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Oh by the way, I can see why you’d want to hire Ben Pile as a lawyer – he is indeed a master of proving black is white…. ;)

Oct 13, 2015 at 11:01 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

John Shade, Martin Brumby

If you think I’m “far more interested in keeping the scary stories going” then I guess you didn’t read the Mail on Sunday a few weeks back!

Oct 13, 2015 at 11:04 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

[Snip - please keep it polite]

I downloaded and trawled through 24Mb of ''

As 'Old Huemul' summarized above, the IPCC barely admits there were instances of CO2 fertilization and each instance is surrounded by constraints and maybes.

As the good Bishop points out, Richard Betts missed entirely if he believes his claim that IPCC considers CO2 fertilization as 'criticizing' Indur Goklany's GWPF article.

Nor does Richard Betts come any closer to criticism with his rather vacuous claim that IPCC considers CO2 fertilization as IPCC knowledge or admission of CO2 benefits.

Mark it down as another trite message from Betts.

Oct 14, 2015 at 5:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK


Please read the other IPCC chapter I tweeted about: WG2 Ch4 and also the text cited by Indur Goklany. Also I disagree with your spin on WG1 Ch6 - it's a wide-ranging chapter covering a wide range of biogeochemical cycles, not just the carbon cycle.

And no, my #notnews tweet is not a criticism of the report itself, it's a comment on whether it's original enough to warrant news coverage or not. My criticism of the report concerns the inconsistency, as explained in my comments above.

Sadly your ad-hom laden response has reminded me of why I don't bother with this blog any more. It's completely impossible to have a sensible conversation.

Oct 14, 2015 at 8:13 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Ad-hom Richard? Which part of ATheok's comment at 5:23am is ad-hom? Critical yes, but on point nonetheless.

Oct 14, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Richard Betts - I can see why you’d want to hire Ben Pile as a lawyer – he is indeed a master of proving black is white…

It's not a good idea for people stuggling with the concept of dependence and contradiction to complain about others' treatment of black and white.

"In our study shown in your Figure 4, the model projected fewer people under water stress because it simulates increased precipitation in a warmer world – but you don’t actually mention the increased precipitation."

That's not true. The section of the paper you claim contradicts itself opens,

4. Impacts of higher carbon dioxide on water availability and irrigation requirements
It is generally expected that, if the globe warms, evaporation will increase, which should increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere if relative humidity stays constant, as is generally assumed in climate models. Note, however, that long-term trends in pan evaporation from many areas around the world contradict this assumption.[69]
More moisture in the atmosphere ought to increase total precipitation over the Earth’s surface. However, the increased precipitation would be distributed unevenly, so some areas could become wetter, others drier. To exacerbate matters in
the latter areas, the increased evaporation should reduce soil moisture, which could reduce the growth of vegetation and crop yields in rain-fed areas, and increase irrigation demand elsewhere.

And it is mentioned again a few paragraphs later, as an issue which confounds the attribution of benefits of water-use efficiency. And that takes us right to the paragraph you found objectionable, this being the putative dependency on models, causing the contradiction:

Thus attributing runoff changes, if any, to carbon dioxide relies on computer modelling,[85][86][87] but
the results are fraught with uncertainty. Nevertheless, some studies indicate that, all else being equal, higher water-use efficiency could in the future reduce global irrigation demand and increase global runoff, which should reduce water stress.[88][89][90][91]

It's hardly an inconsistency, since it begins by saying that models are 'fraught with uncertainty', before discussing the research in the area, including your own. The point being that *even* studies based on models prodce benefits. Nothing new in this point, as you whinged on Twitter, but it's not the only point the paper makes. Indeed, the worst you could say is that the point is uncontroversial, and yet to posit that an amount of global warming might produce net benefit is to incur the wrath of fast fingers of the Grantham institute.

If you're really worried about people trying to prove that black is white, you should read this paper. Well done for explaining the basics to Emma Thompson. But you should be giving the Royal Society a call. They need your guidence far more urgently. We can deal with the actress.

Oct 14, 2015 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

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