Corrine le Quere of UEA is another of the scientists who were asked to address the All-party Climate Change Group about AR5, her topic being what is the evidence for that man is causing climate change. Audio is here, her slides can be seen here, an example of which is shown below:
In my post about Keith Shine's contribution to the All-party Climate Change Group briefing on AR5 I said that Prof Shine had failed to discuss the divergence between model and observational estimates of climate sensitivity. In fact the report on which I had based this statement (and which I quoted in the original piece) misrepresented what Shine said. There is an audio file available here (H/T Richard Betts) which shows that a significant chunk of the talk was in fact given over to a consideration of the two main approaches to estimating climate sensitivity. Shine described the pros and cons of the various approaches as follows:
...state-of-the-art climate models, which are our embodiment of the laws of physics as applied to the atmosphere...
...a mixture of observations and simple models. Now you might think using observations were a better way of doing things but the problem is that there are a lot of things going on at the same time in the climate system - the internal variability, the aerosols - and there is also a lot of debate about how you should do your statistics to estimate the climate sensitivity.
I'm not sure I detect any question marks over the reliability of the models. No mentions of fudge either. And the remarks about debates over statistics are grossly misleading. The IPCC has been engaging in PR rather than science: showing a series of studies that all use flat priors in ECS is equivalent to repeated shouting "We already know that climate sensitivity is high". It's propaganda, not science.
So I'm not sure that Prof Shine is giving the politicians a fair assessment here. It looks more like an attempt to pooh-pooh the observational estimates.
Still, if you think this is bad, wait until you see the next post.
As afficionados of The Lord of the Rings will no doubt know, the dark lord Sauron created orcs as corrupt mirror images of the elves. He created goblins in similar fashion, with dwarves in mind. This thought came to mind when readers pointed me to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a new think tank on the block here in the UK, which I can't help but see as the goblin version of the GWPF.
Set up by a group of green charitable foundations, the ECIU is to be run by our old friend Richard Black, not quite fresh from his previous role as an 'impartial' journalist at the BBC. The list of advisers is also interesting, featuring a dazzling array of well-known names and not a few vested interests as well.
The other day we were considering the concept of EROI, the amount of energy you get out of a given technology for the amount you have to put in. Specifically we were looking at the figures for solar PV in Spain.
With splendid timing, the Energy Collective has published a post considering EROI for the full gamut of energy technologies. At first glance the story looks not too bad, with wind and solar PV (so long as it's in a desert) above the minimum level of 7 that the article says is needed to sustain a modern society (breakeven EROI of 1 is not really worth the bother). The problem arises when you have to start storing all energy from renewables, which as their adherents suggest is the key to having them compete with fossil fuels.
Richard Betts posted some further thoughts on GCMs and public policy in the previous post on this subject. Since the thread is now heading for 300 comments I thought I'd post his ideas up here and respond in turn.
Richard first set out his understanding of my position.
I'd initially thought that you were claiming that the very need for any kind of climate policy was based on GCMs. Clearly it isn't, for the reasons I stated, but it seems this isn't your point here anyway. You seem to be moving a step further and talking about the importance of GCMs to the details of climate policy (eg. a carbon tax). Here I do partially agree with you - GCMs do of course play a role in the details, as they help with understanding the climate system, but they are by no means the only source of information. Moreover, I don't think the examples you give would be substantially affected if we didn't have GCMs.
The Rotman Institute of Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario has an interesting conference this autumn:
We are delighted to announce that the Rotman Institute of Philosophy will host its second annual conference, Knowledge and Models in Climate Science, on Oct. 24-26, 2014. The conference will bring together researchers to discuss the use of models in understanding the climate from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Models and computer simulations are essential not only for understanding the factors determining climate processes, but also for evaluating how changes in climate will affect ecosystems and human societies. Recent gains in modeling precision and realism have allowed climate researchers to address both questions more confidently, yet there are many remaining sources of uncertainty. Participants in the conference will explore different approaches to modeling in order to gain a better understanding of the nature, strengths and limitations of the knowledge it produces, and build a better understanding of the means by which these uncertainties can be managed.
From the journal of the Economic Research Council comes this paper by John Constable of Renewable Energy Foundation fame. It considers the question of whether energy is just another factor input into the economy or whether it has a more fundamental role. The conclusion is that energy is different, the reason being found in the realms of thermodynamics:
...wealth is created by using energy to introduce improbable order into the world, in other words a reduction of entropy in one part of the system at the expense of a greater increase in entropy in another.
Mike Kelly sends details of a talk he gave last week to a symposium on "Energy Challenges and Mechanics". Mike writes:
There were about 130 energy experts from 40 countries in the room.
I was heard in respectful (stunned?) silence, and there were two mildly critical questions out of a dozen that I was able to handle.
Several came up to be and congratulated me for the courage in speaking out against the consensus.
If you take a look at the slides (PDF below), you will see that there is nothing that would surprise readers at BH, but 130 more people learning that the renewables king has no clothes is good news indeed.
The parliamentary briefing linked in the previous posting is very interesting. There are several bits and pieces worthy of comment. In this post I'm going to pick up on something Keith Shine FRS told the MPs about climate sensitivity.
- The presentation gave an overview of the fundamentals of the climate system and discussed how sensitive the climate system is to increases in CO2 concentrations. AR5 stated that it was extremely likely that the temperature increase will be between 1.5°C‐4.5°C, although extremely unlikely that it will be less than 1°C and very unlikely of being greater than 6°C.
In the thread beneath the posting about the Chen and Tung paper, Richard Betts left a comment that I thought was interesting and worthy of further thought.
Bish, as always I am slightly bemused over why you think GCMs are so central to climate policy.
Everyone* agrees that the greenhouse effect is real, and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas.
Everyone* agrees that CO2 rise is anthropogenic
Everyone** agrees that we can't predict the long-term response of the climate to ongoing CO2 rise with great accuracy. It could be large, it could be small. We don't know. The old-style energy balance models got us this far. We can't be certain of large changes in future, but can't rule them out either.
I spent yesterday evening at the Edinburgh Book Festival at a debate about the need for fracking featuring Richard Dixon, the head of Friends of the Earth Scotland and Zoe Shipton, a geologist from the University of Strathclyde. As always with these things one came away frustrated with the sheer brassneck of the environmentalist contingent.
Last night climatologist Gareth Jones tweeted that there had been two dozen papers on the pause this year. In response, I wondered how many would have been published if David Whitehouse hadn't have written his groundbreaking report on the subject. This prompted Doug McNeall to comment "About two dozen", a sentiment that was endorsed by Gavin Schmidt.
It's always nice to be challenged, so I thought I'd look into this a bit. Take a look at Google Trends:
Nic Lewis emails:
I am sorry to see that Piers Forster has given what I consider to be an incorrect statement to the Guardian (p.19) regarding the new Chen & Tung Science paper about the Atlantic storing excess heat. He is quoted as saying: "Most importantly, this paper is another nail in the coffin of the idea that the hiatus is evidence that our projections of long-term climate change need revising down."
The paper very much supports the view of those scientists, including myself, who consider that natural variability in the ocean significantly affects surface warming trends on a multidecadal basis. It does not support the view that a reduction in the rate of increase in radiative forcing caused by aerosols, solar variations, reduction in stratospheric water vapour, etc. is the prime cause of the hiatus.
Updated on Aug 22, 2014 by Bishop Hill
Overnight the big climate news has been the new paper by Chen and Tung, which seeks to explain the pause in surface temperature rise, now nearly 18 years old on some measures. Judith Curry has excerpts here, while a layman's summary is available at the Economist.
The story goes that much of the missing heat is to be found in the Atlantic, with a slow-moving current speeding up in recent times so that heat is drawn down into the deep-ocean. The theory seems to be that this process runs over a 60-year cycle, for half the time with the depths warming and the surface cooling and half the time the other way round. Chen and Tung conclude that we are currently in a surface cooling phase, so the pause could last another ten years or more.
UKIP seem to be perservering in their opposition to the UK's insane climate and energy policies, according to an article in Prospect magazine.
The party is also committed to the abolition of the Climate Change Act, which he estimates costs Britain £18bn a year. “We are looking to shrink the Department for Energy & Climate Change,” he says, adding that, “there are elements of BIS [Business, Innovation and Skills] that we are looking into.” The plans to shrink these departments will be independently reviewed, though “not by the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility], even though they are likely to tear it to pieces anyway.”