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PR Wars: IPCC fights for relevance, halves warming, claims to be 95% certain of something vaguer

Posted By Joanne Nova On September 16, 2013 @ 1:22 pm In Global Warming,Media-matters | Comments Disabled


We are over the peak. Years late, the IPCC concedes some territory and wears headlines they must hate (“Global warming is just HALF what we said“, “We got it wrong on warming“), but PR still rules, and in the big game, this will quickly spin to a minor bump. It’s a classic technique to release “the bad news” before the main report, to clear the air for the messages the agents want to stick.

Since 2007 they’ve burned through their credibility in so many ways:  think Climategate, and getting caught pretending activist material was science, being busted for 300-year-typos like the Himalayan Glaciers, plus 15 years of no warming, no hot spot, models being wrong, droughts ending, and ice returning, all the while pouring scorn and derision on anyone who questioned them. The IPCC were being hammered and they had to change tacks. Now, for the first time, the IPCC is making a serious retreat, presumably in the hope of being able to still paint itself as “scientific” and to fight from a different trench. Anything to continue the yearly junkets and to save face. What they hope is that no one will notice that the deniers were right and the experts were wrong, and the “government panel” has helped governments waste billions of your dollars.

They were 90% certain in 2007, which was never a scientific probability, but a hands-up vote. Now, in the most meaningless of ways, they are 95% certain of something more vague: the range has gone from 2°C to 4.5°C, to 1°C to 6°C. (See Matt Ridley in the Wall St Journal). They just made the barn door even wider. In years to come this allows them more room to pretend they hit the target, without acknowledging that they missed it for 23 years. And even that new supersize barn door may still not be wide enough.

They offer no credit to those who were right, and leave themselves room to issue alarming messages: the world might not get as technically warm but look out, now one degree will become a disaster. They will still be issuing bumper stickers saying “Things are worse than we thought”. Emissions will still be higher than expected, but now floods, snow, and the all purpose “variability” will be beyond expectations. The Hydra lives on. Expect press releases saying “we were too optimistic thinking that two degrees was safe”.

The IPCC’s lowest estimate is still too high

According to the papers Anthony Cox and I reviewed, they are still too high — climate sensitivity from empirical evidence is more likely about 0.4°C. Though the skeptics have been right for years that the IPCC models were exaggerating the warming, the IPCC will still call us deniers. The Joe Romm’s and alarmist commenters will attack the IPCC for being too conservative and careful, but this is exactly what the IPCC needs. The protest fog will help cast a veil of  “scientificy-ness” that the IPCC so desperately needs. What is better for it than to be seen to be attacked from both sides? It will feed the idea of a poor but honest agency that is (ha ha)  “in no way alarmist” — despite the evidence that they’ve denied the radiosonde data on model feedbacks since at least 2006, denied the importance of the higher resolution ice core data from 1999- 2003, denied that their 1990 predictions were completely and utterly wrong.

David Evans predicted that they would have to do this four years ago

Dr David Evans (my other half) predicted the IPCC would have to turn down their “climate sensitivity knob” in March 2009 at the Heartland Conference. Here is his slide number 18.

Reducing climate sensitivity solves many issues with the models

Way back then, looking at the evidence for the missing hot spot, it was clear that the IPCC had only two choices 1: Turn back the climate sensitivity knob (whereupon lots of missing pieces would fall into place) or 2: Go full on delusional, rage-against-the-data and go double or nothing.

In a sense they’ve done both. One degree is sensible, six degrees of warming is delusional. They’ve gone double and nothing. By painting a broad canvas over their festering wounds they can crop and edit the picture in future “memorabilia” to highlight opposite conclusions on different days of the week, and simultaneously pretend they hit their target, while never acknowledging the failure of earlier shots.

Bjorn Lomborg covers up for dodgy science

Bjorn Lomborg is doing his best to help the IPCC by (as usual) knowing nothing about the science, pretending to be a critic, but half his message is just saying exactly what the IPCC would want him to say. He ought stick to discussing the economics (which he does so well) and stay right out of the science debate, where he helps to protect and ensure funding to corrupt, low standard institutions that have been captured by lobbyists.

“As climate scientist Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University tweeted: “Summary of upcoming IPCC report: ‘Exactly what we told you in 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 reports’”

Why did Lomborg bother to uncritically repeat this banal falsehood, one that is easily provable to be 100% wrong? The IPCC made predictions in numbers in 1990 that are known to have failed. Their “best estimate” of future warming keeps changing, even as they deceptively pretend to be getting more “certain”. The figure that gets repeated is the number they make up: “95% certain”.

Lomborg the apologist strikes again:

This highlights the fact that the IPCC has always claimed only that more than half of the temperature rise is due to humans, although in public discussion it has usually been interpreted as all.

The obvious implication that Lomborg doesn’t say is that the IPCC have been very happy to allow these misinterpretations to stand uncorrected. It’s their modus operandi. They put out double-fog, and quietly nurture those who feed the public debate with mistakes which the IPCC can hypocritically distance itself from at any time it so chooses. The IPCC has never corrected the alarmist commentariat, and it deserves to wear their mistakes as its own.

Watch this debate become all about “impacts”

The actual number of degrees is neither here nor there — as long as the IPCC can still talk of “impacts”, western governments feed them money, and the media treat them as if they have a skerrick of barest credibility left, they will keep distorting markets and corrupting science. The IPCC is finally acknowledging they can’t defend the science of Working Group I in 2007. They concede that fight but will shift to using Working Group II reports. It is a different front, but just another muddy stinky trench.

*Apologies for the apostrophies. Fixed. (I think).

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