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Kill the IPCC says Judith Curry. After decades and billions there is nothing to show for it.

Posted By Joanne Nova On October 2, 2013 @ 3:38 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

And the public conversation finally starts to move on to discussing not whether the IPCC is wrong, but why it was wrong, and what we need to do about it. Credit to Judith Curry and the Financial Post. I’ve posted a few paragraphs here. The whole story is in the link at the top. – Jo

Judith A. Curry, Special to Financial Post

Kill the IPCC: After decades and billions spent, the climate body still fails to prove humans behind warming

 The IPCC is in a state of permanent paradigm paralysis. It is the problem, not the solution

The IPCC has given us a diagnosis of a planetary fever and a prescription for planet Earth. In this article, I provide a diagnosis and prescription for the IPCC: paradigm paralysis, caused by motivated reasoning, oversimplification, and consensus seeking; worsened and made permanent by a vicious positive feedback effect at the climate science-policy interface.

In its latest report released Friday, after several decades and expenditures in the bazillions, the IPCC still has not provided a convincing argument for how much warming in the 20th century has been caused by humans.

We tried a simple solution for a wicked problem:

We have wrongly defined the problem of climate change, relying on strategies that worked previously with ozone, sulphur emissions and nuclear bombs. While these issues may share some superficial similarities with the climate change problems, they are “tame” problems (complicated, but with defined and achievable end-states), whereas climate change is “wicked” (comprising open, complex and imperfectly understood systems). For wicked problems, effective policy requires profound integration of technical knowledge with understanding of social and natural systems. In a wicked problem, there is no end to causal chains in interacting open systems, and every wicked problem can be considered as a symptom of another problem; if we attempt to simplify the problem, we risk becoming prisoners of our own assumptions.

As I’ve been saying, monopolistic funding doesn’t work in science any more than it works in business:

The large investment in climate modeling, both in the U.S. and internationally, has been made with the expectation that climate models will support decision making on both mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change. So, are these complex global climate models especially useful for decision makers? The hope, and the potential, of climate models for providing credible regional climate change scenarios have not been realized.

With the failure of climate models to simulate the pause and regional climate variability, we have arguably reached the point of diminishing returns from this particular path of climate modeling – not just for decision support but also for scientific understanding of the climate system. In pursuit of this climate modeling path, the climate modeling community — and the funding agencies and the policy makers — have locked themselves into a single climate modeling framework with a focus on production runs for the IPCC, which has been very expensive in terms of funding and personnel. An unintended consequence of this strategy is that there has been very little left over for true climate modeling innovations and fundamental research into climate dynamics and theory — such research would not only support amelioration of deficiencies and failures in the current climate modeling systems, but would also lay the foundations for disruptive advances in our understanding of the climate system and our ability to predict emergent phenomena such as abrupt climate change.

As a result, we’ve lost a generation of climate dynamicists. We have been focused on climate models rather than on climate dynamics and theory that is needed to understand the effects of the sun on climate, the network of natural internal variability on multiple time scales, the mathematics of extreme events, and the predictability of a complex system characterized by spatio-temporal chaos.

Judith A. Curry is Chair and Professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology.

h.t to Mike

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