A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Way back when climate scientists were scientists: Chapter 8, FAR, circa 1990

You’ll find this hard to believe but I get excited about the 1990 First Assessment Report (FAR). It’s very different from wading through the later ones, because it’s remarkably honest, and things are not hidden in double-speak (well, not so much). Scientists behave like scientists and talk of null hypothesis, and even of validating models. Indeed they had a whole chapter back then called “validation”. How times have changed.

This is the short summary of Chapter 8 “Attribution”

Thanks to Alan for sending me this link today (Chapter 8, IPCC FAR).

The “Attribution” Chapter is the part where they try to figure out what “caused” the warming. Chapter 8 says, essentially, “we don’t know, we might never know, our models don’t work, and we can conclude it might all be natural, but then again, it might not.” Got it?

This is in the same era that Al Gore was saying “the science is settled” and “there is no debate”.

What’s clear in 1990 from the FAR was that it was widely admitted that the models were bodgy, and that figuring out exactly what caused the recent warming was very difficult, indeed impossible at the time. There were too many variables, [...]