[See the concise and updating story of our bet with the US Brian Schmidt here.]
Brian Schmidt offered to bet against Maurice Newman, but what’s interesting is just how startlingly weak and underconfident the bet is.
How times have changed. In 2007 the IPCC seemed to be 90% confident that the world would warm by about 0.4 degrees over the next two decades. Now Brian Schmidt braves up to offer a bet of “anything above zero”. Is he really a sceptic? It appears so.
How much should we pay now to prevent “any warming above zero” in the next twenty years? $4.5 billion a year? How about nothing.
I sent something similar to this to three Australian editors yesterday, unfortunately at least two were out of the office. Holiday season.
As Australia’s largest sceptical climate blogger, I would be delighted to take up Brian’s offer of a bet (made to Maurice Newman).
Here’s the bizarre thing, I’m already a party to one of the largest bets on global temperatures, and would you believe, with a man also called Brian Schmidt? (My husband, David Evans, carved out that bet long ago in 2007, and as it happens, right now, things are looking good for us at the moment.) We have a US$6,000 exposure, Brian Schmidt has US$9,000 and the bet was split into three bets ending in 10, 15, and 20 years (so ending in 2027). Though this bet was based on a low end temperature rise of just 0.15 degrees C per decade, which was below the IPCC estimate, butwhich is not happening.
The other Brian Schmidt (the Nobel Prize winner) is offering to bet on any warming at all, something very conservative (for people convinced of man-made climate change), and potentially much riskier for me. Indeed, even if there is only a small amount of warming and he wins, it could still show that the current IPCC climate models are wrong, and skeptics like myself were right to criticize them.
Both Schmidt and I also agree that the greenhouse effect is real, so the question is whether other factors overwhelm it. For example, the Earth is covered by a blanket of cloud that covers 60% of the planet. Schmidt mentioned Roy Spencer’s work, but Spencer himself explains that if clouds increase by even 1 -2%, say, it will dramatically affect the temperature of Earth. The climate modelers Schmidt follows admit they are unable to predict cloud cover changes. Their models also don’t include any effect due to solar magnetic activity, and if Henrik Svensmark is right this would easily neutralize, or override any warming effect of CO2. Others, like David Archibald and Professor Solheim have noticed that longer solar cycles correlate with cooler global temperatures, and the current cycle appears to be very weak and long. The ominous slowdown in solar activity has many solar astronomers predicting a grand minima may occur.
To put this in perspective, some say (in a rather scary way) that CO2 adds the equivalent of 4 Hiroshima bombs of extra energy to our atmosphere every second. But the sun is so powerful, it is continuously adding 500 times as much energy. Surely a small change in the sun could swamp a trace gas, potentially anyway? The IPCC are 95% sure it can not.
In Brian Schmidt’s favour, there has been a warming trend for the last 200-300 years and it is reasonable to assume that it will continue. Though without understanding the cause of why the warming started so long before our CO2 emissions rose, this is more a dart-throwing projection than science. Conversely, not in Schmidt’s favour is the general cooling trend that has run for the last 5,000 years. Like the stock market, all rising trends continue until they fall.
Then there is a sixty year cycle of Pacific Oscillations, which has reliably oscillated for hundreds of years. We recently entered into a down-swing of that cycle, and will continue to be in it until the mid 2030’s. During these downswings, there are more La Nina’s and as the winds grow stronger over the Pacific, the deep cold waters are stirred which releases the “stored cold” and sucks the heat out of the atmosphere. Some of the warming in the 1980s and 1990s was probably due to the upswing of this same cycle. Those claiming the ocean has cooled the climate in the last 15 years, never acknowledge that the oceans might equally have been warming it in the 20 before that. There is no symmetry in this “science”.
Schmidt’s argument quietly marks the end of the era of the IPCC
Schmidt does not try to defend their predictions. His bet is a tacit admission the alarmists were wrong. But instead of admitting that, he is one of a growing group trying to shift the goal posts instead. This is a desperate rearguard action to save face and pretend that any warming at all in the next twenty years is some kind of “win”. A few years ago the extremists were saying we only had ten years til we hit a tipping point — now, golly, it’s only twenty years til we see any warming at all. Be afraid!
Twenty more years of nothing would make it 37 years of no climate trend. This would be far beyond utter and complete failure, but anything above that is being dressed as success.
There is no way we will let them get away with this.
The real policy question we need to discuss in our national newspaper (because it sure won’t happen in Fairfax or the ABC) is our action on man-made emissions. The Schmidt bet is nothing but an attempt to sidetrack us from the points Maurice Newman so devastatingly raised.
How much money should we spend?
Let’s spend nothing. Scrap all the carbon clauses, the subsidies to inefficient energy, the grants to climate models we know are broken. One-sided funding to scientists seeking a crisis has done more harm than good to science, but it has engendered a lot of namecalling. Unless there is a change, climate science will advance faster if the government gets out of the way. I have yet to see a single observational study suggesting we will improve the weather with carbon credits or windmills and solar panels. We could save lives and spend the money on medical research instead. The opportunity cost is ignored.
How many people must we kill appeasing the God of the Carbonistas?
PS: to readers. You may wonder why I am willing to enter a bet which is basically accepting the failure of the IPCC models as a starting point. But I have access to some unpublished research that suggests this is still very much a bet worth making. I will explain in full soon. In the next few months it will become clear. This is the first hint of a new theme which is likely to come to dominate this blog. Wait til you see…