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« Next Steps in Climate Science - Cartoon notes | Main | A report from the Royal »
Wednesday
Oct022013

Costing the Earth resumes normal service

Costing the Earth resumed normal service at the BBC this week, with a panel of six adherents to the Working Group I orthodoxy discussing, erm, the Working Group I report. Featured voices were Julia Slingo, Mark Walport, Bjorn Lomborg, Mike Hulme, Mark Lynas, and Tony Grayling, Head of Climate Change and Communities at the Environment Agency. The decision to invite

  • Walport, whose every appearance in the media in recent days has featured a regurgitation of the same somewhat irrelevant talking points, making it sound as if he is simply repeating the contents of his introductory briefing paper on climate, and
  • Lynas whose claims to fame seem to revolve around having been wrong about nuclear, GM and the pause

... look kind of weird when viewed in the context of their decision that Nic Lewis was unworthy of consideration for any media appearances, either because (like Lynas) he is not an academic or because he was (like Slingo) mentioned in a David Rose article.

Here are some choice quotes from the show:

Slingo: We are ...increasingly confident that.. a fairly significant part of that [increase in heat] is due to our activities...we are beginning to talk about...the increasing number of extreme events and the increasing evidence that human contributions have played a part in that.

Walport: If you look at each of the last three decades, each of them has been successively warmer...that 30-year period was very likely the warmest such period of the last 1400 years.

Slingo: When you look at model simulations, they simulate periods of slowdown, pauses in warming which you can tie very clearly to the Pacific Ocean Circulation...[the failure to predict the pause] is not the fault of the models.

This last point - that the models can predict pauses, but not their timing seems to be becoming a major line of argument, particularly from Met Office people. I find this hard to reconcile with von Storch's paper which suggests that pauses of this length are virtually unheard of in climate model runs.

I was also interested in the wide agreement that we will soon be suffering droughts in the UK.

Katabasis's report from the Royal Society meeting suggests that among themselves, scientists are much less gung-ho on global warming. This makes it seem as if what we are getting in the media is the version spun for public consumption, the version that will help politicians achieve their aims. The truth is out there, but not on Costing the Earth.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (40)

Drought in the UK is a good meme, because if the climate stays exactly the same year on year, increasing population plus lack of investment in reservoirs will still increase water shortages.

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterColonel Shotover

Katabasis's report from the Royal Society meeting suggests that among themselves, scientists are much less gung-ho on global warming

Indeed, but we should not be surprised since that was one of the clear messages from Climategate. Perhaps WGI Table 12.4 is deserving of a thread all on its own? Or at least a cartoon from Josh

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

I thought even the IPPC had been forced to admit there is no climate signal in extreme weather events. Roger Pielke Jr has blogged and lectured extensively (even to the US Senate) about this.

What is Julia Slingo's evidence for this highly misleading statement, or did she just lie on the State broadcaster?

Is she giving the same message to Government? This would be a very troubling development in light of the huge sums of money being spent on her advice. If she has evidence for this she needs to bring it forward immediately. Any businesses that suffer mitigation costs could have a case against her if she is shown to be lying.

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Is it possible to create some kind of chart that shows how climate sensitivity changes as the proportion of human influence changes?

I'm intrigued by Slingo's line that " a fairly significant part of that [increase in heat] is due to our activities" which corresponds to the IPCC statement that "most" of the warming is due to human influence.

"Most" covers all the way from 51% to 99% of the warming. Presumably if we hold other factors steady (e.g. aerosol), we shoudl see that if humans are responsible for 51% and natural variation is the rest, then sensitivity is much lower than if humans are responsible for 99%. The entire range woudl be consistent with statement that have 95% confidence in

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

When temperatures fell in the 1940s to 1970s period was this too a failure to measure in decadal increments?

Was the cooling then also due to ocean currents and heat hiding in the deep?

Pauses and cooling are normal and regular. Except for this one, which is simply further proof that we are warming.

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterChip

Arthur, yes good idea, I will do a blog on the extreme events tables (12.4 and the one in the SPM, table SPM.1), looking into whether there has been a climb-down since AR4. See Roger Pielke's blog, point 5 for his comments on this.

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:07 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I thought Lomborg was one of the good guys?

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce Hoult

"I was also interested in the wide agreement that we will soon be suffering droughts in the UK."

That stems from the now well known rain-making incantation first used successfully in Australia and adopted by the MO with great success during their trial period of it, mid 2012.

Buy wellies.

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

I think it would be nice if we had a blog dedicated to SLINGO'S LIES.

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Yesterday Slingo was 0.00000001% confident that Aliens would land in Trafalgar Sq, but today she is 0.000000015% confident.

She can honestly tell the Minister that her 'confidence is increasing' of an alien invasion of the UK.

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Compared to the post Copenhagen dialogue it was an extremely muted conversation in my view. There was not a proper skeptical voice, but to my mind this made the programme more interesting.

1. Tom Heap kept his own extreme thoughts largely to himself.
2. Slingo contradicted Mike Hulme as he went off message on the future - he took no further part in the programme.
3. Walport was on the fence, and refused point blank to give any lead on policy advice to the government.
4. Lynas described his career as an activist as naive.

The differences between the "experts" showed how fragile the consensus really is.

Oct 3, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

Well I just hope we don't have another severe drought like we did from 1 June 2012 right through to 30 December 2012! That would have to be the WORST drought I've ever experienced!

Mailman

Oct 3, 2013 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I really do think that the time has come when an enquiry into the Climate Change Committee and the Met Office should be held.

There are plenty of scientists around who can take the statistics and modelling apart and whose opinions should be heard.

The thing that really p*****s me off is the way that climate scientists think that they own the intellectual high ground.

The antics of the climate community brings science into disrepute.

Oct 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez

I know they say the models have pauses in them but since 1950 we've clocked up more than 3 decades of pause. How many years would constitute a feature and not an anomaly?

Oct 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

The thing that really p*****s me off is the way that climate scientists think that they own the intellectual high ground.

.
Oct 3, 2013 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered Commenter RC Saumarez

[I think he means 'pisses']

What do you expect? As has been pointed out many times [and as I worked out for myself some years back before I saw the notion in print], it has all the characteristics of a religion.

It is inherent in a priesthood to believe they own the intellectual high ground.

Oct 3, 2013 at 10:44 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This last point - that the models can predict pauses, but not their timing seems to be becoming a major line of argument, particularly from Met Office people.

That is akin to Eric Morecambe playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order.

Oct 3, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

As is always the case in these situations, they are huddled together under the single street lamp when in their hearts, they all know that the lost £ coin has rolled away into the darkness.

I am very disappointed with Walport who had a chance to be objective but has simply slipped into non-scientist Beddington's shoes to spout the Marxist Party Line.

Oct 3, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

The BBC seems to draw on a very limited pool of talent. This applies not only to their eco propaganda programmes but just about everything. Virtually any documentary you will see the same old faces, even humour (intentional humour, I mean) relies on a small clique. It bears out what Paul Mason former economics editor of Newsnight said recently - that it's all about not messing up rather than making innovative programmes.

As for drought, as Booker pointed out, it is EU guidance that is obstructing the construction of new reservoirs.

Oct 3, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

MISDIRECTION, DISSEMBLING LIES AND MORE LIES.

"I was also interested in the wide agreement that we will soon be suffering droughts in the UK."

More sleight, more BS.

Yeah that's true but it is not all about the British climate, as always the climate, "it do vary", that's what climate does - it is nothing to do with man but everything to do with man.

Storage capacity, particularly in the South East of Britain has not kept pace with demand, since the great 'dry' in 76 - there has been no significant construction of new reservoir and storage capacity - in the intervening 30 odd years, while the population and its usage of water has risen greatly.
Truthfully, the problem is demographic nothing to do with climate, yes it is man's fault but it ain't the weather that's causing it. Draining aquiferous storage - increased pumping in times of scant precipitation makes rivers run dry, true it looks so bad and the bbc/MET OFFICE shouts "woeful tidings, drought, drought, drought and man made global warming is to blame - we decreed it thus!" - yer know how it goes.

Once more, 'sustainability' raises its ugly head, "people must learn to use less water" - agenda 21 is the key and claiming climate disruption is the meme.

Britain, is wet, we should not have problems with supply, the water companies need to prevent leakage and provide more storage but then: we get back to politics and money.

Slingo: When you look at model simulations, they simulate periods of slowdown, pauses in warming which you can tie very clearly to the Pacific Ocean Circulation...[the failure to predict the pause] is not the fault of the models.

I grant this to her, she is a trier. Indeed, Julia she would try the patience of a Saint.

In Julia world - "by all the Gods - it's never the models fault, it's the weather stupid - it just won't conform to what we want [tell] it to do!"

Aye it's true, until the world conforms to the models - we're all doomed.

Oct 3, 2013 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Alec: No Government Chief Scientific Advisor will be appointed unless he swears upon the Holy SPM that he adheres to the Climate ChangeTM religion and believes that:
1 Climate ChangeTM is real.
2 Climate ChangeTM is the biggest threat that this country faces.
He will also swear to continue to say so during his tenure and will ignore all evidence to the contrary.
The Augean Stables need a good clean out and sterilisation before the situation is likely to change.

Oct 3, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Lomborg IIRC believes that AGW is happening but doesn't think that attempted mitigation is the best way of spending money on world problems.

Interesting, given that his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" is basically a very well documented account of how, in every field they are involved not just AGW, Environmentalists lie and make stuff up.

The way the green establishment treated him for writing it was disgusting, but probably no surprise to most people here.

Oct 3, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterNW

@Philip Bratby: I take the view that any professional scientist who claims a scientific hypothesis has been validated must confirm personally all steps in the logic. Climate Alchemy is based via Sagan on the assumption that the 1906 Schuster-Schwarzschild two-stream approximation can be applied at an optical heterogeneity, hence the claim that the atmospheric Radiation Field at the Earth's surface, aka 'back radiation', is a real energy flux when that is untrue.

Proper Atmospheric Physics' texts (e.g. Goody and Yung) specify that the monochromatic volumetric heating rate of matter is the negative of the gradient of radiation flux density hence local heating rate is the vector sum of all arriving RFs. Thus the two stream view is an approximation only valid in an optically homogeneous continuum. At the surface only the net RF vector is the real energy flux.

What these people must do is to state they believe the IPCC case to be true but have not verified it personally; there is no 'consensus' in science.

Oct 3, 2013 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I see that Roger Harrabin has a piece on the BBC website - he's worried about the oceans now - warming; acidifying; etc, etc...

Well - he's got to have something to write about, hasn't he..?

Oct 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

@mike fowle

With the exception of Bjorn Lomborg, I see little evidence of talent in this particular panel...

Oct 3, 2013 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

The IPCC has put to rest any question about their being a scientific body.
They are not.
They are a group that produces sales tools and stage props for the AGW promotion industry.

Oct 3, 2013 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

AlecM

Always appreciate your input and obvious zeal but a word to the wise. You need to simplify what you are saying as many here may not get what you are talking about either right away or at all.
If you want to communicate your idea stop using a lot of big words in the same sentence. It also comes across more like theoretical physics masturbation and often has holes in the logic.
If you can explain yourself to us in a step by step way then we may get what you are talking about.

That said I had a look at Hansen et al 1981. It took me on a trip back to Moller's work in the early 60s. The net radiation calculation and its effect on the BB characteristics, as in if less radiation is emitted the surface must hear up to balance it, does not include effective absorptivity.

It basically assumes that the surface will absorb and heat according to radiative physics alone. No appreciation of losses, skin effects(IR only penetrates to the first few mm) or conductive and convective losses. Something real experimentation would reveal. The effect is too much forcing by Co2.

I may of course be dead wrong. But that's my take on it.

Oct 3, 2013 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

I am very glad to see that the minute drought is mentioned several people point out that shortages of water supply are certainly going to exist in SE England, and are going to get worse, but that this is NOT a climate issue. It is a government aim.

I have taken this as a particular issue to chase over the last two years, and have a couple of points to make.

1 - the UK Government water regulator, OFWAT, have told me specifically, in response to a PQ, that they have NO guidelines for the amount of water which needs to be stored per head of population in a water supply area. You would have thought that this was an absolutely basic figure which would be required for them to do their job properly. I strongly suspect that they do have, and are simply refusing to tell me.

2 - Water leakage is often presented as an issue by the press. It should not be, because it is almost irrelevant. Any leaked water returns to the aquifer. More importantly, there is a cost/benefit process which should be followed when addressing water leaks. In most cases it is really not worth addressing them as a matter of urgency. The ONLY reason you might want to try to cut down on ALL leakage is if water becomes a very precious commodity.

This is actually a Green Aim - to make energy, water and eventually (I would guess) air into expensive, rare commodities which are rationed. The Greens want to cut down on the human footprint - ideally to cut down the number of humans existing - and the current strategy is to make necessities of life very expensive - a strategy enthusiastically supported by businessmen. If we want to support humanity we should be arguing for a future where water and energy are cheap or free at point of use, and extensive use can be made of them, even by the poorest in our society.

As a basic economic law, you CAN'T have cheap energy and water while at the same time saving it and spending a lot of money on techniques for 'most efficient use'. All of these 'efficiency drives' and 'save it' campaigns only make sense if the thing you're spending so much time and energy to save is expensive.

Oct 3, 2013 at 12:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

"Lynas, whose claims to fame seem to revolve around having been wrong about nuclear, GM and the pause"

Not to mention the Maldives, for which I believe he was well paid?

Oct 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

DaveS re "talent".

Oh, quite. But that applies to most of the BBC's personnel (except perhaps Radio 3), in my opinion. It is the BBC that sees them as talented.

Oct 3, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

"This last point - that the models can predict pauses, but not their timing seems to be becoming a major line of argument, particularly from Met Office people."

If so, they're burying themselves with such argument. Picture this: you have a handful of models, all lined up by time. Their job is to simulate annual Arctic sea ice extent excursion and you are told they all do a good job but only produce 'slightly' different results. You average their outputs and find it to be roughly a straight line. This implies the correct summer decline in ice extent produced by some models is simply cancelled by an increase in ice in summer in other models. This only means all models are wrong.

Oct 3, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Registered Commentershub

They sound like lawyers getting taxpayer's money to defend a client they know is guilty.

The prosecution (being those sceptical of the evidence for CAGW) is being prevented from presenting evidence which refutes the facts presented by climate scientists which are not supported by evidence. Facts and evidence being different as the Norwich Law School at the University of East Anglia explains to its students:

"The court makes its findings of fact from the evidence given directly to the court and the inferences which can be drawn from such evidence."

and

".....a student of evidence must accustom himself to dealing as wisely and understandingly as possible with principles which impede freedom of proof. He is making a study of.....obstructionism." Evidence-Common Sense and Common Law pp.10-11.

Oct 3, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered Commenter52

On the technical side of theatre and broadcasting, "the talent" is a fairly derogatory term for actors / presenters.

Oct 3, 2013 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

- Mark Walport .."all previous reports..correct in substance"
- Julia Slingo : "we are are increasingly certain that the planet is gaining more heat" .. really where the hell is it ? IPCC etc. hasn't shown us any evidence ..apart from "it it must be hidden in the ocean"
.. "We know for sure that years increase in Arctic ice .. is due to weather patterns" ..really why didn't you predict it then ?

- MW.. "The so called pause.. each of the decades have been warmer"
- there is one moderating voice (Ian Hingham ?) ..."It has not performed as anticipated by the models" ..
- Slingo "that is not true.. the models simulate periods in warming"
"We are looking at temp rises of 4C or even more, not including methane, acidification etc.etc upto 1m of sea level rise, shifts in rainfall, drying of the med" blah blah

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:03 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

- Top Heap "I'd like to end with Dr Emily Shuckburgh who has recently become a mother"
(WTF Appeal to the 'think of the children' )
- "I'd like to feel that she will grow up on a planet with a climate similar to this one" ..brushes away a tear

- Well so far there is little VALIDATED evidence to the contrary
..you might have claimed a child born 30 years ago would have grown up in a different climate .. but is can't be proven to be anything outside natural variability.
..is twitter search hiding tweets ? During the broadcast I couldn't see anyone tweeting about it.

- I just posted in unthreaded that there was 2 more propaganda items in today's Inside Science (The prog that replaced the objective and non-climate crusading Material World that the BBC killed this year)

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:07 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I'm intrigued by Slingo's line that " a fairly significant part of that [increase in heat] is due to our activities" which corresponds to the IPCC statement that "most" of the warming is due to human influence.

"Most" covers all the way from 51% to 99% of the warming. Presumably if we hold other factors steady (e.g. aerosol), we should see that if humans are responsible for 51% and natural variation is the rest, then sensitivity is much lower than if humans are responsible for 99%. The entire range woudl be consistent with statement that have 95% confidence in

Oct 3, 2013 at 8:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyL

In my version of the English language a "fairly significant part" could cover a lot of territory, much of it being less than 50%.

With this in mind, I can imagine someone arguing that they could be 'increasingly confident' that human influences caused, say, 10% of the late 20th century warming, even as the data increasingly ruled out the notion that human influences caused more than 50%.

I suspect that the use of this argument troubles Slingo little, even though it places her more in the domain of the lawyer than the scientist. My main concern/hope is that politicians (who frequently have training in jurisprudence) will not be deceived by a ruse like that.

Oct 4, 2013 at 12:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Slingo is relying on a new paper, which she talks about here:

http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/letters/2013/09/27/letter-the-world-is-changing

"A new paper by scientists from the UK and the US provides evidence that human influences on the climate played a role in the severity of a number of these events. The paper concludes that the frequency of occurrence of the extreme heat experienced in the US last year is four times more likely as a result of human-induced climate change, and that climate change contributed about 35% of the high temperatures in the eastern US between March and May."

Oct 4, 2013 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterclimatebeagle

"If you look at each of the last three decades, each of them has been successively warmer". That old one.
Of course, that sounds like it is still warming, but it is actually 100% consistent with warming having stopped anywhere between 10 years one day and 19 years 364 days ago, assuming you are averaging the decade's temperatures.

Oct 4, 2013 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

After averaging annual temperatures, they've to go to the next thing that cycles. What meaning does a decade carry in climatology?

Oct 4, 2013 at 10:44 AM | Registered Commentershub

I emailed a complaint to the 'Costing the Earth' team because I judged the edition to be woefully unbalanced. The Editor, Rural Affairs, BBC Audio & Music (Jeremy Hayes) replied as follows:

'I am sorry that you were unimpressed with the edition of Costing the Earth on the subject of the new IPCC report.
You say that the programme was unbalanced and you point out , as we did , that the government chief scientist , Sir Mark Walport is not a climatologist. However also taking part were Mike Hulme , who is by no means in agreement with much of the policy solutions proposed to deal with rising carbon emissions - see http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/09/hulme-essay-climate-culture) and Bjorn Lomborg , who describes himself as a sceptical environmentalist (http://www.lomborg.com/cool_it/).

The BBC does not seek to promote any set of view on the phenomenon of climate change but does have a responsibility to reflect informed scientific research and debate. In my view , this edition of Costing the Earth did precisely that.'

I went back with (inter alia); : 'The BBC has never offered a transparent debate on the subject of Global Warming because it conducted that spurious conference at which it was decided that its policy would be based upon the Global Warming scare as promoted by Al Gore, the IPCC and all that junk science constructed by inept scientists with an agenda. The global temperature in 1997 was 14.5 degrees C, the global temperature today is 14.5 degrees C (source Met Office HadCRUT4 data) despite India and China bringing new coal-fired power stations on line every week!

All I ask is that you host a genuinely open debate on the subject rather that parroting the activists. In my view this is exactly what the edition of ‘Costing the Earth’ ended up doing; crucially it failed to present informed scientific research and didn’t foster a genuine debate. Why not ask Andrew Montford, Christopher Booker or Lord Lawson to present an alternative view before it gets too late. The real risk for the BBC is that it is about to be proved dramatically very wrong with some real political and economic fallout; 2013 is already proving a bad year for the BBC, please don’t make it any worse.'

I won't hold my breath.

Oct 4, 2013 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Jones

A full transcript of the programme is now available here:
https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20131001_ce

My thanks to Geoff Chambers for transcribing the first half of the programme.

Oct 7, 2013 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

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