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« +++Harris and Lewis+++ | Main | Dialing back the alarm »

Please, please, believe

With the Science and Technology Committee currently, and with a slight air of desperation, trying to work out a way to persuade the public that the IPCC is trustworthy, it's amusing to see government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport and his three illustrious (and not so illustrious) predecessors writing to the Times today, apparently with the same aim. The article is paywalled, but it's mostly just a recitation of the AGW mantra, with much mention of the empty "consensus".

This is the bit where they explain why we should be getting worried:

It is widely expected that the panel’s fifth assessment report on the physical science basis of climate change, which will be published later this month, will present even greater confidence in the evidence that the climate is warming as a result of human activities.

And therein lies the problem. The models have failed, utterly, completely and catastrophically to predict the halt in temperature rises. That we should then be expected to accept "even greater confidence" about conclusions drawn from them is risible nonsense. This kind of spin is exactly the kind of thing one has come to expect from government chief scientific advisers and the climate establishment and is precisely why people are distrustful of their public utterances.

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Reader Comments (43)

Sort-of-off-topic-but-related: has anyone written anything recently, on the lack of cooling in the Stratosphere? Seeing as it is part of the Missing 'hotspot' equation...

Sep 14, 2013 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

Excellent post Andrew, if I may quibble, "distrustful" - rather a polite understatement.

People, [if they ever did] now quite correctly disbelieve [in CAGW] - in any and all of their [Science and Technology Committee] unqualified pronouncements. No shoring up by the government, its Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport will ever be sufficient - to placate a deeply sceptical public and rightly so. The 'genie' of the global warming scam and its ever expanding puffery; of lies, bad science and woeful models - has grown far too big and will never again be put back in its bottle.

Sep 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

'Specifically, the draft report says that “equilibrium climate sensitivity” (ECS)—eventual warming induced by a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which takes hundreds of years to occur—is “extremely likely” to be above 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), “likely” to be above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and “very likely” to be below 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 Fahrenheit).

In 2007, the IPPC said it was “likely” to be above 2 degrees Celsius and “very likely” to be above 1.5 degrees, with no upper limit.

Since “extremely” and “very” have specific and different statistical meanings here, comparison is difficult.

'will present even greater confidence in the evidence that the climate is warming as a result of human activities... at a lesser extent.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Somebody needs to make these points in a letter to the editor of the Times.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:04 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"... will present even greater confidence in the evidence ..."

Confidence is a bit like being pregnant: one is either pregnant or one is not.

Confidence is usually there or it isn't. And a lack of confidence is another matter all together!

And admitting to levels of confidence, which is implied when it is said to be increasing, shows a lack of confidence, otherwise known as doubt, and may even hint at the presence of confusion.

And as far as Trust is concerned, that disappeared long ago!

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Totally correct, Bish'.

More CO2, yet no warming, hopeless computer model failures and absolutely nobody, anywhere predicted the pause. Yet they increase their 'confidence' to 95%?

Seriously, this is fraud. There is no other word.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

It really needs pointing out that the lack of warming, for such a significant period of time, already falsifies the IPCC models. At least similar evidence, taken with the many failed predictions of catastrophic weather, would be enough for falsification in every other branch of science. Why should climate science be treated differently?

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

will present even greater confidence in the evidence

Evidence is not something abstract. It doesn't call for confidence. Either there is evidence or there is not evidence.
This doesn't sound like the writing of scientists, more like the writing of a group of desperate propagandists.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:20 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Re: Bishop Hill's comments about writing to the The Times:-

Why stop at The Times as any number of major newspapers could be addressed? But the key is who should write the letter. For me a joint effort from Montford, Watts, McIntyre, Curry etc would be most powerful, especially if it brought together succinct arguments from this and the adjacent thread ('Dialing back the alarm') arguing that the science is not robust, and certainly not robust enough on which to base policies 'to fight climate change'.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterIdiot_Wind

What warming?

Extra warming above ENSO in the 1980s and 1990s was from Asian aerosols reducing cloud albedo. That saturated in about 2000 ('The Asian Brown Cloud') and since then the World has been cooling.

This cooling is probably from the PID control system in the atmosphere. The I part is extra ocean warming increasing cloud cover.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

It's quite simple. We're supposed to believe what authorities like the Chief Scientific Adviser tell us. We're supposed to believe whatever they tell us. After all, lots of people do.

Perhaps they should give each other more impressive titles. Like Big Chief Scientific Adviser. Or Very Big Chief Scientific Adviser. Or Extra Super Chief Scientific Adviser. And award each other not just Nobel Prizes, but Super Extra Mega Nobel Prizes with Knobs On.

Perhaps we'll believe them then.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank Davis

Doubleplusgood Scientific Advisor pull ease.....

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

The online Guardian environment section has news of a briefing by the Met Office on how they are improving their climate models. It is not clear whether this warmist -speak is Guardian propaganda or original Met Office propaganda. It is interesting that the two have become quite indistinguishable, even though one is fanatical about climate activism and prepared to publish any old rubbish and the other is, well,...

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Typo: For catastrophicly, read catastrophically.

[Ouch! Fixed now]

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Well

"will present even greater confidence in the evidence"

Why would we care about their levels of confidence in the evidence? Just show us the evidence.

Sep 14, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

It so happens I wrote to my MP this am on the very subject of AR5. This time I attached the useful article (Pigs in a Poke) by Dr Ball in WUWT on how previous ARs have failed and a link to the YouTube preview of Bob Tisdale`s forthcoming book Climate Models Fail (also via WUWT).

I pointed out that the Climate Change Act, and related measures were useless and ineffective except in so far as they imposed unnecessary and unaffordable costs on families. They also misdirected scarce investment through foolish subsidies in schemes which only served to line the pockets of of those that promoted and invested in such schemes. The CCA was based on the failed and false premise of CAGW; it should be suspended/repealed forthwith. I concluded by pointing out that the Australian electorate had seen the light and had a elected a government that will get rid of similar legislation.

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Today we are seeing a determined, last-ditch attempt by the warmist establishment, for which read the carbon traders and renewables' Mafia using Marxists as cover, to push the CAGW scam.

They clearly have wind that a realistic alternative scientific explanation of the experimental is ready to roll and it shows there is no significant CO2-AGW.

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

They have a surfeit of confidence over competence. Temperatures have not increased as predicted since the last report. They have no basis for increased confidence, unless they are drunk.

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:13 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Sorry Bish, missed your previous post, sneaking two in in the same day!

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Oh, dear - who woke ZBD up..?

Anyway - back in Realityland - either there is 'evidence', or there isn't. No amount of 'confidence' trumps 'evidence'.

Also - re: Chief Scientific Adviser; Little Chief Scientific Adviser, etc - anyone noticed how many 'Ministers' there are now - all on £100000 a year..? Had you previously heard of any of them, until they put in an appearance on the telly..?

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

... even greater confidence in the evidence that the climate is warming as a result of human activities.

What? I thought this part was meant to be so absolutely 100% totally certain that the world's energy supply must be subject to radical central planning by career bureaucrats with connections to the renewables industry, and anyone who remotely doubts it can be refered to with dehumanising labels and subjected to abuse by hate-filled zealots who frequent certain blogs with the sole purpose of spitting bile at other commenters.

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

The only scientists who aspire to "Chief Government Scientist" are those who have passed their (often very high) peaks of achievement and now see a place in the House of Lords as a fitting end to a distinguished career.

Of course they have to toe the Government line....

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

They're increasingly confident in the models' erroroneous conclusions.

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterChip

I fully subscribe to the DNFTT philosophy, but could I please ask Josh to draw us a "basic scientific tenant" whom I certainly don't understand.

Sep 14, 2013 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

“Combating” climate change is much like the EU – to justify its existence, a large number of people are employed at great expense to the tax-payer to explain why they should be employed to justify why climate change has to be combatted, else there would be no reason to employ cast numbers of people at great expense to the tax-payer to justify why climate change needs to be combatted. Of that, they can be 95% certain, and if the facts do not agree with the idea, then that is a failure of the facts.

And, like the EU, they are unable to see that 95% of the tax-paying population can see right through them, and wish it to stop. Also, like the EU, in the off-chance that they did notice the 95%, you can be 99% certain that the 95% would be ignored as irrelevant. I am 100% sure that 97% of you would agree.

Sep 14, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

could I please ask Josh to draw us a "basic scientific tenant" whom I certainly don't understand

A basic scientific tenant is someone who rents your ideas asunder.

Sep 14, 2013 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB


Sep 14, 2013 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller


Sep 14, 2013 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrank Davis

I rather think we are seeing the last agonal gasp of climate alarmism before retreat. Five to ten years ago, there was less evidence against CAGW and it seemed a more tenable hypothesis.

Tony Abbott made a seminal, robust Australian pronouncement on CAGW which really equated to rejecting the indefensible. I expect that in the next few years more politicians will follow suit as they realise that 97% (or 99% according to Barroso) of scientists don't have all the answers and science is science, not certainty.

"This cooling is probably from the PID control system in the atmosphere."
Proportional integral derivative controller - I seem to remember that you gave me a hard time about feedback systems having to be represented as at least a 2nd order differential equation. Since you state that you are an experienced control theorist, I would be really interested to see how you reconcile this with your previous comments to me.

Sep 14, 2013 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez

Funny video by RAMZPAUL, parody on Post Normal Science, " Climate change and the scientific method ".

James Delingpole explains about PNS in " Watermelons "

Sep 14, 2013 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Matt Ridley with glimmers of hope that just maybe the IPCC balloon is running out of hot air and starting to come back down to Earth.
See his article in " The Wall Street Journal " , ' Dialing back the alarm on climate change ' 13th Sept 2013

Sep 14, 2013 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex

A simple smackdown is to ask for the calcs that show the "95% confidence". Just wanna check the sums and make sure it isn't 95.5 or 94.8 you know.

Sep 14, 2013 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Sep 14, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM
"... the warmist establishment, for which read the carbon traders ..."
Costa Rica's carbon trader contribution - UNFCCC Exec Sec'y, C. Figueres [Gore-trained
presenter] - will be guiding COP 19 [?]. What an excellent site: Poland, in November,
awaiting findings from the country's first gas exploration. Energy/climate headlines may be
early Christmas presents for all, especially if the Gore-effect puts in an appearance.

Sep 14, 2013 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn R T

Definition of "faith" -- What enables one's confidence to increase even as empirical data increasingly diverges from projections!

Sep 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterIndur M. Goklany

Political confidence has a strange habit of increasing to the level of 'every', ''full', 'absolute', or 'complete', shortly before the subject of the confidence is found to be entirely undeserving of it.

Sep 14, 2013 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Why don't they just come right out with it and put "Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc" as first line of the fifth assessment report?

Sep 14, 2013 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

There was also much whingeing about how "extreme opponents of the conclusions of climate-change science denigrate both the science and and the scientists involved". My readings of the various blogs on both sides of the argument has led me to s throng impression that far more invective is thrown at the sceptic camp by the proponents off AGW than vice versa. Is the term 'warmist' really as defamatory as 'denialist'?

Sep 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRbravery

This is a real problem for governments.

Leaving aside the energy issue and the costs of the various subsidies given to renewables, what about tax on petrol?

Petrol carries with it very high tax which has been set on the basis that it is required to combat the environmental damage caused by the consumption of petrol. If in fact (given the introduction of relatively clean fuels with low lead low sulphur and catolytic converters etc ) there is little environmental harm, how can this high level of taxation be justified? Why should petrol carry with it anything more than just ordinary sales tax?

This is a substantial earner for governments and if CAGW falls apart, citizens will be damanding that this additional tax (and of course equivalent air line tariff) be scaled back if not abolished altogether. This will wreak havoc on big government spending. It is easy to see that this is an issue to big to be allowed to fail.

Sep 15, 2013 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

@Rbravery. Warmists who refer to sceptics as "deniers" should be referred to as "Alarmist Scamsters", or "Parasites".

Sep 15, 2013 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

The models have failed, utterly, completely and catastrophically? That's funny.

Can you explain this?

Which is the model output with the el-nino forcing put in as actual rather than the random variation of the previous models.

It looks to me as though the models aren't broken after all.

Good luck with reality folks. It still has a "librul bias".

Sep 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered Commenterbjchip


If POGA-H is a model, after all you dont say wheter it is and the l;ink doesn't state ehat it is, then it seems remarkably accurate.

Could we have some more information please?

Sep 15, 2013 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRC Saumarez

RC, Judy did a piece on it in late August at

An excerpt:

"I’m not sure how good my eyeball estimates are, and you can pick other start/end dates. But no matter what, I am coming up with natural internal variability associated accounting for significantly MORE than half of the observed warming."

Sep 16, 2013 at 5:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterstun

bjchip tamino 'work ' is like telling us which horse will win a race , after its finished , no use and providing no entertainment .

Sep 16, 2013 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

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