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« The Unprofessional Panel on Climate Change | Main | Getting the shale message across »
Thursday
Jan302014

Where next for climate policy?

One of the most significant exchanges at Tuesday's parliamentary hearing was the admission by Brian Hoskins et al that the CMIP5 model ensemble did not incorporate the latest IPCC estimates of the effects of aerosol pollution on the climate. In rather simplified terms, the warming at the end of the twentieth century can be explained as a strong warming masked by strong aerosol cooling or by a relatively weaker warming masked by a relatively weaker aerosol cooling. Recent satellite observations are suggesting that the aerosol cooling is much weaker than previously thought and the corollary of this finding is that the climate sensitivity is necessarily lower.

Hoskins and his colleagues excused the IPCC's failure to update the models, noting that the new estimates of weaker aerosol forcing are relatively new. This may well be the case (although I understand that the evidence has been accumulating for some time), but the implications for UK policy are interesting regardless. Lord Deben's Climate Change Committee have just considered the findings on climate sensitivity in the Fifth Assessment Report and have concluded that no changes are required to the Fourth Carbon Budget. However, if we now know that the models have a warm bias, the findings of the CCC are inevitably undermined. Until we have new model runs incorporating the new aerosol forcings, what should policymakers do?

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Reader Comments (44)

Until we have new model runs incorporating the new aerosol forcings, what should policymakers do?
The Secretary of State has powers under the Climate Change Act 2008 "if it appears to the Secretary of State that there have been significant developments in scientific knowledge about climate change" to amend the carbon target for 2050 and the intermediate carbon budgets. In the real world he would therefore amend the budgets so that no action need be taken to reduce emissions and all renewable energy subdidies would be set at zero. In the virtual world inhabited by the SoS and DECC, he will ignore the latest scientific findings and he will carry on with his destructive, unaffordable and economy-destroying policies.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:20 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

It's somewhat comical that CO2 warming and aerosol cooling come from the selfsame fossil fuels so climateers can merrily make either of them dominant to explain away any of the squiggles in the observations. So it doesn't matter therefore if we are cooling, warming or not changing it's all due to fossil fuels and it's always bad.

Policy will surely be to eventually copy the USA after 10 years delay which has been the entire political philosophy of the Thatcherites and Blairites since 1979. Even when it became blindingly obvious that most American economists really didn't have a clue, we still copied their economic recovery policy of monetary inflation to the extent of keeping the same name of 'quantitive easing'. Whether it made matters better or worse is highly debatable. The US got a lifeline with shale gas and it will be Europes lifeline too - after much useless prevarication.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

The longer time goes on, and the more money that gets thrown at it, we see that climate sensitivity is getting nearer and nearer to 1.0...

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Simple answer to your question:
WAIT AND SEE

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:55 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"have concluded that no changes are required to the Fourth Carbon Budget"

but if the aerosols are too low we'll overheat, so don't we need to push out more?

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

Bish - you are letting them set the agenda and keeping us on the back foot. There was no strong warming at the end of the 20th Century - all we experienced in the NH was a series of mild winters, which brings the average temps up a little. The other 0.4C of 'warming' came from spurious station selection, homogenisation and adjustments for UHI, something they can't so any more because they know we are watching. I haven't seen any noticeable warming signal in any of the SH datasets - e.g. http://www.geoffstuff.com/Macquarie%20Island%20Temper.JPG .

To me the most valuable comment which came out of the hearing was Donna's suggestion that there needs to be a minority report - this would mean the alarmists would not be able to control the agenda, and edit out common sense science (cloud cover and negative feedbacks) and data they did not like or did not want the policy makers to see. And policy makers would find it much more difficult to say they had to believe what the 'consensus scientists' said. Let's face it, the policy makers are way out of their nursery pool depth here - when the Scottish MP said that the hole in the ozone layer triggered the CAGW and that aerosols were a problem 'because we all used them" no one on the committee batted an eye lid.

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

What should policymakers do?

They should, as MJ says, wait and see. Not just until the models incorporate more accurate estimates of the effects of aerosols. But, agreeing wholeheartedly with Richard Lindzen, they should wait fifty years before doing anything. Lindzen says this can be shown to be better but in the select committee he didn't have proper opportunity to mention that during a fifty year 'pause' we could also see what China and others are willing to cut - those already responsible for Robin Guenier's 70-80% of emissions. This is quite clearly what our policymakers should do. We can't afford to be defeatist. We have to say it as it is, however incompetent it makes the current crop look. It's too important not to.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:02 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

There are alot of individuals, in academia, the media, NGOs and politics, who needs prosecution for fraud.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Bitter&Twisted: It's striking that Professor Michael Kelly is coming close to saying this, in his submission to the select committee and letters to The Times. If so-called mitigation turns out to be a colossal waste of precious resources, who is going to be held accountable? Some of the younger scientists, policymakers and budding bureaucrats should take note.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:12 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@ Mike Jackson Jan 30, 2014 at 8:55 AM

"Simple answer to your question: WAIT AND SEE"

WRONG!

These are civil servants. We obviously need more civil servants to determine why the earth's climate failed to match the results predicted by the models. And more taxation to pay for them.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

economic recovery policy of monetary inflation to the extent of keeping the same name of 'quantitive easing'. Whether it made matters better or worse is highly debatable. The US got a lifeline with shale gas and it will be Europes lifeline too - after much useless prevarication.

Good comment - Inflation a very useful tool, it inflates away government debt and QE keeps them all in a job.

On the wider point of "where next for climate policy", quibbling I know but I'd say we have never had a climate policy - just a tax grab enabling a £billion bonanza for a bunch of politicians on the take and making the fortunes and filling the boots of lots of investment bankers, Chinese steel and PV cell manufacturers and Swedish, Danish, Norwegian birdmincer constructors and wasn't that what it was all about?

What to do next?

Climbing down from the alarmist hype of CAGW. Hmm, well 'climbdown' it's not in the libdem glossary - the green madness is part of their very fibre - I mean apart from sexual deviancy - what else do they do? Indeed, the whole of the Parliamentary claque voted for Miliband's wheeze - the CCA in 2008 and they still all read the Guardian and watch the Beeb - 97% rest assured believe in the UNEP lies, libconlab, its their principles and all treehugging to follow the green paved road of forsaken financial prudence on the way to industrial oblivion.

What the public think - that alarmism is dead.

It's time to get real but that change - will take time.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

The impression I have formed from following this debate over the years is that aerosols and CO2 were the only serious climate drivers in the view of the climate scientists about 20 years ago. Everything else had a negligible effect in their view. So if the model was running hot, the aerosol level was being underestimated and if the model was running cool they were over-estimating the aerosol level.

Then when the temperature rise slowed down, I expect they turned up the aerosol levels to unrealistic levels. The CO2 warming knob would already be turned up high because CO2 was still rising at a fast rate. This simplistic view became inadequate when the temperature stopped rising and stayed flat for years.

These people just can't believe that their models are wrong, so what we are seeing now are attempts to explain things by constructing various scenarios using the only two climate drivers in their tool box.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

We have to ask ourselves whether those who benefit from climate alarmism want the models re-run with lower aerosol estimates. This would make their results even more ridiculous. Brian Hoskins also stated that the pause could be explained as an initial value problem - I bet this will not be modelled either since it is nonsense.

I doubt that the IPCC, DECC, etc want to see any re-runs as this would expose them to the charge - what danger!

People like Lord Deben and Tim Yeo who have absolutely no scientific understanding but have some financial connection to the renewable industry, will merely do what all true believers do. We could see Tim Yeo's understanding on Tuesday when he failed to comprehend that the "warmest decade" is nothing more than a red herring. A demonstration of the apex of stupidity.

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

In 2010, G L Stephens, the US' most senior cloud physicist pointed out that the IPCC climate models use double real low level cloud albedo in hind-casting to offset the unrealistic warming. That unrealistic warming plus a 3x real estimate of the present GHE create the imaginary positive feedback.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterMydogsgotnonose

@ JamesG

Indeed, it is something that has mystified me for many years. We adopted comprehensive education based on American 'success' just as most people saw it as a total disaster, the "never mind the quality, feel the width" throwaway consumerism adopted in the 1960s was the same.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter C

Or strong warming countered by weak aerolsols and a lot of warming tucked under the sea.
Nice to seethe science settling down.
Pardon the Freudian. I was writing one thing when thinking about amother.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

MDGNN: "In 2010, G L Stephens, the US' most senior cloud physicist pointed out that the IPCC climate models use double real low level cloud albedo in hind-casting to offset the unrealistic warming."

Got a link for that?

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered Commentertallbloke

"...What should policy makers do.."?

I know what they should do, but what they will do is the same as always - consider the best possible route for cash into the trouser pockets, scan through part of the "evidence"and jump inevitably in the wrong direction.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

Bish I have no confidence that making new model runs incorporating new aerosol forcings is the answer. We do not understand and cannot model clouds. And there are still other aspects of climate that remain unknown to man. Trying to write a computer program to simulate something you do not understand is a waste of time and money. When the madness is over our children will look back and wonder why we spent so much money on soothsaying and so little on dredging the Somerset Levels.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterdolphinlegs

Hoskins and his colleagues excused the IPCC's failure to update the models, noting that the new estimates of weaker aerosol forcing are relatively new.

One gets a sense of hurried modelling work behind the scenes in order to wangle some way out of this new scrape.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

"what should policymakers do?"

As Lindzen said the other day

“It’s completely consistent with there being nothing to worry about.”

"Virtually no policy beats doing nothing for 50 years.”

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

The tenet underlying much thinking about climate change, including this thread discussion, is that the climate models are fundamentally correct. If only we could feed them with accurate and up to date parameter values, for instance regarding aerosols, then they would become realistic representations of the climate and could produce useful predictions.

This is wrong. The climate models are fundamentally incorrect. Inter alia, they suffer from the omitted variable error.
http://errortheory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/omitted-variable-fraud-vast-evidence.html

The question "Has the effect of carbon dioxide / aerosols on the climate been overestimated ?" is the climate equivalent of "Have you stopped beating your wife ?" It is based on a false premise.

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Lilley

Policymakers should waken up and face reality.

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I see Guido has a sketch up about the CCC meeting.
Here

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:35 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Sorry, Harry, I'm going to have to leap in again and argue that we really must get these things right.
The meeting was the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, chairman Tim Yeo MP, the "oversight" committee of MPs for the DECC.
The Climate Change Committee (CCC), chairman Lord Deben, is an independent (forgive me while I laugh) advisory body set up under the Climate Change Act to advise government on the best course(s) of action to take with regard to mitigation/adaptation.
Whether the names of these bodies was designed to confuse us I couldn't possibly say but if so it does a pretty good job. Trouble is it provides the likes of Deben and Yeo and Davey and others with the perfect get out "see, these people don't even know the difference between a Select Committee and an advisory body ..."

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The Minority Report concept should defintely be applied to Climate Change reporting of the science, Donna's suggestion is an excellent one.

For an outstanding example of a minority report, check out Feynman's report on the 'O' ring failure on the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Good example to cite.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:10 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

Summary of a minority and the famous video of Feynman demonstrating so brilliantly and so simply what wrong:

http://hubpages.com/hub/Richard-Feynman-The-Man-Who-Explained-the-Challenger-Disaster

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:14 PM | Registered Commenterthinkingscientist

quote
The longer time goes on, and the more money that gets thrown at it, we see that climate sensitivity is getting nearer and nearer to 1.0...
unquote

cf the Millikan oil drop experiment and Feynman's comment on that. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_drop_experiment . By AR7 it will be down to 1.0 or below and suddenly it will all not matter. The politicians will be busy throwing scientists off the tiger while hoping that they aren't the last one to jump.

How long before people understand that the wheels have come off the global warming bus? And, from the point of view of a minor UKIP foot soldier, how can we monetise that understanding?

JF

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

....If only we could feed them with accurate and up to date parameter values, for instance regarding aerosols, then they would become realistic representations of the climate and could produce useful predictions.

This is wrong. The climate models are fundamentally incorrect. (....)
Jan 30, 2014 at 11:28 AM David Lilley

Even if they were (potentially) correct, they are incapable of being validated to confirm that they correctly model the physical reality, so they can never be relied on.

The Met Office's statement that the models are validated by checking they reproduce past climate is intentionally misleading:

- It involves the fallacy of "testing on the training data" which even a totally erroneous model with no predictive ability should be capable of passing.

- The models do not in fact reproduce the climate well further back than a few decades.

It is a basic principle in modelling physical systems that you don't use an unvalidated model for anything of importance. If you act on its results, you are worse off than having no model at all and simply saying "We don't know".

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:37 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

My sense is that even if one incorporated new data on aerosols and took an observation-based approach to calculating climate sensitivity, the emissions reduction rates post-2020 in the CCC's analysis would still be pretty demanding, if the goal of policy remains avoiding dangerous climate change (widely understood as an increase in global average temperature greater than 2C above pre-industrial levels).

Thus, as I've argued before on these pages, if sceptics are unhappy with current policy they need to raise not just the issues of aerosol forcing values and of models v observation when calculating sensitivity but also of the actual goal of international climate policy.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

Mike, when I typed CCC I knew what I meant: I do know the difference between the committees, but when you're typing quickly and using acronyms mistakes happen, as in, typos. I promise to try harder... :-)

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

The Met office expects warming to continue.
Tallbloke has the story plus link.

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

RichieRich: "...if the goal of policy remains avoiding dangerous climate change..."
If that were truly the case, the Committee would be well advised to heed Lindzen's advice yesterday that whatever they do will, in and of itself, make no discernible difference. The UK contribution to greenhouse gases is small -- not quite negligible, but close to it. It is only the conceit that UK policy will affect China/India/US/etc. that allows one to pretend that the policy will avoid dangerous climate change.
There may in fact be some influence: if the UK experience is seen to be that subsidies to e.g. solar and wind are not cost-effective, it may serve as an example to other countries to try other methods. Small consolation to UK residents, though.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:27 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

"the warming at the end of the twentieth century can be explained as a strong warming masked by strong aerosol cooling or by a relatively weaker warming masked by a relatively weaker aerosol cooling"

How about more sunshine starting around 1980 and peaking in 2004? One man made reason for increased sunshine in that period is clean air legislation.

Take a look at Sunshine for the UK here: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/actualmonthly/

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

In November 2010 there was an event in London called Climate Change Question Time, and one of the speakers was Vicky Pope. I haven't found any audio or video record of this, yet, but at least one blogger reported on the proceedings:
http://andyrussell.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/climate-change-question-time-or-climate-science-goes-to-the-city/

He paraphrases, as follows:

Vicky Pope: Low climate sensitivities (below 2°C) look unrealistic from latest model runs.

As cloud processes have improved in Earth system models, it looks like it is the lower end of the IPCC climate sensitivities that will be affected most.

If a week is a long time in politics, three years must be an aeon in climate science.

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

Feyman in his eponymous lectures:

"First, meteorology and the weather. Of course the instruments of meteorology are physical instruments, and the development of experimental physics made these instruments possible, as was explained before. However, the theory of meteorology has never been satisfactorily worked out by the physicist. “Well,” you say, “there is nothing but air, and we know the equations of the motions of air.” Yes we do. “So if we know the condition of air today, why can’t we figure out the condition of the air tomorrow?” First, we do not really know what the condition is today, because the air is swirling and twisting everywhere. It turns out to be very sensitive, and even unstable. If you have ever seen water run smoothly over a dam, and then turn into a large number of blobs and drops as it falls, you will understand what I mean by unstable. You know the condition of the water before it goes over the spillway; it is perfectly smooth; but the moment it begins to fall, where do the drops begin? What determines how big the lumps are going to be and where they will be? That is not known, because the water is unstable. Even a smooth moving mass of air, in going over a mountain turns into complex whirlpools and eddies. In many fields we find this situation of turbulent flow that we cannot analyze today. Quickly we leave the subject of weather..."

Jan 30, 2014 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

.. Vicky Pope ..Vicky Price ..you can't trust either of them

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:03 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

More climate bollocks, this time the Met Office's Vicky Pope back in 2007:

"by 2014 we are predicting that it will be 0.3C warmer than 2004".

Video here - Met Office climate change expert Vicky Pope sets out the consequences of temperature rises

Jan 30, 2014 at 4:31 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Spiegel reports that wind farm investments in Germany are failing. Many promised a 20% return but some investors are getting no return and are losing their capital too.

Elsewhere, No Tricks Zone has news of a new paper linking solar system gravitational influences on the sun with the resulting changes in solar wind and the modulation of cosmic rays and cloud formation. In effect, it deals with the cause of the solar changes that lead to Henrik Svensmark's cloud formation. The paper predicts another LIA and says it could happen very soon..

It looks to me that CAGW is beginning to unravel quite quickly. We are entering an interesting phase.

The true believers, generally those responsible for the models, are unlikely to admit they got it wrong. I include the Met Office here. They have far too much to lose and they have the support of the great and the good in the scientific establishment. They will not want to admit failure either.

I think the politicians will be divided. The Lib Dems, Greens and most of Labour will stick to the warmist line. The Tories will see the cracks appearing. UKIP have an opportunity to gain the higher ground since they are the only ones without green dirt on their hands.

The critical players are scientists who speak out, commentators who explain in a popular style how the consensus is falling apart and the MSM journalists who decide to report it to a mass audience. Once we get a few headlines mocking the warmist belief on a regular basis, the politicians will start to get worried.

Once politicians worry about things they start making speeches to distance themselves from the problem and usually they point the finger of blame in several directions. That is when it will become very interesting and very uncomfortable for the warmists. This could become a massive scandal with very far reaching consequences. The public will not be happy, having been lied to, conned, fleeced and ignored while those promoting the alarmism filled their pockets.

Jan 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

With much of the model code in the public domain, why wait for the academics to do model runs using the new aerosol parameters.

Why not run your own?

Jan 30, 2014 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Logically the policymakers should do nothing. If the UK climate policy according to IPCC's own models had microscopic effect on global temperatures before, when the climate sensitivity was thought to be high, why then should the revelation that the sensitivity might actually be lower affect the policy?

Just imagine: "We had until now, in accordance with the IPCC endorsed scientific models, thought that our multi billion dollar spending would lower the global temperatures by 0.00005K in 100 years. Now that the latest scientific studies show that we would in fact only lower the global temperature by 0.00003K, we no longer think the spending is worth it."

Jan 30, 2014 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterpax

The answer to the question 'What should policy makers do?' should be obvious BUT...

Since the policy makers appear to be following the mantra of... 'black is white and cold is hot then doing nothing means more taxes we' can expect green taxes to rise.

Jan 30, 2014 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterivan

@EM

With much of the model code in the public domain

Really? Link please?

Jan 31, 2014 at 8:02 AM | Registered Commenterthrog

throg -
I don't know about any other models, but NASA's GISS model E is available here.

Feb 1, 2014 at 12:34 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

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