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« Renewables cannot sustain civilisation | Main | Diary dates, modelling edition »
Wednesday
Aug272014

More on GCMs and public policy

Richard Betts posted some further thoughts on GCMs and public policy in the previous post on this subject. Since the thread is now heading for 300 comments I thought I'd post his ideas up here and respond in turn.

Richard first set out his understanding of my position.

I'd initially thought that you were claiming that the very need for any kind of climate policy was based on GCMs. Clearly it isn't, for the reasons I stated, but it seems this isn't your point here anyway. You seem to be moving a step further and talking about the importance of GCMs to the details of climate policy (eg. a carbon tax). Here I do partially agree with you - GCMs do of course play a role in the details, as they help with understanding the climate system, but they are by no means the only source of information. Moreover, I don't think the examples you give would be substantially affected if we didn't have GCMs.

In fact his earlier understanding was more correct. The case that AGW is a big problem is a function of GCMs: the bigness of the problem is determined by the estimates of the social cost of carbon and these are a direct function of GCM estimates of climate sensitivity. Richard's point about carbon taxes seems to misunderstand the SCC. Once you know the SCC you can decide which of the possible measures you can take in response are cost-effective. Carbon taxes are one possible response. Drowning us in windfarms is another (allegedly).

To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence of statistically significant changes in observational records of the climate. The Met Office concurs, at least as far as surface temperatures are concerned. When I have advanced this argument in the past, they have told me that their understanding of AGW is based on physical models, not observations of the climate. It seems to me that the official Met Office position can be paraphrased as "global warming is a problem because our GCMs say it is". Richard's position of "climate policy is not dictated by GCMs" therefore seems to contradict the official position.

 Richard goes on to dispute my take on where the IPCC position on climate sensitivity comes from.

You state:

Let us start by considering climate sensitivity. As readers here know, the official IPCC position on climate sensitivity is largely based on the GCMs.

No. The concept of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity was basically developed as a simple metric of how climate models responded to increased GHGs, so the models could be compared. It is not something that we will ever be able to measure directly in the real world, as we won't ever see a neat doubling of CO2 with no other changes happening. But instrumental and palaeoclimate records have been used to try to constrain ECS, and the AR5 'likely range' of 1.5 to 4.5C is based on these constraints, not models - see AR5 WG1 Chapter 10 section 10.8.2.

Ignoring the first couple of sentences, which don't seem relevant to me, the nub of Richard's argument seems to be that alongside the instrumental records, the paleoclimate records are also modifying the official position on ECS. This seems unlikely. The IPCC itself notes that the paleoclimate records barely constrain estimates - they contain very little information. This is all explained in Nic Lewis's GWPF report on the subject. Readers may recall the graphs I posted last year which made this point.

The observational estimates, in green (apart from Otto, in black) do not point to 2-4.5°C. The paleoestimates in blue are all over the place and are a function of their priors rather than their data. 2-4.5°C is a function of the GCMs.

This time round we have had some minor concessions to observational estimates

I wouldn't say it was 'minor' - there's quite an extensive discussion - and in any case it's not 'this time round' either, as there's also quite an extensive discussion in AR4 WG1 Chapter 9". I'm surprised you've forgotten about that, since Nic Lewis commented on it some years ago, and it was discussed at Climate Audit and I'm sure we discussed it here too a while ago.

"Minor" of course referred to the impact the observational estimates have had on the overall assessment of ECS. An extensive discussion is irrelevant. Words are cheap.

The handling of ECS in the Fourth Assessment has indeed been discussed here. Readers may recall that the first of the observational estimates - Forster and Gregory 2006 - was available for consideration in AR4. Thus there was evidence at that time of the divergence between observations and GCMs. But the IPCC did not allow this to affect their overall best estimate of climate sensitivity. Instead they restated the Forster and Gregory results using an inappropriate prior and thus making it seem hotter than otherwise. It was not until AR5 that observational estimates had any effect on the ECS assessment.

Also you are wrong in your claims that climate scientists keep policymakers in the dark about uncertainties. The IPCC SPMs are full of clear statements differentiating the more certain and less certain aspects of the science - that's why all those confidence statements are there. For example the IPCC AR5 WG2 SPM says:

Responding to climate-related risks involves decision making in a changing world, with continuing uncertainty about the severity and timing of climate-change impacts

and

Uncertainties about future vulnerability, exposure, and responses of interlinked human and natural systems are large

Your narrative of "climate scientists only use models: climate scientists hide uncertainties from policymakers" is false. We use observations too, and are open about uncertainties. That's why policymakers have to make a judgement call in the face of these uncertainties, having been made aware of the full range of possible outcomes for their different policy choices.

I ask again: do policymakers know that GCMs are fudged?

But when it all comes down to it, I think we need to understand what Richard's understanding of the case for climate policy is, whether mitigation or adaptation. My simple understanding is this:

  1. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
  2. Greenhouse gases will, other things being equal, warm the planet
  3. GCMs suggest that other things are not equal and that the warming will be larger than what you would get from the greenhouse effect alone
  4. GCMs suggest that there will be painful impacts too.
  5. Economic models suggest that a warming of this magnitude and its associated impacts will carry net costs
  6. Economic models suggest that there are things we can do to mitigate and/or adapt to these changes that are net beneficial in terms of cost.
  7. Therefore we should do these things.

What is Richard's take?

(As an aside, Bob Tisdale has a post at WUWT looking at Richard's earlier comments.)

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Reader Comments (91)

I'm getting dizzy trying to keep up with the spin ... first it was hiding the pea under thimbles, now it's spinning ... can't they make up their minds and stick to the meme?

Aug 27, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Interesting comment from this article involving our friends at the met office

http://www.northdevonjournal.co.uk/Winter-storms-convinced-public-man-climate-change/story-22832467-detail/story.html

" Experts at the Met Office have said there is “no definitive answer” on the contribution of climate change to the winter storms, but that studies suggest Atlantic storms and extreme rainfall are becoming more intense, and that the increase is consistent with a warming world "

Which contradicts this statement on the met office website from febuary.

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/news/2014/uk-storms-and-floods

"Nevertheless, recent studies have suggested an increase in the intensity of Atlantic storms that take a more southerly track, typical of this winter's extreme weather. There is also an increasing body of evidence that shows that extreme daily rainfall rates are becoming more intense, and that the rate of increase is consistent with what is expected from the fundamental physics of a warming world"

Aug 27, 2014 at 10:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustAnotherPoster

Instead they restated the Forster and Gregory results using an inappropriate prior …

Bolded correction. Great idea to open a new thread for this Bish.

Aug 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

[Snip - venting]

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Dawkins

but they are by no means the only source of information,
The other sources of information are little more than claims themselves based on these models . The reality is the empirical base of support for these ideas is a rather shaky one built on sand , which is why they needed 'models ' in the first place because they did not have the empirical data that would stand up to investigation .
And it still to late , you spend years telling people your models cannot be wrong , and they still do , but they to expect them now to accept that even if they wrong it does not matter . amazing !
Take the models away and they have virtual nothing , the irony is many in climate 'science' would not support Betts because they know these models are their meal ticket , not because his wrong . While sceptics amazed at his 'balls' over this, have no issue with agreeing with the idea that the models offer very poor value , something which they have been saying for years.

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

Climate change – your essential guide

It’s now clear that man-made greenhouse gases are causing climate change. The rate of change began as significant, has become alarming and is simply unsustainable in the long-term.

We’re causing it.
So let’s do something about it.


Are the computer models reliable?

Computer models are an essential tool in understanding how the climate will respond to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, and other external effects, such as solar output and volcanoes.

Computer models are the only reliable way to predict changes in climate. Their reliability is tested by seeing if they are able to reproduce the past climate, which gives scientists confidence that they can also predict the future.


Warming Climate change – the facts
Met Office 2009

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:26 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"The concept of Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity was basically developed as a simple metric of how climate models responded to increased GHGs, so the models could be compared. It is not something that we will ever be able to measure directly in the real world."

As some of us always insist, it's an abstraction from the models.

I'm delighted to see that clearly stated by Richard Betts. But I suspect it doesn't much get explained to policy makers that way. The term serves as a 'framing' tool in that it can lead the unwary to imagine or implicitly accept certain things which are not the case.

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

[Snip - venting]

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Bishop,

Your final list is important.
Put another way, the GCMs need to show that rising GHGs can cause a non-trivial problem.
I would propose that the moral case for policy is for an expected outturn that is a non-trivial improvement on the expected situation without policy.
Tackling aspects of decision-making under conditions of uncertainty and policy risks are as important as the GCM outputs.
Ignore them will result in a situation worse than doing nothing. For instance, if the UK is the sole country that achieves significant reductions in CO2 emissions, the net impact on a global problem will be near zero. So the people of this country will both the endure the predicted harm of policy and climate change.

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

michael hart

Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity ... is not something that we will ever be able to measure directly in the real world.
As some of us always insist, it's an abstraction from the models.
For the avoidance of doubt, let me spell this out in simple terms for cretins like me ...
We can never properly measure ECS in the real world.
Therefore, as you rightly (IMHO) conclude it is an "abstraction" from the models.
So the models are not in any way replicating the real world ... which happens to be where we all live (well, most of us).
The projected figure for ECS is therefore meaningless and models which are being used to inform (love that word, don't you?!) policy are useless.
What am I missing?

Aug 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Apr 4, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Buck

Can someone point me to the model which predicted no statistically significant warming over the last 15 years?

Sure - the Met Office model did - or at least, it was within the uncertainty range even if it was not the central estimate.

Cheers

Richard

[http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/4/4/another-rebuttal.html?currentPage=2#comment17545132 ]

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Mike Jackson Aug 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM asks

What am I missing?

Answer - The policy aspect.
It is like the medical profession identifying a disease, then proscribing a course of drugs which are shown to be largely ineffective and have harmful side effects, especially when the dosage is wrong. Then to deliberately block anybody who tries to object that patients would be better off without their attentions.

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Marshall

The report below shows not only climate model projections influencing government (as evidenced by the DECC quote which I have put in italics), but also climate model users promoting particular policy themes (as evidenced by the Richard Betts quote which I have also put in italics).

The key point is that while this warming occurs between 1961-1990 and 2090-2099 for the high-end scenarios without carbon cycle feedbacks, in about 10% of Hadley’s model runs with the feedbacks, it occurs around 2060. Betts calls that the “plausible worst case scenario.” It is something the IPCC and the rest of the scientific community should have laid out a long time ago.
As the Met Office notes here, “In some areas warming could be significantly higher (10 degrees [C = 15F] or more)”:
The Arctic could warm by up to 15.2 °C [27.4 °F] for a high-emissions scenario, enhanced by melting of snow and ice causing more of the Sun’s radiation to be absorbed.
For Africa, the western and southern regions are expected to experience both large warming (up to 10 °C [18 °F]) and drying.
Some land areas could warm by seven degrees [12.6 F] or more.
Rainfall could decrease by 20% or more in some areas, although there is a spread in the magnitude of drying. All computer models indicate reductions in rainfall over western and southern Africa, Central America, the Mediterranean and parts of coastal Australia.
In other areas, such as India, rainfall could increase by 20% or more. Higher rainfall increases the risk of river flooding.
Large parts of the inland United States would warm by 15°F to 18°F, even worse than the NOAA-led 13-agency impacts report found “Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year “” and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!”
Dr Betts added: “Together these impacts will have very large consequences for food security, water availability and health. However, it is possible to avoid these dangerous levels of temperature rise by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. If global emissions peak within the next decade and then decrease rapidly it may be possible to avoid at least half of the four degrees of warming.”
A DECC spokesman said: “This report illustrates why it is imperative for the world to reach an ambitious climate deal at Copenhagen which keeps the global temperature increase to below two degrees.”

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/09/28/204719/uk-met-office-catastrophic-climate-change-could-happen-with-50-years/

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Where are we in the policy vs. information process?

Beyond "warmth", do policy makers know what they are seeking to hedge against?

Wet, dry, somewhere inbetween?

What do the models and modellers say?

Is it of any use whatsoever?

http://www.euclipse.eu/Publications/Stevens,%20Bony_What%20are%20climate%20models%20missing.pdf

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"Computer models are the only reliable way to predict changes in climate. Their reliability is tested by seeing if they are able to reproduce the past climate, which gives scientists confidence that they can also predict the future."

Surely a much better approach would be to make your predictions, wait a while and then see how close your predictions were to what actually happened. I can't really imagine why this method isn't being used, surely there is a long enough track record by now to compare the model predictions with reality and see how close they match. Does anyone have any idea why this isn't being done?

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Extremist legislation such as the UK's Climate Change Act was surely driven by extreme fears, and in turn these were surely driven by catastrophism for which computer model outputs provide authority at least in the minds of politicians and others with modest familiarity with complex software. Here is my modest collection of examples of catastrophism from the UK Met Office. Several are from 2008/2009. I think some at least in the Met Office have calmed down a bit since and prefer to talk about the possibility of merely dangerous 'climate change' nowadays - see allusion to this in example (7) below. But then, nowadays, the harm has been done, the heights of the mass media and other political strongholds having been won. They have been scared witless.

(1) [2008] 'A new study by the Met Office warns that the world could warm by more than 5C in the next 90 years, if emissions keep on rising. This would be catastrophic for the environment and for humanity. Dr Vicky Pope, Head of Climate Change Advice at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre explains the science ' (http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/environment/article2144193.ece )
(2) [2009] 'Met Office: catastrophic climate change could happen with 50 years. Catastrophic climate change could happen with 50 years, five decades earlier than previously predicted, according to a Met Office report.' (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/6236690/Met-Office-catastrophic-climate-change-could-happen-with-50-years.html)
(3) [2009] 'Finally, some of the top climate modellers in the world have done a “plausible worst case scenario,” as Dr Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, put it today in a terrific and terrifying talk (audio here, PPT here). ' (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/09/28/204719/uk-met-office-catastrophic-climate-change-could-happen-with-50-years/) Betts' slides here: http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/4degrees/ppt/1-2betts.pdf
(4) [2009] 'Met Office warns of catastrophic global warming in our lifetimes
• Study says 4C rise in temperature could happen by 2060
• Increase could threaten water supply of half world population' (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/sep/28/met-office-study-global-warming)
(5) [2011] 'The Met Office's Hadley Centre has today added to the flurry of recent reports warning of potentially catastrophic climate impacts if urgent action is not taken to try to limit global average temperature rises to 2º Centigrade. ' (http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2130139/met-office-report-warns-soaring-climate-risks)
(6) [2013] 'From catastrophic chain-reactions which could push us into dangerous climate change, to cooling effects which balance out global warming, climate feedbacks are an important area of research for scientists. ' Ben Booth, Senior Researcher, UK Met Office (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/guide/science/explained/feedbacks)
(7) [2013] 'The Met Office lacks no certainty when it comes to climate change. It tells us that it now offers “weather and climate change forecasts for the UK and the world”. It seeks to forecast short term weather, ten year general climate, and 100 year climate cycles. It belongs to the school of thought which says that we are living through a period of global warming, and argues that has been brought about by human generated CO2. To reinforce the message the website is punctuated by the symbols of dangerous climate change. There is a picture of a baked landscape, clearly suffering from excessive heat and no rain. England in 2012 did not look like that anywhere. There is a thermometer obligingly showing 30 degrees C, a temperature we so rarely experience here in the UK. Today I thought I would share with you some of their more interesting forecasts and statements from 2012.' (http://johnredwoodsdiary.com/2013/01/11/climate-change-at-the-met-office/)
(8) [2014] 'The risk of such catastrophic heat waves is set to increase with continued emissions.' 'Limiting future emissions will also reduce the risk of large releases of greenhouse gasses from melting permafrost and reduce the risk of very rapid rises in sea level from accelerated melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica' Peter Stott (http://www.adjacentgovernment.co.uk/lg-edition-002/averting-a-storm/)

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Harsh Realities
Climate Change 2007, Vicky Pope

For 2014 we're predicting that it will be point three degrees warmer than 2004. To put that into context, the warming over the past century and a half has only been point seven degrees globally now there have been bigger changes locally but globally the warming is point seven degrees. Point three degrees over the next ten years is pretty significant. And half the years after 2009 are predicted to be hotter than 1998 which was the previous record so, again, these are very strong statement about what will happen over the next ten years so I think this illustrates that, you know, we can already see signs of climate change over the next ten years we are expecting to see quite significant changes occurring

So what about the risks of dangerous climate change further into the future?

so this is....the monitor on the left hand side there and I've just picked up some iconic changes that we might expect at various different temperatures. There are a lot of other changes that you could pick here but this is just really to illustrate the point if the global average temperature increased by point seven degrees and that's illustrated by the blue meniscus there just at point seven when we get to one degree we're already seeing some marine ecosystems suffer irreversible change and there's already been reports of coral reefs being damaged by acidification so that's a very real danger that's happening now. The melting of the Greenland ice sheets the arctic is a region where we will expect to see climate change first and there are already signs of change in terms of ice melting (...)


Vicky Pope was formerly in charge of Met Office climate modelling, then was Head of Climate Science Advice to Government at the Met Office

[so what she said can be taken as being the official Met Office line]

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyDmdcPw7Uw )

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Richard Betts

"But instrumental and palaeoclimate records have been used to try to constrain ECS, and the AR5 'likely range' of 1.5 to 4.5C is based on these constraints, not models - see AR5 WG1 Chapter 10 section 10.8.2."

This is could do with clarifying. The main, overall, AR5 'likely range' for ECS of 1.5 to 4.5 C (cited in the SPM) is given in Box 12.2, not Chapter 10, and is based on "the combined evidence from observed climate change including the observed 20th century warming, climate models, feedback analysis and paleoclimate". (Feedback analysis is "analysis of feedbacks in climate models".)

As Box 12.2 states, estimates based on AOGCMs and feedback analysis indicate a range of 2°C to 4.5°C. As that range does not extend beyond the Chapter 10 observationally-constrained range, the overall assessed range does not in fact differ from the Chapter 10 range.

Aug 27, 2014 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

@ Mike Jackson Aug 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

"What am I missing?"

About a grand per year.

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Surely a much better approach would be to make your predictions, wait a while and then see how close your predictions were to what actually happened. I can't really imagine why this method isn't being used, surely there is a long enough track record by now to compare the model predictions with reality and see how close they match. Does anyone have any idea why this isn't being done?
Aug 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground


Because that would show that the predictions don't match what actually happened?

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:12 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

It is crystal clear that the alarmism is based on the output of GCMs as reported by the MO and IPCC. It is not based on observations which lie within natural variability.

Policymaking is clearly based on the high global temperatures that feature in the output of the models. I do not think that these points are controversial or in dispute. Take away the models and there is not much left. I remember a Met Office expert talking about the importance of models. He said that observations were greatly overrated.

I am unable to comment on what RB is saying about these matters because it doesn't make sense to me and I must be missing something.

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Bish

Can I ask where you acquired this understanding:

My simple understanding is this:

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gases will, other things being equal, warm the planet

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:43 PM | Registered CommenterDung

MartinA, they do, it doesn't work so they change the models so that it does (for certain very loose values of "does").
Then wait another few years, oh dear it's diverging furiously, tweak 'em again, lather, rinse, repeat.
The only bit of hard data in the stuff above is that 2060 is the new apocalypse date, safely 46 years away so none of the current bunch will be around to explain that the missing heat is still hiding somewhere we can't measure it.

I note that the MO insistence that they tell the politicians about uncertainty translates into quotes which basically say that they can't say whether it will be really bad, really really bad or really really really bad, just like they said before which turned out to be nothing at all, no, there's more "extreme weather". Really, there is, it doesn't show in the statistics but it is really happening, quick, ban cars.

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

[Snip]

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenter

just today......

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2734947/UN-panel-Global-warming-human-caused-dangerous.html

"The report, which is the most severe warning issued yet, also claims it is increasingly likely that the heating trend could be irreversible.

Global warming, it says, is impacting 'all continents and across the oceans,' and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of severe impacts for mankind"

ALL of which is from modeled scenarios.

No mention of a "Pause" for 30 years either.

I'd also like to ask what "warming" trend also.....

Aug 27, 2014 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustAnotherPoster

Aug 27, 2014 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred
"...can't they make up their minds and stick to the meme?"

The thing about memes is that they keep morphing, with the most successful (most transmitted / spread / efficient at pushing emotive hot-buttons) forms dominating via iterative selection. For folks heavily influenced by a co-evolving bunch of them within an overall narrative like CAGW, those folks can't ever make up their minds to stick at one story, because the memes will be doing much of their thinking for them.

Aug 27, 2014 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Dear Bishop,

UK government policy is not actually based on the Social Cost of Carbon. See this page, especially the 2009 Review section:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/carbon-valuation--2

Aug 27, 2014 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered Commentertilting@windmills

It's not even the GCM's, it's the unfounded and untested assumptions for natural variation and aerosols that they feed into the GCM's that are the nub of the issue.

If we assume nature has been powerful enough to deflect manmade warming during the current temperature plateau then we cannot make the assumption that nature is flat or in decline in the 20th century so we cannot then compare the assumption with reality and come up with a difference that needs filled by any putative manmade warming. That peurile and circular argument is the only 'evidence' they have for manmade warming at all. Without it they have nothing to be alarmed about - just a measly 0.6K/century that is not unnatural. Nothing can be gleaned from paleoclimate data without equally unsubtantiated leaps of faith.

So we put CO2 into the atmosphere and CO2 is a greenhouse gas. But it means nothing without the core baseless assumption that CO2 is a driver of climate. The experiment we just made with mother nature tells us it clearly isn't. With different assumptions about solar energy, soot and cosmic rays you can recreate the climate quite easily even with these inadequate models. Hadley Centre know this very well. Until they can explain the cooling events of our past and present by CO2 alone they only have half a hypothesis anyway.

I'm not sure why such very basic logic is beyond the grasp of ostensibly clever people beyond noting that if there is no problem to solve then there is no funding so they have motivated reasoning. However their abject refusal to man up to admitting they don't actually know what really drives climate will drive us soon into severe energy shortages. I don't blame the politicians for this - it is these climate shamens who are completely at fault for pretending to know things that they patently don't.

Aug 27, 2014 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Please give a link to the appropriate glossary of acronyms. I could not understand how Google Cloud Messaging was relevant. In other words "PGALTTAGOA"

Aug 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterWJohn

I am increasingly of the opinion that CO2 is no longer relevant to this debate and that what
we have experienced todate, is nothing other than natural variability during the the entire period of
the debate on the climate.
Climate science has exploded on the myths presented by the IPCC which was predicated on
creating a problem where none existed.
In my opinion, any further discussion of the science will only serve to perpetuate the myths.

Aug 27, 2014 at 3:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterpesadia

pesadia,
The problem is that the climate obsessed have an agenda they wish to impose on the world based on their myths.
And unlike religious myths that call for personal behavior to be nice and to love one another and gave us nice wine and libraries and hosiptals, the climate myths require large numbers of people to suffer from lack of energy and failing infrastructure.

Aug 27, 2014 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

As well as being used to impress the gullible at national and international levels, by agencies such as the Met Office, by NGOs with vested interests because climate alarm is lucrative, and by others who see climate alarmism as a vehicle for their political and financial ambitions, GCMs have also been used to provide policy guidance at local levels. For example, in the UK's Climate Projections at local scales, in the UKCP09 system:

The Met Office Hadley Centre has designed a methodology to provide probabilistic projections for UKCP09 which reflect major known uncertainties in relevant climate system processes. The method uses large ensembles of climate model projections, which are processed using advanced statistical methods to generate thousands of plausible climate outcomes, which are then weighted using historical observations.

Source: http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/22631

More details of these projections can be found here: http://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/

It would be a worthwhile project for some courageous institution, careless of its prospects for future funding, to investigate just how good this guidance is turning our to be, or will have been found to be say by 2025. We have seen how wrong the Met Office can be with seasonal and longer-term forecasts from such as the hapless Vicky Pope. Estimates of the losses these may have brought about would be of interest at the level of local authorities. It would be prudent to download and fix as many sources of GCM inspired official guidance/projections as possible, since they may well be modified to look less silly if contrary weather trends continue in the years ahead. Evidence of local authorities actually taking the projections etc seriously, and where they are not merely anodyne spans of everything that might possible happen (that being advice which a nervous passenger on a Clapham omnibus could provide free of charge), would also be useful.

At present, non-GCM projections seem to be doing a lot better as sources of guidance for global mean temperatures. These mean temperatures being the big stick with which has been used to beat the gullible about the head with. Until they stopped rising that is. It would be interesting to assess the worth of projections by the usual suspects of the climate alarm establishment for other weather phenomena in which leaning on the favoured, and perhaps highly pampered, GCMs is part of the methodology.

Aug 27, 2014 at 3:20 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

The DECC website tells us it bases its policies on IPCC reports and advice from the expert CCC. (I kid you not.)

Going back to RB's comments which I would like someone to explain to me, if he is saying that GCMs are not good enough upon which to base policy, then I totally agree. If he is saying that policy making is not based on GCMs then I totally disagree.

Since the MO advises DECC and DECC is about as alarmist as you can imagine, what advice is DECC given?

Aug 27, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Do policy makers know?

Do policy makers know anything but the media headlines? I suspect most, if not all have not read the IPCC reports. I doubt they’ve even read the summary for policy makers. If their arguments and comments are to be judged then the closest they’ve got to climate science is Al Gore’s movie and few waffley lectures by one of the chief scientists or heads of the Royal Society. Those key people also seem to be remarkably deficient in climate science so I suspect that if they read the IPCC reports, they certainly don’t notice all the caveats and are never up to date on the inconvenient data creeping in.

I suspect if we put a list of suitable sections chosen from the IPCC reports and scientists comments to policy makers they’d mark them as sceptic drivel, simply because they don’t tell the same story as the catastrophic outpourings that are influencing them.

Aug 27, 2014 at 3:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

more co2 in the atmosphere may raise the temperature but by how much 1C 0.1C 0.001C ?
an even smaller amount

climate sensitivity is the change in temperature per doubling of co2 other things being equal
which makes it a fairly useless definition as other things (clouds, sun, cosmic rays) are not equal

co2 is essential for almost all life on earth, the part that depends on plants photosynthesising
the are studies which show world has become greener (ha) with increased co2

apparently if co2 levels fall below 160ppm then humans start hyperventilating

Aug 27, 2014 at 4:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Shiers

Dung:

"Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gases will, other things being equal, warm the planet"

Greenhouses have roofs.

The planet, doesn't.

Aug 27, 2014 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Richard Bett's comments are frightening, period.

A) Is Richard withdrawing from the reality, perhaps to protect a sensitive ID.
B) Could Richard be in denial as a retreat from responsibility?
C) Perhaps Richard is kept in solitary confinement when he arrives at work? But that does not explain his amnesia regarding Richard's own prior statements.

All of the above are frightening that a Lead Author, IPCC AR5 WG2 involved with IPCC dependent GCMs could profess such utter ignorance regarding GCM usage and abuse.

1) As demonstrated by 'Nic Lewis' above the IPCC Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity estimates are solidly and rather rigidly dependent on GCMs.
2) All of the so called IPCC 'confidence' statements regarding IPCC claims and their 'uncertainties' regarding their claims are absolutely bogus from a scientific standing. IPCC confidence statements are pure political hogwash and more resemble confidence scams that true statistic uncertainties.
3) Surely Richard knows full well that all of the supposed future predictions/catastrophes/alarms depend on GCM outputs as their inputs. Or does Richard expect us outsiders to believe that none of the GCM users ask Richard or his co-workers for assistance/advice regarding using their GCMs? Or that Richard is unaware of all the subsequent uses that GCMs are turned to?

Alpha) Why does any GCM developer need to apply GHG or aerosol programming into models only used to fine tune or assist short term weather models?
Beta) Considering Richards new GCM claims, will Richard then follow proper engineering or science protocol and submit all GCMs for independent testing and certification? A process that means every time a GCM is changed or modified that it gets re-submitted.
Gamma) What scientist readily accepts paleo reconstructions as gospel? Surely if Mikey says so, that should be warning enough!
Delta) If temperatures since the 1850's to the present indicate a very low Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity, why isn't that an absolute enough basis if they must use an ECS input?

The real question after reading Richard's current claims is, what will Richard tell us next month?

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Bish

If your question is more fundamental - do we need climate policy at all - then as far as I'm concerned the basic points are:

1. There is good evidence that Earth's climate has undergone very large changes in the past, for a variety of reasons including changes in greenhouse gas concentrations
2. We do not fully understand the reasons for all these changes
3. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas
4. We are putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
5. Hence we are pushing a system that is known to undergo large changes
6. The climate is showing signs of responding already
7. We don't the actual size of the changes that we will instigate in the long term, hence we need to take a risk assessment approach.
8. A responsible risk assessment usually involves some combination of minimising the risk and finding ways to live with the part of the risk that we can't (or choose not to) avoid
9. Hence we need to decide what we are going to do in terms of the appropriate balance of minimising the risk and living with it.

We get this far without needing models.

The next step - judging the tradeoff between minimising risk and living with it - is where climate models and details like ECS, SCC etc start to come in. But up to step 7, non-modelling evidence strongly suggests that complacency about human influence on climate would be unwise.

I guess my view is summed up by the classic quote:

"The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks."

Dr. Wallace Broecker

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Richard Betts and skeptics are in agreement:
Climate models are not good for policy making.
This needs to be brought to the attention of political types and media concerned with climate policy asap.
Betts further asserts that climate models were never intended to be used for cliamte policy and are unsuited for that purpose.
This too needs to be brought to the attention of political, academic and media types.
His claim that other sources are showing an imminent dangerous cliamte crisisis fscinating: a >17 year temperature pause, flat to down tropical cyclones, tornadoes, flood, drought, etc. SLR change rate flat, Arctic ice is now shown to be highly dynamic, Antarctic sea ice at record levels, no disruption in ocean currents; all with CO2 going up.
So now just where are we?

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

@ Richard Betts Aug 27, 2014 at 5:12 PM

"I guess my view is summed up by the classic quote:"The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks." Dr. Wallace Broecker"

The alternative view is "The climate system is self-correcting". No one knows for certain it isn't, so why should British energy users suffer increased costs and extra inconvenience?

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

If:-

<1. There is good evidence that Earth's climate has undergone very large changes in the past, for a variety of reasons including changes in greenhouse gas concentrations

but:-

<2. We do not fully understand the reasons for all these changes

How can you know:-

<"The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks."

A throw away "alarmist" comment straight out of the MSM alarmist headline playbook you are so vociferous about on this blog and other places. But never on the MO/Hadley media outlets!

Richard your contributions are truly appreciated, but please....

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:36 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

"...
6. The climate is showing signs of responding already..."

Is it? Or do you reference UHI which is proven and easily verified?

Or are you aware of specific physical sites that can identify specific temperature differences attributable to current local to the site CO2 measurement? The mass homogenized temperature charts certainly can not identify specific temperature changes to actual CO2 levels. Estimates based on questionable opinions are not proof.

"...7. We don't the actual size of the changes that we will instigate in the long term, hence we need to take a risk assessment approach.
8. A responsible risk assessment usually involves some combination of minimising the risk and finding ways to live with the part of the risk that we can't (or choose not to) avoid
9. Hence we need to decide what we are going to do in terms of the appropriate balance of minimising the risk and living with it..."

Ah yes, the classic pre-emptive precaution imperative. Opinion based precautionary measures because someone yelled 'wolf'.

"...

We get this far without needing models..."

Absolutely! On this we agree! Look outside and tell us the weather and climate are truly any different than already experienced weather and climate. Fractions of a fraction of a degree are not scary importunes for radically expensive changes to life styles or weather mitigation!

"...The next step - judging the tradeoff between minimising risk and living with it - is where climate models and details like ECS, SCC etc start to come in. But up to step 7, non-modelling evidence strongly suggests that complacency about human influence on climate would be unwise..."

Nowhere, without GCMs have any risks been indicated.
The Arctic ice has fluctuated before, within recorded historical time!
Weather extremes have been experienced before, within recorded historical time!
Earth apparently handles substantial changes in atmospheric GHG content quite well without mankind running around like chicken little, and has handled these changes recently in paleo time. Check any decent geology tome.
Sea level is historically at a very slow pace. That slow pace should be a serious concern itself as mankind does not want to see a sea level rise peak anytime soon.

"...I guess my view is summed up by the classic quote:


"The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks."

Dr. Wallace Broecker"


Aug 27, 2014 at 5:12 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts"

Such a scary quote, mash together two completely different things, one a concept and the other an easy mental image of a physical object.

A completely bogus emotional plea.

Man's changes to the biosphere are miniscule compared to the enormity to Earth's atmosphere and oceans. More like motes poking mote size objects at the largest thing we motes have ever directly experienced. Such godlike powers you ascribe to man...

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

Richard


A couple of points of detail. Do we know that ghgs have caused past climate changes or do we hypothesise this?

Point 6 seems wrong to me. If we cannot show that temp rise is statistically significant, then we cannot say that the climate is showing signs of responding.

The overall thrust needs further thought.

Aug 27, 2014 at 5:56 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

"6. The climate is showing signs of responding already" - Richard Betts at 5.12 pm

This is the one I have the problem with.

How do we know that it is not natural variability?
How do we know that any such changes may be due to something other than CO2/GHG emissions? (eg land use changes)
and so on and so forth........

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrumpy

1. There is good evidence that Earth's climate has undergone very large changes in the past, for a variety of reasons including changes in greenhouse gas concentrations

Yes, there is good evidence from the Vostok cores that the Earth's climate has undergone very large changes in the past.

But the ice core proxy data suggests there is always a negative feedback after the interglacial peaks, despite all the extra CO2 that must have out-gassed from the warmed up oceans. Yes CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and yes we have increased its atmospheric concentration, but even at 400ppm its contribution to the GH effect is a tiny fraction of what can be attributed to water vapour.

Richard, why do you and other MO/IPCC scientists ignore the very large and very obvious elephant in the room - i.e. that a 1 or 2% reduction in tropical and mid-latitude cloud cover (for what ever reason - it could just be natural variability) will lead to a significant increase in insolation and thereby surface temperatures? Do you dispute this?

As I and others have said on this blog many times, all we have seen in the last 150 odd years is a slow and gentle recovery from the Little Ice Age, albeit coincident with the development of the industrial age, increased population, urbanisation (and UHI). But as atmospheric CO2 levels have been fairly stable in the last 8000 years at least, and the climate was been much warmer for long periods of the Holocene, the logical conclusion is that CO2 has FECK ALL to do with it.

As for your last quotation about the climate system being an angry beast - the only thing we should fear is the inevitable return of the cold when this interglacial ends (and it is long overdue).

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:16 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Pooh sticks?

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

"7. We don't (know) the actual size of the changes that we will instigate in the long term, hence we need to take a risk assessment approach."

This is not news but what about the risks of taking action?
The billions we are already spending.
The effect of rising energy prices on poor people.
The effect on our economy of punishing carbon emitters when many their competitors are not treated similarly.

A risk assessment must assess both the risk of doing nothing and the risk of taking action.

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:29 PM | Registered CommenterDung

"The climate system is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks."

The fundamental premise underlying Met Office climate research.

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Richard, the planet produces 96% more Co2 than we do....one volcano with the Monday morning farts can produce more than the industrial revolution did in a week! ( the Volcano, that is.)

Without Co2, everything on Earth dies.

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

I was under the impression that understanding of the natural processes and quantities of CO2 release and sequestration were at best primitive,were almost certainly incomplete and that they dwarfed the man made contribution. That being so the effectiveness of any policy based on reducing man made CO2 cannot be isolated from the totality of CO2 in the atmosphere and is incapable of being tested. As such claims that reducing man made CO2 will materially affect the climate are not based on evidence but on unfounded hypotheses and assumptions reflected in models. Futhermore these discount other natural influences which common sense suggests are very significant, the sun for example.

As a basis for policy, the alarmism of the CAGW hypothesis is probably the most damaging ever inflicted on our civilisation. Unchecked it will certainly beggar the UK, and for no good purpose. It has got this far, thus far, with help of much smoke and many mirrors.

Aug 27, 2014 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

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