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Schwartz on climate sensitivity

Stephen Schwartz et al have published a paper in a journal called Earth's Future that reviews and considers the recent low estimates of climate sensitivity, wondering what the divergence of the different estimates might mean:

Earth's equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) and forcing of Earth's climate system over the industrial era have been re-examined in two new assessments: the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and a study by A. Otto and others (Nature Geosci., 2013). The ranges of these quantities given in these assessments and also in the Fourth (2007) IPCC Assessment are analyzed here within the framework of a planetary energy balance model, taking into account the observed increase in global mean surface temperature over the instrumental record together with best estimates of the rate of increase of planetary heat content. This analysis shows systematic differences among the several assessments and apparent inconsistencies within individual assessments. Importantly, the likely range of ECS to doubled CO2 given in AR5, 1.5 to 4.5 K/(3.7 W m-2) exceeds the range inferred from the assessed likely range of forcing, 1.2 to 2.9 K/(3.7 W m−2), where 3.7 W m−2 denotes the forcing for doubled CO2. Such differences underscore the need to identify their causes and reduce the underlying uncertainties. Explanations might involve underestimated negative aerosol forcing, overestimated total forcing, overestimated climate sensitivity, poorly constrained ocean heating, limitations of the energy balance model, or a combination of effects.

Summary: Recent assessments of Earth's climate sensitivity and forcings over the industrial period, taking into account the observed increase in global mean surface temperature and rate of increase of planetary heat content, exhibit differences and apparent inconsistencies.



A panel debate

I was in St Andrews yesterday, appearing at a discussion/debate for third year students in the Earth Sciences department. We were discussing the usefulness of climate models as policy tools (a subject I had suggested, as it involved the least work for me!) The event was hosted by Dr Tim Hill and putting a more mainstream view was Rob Wilson, although I think our views were probably too close to really create any fireworks. Rob's nuanced views on the climate debate also seemed to have rubbed off on his students, as although there was some close questioning at the end there was none of the outright hostility that one sometimes gets on these occasions.

Thanks to Rob and Tim for lunch and an interesting afternoon.


Tip drive November 2014

It's a long time since I've done a tip drive, so I think it's time to dust off the tip box again. It's over there in the right-hand column.

Help keep the BH show on the road!



Here's an interesting little detail from the National Grid report on capacity margins that I wrote about a few weeks back.

It seems we have windfarms with a nameplate capacity of 7.6GW. National Grid obviously then have to derate this capacity for planning purposes. As we all know, it's perfectly normal for the whole of the UK to simultaneously experience very low windspeeds (or no wind at all), and this has been known to happen even in the depths of winter, for example the very cold winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11. I had therefore assumed that the Grid would have to plan on the basis that they might get nothing from windfarms at all, but in fact they do nothing of the sort. According to Table 16, the grid assumes that they will get 23% of nameplate capacity, or some 1.7GW.

Click to read more ...


They all lived together in a little crooked house

Brandon Shollenberger's latest piece about the Skeptical Science crew is simply astonishing. If true, he has uncovered dishonesty on an industrial scale.

John Cook’s tendency to use made up quotes seems to have been a constant problem for Skeptical Science. At one point, people in their forum had to go through over a hundred web pages to check quotes he posted because so many of his “quotes” weren’t real.


Green disinformation: worse than we thought

The other day, I mentioned a report by a pair of NGOs on the subject of fossil fuel subsidies, noting that the usual suspects in the mainstream media had failed to mention that in the UK oil companies are subject to a supertax on top of the Corporation Tax to which all companies in the country are subject.

It now seems that the report was even more misleading than we thought.

The report by Oil Change International is a complete distortion of facts. The authors have described as “subsidies” normal deductions of expenses and capital costs from revenues for calculation of taxable income. These are procedures which are followed in all fiscal systems in all countries for all forms of business and investment endeavors. Under normal definitions of “subsidy” the United States has no subsidies for the oil and gas industry which is why Obama has taken no steps to reduce them.

I wonder if Roger Harrabin is going to investigate?


Why does Lord Deben misreport the science of extreme weather?

Updated on Nov 17, 2014 by Registered CommenterBishop Hill

The appointment of Lord Deben as the government's chief adviser on climate change matters was always something of a nonsense. As somebody who knows little or nothing of science, let alone climatology, his appointment was always more about sending out messages to target voters than the provision of meaningful or useful information. As if to underline the point, the noble lord has sent out a tweet today on the subject of extreme weather:

Pity it takes American to tell truth about Australia. Climate change makes extreme weather worse & is a cause.

Click to read more ...



GWPF have some pretty amazing news from Germany. It seems that the powers that be in Berlin have finally recognised that their energy policies are a busted flush. If the story in Der Spiegel is correct then the country is going to cancel its decarbonisation targets forthwith.


Climate change and the left

This comment on why the left has fallen head over heels in love with global warming ideology was left on the discussion board by Lord Donoughue. I thought it worth of promotion to a full post.

The issue of why the political left is overwhelmingly supportive of the climate change alarmist ideology/faith, and hence there are relatively few left wing sceptics, is quite complex and would take more space and time than I intend to impose on you here. But may I, as a lifelong Labour supporter, offer a couple of broad observations. They are by no means comprehensive and omit many nuances. But they are major general factors which I have observed in the party for 61 years, and in Parliament for almost 30 years.

Click to read more ...


Anonymity in the ivory tower

Times Higher Education has an interesting article that touches on several subjects much beloved of the BH community, including post-publication peer review and anonymous commenters.

Moriarty concedes that having to reveal their identities even to a moderator could put off vulnerable early career researchers, and he suspects that PubPeer’s popularity – in contrast to some previous experiments in post-publication review – is down to the possibility of anonymity. But he suggests that finding a way to make comments citeable – and, hence, count towards scientific prestige – might warm up some cold young feet.



Diary date, charade edition

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is going to take evidence on an inquiry into the cost of renewable energy next week. As usual the witnesses are largely going to be delivering the message that Parliamentarians want to hear, namely that everything is fine and dandy with renewables. This is, however, one of those racy occasions on which they allow someone who is a critic to show their face and so Gordon Hughes is to appear as well. As is normal on these occasions they make sure that the critic appears opposite plenty of people likely to take the opposite view, so on the same panel there is Richard Green, who wrote a rebuttal to Hughes' paper on the decline of wind turbine performance over time and the head of the Renewable Energy Association.


Tuesday 18 November, Committee Room 4A, Palace of Westminster

At 10.40am:

  • Dr Nina Skorupska, CEO, Renewable Energy Association;
  • Professor Richard Green, Professor of Sustainable Energy Business, Imperial College London; and
  • Professor Gordon Hughes, Professor of Economics, University of Edinburgh

At 11.40am:

  • Professor Jon Gibbins, Professor of Power Plant Engineering and Carbon Capture, University of Edinburgh;
  • Dr Keith MacLean, Honorary Fellow of Energy Policy, University of Exeter; and
  • Professor William Nuttall, Professor of Energy, Open University

More details here.


Diary dates, navel gazing edition

The Guardian has organised one of those Guardianesque events at which they get a lot of greens together to discuss how green things should be:

Are the media contributing to the problem of climate change through apocalyptic stories, or by giving equal airtime to sceptics despite the scientific consensus? Could better reporting help us feel less hopeless and helpless?

  • Anne Karpf is Reader at London Metropolitan University and a freelance journalist

  • John Vidal is environment editor of The Guardian

  • James Painter, of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford, is author of 'Climate Change and the Media'

  • Sally Weintrobe is a psychoanalyst and editor of 'Engaging with Climate Change'.

 It's on the 18th November in London. Details here.



The cost of greenery

In a footnote to the government's energy prices report the other day, was a link to something rather important: the fossil fuel price assumptions that the government uses. These were published back in September, but it's fair to say they are a long way out of date already.

  • The 2014 prices for oil were given as (low, medium, high) $: 90.0 105.0 120.0 while the current price for oil is actually $80 (Brent crude).
  • The 2014 prices for gas in pence per therm were: 47.5 55.8 64. Although not quite so bad as oil, these are not looking particularly clever against the current price of 51 pence per therm.

Click to read more ...


Quote of the day, rake's progress edition

Rumor has it that the Earl of Deben, the most notorious rake in London and in need of an heir, has set aside his penchant for married mistresses and turned his skilled hand to seducing innocents!

But if Lord Deben expects Henrietta Gibson to respond to the click of his fingers he can think again. For she knows perfectly well why she should avoid gentlemen of his bad repute:

1. One touch of his lips and he'll ruin her for every other man.

2. One glide of his skillful fingers to the neckline of her dress will leave her molten in his arms.

3. And if even one in a thousand rumors is true, it's enough for her to know she can never, ever trust a rake….

From the blurb to Never Trust a Rake, by Annie Burrows

Golly. He doesn't look the type to me.


A worrying tendency in Mark Lynas's work

Last week Mark Lynas accused Matt Ridley of climate denial. This appears to have been an allegation that popped unannounced into Lynas's head and found its way from there to his blog post without even a thought, let alone a cursory attempt at checking to see whether it was true or not. Shortly afterwards, Lynas was forced to retract the allegation and apologise.

And just in case anyone should think that this was just ignorance about the climate debate on Lynas's part, readers should be aware that he has known what a lukewarmer is for a long time.

Click to read more ...

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