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Discussion > Reacting to AR5

Having read the reports of the AR5 SPM and some of the reaction I've concluded that the IPCC has finally given those who want real debate and proper use of the science the best opportunity yet to make their arguments.
I started putting my views on how to do this on the Lindzen thread and a couple of comments elsewhere but apart from spreading the ideas a bit thinly if I do that there is a big danger of disrupting threads by dragging in one's hobby horses.
That is the reason I decided to start this discussion and hope that what I say will persuade a few of you either to come on board with me or suggest variations. Or, of course, to explain where I have finally gone completely off the rails.

Six years ago when AR4 was published, we were all of us a lot less clued-up than we are now. This was in pre-Climategate days and before the PR disaster of Copenhagen. The "pause" was at least still debatable and the IPCC were still able to convince the majority of the non-aware population — which is to say probably about 95% of them, or maybe even 97.1% — that, catastrophe aside, at least the 'Anthropogenic' bit of Global Warming could be sold to the public and the politicians.
We did hear rumours to the effect that the Summary for Policymakers was not quite the same thing as the scientific findings in AR4; we knew that the IPCC was not 100% true to its obligation to rely solely on peer-reviewed material; we were aware of some egregious errors (Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035) mainly from grey literature from the activist NGOs.
While instinctively I was sceptical about whether a trace gas (especially CO2) was capable of the havoc it was being called on to wreak I had no way of knowing which of the assorted scientists I was being asked to listen to (or told not to listen to) were the real experts.
Six years on, things are a lot clearer.
We now know what the SPM is about, as Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has kindly told us:

The policymakers ... go through it line by line, paragraph by paragraph and suggest changes which the scientists then respond to.
Or in plain English, the SPM says what the politicians want it to say.
And this time round, what Pointman calls "the Armageddon Report" has proved that to the hilt.
Thanks to the various leaks that we have had; thanks to the fact that the suspicions that we have had about just how objective and honest and open the IPCC process is have been confirmed; and thanks to the fact that the IPCC has now proved beyond a doubt that it is prepared to "finesse" (good word that!) the science and the conclusions we now have laid out in front of us the glaring discrepancies between what the IPCC knows and what it is prepared to include in its reports.
Which, in my opinion, provides anyone who wants to challenge the consensus with an open goal.
But I am arguing for cool heads, otherwise we fire off missiles in all directions, some aimed at the wrong targets, some not aimed at all.
I mentioned two examples:
I am very much in favour of Doug Keenan's letter to Slingo — but it has to come from someone like Doug who knows what he's talking about; there would be no point in my writing to her because she could very quickly tie me in knots on the details of anything meteorological.
I am not in favour of using 1998 as the start date for the current warming pause. It is the one year probably out of all possible years when the warmists can reply with ..... well, we know what they can reply with: El Nino, warmest year on record, etc.,etc. Good PR for them; bad PR for anyone trying to challenge them; job done for them; two steps backwards for the sceptics. Almost any other year would be better!
I've made various other suggestions as well, about trying to put on the spot those in positions of influence who simply trot out the "party line" without any of the content going through their brain. Sooner or later if enough qualified people ask them to justify why they say what they do and point out (politely) where they have it wrong either they will do their own research for their own peace of mind or they will make some unguarded comment that will lose them credibility. I'd rather the former but I'll settle for the latter.
That's enough from me. How does anyone else see the immediate future?

Sep 29, 2013 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Part of the problem with the SPM is that scientists have truly convinced certain policy makers and they have returned the favour by locking the scientists into crisis mode. Politicians know that lukewarm science isn't going to motivate the public so they add lots of spin and gloss over the emerging weaknesses. Even if the scientists made a U turn, the politiians wouldn't hear them. They'd probably convince themselves that the scientists had been nobbled by fossil fuel companies. CAGW appeals to politicians in the same way war does. It's an external problem that isn't the direct fault of the incumbent party and allows them to spend freely and be heroes at the same time. Of course they don't realise that it's the equivalent of the 100 Years War.

Sep 29, 2013 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Mike, AR5 was their last chance, and it was pathetic. Now it is our turn.

The pure absurdity of the models falsified by nature, the flawed physics and the relentless fiddling of the data will now come back to haunt them as the temperatures fall with the sunspots. They will not be forgiven when the poor starve to death.

All of the indications, supported by empirical data, show falling temperatures. And what are we doing - exactly the wrong things: increasing the price of energy and food. How could they get it so hopelessly wrong? - they listened to the IPCC, an institution created and maintained to bring power and riches to their sponsors. Follow the money, and freeze in hell.

Sep 29, 2013 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

I agree with you.
My problem is that I'm not sure whether to follow Napoleon's dictum never to interfere with an enemy while he is making a mistake or to try to take the initiative and risk being the one making the mistake.
It just seems to me that sceptics have been presented with an open goal if only we can control the ball and make sure our best strikers are the ones in possession.
We either put the activists (political, scientific and environmental) under pressure with a view to wrapping this up fairly soon or we sit back and wait for nature to do the job for us. Which she will but given the PR skills (not to mention the total lack of ethics) that the main climate establishment and its camp followers have at their command she may well need a helping hand along the way.

Sep 29, 2013 at 4:28 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Here’s something to do. Get the message out where it’s not normally heard. Some of us (Robin Guenier, Barry Woods, Jeremy Poynton, Richard Drake and others) have been doing this on and off at left wing sites like the New Statesman and New Left Project. I’ve been having an interesting though inconclusive conversation with Rob Painter at

You find a lot of activist blogs where nobody goes, or where warmists have never heard a counter-argument, for example the Campaign against Climate Change (prop. G. Monbiot)
On “unthreaded” here, Barry Woods pointed out the blog of Louise Gray, ex-environment correspondent at the Telegraph
She says

I watched my former colleagues in the background of the news reports from Stockholm... I knew how they felt... You want to run screaming from the room.
“Oh my God! A Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientists just told me if we keep burning fossil fuels at this rate then the world is heading for temperature rise above 2C within 30 years. Do you know what that means? Do you?”
The sentences are almost too extreme to believe... I remember filing stories about the end of the world from Copenhagen.. and thinking: why is no one listening?

No comments there yet. Why not pop over and cheer the girl up?

Sep 29, 2013 at 5:02 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


I am a mild mannered man, but now I am very, very angry! You say "...sceptics have been presented with an open goal if only we can control the ball...". I say, go for their balls! These people will cause untold human sufferering unless they are stopped now.

So now I am an alarmist - the diminishing sunspots will cause catastrophic global cooloing (CGC), leading to the deaths of millions of people as we have stupidly planned for CAGW. I have empirical data to support my theory (not a hypothesis like CAGW) and it is there for any idiot to see. (And I hope to God that I am wrong).

My job, pension, career and reputation are not at stake here, and I use my real name and can easily be found. It is time for true scientists to get off the fence and stop backing both sides (you know who I mean).

Sep 29, 2013 at 5:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Ok; that's an avenue and I know that you and Robin and others have been doing the sort of thing I was talking about, in your case hitting the left-wing sites where you are probably more at home than I would be.
Winding up Louise might be fun as well.
But I was also thinking in terms of pinning down the decision makers. If someone like (eg) Walport makes a claim in public then he should be challenged on it by someone who knows the science — where is your evidence for that statement? how does that square with these data? these observations? is it good science, even? A polite but persistent way of saying, is this you speaking after some due diligence or are you just spouting the received wisdom from a science community you can't bring yourself to criticise?

Sep 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"Events dear boy, events."

That's what will reverse the madness. Milliband Minor announces with a flourish that he will freeze electricity prices for 20 months, which given that he is personally responsible for a 10% increase in electricity prices and plans to increase them further set out in the CCA, is the equivalent of your goalkeeper going round the back of the goal to have a pee during an opposition attack. If the Conservatives pick up on that they can have a field day, but in order to have that field day they'll have to expose to the wider public that our governments have been deliberately putting up the price of energy. So they'll have to think of some way of rowing back on the CCA before they can put the ball in the net. We might have seen a start with Osborne's statement that we cannot "lead" the world to self-destruction. Once roused to what has been done to them the public will stop swallowing the line that we must set an example to China for her to reduce her CO2 emissions by introducing ruinous energy prices so renewables become viable, and bring the politicians back into line. As you so accurately quoted, once the public have the politician by the bollocks, their hearts and minds will soon follow.

Sep 29, 2013 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Winding up Louise might be fun if my comment hadn't been sitting in moderation all night and not there last time I looked.
If this is going to be just another group worship at the altar of Global Warming (heretics not allowed) then I see no reason to waste my time.

Sep 30, 2013 at 10:46 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson
I don’t think you can complain about a comment being in moderation overnight
on a Sunday. I’ve had better luck with Alice Bell at
I’m not into winding up in these efforts, since I want to create some kind of dialogue. And remember people read these threads. One of these days we’re going to be accused of organised astroturfing, which is silly, but one of their lines of defence to avoid dialogue.
Anyway, I think we’ll have to wait a week or two before we can start giving a considered answer to your question. The open goal will still be there.

Sep 30, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

I do think being the voice of reason is productive. There's no reward for getting cross and muttering that it's all a con. Those who have fallen for it hook line and sinker won't like to think that they've been fooled and stop listening when challenged. On the other hand if they see it as an emerging picture where alarm was justfied but now a more nuanced view is needed, they might just start to take an interest.

I'd love to see some of the waverers in the political parties have a friendly chat with little groups of sceptics. The mood is almost right.

Sep 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Thanks. My feelings exactly. Mind you, if Alice Bell’s reaction to me and Barry Woods is anything to go by, being nice and friendly is the surest way of winding some people up.

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Quite true, but it's not always the person you are exchanging messages with that you're communicating to, it's other people, often silent, whom I try to spur into thought. My experiences with Ms Bell are that she drops posts and sails on, not a good way to gather followers. Many warmists are the same, the feel that they make pronouncements and others ooh and ahh about how good it is. You only get that opportunity when you've amassed a lot of supporters and until then you have to do all the hard graft of posting, moderating and replying all by yourself. I know I haven't got that level of patience either, so I'm not pointing fingers. What they should do is band together so that there are enough enthusiasts available to manage day to day. NLP posters don't even have enough drive to monitor their own posts, let alone anyone else's. Possibly because unless they get a crowd of AGW sceptics, it's very quiet there.

Sep 30, 2013 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Further to my original post, our colleagues (including a few names I'm not familiar with) are ripping Richard Allan to shreds on the 'What should scientists tell the public' thread.
Some of them evidently know what they are talking about (!) and I'm barely keeping up with the maths.
But unless someone is prepared to put all the calculations on paper and send them to Allan explaining why he's spouting nonsense (if indeed he is) then we might as well just sit round in a circle and tell each other how clever we are — which is my argument.
Will someone take the ball and kick it or run with it and demand (politely, of course) that Allan and others like him justify what they are asking us to believe? I still reckon that AR5 and its SPM have provided us with a golden opportunity.

Sep 30, 2013 at 6:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson
It’s only a one minute talk to camera. I’m surprised people are making so much of it. His article in the Conversation, on the other hand, is a reasoned argument that needs combatting.


What they should do is band together so that there are enough enthusiasts available to manage day to day.
...which is exactly what Cook did at SkepticalScience, with great success. Look at the secret treehut files to see the enthusiasm of the volunteers.

I once started a thread suggesting that we do the same, and the majority feeling was strongly against. His Grace is without a doubt our unofficial spokesman, but he’s basically a loner, and our only organised representation is the GWPF, which consists of Benny Peiser’s excellent daily news roundups and the odd doc from David Whitehouse and Montford, with the presence of a few coronetted heads to give it parliamentary respectability. We’re still writing Magna Carta, when we should be holding the Putney debates, or even the Chartist marches. The time lapse in our political activity mirrors the lapse of several centuries between temperature rise and increased CO2 in the ice core records.

I’m hanging on a few weeks before giving a serious response to Mike’s excellent question. I think I’ll be resurrecting one or other of a couple of past threads I started - either the “We’ve Lost” one, or the one suggesting we man the barricades.As TinyCO2 says: events will tell.

Sep 30, 2013 at 9:01 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Mike Jackson

Climate scientists aren't asking you to "believe" anything - in AR5, as in previous IPCC reports, we are presenting our overall assessment of the evidence and understanding in the summary and then laying out the evidence and understanding in more detail chapter by chapter, including references to the literature upon which this is all based.

So, the summary statements are traceable down through the chapters and into the scientific literature.

You don't have to believe anything - you can check it all out for yourself!

Sep 30, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts


You say "Climate scientists aren't asking you to "believe" anything" but are they not asking us to believe that "it is extremely likely that more than half of the onserved increase in global average surface temperature was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations"? Where is the evidence to explain the increase in certainty with respect to AR4? I can see no empirical evidence and the models have been falsified by nature.

Sep 30, 2013 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Richard Betts, "So, the summary statements are traceable down through the chapters and into the scientific literature. You don't have to believe anything - you can check it all out for yourself!"

Whenever someone does go to the trouble of checking the source of the references or has the ability to find fault with the science, the concerns are dismissed. Peer review is an unacceptable form of vetting and I can't fathom why people would imagine it was.

Sep 30, 2013 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2


If the summary statements are traceable down through the chapters and into the scientific literature, what happened to the statement in the draft report that said the models were unable to reproduce the pause?

Oct 1, 2013 at 12:59 AM | Registered CommenterDung

In pragmatic terms, the average punter does not, and never will, care about the minutiae of a particular branch of science. You have to hit them in the bollocks-box to win, as Tony Abbot did in Australia. The carbon tax and rising power bills were hated across wide sections of the community, and he also linked them to a generally dysfunctional, corrupt and financially irresponsible government.

Of course it is important to fight the good fight on the scientific front. But the only way to effect change is to make the link between what is happening on the ground and political decisions, and keep repeating it. Delingpole does that well in the UK, as does Booker. More is needed, though. Until they feel the hot, angry breath of the electorate on the back of their necks, science, schmience.

Oct 1, 2013 at 10:20 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Firstly Rhoda:

My null hypothesis is that it's straight from the gelder's bin

Now johanna:

You have to hit them in the bollocks-box to win

I'm glad I'm in your team. Remind me to never play cricket against the ladeez.

Oct 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM | Registered CommenterHector Pascal

Heh, heh. I remind you that our Zoe Goss - captain of the women's team - dismissed Brian Lara (then the world's greatest batsman) for a duck. I actually saw it live on TV. It was sensational.

Oct 1, 2013 at 11:04 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Have you read Steve McIntyre's post this morning?
If not it's here. Go and read it and then come back and explain why the IPCC has chosen to obfuscate in this way.
After that you can go to the Telegraph here and try to convince us all that Anderson and Allen are not trying to make me "believe" something. You might also look at the diagram that Montford references on the 'hysteria' thread which shows one projection that is all downhill from here with the others showing an upside to warming up to ~2 degrees.
No mention in the SPM of the hiatus in warming; no explanation of why Trenberth's mysterious "missing heat" has mysteriously (and oh so conveniently) disappeared into the depths of the ocean. No mention of the fact that if that is so and it is actually down there it can never, according to what little I know of the laws of physics, emerge in any fashion that can have a catastrophic effect on the planet's weather.
The IPCC is misleading us — by omission if nothing else. It would hardly bother to do that unless there is something that it wants is to "believe" — and we all know what it is!

Oct 1, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


...CAGW appeals to politicians in the same way war does. It's an external problem that isn't the direct fault of the incumbent party and allows them to spend freely and be heroes at the same time. Of course they don't realise that it's the equivalent of the 100 Years War....

Being the equivalent of the 100 Year's War is REALLY REALLY GOOD for such a politician. It means that they get to be heroes and spend freely for a VERY LONG TIME....

I suspect that the main reason there is such a collective locking of ears and understanding amongst the 'warmists' is the old Mencken reason: that it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it.

Consider the track record of the intellectual protesters - there are no longer jobs in Communism or Nuclear Disarmament. Pesticide, Genetic Engineering, Abortion Rights, the Ozone Hole, Acid Rain - all these are no longer providing employment. What is needed is a good solid protest movement over a problem which isn't actually a problem, won't go away, but won't be solved. That way year-round conferences can be made to stretch into a vast job bonanza over the years, and your seat can be handed down to your grandchildren...

Oct 1, 2013 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Sep 30, 2013 at 3:26 PM | geoffchambers

I'm glad to see that you've been unmasked as a tewwible wacist - not to mention sexist as well!
I don't suppose you'd consider homophobia? Might as well go for a full house!

Oct 1, 2013 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier