Little report on: Climate change prediction:a robust or flawed process?

Still don’t have a full report on Climate change prediction:a robust or flawed process? but I do have a brief word of Lindzens tactics (being a skeptic he has “tactics”, of course, unlike the Good Guys who just tell it straight). Which were, apparently, to discuss abstruse points in great detail. The idea being to prevent any conclusion being visible to anyone without a great command of the science. So although Keith Shine was there to correct his radiative physics, the audience were just left listening to two people talking over their heads.

Or at least, thats the highly simplified summary of a part of the process. Mind you, L under questionning felt obliged to offer 0.5-2 oC for Clim Sens, which puts him (just about) within the IPCC range.

What Thorpe, Rapley or Corbyn may have said I don’t know. The entire thing was apparently not very satisfactory, presumably to no-ones great surprise.

[Update: Inel has a nice report; not too hopeful -W]

10 thoughts on “Little report on: Climate change prediction:a robust or flawed process?”

  1. Thanks, Will. I got a general update from three friends who went (all astronomers). One, who was already a sceptic, claims that after the talk she now believes even more that climate change isn’t man made. Two others, who knew little about CC, said it wasn’t very useful as most of the discussion went over their heads.


  2. Hmmm,

    I guess the next step in the “tactics” of septics will be the claim – ok, even if there is warming of 3C/cent – the plants and animals will just adapt. They did it in the past, they do it now.

    Off topic – response of Huang to my investigation of the “borehole mystery” –

    “As you could tell from the titles, the two papers you cited are based on two different databases. “Deriving century-long trends of surface temperature change from borehole temperatures” and “Late Quaternary temperature change seen in world-wide continental heat flow measurements”.

    These two databases cover different depth ranges with different depth intervals and noise levels, and therefore, allow climate reconstructions of different time scales.

    Our 500-year reconstructions are based on the global database of borehole temperatures. The amount of climate information one can retrieve from a borehole temperature profile is constrained by many factors including the depth of the borehole. Given the depth range and the noise level of this database, we focus our efforts on the past five centuries.

    Our 1997 GRL reconstruction is based on a heat flow versus depth profile assembled from over 6,000 world-wide continental measurements. This composite profile extends to a depth of 2000m, and allows us to derive a late Quaternary climate history. In This reconstruction from the global heat flow database is characterized by a long temporal coverage with a lower temporal resolution.” – so why IPCC don’t use the 1997 paper…?

    [Its not just IPCC – *no-one* uses the 1997 paper any more, including Huang. I don’t think the above answer really answers the question, or really says anything at all -W]


  3. I can tell you what Lindzen said about climate sensitivity, and also how Thorpe presented, and then how Meacher summed up. My initial response is long, so I have posted it here, but that’s just the beginning …!


  4. Please say more, Inel.
    Just to cheer me up as I go on vacation (sigh).

    It can’t be worse than this that I just stepped into by accident; the self-described left is getting scary, look at the ancient references on this one.
    …. //


  5. Hi Hank,

    Enjoy your vacation. Nil desperandum! (Don’t lose hope!)

    I am still working on getting verification of the climate sensitivity numbers from scientists who were at the IoP seminar, and will write in here as soon as I get anything worth reporting.

    Lindzen’s piece was set-up to establish his personal authority and many of his points were meant to go over people’s heads, because his goal could be achieved by generating some degree of confusion and uncertainty. Here’s how. (Details are in my longer post.)

    Members of the public (mops) are often swayed:

    not by specific numbers, but by comparisons that show infinite/infinitesimal alternatives (to justify number-ignorance);
    not by certainties, but by doubts that suit their preferences (to justify, in this case, the possibility for inaction);
    not by science, but by persuasive appeals for a sensible ‘scientific’ approach (to justify adoption of beliefs as ‘scientifically based’).

    Once accepted as a trustworthy source, propaganda masquerading as advice is easy to spoon-feed. An authority figure who offers to help the poor, muddled souls understand exactly what all the climate fuss is about may be welcomed by mops with open arms/minds.

    First, a specific complexity is illustrated in detail, to justify a respectable degree of intimate knowledge with the subject, and then similar complications are listed. The pattern of covering one aspect in detail and spreading that, by analogy, to more issues, is easy to repeat. So, a particular doubt is raised and developed well, triggering deep discomfort about one particular issue, then similar concerns are listed.

    A calm (though utterly deceptive) tone, pouring scorn on scientists and trashing science itself, does the job better than a rant. Basically, it appears that all these unsettling elements overwhelm mops’ reasoning skills on many fronts: they can only respond with emotional judgements, as they have lost the plot on the rational thread … even if the scientists are following it and groaning at the inaccuracies and out-of-date references!

    Although I freely admit I could not follow all the climate science, it was very clear to me how the persuasive argument was progressing and was intended to work. Lindzen played many of the tricks in the denialists’ gameplan, while cleverly dealing with scientists’ challenges during Q&A without losing the mops’ support he had, by that time, garnered.

    To my mind, Lindzen was completely inauthentic, as he did not present information the way a scientist or engineer does. His emotive language was appropriate for a technology sales/marketing man promoting vapourware (!), a non-committal politician or a supercilious lawyer.


  6. Inel, your longer post appears to be password protected. Any chance you can let us know what the password is?


  7. Surprise, surprise!
    World leaders need to remain alert to latest scientific thought on climate change
    This press release frames the glossy report to suit Lindzen’s supporters, and the release is neatly timed for today: the mid-point between UN HLE on climate change and Bush’s gathering of large emitters. In my humble opinion, this release functions as a good example of framing science 😉

    P.S. do you still want the password to my old post, guthrie? I am sorry I am not very good at getting back to comment threads to see what’s new. I can still give you access (though I will probably be embarrassed to see what I wrote back then, as I understand a little bit more now!)


  8. Brian,

    This is the official statement on climate sensitivity by and from Lindzen in the document released today:

    … Recently, a collaboration between Princeton University, NASA and the University of Seoul in Korea4 studied four models whose sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 ranged between about 1.5 and 3.5°C (figure 2). Despite the widely varying sensitivities in each of these models, the maximum warming occurred in the tropical upper troposphere (near the emission levels) where it was approximately 2.5 times the average warming of the surface. Surface-warming rates since 1979 are generally held to have been about 0.13°C per decade.
    Balloon data analysed by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the UK show that, since 1979, the warming rate in the tropical upper troposphere has not been 2.5 times as large as the surface warming but rather has only been about 0.1°C per decade.5 Thus, Prof. Lindzen suggested that only about 0.04°C per decade of the observed surface warming could be attributed to greenhouse warming. This implied a much smaller sensitivity than the models display – in the order of 0.4°C for a doubling of CO2 – rather than 1.5 to 4.5°C found in current models. The remaining warming at the surface could readily be caused by the natural internal variability of the climate system, where the ocean is never in equilibrium with the atmosphere, and where ocean variations happening on timescales from years to millennia serve as sinks and sources of heat for the atmosphere.
    Prof. Lindzen noted that, according to the latest IPCC Summary for Policymakers of the Scientific Assessment, we are already 86% of the way to the radiative greenhouse forcing associated with the doubling of CO2, and we have seen a change only of between 0.6 and 0.8°C in the past 100 years, which would be too small even if all of it were due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases – an unlikely possibility in light of the previous argument. The easiest cause of this low response, he noted, would be that the models have been exaggerating climate sensitivity, though the modelling community maintains instead that aerosols (the properties of which, the IPCC acknowledges, are poorly known) have cancelled much of the greenhouse warming. Prof. Lindzen also noted that some of the warming is delayed in current models by the thermal inertia of the oceans, though there are substantial reasons to suppose that the delay has been exaggerated in current models as well.
    He believes that current climate models exaggerate the impact of CO2 on temperature because of a poor understanding and representation of the feedback effects due to clouds and water vapour. These effects, he suggested, are likely to depend on variations in the areal coverage of cloudy and moist air rather than on the average values of each. Finally, Prof. Lindzen speculated on the surge of activity on behalf of controlling greenhouse emissions that has characterized the past two years. One factor, he suggested, might be that the records of the Hadley Centre, for example, show that there has been no warming trend in global average temperature for the past 10 years.6 The issue of global warming has been actively promoted for more than 20 years, during which time numerous groups have developed strategies for exploiting the issue. It is possible that if these strategies are not implemented soon they may never be.
    Describing the comments of some scientists, Prof. Lindzen noted: “Attributing global warming to the rise in greenhouse gases has been reduced to an issue of religious faith modulated by policy relevance.” Pointing out that policy relevance was largely a political matter, he added: “Unfortunately, in my experience when politics enters the picture, science takes a back seat – even among scientists.”


  9. Having just read a post confusing “logarithmic” with “exponential”, I was reminded of the story of Noah welcoming species to his Arc, two-by-two, when an adder slithered aboard. Noah said “both sexes were required”. The adder said it would be O.K., “Just put me on a wood table, because everyone knows that adders can multiply with log tables”.


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