Monthly Archives: January 2014

Review Editor Reports

The IPCC has now published all of the reviewer comments and author responses, together with a file containing the Review Editor Reports. This post is on the Review Editor Reports – we’ll come to the comments and responses later.

There are three or four Review Editors for each chapter. The list of names is here.
The role of the Review Editors is to provide an overview of the comment and response process, ensuring that all comments have been adequately considered.

For AR4, there was some criticism of the Review Editor process. In most cases it appeared to be a rubber-stamping exercise, with most of the Review Editor comments being just a standard form letter.

This complaint cannot be levelled against the AR5 Review Editor comments, which appear to be quite substantial and in places quite critical.

Please put any points of note from the Review Editor Reports in the comments section below.

Related posts elsewhere:

Bishop Hill

Marcel Crok

Final report, drafts and review comments

The IPCC media page has a link to a document announcing that the final complete version of the AR5 WG1 report will be published online tomorrow, Jan 30th. This version will incorporate minor corrections and adjustments to make the main report fully consistent with the agreed Summary for Policymakers.

At the same time the IPCC will also be releasing the first and second order drafts (that have already been extensively leaked), along with all the review comments and the WG1 author responses to the review comments.

For AR4, review comments and responses can be found here, but they are not in a very friendly format. Let’s hope that the AR5 version is better.

There will also be a press conference, at 1.30 UK time.

Oral evidence session for HoC IPCC Review

Following the submission of written evidence, the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee inquiry into IPCC AR5 is having its first session of oral evidence today. Here’s the schedule:

Panel 1 at 9.30am:

  • Prof. Sir Brian Hoskins, Grantham Institute, Imperial College London
  • Prof. Myles Allen, Oxford University
  • Dr. Peter Stott, Met. Office

Panel 2 at 10.30am:

  • Donna Laframboise, author
  • Nicholas Lewis, climate researcher
  • Prof. Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

It’s worth pausing to reflect on what’s happened in the last few years. Who would have thought, at the time of the last IPCC Report in 2007, at the height of the hype following An Inconvenient Truth, that the UK Parliament would be holding an inquiry into the IPCC, and would have an evidence session in which time is equally divided between mainstream climate scientists and sceptics?

Climate activist Bob Ward is furious. He allows his own obsession with politics to come through, claiming without any justification that the debate in the UK is becoming as politically polarised as in the US. He neglects to mention that leading parliamentary sceptic Graham Stringer is a Labour MP. His rant descends to irrelevant fumings about the Tea Party, Senator Inhofe and the Heartland Institute. His article is a fine example of what he calls “the disreputable campaigns of misinformation by lobby groups and their cheerleaders in the media”.

Judith Curry also discusses the hearing in a recent post on expertise. She notes the broadening concept of ‘expertise’, extending beyond the traditional ivory towers of academia towards blogs and independents, and welcomes this, saying that it enriches the debate.

The session will be broadcast live and at some later stage transcripts of the discussion will be posted. This is probably the first of several such sessions. For the previous inquiry into public understanding of climate science, there were seven sessions. In that case it was a rather different story – only one sceptic (Andrew Montford) was invited to give evidence, out of a total of 30 witnesses.

9.30 Session

First impressions are that the MPs have done their homework and are asking tough questions. John Robertson MP asked why the range of climate sensitivity values was so high. Myles Allen replied that climate sensitivity was not so important – rather like Katie Price, it wasn’t clear why people were talking about it so much. The climate scientists seem to be saying that “transient climate response” is more important.

Peter Lilley raised the Swanson et al paper, suggesting that while models are converging with each other, they are diverging from reality. Peter Stott and Myles Allen insisted that models are doing a good job of representing reality. Lilley also raised questions about poorly understood aerosols.

Lib Dem MP Robert Smith asked about uncertainty and the IAC review. He also asked a good question about what has got more/less certain since AR4. Stott quoted the 95% claim, Allen acknowledged the less certain CS. Smith pushed the question of how confidence has increased.

Allen said that there was increased confidence that the cooling effect of aerosols was less than previously thought meant that the man-made warming effect had to be stronger. Peter Lilley was shaking his head and Robert Smith didn’t seem impressed either.

Following a question about IPCC processes and the IAC review, Myles Allen said it was unfortunate that the focus on the IPCC actually distracted attention from the key scientific evidence, and said he hoped it would be streamlined in future.

Graham Stringer asked about the Himalaya glaciers error etc – Hoskins pointed out that this was one small error, and in WG2, whereas the hearing is about WG1. Stringer also mentioned Monckton’s submission and the claim that the IPCC report is political. He also asked about the accusation that some involved in the IPCC are activists (eg Greenpeace). Stringer again raised the question of increased confidence, alongside the hiatus in warming.  Hoskins acknowledged that models probably don’t have enough variability (which he’d mentioned earlier as well).

Overall, I was impressed with the MPs who seemed well informed and asked tough questions.  Hoskins and Allen came across quite well, though Stott seemed to be promoting a party line.

Second session (start about 11.08)

First question: what aspect of AR5 do you have most concern with? Lindzen said it’s a translation problem, and there’s nothing to worry about. Nic Lewis said there was a concern over model/observation divergence.

Donna Laframboise said that human judgement is used in going from scientific papers, to the  main report, and then to the SPM.  She asked why the meeting at which the SPM is agreed is behind closed doors.  ‘There is a potential for political interference’.

Tim Yeo asked if there were scientists who were complaining that their views had not been properly represented.

Responding to a question about whether we should take action, Lindzen said any UK action will have no impact on climate but will damage economy.

Nic Lewis tried to explain objective Bayesian priors.

Robertson asked if the IPCC’s assessment of natural variability was adequate.

Do you think the models are reliable? Lindzen: “Of course not!”

Nic Lewis said that if natural variation is playing a role in the current ‘hiatus’ then it probably also played a role in previous warming.  Lilley picked up on this later.

Tim Yeo asked if they were saying that CO2 had no influence on the climate. That misrepresentation rather flummoxed Nic Lewis. Lindzen made it clear that wasn’t what they were saying.

He then followed this with another misrepresentation about global warming having stopped. At least this had the effect of getting Lindzen to raise his voice a bit.

Stringer: Is there no way to distinguish natural from man-made warming? Lindzen: there’s no good way to do this.

Stringer asked Donna L why she thought the IPCC should be disbanded. She talked about the IAC review, saying that they said the review process is not independent. She said there should be a “team B” putting the alternative view.

Lindzen seemed to suggest that people in climate science were not as smart as those in other fields! That will go down well with his climate science colleagues.

The review process was discussed, with Donna saying that criticisms were ignored.

There was some discussion of the role of activist groups in the IPCC process. MP Albert Owen didn’t seem to be worried by this. It was noted that these concerns related to WG2, not WG1.

Ended at 12.36

There’s another report on the proceedings at RTCC


Judith Curry has a very detailed report.

The whole thing is now on available on youtube.

James Delingpole gives his view, picking up on the Lindzen comment that climate scientists are second-raters.

Simon Carr at Guido Fawkes says “The Chairman asked a number of leading. loaded or frankly loopy questions.”

Andrew Orlowski at The Register : “Tell us we’re all doomed, MPs beg climate scientists”.

The transcript of the session is now available (published Feb 4th).

A new climate website that everyone can trust?

I’ve just come across a new climate website, the “Climate Change National Forum“.

The idea is introduced here by John Nielsen-Gammon, who previously I had regarded as one of the more sensible climate scientists.

Apparently this is a new idea, to ‘develop a home’ for expert discussions to ‘educate the American public about climate change’, and he is not aware of any existing sites ‘that fit that bill’.  How he thinks his site is going to be any different from all the others is a mystery. He claims he’s trying to create a site that both ends of the spectrum can trust. But in the comments section below, he write“Real Climate is the best, and closest to what we’re doing,” (I’m not making this up, he really does say this!) though he does acknowledge that Realclimate has a ‘tainted reputation’.  He even claims that “Skeptical Science’s science is very high quality”.  It looks like it’s going to be just another of those sites churning out global warming propaganda while pretending to be balanced. 

Looking at the website of the new forum the first thing you notice is the pictures at the top. These include a graphic of the bogus 97% claim by the notorious John Cook, and an article from the only marginally more reliable activist scientist  Katharine Hayhoe, hiding the decline in warming by saying that the 2000s were warmer than the 1990s. There’s also a couple of silly comments from  a Fox News reporter.  A piece by Bart Verheggen describes Gavin Schmidt’s AGU talk as “fantastic” while Judith Curry’s was apparently “off-base”.   Now, JNG himself has written another article criticising Curry, just to show how balanced the site is. This is similar to what Roger Pielke calls “Stealth advocacy” – claiming to provide a balanced assessment of the facts while in fact promoting one particular viewpoint.

Why start off with Cook’s 97% and Fox News? It’s almost as if they are determined to alienate everybody.

Who do they think they are kidding?


Trend of meaningless year-rankings continues

Both  NOAA and NASA have released their temperature data for the year 2013.

NOAA continue the trend of publishing a meaningless table with a ranking of warmest years:

Amazingly, there is no mention of the uncertainty or error associated with these numbers. The words ‘error’ or ‘uncertainty’ do not appear anywhere in the 10-page report. In one of the tables below, there are some numbers that suggest that the uncertainty is of the order of ±0.1C. This is consistent with the error bars given in the HADCRUT4 table here. The difference between the “warmest” and “coolest” year in the NOAA table is only 0.09C, less than the uncertainty, so the entire ranking of years is nonsense.

The NASA article has the vacuous headline “NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend” – obviously, one year of data is not going to change the long-term trend. The claim in their report (that 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006) is not consistent with the numbers on their website, that show 2013 tying with 2003. The article has more daft or false comments such as “Earth continues to experience temperatures warmer than those measured several decades ago” and “2013 adds to the evidence for ongoing climate change”.

A more honest way to report the results would have been to say that the levelling off of warming over the last decade or so is continuing.

See this post from David Whitehouse making much the same point.

Update 24 Jan:

The HADCRUT4 number for 2013 has now been published. I am of course not going to quote the number, which is given to 3 figures (though their data file does include confidence intervals), or say where it come in the rankings, but here is a graph of GISS and HADCRUT4  since 1980:

The difference between the two is just because they use a different baseline. It will be interesting to see if the Met Office produce a press release with a list of ranked years!

How not to design a poll on global warming

Every month or so there is a new opinion poll saying that more people are getting more sceptical about global warming.

The latest survey from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication continues the trend, the headline being that “Number of Americans who don’t believe in climate change rises“.  The survey report itself says “the proportion who do not believe global warming is happening has increased 7 percentage points since Spring 2013”.  This is an increase from 16% to 23%.  If we wanted to cherry-pick our start dates, we could say that the proportion has virtually doubled (from 12% to 23%) since September 2012 (see graph on page 8, shown below). There has been a corresponding decrease in the number of ‘don’t knows’,  and people seem to be more sure of their opinions, suggesting that the issue is becoming increasingly polarised.


But what exactly does “believe global warming is happening” mean? Here is the actual question asked, see page 33 of the report:

Recently, you may have noticed that global warming has been getting some attention in the news. Global warming refers to the idea that the world’s average temperature has been increasing over the past 150 years, may be increasing more in the future, and that the world’s climate may change as a result.

What do you think: Do you think that global warming is happening?

The poor survey participant is faced with three very different statements, and is asked to respond to all three of them with a single answer, ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘don’t know’.  I have no idea how to answer this question. I’d like to answer ‘yes’ to the first, and ‘probably not much’ to the second and third.

The press release, here at WUWT, shows that the Yale researchers are not exactly approaching the work with objectivity:  “Our findings show that the public’s understanding of global warming’s reality, causes, and risks has not improved and has, in at least one important respect, gone in the wrong direction over the past year,” said researcher Ed Maibach. On his university web page he says “His research currently focuses exclusively on how to mobilize populations to adopt behaviors and support public policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change.”  Perhaps most remarkable is Maibach’s belief (see press release) that it’s all just a communication problem. “Better public communication about global warming is needed now more than ever.”  Will they never learn? Clearly, Maibach and his colleagues at Yale and all the other organisations devoted to promoting climate activism to the public have just been doing something slightly wrong, and if they just increase their efforts and change their message slightly, all will be well and public opinion will start to move in the ‘right’ direction.

Maibach’s colleague Anthony Leiserowitz seems to be equally at sea. He thinks the problem is media coverage: when the media trumpeted the IPCC’s groundless claim of 95% certainty, some of them might have also mentioned the pause in warming, and this might have caused people to become more sceptical. The reality of course is that if communication is the key issue, and if people believe what they are told by the media, then the IPCC propaganda blitz since September should have decreased public scepticism about climate change.

Review of submissions to IPCC Inquiry

This post takes a look at the written submissions to the Energy and Climate Change Committee‘s  IPCC 5th Assessment Review.  A few of these were mentioned in the previous post.  See also blog posts on the submissions at Bishop Hill and Climate Etc.

Support or criticism?

There are 44 submissions – really 43 since one is an a supplement. Of these, roughly 13 are supportive of the IPCC, 26 are critical and 4 are neutral.

Most of the supportive ones come from organisations, including the Met Office, DECC, Roy Met Soc, Grantham Institute (Both LSE and Imperial branches), the Royal Society, Reading,  NERC and  EDF.   The critical submissions are mainly from individuals, although there are two from organisations, the Friends of Science Society and the NIPCC.  Notably absent is the GWPF, allegedly so influential in the UK climate debate. The GWPF also did not submit anything to the recent inquiry on public understanding of climate (presumably this is because the GWPF has a direct but untraceable hotline to the heart of government, unlike all other organisations, so has no need to take part in these inquiries).

The four that I have categorised as neutral are: two submissions from social scientists, Brigitte Nerlich on media reporting and language used, and James Painter on the communication of uncertainty and risk; one from meteorologist Ian Strangeways, which is cautious   (“Models are still in the developmental, academic stage and are not proven tools”,  “The cause of the ‘pause’ in rising temperatures over the last 15 years is not known”) and raises the interesting suggestion that “It is also possible that some (many) scientists may not wish to voice any concerns or doubts of any kind for fear of being labelled ‘sceptical’”; and one from atmospheric scientists Alan Gadian, which although broadly supportive, expresses doubts over the lack of understanding of clouds and the emphasis on CO2 over methane and water vapour.

It’s robust

The favourite word of the IPCC supporters seems to be “robust” (to be fair, this does appear once in the list of questions posed by the committee).  DECC uses “robust” 7 times, e.g. “one of the most robust reports ever written”, and the University of Reading uses it 8 times.  But first prize goes to the Met Office who use “robust” 13 times in their submission. Someone buy them a thesaurus.

There is little of interest in the supportive submissions. They re-iterate the party line, regurgitate quotes from the report itself or its authors, and give the obvious answers (for example   “Does the AR5 address the reliability of climate models?” ,  “Yes, in Chapter 9”).

Many of them claim that AR5 has stronger conclusions than AR4 (for example NERC, Grantham Institute, Royal Met Soc and the Met Office). This claim is false, as noted in my own submission and in Judith Curry’s recent post, so it is not surprising that those who make this claim do not attempt to justify it.

Critical submissions

There are some familiar names but also some new ones in the critical submissions to the inquiry. There are too many to mention all of them individually.

Richard Lindzen comments on the fudging of high climate sensitivity models plus unknown aerosol cooling to fit observed warming, and attaches a paper discussing climate models and low sensitivity.

Roger Pielke senior supplies a list of his papers under his usual theme, that the IPCC focuses too narrowly on greenhouse gases and does not pay enough attention to other man-made and natural factors. He also says the IPCC failed to discuss adequately the inability  of models to match observations.

Michael Kelly’s comments focus on economic and practical factors, that may catch the eye of the politicians reading it. He draws attention to previous scares, points out the impracticality of renewable energy schemes, criticises the ‘truculent’ way in which the IPCC mentioned the warming pause, and ends with “who takes legal responsibility if it proves that the expenditure in pursuit of the Climate Change Act is shown to be ineffective, unnecessary or counterproductive?” (Robin will like that).

Nic Lewis’s submission, described by Judith Curry as a “tour de force”, concentrates on the exaggerated climate sensitivity values used by the IPCC and the associated poor statistical methods that use a subjective prior distribution. He suggests the IPCC estimates of future warming should be roughly halved.

Philip Richens says that the IPCC has not adequately discussed (a) the literature on natural variability, (b) the comparison of models with observations, and (c) the recent pause in warming.

Ruth Dixon talks in detail about the review process for the IPCC – how this differs from standard scientific peer review – and the IAC Review of IPCC processes. She calls for the introduction of a “red team” of scientists from other fields to scrutinise the IPCC reports.

Robin Guenier criticises claims of consensus and concludes that it is not really possible to answer the committee’s question about whether a full range of views has been considered.

Donna Laframboise, not one to mince words, titles her contribution “The Lipstick on the Pig” and criticises the politicisation and bias of the IPCC.

Pierre Darriulat is a new name to me. He is a physicist and former Research Director at CERN. He wrote a post at Climate Etc in October. His comments are very critical of the IPCC and have  been discussed at Donna’s blog. This comment echoes my own view:  “What we are witnessing are successive distortions of the scientific message of the AR5 report on the Physical Science Basis: first from the report to the SPM by those who wrote and/or amended the SPM, then from the SPM to the press by those who speak in the name of the IPCC (including the IPCC chairman) then from the press to the general public by green activists who too often behave irresponsibly in misrepresenting the findings of the work.” I would add that there is a previous level of distortion from the scientific literature to the main body of the report.

Update January 9: 

Five more submissions have just been published.

Alex Henney (who already made two submissions!) attempts to summarise and categorise the submissions as I have done here. His categories are “The British warmist establishment”, “Sceptic scientists” and “Public policy critics”.  He ends with a summary of the main criticisms.

Judith Curry raises concerns about uncertainty, reliability of models  and the bias of the IPCC’s consensus-seeking approach.

John Christy draws attention to the lack of trend in extreme events, with several examples, and the evidence showing that models exaggerate warming. He says he is baffled by the IPCC’s ‘extremely likely’ attribution statement.

Clive Best says that AR5 is good news, with indications of lower climate sensitivity and lower risk of extreme events.

The WWF describes AR5 WG1 as exhaustive, authoritative, compelling… and calls for ‘immediate action’.

Updating the numbers, I make it 47 submissions (not counting Henney’s summary), 14 supportive, 5 neutral (including Clive Best) and 28 critical.