Monthly Archives: May 2014

US Sci Tech Committee hearing on IPCC

The US Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a 2-hour hearing Examining the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Process today.

The aim was to evaluate the processes behind IPCC AR5.

The witnesses were Richard Tol, Michael Oppenheimer, Daniel Botkin, Roger Pielke Sr. The link above includes the opening statements of the witnesses.

Donna Laframboise has a blog post where she says “Experts condemn the IPCC”.

The views of Tol and Pielke are probably fairly familiar to most. Botkin’s comments were particularly interesting. He said that species are resilient and adaptable and that scares of extinctions have been greatly exaggerated. He also said that focus on global warming had distracted attention from other more serious environmental problems. It was left to Oppenheimer to defend the IPCC orthodoxy.

There was a live feed of the session, but it was rather patchy. There are some videos:

Video 1 where the (Republican) chairman Lamar Smith gives his introduction, criticising alarmism and Obama.

Video 2 which features the witnesses reading their statements, and includes several follow-up questions.

Supporters of the IPCC won’t like it.

Update May 30:

The videos that were linked above no longer work. There is now a video file linked from the hearing main page but it doesn’t work on my computer.

Judith Curry’s post on the hearing.

Washington Examiner: House panel takes hard look at UN climate change process

Washington Times: Experts tell House panel climate change science isn’t settled

Committee press release- Witnesses All Agree: Climate Science “Not Settled”

The Democrats have put up some youtube videos of their representatives questioning the witnesses:

Eric Swalwell asks Tol an odd series of questions.

Ami Bera gives a lecture on his own opinion, then asks Oppenheimer something – I’m not sure what.

Marc Veasey suggests that Christy’s model/observation comparisons are unreliable; Pielke disagrees.

Bonamici asks softball questions to Oppenheimer and refuses to allow Botkin to comment.

Johnson asks about the inclusiveness and the IPCC review process, and criticises Tol and Botkin. Again, ironically, only Oppenheimer is allowed to answer the question.

Joe Kennedy encourages speculation about 3 degrees of warming. He then asks aggressive questions to Botkin about whether he wears a seatbelt and what steps should be taken to mitigate warming. Botkin says there are 9 environmental issues more serious than climate change.

The hypocrisy of Thomas Stocker

IPCC WG1 co-chair Thomas Stocker has written an attack on “global warming deniers”. He proposes the conspiracy theory that there is a “concerted campaign to isolate individual scientists and destroy them”. (Is he perhaps referring to the vilification of Bengtsson?)

Speaking of the 15-year pause in warming, Stocker says

“It is perfectly legitimate to ask such questions. Normally, you would expect a debate in which arguments would be considered and then we’d come to a conclusion. But unfortunately, sceptics have not followed that scientific approach.”

This is a staggering hypocritical remark in view of the way in which Stocker himself presented the temperature data at the launch of AR5 WG1. Instead of asking questions and having a debate, it was Stocker himself who did not follow that scientific approach. He truncated Fig SPM1a, showing only the lower half of the figure with decadal averages, hiding the decline in warming from his audience.


The Lennart Bengtsson story

This post is an attempt to assemble the pieces of the recent stories about Lennart Bengtsson that have made front page news, starting with a bit of background. If there are more important links and points I have missed, please put them in the comments and I will add them in. I will also add stuff if/when more things happen. So this page will change and changes won’t be flagged.

Bengtsson’s scientific background

Bengtsson is a Swedish scientist currently affiliated to the University of Reading. He has an impressive publication record in meteorology and climate science, going back to 1963. According to Google Scholar, many of his papers have been cited over 200 times, one 600 times. He has a web page at Bern, which is interesting because it contains many of his talks. I particularly liked What is the climate system able to do “on its own”? which emphasises that climate is a complicated chaotic system that “can  do a lot of mischief on its own” without any change in the external forcing.  There is a wikipedia page about him, which of course needs to be read with caution.

In March 2013 Bengtsson wrote a substantial article at Kimazwiebel, on climate change and energy policy. Apparently it was this that started contact between him and GWPF (HT Marcel Crok).

2014 timeline

March: A paper by Bengtsson and four co-authors on consistency between different estimates of climate sensitivity is rejected by Environmental Research Letters, according to a later article in the Guardian.

April 14: B “speaks out” to a Swiss newspaper, saying that it’s wrong to say the science is settled.

April 30: B joins the Advisory Council of the GWPF, which includes many other scientists and economists (Lindzen, Reiter, Tol, McKitrick) who have to some extent questioned the IPCC position.

May 1: Interview with Marcel Crok “The whole concept behind IPCC is basically wrong”.

May 3: Interview with Hans von Storch. “I have increasingly been disturbed by the strong tendencies to politization that has taken place in climate research in recent years.” In the comments, climate scientist Georg Hoffmann makes an analogy with the KKK.

May 3: Judith Curry comments on her blog about B joining GWPF and the two interviews above.

May 5: Spiegel magazine runs an interview with B. Translation here.  “Consensus is senseless”. Need to “open the debate”.  This seems to be the first article in the mainstream media.

May 13: Marcel Crok publishes a translation of an interview B gave in 1990. This is relevant because it shows that B’s views have not changed greatly since then; he has not recently undergone a conversion to scepticism as claimed by some. In the 1990 interview he spoke of exaggeration, politicisation and the “greenhouse mafia” (apparently this phrase was not his, but suggested by a journalist, HT Jos de Laat).

May 14: B announces that he is stepping down from the GWPF board, saying that he has been put under enormous pressure that has become virtually unbearable, that he may fear for his health and safety, and mentioning McCarthyism. Reported at Klimawiebel, Bishop Hill, Climate Audit, WUWT.

May 15: B’s resignation from GWPF appears in the mainstream media. Ben Webster in The Times says “Witch hunt forces out climate scientist” (More of the article visible here). The Mail publishes an article talking of a McCarthy style witch hunt , saying that some colleagues were refusing to continue working with him due to his association with GWPF. Discussed at BH, with more links.

May 16: The Times reports Scientists in cover-up of ‘damaging’ climate view on its front page. The article by Ben Webster says that an article doubting the extent of future warming was rejected by a journal because it was harmful to the climate cause (more of the Times article visible here).
Global warming research suppressed due to intolerance of scepticism, claims scientist says The Telegraph, and this is followed by another article saying climate science is blind to its green bias.
There are two articles on this in The Mail.

May 16: The publisher, IOP, of the journal concerned, Environmental Research Letters, issues a statement in response, publishing in full the reviewer’s comments that were selectively quoted by The Times. The Editorial Director says that the rejected paper “contains errors”, a point picked up by The Guardian, but neither her statement nor the review report justifies this claim. Steve McIntyre highlights this inconsistency, while Jeff Id ridicules the reviewer’s suggestion that climate models should not be expected to match observations.
The paper itself is not available, so it is difficult to determine whether it contains errors and/or whether rejection was justified.

The Science Media Centre gives the reaction of a number of experts and Bob Ward. Bengtsson himself says he does not think there is a systematic cover-up. Mike Hulme talks of the politicisation of climate science and blindness to bias. Joanna Haigh regrets the politicisation.

Judith Curry writes her Reflections on Bengtsson and the GWPF, with more links and discussion of McCarthyism and advocacy.

May 17: Axel Bojanski writes another thoughtful and balanced article in Spiegel, raising questions and quoting both sides of the debate (partially translated by Pierre Gosselin).

May 19: A letter from Julia Slingo deploring personal attacks is published in the Times (Also posted at the Met Office). The Times also publishes a commentary article by Ben Webster, ending with the sentence “A paper he cowrote that raised concerns about inconsistencies in IPCC forecasts of future warming was rejected by Environmental Research Letters, a leading scientific journal, after an unnamed reviewer said that it could be used by climate sceptics.”

IOP publishes the second review of Bengtsson et al’s paper. The reviewer says that using TCS is “wrong” and ECS would be “right”, which is odd since many climate scientists (eg Myles Allen) are now saying TCS is what matters. There is also a claim that log-log plots should be non-dimensional, which is not true.

The Spectator posts a short article by Andrew Montford, pointing out that similar issues arose from Climategate.

May 21: The Times publishes a letter from Cameron Rose, responding to that of Julia Slingo, suggesting that peer review has been used to suppress dissent.

May 22: B has a guest post at a Swedish climate blog. He says climate cannot be predicted because it’s chaotic, and points out that there has been no increase in extreme events according to the IPCC. He notes increasing pseudo-science in climate research, and criticises a move towards value-laden “good” science.

Bjorn Lomborg writes on The McCarthyism in Climate Science.
Pointman blogs on The Age of Unenlightenment in his unique style (“It’s the sort of behaviour one could expect of a medieval theocracy whose dominance is under threat by the advance of reasoned argument.”)

May 23: The editor of ERL, Daniel Kammen, writes a letter to the Times denying that the rejection of B’s paper was because it would be “harmful” to the climate cause, and claiming that it was rejected because of significant errors.
The May 17 article by Bojanski mentioned above appears in English (in fact it is not a close translation of the original German). Several opinions are given, though Roger Pielke Jr will not appreciate being labelled a sceptic.

May 30: The GWPF’s David Henderson writes The Bengtsson Affair and the Global Warming Policy Foundation, trying to clarify the role of the GWPF and its advisory council, and giving more details of the contact between Bengtsson and GWPF.

To date, there seems to be no mention of the story anywhere on the BBC web site. Apparently there was an item on the 6pm radio news.


Unstoppable collapse in the credibility of climate science?

The climate science community and its media lackeys are currently in full hysteria mode about two papers on the “unstoppable collapse” of Antarctic ice sheets. This is a “Groundhog Day” climate scare story that comes around every few years (see here, here, here, here for example, or this notoriously misleading image of Greenland, or do your own time-ranged google search).

A rare voice of relative sanity is Andy Revkin, who on twitter drew attention (See WUWT) to an article he wrote in 2009 about the misuse of the word “collapse”, discussing a paper by Pollard and DeConto saying that melting and sea level rise would be slow. Revkin wrote about the latest media frenzy, criticising some of the headlines as “completely overwrought”.

An article in the Guardian is particularly worrying because it is written by a British Antarctic Survey scientist, Hamish Pritchard.  West Antarctica ice sheet collapse: ‘it will change the coastline of the world’  uses ‘will’ throughout, giving no doubt and no indication of time-scale. Rather than cite the papers, Pritchard links to an article by Guardian climate activist Suzanne Goldenberg.  Although Pritchard talks about the West Antarctic ice sheet, the abstracts of the two papers  only refer to some particular glaciers. He claims that “the authors are guys that are normally pretty conservative“, which is untrue. Lead author Eric Rignot has been writing alarmist papers and media articles about Antarctic glaciers for some time, was quoted in the 2009 Revkin article linked above criticising Pollard and DeConto, and is widely reported as saying we have “passed the point of no return”.

What is particularly depressing is the failure of the climate science community to say anything critical of any of this hype.  As Josh put it:

When questioned about this, one of them seemed only concerned that an embargo had been broken, while another tried to defend Pritchard’s ‘conservative’ claim.  It is unfortunate that we don’t seem to have any climate scientists in the UK with the integrity and courage of Judith Curry or Roger Pielke.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, rather than the world of speculative computer model projections, here is the latest Antarctic sea ice extent graph, showing that it’s currently more than two standard deviations above the 1981-2010 average. For some reason this news does not seem to have hit the headlines. What would have happened if it was more than 2 SD below average?



[ This post was written before the shocking news of Lennart Bengtsson’s letter of resignation from the GWPF, referring to enormous pressure, withdrawal of support from colleagues, and McCarthyism, that prompted an uncharacteristically outspoken post from Steve McIntyre. See also WUWT for more details. This is relevant to this post in that (a) it further damages the credibility of climate science, and (b) perhaps our climate scientists are fearful of what might happen to them if they are seen to be in any way critical of climate scaremongering. ]