13 July 2010

Here We Go Again

[UPDATE 16 July: Three days after contacting Chris Field, I have yet to receive a response. I interpret his silence as a message of nolo contendre. Should he respond in the future I'll be happy to share his response.]

I see that four climate scientists, including the incoming head of IPCC WGII, Chris Field, have written up an op-ed for Politico calling for political action on climate change. That they are calling for political action is not problematic, but the following statement in the op-ed is a problem:
Climate change caused by humans is already affecting our lives and livelihoods — with extreme storms, unusual floods and droughts, intense heat waves, rising seas and many changes in biological systems — as climate scientists have projected.
I have sent Chris Field an email as follows:
I read your op-ed in Politico with interest. In it you state:

"Climate change caused by humans is already affecting our lives and livelihoods — with extreme storms, unusual floods and droughts, intense heat waves, rising seas and many changes in biological systems — as climate scientists have projected."


I am unaware of research that shows either detection or attribution of human-caused changes in extreme storms or floods, much less detection or attribution of such changes "affecting lives and livelihoods". Can you point me to the scientific basis for such claims?

Many thanks,

I'll report back how he replies. Suffice it to say that it would not be good form for leader of the IPCC to be making political arguments using scientifically unsupportable statements.


  1. "Suffice it to say that it would not be good form for leader of the IPCC to be making political arguments using scientifically unsupportable statements."

    No, but it's not really surprising. Sounds kind of similar to stuff like -- "doctors needlessly cut off the feet of diabetics in order to increase the medical bill." Not a shred of truth, but it helps rally the base for political action.

  2. speaking of droughts: Here's a link to some recent work that indicates the current long dry in eastern Australia is not unprecedented.


  3. Bets you're pointed towards AR4?

  4. Quote by Joseph Goebbels: "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth."

    If Chris Field, the incoming head of IPCC WGII, is knowingly repeating incorrect statements such as these to facilitate action on climate change then we have entered the realm of propaganda.

    Make no mistake ordinary people understand this fully and will act accordingly.

    People are, rightly, completely cynical of politics due the behaviour of our politicians. There is now very little trust between the electorate and the elected.

    Scientists should wake up and smell the coffee, their behaviour is calling into question the integrity of science in the public mind. Scientific advocacy, where a repeated lie becomes a truth, will destroy the public's confidence in scientists.

    The public can rid themselves of errant politicians in the polling booth. They will find ways to rid ourselves of errant scientists as well.

    As thing stands the IPCC has no public legitimacy with the likes of Chris Field in charge.

    This quote will haunt Chris Field.

  5. Field might have been better off spending his time reading a recent Newsweek article:

    "A Green Retreat

    "Why the environment is no longer a surefire political winner.

    "Just three years ago the politics of global warming was enjoying its golden moment [...] Now, almost everywhere, green politics has fallen from its lofty heights.


    "Yet above all, it is climate politics itself that has turned murky and double-edged. No longer does it lend itself to the easy categories of good and bad that Rudd so successfully exploited in 2007. And controlling the global climate turned out to be a lot more complicated than the advocates of fierce and fast CO2 cuts would have us believe.


    "On top of all this unease came last November’s “climategate” affair over irregularities in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body whose findings are the basis of all climate policy. Though a review panel has since cleared the researchers of most allegations, the lingering controversy could further undermine the IPCC’s longstanding push for massive CO2 reduction targets as the only viable option to deal with global warming."

    There's more at:


  6. A reader who asked to remain anonymous sent in this for posting in the comments:

    "It is always very hard to trust people or organizations that continue to obfuscate and lie over time.

    The drugmaker Glaxo, we now learn, has been lying for years about its blockbuster diabetes drug. Turns out this multi-billion dollar drug doesn't perform as well as an older drug (in a test paid for by Glaxo), and it also gives people heart attacks. Glaxo withheld and hid this information for years.

    I very much hate to say this, but Glaxo's behavior reminds me not just of Michael Mann and Phil Jones -- all their erasure of emails, hiding of data, marginalizing and blackballing articles not to their liking -- but of much of the climate change establishment.

    We hear that shelled creatures will go extinct with greater "acidity" in the oceans (increasing CO2 will create more carbonic acid in the oceans, but the pH will still be alkaline). Woods Hole has now done the actual work on 18 different shelled creatures, looking at shell formation in ocean water with four different levels of CO2: 400 (roughly today's), 600, 900, and 2800 ppm of CO2. Turns out that none of the creatures actually lose shell until over 900 ppm, and about half actually increase shell up to 900 ppm. Three of them -- lobster, shrimp, crab -- actually add shell compared to lower CO2 levels, at 2800 ppm, levels not seen in 50 million years. The paper is "Marine calcifiers exhibit mixed responses to CO2-induced ocean acidification" by Ries et al, 2009, Geology.

    Where did we read about this in major media? Where did we hear about this from any of the mainstream climate change community?

    Turns out that the presence of more carbonic acid and a lesser level of alkalinity isn't the only thing that matters for shell formation. When there is more CO2 and more carbonic acid, there is also more available carbon, one reason why most of these creatures have more shell at 600 than at 400 ppm.

    Is Greenland melting at unprecedented rates? You would think so from most of the press, or from the core climate change community. But it turns out that Greenland melted at a much quicker rate from about 1920 through the mid-1930s than it has in since the present melting started in the early 1990s. The reference for that is "Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Air Temperature Variability: 1840–2007" by Jason Box et al, 2009, Journal of Climate.

    After all you, Roger, have been through with IPCC stonewalling on the costs of disasters, the latest Chris Field statements; after finding out that 1/3 of all the IPCC references are from the "gray" literature, after Glaciergate and claims that North Africa would face a 50% reduction in crop yields because of drought in the next TEN years (by 2020), after Climategate and all this other stuff, I find I can no longer trust the core climate change community.

    I have come to the previously unthinkable conclusion that I trust Patrick Michaels more, for both accurate science and for truthtelling, than I trust the IPCC or the core climate change community.

    That is very difficult to say. But several years of intensive reading lead me inexorably to this conclusion."

  7. "Suffice it to say that it would not be good form for leader of the IPCC to be making political arguments using scientifically unsupportable statements. "

    But that is what the IPPC has done, over and over and over. It is their modus operendi.

    I know you are shocked but climate science has been hijacked by political science, by people who think hairy-scary stories about floods, droughts, sea level rises and storms will provide the smoke screen they will use to change the world into the progressive utopia they know is better for us.

  8. It seems there guys never learn. "If you want credibility, don't lie."

  9. I think it is worth adding that climate scientists are now in a war of attrition with its critics. They may not know this yet, but they are.

    Every time there has been a dispute about an aspect of climate science the scientists as a group have attempted to shore up known failures by either attempting to censor criticism, bring in other arguements not directly related to the dispute, or as Chris Field has shown knowingly keep making misleading statements as though thru the act of repetition that becomes an accepted truth.

    This is the consensus in action - reinforcing failure by attritional means. Every time climate scientists do this they erode public support in taking action on climate change.

    Climate science is reaching its own tipping point, the one on its own credibility. If Chris Field thinks by taking the political lead that AR5 will become the new IPCC gospel on climate change then he is in for a rude awakening. A growing skeptical public will not buy it.

  10. WG II is impacts, right? Oh dearie me.

  11. Here's an interesting twit on dangerous climate change, how will AR5 handle this one?

    Chinese study: Global cooling can lead to unrest and warfare

    see links from: http://abcnewswatch.blogspot.com/2010/07/chinese-study-global-cooling-can-lead.html

  12. It never ceases to amaze me that smart people make statements such as (from the op-ed): "scientific evidence that the Earth is warming is now overwhelming" and then stand back and think that this is meaningful.

    My response is: so what? From a geological perspective, the Earth has gone through many warming and cooling cycles. So we're warming slighting at the moment. Big frakking deal.

    And here's another line: "Today, a large body of evidence has been collected to support the broad scientific understanding that global climate warming, as evident these last few decades, is unprecedented for the past 1000 years..."

    Even if we accept this statement as gospel (and many intelligent observers would dispute some aspects of it), on a planet that is 4.5 billion years old, just because something hasn't happened during the past 1,000 years doesn't sounds overly significant.

    Moreover, the last IPCC report (2007) merely claimed that it's unequivocal that the planet has warmed (illustrated by a graph beginning in 1850) and that it's the IPCC's expert opinion that most of the warming during one third of that period (from 1950 onward) is very likely caused by human-generated emissions.

    How exactly does this imprecise, tentative language translate into the op-ed authors confident claim that: "The atmosphere, the oceans and the land are warming. Humans are contributing significantly to this, and as it continues, it will have a major impact on our society, economy, environment, energy, national security and health throughout, and well beyond, this century."

    This is not sort of careful, systematic thinking one expects from scientists. And these folks have the gall to decry the "opinions [and] misinformation" of others?

    Simply astonishing.

    Donna Laframboise - NOconsensus.org

  13. "Here's an interesting twit on dangerous climate change, how will AR5 handle this one?

    Chinese study: Global cooling can lead to unrest and warfare"

    My prediction would be that they will cite study(ies) claiming increased temperatures cause war in Africa: “Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa” (2009) Burke et al, PNAS, and make no mention of anything to the contrary.

  14. I'd bet you won't get an answer. All I ever see for justification of linking extreme weather and rising temperature are quotes from Trenberth that a 2 to 4% increase of water vapour must have a bad effect. That seems to be the total extent of the "projections" - beyond inadequate models of regional temperature and a lot of pessimistic guesswork. I urge you to look at what's being concocted by Field for AR5 WGII; the outline of which is online and yes, it's all model, no data once again.

    Of course it all needs to be in "context" to be understood - with context it's not really base lies, just a failure to properly communicate. Humpty Dumpty would understand.

    It's a laugh when they criticise journalists for merely transcribing the hype. At some point journalists will object and fight back. I though CRUgate was the backlash - alas they've largely retreated back to politically correct servility.

  15. Edward Carr (another AR5 WG2 author) wrote a blog entry
    "Apparently, we have learned nothing . . ."
    referring to Pachauri's advice to keep quiet.
    It certainly applies to Chris Field, who has learned nothing from the recent revelations of IPCC distortion and exaggeration.

  16. It has come up in an email exchange, but there is not detection or attribution of changes in tropical cyclones, see:


    Obviously, if there is not detection or attribution in the behavior of storms themselves, then there is no chance for such detection or attribution with respect to impacts on society.

  17. Rodger, Here we go again is right. Reading your post caused eyes to roll and my head to shake side to side. My mind tried to recall some of the details of your non-debate back in February at the Royal Institute. I had resolved myself to listening to the whole thing again. This morning with my Sunday coffee I finally did. I recommend listening to that non-debate to everyone who has not done so and for those like myself who had already heard it, do it again!

    The Royal Institution of Great Britain
    Has Global Warming increased the toll of disasters?

    " * Friday 5 February 2010
    * 7.00pm-8.30pm
    * Lecturers: Prof Roger Pielke Jr Bob Ward Dr Robert Muir-Wood

    In the wake of the latest climate change controversy to hit the headlines, The Royal Institution is delighted to be holding a debate between leading climate scientists, Robert Muir-Wood, Bob Ward and Roger Pielke Jr, chaired by the Guardian's James Randerson."


    http://ri.content.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/2010/February/05 ClimateChange.mp3

  18. Chris Field's lack of response strikes me as remarkably similar to claiming Bjorn Lomborg is a "climate skeptic" and failing to defend the claim. ;?p

    Adherents of post-normal science seem to employ the political tactic of making an unsubstantiated claim, falling silent, then changing the subject; or only seeking affirmation from the consensus crowd.

  19. -18-Craig 1st

    The claim has been defended on that thread -- his 2001 book was very much classic "climate skeptic" in the sense that he was arguing that the future impacts of CO2 would be rather benign. Have a look!

  20. -19- Roger Pielke, Jr.

    I have. Didn't quite get to your restatement, especially since his C02 message has been reiterated over the years. See: http://www.zcommunications.org/bjorn-lomborg-on-co2-by-howard-friel#_edn3

    There is a smarter policy [than reducing CO2 emissions] that would actually do more to fight off global warming: ensuring that reasonably priced alternative energy technologies will be available within the next 20 to 40 years. We can achieve this if all countries committed themselves to spending 0.05% of GDP on research and development of non-carbon-emitting energy technologies. The cost—a relatively minor $25bn a year—would be much lower than the massive carbon emissions reductions proposed by Copenhagen summit participants, yet it would do more to fight global warming.
    ===End Quote===

  21. -2-Craig 1st

    Bad link. But from the quote this piece is circa 2009/2010 --- I am referencing The Skeptical Environmentalist circa 2001 ... lets take this over to the other thread if you'd like to continue this discussion. Thanks!

  22. One last comment here, I don't see where you have defended your claim that Lomborg is a climate skeptic at that thread.