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Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm

cprcpr Posts: 9,309 Admiral
Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm
Even while it exaggerates the amount of warming, the IPCC is becoming more cautious about its effects.


By MATT RIDLEY
March 27, 2014 7:24 p.m. ET
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists' accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government.


The forthcoming report apparently admits that climate change has extinguished no species so far and expresses "very little confidence" that it will do so. There is new emphasis that climate change is not the only environmental problem that matters and on adapting to it rather than preventing it. Yet the report still assumes 70% more warming by the last decades of this century than the best science now suggests. This is because of an overreliance on models rather than on data in the first section of the IPCC report—on physical science—that was published in September 2013.

In this space on Dec. 19, 2012, I forecast that the IPCC was going to have to lower its estimates of future warming because of new sensitivity results. (Sensitivity is the amount of warming due to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.) "Cooling Down Fears of Climate Change" (Dec. 19), led to a storm of protest, in which I was called "anti-science," a "denier" and worse.

The IPCC's September 2013 report abandoned any attempt to estimate the most likely "sensitivity" of the climate to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The explanation, buried in a technical summary not published until January, is that "estimates derived from observed climate change tend to best fit the observed surface and ocean warming for [sensitivity] values in the lower part of the likely range." Translation: The data suggest we probably face less warming than the models indicate, but we would rather not say so.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London think tank, published a careful survey of all the reliable studies of sensitivity on March 5. The authors are British climate scientist Nic Lewis (who has no academic affiliation but a growing reputation since he discovered a glaring statistical distortion that exaggerated climate sensitivity in the previous IPCC report) and the Dutch science writer Marcel Crok. They say the IPCC's September report "buried good news about global warming," and that "the best observational evidence indicates our climate is considerably less sensitive to greenhouse gases than climate scientists had previously thought."

Messrs. Lewis and Crok argue that the average of the best observationally based studies shows the amount of immediate warming to be expected if carbon dioxide levels double after 70 years is "likely" to be between one and two degrees Centigrade, with a best estimate of 1.35C (or 2.4F). That's much lower than the IPCC assumes in its forthcoming report.

In short, the warming we experienced over the past 35 years—about 0.4C (or 0.7F) if you average the measurements made by satellites and those made by ground stations—is likely to continue at about the same rate: a little over a degree a century.

Briefly during the 1990s there did seem to be warming that went as fast as the models wanted. But for the past 15-17 years there has been essentially no net warming (a "hiatus" now conceded by the IPCC), a fact that the models did not predict and now struggle to explain. The favorite post-hoc explanation is that because of natural variability in ocean currents more heat has been slipping into the ocean since 2000—although the evidence for this is far from conclusive.

None of this contradicts basic physics. Doubling carbon dioxide cannot on its own generate more than about 1.1C (2F) of warming, however long it takes. All the putative warming above that level would come from amplifying factors, chiefly related to water vapor and clouds. The net effect of these factors is the subject of contentious debate.

In climate science, the real debate has never been between "deniers" and the rest, but between "lukewarmers," who think man-made climate change is real but fairly harmless, and those who think the future is alarming. Scientists like Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Richard Lindzen of MIT MITD -21.88% have moved steadily toward lukewarm views in recent years.

Even with its too-high, too-fast assumptions, the recently leaked draft of the IPCC impacts report makes clear that when it comes to the effect on human welfare, "for most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers," such as economic growth and technology, for the rest of this century. If temperatures change by about 1C degrees between now and 2090, as Mr. Lewis calculates, then the effects will be even smaller.

Indeed, a small amount of warming spread over a long period will, most experts think, bring net improvements to human welfare. Studies such as by the IPCC author and economist Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University in Britain show that global warming has probably done so already. People can adapt to such change—which essentially means capture the benefits but minimize the harm. Satellites have recorded a roughly 14% increase in greenery on the planet over the past 30 years, in all types of ecosystems, partly as a result of man-made CO2 emissions, which enable plants to grow faster and use less water.

There remains a risk that the latest science is wrong and rapid warming will occur with disastrous consequences. And if renewable energy had proved by now to be cheap, clean and thrifty in its use of land, then we would be right to address that small risk of a large catastrophe by rushing to replace fossil fuels with first-generation wind, solar and bioenergy. But since these forms of energy have proved expensive, environmentally damaging and land-hungry, it appears that in our efforts to combat warming we may have been taking the economic equivalent of chemotherapy for a cold.

Almost every global environmental scare of the past half century proved exaggerated including the population "bomb," pesticides, acid rain, the ozone hole, falling **** counts, genetically engineered crops and killer bees. In every case, institutional scientists gained a lot of funding from the scare and then quietly converged on the view that the problem was much more moderate than the extreme voices had argued. Global warming is no different.

Mr. Ridley is the author of "The Rational Optimist" (HarperCollins, 2010) and a member of the British House of Lords.
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303725404579460973643962840?mod=hp_opinion&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303725404579460973643962840.html%3Fmod%3Dhp_opinion
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." Niels Bohr

Replies

  • NewberryJeffNewberryJeff Posts: 7,447 Admiral
    Mr. Ridley probably doesn't have any "green tech" investments.
  • FloridaODFloridaOD Posts: 3,661 Captain
    Warming subject is easy compared to Swarming. Not the supposed unfounded 'scare' of the past half century,but rather on the horizon.
    Hunters are present yet relatively uncommon in Florida :wink
  • phlatsphilphlatsphil Posts: 14,632 AG
    Hey SnotSnot, even I can post stupid signs.
  • FloridaODFloridaOD Posts: 3,661 Captain
    It is amazing to realize that relatively not that long ago peninsular "Florida" has seen considerable water level fluctuation.
    Hunters are present yet relatively uncommon in Florida :wink
  • White DogWhite Dog Posts: 5,343 Officer
    It's all about taxing us more for the despots around the globe to steal it.
    The White Dog.........R.I.P..........1996 - June 2nd, 2011
  • CaptBobBryantCaptBobBryant Posts: 5,716 Officer
    FloridaOD wrote: »
    It is amazing to realize that relatively not that long ago peninsular "Florida" has seen considerable water level fluctuation.

    At one time it was bigger than that....but then a comet (or asteroid) changed everything..

    Comparing pre-historic period land mass changes and trying to equate them to what is going on now....it a poor use of science and data
    National Association of Recreational Anglers - Add Your Voice
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  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    http://www.wri.org/publication/sea-level-rise-and-its-impact-miami-dade-county
    Miami has the largest amount of exposed assets and the fourth-largest population vulnerable to sea-level rise in the world. Sea-level rise is already causing significant impacts in Miami-Dade County, where prolonged flooding from strong storms has become a frequent enough event that Miami Beach city officials are considering a $206 million renovation of their drainage system. With estimated beachfront property of more than $14.7 billion (not including infrastructure), and the expected need of more than 23 million cubic yards of beach renourishment (or the equivalent of more than 10,781 football fields covered in 1 foot of sand) over the next 50 years, the urgency to address the issue is dire. However, while being located at the frontlines of sea-level rise has presented Miami-Dade with these daunting challenges, the leadership and action being taken by local officials, governments, universities, and organizations have laid a foundation of planning, policy, and awareness that can be built upon to help ensure a sustainable future for the county and Southeast Florida.

    https://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/stories/slr-miamidade
    slr-miamidade.jpg

    http://wlrn.org/post/documenting-evidence-climate-change
    For South Florida, climate change isn't part of some vague future; it's a reality today. South Florida has seen nine inches of of sea-level rise since the 1920s.
  • CaptBobBryantCaptBobBryant Posts: 5,716 Officer
    Cyclist wrote: »
    http://www.wri.org/publication/sea-level-rise-and-its-impact-miami-dade-county
    Miami has the largest amount of exposed assets and the fourth-largest population vulnerable to sea-level rise in the world. Sea-level rise is already causing significant impacts in Miami-Dade County, where prolonged flooding from strong storms has become a frequent enough event that Miami Beach city officials are considering a $206 million renovation of their drainage system. With estimated beachfront property of more than $14.7 billion (not including infrastructure), and the expected need of more than 23 million cubic yards of beach renourishment (or the equivalent of more than 10,781 football fields covered in 1 foot of sand) over the next 50 years, the urgency to address the issue is dire. However, while being located at the frontlines of sea-level rise has presented Miami-Dade with these daunting challenges, the leadership and action being taken by local officials, governments, universities, and organizations have laid a foundation of planning, policy, and awareness that can be built upon to help ensure a sustainable future for the county and Southeast Florida.

    https://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/stories/slr-miamidade
    slr-miamidade.jpg

    http://wlrn.org/post/documenting-evidence-climate-change
    For South Florida, climate change isn't part of some vague future; it's a reality today. South Florida has seen nine inches of of sea-level rise since the 1920s.

    Yes while this does show evidence of poor coastal planning and man's stupidity to build and invest too close to coastlines....
    It is not a climate change issue, but an arrogance issue....

    Same as endlessly rebuilding homes in flood plains....

    If it were up to me....instead of a $14 billion off MD, NJ, NY to build a barrier island (10 nm off the coast)
    I would spend that money on imminent domain, purchase the existing barrier islands and invest in building dunes and replacing vegetation...

    This is a case of subsidizing people's choice of living we should all get behind....
    We need a national seashore.....
    National Association of Recreational Anglers - Add Your Voice
    https://www.facebook.com/RecAnglers?notif_t=page_new_likes
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    Yes while this does show evidence of poor coastal planning and man's stupidity to build and invest too close to coastlines....
    It is not a climate change issue, but an arrogance issue....

    Same as endlessly rebuilding homes in flood plains....

    If it were up to me....instead of a $14 billion off MD, NJ, NY to build a barrier island (10 nm off the coast)
    I would spend that money on imminent domain, purchase the existing barrier islands and invest in building dunes and replacing vegetation...

    This is a case of subsidizing people's choice of living we should all get behind....
    We need a national seashore.....

    Spot on but.....nine inches of sea level rise since the 20s for a city at more or less sea level is a big deal.

    But you are right, should never have built much of Miami in the first place.
  • 9" of sea level rise, or 9" or land subsidence? Or a combination of the two?

    No one knows definitively!
  • ac2020ac2020 Posts: 5,730 Officer
    Once again, this quote by Neil Degrasse Tyson from his FB regarding MMGW sums it up nicely:
    What matters is that the overwhelming majority of the peer-reviewed research points to the same conclusions. ***And this is the anatomy of an emergent scientific truth***.

    In any case, I won't stop you from believing what you want. All I can do as a scientist and as an educator is inform you of how science has worked for most of the last 400 years.



    Comparing pre-historic period land mass changes and trying to equate them to what is going on now....it a poor use of science and data

    I'm surprised you admit this, as it is true and many on your side use old ice ages of long ago to somehow ignorantly "prove" MMGW is bogus.

    As a side note, I don't see any "alarmists" as republicans arrogantly play that red-herrring so often. And even as the title of this thread.

    There are no "alarmists". There are two types of people here: those who remain ignorant to the direction science is heading and those who admit we are damaging the environment. If we can cloak ENTIRE cities in smog, it surely isnt hard to believe we can damage a thin atmosphere.
    The only time republicans and democrats are right is when they're blaming each other. :USA
  • nuevowavonuevowavo Posts: 6,792 Admin
    Today's lead article in the NY Times:

    Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come

    By JUSTIN GILLISMARCH 31, 2014

    YOKOHAMA, Japan — Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported on Monday, and they warned that the problem was likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

    The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

    The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

    Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said. And the worst is yet to come, the scientists said in the second of three reports that are expected to carry considerable weight next year as nations try to agree on a new global climate treaty.

    In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.

    “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday presenting the report.

    The report was among the most sobering yet issued by the scientific panel. The group, along with Al Gore, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to clarify the risks of climate change. The report is the final work of several hundred authors; details from the drafts of this and of the last report in the series, which will be released in Berlin in April, leaked in the last few months.

    The report attempts to project how the effects will alter human society in coming decades. While the impact of global warming may actually be moderated by factors like economic or technological change, the report found, the disruptions are nonetheless likely to be profound. That will be especially so if emissions are allowed to continue at a runaway pace, the report said.

    It cited the risk of death or injury on a wide scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.

    “Throughout the 21st century, climate-change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger,” the report declared.

    The report also cited the possibility of violent conflict over land, water or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

    The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just a problem of the distant future, but is happening now.

    Studies have found that parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out because of climate change, and some experts believe that droughts there have contributed to political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa.

    In much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region, the scientists said in the report. And the snow that does fall is melting earlier in the year, which means there is less melt water to ease the parched summers. In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate.

    “Now we are at the point where there is so much information, so much evidence, that we can no longer plead ignorance,” Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, said at the news conference.

    The report was quickly welcomed in Washington, where President Obama is trying to use his executive power under the Clean Air Act and other laws to impose significant new limits on the country’s greenhouse emissions. He faces determined opposition in Congress.

    “There are those who say we can’t afford to act,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement. “But waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

    Amid all the risks the experts cited, they did find a bright spot. Since the intergovernmental panel issued its last big report in 2007, it has found growing evidence that governments and businesses around the world are making extensive plans to adapt to climate disruptions, even as some conservatives in the United States and a small number of scientists continue to deny that a problem exists.

    “I think that dealing effectively with climate change is just going to be something that great nations do,” said Christopher B. Field, co-chairman of the working group that wrote the report and an earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. Talk of adaptation to global warming was once avoided in some quarters, on the ground that it would distract from the need to cut emissions. But the past few years have seen a shift in thinking, including research from scientists and economists who argue that both strategies must be pursued at once.

    A striking example of the change occurred recently in the state of New York, where the Public Service Commission ordered Consolidated Edison, the electric utility serving New York City and some suburbs, to spend about $1 billion upgrading its system to prevent future damage from flooding and other weather disruptions.

    The plan is a reaction to the blackouts caused by Hurricane Sandy. Con Ed will raise flood walls, bury some vital equipment and conduct a study of whether emerging climate risks require even more changes. Other utilities in the state face similar requirements, and utility regulators across the United States are discussing whether to follow New York’s lead.

    But with a global failure to limit greenhouse gases, the risk is rising that climatic changes in coming decades could overwhelm such efforts to adapt, the panel found. It cited a particular risk that in a hotter climate, farmers will not be able to keep up with the fast-rising demand for food.

    “When supply falls below demand, somebody doesn’t have enough food,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist who helped write the new report. “When some people don’t have food, you get starvation. Yes, I’m worried.”

    The poorest people in the world, who have had virtually nothing to do with causing global warming, will be high on the list of victims as climatic disruptions intensify, the report said. It cited a World Bank estimate that poor countries need as much as $100 billion a year to try to offset the effects of climate change; they are now getting, at best, a few billion dollars a year in such aid from rich countries.

    The $100 billion figure, though included in the 2,500-page main report, was removed from a 48-page executive summary to be read by the world’s top political leaders. It was among the most significant changes made as the summary underwent final review during an editing session of several days in Yokohama.

    The edit came after several rich countries, including the United States, raised questions about the language, according to several people who were in the room at the time but did not wish to be identified because the negotiations were private. The language is contentious because poor countries are expected to renew their demand for aid this September in New York at a summit meeting of world leaders, who will attempt to make headway on a new treaty to limit greenhouse gases.

    Many rich countries argue that $100 billion a year is an unrealistic demand; it would essentially require them to double their budgets for foreign aid, at a time of economic distress at home. That argument has fed a rising sense of outrage among the leaders of poor countries, who feel their people are paying the price for decades of profligate Western consumption.

    Two decades of international efforts to limit emissions have yielded little result, and it is not clear whether the negotiations in New York this fall will be any different. While greenhouse gas emissions have begun to decline slightly in many wealthy countries, including the United States, those gains are being swamped by emissions from rising economic powers like China and India.

    For the world’s poorer countries, food is not the only issue, but it may be the most acute. Several times in recent years, climatic disruptions in major growing regions have helped to throw supply and demand out of balance, contributing to price increases that have reversed decades of gains against global hunger, at least temporarily.

    The warning about the food supply in the new report is much sharper in tone than any previously issued by the panel. That reflects a growing body of research about how sensitive many crops are to heat waves and water stress. The report said that climate change was already dragging down the output of wheat and corn at a global scale, compared to what it would otherwise be.

    David B. Lobell, a Stanford University scientist who has published much of the recent research and helped write the new report, said in an interview that as yet, too little work was being done to understand the risk, much less counter it with improved crop varieties and farming techniques. “It is a surprisingly small amount of effort for the stakes,” he said.

    Timothy Gore, an analyst for Oxfam, the antipoverty group that sent observers to the proceedings in Yokohama, praised the new report as painting a clear picture of the consequences of a warming planet. But he warned that without greater efforts to limit global warming and to adapt to the changes that have become inevitable, “the goal we have in Oxfam of ensuring that every person has enough food to eat could be lost forever.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/01/science/earth/climate.html?hp&_r=0
    Federales, bring my baby back to me!
  • JAPJAP Posts: 3,373 Captain
    Has anyone attempted to calculate how large an industry 'global warming/climate change' is in the aggregate?
  • NewberryJeffNewberryJeff Posts: 7,447 Admiral
    A striking example of the change occurred recently in the state of New York, where the Public Service Commission ordered Consolidated Edison, the electric utility serving New York City and some suburbs, to spend about $1 billion upgrading its system to prevent future damage from flooding and other weather disruptions.

    The plan is a reaction to the blackouts caused by Hurricane Sandy.

    Implying hurricane Sandy and necessary post-storm repairs/improvements related to "climate change?"
    Into the trash it goes.

    1396217872924_zpsdf27a409.jpg
  • Grady-ladyGrady-lady east of the river, west of the woodsPosts: 5,282 Admiral
    Cyclist wrote: »

    ...But you are right, should never have built much of Miami in the first place.

    or New Orleans.

    There's not a lot of disagreement that climates 'change', or that the climate is in a constant state of flux. There's little disagreement that man's activities cause pollution. We all want clean water, clean air. Where there is disagreement is over the wisdom of handing billions of dollars over the 1%'ers who make up the international version of Al Gore.

    That kind of unquestioning obeisance brought us ethanol. China and India are not about to slow their growth...it is only wealthy countries with full bellies who can afford to 'repair, protect and innovate'. If we want to grow the rate of clean, efficient technology...we have to grow the economy...beyond merely a stock market on fire.
    I find my peace out on the sand...Beside the sea, not beyond or behind. R.A. Britt

  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 23,346 AG
    Grady-lady wrote: »
    or New Orleans.

    There's not a lot of disagreement that climates 'change', or that the climate is in a constant state of flux. There's little disagreement that man's activities cause pollution. We all want clean water, clean air. Where there is disagreement is over the wisdom of handing billions of dollars over the 1%'ers who make up the international version of Al Gore.

    That kind of unquestioning obeisance brought us ethanol. China and India are not about to slow their growth...it is only wealthy countries with full bellies who can afford to 'repair, protect and innovate'. If we want to grow the rate of clean, efficient technology...we have to grow the economy...beyond merely a stock market on fire.

    New Orleans problems have evolved over time due to the "improvements" initiated by the USACOE and the fallout from the oil industry screwing coastal wetlands. But I am sure many areas should not have been developed period. We can say that about every state and the loss of wetlands.
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