26 November 2009
The Copenhagen Diagnosis
Posted by Dave Petley
As a rule on this blog I try not to drift too far off-topic. Occasionally I will track a hurricane or a typhoon if there is the potential for them to trigger lots of slides. I never stray into the political domain on this blog – and I hope that I never will.
So, today for the probably the first time, I am going to drift into a different field. I am going to remain strictly within the science, but I am going to highlight a key document that is now available. Ahead of the Copenhagen climate discussions a group of key climatologists have released “The Copenhagen Diagnosis“, which is an update to the most recent IPCC report on climate change.
Now, over the last week or so there has been some extraordinary garbage on both the internet and in the mainstream media in relation to the stolen emails and files from the University of East Anglia. I am appalled at the way in which comments within those emails have been manipulated and misrepresented, even by some who should know better, to undermine climate science. Meanwhile the physics of the atmosphere continues as before, and our knowledge of how it is behaving is unchanged, and the picture is not a good one. The strength of the Climate Diagnosis report is the fact that it relies upon good quality observational data. And lets be clear about what the data show:
- Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing;
- The climate is continuing to warm (and despite the guff that the denialists spout, tenperatures have increased over the last decade);
- Sea level is rising at the top end of the previous estimates;
- Arctice sea ice decline has accelerated
So why have I drifted into featuring climate science on this blog? Well, for two reasons. First, the denialists continue to peddle the myth that there is no consensus. This is not my experience, and so I think it is time for the silent majority of environmental scientists to stand up and be counted. Second, the CRU / Hadley Centre email hack was clearly designed to derail the science of climate ahead of Copenhagen. This is an outrageous attack on science and scientists that we should all oppose.
The document can be downloaded here. Please read it and try to understand what it is saying. This is so very, very important.
The US and China have finally announced real numbers for their targets to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately these numbers, especially from the US, are far too weak. We need a strong agreement at Copenhagen, but this won't get us there. In many ways, a weak agreement at Copenhagen could be even worse than no agreement, as it would lock in targets too small to make a significant difference.http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/11/emissions-targets.html
Depends on what you call concensus. There is general consensus that additional CO2 will cause some warming, there is no consensus about the magnitude of warming as feedback from various forcing agents come into play that either ameliorate or increase the effect of extra CO2. As such there remains considerable disagreement about the sensitivity of climate to additional CO2.In order to be a problem for humans it has to be more than just inconvenient. There is no basis for your endorsement of this publication.
Anonymous (comment 2),Thanks for your comment. However:1. There is plenty of evidence in the peer reviewed literature that warming will be (and indeed already is) far more than "just inconvenient". 2. The document is an analysis of the peer reviewed literature and of recent datasets, undertaken by leading climate scientists. Please tell us what qualifies as a document that deserves attention, if this one does not.
Dave,I enjoy your blog. You fail to appreciate that climate change stopped being about the science some time ago. Else we would see peer reviewed papers such as the one below geting wider coverage. The IPCC is a polical organisation and the authors of this report are pushing a polical agenda. Here's just one article from Geology that was not included in this study. There are many more.In a striking finding that raises new questions about carbon dioxide’s (CO2) impact on marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists report that some shell-building creatures—such as crabs, shrimp and lobsters—unexpectedly build more shell when exposed to ocean acidification caused by elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=7545&tid;=282&cid;=63809&ct;=162
Dear Anonymous,Your criticism is unjust. The paper to which you refer was published on Tuesday – after the Copenhagen Consensus document was released. You appear to be suggesting that the authors of the latter should have foreseen the publication of this paper.Lets also look at the paper itself. The press release to which you link states :Since the industrial revolution, Ries noted, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 to nearly 400 ppm. Climate models predict levels of 600 ppm in 100 years, and 900 ppm in 200 years. “The oceans absorb much of the CO2 that we release to the atmosphere,” Ries says. However, he warns that this natural buffer may ultimately come at a great cost. “It’s hard to predict the overall net effect on benthic marine ecosystems," he says. “In the short term, I would guess that the net effect will be negative. In the long term, ecosystems could re-stabilize at a new steady state. “The bottom line is that we really need to bring down CO2 levels in the atmosphere.”This is hardly challenging the consensus.
Your blog is amusing. I read some of those emails and I haven’t seen how they have been misrepresented at all in the media. Maybe you could elaborate. It’s a shame that science has now become politicized. Human caused climate change is really about money and power. It’s that simple. NASA alone has received an extraordinary amount of money to study this. What climate scientist wouldn't want all that grant money to inflate their smarter than everyone else egos. After all, scientists have the same human failings that the rest of have namely fame and fortune. Plus, if politicians and journalist cheat misrepresent and lie, why can't a scientist? I'm a geologist and work for a geotechnical firm in southern California with a master of science in geological sciences and I believe the climate is changing. It always has and always will. In fact, it should be since we live on a dynamic planet. As you know, the last ice age occurred a mere 20,000 years ago a blink of eye from a geologic time perspective. In other words, the Earth should be warming up. Once something becomes political, I become cynical therefore, I just don’t believe in human caused climate warming. Take the money and power grab out of the equation and I would probably be on the anthropogenic climate change bandwagon. You must know that numerous individuals are going to get extremely rich off these climate change laws. By the way, out of all the science courses, I took; I was never instructed that a consensus was necessary to prove a theory as being true as you imply. Where did you learn that?CheersSteve
SteveFirst, if you believe that science is about proof, whether by consensus, experiment or observation then you need to take some more courses.Second, you clearly need to work to get your own professional association, the Geological Society of America, to change their position statement on Global Climate Change:http://www.geosociety.org/positions/position10.htmThis says:"The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries. Furthermore, the potential implications of global climate change and the time scale over which such changes will likely occur require active, effective, long-term planning. GSA also supports statements on the global climate change issue made by the joint national academies of science (June 2005), American Geophysical Union (December, 2003), and American Chemical Society (2004). GSA strongly encourages that the following efforts be undertaken internationally: (1) adequately research climate change at all time scales, (2) develop thoughtful, science-based policy appropriate for the multifaceted issues of global climate change, (3) organize global planning to recognize, prepare for, and adapt to the causes and consequences of global climate change, and (4) organize and develop comprehensive, long-term strategies for sustainable energy, particularly focused on minimizing impacts on global climate."
Hey Dave,It appears your misunderstanding my comments. Since you stated that you don’t normally stray into politics I'll just try to keep it simple. I agree there is a consensus of scientists that agree with the theory anthropogenic climate change but also, there is a consensus of scientists with an opposing view. I have to say I don’t know which group of scientists holds the majority viewpoint and I don’t think there is a legitimate accounting of their views either. However, once science crosses over into politics in a way that will drastically affect the lives of millions of Americans and others around the world that becomes the point in which many like me need proof. Your right that from a pure science perspective absolute proof isn’t required. For instance, there isn’t absolute proof that the big bang theory occurred but I’d say most scientist agree with the theory. But, the big bang theory hasn’t crossed over into politics and it doesn’t affect anybody’s life in a dramatic way. That’s the difference, when a theory is on the verge of dramatically affecting businesses, which ultimately will pass there cost increases on to the consumer, plus the fines, fees and taxes the government will impose on individuals that exceed their carbon footprint that is when I need proof. Or at least as close to 100 percent proof as possible and at the very least much better than what is currently being presented. I earn the money I make just as I earned my degrees and they both belong to me not the government. I need proof before I agree with the solutions that corrupt politicians want to impose on us since most of them will financially impact us negatively while financially benefiting many political leaders and their supporters. Fortunately, and even before the current email scandal a majority of Americans now believes that climate change due to human intervention is not a result of human activity according to Gallup and Rasmussen polling companies. It’s just a majority of power grabbing politicians and lefties that agree with the theory. Therefore, I don't need to convince the GSA of anything. They and other scientists need to prove honestly to the American people that climate change is caused by us. Why? Because it’s our money not the governments money.
Dear Steve,Science advances through the peer reviewed literature. That literature over the last 40 years has consistently shown that anthropogenic warming is real. The strands of evidence are multiple, including the fundamental radiative physics; the long term temperature datasets (of which the UEA dataset is just one) from both satellites and ground stations; palaeoclimate reconstructions using varves, tree rings and borehole temperatures; climate models; etc. There are almost no papers that support the conmtrary view, and the few that do emerge generally get demolished as being poor science and fundamentally-flawed. Almost all credible (i.e. scientifically-active) climate scientists agree that humans are causing warming, as do all of the major scientific academies worldwide.In that context, it would be really helpful if you could explain what scientists actually have to do to "prove" anthropogenic warming.