THE IPCC use of computer models to predict temperatures, rain fall, sea level rises and other weather related events either global or regional has comprehensively failed to predict most of the observations made in the last twenty years and ignores any analysis that suggests natural variability as the main driver of climate. Ad hoc effects are put forward in order to explain why the model predictions parted company from the observations. This is most obvious in looking at the components of radiative (temperature) forcing where such effects as aerosols appear with 100% uncertainty. This is not a statistically derived uncertainty but rather an “expert” opinion on an effect that is needed to “balance the books”. Yet all the uncertainties are combined as if they are all well behaved statistical errors.
The report is best summed up by the classic Polish saying from Soviet times – The future is certain only the past is unpredictable. So writes Tom Quirk with his first thoughts on The IPCC 2013 Summary for Policymakers…
There are a series of points that one can take immediate objection to:
1. The temperature plateau from 2000 to the present year is dismissed as of no consequence. The report has borrowed the reply of Chou En Lai who, when asked what he thought of the French Revolution, replied that “It was too early to tell”. Yet in 1988 James Hansen appearing before a Congressional committee said he was 99% certain that the temperature rise from 1977 was not a natural variation.
2. The oceans that have been ignored up to now have suddenly become centre stage as the lodging place for the heat that should have raised the global temperature. The extra infra-red radiation from the increasing atmospheric CO2 is absorbed in the top 2 millimetres of the ocean. This is then mixed by wave motion through the top 100 to 200 metres of the oceans. But the sea surface temperature is in equilibrium with the air surface temperatures so how has the heat energy achieved this avoidance. Of course the deep ocean from 1,000 to 4,000 metres is at 40C or less and any overturning of the deep ocean would cause no end of trouble. This looks like another ad hoc explanation.
3. Sea level rises are forecast to be as much as 1 metre by 2100 yet the measurements show quite different annual rises in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Indeed a good pair of gumboots should get our grandchildren through 2100 with the present measured annual increases.
4. Methane is referred to as reaching unprecedented levels in the atmosphere with no suggestion that its annual increases have fallen by a factor of eight since 1995 . It is not clear in the model projections what level of methane increase is assumed. If it is taken from the original scenarios then it is quite wrong.
5. There is a reference (Figure SPM4 (a) ) to the long running time series measurements of atmospheric CO2 at the South Pole and Mauna Loa. What has not been pointed out is that in 1958 to 1960, there is no difference in these measurements that remains unexplained. Also there is a modest bump in 1990 that had the Point Barrow measurements at latitude 710N been included would have shown a modest 2 year plateau in CO2 concentration. This, when properly analysed, shows that about 2.5 GtC of CO2 entered and left the atmosphere in the space of 4 years when fossil fuel CO2 emissions were 6 GtC in 1990.. Yet we are taught that not all fossil fuel emissions are easily absorbed. This is at the time of the Mount Pinatubo eruption but the CO2 output has been estimated at only 0.015GtC so volcanic activity is not the cause.
6. The temperature plateau from 2000 to the present has been variously explained by heat disappearing into the oceans, volcanic activity and a lessening of solar radiation (dismissed in this IPCC report). The failure to acknowledge the impact of the oceans that cover 70% of the surface of the earth not only on the temperature behaviour but also CO2 is extraordinary . But the explanation may be that we do not understand what triggers the phase changes in the oceans where up-welling cold water displaces warmer water and of course the reverse. So it is not possible to model such events and this would be an admission of complete failure of the computer models.
7. Regional models should not be regarded as having any useful predictive power if the global models have been unsuccessful. There is a problem with regional modelling over land as the assumption that the mean temperature is the average of the minimum and maximum temperatures can increase temperatures by up to 0.50C. This distorts the heat load over the land and thus would cause a systematic error in computer modelling results.
This report from the IPCC should be its last. Not only has the climate science research community extracted billions of dollars from politicians but tens if not hundreds of billions have been invested in schemes to reduce CO2 emissions with little to show by way of reductions.
The last word should be left to Jonathon Swift who brilliantly satirized the Royal Society in Gulliver’s Travels . Gulliver is taken to the country of Balnibarbi whose enlightened rulers have adopted new methods of agriculture and building but the country appears to be in ruins as “the only inconvenience is, that none of these projects are yet brought to perfection”.
Notes: The Computer says No is a catch phrase from Little Britain BBC TV series.
Tom Quirk is former Chairman of Virax Holdings Limited, a biotechnology company. He is on the Board of the Institute of Public Affairs. He has been Chairman of the Victorian Rail Track Corporation, Deputy Chairman of Victorian Energy Networks and Peptech Limited as well as a director of Biota Holdings Limited He worked in CRA Ltd setting up new businesses and also for James D. Wolfensohn in a New York based venture capital fund. He spent 15 years as an experimental research physicist, university lecturer and Oxford don. Read more from Tom at OLO here and previous contributions to this blog here.