by Judith Curry
If climate scientists were credit-rating agencies, climate sensitivity would be on negative watch. But it would not yet be downgraded. – The Economist
Over the past few weeks, there have been some interesting and provocative articles in the mainstream media on the topic of climate sensitivity.
Two weeks ago, David Rose published an article in the Sunday Mail entitled The Great Green con no. 1: The hard proof that finally shows global warming forecasts costing billions were WRONG all along. Subtitle:
No, the world ISN’T getting warmer (as you may have noticed). Now we reveal the official data that’s making scientists suddenly change their minds about climate doom. So will eco-funded MPs stop waging a green crusade with your money? Well… what do YOU think?
The article quotes myself, Myles Allen, Piers Forster, James Annan and David Whitehouse. The centerpiece evidence is the plot of Ed Hawkins, comparing CMIP5 climate model simulations with observations.
The article not surprisingly received a response from the Committee on Climate Change (specifically, Brian Hoskins and Steve Smith) titled Climate science remains robust despite claims in the Mail. The punchline of the article is
The results from recent studies are evidence of a healthy climate science community continually testing its science. In addition to the issues discussed here a number of uncertainties remain, for example as regards the carbon cycle, cloud effects, regional climate, extreme weather change, and impacts. And there is an extensive work programme underway to try to resolve these uncertainties. Given what we know now, the appropriate response to these uncertainties and associated risks is to cut emissions rather than to wait and see. We will continue to monitor closely developments in climate science and draw out any implications for policy.
David Rose strikes back with another article entitled Government’s climate watchdog launches astonishing attack on the Mail on Sunday for revealing global warming science is wrong.
JC comment: A vehement exchange, generating more heat than light.
The Guardian counters with an article titled Global warming predictions prove accurate. Subtitle: Analysis of climate change modeling for past 15 years reveal accurate forecasts of rising global temperatures.
This article is based on a new paper by Myles Allen, that presents a new way of presenting the climate model simulation – observation comparison (see this previous Climate Etc. post). Excerpt:
The paper, published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Geoscience, explores the performance of a climate forecast based on data up to 1996 by comparing it with the actual temperatures observed since. The results show that scientists accurately predicted the warming experienced in the past decade, relative to the decade to 1996, to within a few hundredths of a degree.
Paul Homewood at WUWT is not impressed.
The Economist has an astonishingly good article entitled Climate science: A sensitive matter. Subtitle: The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away.
The article provides an accurate representation and interpretation of Ed Hawkin’s analysis.
The mismatch might mean that—for some unexplained reason—there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures in 2000-10. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or, as an increasing body of research is suggesting, it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before. This possibility, if true, could have profound significance both for climate science and for environmental and social policy.
The article is a must read, it effectively summarizes many of papers recently discussed at Climate Etc. Interestingly, the article relies entirely on analysis of published papers and blog posts (without interview quotes from scientists).
The article is written by The Economist’s new editor for energy and environment, John Parker. What an absolutely superb job by someone who has no obvious background in the climate area. He did email me for input, and I sent him a few pages from my forthcoming testimony, which he clearly paid attention to.
JC comment: I would like to see the Committee on Climate Change also respond to the Economist article. And I would be pleased if the IPCC AR5 does as a good a job as John Parker has in terms of assessing the issue of climate sensitivity.