by Judith Curry
A few things that caught my eye this past week.
AR5 SOD leaked
Andy Revkin comments:
A WikiLeaks-style Web dump of drafts of the 2013 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provides fresh evidence that the organization’s policies and procedures are a terrible fit for an era in which transparency will increasingly be enforced on organizations working on consequential energy and environmental issues.
I’ve downloaded the SPM and a few of the chapters. The extreme overconfidence of many of their conclusions is bewildering. More on this in future posts.
Bill Clinton and Richard Muller
For those of you that are Richard Muller watchers, you will find this interesting: Bill Clinton Praises His New Climate Change Hero. Excerpts from the article:
On December 7, President Bill Clinton appeared in Silicon Valley and talked at length about climate change, referring to Berkeley scientist Dr. Richard Muller as “a hero of mine.”
In a Fresh Dialogues interview, Muller agreed to share his reaction to the hero worship and answer some climate change questions.
You might be surprised to learn three things about Dr. Muller:
1. He says Hurricane Sandy cannot be attributed to climate change.
2. He suggests individually reducing our carbon footprint is pointless — we need to “think globally and act globally,” by encouraging the switch from coal to gas power in China and developing nations. He’s a fan of “clean fracking.”
3. He says climate skeptics deserve our respect, not our ridicule.
Here’s a summary of our interview: (more at Fresh Dialogues)
van Diggelen: You wrote in the New York Times that the Berkeley Earth analysis will help settle the scientific debate regarding global warming and its human causes — how so?
Muller: Science is that small realm of knowledge on which we can expect and obtain agreement. I felt that many of the skeptics had raised legitimate issues. They are deserving of respect, not the kind of ridicule they have been subjected to. We have addressed the scientific issues in the most direct and objective way, and just as I have adjusted my conclusions, I expect that many of them will too.
van Diggelen: What’s your message to climate change skeptics?
Muller: Most of your skepticism is still valid. When something extraordinary happens in weather, such as the accidental occurrence of Hurricane Sandy hitting New Jersey and New York City just at the peak of tides — many people attribute the event to “climate change.” That’s not a scientific conclusion, and it is almost certainly wrong. Hurricanes are not increasing due to human causes (actually, they have been decreasing over the past 250 years). Tornadoes are not increasing due to human causes. (They too have been decreasing.) So please continue to be skeptical about most of the exaggerations you will continue to hear! Proper skepticism is at the heart of science, and attempts to suppress such skepticism represent the true anti-science movement.
JC comment: I like Bill Clinton’s ‘climate hero’ a lot more than I like Al Gore’s climate heroes.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced on Tuesday that she plans to step down from her post in February.
In an open letter to the NOAA family , she cites the following accomplishments (presented in summary form):
1. Ending over-fishing, rebuilding depleted stocks, and returning
fishing to profitability;
2. Strengthening the Nation’s environmental satellite infrastructure
because it underpins national security, economic activity and public
safety by providing data essential to our short- and long-term weather
3. Delivering life-saving weather forecasts and warnings and
strengthening our ability to do so in the future
4. Helping create the first National Ocean Policy
5. Leveling the playing field for our fishermen
6. Creating a new generation of climate services to promote public
understanding, support mitigation and adaptation efforts, enable smart
planning, and promote regional climate partnerships;
7. Investing in coastal communities and their future resilience through more strategic and better integrated conservation and restoration;
8. Better serving recreational anglers and boaters
9. Strengthening science with our first Scientific Integrity Policy,
doubling the number of senior scientific positions, establishing a new
Council of Fellows, reinstating the Chief Scientist position, supporting
AAAS and Sea Grant Fellows and promoting climate, fishery, ocean
acidification, weather and ecosystem science;
10. Responding effectively as “one-NOAA” to disasters such as Deepwater
Horizon, the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/radiation/marine debris
catastrophe, Hurricanes Irene, Isaac and Sandy
11. Bringing experience, scientific and legal expertise to bear on the
federal response to the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe
12. Championing NOAA’s lean, but effective, education program
13. Creating NOAA’s first Aquaculture Policy and a National Shellfish
14. Setting a stronger course for endangered species conservation .
15. Streamlining regulations to save taxpayers time and money and improve
16. Increasing effectiveness and decreasing costs of corporate services
such as acquisitions and IT
17. Developing and implementing a “One-NOAA” Arctic Vision and Strategy
and Task Force
18. Strengthening NOAA’s fishery enforcement program by implementing
policy, oversight, personnel and procedural changes to increase
effectiveness and transparency;
19. Embracing social media, effective communications and communications training to share NOAA science, information and decisions with our diverse constituents, stakeholders and partners
20. Ensuring all our policies, regulations and statements are consistent with the law and legal best practices.
JC comment: Oh my. The nation’s weather satellite observing system is in a shambles, the weather forecasting capability has fallen far behind the Europeans, Climate Services is dead. NOAA is not in good shape.
Yale Environment 360 has a really nice article entitled Creating Clouds in the Lab to Better Understand Climate. The article is about the CERN cloud nucleation experiments, and consists of an interview with British particle physicist Jasper Kirby, who leads the project. The whole interview is fascinating, here are some excerpts:
e360: You were saying that aerosols and clouds are the biggest uncertainty right now in our knowledge of mankind’s influence on climate change.
Kirkby: The big warming contribution of mankind is greenhouse gases. At the same time, mankind has been increasing aerosol particle production by emitting various gases into the atmosphere, and these have been cooling the planet. But we don’t know how much they’ve been cooling the planet, because we really don’t understand the fundamental science behind how these vapors turn into particles and then grow into the cloud condensation nuclei. So CLOUD will help reduce that uncertainty and really sharpen the scientific basis and understanding of the subject.
Now, the other area where CLOUD will reduce a very big question mark in current climate change is to what extent there can be a natural contribution to the current warming. The current understanding is that natural warming is very, very small. There’s a short-term contribution from volcanoes, which only lasts a few years. There’s also thought to be a small brightening
CLOUD will help clear up to what extent there is a natural contribution to current warming.”
of the sun over the course of the twentieth century. But apart from that, there’s thought to be nothing else going on — natural contribution — to climate change. On the other hand, if you look at earlier times, you do see changes in the climate that are comparable to the warming that is going on now. But we don’t know what the mechanism is. So at the very least this is a question mark. And at the very most, there could be a contribution that is just unaccounted for at the moment. Whatever it is, we don’t know what the answer is. And we have to settle it before we can really with certainty say we understand what’s going on now.
e360: And what does settling it require?
Kirkby: It requires a lot of observations. I was at an international conference on aerosol in September and I made a comment that we’re getting to the stage with CLOUD where we will understand the processes extremely well, but we still won’t be able to reduce the errors because we don’t have good enough atmospheric observations of what the concentrations of these vapors are in the atmosphere versus altitude. So, there has to be a combined approach where the lab experiments like CLOUD improve the scientific understanding, but at the same time the observational measurements sharpen the knowledge of what’s in the atmosphere. We’ll take care of the laboratory side, I believe, but other people have to also take care of the observations in the atmosphere.
e360: Let’s assume that cosmic rays don’t have an effect on clouds. What does that mean?
Kirkby: It will settle a particular question, which to my mind can only be settled by experimental data. There’s a huge amount of opinion one way or another on the blogosphere that says “cosmic rays have no effect on the climate” to “cosmic rays do everything in the climate.” And no matter how passionately people believe this view or that view, we can’t settle it by energetic debate. We have to settle it by experimental measurements. We will settle that question, so there will be a firm scientific basis for answering that question by the end of CLOUD, as opposed to a gazillion opinions…
There have been many observations for solar climate variability, but no established mechanism. Cosmic rays are essentially one of the leading candidates — for me, the leading candidate — but if we find that there’s nothing there, we simply eliminate that as a mechanism. Who knows? We really don’t know at this stage.