The latest IPCC report will not bridge the ideological divide on climate change so it is up to governments to find the sensible centre. – Warwick McKibben
The Australian media continues with thought provoking articles on climate change. This week, there are two good articles in Australian Financial Times, which are unfortunately behind paywall. These two articles provide a good summary of the issues that policy makers need to grapple with in responding to the the IPCC report and addressing climate change. Here are some excerpts:
These reports underpin a now vast industry in research grants, environment lobby firms and advisory businesses of all types.
The reports also provide the basis for billions of dollars in trading climate credits, many thousands of well-paid government jobs in climate bureaucracies, and an enormous green energy industry.
The IPCC report was never going to undermine the science on which all this funding floats, with the various leaked drafts of this key report remaining bullish on global warming. But early reports indicate that it will explain away the troublesome and widely acknowledged 15-year pause in temperatures.
But the existence of the pause is now too widely known for any sleight of hand in the report so the IPCC and its band of supporters will be in damage control mode for some time.
Anyone who has dealt with forecasts produced by experts with impressive credentials in any field, or who knows anything about the inglorious history of forecasting, would not be surprised by a forecast in such a young field being wrong in the short term. The idea is for scientists to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and take another look at the theory.
Climate scientists, however, cannot afford the luxury of admitting even a minor failure. A vast industry depends on the IPCC forecasts.
The global warming industry will not be seriously hampered by any official acknowledgement of the pause by the IPCC or anyone else.
But to survive the industry needs temperatures to move upwards once more, as further claims the heat is going into the oceans will look like excuses, rather than explanations.
Some people will argue [that the IPCC AR5] supports the view that a climate crisis is approaching and a major restructuring of the global economy at whatever cost should be undertaken. Other equally intelligent and passionate people will argue the report is finally a recognition of the failure of climate models to predict a levelling of temperature changes that is currently being observed, and thus proving the entire body of climate science wrong.
In reality the underlying report will likely show a small evolution of knowledge since the previous assessment report that was published in 2007. It hopefully will reinforce the reality that policy should not be based on the belief that mankind can predict the future with any precision.
Despite the enormous uncertainty surrounding climate change, there are two facts that are unchanged. The first is that carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise – and at a faster rate than predicted in early IPCC reports. The second is that no one knows, with any degree of certainty, how the climate will respond nor what the ultimate economic and social consequences might be. Unfortunately it is the extreme views that tend to dominate policy debate – but both extremes are likely to be wrong.
Good public policy is not about picking the policy that works best if you have the right model of the world – it is about designing policies that generally work well and that work least bad in all circumstances. Not doing anything about climate change, if it turns out to be real and dangerous, needs to be balanced against the consequences of severely damaging the world economy if climate change does not emerge as a real threat. The potential costs of both extreme policies might be very high.
JC comments: The MSM has been relatively silent on the AR5 so far; perhaps next week will provide some thoughtful analyses. Even the twitter discussion has been pretty boring. In the meantime, for entertainment value, see Michael Mann’s article The new IPCC climate change report makes deniers overheat, which includes this gem:
On the other hand, serial climate disinformer Judith Curry, in a commentary for the same outlet five days later, announced:
Consensus distorts the climate picture.
And don’t miss David Rose’s latest installment on the pause in the Sunday Mail: Met Office proof that global warming is still ‘on pause’ as climate summit confirms global temperature has stopped rising. This article documents the AR5 sidestep of the pause.