Pearls from the giant evil IPCC clam

Climate crisis called off

UPDATE 1500 NZDT – see below

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) to a Special Report, Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). (Actually, they haven’t.)

The SPM (I’ll call it the “report” from now on) is remarkable in its candour. The IPCC, once wanting to become the world’s evil overlord, with fingers in public and private pies everywhere to compel compliance with its anti-carbon agenda, acknowledges its ignorance and uncertainty about the climate.

The evil giant has finally spewed forth something wholesome.

In doing so it effectively calls off the climate crisis, because nations should not act so expensively on such slim evidence — something that has troubled sceptics for many years. Now, perhaps nations will not act without good evidence.

After four Assessment Reports full of obfuscation, inaccuracies and bureaucratic bungles, the IPCC has produced a gem. But for consistency with our heading, I should call it a pearl. This is a pearl of a report and will give sceptics much cause for optimism that truth and good sense are returning to the topical and so public matter of climate science.

The SREX report is mind-boggling in its implications. Catastrophic global warming is officially off the table; it’s not even certain that there has been a warming trend since 1950. Concerning the future, the IPCC says that no dominant anthropogenic influence is expected for at least 20 or 30 years.

Wonderful news!

People now can stop saying that climate change is a crisis and the greatest challenge humanity has ever confronted. The report doesn’t close the door on the possibility of extreme climate change, but that’s a long way from saying there’s a high probability of it. Now we know that it’s not necessary for communities to act on speculation about the global climate, much less take any drastic action. Although there might still be cause to act in response to observed local and regional hazards.

I want to list the major points from the summary. To help understand the language they use, here’s the list of definitions they provide in the FACT SHEET provided with the report.

Defining terms

The IPCC says:

This report characterizes the confidence in the validity of findings in relative terms (such as “low,” “medium,” and “high”), based on the assessment of underlying scientific evidence and agreement. The report uses common terms to quantify the probability of various outcomes, because without precise definitions, these terms could mean different things to different people. So when we say

Virtually certainwe mean99-100% probability
Very likelywe mean90-100% probability
Likelywe mean66-100% probability
About as likely as notwe mean33 to 66% probability
Unlikelywe mean0-33% probability
Extremely unlikelywe mean0-10% probability
Exceptionally unlikelywe mean0-1% probability

Here’s the summary from page 6 of their knowledge of human influences. It’s a long way from supporting the alarmist view of AGW. If the climate debate rests on these, and if the discussion of whether to spend titanic gobs of cash and perform drastic surgery on our commercial systems comes down to an analysis of what are effectively terms of chance, the current official thinking will surely prevail in only suicidal electorates.

The rest of us will demand real evidence.

There is evidence that some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. It is likely that anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures on the global scale. There is medium confidence that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation on the global scale. It is likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme coastal high water due to increase in mean sea level. The uncertainties in the historical tropical cyclone records, the incomplete understanding of the physical mechanisms linking tropical cyclone metrics to climate change, and the degree of tropical cyclone variability provide only low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic influences. Attribution of single extreme events to anthropogenic climate change is challenging.

After all these years, after all the hyperbole, after all the impassioned rhetoric, now the IPCC admits it’s only “likely” we are influencing the climate. And remember that influence is small and has still to be shown as harmful.

It’s especially surprising that cyclones, the darling of the alarmists, have been cast adrift, alone in the vast world of natural variability, no longer led by our infernal combustion engines. Notice that attributing individual events to AGW is “challenging”. That means “we find it impossible”.

The metric central to the concept of a warming world is temperature. Whatever else might happen as a consequence of warming, warming comes first. This next paragraph reveals a remarkably low confidence among scientists about whether warming has already occurred. Considering the amount of money we’ve spent already, and the changes we’ve made, you’d think they would be saying that warming has been certain. But apparently they cannot. Fascinating.

MSM: Are you listening?

It is very likely that there has been an overall decrease in the number of cold days and nights, and an overall increase in the number of warm days and nights, on the global scale, i.e., for most land areas with sufficient data. It is likely that these changes have also occurred at the continental scale in North America, Europe, and Australia. There is medium confidence of a warming trend in daily temperature extremes in much of Asia. Confidence in observed trends in daily temperature extremes in Africa and South America generally varies from low to medium depending on the region. In many (but not all) regions over the globe with sufficient data there is medium confidence that the length or number of warm spells, or heat waves, has increased.

It’s extremely concerning that when talking about the observed recent past these climate scientists cannot be definite about what has occurred. To say only that certain events or trends are “likely” or “very likely” is disappointing. When I examine a thermometer regularly I can say with certainty how the temperature I’m measuring has altered on each occasion I’ve examined it.

I don’t fudge the issue by introducing expressions of chance. I don’t obfuscate the truth.

Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame.

Amazing. For the next 30 years we won’t be able to distinguish a human influence on the climate. Amazing. Nick Smith, are you paying attention? This is the IPCC speaking.

It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged.

Sorry guys, we’re not increasing numbers of hurricanes at all.

There is medium confidence that there will be a reduction in the number of extra-tropical cyclones averaged over each hemisphere.

Wow, so they’re still not sure, but they expect numbers to go down. What a turnaround.

Projected precipitation and temperature changes imply possible changes in floods, although overall there is low confidence in projections of changes in fluvial floods.

No greater, more damaging floods to hope for! What’s the world coming to?

There is low confidence in projections of changes in large-scale patterns of natural climate variability. Confidence is low in projections of changes in monsoons (rainfall, circulation) because there is little consensus in climate models regarding the sign of future change in the monsoons.

The strange talk of “global weirding” that seemed to make the extreme environmentalists so happy, and which could be justified no matter what the climate did anywhere, is hereby abolished. They can’t even be sure whether the monsoons will change at all.

There have been statistically significant trends in the number of heavy precipitation events in some regions. It is likely that more of these regions have experienced increases than decreases, although there are strong regional and subregional variations in these trends.

Again, we observe the strange phenomenon of uncertainty about the past, but this affects the future, as they seem to be saying the past variation will apply in the future. Notwithstanding years of predictions of more and heavier rainfall, now we’re not sure about the trend.

There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. … There is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because of data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems.

Years of predicting more and stronger storms go out the door. To know the future, study the past.

There is medium confidence that some regions of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts, in particular in southern Europe and West Africa, but in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, e.g., in central North America and northwestern Australia.

It feels good to hear these facts, for so long available only in balanced sceptical forums, from the great council of climate science itself.

There is limited to medium evidence available to assess climate-driven observed changes in the magnitude and frequency of floods at regional scales because the available instrumental records of floods at gauge stations are limited in space and time, and because of confounding effects of changes in land use and engineering. Furthermore, there is low agreement in this evidence, and thus overall low confidence at the global scale regarding even the sign of these changes.

Again, not sure about the floods, eh? Low confidence! So much for all the talk about spending more money on drainage and engineering works. NIWA: are you listening?

It is likely that there has been an increase in extreme coastal high water related to increases in mean sea level.

Well, has it been measured or hasn’t it?

Well done, them! We can look forward with optimism, though the flywheel has built up a considerable speed and will take some time to slow down, at least the sounds have been put in. Politicians take note: stick to real environmental matters.



The SREX “report” comes with the official SREX slide show. The last slide is a flow diagram of the report process followed by the IPCC. It’s illuminating, but they don’t follow it, so it’s a fabrication. I’ll figure out how to include the image here, but until then click the link and note how publication of the report is meant to be simultaneous with that of the SPM. Blatant deception or outright incompetence?


Once again, the IPCC has, illogically, published a Summary for Policymakers (SPM) before publishing the report which it summarises. They risk further accusations of altering a report to fit its summary, since they’re prepared by different people. The practice does not increase our trust in their reports.

The report, according to their web site, won’t be available until February 2012 — three months away.

But they have, fortunately, published the SPM that describes the report, so that’s useful. We must be sure to look closely at the report in February to check that it doesn’t contradict its own summary.

Although it persists in ascribing rather silly “chances” of being right — or assessments of the probability — at least we have clear statements of the scientific lack of certainty of the major elements of the climate system. Perhaps they’ve been in previous Assessment Reports and I’ve missed them; if so, I apologise. But I’m making a meal of these and I hope like heck that the news media notice them.

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10 Thoughts on “Pearls from the giant evil IPCC clam

  1. Huub Bakker on 20/11/2011 at 5:27 pm said:

    “We must be sure to look closely at the report in February to check that it doesn’t contradict its own summary”

    No point Richard. As you know the report is altered to fit the Summary AFTER the authors and peer reviewers have finished with it. The thing to look for is whether the reviewers’ comments have been addressed (rather than ignored) and whether the final report is significantly different to the second draught.

  2. Peterm on 21/11/2011 at 6:06 am said:

    The Summary of the IPCC report from China must have upset the UN. But who will represent NZ in Durban?

  3. Mike Jowsey on 21/11/2011 at 7:23 am said:

    Thanks Richard for such a clear summary of the importance of this much more temperate and realistic report from the IPCC. They have a way to go yet, but obviously they are now concentrating on trying to quantify the uncertainties in the science. (“It’s worse than we thought! The uncertainties are huge!!”)

    As you say, “MSM – ARE YOU LISTENING?” Here’s hoping that investigative, unbiased journalism is not quite dead in New Zealand.

  4. Australis on 21/11/2011 at 4:22 pm said:

    There are three components to “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” (CAGW) and all are somewhat affected by this report.

    Most of all, the “catastrophic” word has all but disappeared. We seem to be left with rising sea levels as the sole source of threatened future catastrophe.

    “Anthropogenic” seems to have been put on hold for 20-30 years, and “climate change” has now been radically redefined to mean:

    “A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.”

    Then “global warming” has become decidedly fuzzy. The next decades might get warmer or cooler, and that may depend more on natural internal processes than any persistent anthropogenic contribution.

    The age when “most of the observed warming” was very likely (95% probability) human-caused has now drawn to an end. It’s over!

  5. Clarence on 21/11/2011 at 10:51 pm said:

    Christopher Booker at the Sunday Telegraph:

    “Last week, even Richard Black, a BBC proselytiser for man-made warming, was gloomily having to reveal the conclusion of a new IPCC report: that, over the next few decades, “climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variabilty”. In plain English, that means the great scare story is over. What a shame. But at what a price.”

  6. Clarence on 21/11/2011 at 11:04 pm said:

    Melanie Phillips – Daily Mail:

    “For years, the scientific and political establishment has claimed that there is a ‘consensus’ that ‘the science is settled’ and that man-made global warming is beyond challenge.

    But now the organisation at the very heart of this claim has sidled out a tacit admission that this is untrue — while trying to conceal that this is not in fact the mother and father of U-turns.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC as it is known, is the body which has driven man-made global warming theory for more than 20 years…..

    What’s changed is that they know the game is now up. For even though carbon dioxide levels have been increasing, there has been no increase in global temperature for the past decade or so.

    And that destroys the entire theory of man-made global warming, which is that carbon emissions inevitably and inexorably drive up temperature.

    So the people who have demonised climate-change sceptics as ‘climate change deniers’ or ‘flat-earthers’ are now telling us, in a coy and roundabout kind of way, that actually no one has a clue how the climate will turn out.”

    Read more:

    • Mike Jowsey on 22/11/2011 at 8:35 am said:

      So the people who have demonised climate-change sceptics as ‘climate change deniers’ or ‘flat-earthers’ are now telling us, in a coy and roundabout kind of way, that actually no one has a clue how the climate will turn out.”

      Love it.

  7. Clarence on 22/11/2011 at 11:06 pm said:

    “…drought, drought, drought … we’re understanding what’s causing these weather shifts and these rainfall declines and they do seem to be of a permanent nature”.

    There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st century in some seasons and areas. Elsewhere there is overall low confidence because of inconsistent projections of drought changes.

    ie Who knows?

  8. Andy on 23/11/2011 at 5:42 am said:

    There has been another release of emails overnight. Climate gate 2

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