Monday, October 14, 2013
The science fiction of IPCC climate models
Climate policies need scientific forecasts, not alarmist scenarios
By Kesten C. Green, J. Scott Armstrong and Willie Soon
The human race has prospered by relying on forecasts that the seasons will follow their usual course, while knowing they will sometimes be better or worse. Are things different now?
For the fifth time now, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims they are. The difference, the IPCC asserts, is increased human emissions of carbon dioxide: a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas that is a byproduct of growing prosperity. It is also a product of all animal respiration and is also essential for most life on Earth, yet in total it makes up only 0.0004 of the atmosphere.
The IPCC assumes that the relatively small human contribution of this gas to the atmosphere will cause global warming, and insists that the warming will be dangerous.
Other scientists contest the IPCC assumptions, on the grounds that the climatological effect of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide is trivial – and that the climate is so complex and insufficiently understood that the net effect of human emissions on global temperatures cannot be forecasted.
The computer models that the authors of the IPCC reports rely on are complicated representations of the assumption that human carbon dioxide emissions are now the primary factor driving climate change and will substantially overheat the Earth. The models include many assumptions that mainstream scientists question.
The modelers have correctly stated that they produce scenarios, not forecasts. Scenarios are stories constructed from a collection of assumptions. Well-constructed scenarios can be very convincing, in the same way that a well-crafted fictional book or film can be.
The IPCC and its supporters promote these scary scenarios as if they were forecasts. However, scenarios are neither forecasts nor the product of a validated forecasting method.
The IPCC modelers were apparently unaware of decades of forecasting research. Our audit of the procedures used to create their apocalyptic scenarios found that they violated 72 of 89 relevant scientific forecasting principles. Would you go ahead with your flight, if you overheard two of the ground crew discussing how the pilot had skipped 80 percent of the pre-flight safety checklist?
Thirty-nine forecasting experts from many disciplines from around the world developed the forecasting principles from published experimental research. A further 123 forecasting experts reviewed the work. The principles were published in 2001. They are freely available on the Internet, to help forecasters produce the best forecasts they can, and help forecast users determine the validity of forecasts. These principles are the only published set of evidence-based standards for forecasting.
Global warming alarmists nevertheless claim that the “nearly all” climate scientists believe dangerous global warming will occur. This is a strange claim, in view of the fact more than 30,000 American scientists signed the Oregon Petition, stating that there is no basis for dangerous manmade global warming forecasts, and “no convincing evidence” that carbon dioxide is dangerously warming the planet or disrupting its climate.
Most importantly, computer models and scenarios are not evidence – and validation does not consist of adding up votes. Such an approach can only be detrimental to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Validation requires comparing predictions to actual observations, and the IPCC models have failed in that regard.
Given the expensive policies proposed and implemented in the name of preventing dangerous manmade global warming, we are astonished that there is only one published peer-reviewed paper that claims to provide scientific forecasts of long-range global mean temperatures. The paper is our own 2009 article in the International Journal of Forecasting.
Our paper examined the state of knowledge and available empirical (that is, actually measured) data, in order to select appropriate evidence-based procedures for long-range forecasting of global mean temperatures. Given the complexity and uncertainty of the situation, we concluded that the “no-trend” model is the proper method to use. The conclusion is based on a substantial body of research that found complex models do not work well in complex and uncertain situations.
This finding might be puzzling to people who are unfamiliar with the research on forecasting. So we tested the no-trend model, using the same data that the IPCC uses, since forecasting principles require that models be validated by comparing them to actual observations.
To do this, we produced annual forecasts from one to 100 years ahead, starting from 1851 and stepping forward year-by-year until 1975, the year before the current warming alarm was raised. (This is also the year when Newsweek and other magazines reported that scientists were “almost unanimous” that Earth faced a new period of global cooling.) We conducted the same analysis for the IPCC scenario of temperatures increasing at a rate of 0.03 degrees Celsius (0.05 degrees Fahrenheit) per year in response to increasing human carbon dioxide emissions.
This procedure yielded 7,550 forecasts for each method. The findings?
Overall, the no-trend forecast error was one-seventh the error of the IPCC scenario’s projection. They were as accurate as or more accurate than the IPCC temperatures for all forecast horizons. Most important, the relative accuracy of the no-trend forecasts increased for longer horizons. For example, the no-trend forecast error was one-twelfth that of the IPCC temperature scenarios for forecasts 91 to 100 years ahead.
Our research in progress scrutinizes more forecasting methods, uses more and better data, and extends our validation tests. The findings strengthen the conclusion that there are no scientific forecasts that predict dangerous global warming.
Is it surprising that the government would support an alarm lacking scientific support? Not really. In our study of situations that are analogous to the current alarm over scenarios of global warming, we identified 26 earlier movements based on scenarios of manmade disaster, including the global cooling alarm in the 1960s to 1970s. None of them were based on scientific forecasts. And yet, governments imposed costly policies in response to 23 of them. In no case did the forecast of major harm come true.
There is no support from scientific forecasting for an upward trend in temperatures, or a downward trend. Without support from scientific forecasts, the global warming alarm is baseless and should be ignored.
Government programs, subsidies, taxes and regulations proposed as responses to the global warming alarm result in misallocations of valuable resources. They lead to inflated energy prices, declining international competitiveness, disappearing industries and jobs, and threats to health and welfare.
Humanity can do better with the old, simple, tried-and-true no-trend climate forecasting model. This traditional method is also consistent with scientific forecasting principles.
David Suzuki insults, but won’t debate
By David R. Legates
As the climate scare fizzles, Canada’s celebrity environmentalist resorts to ad hominem attacks
David Suzuki has never met, debated or even spoken with my colleague, scientist Willie Soon. But as more people dismiss Mr. Suzuki’s scare stories about global warming cataclysms, the more he has resorted to personal attacks against Mr. Soon and others who disagree with him.
Mr. Soon’s brilliant research into the sun’s role in climate change has helped make millions aware that carbon dioxide’s influence is far less than Mr. Suzuki wants them to think. In a recent column picked up by media outlets around North America, including Huffington Post, Mr. Suzuki attacked Mr. Soon, my fellow scientist, mostly by recycling a Greenpeace “investigation” that is itself nothing more than a rehash of tiresome (and libelous) misstatements, red herrings and outright lies. It’s time to set the record straight.
First, there’s the alleged corporate cash misrepresentation. Mr. Suzuki claims Mr. Soon received “more than $1 million over the past decade” from U.S energy companies – and implies that Mr. Soon lied to a U.S. Senate committee about the funding. In fact, the research grants were received in the years following the Senate hearing. Moreover, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics took nearly half of the money (for “administration”), and what was left covered Mr. Soon’s salary, research, and other expenses including even toner for his printer.
Since Mr. Suzuki raised the subject of corporate cash, by comparison the Suzuki Foundation spends some $7 million every year on its “educational” and pressure campaigns – many of them in conjunction with various PR agencies, renewable energy companies, other foundations and environmental activist groups.
Many stand to profit handsomely from Mr. Suzuki’s causes, especially “catastrophic climate change” and campaigns to replace “harmful” fossil fuels with subsidized, land-intensive, low-energy-output wind and solar facilities.
Mr. Suzuki has appeared in advertisements for alternative energy sources in Ontario.
Mr. Suzuki is criticizing Mr. Soon and the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for having done funded research– while alarmist climate catastrophe researchers share some $6 billion annually in U.S, and Canadian taxpayer money, and millions more in corporate funds, to link every natural phenomenon to global warming and promote renewable “alternatives” to fossil fuels.
If it is wrong to receive grants from organizations that have taken “advocacy” positions, then virtually every scientist with whom Mr. Suzuki has associated would be guilty. In his column Mr. Suzuki recognizes this point. “Some rightly point out that we should look at the science and now at who is paying for the research.” If he believes that the science, and not who is paying for research, is most important, then why does he continue to attack Willie Soon and others on the basis of their funding?
Second, Mr. Suzuki repeats an absurd Greenpeace claim that Mr. Soon tried to “undermine” the “peer-reviewed” work of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In reality, scientists are required to examine, review and even criticize other scientists’ research – especially when it is used to justify slashing the hydrocarbon energy on which employment, living standards and civilization depend.
Indeed, the IPCC solicits reviews of its publications but is under no obligation to address any criticisms that scientists raise – in contrast to the normal peer-review process.
Unfortunately, the IPCC has refused to conduct its own quality control – and has repeatedly promoted scare stories about rising seas, melting Himalayan glaciers, disappearing Amazon rainforests, more severe storms and droughts, and other disasters. By now anyone familiar with the Climategate and IPCC scandals knows these headline-grabbing claims are based on nothing more than exaggerated computer model outputs, deliberate exclusion of contrary findings, questionable air temperature station locations, and even “research” by environmental activists such as the World Wildlife Fund.
The Climategate emails made it clear that the truth was even worse. The emails paint a vivid picture of advocacy scientists strong-arming the publisher of a science journal, Climate Research, against publishing the work of Willie Soon and his associate, Sallie Baliunas. Pro-IPCC scientists threatened to boycott the journal, and intimidated or colluded with editors and grant program officers to channel funding, published only the work of advocacy scientists and rejected funding requests and publications from any scientists who disagreed with them on global warming. Mr. Suzuki’s efforts mirror their campaign – and no wonder.
The global warming scare has fizzled. The sun has entered a new “quiet” phase, and average global temperatures have been stable for 15 years. Climate conferences in Copenhagen and elsewhere have gone nowhere. Kyoto has become little more than a footnote in history. Countries that agreed to “climate stabilization” policies are retreating from that untenable position. The public realizes that climate science is far from “settled.” The climate-chaos religion is about to go the way of Baal-worship.
Most important, Canadians, Americans and Europeans alike are beginning to realize that the real dangers are not from global warming. They are from potentially cooler global temperatures that could hamstring agriculture – and from government (and Suzuki-advocated) policies that are driving energy prices so high that companies are sending jobs to Asia, and millions of families can no longer afford to heat and cool their homes, drive their cars or pay for the electricity that powers all the wondrous technologies that make our lives infinitely better, safer and healthier than even kings and queens enjoyed just a century ago.
British PM orders review into green taxes -- against Liberal opposition
The Coalition was riven by bitter infighting over green taxes last night after David Cameron ordered a review to stem the rise in energy bills. Green taxes have been blamed for pushing energy prices to record levels, but the Prime Minister’s intervention met fierce opposition from the Lib Dems. They insist the Government’s green energy targets are sacred.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said it would be ‘short-sighted and foolish’ to try to cut energy bills in the short term by tearing up the Government’s environmental policies.
But Downing Street said it was right to include green energy subsidies in a wider review of measures designed to ease the financial squeeze on families.
Asked if the government was going to review green taxes, Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: ‘You would expect us, when families’ budgets are under pressure, to look at whether or not more can be done to help them. That’s what the Government will be doing.’
The review is expected to focus on the £1.3billion-a-year Energy Companies Obligation (Eco) scheme, which the energy firms claim will add £100 a year to bills.
But other green taxes, including subsidies for windfarms and the so-called carbon price floor, which is expected to raise £1billion a year for the Government, could also come under the spotlight.
The Prime Minister said this week he did not want costly subsidies for windfarms and other renewable energy to last ‘a minute longer than is necessary’.
Chancellor George Osborne is also pushing for changes to green subsidies and taxes to ease energy prices.
The pressure has mounted since Labour leader Ed Miliband announced he would freeze energy bills for 20 months if Labour won power in 2015 – despite having admitted in 2009 that the green taxes he brought in as Energy Minister in the Labour government were bound to push energy prices up.
Mr Cameron has dismissed the pledge as a ‘con’, but ministers fear the simple message could prove popular with hard-pressed voters struggling to cope with soaring bills.
Some Tory ministers are pushing for the party to enter the next election pledging to scrap, water down or delay a string of green measures to bring down energy bills.
Mr Osborne is keen to see some progress before his autumn statement on the economy in December.
But major change is likely to be frustrated by deep-seated opposition from the Lib Dems.
‘The Tories can say what they want, but we will not back down on this,’ a Lib Dem source said last night.
The Eco scheme is a levy on energy companies used to insulate the homes of people living in fuel poverty, who are defined as those spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating. Much of the cost of the scheme is passed on to consumers in the form of higher bills. But the Lib Dems will fight any attempt to dilute or scrap the schemes.
One Lib Dem source said: ‘The Tories keep talking about energy prices but we are talking about bills. Insulating homes will get bills down in the long run.’
Mr Cable yesterday acknowledged there was a ‘continuing argument’ within Government about the balance between green targets and affordable energy. He insisted the Lib Dems would not back down, adding: ‘If you are taking a long-term view about shifting the British economy on to a less polluting, a less carbon-based system we have to provide those incentives. ‘What will happen in the long term is that the cost of renewable energy will fall.’
The row follows the controversial announcement by energy giant SSE that it will hike prices by 8.2 per cent this winter.
On average, dual-fuel bills for millions of SSE customers will rise by £111 to £1,465 a year, the highest price ever seen in the country. Other major power firms are expected to follow suit.
Energy minister Michael Fallon urged the firm’s customers to shop around for a better deal.
But SSE boss Alistair Phillips-Davies said the Government could help by scaling back green taxes and slowing the replacement of cheap fossil fuels with dearer renewable power.
He said: ‘If we carry on firmly behind the green agenda we will continue to have price increases like this.’
Tata: UK manufacturing revival threatened by green levies
Britain's manufacturing revival is being hampered by a raft of UK-specific green taxes, steel giant Tata has said, as it called for the Government to do more to create a "level playing field" with the rest of Europe.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said on Friday that while abandoning green policies would be "short-sighted and foolish", protecting energy-intensive industries was a priority. "My particular concern is to make sure that the chemical and steel industries for example are not disadvantaged by very high energy prices, and we introduce schemes to make sure they're compensated and properly offset," he told BBC Radio 4.
But Tata, which employs 18,500 people in the UK, warned that an array of green levies, including the so-called carbon price floor - charged on fossil fuels used in power generation - was putting the company at a competitive disadvantage.
The second part of a £250m Government compensation package to protect companies from the unilateral tax, introduced last April, is currently awaiting approval from Brussels.
"While we welcome the Government's compensation package ... there are still tens of millions of pounds of other UK only green taxes hitting us today," a spokesman said.
With energy costs for industry already up to 50pc higher than in France or Germany, we need government to provide a level playing so that we can compete in the global race."
Energy minister Michael Fallon has said that failure to mitigate the cost of green levies for UK-based companies would be the equivalent of "assisted suicide". Before becoming energy minister, Mr Fallon also called the carbon tax "a fairly absurd waste of your money".
David Attenborough wrong to worry about global population increase, says Professor Robert Winston
Sir David Attenborough is wrong to worry about global population increase, Professor Robert Winston has said, as he claims those who fear IVF will exacerbate the problem are "a bit ignorant".
Prof Winston, a member of the House of Lords and pioneering researcher in the field of fertility, said those who believed bringing more children into an "over-burgeoning population" were simply "not thinking".
Instead, he argued, the number of IVF babies - around five million so far - is statistically insignificant, with technological developments more likely to actually lead to a decrease in population.
Sir David Attenborough has commented extensively on the problems of population growth on the natural world, previously saying human beings were a "plague on Earth".
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday (Sun), Prof Winston said scare-mongering reports about IVF have led to some people believing "we're in a new world that has gone sickeningly wrong".
Instead, he argued, they should celebrate the new life that makes up only a "trivial percentage" of the global population.
Speaking of fears over population growth, told an audience: "Many of my friends like David Attenborough, who I respect as a most intelligent man, have probably got this wrong,
"Because again and again where we see technology implemented to get clean water, where you have stable government, where you have education of women, where you actually have a decent infrastructure across society, the problem is not rising population but actually falling population, as it is in most of Western Europe."
Prof Winston, who appeared at the festival to publicise the new book Science Year by Year, added those who opposed IVF over fears of a rising population were "a bit ignorant".
He added: ""What we should in fact be doing is celebration gone fact that this new technology has given birth to around five million lives worldwide that wouldn't have existed.
"Now of course, what often happens with people who are a bit ignorant or not thinking, they say 'we've got an over-burgeoning population in the world, why create more children?'
"Well actually five million against five or six billion or even nine billion is such a trivial percentage that its really quite irrelevant.
"One of the aspects of this is that we know technology as done a fantastically important thing in preventing expanding populations.
"It's very probable that we will see a decrease in population."
Speaking earlier this year, Sir David Attenborough told the Radio Times: "We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so.
"It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now."
Yes, Putin's a brute, but it's Greenpeace who are the biggest menace to our future
Greenpeace, the world’s biggest and most battle-hardened environmental campaigning organisation, is in a state of shock.
Last week, Russian investigators said that they had found ‘narcotic substances’ on board Arctic Sunrise, the Greenpeace vessel they seized after its crew had used it in an attempt to storm an oil rig of the state-controlled firm Gazprom. They added that the drugs included poppy straw, an ingredient for opiates.
You would think that Greenpeace might be proud to have been identified as scrupulously organic in its drug use; but its spokesman denounced the Russians’ claim as a ‘smear, pure and simple’.
Of course, Greenpeace would never stoop to blackening the name of its opponents, would it? Or exaggerating? Or even making things up — all in the noble cause of ‘saving the planet’?
The oil business has long been the organisation’s top target. Back in 1995, Greenpeace mounted a ferocious campaign to block Shell from dismantling out at sea an offshore oil storage depot known as Brent Spar. Greenpeace claimed that it contained more than 5,500 tonnes of remaining crude oil that Shell had not managed to extract — and that its dispersal in the North Sea would amount to some sort of ecological holocaust. Shell insisted that only around 50 tonnes of the black stuff were left.
Greenpeace duly occupied Brent Spar. The force of their accompanying rhetoric — widely believed at the time — caused havoc for the Anglo-Dutch business. After two months, it backed down, pointing out that it could no longer put up with ‘violence against Shell service stations, accompanied by threats to Shell staff’.
At great cost, Brent Spar was brought back onshore, where its contents were disposed of — for no net environmental gain: even Nature magazine described this outcome as ‘a needless dereliction of rationality’.
And it turned out that Shell had been right all along: there really were only about 50 tonnes of oil in it.
Greenpeace’s then UK ‘head of science’ sniffed that its 100-fold exaggeration of the threat was just ‘a minor mistake’.
Pictures of even a single seabird covered with crude oil are, of course, guaranteed to keep Greenpeace in fundraising good health.
The wider truth, however, is that the oceans can and do safely absorb vast quantities of crude oil. No permanent damage has been done to the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico by the biggest oil-spillage in history, from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig.
Its total leakage of seven million tonnes has either evaporated or been devoured by oil-eating microbes. The stuff is 100 per cent organic, after all.
That episode has been a disaster on several levels, but none environmental. There were the horrible deaths of the 11 workers in the rig’s original blow-out; there were the billions of dollars siphoned out of BP’s shareholders (including every large British pension fund) by avaricious U.S. lawyers and their clients; and there was the dreadful waste of seven million tonnes of oil — which should, once refined, have been put to good use in the fuel tanks of motorists.
But Greenpeace regards bringing down the cost of motoring as a crime against the planet, rather than as the way in which countless millions can have an easier life.
In truth, this multinational organisation, which employs 2,200, with annual global revenues of £196 million, has a decidedly chilly attitude towards suffering humanity.
It has led a campaign to harass and frustrate ‘the Golden Rice Project’, a not-for-profit scheme backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This would modify conventional rice with the genes for beta-carotene so that it would provide much more vitamin A per mouthful.
Vitamin A deficiency kills more than a million children every year and is the most significant cause of early years’ blindness in the developing world. Boosting vitamin A in the staple diet is the obvious and cheapest solution — one that, for example, the medical authorities in the Philippines have been pleading for.
Greenpeace, however, purports to regard any form of crop genetic modification as too risky to be contemplated, let alone tested: whenever it can, it destroys such tests physically, thus showing its fundamental contempt for the scientific method.
But then its gospel is Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, which predicted that man-made pesticides would cause ‘practically 100 per cent of the human population to be wiped out from a cancer epidemic in one generation’.
That was more than 50 years ago; we’re still here — and with a much longer life expectancy.
Unfortunately for Greenpeace’s characteristically piratical attempt to mobilise opinion against the Russians’ exploration for oil in the Arctic, the government of President Putin is less easily swayed by adverse public relations than our own politicians are.
While many newspapers in this country seem horrified by the seizure on charges of piracy of 28 Greenpeace activists — and I would endorse the call to release the two working journalists who were on board the Arctic Sunrise — there is not much of a Russian eco-chattering class for President Putin to worry about. Nor will he be troubled by the fact that the singer Damon Albarn and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood (the woman without whom no green vigil can be called complete) have joined the demonstrations for the ‘Greenpeace 28’.
While it must be frightening and unpleasant for the Greenpeace activists to be refused bail, awaiting the possibility of a trial for piracy in Murmansk, I wonder what they had imagined would be the reaction of the Russian coastguard, defending the security of what in any waters would be a highly sensitive installation.
They had been warned to back off in the most explicit terms and told that any attempt to scale the exploration rig would be regarded as a hostile act.
They were very brave to attempt it; that I would not deny. But they cannot as of right expect our support of an attempt to sabotage the lawful activities of a Russian state-owned company — and in breach of the UN’s Convention on the Law of the Sea, too.
It is possible that the Russian investigators have ‘smeared’ Greenpeace with their allegation of illegal drugs on board the Arctic Sunrise. Yet faced with the unenviable imaginary choice of a government run by Vladimir Putin and one by Greenpeace, I would vote for the former every time.
Putin might be a vengeful and autocratic ruler in the Russian tradition; but he is not part of a gang of well-meaning fools seeking to drive mankind back into pre-industrial poverty.
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Posted by JR at 7:54 PM