Friday, September 23, 2022

Important new paper challenges IPCC’s claims about climate sensitivity

A new paper reduces the estimate of climate sensitivity – the amount of warming expected for a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations – by one third. The results therefore suggest that future global warming will be much less than expected.

The paper, by independent scientist Nic Lewis, has just appeared in the journal Climate Dynamics. It is an important challenge to the official view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Lewis has critiqued a 2020 assessment of climate sensitivity by Sherwood et al., which strongly influenced the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, in 2021. Lewis commented:

"It is unfortunate that Sherwood et al.'s assessment of climate sensitivity, which underpinned the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, contained such serious errors, inconsistencies and deficiencies in its methods".

After correcting the Sherwood et al. methods and revising key input data to reflect, primarily, more recent evidence, the central estimate for climate sensitivity comes down from 3.1°C per doubling of CO2 concentration in the original study to 2.16°C in the new paper.

This large reduction shows how sensitive climate sensitivity estimates still are to input assumptions, and that values between 1.5°C and 2°C remain quite plausible.

Climate sensitivity represents the long-term global temperature increase caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. There are different measures of climate sensitivity. Both the Sherwood and Lewis papers estimate the so-called ‘effective’ climate sensitivity, which reflects a new equilibrium state projected from centennial changes after a doubling of the CO2 concentration. This measure is considered the most relevant one for predicting climate change in the coming two centuries.

Climate sensitivity has always been a very important, but also highly uncertain, parameter in the climate change discourse. Earlier IPCC reports assessed its value as likely to be somewhere between 1.5°C and 4.5°C, with a best estimate of 3°C. However, prompted by the Sherwood paper, the 2021 Sixth Assessment Report moved that range upwards, to 2.5 to 4°C. Although for outsiders this might sound boring, for insiders it was a revolutionary change.

Lewis’s corrections and revisions lead to a likely range of 1.75 to 2.7°C, which is not only lower but is also much less uncertain than either the 2021 official IPCC assessment or the very similar Sherwood et al. estimate (2.6 to 3.9°C).

Nic Lewis is the lead or sole author of ten peer-reviewed papers on climate sensitivity. He was a participant in the 2015 workshop that kicked off the World Climate Research Programme project that led to the Sherwood et al. 2020 paper, but he was not a co-author of that paper.

Lewis commented:

"The substantial reduction in assessed climate sensitivity upon updating key input data suggests that the increase in the bottom of the climate sensitivity range in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report was unjustified".

Lewis’s paper is entitled 'Objectively combining climate sensitivity evidence’.


Move over, Greta: new influencer makes nuclear cool

When she was 11, Greta Thunberg stopped eating for two months. Her heart rate slowed and her blood pressure dropped. She was anxious about climate change, an anxiety that would go on to spur a worldwide protest movement that culminated in her notorious “How dare you” address to the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit.

Thunberg is not alone in her anxiety. Ask any member of Gen Z today what they are afraid of and they will tell you: climate change. In a study of 10,000 young people in 10 countries, published in The Lancet in Dec­ember last year, 59 per cent of young people surveyed around the world were found to be “extremely worried” about the climate, with 84 per cent at least moderately worried. More than 50 per cent felt sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless and guilty, and more than 45 per cent said their feelings interfered with their daily life and functioning.

One of the reasons this climate anxiety is so debilitating is because constructive messages that provide a feeling of hope are few and far between.

Which is one reason I’m excited about Isabelle Boemeke, the world’s first nuclear-power influencer. A former fashion model from Brazil, Boemeke is cutting through to a young audience with playful memes about the merits of nuclear power. It doesn’t hurt that she is gorgeous and funny. It also helps that her message is backed by a solid scientific consensus.

In a TED talk delivered this week, Boemeke describes how she became a nuclear power advocate after reading tweets from American planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, an advocate for nuclear. Porco piqued Boemeke’s interest as she assumed, like many of her peers, there was something wrong with nuclear power.

But after speaking to dozens of scientists and gathering their opinions on nuclear energy, she described receiving the same answer over and over again. The message was: 1) nuclear power is good; 2) we need it; and 3) people hate it. Why do people hate nuclear energy? Boemeke argues it’s because of a bad meme. A concept first developed by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, a meme is an idea that spreads through human cultures through imitation. Like a gene, a meme can self-replicate, mutate and respond to selection pressures. And like certain genes, memes can be advantageous or deleterious (like the genes for a heritable disease).

The meme that nuclear energy is bad is a particularly deleter­ious one for human civilisation. Created in the 1970s, the meme arose primarily out of a legitimate fear of global nuclear warfare. Groups such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Peace Action opposed nuclear armament and testing.

But this concern mutated into hostility towards nuclear energy itself, a shift Boemeke argues was as irrational as opposing electric­ity on the basis of the electric chair. It is understandable many baby boomers harbour a deep-seated fear about nuclear energy. Yet for those of us born after the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war is much less salient.

Climate change, on the other hand, looms large as a profound existential threat.

Boemeke acknowledges that over the past 10 years, despite spending trillions on renewables, the world still gets only 8 per cent of its electricity from wind and solar. While Boemeke prefers renewables to fossil fuels, she is realistic in acknowledging that wind and solar are not enough. Her central argument is that nuclear power is humanity’s best hope for replacing fossil fuels.

On the issue of safety, Boe­meke argues the problem is that nuclear accidents are rare but dramatic (attracting lots of attention), while deaths from fossil fuels are pervasive yet boring (attracting little attention). And she’s not wrong.

A 2018 study that measured global deaths from air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as wood and coal estimated that 8.7 million deaths occurred globally in 2018 alone. Boemeke points out that these statistics equate to 5.8 Chernobyls a day.

On the issue of nuclear waste, she tells her audience about the repositories being built deep underground in geologically stable locations in Finland and Sweden. On the issue of cost, she reminds us that solar energy was once considered to be too expensive but that we decided solar was “cool” and invested in it.

Boemeke’s vision is a challenging one but ultimately full of hope. “What if, instead of viewing nuclear power as destructive, we view it as a force for energy independence and even peace,” she asks. “What if this technology offers our best hope for the future? A future where wars aren’t funded by our addiction to fossil fuels. A future where energy is clean. A future where electricity finally makes its way to the 700 million people on earth who still don’t have access to it.”

The world has become accustomed to climate change activists who wish to take humanity backwards to a time of agrarian primitivism. From Extinction Rebellion fanatics who want to destroy capitalism, to Thunberg’s advocacy of the degrowth movement, too many environmentalists advocate for a strategy that would unwind our living standards and sentence the global poor to a destitute future.

A more positive vision of environmentalism is one that is not in conflict with capitalism, high living standards or technology. And it is one that is not in conflict with lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, either.

If Thunberg was the face of climate anxiety, Boemeke may become the face of climate hope. All she asks is that we help her spread the meme that nuclear energy is cool.


Facing calls to resign, World Bank's Malpass changes answer on climate crisis

Under pressure to resign for declining to say whether he accepts the scientific consensus on global warming, World Bank President David Malpass said on Thursday it was clear greenhouse emissions are causing climate change and defended his record as bank chief.

Malpass sought to restate his views in a note to staff and an interview on CNN International, during which he was asked if he was a climate change denier. His views drew scrutiny after he refused to say during a public event this week whether he believes fossil fuel burning is warming the planet.

"I'm not a denier," Malpass told CNN International.

"It's clear that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from manmade sources, including fossil fuels, methane, the agricultural uses, the industrial uses, so we're working hard to change that," Malpass said.

Malpass has long faced criticism from climate advocates, who renewed calls on President Joe Biden to replace him. His remarks at a climate event hosted by the New York Times on Tuesday also rekindled concerns about the bank's lack of a deadline to stop funding fossil fuels. read more

Speaking onstage during a panel on climate finance, Malpass was asked several times whether he believes the "manmade burning of fossil fuels is rapidly and dangerously warming the planet." He tried to dodge the question before saying: "I don't even know. I'm not a scientist."

The president of the United States, the largest World Bank shareholder, traditionally nominates World Bank presidents, subject to confirmation by the bank's board. Former president Donald Trump nominated Malpass to a five-year term in 2019.


Australian Greens: Don't bother us with facts

Are Greenies EVER interested in the facts?

Imagine being a political party that obsesses about identity-driven virtue signalling as the most important qualification for Parliament – and then not even being able to get that right.

The NSW Greens have been forced to apologise – not once, but twice – for seeking donations to elect the first Indigenous woman to State Parliament.

The Greens – whose commitment to solar panels and wind turbines is matched only by their obsession with race and gender – failed to notice that two Indigenous women had already been elected.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on them. We live in an age where the chief medical officer cannot say for certain what a woman is.

Authenticating aboriginality is even more complicated, involving proof of ancestry and confirmation of acceptance by the Indigenous community.

Nevertheless, when identity politics is your raison d’etre you’d expect the Greens to be at least competent.

A fundraising email for Greens Upper House candidate Lynda-June Coe told supporters ‘there’s never been a First Nations woman in the NSW Parliament’.

Except that wasn’t true, and if the Greens devoted half as much time to studying history as they did to cultivating grievance, they would have known that.

In defence of the Greens, maybe we can agree it was their truth. But I digress.

The email went on to ask supporters to donate $25 so ‘we can change that’.

It took someone on Twitter to point out that Linda Burney, an Indigenous woman who is currently the Indigenous Affairs Minister, had served as the member of Canterbury for 13 years before entering federal politics.

The Greens issued an apology on Tuesday, but virtue-signallers-gonna-virtue-signal. So the apology went like this:

‘This email was incorrect and a correction and apology has been emailed this afternoon.

‘The email intended to note only that Lynda-June would be the first First Nations person in the Upper House of NSW Parliament.’

All was not lost. See what they did there? While voting Green wouldn’t result in the first First Nations woman in Parliament, it would result in the first First Nations woman in the Upper House of Parliament.

Except that wasn’t true either, so the Greens’ apology had about as much value as the Greens’ climate policy – net zero.

Auburn MP Lynda Voltz – whose grandfather was Indigenous and grew up on the St Clair Aboriginal Mission in Singleton – was elected to the NSW Upper House in 2007 and served for 11 years.

So the Greens, having already apologised, were then forced to apologise for the apology. Their economic policy was beginning to make more sense!

Greens NSW State Election Campaign co-ordinator Andrew Blake wrote:

‘Greens NSW unreservedly apologise to Ms Burney and Ms Voltz and acknowledge the work they have done for the people of NSW during their time in NSW parliament.’

In claiming that the Greens were the one group you could count on to recognise Indigenous women, the Greens had become the one group that failed to recognise Indigenous women.


All of which leaves the Greens with an enormous problem.

‘Help elect the third First Nations woman to the NSW Parliament’ doesn’t have quite the same appeal as their original virtue signalling strategy.

The Greens will now be forced to find another reason to recommend their candidate, or perhaps find a different candidate that belongs to a smaller identity group.

Alternatively, the Greens could just stick to policy (except they aren’t much good at that either)




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