Has the IPCC rendered itself irrelevant?

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"Has the IPCC rendered itself irrelevant?"

If you go to the homepage of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, you will find at the top one of the most amazing statements ever issued by that body:

The IPCC is currently starting to outline its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) which will be finalized in 2014.

2014?  How useless is that?

While glacial change may no longer be an apt term for what is actually happening to the world’s glaciers, it is an ironically apt term for what has happened to the IPCC.

Originally the assessments of the state of understanding of the science were going to be every 5 years, then that slid to every 6 years, and now we are apparently at 7 years between reports.

The Fourth Assessment should have been sufficient to jumpstart serious action (see “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly“).  But it ended up be out of date the minute the ink was dry for several reasons:

Indeed, the Fourth Assessment was out-of-date so quickly that the Bush Administration itself (!) issued a climate science report the very next year (which I’m told was held up for months by Bushies who didn’t want it to come out before the election) — signed off on by Bush’s science advisor, Commerce Secretary and Energy Secretary that pointed out in detail how much of on underestimate it was (see US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections, SW faces “permanent drying” by 2050).

The net result is that deniers and delayers like American Thinker and Lomborg actually (mis)quote the IPCC report on behalf of their do-nothing recommendations and that we already know things are almost certainly going to be much, much worse on our current emissions path than the IPCC said (see “Yes, the science says on our current emissions path we are projected to warm most of U.S. 10 – 15°F by 2100, with sea level rise of 5 feet or more, and the SW will be a permanent Dust Bowl“).

We need a major new report by 2012 at the latest — and frankly one sooner than would be most useful.  Since the IPCC has apparently taken itself out of the game, I’d strongly recommend that the Obama administration adopt a four-fold strategy.

First, science adviser John Holdren should initiate a detailed series of reports on U.S. impacts — temperature rise, sea level rise, Dust-Bowl-ification, spread of disease, ocean acidification, and so on — ending with a full assessment on the total cost of inaction (see “An introduction to global warming impacts“).  Second, Energy Secretary Steven Chu should initiate a detailed series of reports on mitigation technologies and costs — efficiency, cogeneration, solar PV, concentrated solar thermal, and so on (see “An introduction to the core climate solutions“).  Third, the Administration can then issue a Stern-like report on the costs of action versus the costs of inaction.

Fourth, the Administration should task the National Academy of Sciences with doing its own U.S. version of the IPCC Fifth Assessment — cochaired by NASA’s James Hansen and Carnegie Institution’s Christopher Field, to be published in 2010 or 2011 at the latest.

We simply don’t have the luxury of waiting another 5 years for the next major assessment of climate science, impacts, and mitigation.

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46 Responses to Has the IPCC rendered itself irrelevant?

  1. Harrier says:

    In five years we’ll already be feeling the impact of accelerating climate change. Nobody will need the IPCC’s report because the intensifying droughts, floods, and heat waves will probably have spurred many of the major players into action.

    At least I hope they’ll have been spurred to action.

  2. Brewster says:

    Harrier, have you always been such a hopeless optimist?

    It seems to me that the faster and harder change hits, the more strident the denialsphere becomes, and politicians back off again…

  3. David B. Benson says:

    I don’t want to waste people’s time producing YAR (Yet Another Report). It will be used as a excuse to delay action until it is completed and studied.

    Act Now!

    :x

  4. Gail says:

    I finished Joe’s excellent Hell and High Water and today started reading William Calvin’s Global Fever.

    It was positively spooky to read his descriptions of the effects of long term drought. It is exactly what I see with my own two eyes.

    Harrier, it’s not going to take 5 years. Extreme weather and ecosystem collapse are already here, and people are going to be unable to ignore it for very much longer. It’s going to start costing significant sums of money.

    In addition to the deleterious effects of dryness combined with excessive temperatures , today I came across a pair of plum trees that illustrate with wild exactitude and concision what I have observed in general. In the next few days I will try to go back and post a link to pictures but basically, they are about 15 years old, and show about 30% as many blossoms as you would expect from years past. Most fascinating is the bark which is splitting all over the trunks and branches, and where the sap has been seeping out over the winter, creating the most bizarre and unique formations.

    It’s quite extraordinary to see the damage of freezing sap in a tree that should be dormant, so vividly.

    And so, I would say the IPCC is irrelevant and it’s going to be up to us folks, scientists, bloggers, and ordinary people, to make enough of a stink – as well as noisily support the Obama administration – to save our planet.

    Significant optimistic other suggests, no worries, we put the best of our civilization – you know, art and literature and music – into a time capsule.

  5. “You don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows”

    The IPCC was a political report on a scientific subject. Its next report will reflect the changed scientific understanding of the then new political assembly as it exists two years before the report is issued.

  6. hapa says:

    updates to the AR4 is the meantime would be helpful

  7. ecostew says:

    The IPCC process should continue as it’s a foundation of “consensus.” We must pursue forums that compliment that foundation aggressively and now!

  8. Brewster says:

    “Significant optimistic other suggests, no worries, we put the best of our civilization – you know, art and literature and music – into a time capsule.”

    Any idea who’ll be around to open it?

    Sorry – too much bad news this week…

  9. ecostew says:

    As Joe said “hell and high water” and the news on AGW-related changes is going to trend, and? more hell and higher water. With intensifying AGW, what can one expect.

  10. Sasparilla says:

    Great article, the recommendations are exactly what needs to be done – I pray/hope the administration is smart enough to grab these ideas and run with them full bore. I can’t cheer those recommendations enough!

    I was quite frankly shocked that the next IPCC wasn’t coming till 2014 – its way too late by then, bet the denier interests/countries had a hand in that delaying. As the author stated, totally useless, in fact worse than useless, damaging since the other IPCC from 2007 (but whose data is from 2005 and earlier and no big feedbacks taken into account) sticks around as the official document.

    Thanks for bringing attention to this extremely important issue – the IPCC report is the benchmark all the governments in the world rely on when discussing climate change – having it delayed like this, in our current situation, is a catastrophe.

  11. Will Greene says:

    The fourth assessment still paints a very bleak picture of the future without action.

  12. paulm says:

    That won’t be a report, its the Epilogue.

    Looks like were being honest with ourselves now…

    Global warming can no longer be avoided

    http://it.moldova.org/news/global-warming-can-no-longer-be-avoided-196813-eng.html

    U.S. government scientists say their research indicates the effects of significant global warming on Earth can no longer be avoided.

    NCAR scientist Warren Washington, said the findings gained through several supercomputer studies indicate the Earth can no longer avoid significant global warming during this century. “But,” he said, “if the world were to implement this level of emission cuts, we could stabilize the threat of climate change.”

  13. paulm says:

    Bizarre to say the least…

    Rajendra Pachauri, the George W. Bush administration-tapped head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said: “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.”

  14. Phillip Huggan says:

    No reason for IPCC not to make their next report a living document.

  15. John Mashey says:

    Joe:

    re: ‘Fourth, the Administration should task the National Academy of Sciences with doing its own U.S. version of the IPCC Fifth Assessment — cochaired by NASA’s James Hansen and Carnegie Institution’s Christopher Field, to be published in 2010 or 2011 at the latest.”

    Have you talked to them about this?

    1) The US can and must do things we can do, regardless of what anybody else does. The US can always do its own interim reports and has often done so.

    2) Despite all the issues you raise [and Chris Field talks quite wryly of the difficulties of the line-by-line process, which make it amazing that anything happens], some of the value of this process is that it *is* inclusive and international.

  16. Rick says:

    and here I thought IPCC reports were the Bible of the AGW movement.

    [JR: I guess you don’t read this blog much.]

  17. hapa says:

    rick, that’s very confusing. are you saying you also think christianity is a hoax? that’s a little OT.…

  18. jorleh says:

    IPCC is out of the play, definitely. We have no use of this corrupted delayer. IPCC is more catastrophic than the climate catastrophe an sich.

  19. Neil Howes says:

    Joe,
    Going back over your articles of the last few months, your arguments hang on selecting extreme scenarios, for example the 2007 IPCC has a range of possible emissions paths, the extreme A1F1 gives a projection of 1000ppm by 2100, and it seems that average emissions of 11-15Gt/year would give that result. But is that the result we are likely to have, is that assuming many countries achieve 2020 targets of reductions in CO2, does that assume continued increases in oil, are we producing that level of CO2 today?

    [JR: My arguments rest on what the literature says in the last two years, which just happens to be much worse than what the IPCC said, for reasons I spelled out in this post.

    Yes, it is “the result we are likely to have” if every country that has passed legally binding targets meets them. Why? Because there are no legally binding targets past 2012 for rich countries, and China’s emissions are exploding, and we haven’t passed a law requiring our emissions to drop. Apparently you don’t actually read the posts that I write, which make it clear that I am talking about what would happen on the business as usual emissions path, which now exceed the A1F1 scenario. Plus you failed to read my Nature Online article, which explains what the IPCC report really said. Yes, we are on a path to 1000 ppm, like it or not.]

    The IPCC report gave several other possible projections.

    Perhaps the IPCC estimation of sea level rise( 26?-59cm) was too low;
    Then we have the follow up report
    “Bush’s science advisor, Commerce Secretary and Energy Secretary that pointed out in detail how much of on underestimate it was (see US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections, SW faces “permanent drying” by 2050).”
    But what the article is saying is probable sea level rises of 50-100cm.
    As far as I can make out none of the published studies you are using in “headlines” are saying that CO2 is going to be 1000ppm, or that temperatures are going to be >5-7C or that sea levels are going to be 2meters higher by 2100, YOU are selected not what they think is likely but what they have as extreme possibilities( due to uncertainties of models and future CO2). That’s fine to say WE COULD have this but not fine to say “recent observations confirm (IPCC) worst case scenario”..

    [JR: Hadley has published a study which you will find in my links that takes us to 1000 ppm — and their 5.5°C warming by 2100 scenario is obviously around 1000 ppm. MIT’s median is 866 ppm. NCAR is now projecting 750 ppm. The recent Copenhagen meeting of scientists is the one that warned we are emitting beyond A1F1, which is 1000 ppm.

    The literature has now become overwhelming that SLR is likely to be 1 meter or more on our current path. I’m sorry you don’t like what the scientific literature says.]

    No one has measured 1000ppm, recent observations may support the A1F1scenario as being more likely or the A1F1 scenario IF it eventuates may give a possible higher temperature than the 4C the IPCC predicted.

    I am more interested in what studies are concluding NOT provocative headlines, I can read the daily newspapers for those. Note, I do accept the explanation you gave me in an earlier post, but find fault in your acceptance of 1000ppm as the likely CO2 level for 2100.

    [JR: I didn’t say 1000 ppm is the “likely CO2 level for 2100″ — though Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland believes that (see here). I said we are on track for about 1000 ppm of our current emissions path. If it is only 850 ppm, we have still destroyed human civilization as we know it.

    Again, I’m sorry you don’t like what the scientific literature says. If you want people who misrepresent and downplay what the science says, I suggest you go to WattsUpWithThat. This is not the blog for you.]

  20. R Paul says:

    “I am more interested in what studies are concluding NOT provocative headlines, I can read the daily newspapers for those. Note, I do accept the explanation you gave me in an earlier post, but find fault in your acceptance of 1000ppm as the likely CO2 level for 2100.”

    Neil, are you not doing your homework on this issue? Look at what’s happening in Siberia. Yedoma is defrosting and microbes are churning out the methane which later breaks down and produces more CO2. Humans lit the fuse on the CO2 bomb. Now Mother Nature is amplifying our dirty work.

  21. DavidCOG says:

    I’ve never been impressed by the IPCC as an organisation. With the resources available to them, they could do a *much* better job of communicating the science. This latest development is appalling – I’m tempted to suggest a conspiracy, but “never ascribe to malice that which can be achieved by incompetence”.

    Their website, at times, has looked like a 5-star European tour company, with pictures of floodlit buildings and waterfalls, or covering their home page with a celebration of their 20 year anniversary – as though *that* is important in comparison to their goals. Whoever is in charge of their marketing needs to be replaced.

    And whoever is in charge of organising the next report definitely needs to be replaced.

    ~~~

    Neil Howes,

    Scientists naturally err on the side of caution and work within the data they have available. With a rapidly-moving target, like ACC, that has lead to repeated underestimates: the ice has melted faster than expected, the ocean has acidified and saturated more quickly than expected, tundra is releasing CH4 faster than expected.

    So, looking for reports that provide the least ‘alarmist’ prediction is like asking a crowd how many empty chambers are in the gun you have to your head and accepting the most favourable before pulling the trigger.

    We’re playing Russian Roulette with tipping points. The right strategy is to not pull the trigger – not try and work out how many times we can pull it before it goes bang!

  22. Lewis says:

    It sounds like the IPCC has decided, “Hey no one’s listening to us anyway so frak it. The arctic ice cap isn’t going to last the summer anyway and then we’ll get the blame for being conservative. All we’re going to do is say we were really, really wrong. It is way way worse than we said. And all the press will say is “IPCC WRONG” so why bother?”

    [/bitter angry cynical sarcasm font]

  23. Chris says:

    I see only one problem with your “four-fold” strategy, in that it only analyzes the symptoms of the disease, and not the disease itself!

    For instance, can anyone tell me what percentage of GW is caused by CO2 and what percentage is caused to methane emissions? No, nobody can, because most science today is focused on the effect and not the cause. Why have we quit testing the hypothesis. And don’t say the science is over, because that would be an extremely ignorant statement.

    Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but when one jumps outside the steps of the scientific method (discontinuing efforts to test the hypothesis and focusing solely on communicating the results) it is cause for alarm. I’m not saying that we shouldnt follow the other four steps, I’m just suggesting the need for a fifth one.

  24. paulm says:

    Hey Gail,

    The trees over here in the South West of Canada are having a hard time this winter.

    Spring kept coming and going and its got them all confused badly.

  25. Drew Jones says:

    Well said, Joe! Keep it up.

  26. Lou Grinzo says:

    In my opinion, this delay is very bad news, even with the watered-down nature of the last IPCC report. I see such reports as being a critical part of the information food chain:

    * Scientists know what’s going on.

    * Big, Official Reports (BORs) summarize it, ostensibly for policymakers.

    * Scientists, bloggers, and a handful of more enlightened policymakers talk to the media, educational institutions, and the public in general, using the BORs as part of their evidence.

    * Eventually enough of the public becomes convinced (despite the efforts of the denierbots) to replace or pressure the other, hesitant policymakers.

    * Good stuff happens, albeit much later than we’d prefer.

    The key point is whether we can make this policy magic happen without the BORs. Personally, I think that would make the situation much more difficult.

  27. John Mashey says:

    Some of the people whacking away here at the IPCC actually talk to IPCC authors often, but I suspect some don’t.

    DavidCOG: you say the IPCC organizers should be replaced. Can you be more specific? Which ones? All of them? Or specific names?

  28. Joris Prikken says:

    2014 is indeed late. It does seem to me that one of the functions of these reports; putting stakes in the ground, does serve an important purpose. For example 450 ppm and max 2 degrees warming have become part of our common understanding when debating climate change, although we may very well already have overshot these targets. Therefore IPCC AR5 will likely serve a purpose even if it trails reality…

    With regards to the strategy going forward, I’m trying to see where existing work fits in and I have a few questions maybe the community may help me answer…

    “First, science adviser John Holdren should initiate a detailed series of reports on U.S. impacts — temperature rise, sea level rise, Dust-Bowl-ification, spread of disease, ocean acidification, and so on — ending with a full assessment on the total cost of inaction”

    There is the is unified syntheses report “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” of which a second draft was released in January ’09. (I have a pdf copy, somehow I can’t find the link online anymore). This is basically the capstone “answer” of the research agenda set froth in 2003 by the CCSP.

    Isn’t this draft report essentially the US take on climate impacts on the US (minus the assesment of the cost of inaction)? And how could be build on this?

    [JR: Well, this is the Bush Administration version.]

    Additionally, there is also the recommendation for future research from CCSP that focuses on how to make research more actionable of decisions makers …
    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12595

    And Congress has started another program with the NAS that somehow is complementary to the CCSP programs…
    http://www.americasclimatechoices.org/index.shtml

    How do these two relate to one another and fit into the mix going forward?…

    Sorry for the many questions, great blog and great discussion…

  29. TomG says:

    The basic idea of the IPCC is valid. Extremely valid.
    The IPCC is failing us not because of what it’s doing, but because of what’s being done to it.
    Too much interference from the political leaderships of far too many nations has diluted and delayed the information from the IPCC.
    If the IPCC is removed from the picture, what have we got to replace it?
    And I mean replace it immediately. We don’t have the time to set up something new from scratch.
    Remove the political nonsense and the IPCC message will become clearer and come faster.
    But there is one thing I feel they should change.
    As they get sections of the next report done it should be released, instead of waiting to collect everything from every field of study and release it as one massive report every half dozen years or so.
    Release what they have as they get it.

  30. Dean says:

    I think that the IPCC has served an excellent role in the past. As times change, the process of climate change gets more advanced, and the studies and knowledge proliferate at a faster pace, it is falling behind. For any institution to come up quickly with surveys of the vast number of studies now being undertaken and completed would be a challenge, even if the underlying politics weren’t there.

    From what I’ve read on Realclimate, the climatologists really don’t like spending a lot of time on IPCC reports. It isn’t original research and they don’t like fighting the politics. It isn’t why they got into science. Having our best scientists spend so much time on IPCC updates actually takes them away from original research to some degree.

    As to having the NAS take up that slack – the question is this: what is it that will serve to move the political process along? Will an NAS report kick Congress in the duff? I doubt it. I also doubt that the fate of polar bears will have much impact. It is articles like the recent one in the LA Times and National Geographic. Sec Chu’s statements about agriculture in California. Seeing how the impacts will hit home in real and not abstract ways. Or pressure on the Washington Post that seems to have had a real effect.

  31. DavidCOG says:

    John Mashey,

    How can I be more clear? I said the people responsible for the marketing of the IPCC (especially the website) and whoever is responsible for organising synthesis of the next report.

    Admittedly, I speak from a position of some ignorance as to who and what are involved. I don’t have access to any members of the IPCC and they did not respond to an email I sent ~12 months ago.

    However, I cannot imagine what justification would change my opinion when, seemingly, it is going to take *seven* years to produce the next report – especially when we all know that AR4 was out of date before it went to print.

    Are you attempting to defend someone? You’ll need to be more specific and provide justification.

  32. Dorothy says:

    There are different ways of viewing data beside equations and columns of numbers, and now there’s Google Earth. The Met Office Hadley Centre has used Google Earth to present their data for global temperature anomaly this century. The projections are in the median range.

    Go to Earth Outreach KML: Climate Change In Our World at http://earth.google.co.uk/outreach/kml_entry.html#tClimate%20Change%20In%20Our%20World.
    Take a look at the Arctic, and toggling slowly one year at a time, watch the change from this year to the same time just one year from now. Then tell me you’re not frightened by what you see.

    You must first download GooGle Earth to get this to work. We have reposted instructions at our site:
    Arctic Global Warming Spike Imminent at http://westcoastclimateequity.org/?p=2767.

    IPCC scientists must know this. There is absolutely no excuse for not taking immediate and drastic action. Not to do so is a true crime against humanity.

    Note: I see in the preview of my comment that some of the text and the long link to the Earth Outreach KML is broken up, and I don’t know how to fix this. But the links work, and that’s what counts.

  33. BV says:

    Joe,

    I very much like your proposed steps, and I think it would be helpful for someone (e.g. Center for American Progress) to outline the political steps to make this proposal more concrete.

    For example, could this research/assessment be done within the context of the existing Climate Change Science Program (http://www.climatescience.gov)? If not, what about the provisions in the proposed House American Clean Energy and Security bill –
    (http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/04/01/01climatewire-house-bill-shifts-focus-to-climate-change-im-10371.html)
    Could a comprehensive assessment be done as part of the proposed requirements for Federal Agencies to assess adaptation?

  34. Steve Clark says:

    By 2014 you will all be freezing your butts off. I suggest you pray for warming.

    [JR: Sadly, prayer can’t save us from the willful ignorance of those who deny science.]

  35. I suggest you pray

    I’d be willing to look at the evidence you present that prayer is an effective method of investigating and/or changing physical reality.

  36. hapa says:

    re: steve clark’s comment.

    this is weird. month-to-month, the economic mess is looking “green shoots” to the wishful-thinkers, despite underlying weakness and the great depression’s major rallies throughout its down trend.

    with planetary systems, year-to-year, we have the same issue: those defending the disastrous paradigm see recovery in every math error and adjustment.

    complex trends play above and below the trend line. we are not in a good position; we need to batten the hatches and plan our way clear of the storm.

  37. hapa says:

    TLE: that’s twice, with the spooky. are we actually the same person?

  38. David B. Benson says:

    Chris — Such attribution studies are done all the time. Roughly speaking, CO2 is almost all and CH4 is a small fraction. See IPCC AR4 WG1 report.

    But maybe there is a FAQ on it:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-faqs.pdf

  39. John Mashey says:

    ALL:
    Unfortunately, even with good intentions, some of this sounds like the sorts of bug/enhancement requests I’ve gotten over the years, like simultaneous wishes from customers:

    a) The release cycle is too long [as here]

    b) The release cycle is too short [which in IPCC’s case, I sometimes hear from modelers]

    c) Want a coherent integrated release [which is what ARs are supposed to be], thoroughly tested

    d) Want individual features of next release as they are available

    e) Want incremental “patches” as available as addons to the previous release.
    [in IPCC terms, this would be like updating a few relevant chapters with key new data].

    f) Want software release synchronized with a specific piece of new hardware, or in IPCC terms, slip the schedule because some important new data pops up.

    g) Would rather have software releases that appear on predictable schedules, if necessary, dropping features.

    Put another way, IPCC-scheduling is very similar to that of complex software/hardware systems families, just more globally important.

    As is clear from the IPCC website, special reports sometimes come out in between ARs. (d)

    The ARs themselves don’t easily come out piecemeal chapter-by-chapter as they are “done”, as they are supposed to be (c), and as anyone who has ever done this kind of exercise will tell you, they have a bunch of groups working in parallel on their pieces, followed by cross-consistency checks.

    There has been a lot of complaint about the Emissions Scenarios being out-of-date, and as I understand it, they’re figuring on redoing that.

    Suppose *you* happened to be having lunch with one of the AR5 organizers tomorrow:

    a) What questions would you ask?

    b) Assuming you understand the constraints under which IPCC operates, what sorts of actionable, concrete wishes might people offer?

    Telling them “Shut down IPCC, don’t bother doing AR5″ is actionable. [I.e., they might or might not do it, but it’s at least clear and possible.]

    Begging for some kind of near-term interim report might be actionable, especially if it were (e).

    Telling an organizer that they should be able to ignore politics entirely is probably not actionable.

    They do have a plenary session coming next week.

  40. Ronald says:

    What is it that needs to be accomplished.

    Change the United States opinion to such an level that there is action to get the US to lower it’s emissions.

    Does the UN IPCC have an effect on US public opinion? hardly any.

    Does a Democratic Administration have an affect on the opinions of those not already onboard the need for greenhouse emissions controls? probably more, but not much more.

    Where is the rest of the scientific voices? Is it only governmental panels and governmental agencies that can do anything? Where are the college and University science departments. Isn’t this something that people who are usually not political to now step up to have some influence?

    Because if it’s only UN governmental panels and US governmental agencies, no wonder there isn’t any significant action on this. Is it only government funding of Universities and tuition for students that people in colleges and universities care about?

  41. Richard S Courtney says:

    Of course the next IPCC report has to be delayed.

    The IPCC is the InterGOVERNMENTal Panel on Climate Change. Governments are political bodies. And the IPCC’s function is – and always has been – to provide an appearance of scientific justification for political policies.

    That appearance becomes progressively more difficult to sustain with each year the globe fails to warm.

    The IPCC Reports were originally scheduled for publication at 5-year intervals. But a 5-year period after the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) would have to report cessation of global warming in the period since the AR4. There has been no mathematically significant rise in mean global temperature (MGT) since 1995. MGT has not again achieved the peak it had in the El Nino year of 1998 and has been static or gradually falling since 2001. Furthermore, the ‘fingerprint’ of enhanced greenhouse effect is greatest warming at altitude in the tropics, but independent measurements from weather balloons and from satellites both show slight cooling at altitude in the tropics. Meanwhile, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and anthropogenic emissions have continued to rise.

    The warming period from ~1970 to ~2000 was sandwiched between the cooling periods of ~1940 to ~1970 and ~2000 to the present. The changes between these warming and cooling periods coincide with phase reversals of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and, therefore, it seems that the present lack of warming is likely to continue for the next two decades.

    The governments served by the IPCC can only hope that global warming resumes prior to the next IPCC report. Failing that, the next IPCC Report needs to be delayed until the political objectives – such as those the governments hope to achieve at Copenhagen in December – are obtained.

    Richard

  42. Neil Howes says:

    Joe,
    When I read your detailed reply;
    “The literature has now become overwhelming that SLR is likely to be 1 meter or more on our current path. I’m sorry you don’t like what the scientific literature says.”
    I felt silly for not checking the literature and your previous articles. So a went back and also looked on RealClimate “How much will sea level rise”(4thSept 2008) and searched your site.
    this is all I could find:
    The IPCC (0.26-0.59 m, not accounting for accelerated glacial flow, but a high end temp projection of 6.4C)
    The US Geological study(0.5-1.0 meter)
    CCSP (0.19 -1.0, adding accelerated glacial flow(0.2m) and coastal sinking.
    Rahmstorf (0.5-1.4 m range )
    Pfeefer (0.8-2.0 m likely estimate 0.8m, with 2.0m if extreme glacial flow acceleration occurs)
    Delta Commission(0.55-1.10m being “high end estimate”)
    Carlson’s Eemian analogy when northern hemisphere was 2-5C warmer, was looking at Laurentide ice sheet melting (apparently only part of Greenland ice sheet melted)
    I may have missed an important paper, but on the above literature, 0.8 – 1.0 meter rise seems to be the likely rise since average 1980-1999, ie 0.76-0.96 m above 2009 levels.
    Perhaps you find a headline “…with sea level rise 5 feet or more” the same as “sea level may rise between 3 and 6.5 feet”

    [JR: Eemian had sea levels 15 to 20 feet above ours, but only 2°C warmer — so it is a perfectly fine analogy for a planet facing 5°C warming by the end of the century, where even another 5 feet is catastrophic. BTW, it is rather odd for you to cite “Eemian analogy when northern hemisphere was 2-5C warmer,” rather than the global warming figure, since most of the northern hemisphere is going to be considerably warmer than the projected global average of 4° to 5° C. Indeed, Greenland could easily be 10°C warmer.

    I have previously explained that the temperature and emissions projections are far beyond what the vast majority of the studies you cite modeled.

    Did you bother to read the Rahmstorf paper? The 1.4 meters projection clearly goes with the upper end of the IPCC warming, which we are poised to hit or exceed.

    Again, 0.8 m to 2.0 meters is the range that was given, and as I’ve said, that study clearly underestimated likely Antarctic or inland glacial melting.

    BTW, you are throwing in a lot of old literature reviews there that I don’t count as new science.

    We only need VERY partial Greenland melting, VERY partial WAIS melting, the vast majority inland glaciers gone, plus thermal expansion to get well beyond 5 feet.

    Try again.]

  43. radar says:

    re: Joe Romm,

    “Did you bother to read the Rahmstorf paper? The 1.4 meters projection clearly goes with the upper end of the IPCC warming, which we are poised to hit or exceed”

    “We are poised to hit or exceed” the IPCC warming estimates?

    How do you make that statement given that the global temp records of all major data sets have been below (cooler than) IPCC model means since 2000? Is there an up to date study or analysis that says 2 deg C / Century is too low?

    [JR: Easy, it’s called science. This decade will be the hottest in temperature record, as I’ve blogged, rising pretty much as fast as the IPCC said compared to the previous decade. And the best dataset, NASA’s, says 2005 was the hottest year on record, with 2007 tied for second.]

  44. FollowFacts says:

    Excellent idea to delay the report to 2014 – at least the summary for policymakers (a.k.a., politicians).

    By then, we have a better chance of shivering in the dark than we have of being warmer.

    We can then ship the entire crew of would-be tyrants to the center of Greenland (or Antarctica) to await the melt they have so expensively promoted.

  45. radar says:

    Re: Joe

    You have not missed the divergence of the models to observations, all data sets, through the second half of this decade. Unless the temperature suddenly jumps up impossibly high we will not catch up to the models this decade (that’s called math).

    Temps are currently below the IPCC AR4 predictions, it was only published in 2007 and is over predicting. More than one study says we won’t catch up to the models for 10-30 years.

    “We are poised to hit or exceed the IPCC estimates” is sensationalistic propaganda not science. You’ve got plenty of real data and should not have to lie to your readers.

  46. James P says:

    This decade will be the hottest in temperature record

    By whose measure? Practically everything I’ve read points the other way, and there are only 20 months to go…

    [JR: I guess you don’t read the science, then. Try the NASA data here or the Hadley data here].