December 11 News: The IPCC Consistently Understates Rate Of Climate Change, Say Scientists

Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world’s most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent, say a growing number of studies on the topic. [Climate Central]

A growing number of public health experts are recognizing the need to integrate information about climate change into their disaster preparedness and response mechanisms. [New York Times]

The booby prize this year for Dirtiest City in America goes to Fresno, California. [Forbes]

Fourth- and eighth-grade students in the United States continue to lag behind students in several East Asian countries and some European nations in math and science. [New York Times]

A US intelligence portrait of the world in 2030 predicts that China will be the largest economic power, climate change will create instability by contributing to water and food shortages, and there will be a “tectonic shift” with the rise of a global middle class. [Guardian]

The United States could see its standing as a superpower eroded and Asian economies will outstrip those of North America and Europe combined by 2030, according to the best guess of the U.S. intelligence community in its latest forecast. [Associated Press]

California is poised to meet its renewable energy target in the next eight years with a “comfortable margin” to spare as regulators work to promote projects that also help increase “green” jobs in the state. [Ventura County Star]

In an unexpected bonus, the very presence of the U.N. climate talks in energy-rich Qatar introduced the big-spending Gulf public to the issue of climate change close up for the first time. [Associated Press]

The operator of Japan’s Tsuruga nuclear power plant may be ordered to decommission the facility after seismologists confirmed that it sits directly atop an active fault line. [The Telegraph]

Wheat prices may climb 20 percent in the year through June as drought threatens crops from the U.S. to Russia, boosting global supply concerns, said last year’s second-biggest exporter. [Bloomberg]

30 Responses to December 11 News: The IPCC Consistently Understates Rate Of Climate Change, Say Scientists

  1. Will Fox says:

    “We suggest, therefore, that scientists are biased not toward alarmism but rather the reverse: toward cautious estimates, where we define caution as erring on the side of less rather than more alarming predictions.”

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Thanks for this, Stephen. Oreskes and Oppenheimer laid out what many of our best scientists have felt for some time.

    IPCC was useful at its beginning, when it was important to show the international consensus. Since then, it has become obvious that built in political considerations result in reports that are out of date, and subject to interference that is corrupt as well as political. Science itself does not arise from consensus, and IPCC should be no different.

    IPCC is not reformable, due to country review power and time lags. A much leaner and more nimble group needs to replace it, composed of a small group of scientists who are chosen by national academies. These scientists need to work on the reports full time, instead of volunteering when time permits. Bulletins should be issued quarterly. Feedback loops, breaking science, and worst case scenarios should be addressed.

    Most important, the precautionary principle should be operative in policy recommendations, not as a reflexive habit in diluting the science.

    This is all eminently doable. All that is required is for climate science leaders to act.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Researcher finds possible clue to children’s early antisocial behavior December 10, 2012 in Psychology & Psychiatry

    Both nature and nurture appear to be significant factors in early antisocial behaviors of adopted children, a Wayne State University researcher believes.

  4. Artful Dodger says:

    Interesting thoughts Mike, but I disagree about the causes of inaction. There was enough science in the first IPCC report in 1990 to warrant action. A recent review has shown that temperature increases predicted 20 years ago were remarkably accurate.

    It is the politics of the power elite that holds back climate action. The efforts of and ‘Do the Math’ have the potential to impact that, where as ever more accurate scientific evidence does not.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    The most honest three and a half minutes of television, EVER…


  6. An additional roundup of energy and climate headlines for 12/11 is published at

  7. Will Fox says:

    Please, please fix your spam filter. I’m really starting to lose patience with this site, constantly unable to post comments :-(

  8. Mike, you have this about right. No leader of any major economic power is going to approve actions in which they might lose their future economic advantages. Being labeled as a professional “job killer” is enough to scare them all into a catatonic state regarding climate action where nothing is allowed to wake them up to this new reality.

    Climate change is too important to be left in the hands of politicians.

    And I have a major disappointment where so called progressive Glen Greenwald chooses to sit on the sidelines regarding Canadadian oil stock owner Susan Rice’s nomination for SOS since anyone else nominated would be just as bad. See column here:

  9. prokaryotes says:

    This happened to most of us, depending on a word “white list” i guess. Though if an admin reads this they might check the spam filter/blocked users. But i agree this needs an update, either the anti spam feature needs to be changed or the settings configured.

    Is CP using Akismet, a white list or something else?

  10. catman306 says:

    Thanks! More TV like this and I’ll get one.

  11. Rick says:

    Thanks for the link. Most excellent, and very true.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Why Climate Change Denial Is Just Hot Air

    Imho, the image from that article deserves a report here..

  13. prokaryotes says:

    Why Climate Change Denial Is Just Hot Air added the link to the SkS interactive map…

  14. prokaryotes says:

    The original post – worth a visit!

    Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility – In One Pie Chart

    This is the ALpha and Omega about the entire “debate”…. and remember A picture is worth a thousand words

  15. catman306 says:

    Texas judge halts Keystone XL oil pipeline work

  16. Paul Magnus says:

    This is funny… worth a view…


  17. Paul Magnus says:

    The next 12-20 mnths are going to be wild. There is always a peak in extreme events around this delay after hot temperature peaks.

    Mind you, you get the feeling that the temp is still on an up swing and could be doing this for a considerable run of years….

    Just gives me goose bumps…

  18. prokaryotes says:

    This has me on alert…

    Arctic sea ice melt ‘may bring harsh winter to Europe’

    The unprecedented loss of polar sea ice may lead to ‘wild extremes’ in the UK and northern Europe, say researchers

  19. Mark E says:

    The “politics of the power elite” exist because the rest of us have – so far – been sufficiently happy to go along. If we condemn the elite (power over) we fail to make the conversion required to turn the tide (nonviolent power-with).

    So I would not point the damning finger at “them”. Instead I point it at *me*.

    Until I am doing EVERYTHING I possibly can, from my perspective I am the only one I have any business blaming.

  20. prokaryotes says:

    ‘The entire natural gas system’ is driving methane emissions — MIT study

    When energy companies extract shale gas, they emit only a fraction more methane into the atmosphere than companies doing conventional gas drilling, according to a new study.

    That fraction — about 216 gigagrams of methane in 2010 — was due to hydraulic fracturing, a technique in which drillers inject pressurized water, sand and chemicals to fracture shale rock and release trapped gas. Fracking accounted for 3.6 percent of the 6,002 gigagrams of methane emitted overall by natural gas operations in 2010.

    The implication is that shale gas drilling operations leak most of their methane from much of the same points as conventional gas drilling operations: pipelines, compressor stations, valves and other point sources. These account for about 96.4 percent of the emissions from a gas production site, the study finds.

    The study, by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was published this week in Environmental Research Letters. The work did not receive any industry funding, although the research institute, MIT Energy Initiative, collaborates extensively with industry.

    “The majority of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions are not related to the ‘unconventional’ nature of shale gas; rather it is the entire natural gas system, including compressor stations, gathering pipelines, transportation and distribution systems that should be better assessed for potential emissions reductions,” wrote Sergey Paltsev, co-author of the study and assistant director for economic research at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, in an email.

  21. prokaryotes says:

    Locked greenhouse gas in Arctic sea may be ‘climate canary’
    Undersea methane hydrate deposit is the shallowest yet found.

    This particular deposit is only modest in size, but the methane trapped in such deposits represents an immense global carbon reservoir. Some experts fear that destabilization of such gas-hydrate deposits around the world — caused by changes in sea temperature or drilling, for example — could cause a release of methane into the environment and accelerate global warming.

    At such a shallow depth, the newly discovered deposit is vulnerable to decomposition if there is even subtle warming of the overlaying water, says Paull.

    The Arctic is thought to be undergoing some of the most dramatic effects of climate change anywhere in the world. And this particular deposit is just within what scientists call the ‘methane hydrate stability zone’, the range of pressure and temperature at which gas hydrates are stable. In this region, the stability zone begins at a depth of about 270 m, above which sea temperatures are too warm to ensure the methane remains locked in its water-molecule cage.

    Landslides and tsunamis
    Because this deposit is small, the methane released by its decomposition would not substantially affect the Earth’s climate, says Paull. However, the discovery could give some hints about, for example, how much methane could be released when a deposit begins to decompose as the sea warms.

    “This is a great place to study what happens,” under such conditions Paull says.

    Some climate scientists fear that gas-hydrate decomposition could also create geohazards — for example, by destabilizing the sea floor and causing landslides and accompanying tsunamis.

  22. Superman1 says:

    Without the ‘power elite’, without the ‘deniers’, without the energy company propaganda, without the right-wing media, we would have exactly the same fossil fuel use as we have today. But, far easier to blame someone else than take responsibility for our energy extravagance.

  23. Joan Savage says:

    Extreme is such a subjective word. Neither -6C (21F) temperature nor a few centimeters of snow would be extreme in December in upstate New York or New England. But – that is because the proper clothing has accumulated, as have the snow plows and salt trucks. We’d be in bad shape without them.

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    I was thinking of writing a lengthy post about climate change denial being completely unscientific nonsense, but then geochemist and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell wrote a post that is basically a slam-dunk of debunking. His premise was simple: If global warming isn’t real and there’s an actual scientific debate about it, that should be reflected in the scientific journals.

    He looked up how many peer-reviewed scientific papers were published in professional journals about global warming, and compared the ones supporting the idea that we’re heating up compared to those that don’t. What did he find? This:
    Oh my. Powell looked at 13,950 articles. Out of all those reams of scientific results, how many disputed the reality of climate change?

    Twenty-four. Yup. Two dozen. Out of nearly 14,000.

  25. prokaryotes says:

    Well the last 2 winters has been dubbed “weired” and you have now again polar air intrusion and much more snow accumulation. Further an ice crust is forming very fast and persistent for weeks. All this is starting to happen again now… will be interesting to read later the science on this and how severe it will become this time.

  26. Joan Savage says:


    Thanks for the Weirding video link. That’s the first I had seen the contrast between warmer Canada and colder Europe in such dynamic detail.

    (We’ve run out of “Reply” options further down-thread, so I hope you see this.)

  27. Mark E says:

    I think not. If those things did not exist, there would be a much higher ratio of good info to bad info regarding the economics of renewable energy, and more people would have already made the switch.