Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Climate Forecasting Basics for Britain's Seven Warmist Scientists and for UK Politicians.

There are seven prominent establishment scientists who have played an important role in promoting the  flawed scientific basis for Britains truly irrational and economically disastrous climate and energy policies.Their views on Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming have been trumpeted by the  Ecoleft press,the BBC  and Britains chattering classes and  largely unthinkingly,  adopted by Blair ,Cameron ,Clegg,  Miliband and a large majority of MPs as the basis for policy without any serious independent self consideration of their likely validity.
The seven are  Sir John Houghton,Sir Bob Watson, Sir David King, Sir John Beddington,Sir Robert May,Lord Rees and Sir Paul Nurse. Their titles indicate that they have been good reliable chaps and  played the British Political Establishment's Honours game with some skill.It is increasingly clear, as the earth obstinately refuses to warm up,that they have got it all wrong .They and the Politicians need to start again from square one and rethink the whole thing.Here are some helpful suggestions.

 If you want to know what future temperatures might be you might reasonably start not by building a detailed climate model  but by looking at the current range of temperatures and what factors seem to cause them to change. You might observe  the following amazing facts
a) Night is colder than day.
b) Winter is colder than summer.
c) It is cooler in the shade than in the sun
d) Temperatures vary more wildly in deserts and hot humid days are more uncomfortable than dry hot days - humidity might be an important factor.
e)Since you likely have a few A levels- and even a degree or two in something or other you might well have heard of the Ice Ages and their relationships to the Earths orbit around the sun and the tilt and wobbles of the Earth's Axis ie the Milankovitch cycles.Surely you must conclude that these are the major climate drivers on the scale of thousands of years.
f)You might also consider whether the current climate is unusually hot or cold.Some slight knowledge of history might bring to mind frost fairs on the Thames and the Little Ice Age. Even perhaps the Maunder Minimum without sunspots during the 17th century . The 300 years of Viking settlements in Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period and viniculture in Britain suggests a warmer world in earlier times  than at present while the colder Dark Ages separate the MWP from the Roman Climate optimum.
g)Having heard of Greenhouse Gasses  you might note however that CO2 is about 400ppm of the Atmosphere and think ,reasonably ,that it is very unlikely that such a little tail should wag such a big dog.
Conclusion - a person of reasonable common sense and  intelligence  might well  conclude that given these simple observations the main temperature drivers were the number of hours of sunshine,the amount of cloud cover,the humidity and the height of the sun in the sky at midday and that the present day was not outside the range of  climate variability for the last 2000 years and that no government action or policy was required or would be useful with regard to GHGs.These  common sense conclusions embrace much more of the truth than  the  Seven Alarmists ever managed to grasp or to  admit, while  Britains leading politicical leaders are apparently incapable of using what little common sense they might possibly  possess in this particular.area.

The IPCC, led for several years by John Houghton and Bob Watson, is a political organisation.Its mission was not to investigate the causes of climate change but to estimate the effects of anthropogenic climate change.It simply assumed climate change was anthropogenic and in fact defined  "climate change "as being anthropogenic for its purposes. By 2011 this definition was no longer tenable because the Earth was not warming as forecast..The IPCC 2011 SREX report says
"Uncertainty in the sign of projected changes in climate extremes over the coming two to three decades is relatively large because climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”
.Note -  uncertainty in the “sign” means they think the earth may even cool over this interval - but they still shy away from using the dreaded c word .
The IPCC's neat solution to this "minor" problem was simply to change the definition of what they meant by climate change and to concentrate, in the upcoming AR5 report ,on scaring the public and politicians with extremes because the actual temperature trend had turned against their projections and could no longer credibly be used for this purpose.
The SREX Report says:
“several of the definitions used in this Special Report differ in breadth or focus from those used in the AR4 and other IPCC reports.]
Climate Change: A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use.2[INSERT FOOTNOTE 2: This definition differs from that in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where climate change is defined as: “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods"
In order to make the anthropogenic climate change  a factor important enough to justify their  own existence and to drive government CO2 policies  the IPCC and its  modellers and the Seven Alarmists had to perform the following  mental gymnastics to produce or support a climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 of about 3 degrees.
a) Make the cause follow the effect . ie, even though CO2 changes follow temperature changes ,they simply assume illogically that CO2 change is the main driver.
b) The main GHG - Water vapour - also follows temperature independently of CO2 yet the effect of water vapour was added on to the CO2 effect as a CO2 feedback for purposes of calculating CO2 sensitivity.
c) Ignore the very serious questions concerning the relaibility of the ice core CO2 data which was used to produce the CO2 hockey stick (Fig 1) and to relate CO2 to temperature. (Fig2) From Fig 2 for example one might well conclude that if CO2 was driving temperature it is an Ice House not a Greenhouse gas on Millenial scales.

Fig1 (Beck 2006)


Conclusion - The temperature projections of any models based on these irrational and questionable assumptions have no place in serious dicussion.All the innumerable doom-laden papers on impacts in the IPCC reports and elsewhere (eg Stern report) which use these projections as a basis  are a complete and serious waste of time and money.Until you know within well defined limits what the natural variability actually is it is not possible to estimate the sensitivity of global temperatures  to anthropogenic CO2 with any useful accuracy as far as policy is concerned.
Unfortunately for the Jeremaids of the Seven Pillars of Unwisdom they have gambled their scientifc reputations and positions on these  illogical propositions and are so far out on the limbs of the tree of knowledge that they will find it hard to climb back before their respective boughs break.

The IPCC,academic and governmental climate science  industry obviously needed to do more than simply inform the governments of  the common sense conclusions of section 2 in order to keep the grant money flowing and professional opportunities expanding.Certainly the scope ,mechanics, and drivers  of climate change are topics of very considerable legitimate scientific interest in their own right but funding would be limited unless catastrophe was forecast.
The IPCC "team" realised correctly that in order to predict the future they needed a good record of past temperatures certainly over at least last 2000 years or so and as much  further back as proxy data would  allow.Also in order to scare the public and drive policy it was necessary to show that current warm temperatures were out of the range of previous measurements.  First  they had to do away with Lamb's (and the real world's) Medieval Warming Period which appeared in the first IPCC report. In 1998 and 99 Mann  produced the infamous" Hockey Stick" so beloved and exploited by Al Gore. The Seven Alarmists implicitly or explicitly still appear conceptually locked in to the original Mannian graph although he himself has moved on considerably..A large amount of extremely valuable work has been done in gathering proxy temperature data in the last 15 years. Here are links to some of the most relevant papers.

note Espers comments on the above at
and see how Mann's hockey stick has changed in later publications
an important paper by Berggren et al relating solar activity to climate is
and another showing clearly the correlation of the various climate minima over the last 1000 years to cosmic ray intensities -( note especially Fig 3C ,D below ) is: Steinhilber et al - 9400 years of cosmic radiation and solar activity from ice cores and tree rings:
for Holocene climate variability in general there is much food for thought in Mayewski et al :
Of particular interest with regard to the cause of the late 20th century temperature increase is Wang et al:
for an immense compendium of articles and data including a summary of projections for the future see:

Having some passing acquantance with the above literature I would suggest that the currently most useful compilation for thinking about the record of the last 2000 years is.
Christiansen and Ljungqvist 2012


The point of most interest  in Fig 3 is  the present temperature peak  and the MWP  peak at 1000 AD which correlate approximately with the solar millenial cycle seen in Fig2. The various minima of the Little Ice age and the Dalton minimumof the early 19th century also show up well.
The general principal is to perfom spectral and wavelet analysis on the the temperature and any possibly useful driver associated time series to find any quasicyclic patterns which can be cross correlated. (possibly with appropriate time lags)
For a general review of this approach see several Scafetta papers eg

For decadal scale variations a 60 year cycle ,which seems to correlate temperatures and the PDO, is well established  see the post" Global Cooling -Methods and Testable Decadal Predictions" at

Furthermore it is clear that the cosmic ray intensity time series is the best proxy for "solar activity "and
that this correlates meaningfully with temperature with perhaps a 10- 12 year lag.
see Fig 3 CD from Steinhilber http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/03/30/1118965109.full.pdf


It is not a great stretch of  the imagination to propose that the 20th century warming peaked in about  2003 and that that peak was a peak in both the 60 year and 1000 year  cycles.On that basis the conclusions of the post referred to above were as follows.
1 Significant temperature drop at about 2016-17

2 Possible unusual cold snap 2021-22
3 Built in cooling trend until at least 2024
4 Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2035 - 0.15
5Temperature Hadsst3 moving average anomaly 2100 - 0.5
6 General Conclusion - by 2100 all the 20th century temperature rise will have been reversed,
7 By 2650 earth could possibly be back to the depths of the little ice age.
8 The effect of increasing CO2 emissions will be minor but beneficial - they may slightly ameliorate the forecast
cooling and help maintain crop yields .
9 Warning !! There are some signs in the Livingston and Penn Solar data that a sudden drop to the Maunder
Minimum Little Ice Age temperatures could be imminent - with a much more rapid and economically disruptive
cooling than that forecast above which may turn out to be a best case scenario

For a dicussion of the effects of cooling on future weather patterns see the 30 year Climate Forecast 2 Year update at

How confident should one be in these above predictions? The pattern method doesn't lend itself easily to statistical measures. However statistical calculations only provide an apparent rigour for the uninitiated and in relation to the climate models are entirely misleading because they make no allowance for the structural uncertainties in the model set up.This is where scientific judgement comes in - some people are better at pattern recognition than others.A past record of successful forecasting is a useful but not infallible measure. In this case I am reasonably sure - say  65/35 for about 20 years ahead. Beyond that, inevitably ,certainty drops.

This is where the Seven Alarmists scientific judgement was lacking - they embraced the CO2 meme with irrational exuberance and gave poor old Blair ,Cameron Clegg and Miliband the feeling that CO2 disaster was certainly coming and so embarked on their quixotic pursuit of windmills,solar panels  biomass, fossil power plant closings,GHG targets and the whole quite mad dogs breakfast that constitutes British climate and energy policy.
I do hope that some of the Seven might even yet review their positions along the lines outlined above and at least say publicly that any coming warming is much less certain than they once thought and that the government might usefully abandon their wasteful subsidies of renewables and  forget GHG emission limits and thus reduce the price of energy to British industy and ordinary people.

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