Tag Archives: IPCC

The IPCC AR5 SPM press release

I just looked at the IPCC SPM press release. True to its form, there are bombastic statements about inanities of no consequence and vague mumblings about the real questions. By ‘real questions’, I mean those on magnitude of any change and the quantum of blame that affixed on us, i.e., people.

Here’s a spectacular-sounding statement that is utterly meaningless and even wrong in places:

Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia.

If you pull up any global temperature graph, the ‘warming’ is minuscule since 1950, though ‘unequivocal’. ‘Unprecedented’, ‘millenia’ are just fancy words the IPCC likes to use, and seem completely out of place here.

There are even more vapid statements. An entire paragraph is taken up by Qin Dahe making points about the climate puffed up to sound as though something is going on (except nothing really is):

“Observations of changes in the climate system are based on multiple lines of independent evidence. Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased”

Observations are ‘based on’ … evidence? Who would have thought so? It is not humanly possible to decipher this language.

There is only a single paragraph on putting the blame on humans and it goes like this:

It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.

All three claims made in this one little paragraph are …wrong. Since the mid-20th century, global temperature increased till about 1998. Then the rate of increase changed abruptly.

How are humans able to have this type of influence on the climate?

As the rate of ‘warming’ has slowed, how has the likelihood of humans having caused it increased? The cause for the warming is going up, but the warmth itself has not?

Where can more and better observations come from? The only observations are ‘more’ than what we had before, are of those that happened between now and then. It is not possible to gather more than 24 hours of observation in a day. These are the observations that show the slowdown.

Finally, whatever evidence has grown has only reduced confidence in the understanding of the climate system response the orthodoxy provided. It has reduced confidence in the models .As everyone knows, neither is an explanation for the temperature rate change on the cards, nor was it predicted by the models.

If the press release reflects the SPM, which I believe it does, and if the SPM reflects the main report, which I believe it will, the IPCC has put itself in a remarkably weak position. It will not provide any momentum for future international climate negotiations.

[minor edits]

Greenpeace in the IPCC: Part II

Remember the IPCC renewable energy report SRREN? The one which managed to mire itself in controversy almost immediately as it came out? The whole thing started with a press release announcing a notorious “80%” figure the trail of which led Steve McIntyre to a Greenpeace-authored report.

When controversy broke out, the IPCC’s response was to mollify and contain damage. There was no hiding the pressure group’s involvement so it took a different tack. In Nature magazine, IPCC’s Ottmar Edenhofer claimed, that despite Greenpeace presence there was no ‘bias’ or ‘conflict’. Though press releases sold the Greenpeace scenario the report looked at large ‘bodies of literature’, Greenpeace’s material was but 1 of ‘over 160′ scenarios analysed, was published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the ‘decision’ to make Greenpeace ‘one of the four’ scenarios made by ‘a team’.

At the time, none of these could be verified. Draft reports and reviewer comments were nowhere to be found. Everyone was left holding just the press releases and the excuses. It was months before drafts were released.

The draft reports
Examining the drafts shows a different picture. The Greenpeace/Teske work was in the IPCC report even before it was published and right from the first order draft (FOD). In the FOD Chapter 10, the IPCC did not compare several different scenarios as was claimed. There were just two.  One of them was Greenpeace’s, straight from the pressure group pamphlet.

This is from the introduction in the FOD:

In this chapter, the renewable power cost curves for 10 world regions have been reviewed for 2030 exemplary for two scenarios – World Energy Outlook (IEA, 2008b) and Energy [R]evolution scenario (Krewitt et al, 2009a) – and one for 2050 (Energy [R]evolution scenario).

Note briefly the cited Krewitt et al 2009. This was an incarnation of Greenpeace’s ‘Energy [R]evolution’ published in 2009. The chapter then runs with table after table of Greenpeace material.

The tables and claims were referenced to Greenpeace report/s:

fod ref

Predictably, this raised questions.  One reviewer Francesco Gracceva noted the very point. The IPCC claim was to provide “robust insights”, from examining a “large and differentiated set of internally coherent and consistent scenarios” but instead

…[the] analysis carried out in 10.3.2 seems based on a quite limited set of scenarios, in fact two main sources, IEA and Greenpeace.

The U.S Department of State made the same observation:

As currently framed, this section does not adequately capture the value of analyzing 165 scenarios […]

John Kessels (International Energy Agency – IEA) on a key summary table in the chapter, noted the same thing:

IPCC reports have to be based on published literature that has been peer reviewed and to have a table based on theoritical (sic) exercises is disturbing and should be deleted unless based on published literature.

Kessels was directly critical of inclusion of Greenpeace material:

I think if you are going to use the Energy (R)evolution scenario you need to outline its assumptions and its analysis is in my view questionable.


General comment the IPCC AR4 did not use the Energy {R}evolution scenario for good reasons and to base this chapter on it is going to be seen as very bias an (sic) unbalanced.

Emmanuel Branche (French EDF) noting while the IEA scenario was in the peer-reviewed literature, questioned whether Greenpeace’s was. In a section on ‘regional energy supply curves’, Kessels reiterated: the IPCC being “reliant on one source in my view is questionable…”

The replies from the writing team prove eye-opening. In response to numerous comments on the limited nature of scenarios analysed, the authors reply – “more scenarios” will be “added”. This is how the other scenarios were added: they came in balancing the Greenpeace stuff.

To reviewers’ questions, the authors kept insisting the “Energy [R]evolution” scenario was “peer-reviewed”. Krewitt et al 2009 was peer-reviewed but did not form the source for the material presented in the chapter. There were no clear answers to where modeled data and numerical output presented in the tables came from.

Citation relay
The peer-review situation was dealt with by the authors in a remarkable manner. By the second order draft (SOD), the chapter authors had a paper in place. But it was
not the Teske et al 2010 which was not yet published by this time (Teske et al 2010 would be appear online in Nov 2010 whereas the review was in Jul-Aug 2010). Instead, in a form that essentially mirrored the pressure group’s full report, Greenpeace’s ‘Energy [R]evolution’ material appeared in a renewable energy vanity magazineSpanda.



It was the primary reference for all Greenpeace entries in the key Chapter 10. The article was published in the first issue of the first volume of its journal. Up until that point, ‘Spanda’ had only been an ‘e-newsletter’ for a renewable energy lobby.

In the final, the Spanda entry was simply replaced with the other Teske et al 2010 which by then appeared online. All citations to the Greenpeace report were deleted from the report text; all Greenpeace entries in the reference sections, removed. The IPCC report went through the review process with no one having seen the study on which its headline conclusions were based.

Several conclusions can be drawn. The report and the key chapter 10 was firmly in control of a group which intended to use Greenpeace material right from the beginning. The chapter was built around the Greenpeace narrative.

The sequence from the drafts contradicts many excuses made by Edenhofer and Teske at the time of the controversy. Teske, for example, impressed the Economist he had ‘had no peculiar Greenpeace lantern with which to bend them all [IPCC authors] to his will’.

Der Spiegel, the Economist, and Ars Technica dwelt at length on how the press release highlighted the 80% figure and made things worse for the IPCC. “It seems much of this controversy is the product of a bit too much of a hook in the press release, rather than an activist hijacking an IPCC report. “ – wrote Ars Technica’s Kyle Niemeyer.

But the drafts make clear the problems go deeper. The IPCC shepherded Greenpeace’s [R]evolution scenario through the report drafting process, sequentially incorporating its claims and substituting placeholder references in stepwise manner.

Christopher Hitchens and the IPCC

One often encounters in the climate change debate, those who carry on with what can be called the ‘ecologists’ mindset’. This is, perhaps a poor choice of words, to describe a certain phenomenon – of our repeated and fumbling efforts to do a so-called ‘systems thinking’. Why, after all, should I invoke a specific discipline’s name to criticize a oft-committed intellectual error to which we are susceptible, throughout ages?

Read more

The recovery of Phil Jones – Back to the future

Back to the Future?

In 2008, in a message titled “IPCC and FOI“, Phil Jones asked Michael Mann to delete  emails he might have gotten from Kieth Briffa, assuring him that Briffa would delete such emails as well. He said ‘they’ was going to get in touch with Caspar Ammann asking him to delete emails too. Responding to Jones, Michael Mann replied sphinx-like, that he would get in touch with Eugene Wahl about the matter.

Read more

What happened to the IPCC at Busan?

“After all, most people spend their lives making decisions under uncertainty, and that’s what dealing effectively with climate change demands – the same kind of decisions you make when you decide to buckle your seatbelt…”

-Chris Field, IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair, speaking to reporters at Busan

Evidently, such advice does not apply to the IPCC itself.

IPCC - Going off the Rails

Richard Black, BBC, thinks that ” Rajendra Pachauri will be here to usher” the AR5 in,” barring some major mishap”. In the rough-and-tumble world of climate change polity, the events of the last one year are not major mishaps then.

« Older Entries