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Policy: Environment & Energy

IPCC authors confident their global warming predictions were wrong

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Ron Arnold,Columnists,Climate Change,EPA,United Nations,Analysis,Energy and Environment

My copy of the leaked final draft of the world’s most influential global warming report, despite authors of the highest reputation, reads like something from a mental hospital with no doctors or nurses.

The 31-page “Summary for Policymakers” of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced the authors' stunning concession that computer-modeled forecasts of imminent planetary catastrophe were catastrophically wrong – global surface temperatures haven’t risen significantly in the last 15 years – but, even with many other doubts, also insisted that the IPCC is more confident than ever that global warming is mainly humans’ fault.

Then European Union Climate Change Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the London Telegraph that EU policy on global warming is right even if the science is wrong. That’s nuts, but that’s Big Green: Facts don’t matter.

I asked climate realist Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot and former Senate Environment and Public Works professional staff member, whether the leaked IPCC report was indeed full of inconsistencies.

“It is, but you have to pity the UN. The climate events of 2013 have been devastating to its political narrative on global warming,” Morano said.

He reeled off examples as if spooling out crime scene tape: “Both poles have expanding ice, with the Antarctic breaking all time records. Global temperatures have failed to rise for 15-plus years. Global cooling has occurred since 2002. Polar bear numbers are increasing. Wildfire numbers are well below average. Sea level rise is failing to accelerate. Tornadoes are at record lows. Hurricanes are at record low activity.” Case closed.

I complained that none of that was in the IPCC report. Morano indicated that the facts were well known even if obscured by jargon. As a result, “former climate believers like Judith Curry are growing more skeptical by the day,” Morano said.

It’s true. Judith Curry, head of climate science at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, this week published her analysis of the leaked IPCC draft report – and it sparked an international Twitter war.

"In view of the recent pause [in warming] and the lower confidence level in some of the supporting findings,” Curry said, it therefore made no sense that the IPCC was claiming that its confidence in its forecasts and conclusions has increased. “This is incomprehensible to me,” she said. “The science is clearly not settled, and is in a state of flux.”

All this business about “confidence” sounds like a sophomoric game because it is. It’s the IPCC’s consensus-seeking process at work. Consensus is a group decision-making process that seeks the consent of all participants, and it is not part of the scientific method. It gained popularity in the women’s liberation and anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s.

The only advantage of consensus-seeking for the IPCC is the political clout of being able to say, “The scientific consensus is…”, thereby totally undercutting the views of non-IPCC scientists.

Its disadvantage to science is that nobody knows by an up-and-down vote who disagrees with major pieces of the science and why, instead devising a scale of “confidence” for each set of results: “weakly confident,” “moderately confident,” and “extremely confident” – like marking your kids’ heights on the kitchen wall with “short,” “taller” and “way tall.”

Curry recommended that the consensus-seeking IPCC process be abandoned for a more traditional review, saying, "I think that arguments for and against would better support scientific progress, and be more useful for policy makers.”

One of the report’s authors, professor Myles Allen, director of Oxford University’s Climate Research Network, said, “The idea of producing a document of near-biblical infallibility is a misrepresentation of how science works.” He recommended this IPCC report be the last.

With all the economic pain, social divisiveness and resource misdirection the IPCC has caused, the 195 governments that funded it should get their money back.

Ron Arnold, a Washington Examiner columnist, is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.
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Ron Arnold

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The Washington Examiner