In the aftermath of AR5.
AR5 or the fifth Assessment Report on global warming was published last week, amid a fair amount of fanfare but nothing compared to what it would have been like in the glory years of climate alarmism. Everyone has had their say on it by now but I thought it worth adding my own thoughts.
What was actually published was a summary of the underlying science papers for policymakers. Those underlying papers are yet to be published but in the meantime we can still evaluate AR5 from a science viewpoint. It essentially glossed over or ignored a number of fundamental problems with the science driving the conclusions in the report. There’s a lot of very informed commentary out there in the skeptic community, which I’d encourage you to read, so I’ll just highlight the major areas of concern.
There’s been no significant increase in global temperature for nearly two decades, a fact conceded by the warmists, and yet the report fails to come up with a reason for this beyond vague unsubstantiated conjectures that the missing heat may be hiding under the seas somewhere. More tellingly, it glosses over the fact that carbon emissions, which are supposed to be driving temperatures, have actually increased in this period.
It then artfully dismisses the pause as too short a period to detract from some longer-term upward trend in temperature. Just give them another twenty years or so and they’ll be proved right.
This pause was not predicted by any of their computer models and so one would naturally expect some sort of explanation for this failure. None is given, none at all. Instead, it assures us the models are even better now. This deliberate omission borders on the childish. When the results predicted by any theory, whether programmed into a computer or not, diverge from real world observations, the theory is wrong, which is why they had to refuse to address the discrepancy.
And yet, after studiously ignoring these and many other imponderables, they’re somehow even more certain than ever that our carbon emissions are going to have a catastrophic effect on the world’s climate. Dr. Richard Lindzen’s thoughts on AR5 sum up the situation nicely. “I think that the latest IPCC report has truly sunk to level of hilarious incoherence. They are proclaiming increased confidence in their models as the discrepancies between their models and observations increase.”
In short, when considered from a scientific viewpoint, I consider it not just a flawed document but a fundamentally dishonest one. It was just thinly disguised advocacy.
Given that assessment, it has to be asked if it was nevertheless effective in that role or restating that question, was it the appropriate type of document to produce to address the current political situation and the answer to that is quite simply no. The essential problem it should have been pointed at was rebuilding the IPCC’s damaged credibility with anything else being an aspirational bonus but instead of doing something along those lines, it actually worsened their plight by damaging it even further.
The general public is quite simply bored of environmental scares, so instead of dialling down the alarmism, they simply ramped it up even more, in the deluded hope that by doing so it would somehow regain the popular support of yesteryear. Realistically, that was never going to happen.
Like all essentially fanatical advocates, they simply cannot admit they were wrong but will insist, absolutely insist in the face of all contrary evidence, that they’re right. Because of that pathological compulsion, it was predictable that the report would be even more alarmist, and equally predictable that it would be ignored for that very reason.
Of course it was not aimed at the general public but the ruling political establishment. However, politicians are extremely sensitive to swings in public sentiment on any issue, so will always think twice about endorsing anything their electorates not only don’t care about any more but have now come to actively dislike. That sort of process is called democracy, which is why a number of climate activists would like it suspended in the name of saving the planet.
That same effect of finally having to listen to what Joe Public wants was evident in the skimpy news coverage given to its launch in the mainstream media by everyone but the traditionally climate-obsessed organs of it. It was essentially a damp squib or as I referred to it in a comment, a dead cat bounce. When a publication loses fundamental contact with its consumers, it ends up with the circulation disasters and falling viewer figures currently being suffered by the Guardian or BBC.
Glacial though it may be, the mainstream media is increasingly swinging over to the skeptic viewpoint, if only for slightly cynical circulation reasons and anyway, giving a bunch of holier than thou prats a good drubbing always goes down well with the average reader.
The reality is that any high hopes they entertained for it influencing increasingly disinterested governments were actually deluded from the very start. Given the current political landscape, the best that could be expected of it was some damage limitation.
We’ve just witnessed the embarrassing and public humiliation of climate science as a field of honest scientific endeavour. It has lost all claim to be taken seriously and is now tarred with the same pathological science brush that aberrations like Lysenkoism or Eugenics were. It’s now up to the non-activist scientists in the field, who’ve stayed silent for far too long, to save it from that fate by speaking out and reclaiming their field from fanatics posing as scientists. As Elvis said, it’s now or never.
In political terms, AR5 was actually the incoherent and rambling suicide note of the IPCC.
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