CRU chief admits warming may not be unprecedented

Discussion in 'Politics' started by bugscoe, Feb 14, 2010.

  1. Former CRU chief admits warming may not be unprecedented

    In a rather stunning series of admissions, the suspended chief of the East Anglia CRU now admits that the warming seen in the late 20th century may not be unprecedented after all, that the planet has stopped warming for the last 15 years despite the predictions of AGW advocates, and that his own record-keeping has been poor. Phil Jones, who stepped down at least temporarily from his position at the CRU when its e-mails exposed a series of embarrassing attempts by climate scientists to undermine careers of skeptics and to hide contradictory data, now says that the entire basis of the “hockey stick” graph could have been invalid:

    But that’s just the start:

    The “hockey stick” graph has already been shown to be mainly a creation of graph-scaling bias, but this gets to the heart of the entire argument. During the MWP, farmers grew crops on Greenland for a couple of centuries. Until now, AGW advocates insisted that the warming only took place in the northern hemisphere. If that warming was indeed global, then it dwarfs anything seen in the 20th century, as these two charts from Climate Audit, via Sonic Frog, demonstrate:


    If the massive warming seen in Europe occurred around the world, then what we have seen in the 20th century would be almost certainly a moderate, natural, cyclical warming coming out of a cold trough. It would also call into question what exactly a good temperature would be for the Earth. After all, even if the second graph only applied to the northern hemisphere, the increased temperatures didn’t cause the end of life on the planet; indeed, food became more plentiful, and the melting of the polar-region ice didn’t create massive catastrophes. Further underscoring this interpretation are the cooling cycles seen in the mid-century and last fifteen years or so, expecially since the 1940s saw a huge increase in carbon emissions due to wartime production.

    Jones’ late admissions demonstrate that there is nothing “settled” about AGW, and that the process and the data are too murky for any declarations of certainty.

    Guess who just produced this pronouncement on how humanity is heating up the planet? “The basic science of the greenhouse effect is sound (ie more anthropogenic CO2 means more warming).”

    Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the increasingly embattled chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? Nope. Professor Phil Jones, under cross-examination from the inquiries into the notorious emails from his Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia? Try again. Ed Miliband, the increasingly vocal Energy and Climate Change Secretary? Not even close.

    Give up? It was none other than Dr Benny Peiser, the leading climate sceptic and director of Lord Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation.

    If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be. For Lawson himself has said much the same, telling a parliamentary committee a couple of years ago that it was “fairly clear” that “man-made emissions, largely carbon dioxide, have almost certainly played a considerable part” in the warming of the globe. And Tony Abbott, the Australian opposition leader – who became the climate rejectionists’ poster boy late last year when he ousted his predecessor over the issue – has just proposed his own £6.6 billion programme to combat climate change. He explained: “There is enough science to suggest that where we can reasonably reduce carbon dioxide emissions, we should.”

    So if the sceptics’ main standard-bearers effectively agree with environmentalists over the basic science, what on earth is all the fuss about? What is the basis for all the over-excited claims that global warming is a “hoax”, a “scam”, or the greatest scientific scandal ever? Can so much heat have ever been generated where there is actually so much enlightened agreement? Yet there is still plenty to debate, and here I must make a confession – I only quoted part of Dr Peiser’s sentence above. He went on: “What is uncertain is the magnitude and timescale of the effect.”

    Again, he is right – and almost everyone would agree. Indeed, the controversy surrounding the latest IPCC report – such as its gross error in predicting the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers, and whether global warming is increasing the number of storms, floods and droughts – concerns this, not the essential science.

    So, despite the often vitriolic debate, there is much common ground. All but the extremists on either side agree that the planet is warming and that humanity is at least partly responsible – and that we don’t know how big its contribution is, or what the effects will be.

    Of course, it’s much harder to reach conclusions in this area than on the basic science. We will only know for sure whether the Arctic icecap will disappear in summer by 2030, as some top scientists predict, or by 2050, or 2100, when and if it actually happens. Or, as Dr Peiser says, again correctly: “In all likelihood, we will not know for the next 20 or 30 years who is right or wrong on the scale and impact of global warming.”

    So we are clearly embroiled in the wrong argument. We should be debating not scientific certainty, but risk – or, more precisely, to what level of risk we are prepared to take with the futures of our children and grandchildren.

    Say you were about to put your children on a plane, but were told by experts that it had a 50 per cent chance of crashing. You would not dream of letting them go. What if it were a one in 10 chance? Or one in 100? You still wouldn’t. The risk would have to be, as it is when you fly, vanishingly small.

    The IPCC concludes – on the basis of a vast number of peer-reviewed studies, and despite the occasional mistake – that there is a 90 per cent chance that dangerous climate change will take place unless we take radical action to combat it. But let’s say it is wildly wrong. Should we accept a 50 per cent, 10 per cent or one per cent chance?

    Given the amount of evidence pointing to a serious level of danger, the onus is on the sceptics is to show that the risk is virtually non-existent. They often assert it – but so far, they have been unable to produce good, peer-reviewed research to back up their case.

    They do produce another argument, which is that measures to combat climate change would be economically catastrophic. But again, they rely more on assertion than evidence, and the balance of the economic argument is shifting the other way. There is a growing conviction that the cost of ignoring climate change will be far greater than of tackling it now, that many of the measures to be taken would be beneficial in other ways, and even that developing low-carbon economies may be the key to future growth. Indeed, that’s probably the most productive debate we could now be having.
  3. jem


    what non emotional people who think about things have been saying all along.
  4. What a load of old crap. If anybody is actually interested in what Phil Jones actually said, then they can read the interview with Phil Jones here:

    But that would spoil the fun of some blogger on some unidentified web site quoting from some other unidentified source churning out their own spin.

    Not to mention some chart of something posted from non peer reviewed Climate Audit.

    From the peer reviewed literature:


    Mann 2008
  5. Just a note that ubiquitous "peer review" mantra is starting to sound like cooking the books and a dis-information campaign by exclusion.
  6. There is indeed a peer review process to exclude poor science from publication in reputable journals. What a shocker!

  7. White Cloud is my preferred toilet paper, you're free to choose your own.
  8. Another peer reviewed temperature reconstruction:


    Kaufman 2009
  9. Arctic tree rings eh.

    Tell me why does the end of the graph look like obama's gdp assumptions for the next 7 years?