Is it time to ditch the climate 'bible'?

Sep 27, 2013 by Richard Ingham, Anthony Lucas
Glaciers in Antartica on November 9, 2007. A UN panel said on September 27, 2013 predicted temperatures would rise by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5-8.6 degrees Fahrenheit) this century.

Top UN experts have just delivered the first volume of a massive new climate change report, but already whispers are starting to be heard: Will it be the last such review?

By the end of 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should have delivered all three tomes, plus a synthesis of the trio, of only its fifth such report in more than a quarter-century of existence.

To supporters, these massive "assessment reports" play a vital role in stoking awareness.

Not only do they condense the findings of thousands of studies published in peer-reviewed journals, in a transparent process in which the text is vetted twice over.

They also carry the approval of governments. A total of 195 nations have a seat on the IPCC and their representatives examine a summary of a technical text written by scientists.

This dual-track approach, say supporters, yields a fantastic tool for politicians who want to tackle : they can tell the public that the need for reform is clear as the evidence comes from neutral and impartial sources.

Conversely, if prevaricate on climate change, the public can challenge them on facts which they themselves had endorsed.

Cautious and painstaking the process may be, "but it delivers the key messages, that climate change is already happening and there are alarming signals of accelerating impacts", said a delegate at the IPCC discussions.

Jean Jouzel, a French scientist who is vice chairman of the group that issued Friday's report, said that though the technical text is authored by "it is the of the summary which gives the IPCC its success, and enables it (the summary) to be used by governments".

But some critics say these mega-reviews spanning thousands of pages belong to the past.

Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra K Pacahauri looks on during the presentation of the first volume of its Fifth Assessment Report on September 27, 2013 in Stockholm.

The process is agonisingly slow at a time when both climate change and the science used to evaluate it are leaping ahead, they say.

And the need for makes these comprehensive judgements worryingly conservative.

"The question of whether the exercise is worthwhile is logical," said a European delegate, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that "things have changed substantially since the first report" in 1990.

For example, an early cut-off date to review published literature meant that the Fourth Assessment Report in 2007 was unable to include dramatic new evidence about the melting of the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.

Six years later, the issue of the ice sheets is being addressed in the Fifth Assessment Report, whose first volume on the physical evidence for climate change was released by the IPCC's Working Group 1 in Stockholm on Friday.

Compiling this document in itself took nearly three years.

This time around, the cut-off date meant the authors were unable to evaluate recent, but very worrying, studies that say methane trapped in ice-bound coasts in northeast Siberia is being released as seas warm, thus putting the greenhouse effect into higher gear.

"The (IPCC) reports are currently perceived to be quite dated already a few years after they have been published," said the Netherlands in a proposal to overhaul the panel's procedures.

Two more volumes in the Fifth Assessment Report are due next year. They will be released by Working Group 2, which deals with the impacts of climate change, in Yokohama, Japan, next March; and by Working Group 3, with deals with how to tackle the problem, in Berlin in April.

Gas flares seen under heavy snowfall at a liquefied natural gas plant on Sakhalin island outside the town Korsakov, Russia, February 16, 2009.

These will be crowned by a synthesis report, due out next October in Copenhagen.

Anders Levermann, a professor of climate system dynamics at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany said the question as to whether there should be a sixth assessment report "is very, very difficult".

The biggest challenges are in Working Groups 2 and 3, where the regional impacts of drought, storms, flood and rising seas are becoming ever clearer, Levermann said in a phone interview.

"It's the sign of a maturing process of the whole climate issue, that we are moving in discussion from the question of whether there is climate change and whether it is man-made to how we can solve it," he said.

Several countries, including the United States, have joined the Netherlands in suggesting reforms when the panel meets in Georgia in the southern Caucasus.

An area of the Arctic sea ice pack roughly northeast of the New Siberian Islands, captured by multiple orbits of the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite on September 13, 2013.

Ideas include slimming the IPCC to two working groups and updating parts of the assessment report as and when necessary, rather than going through a vast soup-to-nuts review that ties down resources for years.

Another idea gaining ground is to focus efforts on specific issues, as the IPCC has already done with a smaller report on extreme weather events.

The IPCC "has provided invaluable evidence for policymakers, but giant reports should give way to nimbler, more relevant research", the science journal Nature declared.

Explore further: 3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

10 things to know about the IPCC climate panel

Sep 26, 2013

Here are 10 things to know about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.N.-sponsored scientific group that will present a landmark report on global warming Friday.

Recommended for you

3Qs: Game theory and global climate talks

Nov 21, 2014

Last week, China and the United States announced an ambitious climate agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions in both countries, a pledge that marks the first time that China has agreed to stop its growing emissions. ...

From hurricanes to drought, LatAm's volatile climate

Nov 21, 2014

Sixteen years ago, Teodoro Acuna Zavala lost nearly everything when Hurricane Mitch ravaged his fields, pouring 10 days of torrential rains on Central America and killing more than 9,000 people.

Nicaragua: Studies say canal impact to be minimal

Nov 20, 2014

Officials said Thursday that studies have determined a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua will have minimal impact on the environment and society, and construction is to begin next month.

User comments : 36

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

sstritt
1.6 / 5 (27) Sep 27, 2013
And not surprisingly, no mention of "the pause"
shavera
4.1 / 5 (18) Sep 27, 2013
actually, the IPCC report provides a good scientific explanation of the pause. It's something we've seen in data before (look at average surface temperatures in 1940) and it fits with our data from deep ocean waters.
VendicarE
4.1 / 5 (17) Sep 27, 2013
"no mention of "the pause"" - ssTard

Which one? Take your pick..

https://www.googl...13%3B555
djr
4.2 / 5 (15) Sep 27, 2013
And not surprisingly, no mention of "the pause"

Well duh! There is no pause to mention...
VENDItardE
1.5 / 5 (23) Sep 27, 2013
where did all the alarmists go?

hopefully looking for real jobs since they can't even win a vote on physorg.
Neinsense99
2.4 / 5 (21) Sep 27, 2013
where did all the alarmists go?

hopefully looking for real jobs since they can't even win a vote on physorg.

It appears some have been busy at the CBC web site.
http://www.cbc.ca....1870918 or http://www.cbc.ca....1870378
Noumenon
1.4 / 5 (23) Sep 27, 2013
On the bright side, less ice means some new shipping routes have opened up, for more coal shipments.
rwinners
4.5 / 5 (8) Sep 27, 2013
I think the data should continue to be collected. If the scientists don't want to examine it at this time, leave it for the future. It might be sorely needed.
Lurker2358
1.1 / 5 (14) Sep 28, 2013
Guy in the photo looks shockingly like the Prime Minister in the movie "V: for Vendetta".
MR166
2 / 5 (29) Sep 28, 2013
It's a sad state of affairs when the "Old Farmers Almanac" makes more accurate predictions than the IPPC.

First and foremost the UN is a political entity and like all political entities their most important objective is to become bigger and more powerful. If they happen to do some good on occasion that is a bonus to them. If they happen to do some harm that is OK to as long as their power is increasing. Governments grow and become more oppressive until they collapse in revolution.
Lischyn
1.6 / 5 (25) Sep 28, 2013
This world has probably had climate changes throughout it's history. Why do these environmentalits think that the worlds climated should stop changing (up or down) instantly and for the first time in history.

The scientitsts don't even know why the last ice age, 10,000yrs ago came and went. There is probably something driving changes that we don't have a clue about yet and it's really the driving force, same as the ice age. Human activity is probably minor
djr
4.1 / 5 (17) Sep 28, 2013
Lischyn: "This world has probably had climate changes throughout it's history."

Why do people who clearly know nothing about the subject at hand - feel the need to post rubbish in the comments?

Of course the earth has been through change throughout it's history, and scientists have an extensive understanding of the drivers of that change. Quick - google Milankovich cycles and do some reading. The chances of there being a major driving force behind climate change - that we know nothing about - are almost zero.

"The scientitsts don't even know why the last ice age, 10,000yrs ago came and went."

Your ignorance of the topic is titanic. Here do a little reading - http://geology.ut...ages.htm and realize how ridiculous your post is.
ECOnservative
1.4 / 5 (22) Sep 28, 2013
How do they address the 15-year cooling cycle we're now experiencing in the IPCC report?
djr
4.1 / 5 (13) Sep 28, 2013
"How do they address the 15-year cooling cycle we're now experiencing in the IPCC report?"

They don't - because there is no cooling cycle. Was it your turn to spread rubbish? Bet you cannot supply any data to support the assertion that the globe is cooling. Note - surface temperatures are only part of the puzzle - also need to look at ocean temps, ocean levels, ice sheet data, glacier data etc. But you knew that right?
Neinsense99
2.6 / 5 (20) Sep 28, 2013
How do they address the 15-year cooling cycle we're now experiencing in the IPCC report?

A better question is why address a cooling cycle that does not exist, except in the willful misinterpretation of deniers who portray slower warming as cooling?
ECOnservative
1.5 / 5 (19) Sep 28, 2013
Before you rate me a 1, note it's only a question, not an accusation.
ryggesogn2
1.5 / 5 (23) Sep 28, 2013
scientists have an extensive understanding of the drivers of that change.

From first principles, describe how any gas 'traps' heat.
Especially the .005% of CO2.
djr
4.1 / 5 (14) Sep 28, 2013
"describe how any gas 'traps' heat."

Hey Ryggy - learn to read - then go to school and get a high school edumacation - then go to college and take some basic science classes - then pull up these articles and try to read them. If you can't understand them - take them to your science professors, and see if you can pay the professors to explain them to you. They will probably refuse - because they will already understand your willful ignorance - but you could give it a try.

http://agwobserve...perties/
VendicarE
4.1 / 5 (10) Sep 29, 2013
"It's a sad state of affairs when the "Old Farmers Almanac" makes more accurate predictions than the IPPC." - Tard166

Quite impossible, since the IPCC doesn't produce weather predictions.

You Stupid little child.

VendicarE
4.1 / 5 (10) Sep 29, 2013
"From first principles, describe how any gas 'traps' heat." - RyggTard

Such profound ignorance from a profoundly ignorant and uneducated man.

It is a simple process that has been posted to this site dozens and dozens of times, and in many cases in responses directed directly at you.

If you can't understand it by now then just to snuff yourself, as you are far too stupid to live.

VendicarE
4.2 / 5 (11) Sep 29, 2013
"How do they address the 15-year cooling cycle we're now experiencing in the IPCC report?" - Flard

The same way the address claims of space aliens crash landing at Roswell...

By rolling their eyes and laughing at the imagination of fools.

VendicarE
3.9 / 5 (8) Sep 29, 2013
"This world has probably had climate changes throughout it's history." - Rubbish

How is that going to protect you from heat stress caused crop failures and drought?

Perhaps you also believe that there is no need to prevent disease today because there has always been disease throughout history.

Have you been a moron all of your life?

VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (7) Sep 29, 2013
"The scientitsts don't even know why the last ice age, 10,000yrs ago came and went." - Rubbish

Really? Someone should tell the scientists who know that it was caused by the regular, periodic, alteration in the earth's orbital and rotational parameters.

You might not know this, because you are a moron, but science does.

Did you suffer a severe brain injury as a child?
MR166
1.6 / 5 (25) Sep 29, 2013
Look VD, the IPPC does not produce any sort of scientific predictions either, just political propaganda.
Duude
2.1 / 5 (20) Sep 29, 2013
Yeah, its best to end these reports altogether. I mean, what can we do if the next one produces even more results demonstrating the pause has even reversed? Then what? Funding will start drying up especially in times of economic hard times. Science needs a steady flow of funding. Universities don't pay enough.
Neinsense99
2.6 / 5 (20) Sep 29, 2013
scientists have an extensive understanding of the drivers of that change.

From first principles, describe how any gas 'traps' heat.
Especially the .005% of CO2.

This is not the local board of education and it is not required to provide basic level introductory science courses to the obtuse.
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (23) Sep 29, 2013
"describe how any gas 'traps' heat."

Hey Ryggy - learn to read - then go to school and get a high school edumacation - then go to college and take some basic science classes - then pull up these articles and try to read them. If you can't understand them - take them to your science professors, and see if you can pay the professors to explain them to you. They will probably refuse - because they will already understand your willful ignorance - but you could give it a try.

http://agwobserve...perties/

You don't know.
Photons less than 15um to ~8 um radiate quite easily through the atmosphere. 8-12 um is a large IR window in the atm. A black body at 300K peak radiance is at 10 um.
It's interesting how IR radiation occurs by photons, yet all the climate literature uses Watts with no spectral content.
djr
4.3 / 5 (12) Sep 29, 2013
So Ryggy - you asked "describe how any gas 'traps' heat? Now all of a sudden you are an expert on radiation frequencies of photons.

So answer one question. Can a gas trap heat?
runrig
4.7 / 5 (13) Sep 29, 2013
Look VD, the IPPC does not produce any sort of scientific predictions either, just political propaganda.

Why is it you people cannot divorce the science from the Politics?
And which comes first?
Yes the IPCC was set up by the UN but it has a scientific brief. It comes to scientific conclusions and them makes them available to governments. They are then free to do with it what their electorate allows.
PS: All rhetorical - as I know you cannot see beyond the taint made to your reasoning by ideology.
Therein lies your flaw. Politicians (away from the US anyway) are intelligent enough to know that you talk bollocks of the science and their electorate have given them the mandate to exercise that intelligence. It's called representative Democracy over here.
"IPCC was ... set up by the WMO and the UN Environment Program to prepare, based on available scientific information, a report on all aspects of climate change and its impacts, with a view of formulating response strategies."
lengould100
5 / 5 (9) Sep 29, 2013
That US (absence of) education system sure has a lot to answer for.
VendicarE
4 / 5 (9) Sep 30, 2013
"It's interesting how IR radiation occurs by photons" - RyggTard

What a pathetic, scientifically illiterate, he is.

Similarly his Libertarian/Randite brothers and sisters are as universally ignorant.

Try and answer one question, TardieBoy... Can a gas trap heat?
VendicarE
4.2 / 5 (11) Sep 30, 2013
"Look VD, the IPPC does not produce any sort of scientific predictions either" - Tard166

No, they produce a meta-analysis of the existing scientific literature as well as a series of scenario's which show the extent of climate change that can be expected depending on various presumed rates of emission of anthropogenic CO2.
MR166
1.2 / 5 (19) Sep 30, 2013
VD you forgot to mention their most important product, excuses for the failures of their miserable predictions.
tadchem
1.3 / 5 (14) Sep 30, 2013
"(T)he need for consensus makes these comprehensive judgements worryingly conservative."
Of course had there been a need for empirical validation, these comprehensive judgements would be far more conservative, but virtually unassailable by 'skeptics.'
lengould100
5 / 5 (6) Oct 01, 2013
but virtually unassailable by 'skeptics.'
?? Really? From what I'm seeing, you sceptics can dream up ways to assail pretty much anything.
VendicarE
3.9 / 5 (7) Oct 02, 2013
"excuses for the failures of their miserable predictions." - MR166

Since the vast bulk of climate predictions are about climate rather than weather as 166Tard dishonestly asserts, sufficient time has not passed for him to honestly make the above statement.

The key word above is "honesty". Something that MR166 has never learned.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.