The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issues its latest report as leading climate alarmists claim we have “zero years” left to avoid catastrophic effects, but what do the report and analysis actually say? And why can’t we just focus on capturing carbon in the atmosphere instead of ever more intrusive and complex schemes no one truly believes will work?
“Bottom line is that we have zero years left to avoid dangerous climate change, because it’s here,” declared Michael E. Mann, a leading climate change alarmist. He provided these comments to CNN, who, perhaps needless to say, failed to ask him about his similar comments in 2014. Back then, he claimed “If the world keeps burning fossil fuels at the current rate, it will cross a threshold into environmental ruin by 2036.” Somehow, in the past 7 years, the window has shrunk by 16 years and we need to act now. This is especially surprising given his own caveat that the year 2036 was only the deadline “if the world keeps burning fossil fuels at the current rate.” The world emitted 35.24 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2014, but between the pandemic causing changes to travel, some of which are likely to be permanent, and greener technologies, we were down to 34.07 billion metric tons in 2020. The rate of increase and the absolute number have both slowed substantially, but the deadline has still moved up, substantially and inexplicably.
This is doubly surprising given that the rate of increase in global temperatures has also slowed. The hottest years on record, even using adjusted data, remain 2016 and 1998 with 2020 being tied with 2016, meaning average temperatures have been roughly flat for the past 4 years and the entire span for the past 20 years has been within about the same range. Of course, they can’t really come out and tell you that, so instead of reporting the actual average temperature, they now report something called the average anomaly, based on repeatedly adjusted data of course. The anomaly is the supposed difference between any given recent year and the average between 1951 and 1980 or some other equally arbitrary span of years. NASA, for example, uses the 1951 to 1980 span and fails to explain why it’s critically important, more so than say 1941 to 1970. A cynic might say that the temperature in the 1940’s was higher than it was again until the 1980’s. Yes, you read that right: The global average in the 1940’s was 14.04 degrees Celsius. In the 1970’s it was 14.00, meaning if they included the 1940’s the numbers today’s “anomaly” would be smaller and less scary.
Regardless, the focus now is on both the temperature and extreme weather of any kind, for which climate change is said to be responsible. Mr. Mann’s reappearance in the news is accompanied by a new United Nation’s report from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC report purports to address “the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, and global and regional climate simulations.”
This year’s headline claim is that it’s now “unequivocal” that climate change is caused by human activities. As they put it, “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.” Unfortunately, the “unequivocal” language ceases as you get into the details, from there you descend into the language of “likely.” For example, “Globally averaged precipitation over land has likely increased since 1950, with a faster rate of increase since the 1980s (medium confidence). It is likely that human influence contributed to the pattern of observed precipitation changes since the mid-20th century.” Not all “likelies” are equal, however. It’s “very likely” humans are responsible for melting in the arctic, despite that their predictions for the rate of the melting have been consistently wrong, but in the Antarctic there has “been no significant trend…due to regionally opposing trends and large internal variability.” Likewise, spring snow cover is our fault as is the entire island of Greenland, but there’s only “limited” evidence for the Antarctic ice sheet. Speaking of Arctic ice, the date for an ice free Arctic has variably been 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, and onward to 2035. A study just this week claimed 2050, so which is it?
In any event, one might wonder how everything they perceive as bad is our fault, but when they perceive nothing or no change, it’s opposing trends and internal variability. Sea levels are no different. The IPCC states that sea levels began to rise in 1901, but somehow humans became the main driver of this rise only in 1971, even though, see above, it was hotter in the 40’s. The total rise is .2 meters, not even a foot, and according to their own numbers the continued rise is 3.7 millimeters per year between 2006 and 2008. In 1971 to 2006, however, it was 1.9 mm per year, prior to, it was 1.3. Of course, there’s no explanation whatsoever as to how they were able to determine a rise of 1.3 mm, less than an inch, in 1901. Regardless, we are “very likely” the main driver since 1971, but not 1969 or 1970. This is very strange considering that temperatures actually cooled in the 1970’s by their own admission. I’m serious, as they say it, “extremely likely that human-caused stratospheric ozone depletion was the main driver of cooling of the lower stratosphere between 1979 and the mid-1990s.” If humans are causing warming, and warming causing the seas to rise, why were they rising before the warming and even during cooling periods? How does that possibly work? And, if it does work, does that not mean that seas might well continue to rise even if we can lower the global thermostat?
Relatively new to the report and the alarmist discourse are statistical analyses purporting to show that global warming is driving extreme weather events. Earlier this year, scientists declared that a heatwave in the northwestern United States was “virtually impossible” without human induced climate change. The heatwave resulted in record temperatures in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, temperatures that were “far outside the range of past observed temperatures.” A group of more than two dozen scientists believe climate change made such high temperatures 150 times more likely. As CNN described it in June, “A decade ago, researchers would have been hesitant to point to climate change for any single event. Now, with the aid of high-powered computer models, researchers can use decades of observed temperatures to rapidly determine what role Earth’s warming played.”
Incredibly, the scientists themselves admit, “The observed temperatures were so extreme that they lie far outside the range of historically observed temperatures. This makes it hard to quantify with confidence how rare the event was. In the most realistic statistical analysis the event is estimated to be about a 1 in 1000 year event in today’s climate.” Let’s get this straight: They observed a record temperature, but our actual records don’t go back very far, especially for the Pacific Northwest, so they assume, without any evidence whatsoever, that it’s a once in a thousand year event. It could be once in five hundred years, once in two hundred fifty years, they don’t know. Nor do they have any reason to believe climate change is responsible. They admit it could just be bad luck and then postulate that “The second option is that nonlinear interactions in the climate have substantially increased the probability of such extreme heat, much beyond the gradual increase in heat extremes that has been observed up to now.” However, they specifically note “the climate models do not show it,” in other words we know next to nothing about it. Because we know next to nothing about it, they proceed to perform a purely statistical analysis, based on garbage data and somehow conclude it’s 150 times more likely, but since we don’t know the real odds to begin with, it’s 150 times more likely then what?
Incredibly, they don’t stop there. Although “the climate models do not show it,” they claim climate change made the event 2 degrees Celsius hotter than it would have been otherwise, then somehow they leap to what this might look like 20 years from now, and claim it would have been even a degree hotter if the heatwave occurred then. They continue to dutifully inform us that in the 2040’s or perhaps the 2050’s, this assumed to be once in a thousand year event would happen once every five to ten years. Unfortunately, it seems these scientists can’t even follow their own math. A once in a thousand year event has a .1% chance of happening every year. If climate change has already made it 150 times more likely, that chance increases to 15% per year, meaning the event should happen again in less than seven years. Therefore, it should already be a once in five to ten year event according to their own math. There’s a simple way to test it in the near future: It should happen again this decade, not 30 years from now, but of course that’s the way this works. The predictions are always decades off, even the predictions of predictions at times, making it impossible to test and so far in the future no one remembers them anyway.
These same sloppy statistical analyses are also being applied to droughts and fires, floods and storms, and hurricanes, even as the IPCC itself isn’t entirely sure of either the increases or the underlying causes. For example, they only believe it “likely” that major cyclones and hurricanes have increased in the first place and they have “high confidence” storms have gotten wetter, but “data limitations inhibit clear detection of past trends on the global scale.” In other words, they are taking an unclear and possibly unsupported underlying trend, then running it through an equally unclear and unsupported statistical model, and reporting the results as fact, though the actual facts are at least twice removed and “data limitations inhibit clear detection.”
They don’t stop there either, continuing a disturbing trend of their own. The most recent “advance” in climate alarmist circles has been to unpack events into a human influenced portion, sometimes conflicting when greenhouse gasses add heat and aerosols subtract it, and a natural portion. We saw this last week when an increase in ocean dead zones was supposedly caused by climate change. The IPCC asserts that a “main driver” for an event is “responsible for more than 50% of the change.” This is, however, the ultimate scam: Climate is an incredibly complex system. It’s one of the classic examples of chaos theory. In fact the infamous “butterfly effect” was named for the concept that a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan can influence weather in the United States, meaning we’ve known for decades that climate events don’t function by simple addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, add a little wind, take away a degree of temperature, and easily predict what comes next. To this day, we have no means to model anything as complex as a hurricane and determine to what extent each variable influenced the outcome, much less all of the equally complex systems that feed into a hurricane. Instead, we have basic statistical models and abstractions with no real observational validation, like those mentioned earlier used to analyze the northwest heat wave, and surprise, surprise humans are always the culprit.
Ultimately, none of it really matters anyway. The purpose of the IPCC report is not educate the public on climate change or the climate in general. It’s sole reason for existence is to scare politicians into enacting schemes like the Green New Deal. Hence, we’re informed that human “influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in the last 2000 years,” complete with charts that claim to show the “reconstructed” temperature when Jesus Christ walked the Earth. These “reconstructions” by the way make up 85% of the data set given records only go back about a hundred fifty years, but pay no mind to that. They’ll still conclude the only periods that compare to today are 6,500 years ago or perhaps 125,000 years ago, even as the acknowledge those changes occurred naturally due to “orbital variations.” Either way, we must do something, now, to save the planet.
Unfortunately, the one thing we really could do is rarely mentioned. If you’re serious about saving the planet and believe the scientists, the only potential solution with a reasonable chance of success is capturing carbon from the atmosphere. You should be pushing for a massive, Operation Warp Speed style project to fund the development of industrial scale capture technology. Plants do this already and if we put our collective minds to it, there is little doubt we could develop this technology within a few years and roll it out globally in the next decade. Instead, we’re busy making non-binding mandates for electric cars 10 years from now, even as the same groups pushing those mandates are busy blocking the mining projects that would allow us to build so many electric vehicles in the first place. Are you following? We need electric cars, except we can’t build them anyway.
We’re also actively debating ever more intrusive and complicated schemes to reduce carbon emissions, even though those very same schemes have already resulted in slashing and burning forests for no good reason. We’re even talking about banning meat. Fair-minded people should wonder precisely why this is so when the obvious answer is right in front of us, yet largely ignored in favor of larger, more intrusive, more ridiculous government that we all know deep down inside will never get this right, ever. To ensure there is no mistaking what is happening, Patrick Vallance writing for The Guardian explains it: “Nothing short of transforming society will avert catastrophe.” We all have to do our part. I’m sure that transformation will run as smoothly as our response to coronavirus and that politicians and other elites will follow their own mandates, just like we’ve seen so far…