Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Schellnhuber calls for reform of IPCC

HJ Schellnhuber comments on the fiasco about the Himalya glaciers in the IPCC report, according to SPIEGEL online:
"Das ist ein peinlicher Fehler, der nicht passieren durfte", sagt Hans Joachim Schellnhuber vom Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung im Gespräch mit SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Er zeigt, dass das IPCC-Verfahren weiter verbessert werden muss." Es bestehe Reformbedarf: "Man sollte über die Struktur des Rates und den Zuschnitt der Arbeitsgruppen nachdenken."
How serious is this going to change the structure of the IPCC? We do not get details here, but maybe this is asking too much.

Read the rest of the story which contains also comments from Prof. Kaser.


eduardo said...

This is a quote from the recent post in Realclimate:
'However, in general, the science of climate impacts is less clear than the physical basis for climate change, and the literature is thinner, so there is necessarily more ambiguity in WG 2 statements.'

I tought it was perfectly clear that dangerous climate change starts at 2 C warming. Actually thats the only number cited in the Copenhagen Accord. If the the literature on climate impacts is thinner, how solid is that number ?

Kim Dabelstein Petersen said...


I always thought that the 2°C "target" was an economic one of cost/benefit - the point where the costs (according to the economic analysis) overwhelms the benefits. Or the "optimal" balance between mitigation and adaptation.

The whole "dangerous"/"catastrophic"/... wordings seem to me to be strawman arguments more than anything - it depends on personal definitions of the words.

Anonymous said...

Interesting this comment coming from Schellnhuber, one of the most explicit AGW advocates in Circus Climate. It won't be long until his apocalytic sea level rise predictions will be the next point of discussion.
And didn't he said that Global Warming could cut the Earth population to 1 Billion, which would be the carrying capacity of this planet?
Damage control already has begun...

P Gosselin said...

Schellnhuber, proponent of the Great Transformation, giving advice on reforming the IPCC? Why not have the matches watch the dynamite?!
I simply cannot stomach Mr Schellhuber's "words of wisdom", and so I'll refrain from reading them.
Sorry, but his set attitude and closed-mindedness on the topic is part of the problem.

Unknown said...

the 2 degrees number is more a political number. Nothing more, nothing less... at least that said Carlo and Julia Jaeger in an interesting article in the FAZ: http://www.faz.net/s/RubC5406E1142284FB6BB79CE581A20766E/Doc~E15491D35E33F4603A0C942A92EB7F6B9~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html

Hans Erren said...

That's the same Schellnhuber who refused to debate with prof. dr. Malberg on German television.
Heiner Bremer bestätigt: Schellnhuber verweigert Klimadiskussion !! (Youtube)

itisi69 said...

Not only Schellnhuber but also Rahmstorff was invited but refused to debate.

Unknown said...


what is the point of such a debate? Malberg is not a climate scientist. His publication record is zero. AND: he did not answer when I had some questions about his article in the Berliner Wetterkarte that is flawed as hell and on the edge to the lie.

What does Malberg want to talk about? He does not understand the Greenhouse effect, his statistic knowledge is flawed, and he really thinks, the "recovery" of the arctic sea ice in the last two years proves the Greenhouse effect to be minor or fraud. Strange things...

These debates with deniers are worthless.

eduardo said...

ghost, if 2 degrees is a political number, as I also see it, why place it in a scientific context? It is again the same mistake as the melting of Himalayan glaciers in 2035 (btw, they could have written April 15th 2037 in the afternoon for that matter).

eduardo said...

ghost, this is exactly the wrong answer, even if you think it is true that Malberg is not the right discussion partner. If the goal is to convince more people to reduce emissions, you have to abandon that type of stance that can be interpreted as arrogant and dismissive.

Imagine you visit the doctor and you want to know why you should take those drugs. If he retorts: 'I am the expert, shut up and just do it', what would be your reaction?

richardtol said...

The two degrees target is an urban myth. It was created by the WBGU in 1995.

The WBGU gives three reasons.

First, two degrees safeguards creation -- W stands for scientific, by the way.

Second, the geological record shows that it has not been warmer than 1.5dC above present -- which may have been correct in 1995 -- and you would want to add (or is that substract?) 0.5dC just to be sure.

Third, two degrees would keep monetised impacts below 5% of GDP -- the WBGU did not have an economist on board, and thus felt free to contradict the literature on this matter.

Later reports just reconfirmed the target. Although we have learned a great deal about climate change, its impacts, and the costs of emission reduction since 1995, this was no reason to change the target even a little bit.

More details in my paper in Energy Policy.

Anonymous said...

Eduardo #10, this is why it's pointless:


Dialog requires conversation with someone who's listening.

itisi69 said...

"These debates with deniers are worthless."
This misplaced arrogance is typical for the alarmists and flawed publications is not limited to "deniers", if you might think so.
But pls do continue to behave that way, it'll only make things worse for the warmistas as so blatantly been proved lately...

itisi69 said...

BTW; Obama has been completely alienated from his voters by the overwhelming victory a year ago. This has lead to an complete arrogance and ignorance to see from his ivory tower what's really happening down on Earth. The result is a complete and utter defeat in the safest Democratic State since 1953 I believe.
I compare AGW Climate Science with Obama. It has been succesful for a decade which has lead to great arrogance, group thinking and now ignorance what people think of it. I predict, Ghost old bean, that the same is happening right now. Y'all will experience a very cold shower, very soon.


eduardo said...

@ 12

It is neither Malberg nor Merkel who you have to convince, it is the voters. Politicians will only react to voters sentiments.
I do think that ordinary folks are, in the long-term, able to winnow the advocates away.
What I think is clear is that PIK strategy, just to use a term that everyone understands, has failed so far. People in general are not dumb, they just not react and think like 'scientist in the ivory tower'

Unknown said...

it is not about ivory tower and is not about asking your doctor, Eduardo. Your analogy was totally wrong.

It is a show debate. You can loose a show debate even if you have better arguments. Are you really good in TV shows and discussions where you have a really, really aggressive opponent that brings up one strawman, lie, distortion after the other? Malbergs papers are full of strawmans, lies, distortions. I mean, what do think about a person who says: CO2 alone cannot explain the cooling the 50s to 70s, therefore the greenhouse effect is a fraud? I mean, a Prof in Meteorology is saying this. Do you really think, this person is a honest person, you would like to discuss with? Why are you not going to discuss with him? Or Prof von Storch?

Actually, I found so much material about your science area, I found so great, patient answers directly from actual climate scientists everywhere in the Web and media, I cannot agree that there is a ivory tower.

PS: actually, Prof Malberg did not answer to my questions...

eduardo said...

@ 16
In my analogy I was not referring in particular to a TV show with Malberg, but to the general stance of dicussing or presenting climate change issues to the public.
Ivory tower? yes, I think so. One thing is to preach from the internet, dismissing any doubts (that happens on both sides) and other different thing is to try to see the merits or the worries in the arguments of the opponent.

I see that one of the most, or perhaps the most, read blog in climate isues in wattsupwiththat, which is rather on the skeptics camp. I read somewhere it doubles realclimate in click numbers.
does this happen because of disinformation funded by the oil industry? Although there might be a few examples, I really do not see big oil money slushing around to fund disinformation campaigns. I may be wrong, though. what would be your diagnosis?

Anonymous said...

Look at the recommand figures in the comments to Monbiot's latest blog gaffe and tell me how people think of his continuous pounding the dead horse.

"I cannot agree that there is a ivory tower."
Have you read the Climategate Papers lately? Or RealClimate? Or Open Mind? Or Rabett Run? Or Climate Progress? Or... oh never mind... *sigh*

"I mean, a Prof in Meteorology is saying this."
Well, as long as a railway engineer can become the chairman of IPCC.. nuff said.

H Hak said...

Ghost, I too don't like the TV "debates" . The topics are simply to complex and the debates are going to be judged on the personalities as much or more than on the arguments. More informative are the debates on the merit of the science . See the present debate re Judith Curry's comments on L&C 09 on Climate Audit . By and large very civil and very informative ( although 70% goes over my head).
Hopefully the science community will be able to engage more in this kind of actual debate rather
than making statements from behind the barricades (or from the ivory towers).

Unknown said...

Another source of the notion of the threshold at 2 degrees is the study "millions at risk" by Martin Parry et al. (2001, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 11, 181-183). http://www.elsevier.com/framework_aboutus/pdfs/Millions_at_risk.pdf

The study showed that the number of vulnerable people increases dramatically as the global mean temperature crosses +2 deg.C (above the pre-industrial level, if my understanding is correct).

As it is broken down, the curve which has the most dramatic increase denotes the number of people without enough water resources. The paper says that people in urban areas in China and India will become the most vulnerable then.

On one hand, water resource stress (due either to droughts or floods) in high population density areas in East and South Asia seems to be a really important factor with which a large climate change can become disastrous.

On the other hand, it is unlikely that the threshold of dangerous water resource stress can be quantified in terms of global and annual mean surface air temperature.

It seems that there is a threshold, but it seems that we cannot determine the value before we actually encouner it.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Critical threshold values can only be identified post festum or, as William Blake put it: 'You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough' (Proverbs of Hell).
CLimate modellers would feel insulted I guess. They pretend that they know the thresholds. However, many would admit that there are always surprises (remember: none of the atmospheric models had the ozone hole on its cards). So they distinguish between prediction and projection. This does, however, not solve the problem of potentially missing central elements (thus coming close to 'voodoo science').

What is more, it seems that laypeople have another option apart from trusting (or bashing) model projections/predictions: this is the William Blake approach to things which in one way or other always has been known to human cultures.
It would follow that lay people can develop policies without relying on science (or the ivory tower) which might be elusive. So far, it seems, everyone is in the grip of the show from the ivory tower. The CRU scandal (and the more recent ones) contributes to this attitude, as it makes the topic sexy (and, ironically, we are all participating in it).

We may see a displacement in media reporting from dramatization to discovering the 'dirty laundry' in science: but this would not lead to better policies either. We would still be staring at the science.

itisi69 said...

It was not the missing elements that was the tipping point of trust for lay people, it were the blatant lies, manipulations and bias that have been the cause of the current "Vertrauensbruch" in Climate Science.
Clearly the time of "trust us, you don't need our data" is a station passed a long time ago. We're living in the 21st century.
First of all if Climate Science wants to recover this trust it needs to clean up the mess it made of it. Meaning stop denying the crisis, get rid of the usual suspects, accept the legitimate complaints and remarks of skeptic scientists and start an open mind discussion with contrarian climatologists (like the owners of this blog and for instance Dr.Judith Curry).
Only then it's clear to everybody that Climate Science returns to its roots: Science, not Politics.
The more we know, the less we understand. Climate depends on so many different influences that maybe we'll never understand exactly how it works, no matter how many scientists say they do. Every year new forcings are discovered which are not included in the "models", so every time the wheel has to be invented again. Lucky are the people who can live by saying:

"Mackerel skies and mares' tails
Make tall ships take in their sails."

Unknown said...

Back to the subject of the original posting (though, I am sorry, I have not read the German text except skimming some key words).

It is difficult to maintain quality of the regional chapters of the IPCC report, even though some improvements over the previous one will surely be made. As for Asia in particular, people who can review the situation of the whole Asia seems to be as few as those who can review the world. We have no active Asia-wide research community such as "Asian Society of XXX Science". Should we subdivide? Then we may miss adequate handling of the issues extend across subdivision boundaries -- the Himalayas are typical of this.

Logically, the outlook of Himalayan glaciers should be handled by the Working Group 1.

I think that AR4 WG1 was carefully edited. But it did not include the outlook of Himalayan glaciers, and I think it is reasonable in the context of WG1 itself.

The subject of Chapter 4 of AR4 WG1 was the observed change of the cryosphere, not the outlook. Chapter 10 (global outlook) handled mountain glaciers of the world together in the context of sea level change. Chapter 11 (regional outlook) did not discuss glaciers in Asia, though it did discuss snow cover.

But when we want to assess impacts of and adaptation to climate change, we may need outlook of, for example, Himalayan glaciers. Then, should WG2 ask WG1 for it? Should it be added to the responsibility of WG1 even when WG1 specialists are reluctant? (If I follow the logic of Stephen Schneider in his book, the answer should be yes, but then it will be a very hard thing to become a member of WG1.) How should WG1 answer when there is no credible sources, or when its members thinks that the synthesis of already published sources may not be near truth?

It is related to the scope of "climate change" which IPCC should cover. As recently Roger Pielke Sr. et al. published an opinion article on Eos (the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union), human influence of climate change is not only through greenhouse gasses, but also through aerosols and land cover changes. The authors urges IPCC to extend its scope.

I think that there should be debate about the future of IPCC, namely "big IPCC" vs. "small IPCC" (similar to "big government" vs. "small government"). "Big IPCC" will deal with all causes of climate change both anthropogenic and natural, it will deal with regional climate as well as global, and it will deal with adaptation to climate in general (not limited to adaptation to global warming). "Small IPCC" will concentrate on changed caused by greenhouse gas emission, it will concentrate on evaluation of costs of adaptation and mitigation, and it will pass responstibility to other institutions.

Unknown said...

In my previous comment, I said
> We have no active Asia-wide research community such as "Asian Society of XXX Science".

Excuse me. We do have Asia Oceania Geosciences Society. But it does not change the basic message that we have few occasions of Asia-wide discussion.

eduardo said...

@ 23

this is a thoughtful comment. Indeed there has to be a debate about the future of the IPCC if we want to have a credible IPCC at all. There are many issues involved, I think, not only about its structure, but also about its relationships with governments. One first step could be to change the meaning of the I, from Intergovernmental to International, and perhaps drop the second C. The P would probably be changed to another letter. But something has to happen indeed

Hans von Storch said...

Siehe auch Lange Nachts des Klimas am 30.10.2009. Gletscher und Himalaya, O-Ton Schellnhuber

eduardo said...

If I had any doubts about Chancellor Merkel and President Barroso being correctly advised by Schellnhuber, they are now gone.