Friday, December 14, 2012

"Game-changing" leak from the IPCC reports? Please.

The claim by the Watts up with that blog that statements in a leaked draft of the upcoming IPCC assessment report is "game-changing" is not wrong scientifically, it makes no logical sense.

The supposedly game-changing evidence - that there may have been a great change in the sun's impact on the climate than previously thought - is just a classic case of rhetoric trumping data.

Notice there are no numbers in most of the quotes that Alec Rawls pulled from the IPCC report. Just because something is greater than previously thought does not mean it is a lot greater or a lot more important [besides, as Skeptical Science nicely reminds us, Rawls explanation makes no sense].

A couple years ago, I discovered that I am actually half an inch taller than what I had previously thought, a funny thing to discover at my age. That doesn't mean I'm going to try out for a NBA team, though I do suspect my 4-19 hometown Toronto Raptors could use some help at small forward.

The science is almost irrelevant here. The real issue is the nature of the IPCC. It does not conduct original research. The IPCC reviews and assesses the scientific literature on climate change through an exhaustive multi-year process. If there was some "game-changing" discovery about the sun's impact on the climate or any other key issue in the IPCC draft reports, that discovery would already have been reported by scientists in the literature that the IPCC reviewed.

At the absolute minimum, the discovery would be have been reported in scientific papers submitted to a journal before the long-passed deadline for the IPCC, and if the papers were by now published or publicly available, the contents would have been presented by the authors at prominent scientific conferences like last week's AGU meeting, which is so well reported that "AGU" was actually trending on twitter for half of the week.

If there was some "game-changing" discovery, we probably would have already heard about it in the news and we certainly would have heard it on blogs like Watts up with that.


EliRabett said...

But we did

The post at WUWT is simple mouth breathing. No one doubts that cosmic rays can leave ion tracks in the atmosphere, and no one doubts that this is an important mechanism for ionization in the atmosphere. The question is whether it is rate limiting for forming clouds and the answer to that one appears to be no.

Simon Donner said...

Even if the proposed mechanism was a driver of cloud formation, the signal is in the wrong direction the past few years, suggesting it could not be a significant player.

david lewis said...

Richard Alley discussed the Svensmark hypothesis that cosmic rays are a significant climate factor during his 2009 AGU Bjerknes Lecture, at the 42 minute 5 second mark:

He described the hypothesis: "People say the Sun doesn't change much but the Sun modulates the cosmic rays, the cosmic rays modulate the clouds, the clouds modulate the temperature, so the Sun is amplified hugely...."

Then he pointed to the paleo evidence that weighs against it:

"Now the Sun modulates cosmic rays...but so does the magnetic field".

"About 40,000 years ago the magnetic field basically zeroed out in what we call the LasChamp anomaly for a millenium or so. And when it did, cosmic rays came screaming into the Earth system and you see, in basically all sedimentary records, this peak of cosmic ray produced nuclides".

(He displayed this chart)

"We had a BIG cosmic ray signal, and the climate ignores it. And its just about that simple. These cosmic rays didn't do enough that you can see it."

Stephen Chu, at the height of Climategate, challenged the civilization threatening insanity of the attitude of many in the media who report what deniers concoct as if their statements are in some way equal to the opinions of legitimate scientists, as if there were two poles in a "debate". He said this:

"If you look at the climate skeptics, I would have to say honestly, what standard are they being held to?"

hengist mcstone said...

Its game-changing though we have to take it seriously. To get this into perspective Ive searched WUWT for "game changer" and found nine separate game changers. And still the AGW beast will not die

Simon Donner said...

Well, it's hard to kill physics, chemistry and data.