Numbers Behind The Narrative: What Climate Science Actually Says
Numbers Behind The Narrative: What Climate Science Actually Says

Authored by Kevin Stocklin via The Epoch Times,

Most people by now are familiar with the narrative that our planet faces a dire crisis due to rising temperatures.

In January 2023, former Vice President Al Gore provided a graphic depiction during a World Economic Forum summit, informing attendees that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are “now trapping as much extra heat as would be released by 600,000 Hiroshima-class atomic bombs exploding every single day on the Earth.

“That’s what’s boiling the oceans, creating these atmospheric rivers, and the rain bombs, and sucking the moisture out of the land, and creating the droughts, and melting the ice, and raising the sea level, and causing these waves of climate refugees,” he stated.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed these remarks at the U.N. Environment Assembly in February of this year, warning: “Our planet is on the brink.

“Ecosystems are collapsing,” he stated. “Our climate is imploding, and humanity is to blame.”

Despite ubiquitous reports that there is an overwhelming consensus among scientists in support of this narrative, many scientists, like John Clauser, a 2022 Nobel Prize recipient in physics, see it differently.

Mr. Clauser stated in 2023 that “the popular narrative about climate change reflects a dangerous corruption of science that threatens the world’s economy and the well-being of billions of people.

“Misguided climate science has metastasized into massive shock-journalistic pseudoscience,” Mr. Clauser stated. “In my opinion, there is no real climate crisis.”

How can there be such a vast discrepancy on such an extensively researched topic?

Having studied the production of climate data for decades, physicist Steven Koonin said he has “watched a growing chasm between what the politicians, the media, and the NGOs were saying, and what the science actually said.”

“Nobody has an incentive to portray scientific truth and facts,” he told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Koonin was the undersecretary for science in the U.S. Department of Energy, under President Barack Obama. He is a former physics professor at Caltech and is currently on faculty at New York University.

He also has expertise in the development of analytical models.

In 2021, Mr. Koonin published a best-selling book titled “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t and Why It Matters.” The book analyzes where climate data comes from and how it makes its way from dense, thousand-page scientific reports into headline news for public consumption.

The United Nations’ IPCC

One of the most often cited sources of climate information is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a collection of scientists and government appointees that, according to its website, is dedicated to “assessing the science on climate change.”

The United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization established the IPCC in 1988.

The IPCC is both a scientific and a political body. It doesn’t conduct its own research but rather assembles teams of hundreds of scientists in working groups that collect reports from scientific journals regarding climate change, its effects, and what should be done about it.

About every seven years, an IPCC Working Group called Working Group I synthesizes the latest reports into Assessment Reports (ARs), often several thousand pages thick, which are then reviewed and edited by government appointees from the 195 member nations.

In 2023, the IPCC released its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

The information on which the ARs is based often has a bias from the start, critics say, because research grants typically fund studies that support the prevailing narrative on climate change, and because scientific journals often avoid publishing studies that suggest climate change is not dire.

“Any literature that supports alarmism is promoted and any that does not is rejected,” William Happer, professor emeritus in physics at Princeton University, told The Epoch Times.

According to Mr. Happer, the source of much of today’s climate data comes from “centers whose generous funding would cease if climate hysteria were to abate.”

In addition, according to Richard Lindzen, emeritus professor of meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who served as one of the scientists on Working Group I in the past, “the IPCC itself is only studying anthropogenic [man-made] climate change.

“It doesn’t do anything regarding natural climate change,” Mr. Lindzen said, “and that’s a severe technical shortcoming because you can’t do things like attribution unless you know what natural variability is.”

Despite that, “when you read the [Assessment] Reports, focusing mostly on the science, they’re actually pretty good,” Mr. Koonin said.

The data presented in the ARs is a relatively sober analysis. However, it provides little support for the narrative of climate catastrophe—at least as far as what has been observed to date.

Trends in Extreme Weather Events

Chapter 12 of the AR6 details the IPCC’s assessment of the impact of extreme weather events. The tables provided in this chapter show that extreme weather events that have “already emerged” are limited.

The report states a “high confidence” of temperature increases in average air and ocean temperatures and incidences of extreme heat in tropical and mid-latitudes.

It also indicates high confidence in a decrease in arctic sea ice.

However, it states “low confidence” for any increase in floods, rainstorms, landslides, drought, “fire weather,” cyclones, hurricanes, tornadoes, sand and dust storms, hail, sea level rise, coastal flooding, and erosion.

It also indicates low confidence regarding a decrease in snow, glaciers, ice sheets, or lake, river, and sea ice, beyond the Arctic region.

The IPCC’s assessment that such extreme weather events don’t appear to be escalating is supported by the findings of other scientific organizations.

A 30-year analysis of “tornado trends” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that “the number of strong and violent tornadoes hasn’t varied much since 1970.

“While the peak in tornado frequency in the early to middle 1970s included the 1974 Super Outbreak, the year with the most tornadoes during that span was 1973!” the NOAA report states.

It attributed an increase in tornadoes reported in the 1990s to the newly implemented Doppler weather radars, the development of spotter networks, population shifts, the proliferation of cell phone cameras, and “the growing ‘hobby’ of tornado chasing.”

Likewise, a 2022 report in Nature, found a “declining tropical cyclone frequency under global warming.

“On average, the global annual number of TCs [tropical cyclones] has decreased by 13 percent in the 20th century compared with the pre-industrial baseline 1850–1900.” the report stated.

In addition, the Drought Severity Index published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed no material increase in droughts in the United States between 1895 and 2020.

From Data to Narratives

How do such mundane assessments of the impact of climate change evolve into the narrative that “our climate is imploding” and “oceans are boiling”?

In two ways: first, the public statements from the IPCC and the U.N. often diverge from what their own ARs actually say; and second, the predictions of a dire future are based on models rather than observations.

Alongside each new AR, the IPCC also writes condensed Summaries for Policymakers (SPMs) to “inform policymakers what scientists know about climate change.”

The SPMs distill the voluminous ARs down to a short list of bullet points.

In addition, the IPCC produces Headline Statements and Press Releases to “provide a concise narrative” on climate change.

“[The AR] gets boiled down to the Summary for Policymakers, and while it’s drafted by scientists—a small number of them—the governments have to approve the SPM line by line,” Mr Koonin said.

“And so you already have the potential for, let’s say, non-scientific factors entering.”

“The SPM itself is 20–30 pages, and the media have to cover that,” he said. “And they typically will cherry pick the most extreme parts of it, so that’s how we get the distortions, and then that is exacerbated by the politicians, seeing opportunity in distortion, and the NGOs,”

Despite observing no increase in the tornadoes, cyclones, droughts, wildfires, or floods that have been attributed to climate change, the IPCC’s 2023 Headline Statement warns: “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all [very high confidence].”

“This problem [climate alarmism] is especially severe in the summaries for policymakers, which are mostly written by government bureaucrats,” Mr. Happer said.

“Some of the scientific reviews in the voluminous background material are sound and dispassionate,” he said. “But it is not easy for honest scientists to buck the pressures for alarmism from the political leadership.”

Rise of Computer Models

Much of the basis for climate catastrophism comes not from observation but from computer models.

study of climate models between 1970 and 2020 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that “observed changes in temperature and precipitation have generally been consistent with the changes projected by earlier models.

“The accurate projections of future climate and hindcasting of past climate makes us confident that models can reliably project changes in the climate,” the USDA report states.

However, taking a closer look at the climate modeling industry raises questions about how reliable those projections are.

The IPCC draws up its predictions based on averaged results from dozens of models, which Mr. Koonin says “disagree wildly with one another.”

In his book, Mr. Koonin notes that the average surface temperatures generated by the models in IPCC reports vary among themselves by around 3 degrees Celsius or three times the amount of warming observed throughout the 20th century.

The ARs “downplay this embarrassment” by focusing not on the actual temperature predictions, where models diverge, but rather on the predicted change in temperatures, where models are more likely to coincide.

And then there is the process of “tuning” the models.

The models typically divide the Earth up into “grid cells,” each a few tens of square miles.

These grid cells are “tuned” in a process of hard-wiring the results from the cells to manually account for more random elements like cloud formations, storms, or humidity, which the models can’t predict but are material to temperature changes.

“There are hundreds of such parameters because the climate system is complicated and has many different dimensions,” Mr. Koonin said.

“And so, as people tune the parameters differently, they get different results.”

Tuning also helps the models show results closer to observed data, but this highlights another shortcoming of the models—while purporting to predict the future, they often fail to reproduce historical temperatures.

They also struggle to separate human influence from natural phenomena, all of which elevates the uncertainty of modeled predictions regarding human behavior.

“If you’re trying—as a politician or NGO or company—to promote a narrative, you don’t want to talk about the uncertainties,” Mr. Koonin said.

“You just want to say it’s going to be five degrees warmer and the world is going to hell.”

Living In Denial

Those who question the narrative of climate catastrophism are often attacked as climate “deniers.”

“Anyone who willfully denies the impact of climate change is condemning the American people to a very dangerous future,” President Joe Biden stated in November 2023.

“The impacts we’re seeing are only going to get worse, more frequent, more ferocious, and more costly.”

Absent the hyperbole, however, what do the numbers indicate about our future?

“Modest warming since the 1900s; 1.3 degrees [Celsius] at the global level,” Mr. Koonin said.

“Despite that, by whatever measure you want to use—lifespan, nutrition, GDP, death rates from extreme events—it’s all going in a positive direction.”

“Sea level rise is continuing at just about a foot a century,” he said. “But the actual and projected economic impacts of warming are in the noise … even the IPCC says it’s small compared to many other things that determine human wellbeing.”

2022 report by the Heritage Foundation, modeling the costs and benefits to the United States of complying with the Paris Agreement and meeting the Biden administration’s goal of reducing GHG emissions to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, predicts these policies would reduce global temperatures by 0.5 degrees at the end of this century.

“Even with theoretical efficiency, we find the costs of the policy to be staggering,” the report states.

“The economy would, in aggregate, lose $7.7 trillion of gross domestic product (GDP) through 2040, which is $87,000 per family of four.”

If the developing world is deprived of the use of fossil fuels, the impact there could be even more severe.

“The billions of people who don’t have energy, who don’t have modern conveniences, they will be condemned to perpetual poverty,” Mr. Lindzen said.

“CO2 has played an important role in increasing agricultural productivity, so we’ll see everyone paying more for food and more people starving.”

“You are already seeing tragic consequences even in the United States, where a whole generation of kids has been told that they have no future,” he said.

“They’re not having children themselves, because what’s the point of having children in a world that’s going to self-destruct?”

The Epoch Times contacted the IPCC for comment but didn’t receive a response.

Tyler Durden
Fri, 05/31/2024 – 22:10

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