How The 95% IPCC Certainty Falls To The Ground

All it takes is one!
All it takes is one!
Busy times at the Briggs ranch. The Evidence series will continue next week. For now, some IPCC fun.

The Consensus says its 95% sure that the man has caused the climate to change and that the climate has change. I disagree. I’m 100% sure.

Since I am a certified scientist, credentialed out the ying-yang (ying-yang pictures available upon request), having published works reviewed by my peers, what I believe is therefore capital-S Science. Following the zeitgeist, to speak against me is necessarily anti-science. So let’s have no arguments.

The “climate” is the aggregation, or “averaging” of moment-by-moment weather over “long” periods of time. Weather, to speak loosely, is everything in and around the air. That includes you, my dears. You move the air, you breathe it in and out, you heat it and add moisture and strange gases to it. You become part of the weather. It is therefore impossible for you not to modify the weather.

And therefore the climate, too. Thus it is 100% indisputably certain that man influences the climate. That’s part one.

Part two everybody already believes: the climate has changed. Indeed, as near as can be told, it’s never stayed still since oceans first formed. It is therefore rational to believe that it will continue its dance until those same oceans dry up.

Sure enough, the AP says of the 95% confidence that scientists, me included, are “as sure about climate change as they are about the age of the universe.” So what’s all the heat about?

Lookie (looky?) here. If we are 95% sure that man has influenced the climate and that the climate has changed, it means nothing by itself. It can’t be, for instance, The Consensus is worried about a slight increase in the average temperature. If that were so, we wouldn’t see so many old people flee the Great White North and flock to Florida each winter. The rapid and enormous change of heat would kill them en masse if just-plain temperature increases were a problem.

We need to separate talk about climate change from what weather does to things, because what weather does is the only thing that can be of any interest to us non-Consensuses members.

Here’s where it gets tricky. The Consensus is confident, like me, that man causes climate change and that the climate has changed. But how much the climate has changed due to man is not known with 95% certainty. If confidence were that high, then Consensus forecasts of temperatures, which consistently bomb (they run hot), would have been much better. Whatever the confidence is about the exact amount of change (past and future) due to man, therefore must be much less than 95%.

Now suppose, as some scientist has claimed, a nasty weed will thrive in a climate which isn’t here yet but is predicted to come. This means the scientist says he knows what will be the agglomeration of temperatures over a growing season, the precipitation, humidity, and sunlight, their effects on soil conditions, etc. Since forecasts are poor, he cannot be 100% sure of these, and he must be less certain still about the effects of these variables on the growing of the weed.

Keep the different elements in mind: there are claims of knowledge about future weather and the future behavior of some organism considered in isolation assuming the future weather is perfectly certain. The level of certainty we have in both simultaneously must necessarily be less than we have in either.

We’re not done. Follow me closely here: the scientist must also make claims of knowledge about the consequences of the weed flourishing. After all, a weed growing isn’t of interest per se. It’s how that weed effects us that matters.

This entails knowledge about how the weed will cope, not in isolation, but as part of its environment. That means knowing what the weed’s enemies (caterpillars, say) will do in the changed climate, and what strategies man will adopt to adapt to the weed increasing.

There is a chain of dependence: knowing the climate, then knowing the future weather, then knowing what the weed will do, then knowing what other organisms will do, then knowing how we would cope, adapt, change our behavior.

No matter how certain we are about the climate changing we must necessarily be far less certain about what its effects will be. This is a logical truth. Here’s another: the matter is so complex that nobody knows precisely how certain because accurately quantifying the various uncertainties in this chain is impossible (though it is possible to do it inaccurately, and many do).

Thus the answer to the implied question of the IPCC report on 95% certainty is “So what?”

Incidentally, isn’t it curious that if the organism sticks, pricks, poisons, pesters, wreaks havoc, or carries diseases, scientists claim it will thrive in the coming climate. But if it’s gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic, the animal will whither in that same climate. What a coincidence!


12 Comments

  1. In fact the IPCC claim is that they are 95% certain that
    “human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951−2010.”

    I’m looking forward seeing to the detailed physical and probabilistic analysis justifying this statement, that will surely be provided.

  2. “Incidentally, isn’t it curious that if the organism sticks, pricks, poisons, pesters, wreaks havoc, or carries diseases, scientists claim it will thrive in the coming climate. But if it’s gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic, the animal will whither in that same climate. What a coincidence!”

    Very curious, especially when you consider that the “sticks, pricks, poisons, pesters, wreaks havoc, or carries diseases” generally need the “gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic” to survive.

  3. I love this typo: “The Consensus says its 95% sure that the man has caused the climate to change and that the climate has change.” If it was Al Gore, I’d say that it was a Freudian slip. Their are three typos, but you no which won I mean. Normally I take a live and let live approach two typos since I make so many myself. It is just common courtesy if you are knot a proof reader, but this won is two funny to resist.

    Good point MattS, but I guess that they don’t believe that the meek will inherit the earth.

  4. “In fact the IPCC claim is that they are 95% certain that
    “human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951−2010.””

    Exactly how much global warming has occurred since 1951?

    I found this estimate from the Berkley temperature index project:

    “We find that the global land mean temperature (comparing the
    average of the period 2001-2010 with that of 1951-1960) has increased
    by 0.90 ± 0.05°C (95% confidence). http://www.scitechnol.com/2327-4581/2327-4581-1-101.pdf

    If that estimate is accurate, then the IPCC statement suggests that at least .45C of the temperature increase (i.e. 1/2) has been caused by humans.

    I agree with Mr. Briggs that the earth is warming and humans are playing some role. I think it is open to debate whether the portion of the warming caused by humans over the past 50 years is something to be concerned about. It is open to even greater debate whether there is much that can be done about it or whether the costs of preventing further human-caused warming are less than the damage caused by the warming.

  5. I still don’t know how the IPCC calculates the average temperature since weather stations do not measure average temperature. They only record the maximum and minimum temperatures. The temperature in the middle is the median, not the average. To measure the average temperature the weather station would have to integrate the temperature over time. They don’t do this.

  6. I keep pawing through the BEST Temp data. They say in their summary that 2/3 of all temps are increasing trends. (Here is a link to let you click through a bunch). http://www.bestkepttemps.com

    I cannot scrute my eyes properly or something because I can’t find 1 in 10 that are increasing. I have found a few. I haven’t found many that are decreasing (but there are few of those). Most of them are flat lines.

    Some may argue that my use of a range that starts at 200K is extreme. My only defense is that the lowest temp in the set is 204K. When observing data, you should make sure you include the range of the data. If you don’t include the full range you can start chasing your tail.

    Sorry. I am starting to question the integrity of people I am supposed to respect. I truly think that they have forgotten what the definition of zero is. My professors bled over my papers for not respecting zero. Now abusing zero is the way of the world.

    I am not opposed completely to anomaly analysis, but I recommend keeping an absolute chart posted in front of you when you do it so you don’t forget what the base is.

    I proclaim the greatest villain in the world is actually STAN LEE…

  7. To any AGW/ACC/ACD devotees — I believe in global warming. There use to be 1000m of ice over my house in the recent past. I love me some global warming…

    Sadly. They don’t get that statement.

  8. The data at bestkept is filtered.

    BWI min is reported as: -5.063 (in 1836). I presume it’s Celsius because the max is 29.229 (in 2013). I remember a rather cold Feb morning in 1988 when it was -5F and the max temp this year was far closer to 100F than the balmy 84F listed as max.

    If you’re going to play with this stuff use the full 45Gb data set.

  9. “But if it’s gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic, the animal will whither in that same climate.”

    This is, surely, a question. I’ll answer it: it probably won’t move at all (82.35% confidence).

  10. “Incidentally, isn’t it curious that if the organism sticks, pricks, poisons, pesters, wreaks havoc, or carries diseases, scientists claim it will thrive in the coming climate. But if it’s gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic, the animal will whither in that same climate. What a coincidence!”

    Two words: adap tation.

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