Running on empty

September 11, 2013

11 Sept (SUN NEWS) Later this month, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is likely to release its fifth major report since 1992 on the state of the Earth’s environment and climate.

by Lorne Gunter

Why do I say likely?

Because there have been reports the IPCC is badly divided over what to say.

This is nothing new. Despite a steady drone by environmentalists and media that the science of climate change is “settled” and that there is an “overwhelming consensus” that human activity is causing dangerous climate change, the truth is more complex.

While most climate scientists do believe human action is having some impact on climate, there is far less than the 97% certainty trumpeted by the David Suzukis and Al Gores of the world. And there never has been.

If anything, the uncertainty is growing and that, according to leaked reports from inside the IPCC, is what is causing the delay in releasing the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

While the senior members of the IPCC insist their latest report be every bit as gloomy and alarmist as the past four, a growing number of scientists are unwilling to claim the world is going to hell in a handbasket unless we all stop using fossil fuels.

This has always been the case.

The executive summaries of past IPCC assessment reports (known officially as the summaries for policymakers) have been very much more emphatic than the dull, intricate science inside.

The crusading scientists, activists and politicians who write the summaries have always been keen to take their proclamations well beyond where the science led.

That has always been a tricky balance, but now, apparently, it is becoming nearly impossible to pull off.

You see, the Earth hasn’t warmed in the past 16 or 17 years, even though the production of carbon dioxide has continued apace.

And it is becoming harder and harder for global warming’s cheerleaders on the IPCC to square that circle.

As an increasing number of scientists begin to question the so-called consensus on climate change, the IPCC has pushed harder and harder for ever more dramatic and alarming predictions in AR5. Hence the delay.

Consider just a few recent announcements.

First, there were a few reports on Monday that Arctic sea ice is 60% greater than it was this time last year.

The northern ice cap begins to refreeze in September, so that means the slow shrinkage of Arctic ice may be reversing.

One year of ice growth does not make a trend, but imagine the hysterical headlines if it were the other way around – if the ice cap was 60% smaller.

There is also a growing body of scientific work that shows Earth’s climate may not be as sensitive to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as once thought.

The most alarming predictions of climate change were based on the theory that CO2 would trap solar energy in the lower atmosphere, where it would be magnified two, three or even five times.

Many scientists now believe this “forcing” effect was vastly overstated.

That is why temperatures have not budged in the past 17 years, even as CO2 concentrations have risen.

Most importantly, though, might be a German study released last week that claims all 65 climate-model computers used by the IPCC to predict the future impact of CO2 on climate – every last one of them -has failed to foresee this 17-year pause in temperature rise.

Indeed, most of the environmentalists’ vaunted supercomputers have trouble predicting past climate, much less future climate.

And if they cannot reproduce known climate, how can these computers be trusted to predict what’s coming?

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