Commentary on IPCC WG1: Part 1


This is a wrap of some of commentary on the recent IPCC report. You can follow the links, or not, according to your needs, time and desires.

Climate Code Red carries a very clear summary of the report, which they got from Climate News Network, a handy site I wasn’t aware of.

The summary covers elements I neglected, such as Evaluation of Climate Models, but doesn’t go into the climate budget approach.

The post includes links to other commentary.

At RealClimate Stefan Rahmstorf solves the problem of the graph showing 82cm as the upper limit of sea level rise compares with 98cm in the text. It’s the last decade, the difference between 2080-2100 and 2100! Under RCP8.0 SLR will be accelerating rapidly according to forecasts.

George Monbiot is ascerbic as usual:

What the report describes, in its dry, meticulous language, is the collapse of the benign climate in which humans evolved and have prospered, and the loss of the conditions upon which many other lifeforms depend. Climate change and global warming are inadequate terms for what it reveals. The story it tells is of climate breakdown.

We need to leave most of the fossil fuel reserves everywhere, but for the corporations it’s full steam ahead, supported by their governments.

At ABC Environment Michael Mann and Dana Nuccitelli are in no doubt as to what’s causing global warming. The IPCC report:

concludes that humans have caused at least 50 per cent and most likely 100 per cent of the global warming over the past six decades, with external natural factors like the sun and internal natural variation like ocean cycles each contributing approximately zero to the warming during that time.

Ryan Koronowski at Climate Progress tells us 15 things we need to know about the report. For one thing Obama’s top science advisor said the report “represents the most comprehensive and authoritative synthesis of scientific knowledge about global climate change ever generated.”

And Stanford scientists Noah Diffenbaugh and Chris Field find that the current pace of warming is happening 10 times faster than any time over the last 65 million years.

John Upton at Grist pulls out the facts and figures. Grist also has an explainer about the IPCC.

Alex Kirby at Climate News Network gathers comments from scientists and others, some of whom have worked on this and previous IPCC reports.

There is continuity in the science, which is now increasingly solid.

Dana Nuccitelli at Climate Consensus – the 97% looks at the performance of models in previous IPCC reports. They’ve performed well – within the range. He emphasises that models are used to make projections rather than predictions.

There’s more on this at the Met Office News Blog. ‘Pauses’ are normal. We have several lasting a decade or more every century.

The IPCC model simulations are projections and not predictions; in other words the models do not start from the state of the climate system today or even 10 years ago. There is no mileage in a story about models being ‘flawed’ because they did not predict the pause; it’s merely a misunderstanding of the science and the difference between a prediction and a projection.

Graham Readfearn at Planet Oz gives a list of dizzying numbers. There are 1.4 million words in the full report.

Joe Romm at Climate Progress is more critical than most. He uses a sick patient analogy:

So we have a super-conservative team of doctors who are bad communicators and a patient who, like most addicts, is self-destructive, very bad at listening, and focused on short-term pleasure over long-term health. That is a prescription for disaster.

He does call the authors a “super-cautious team of brilliant diagnosticians and specialists”.

Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog has a summary which includes what the report says about extreme weather, hurricanes and drought, as you’d expect. It also has this graphic illustrating the changes in attribution certainty over the five reports:


Skeptical Science has a Beginner’s Guide to Representative Concentration Pathways. Thanks for the heads-up from Gareth at Hot Topic.

That’s it for now. More later.

6 thoughts on “Commentary on IPCC WG1: Part 1”

  1. The Climate Council issued its summary of the report yesterday at climate (not a commentary as such, though they do have a little “how to respond to misinformation” section). Almost a mill raised for the Council in a week, that must be some measure of public belief in the need for urgent action, surely, the average donation was around $50 when Flannery first sent around an email update. Thanks Ronson Dolby for posting the link here.

  2. Thanks, Su. The CC commentary is here. It’s by Will Steffen, who is as usual careful not to sound too alarmist, while being strictly accurate in what he says.

  3. There’s now a video of a q&a with Will Steffen. The video doesn’t actually start until the 8:40 mark, a bit confusing, at first I thought it hadn’t yet been uploaded. The questions cover extreme weather events, sea level rise, the Greenland melt, ocean acidification and calcium carbonate formation by marine organisms, the ocean heat budget, emissions targets, lower solar intensity and La Niña events as mitigating factors 98-12, a really good short explanation as to why soil sequestration and tree planting cannot offset CO2 of fossil fuel origin, smartgrids and energy storage. There isn’t anything there which your readers would not already be familiar with and have read about in greater detail but it’s a good resource, Will Steffen is pretty engaging and very clear in his explanations.

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