At the start of 2010 the IPCC attracted a lot of criticism for three projected climate change impacts which were poorly supported. These were that Himalayan glaciers might disappear by 2035, that African agricultural yields could fall by 50% and that 40% of the Amazonian rain-forest could react drastically to changes in precipitation. In each case the source of the claim was speculative and lacking sound evidence. The IPCC’s response was that in such a major series of documents it was well nigh impossible to avoid a few mistakes. To some extent this is true but the fact the errors all erred on the side of exaggerating the effects of climate change says much about the IPCC’s lack of balance.
We believe however that there are more serious criticisms which can be leveled against the IPCC.
Science is only as good as its data and in many cases the data presented by the IPCC tell only part of the story.
Since we are criticising the IPCC we should make out own position clear. So where do we stand? We believe that the science and data show unequivocally that temperatures today are higher than would have been case were it not for greenhouse gases emitted by human activity. On the other hand we do not believe that the more extreme forecasts of increased temperatures and their impact have been proven. We also believe that there are good reasons for reducing use of fossil fuels, of which effect on the climate is but one.
We also believe that climate modelling is important for the future. In the past, design of anything affected by weather, urban drainage or water supply for example, has been based on a statistical analysis of past data. It is now clear that a fundamental assumption of such analysis, that the events analysed are independent of each other, is invalid. To be able to predict natural and anthropogenic changes in climate should become the new paradigm for engineering design.
Our position, and that of those who have studied the science and share our views, is similar to that of Martin Luther, the 15th century reformer. He was, and remained all his life, a Christian but he thought that the activities and excesses of the Roman Catholic Church at that time were acting against the faith he accepted. We believe that there is a powerful analogy with the IPCC at the present time. Its performance is such that far from leading the population to accept their assertion that unless radical and immediate action is taking the world will suffer gravely they, by bias and distortion in their arguments, have left many people refusing to accept that humans have any influence on the climate.
Martin Luther put his case by pinning 95 Theses to the door of a church (today he would probably have been a blogger). What we are going to do is to publish a series of ‘theses’ where we highlight some aspects of the IPCC Technical Assessment Report of 2007 (TAR4) which could be improved in the next report (TAR5).
There remains one important question: Why should you believe us? The answer is you won’t have to. For reach of our theses we will give chapter and verse on the section of IPCC TAR4 we are commenting on and the source of the data we use to propose improvements.