After Missing 5 Predictions, IPCC Cuts Global Warming Forecast

While the basic premise of global warming has a solid basis in fundamental physical chemistry — that carbon-containing gases trap sunlight, turning it into heat — a great unknown is how the Earth will respond to this heating by increasing levels of atmospheric carbon.  

I. Doomsday Scenarios Flop

Some researchers have claimed sensational scenarios involving “runaway warming” and dire doomsday effects, including warming-created super-hurricanes, floods, new deserts, and super-tornados.  

(Ironically recent studies have suggested that global warming may cut hurricanes, saving lives.)

Others cast doubt on such sensationalism arguing that the planet would adjust to warming, and that a slightly warmer planet would have many benefits to mankind, such as opening new resources for exploration.  Others argued that spending trillions on financially motivated schemes “to fight” warming with scientifically questionable tactics like “carbon credits” was more political corruption than science.

Warming “doomsday” predicitions have proven premature speculation.
[Image Source: Watts up With That]
In its latest report [PDF], the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to issue its strongest statement yet that mankind has caused mild warming, commenting that it is “extremely likely” that temperature rises since the 1950s were due to manmade warming.

But the upcoming 2,000 page summary on climate change research and predictions — scheduled to be released Monday — begrudgingly acknowledges that for the past decade and a half warming has essentially flat-lined.

II. Five Misses so Far … are we in for #6?

The IPCC is facing a credibility deficit after temperatures today sit at levels below those of all five of its previous reports.  After five misses, the IPCC is desperate to be right for once — particularly after it was forced to retract a key glacial melting prediction from its last report.

IPCC models v. reality [Image Source: Der Spiegel]
One hypothesis that is backed by a subset of warming researchers — which include many members of the so-called “scientific consensus” on global warming — is that the ocean is sucking up the excess heat, preventing further warming.  Dr. Brian King, an ocean circulation and climatology researcher at the UK’s National Oceanography Centre tells CBS Corp. (CBS) in an interview, “[Over the last decade the oceans] each year are warmer than the previous year and certainly each decade is warmer.”

Many climate researchers have blamed the lower than expected temperatures on so-called seasonal variation and infrequent.  But with approximately one and a half decade stall in warming, some are arguing that it’s time to reexamine predictions.

III. Summer Time Sadness — IPCC Cuts its Predictions of More Warm Days

The IPCC, while acknowledging the trend is still in the “seasonal variation” mindset, choosing to ignore a decade and a half of evidence, while emphasizing trends from the four and a half prior decades.  

The IPCC in fact increased its prediction of sea and land ice melting, speculating that by 2100 sea levels will have risen 10-32 inches, a much higher range than the 7-23 inches predicted in the previous report.  However while ice-melting predictions have risen, predictions of global temperatures have been significantly cut.  The IPCC’s four primary climate models show the Earth’s mean surface temperature in 2100 will be between 0.3-4.8 ºC (0.5-8.6 ºF) higher than today.  That’s down from a range of 1.1-6.4 ºC (2.0-11.5 ºF) in the previous report.

Summertime sadness — IPCC now says temperature may only rise half a degree by 2100. [Image Source: Alaska in Pictures]
Glaciologist and climate researcher Prof. Heinz Miller of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research told Der Spiegel, “The stagnation in temperature does not negate the physical evidence of global warming.  [But a] scientific study is not a guarantee for infallibility.  There is still a considerable need for more research.”

IV. Government Leaders are Frustrated With the IPCC for Acknowledging Reality

But policy makers don’t want to wait for more research — they want to take action immediately, and spend big on schemes that are claimed to “fight warming”.

While some skeptics aren’t happy with the IPCC for not making bigger cuts to temperature predictions over the next decade, some global warming proponents are equally outraged at the IPCC for cutting predictions at all.  Reportedly some politicians tried to pressure the IPCC to leave data acknowledging the warming stall out of the report.

Indeed it’s much harder to justify trillions in spending on “fighting warming” with tactics we don’t even know will work if the temperature increase over the next century is only going to be 1/2 a degree Celsius.  The Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) director Dr. Benny Peiser a skeptic agrees with the critics to an extent, saying that the cuts certainly don’t help policy makers in try to push for expensive legislation.  He comments:

Today the IPCC has taken a huge gamble that will soon determine whether it is still fit for purpose. Unless global temperature begins to rise again in the next few years, the IPCC is very likely going to suffer an existential blow to its credibility.
A recent survey by Der Spiegel showed that only 39 percent of people say they’re “afraid” of the effects of global warming — down substantially from the 69 percent who responded they were afraid in 2006.

AGW political proponents like Al Gore stand to make billions more if they can convince world governments to fully enact their wealth redistribution schemes under the auspice of “fighting warming”.
[Image Source: Associated Press]
The IPCC did cave somewhat to government leaders, removing talking points about the temperature stall from its executive summary from the report — a simplified version of the report designed for politicians and others who don’t have the attention span or time to dig into the full report.

Looking ahead in 2015, global leaders are hoping to reach a global agreement to restrict emissions.  However, much of the emissions outlook is out of the hands of the U.S. even if it was worth the economic damage of cutting emissions further (say by rationing gasoline).  China since 2007 has been the biggest emitter of CO2, and it’s also the fastest growing source of atmospheric carbon.