Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Spinning uncertainty – IPCC SREX Redux

with 2 comments

I have an article on The Conversation Spinning uncertainty? The IPCC extreme weather report and the media. This works up some of the material in my previous post on the IPCC Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation Summary for Policymakers (IPCC SREX SPM). It gives, I reckon, a pretty good overview of the SPM and puts some of The Australian newspaper’s reporting of it under the spotlight. Go read.

One thing I didn’t mention was that there was a second story in The Australian tagged November 19 12:00 am that quoted Benny Peiser, directors of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK climate change foggery set up by Lord Nigel Lawson. (It was reposted on the GWPF site). He said:

“there was not a strong empirical link between anthropogenic climate change and weather events”.

“It is unlikely there will be one for 20 to 30 years,” he said.

He said any suggestion that recent weather events could be directly linked to climate change went directly against the general scientific consensus.

Ummm, extreme temperatures? Right now?

As summarised the IPCC in the SREX SPM, the attribution of some extremes is known with much more confidence than others. Some statistics may take even longer then 20-30 years to show a clear signal. However, I predict that new methods will knock over much of this problem in the next decade as we learn more about how climate changes. Not linearly, so the current method of using linear statistics using a signal-to-noise model is not a good measure. Non-linear methods taking in climate dynamics will shorten the time to attribution substantially.

The GWPF is based in the UK and is all about openness in science. In May 2011, Peiser had this to say about the conclusions of the Russell Enquiry into the original Climategate “scandal”.

The university had already broken its promise by turning down a FoI request made in the last few weeks.

He added: ‘The big problem is that the UEA is still reluctant to provide independent researchers with information and datasets.

‘It would appear that the expectation of transparency and openness is not really being applied.

‘Until they can be open and transparent, there will remain the questions of reliability and trust.

‘Checks and balances are at the very centre of scientific enterprise. Given the huge importance of what they are asking us to do, and the financial burdens, it is paramount that their conclusions can be checked.’

But on November 22, the Guardian said that the GWPF and Peiser had itself knocked back several attempts to obtain information through FOI. Apparently their efforts to delay any action on climate change and to not manage the attendant risks need no scrutiny at all.

The Guardian also said that a recent Oxford University study on the reporting of climate scepticism identified Lawson and GWPF director Benny Peiser as “by far” the most quoted climate sceptics in the UK media. Now Benny Peiser has become the go-to man for The Australian.

Now that a further 5,000 emails from CRU have been released by the hackers or people linked with them, we can expect Peiser to throw open the records of the GWPF’s funding and release their emails to the public. Go Benny!.


Written by Roger Jones

November 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Just guessing, but were Peiser et al once again asking the university to supply them with information and datasets that actually belong to other organisations, whereby the university would breach both contractual obligations and copyright laws were they to disseminate said external information and datasets outside their own researchers? That seems to be a favourite MO of many vexatious FOI requesters.


    November 24, 2011 at 7:36 am

    • Yes, more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Warming_Policy_Foundation
      The delicious irony is that the GWPF, being a charity, won’t totally open its books (or emails). I think emails should remain private because science can be investigated on other grounds and it doesn’t affect transparency.

      Though most now agree that proprietary control over climate, water and other environmental data isn’t in the public interest, that wasn’t the case then

      Roger Jones

      November 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

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