Reiner Grundmann has a post on Die Klimazwiebel called the coming crisis of climate science? I don’t really know what to make of the post overall. As far as I’m aware, Reiner Grundmann is a sociologist/political scientists who has an interest in the public discourse on climate change. The post is about the upcoming IPCC report and focuses on the so-called “hiatus” in surface warming that was not predicted by most climate models. Additionally the post mentions the new, and lower, estimates for climate sensitivity but, in some sense, these are related. The “hiatus” means that surface warming has been slower than expected and, hence, if you use recent observational data to constrain climate sensitivity, your estimate will be lower than other earlier estimates (many of which use much more detailed calculations anyway).
Reiner’s post actually says
I chose as title for this blog post ‘The coming Crisis of Climate Science?’ The question mark is intentional and important. It could well be that in the coming year global surface temperatures pick up as expected. Existing models would be vindicated, end of story.
It appears as though the entire premise for a potential crisis in climate science is based on the current mismatch between the observed surface warming and the estimates from climate models. Firstly, why would this be a crisis? These types of things are normally seen as opportunities by scientists. The system is more complicated than we realised, I wonder why? If there is a crisis it is associated with the climate science policy, not the science itself. Mismatches between observations, theory and modelling is a fundamental part of science, not something that should be perceived as a potential crisis.
I do have, however, a more fundamental issue with Reiner’s post though. The potential crisis is supposedly a consequence of a roughly decade long “hiatus” in surface warming. What the post ignores is all the other scientific evidence associated with climate change/global warming. The post does mention ocean heat content but a bit dismissively. Does he think it’s not that important. It’s telling us that despite the slowdown in surface warming, overall warming continues. He ignores paleo-climatological evidence for climate sensitivities. He appears to ignore the recent work that attempts to explain this current “hiatus” and indicates that it is likely a temporary situation resulting from a period of cool sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific. I know that understanding the evolution of surface temperatures is very important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of global warming/climate change.
Having read Reiner’s post I then came across another by Stefan Rahmstorf called The Known Knowns of Climate Change. With all due respect to Reiner Grundmann, I think this a much better and more informed post (at least with respect to climate science). It discusses much more of what know about global warming/climate change and doesn’t simply focus on the one area where there is a mismatch between models and observations. Maybe the one criticism it will face is that it doesn’t actually mention the “hiatus” in surface warming at all. Personally I don’t have a big issue with this as, in my opinion, the significance of the “hiatus” has been overblown and has been used to make unsubstantiated claims about the credibility of climate science. I’m sure others will, however, disagree. I, however, recommend reading both and making up your own minds.