IPCC WG1 video release

Reiner Grundmann has posted, on Die Klimazwiebel, a video from the IPCC that summarises the Working Group 1 report. I watched it and thought it was alright. Seemed to do a pretty good job of presenting the scientific evidence. Reiner asks, in his post, how well this video communicates the basic science and whether or not it manages to do so in a policy neutral way, while still being policy relevant. I’d be interested in what those who read this blog think of this video. Might be fun to compare the comments here with those on Die Klimazwiebel. Could be somewhat revealing.

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96 Responses to IPCC WG1 video release

  1. Rachel says:

    I saw that video at Victor’s blog, which I’ll link to now just to prevent Victor getting spammed should he try to link to it himself :-).

    I think the video is really good – very clear and accurate – and can’t understand the objections. What’s wrong with saying it

    requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions?

    If a scientist discovers a hole in the boat, is there anything wrong with him telling the Captain that we need to patch it up to avoid sinking?

  2. Thanks. I noticed Victor had commented on Die Klimazwiebel, but didn’t realise he’s posted it on his blog.

  3. “I think the video is really good – very clear and accurate – and can’t understand the objections.”

    I would almost write that the objections are that the video is very clear and accurate. 🙂 The ostriches do not like that. The main reason is likely that the term IPCC is simply a red flag for these people.

    Looks like the reasonable people have left the Klimazwiebel, the comments are extremely biased. A pity.

  4. Victor, I noticed the responses to your comment there. I suspect those commenting on Die Klimazwiebel might regard the comments here as equally biased though 🙂

  5. Tom Curtis says:

    The video is well put together and well presented. It does have some flaws in presenting the science, IMO, but these can mostly be attributed to the limits of space. There is only so much information you can pack into an eight minute video (excluding credits). In any event, the result is that the video gives viewers a glimpse at the range of observations leading to the IPCC results, but does not become well informed about the actual results beyond the three key messages:
    The warming in the climate system is unequivocal;
    Human influence on the climate system is clear; and
    Continued greenhouse gas emissions will cause further climate change.

    I notice that Richard Tol complains that the video “it ends with “requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” (which although strictly not policy prescriptive is of course designed to be misinterpreted as such)”, which is bollocks. It ends with the claim that “Limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.” That is not only not policy prescriptive, it can only be interpreted as policy prescriptive by misquotation or misrepresentation. I’m sure we will get both, and mostly from people Tol is very friendly with – but the fault will lie with the misquoters and misrepresenters – and not in anyway with the video.

  6. Yes, Tom, I agree. There is only so much one get do in 8 minutes. It’s also likely that length is relevant. Too long and people lose interest. Too short and you can’t get enough across. In a video like this one will always be optimising between length of video and what the information you want to get across.

    Victor tried to point out the issue with Tol’s first comment. It didn’t appear to be acknowledged by others though.

  7. What Tom and Victor said. Particularly Tom’s exposure of Tol’s misquotation is spot on. Only shows what games they play (or how deluded they are). The video is clear, accurate and objective. Well worth to be viewed by as many as possible.

  8. Since we’re talking about misrepresentations, I found this quite interesting. I haven’t really been involved for long enough to really know if it’s a fair representation, but I believe Steven Schneider was very well regarded by many, and nothing I’ve seen contradicts what he says about Roger Pielke Jr.

  9. OPatrick says:

    I didn’t much like the first minute or so – it seemed over-dramatic and almost designed to wind up the ‘sceptics’. Other than that it seems innocuous enough, though it’s easy to see where the ‘sceptics’ will attack it. The policy prescription which isn’t is a no-brainer, as I suspect will be the lack of reference to the Antarctic sea ice.

  10. I agree about the first minute so, but overall the theme wasn’t particularly alarmist (Thomm Hartmann’s video that I posted a few months ago maintained a scary music theme throughout). As you say the non-policy prescription will be (and already has been) attacked. The Antarctic sea ice may indeed be attacked although one would hope that would make them seem ill-informed. Of course – in some circles – it probably won’t.

  11. OPatrick says:

    I was also expecting the third point to include something about uncertainty of future projections. I’m not sure this was fully conveyed and provides another line of attack for the ‘sceptics’, whilst of course the uncertainties about the future actually make our problems worse, not better.

  12. One of the comments on Die Klimazwiebel already addresses that issue, but with a somewhat different slant to yours 🙂

  13. OPatrick says:

    “One of the comments on Die Klimazwiebel already addresses that issue, but with a somewhat different slant to yours”

    Interesting, isn’t it. I disagree with very little of the explicit meaning in eduardo’s words, yet, perhaps purely because of the context they are written in, he manages to convey something very different.

  14. It does seem like a fairly common strategy. Say something that’s factually true but that implies something that is, quite often, at odds with what most would regard as a reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

  15. BBD says:

    Tom and Victor have it right, so I’ll just echo Karsten. Feeble, I know, but what’s a chap to do? I have to agree with Victor about the departure of reasonable commenters from the ‘Zwiebel *. It’s not what it was.

    * * *
    Wotts – thanks for the link to Schneider’s trenchant remarks about RPJ jr. Nail on head.

    * Insouciant, or what? Yes, I’m showing off. It’s Sunday.

  16. BBD says:

    Say something that’s factually true but that implies something that is, quite often, at odds with what most would regard as a reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

    A politician’s trick. Frequently followed in the same breath by insinuations that climate science is “broken” because of “values”.

  17. The interesting thing about Eduardo’s comment, that the IPCC understates the need for more research, is that the IPCC is thus not promoting its own interests, but puts the public understanding of the main and robust scientific findings first. It is weird that these stable findings still need to be communicated, but that is the way the world is.

  18. BBD says:

    WRT comments at Klimazwiebel, I never cease to be surprised at how chippy “sceptics” are. The resentment and suspicion really shine through. I’ve come to see the inferiority complex as a fundamental driver of much scientist-hating “scepticism”.

  19. Eduardo’ comment is interesting because typically the ostriches claim the opposite that the IPCC creates a climate of fear to get more funding.

    When I wrote before about the IPCC: “Whatever they do, here it will always be criticized.”

    I go the answer: “Is that a bad thing to be skeptical of a political organisation which wants to reduce our population in the most cruel way hurting the poorest people? Seriously Victor, could you make a cogent statement here?”

    🙂 and sad at the same time.

    You can guess at which blog that was. Thus I have to take back my statement about the Klimazwiebel. I did not visit WUWT for some time.

  20. Yes, it’s hard to find anywhere where the responses are even remotely comparable to WUWT.

  21. > perhaps purely because of the context they are written in, he manages to convey something very different.

    Reminds me of Mars Attacks!:

  22. Marco says:

    Wotts, you probably have never looked at Jo Nova’s website or Steve Goddard’s. Maybe not that many commenters, but the few that are there are on average nuttier than those at WUWT.

  23. I haven’t spent much time looking at Jo Nova’s or Steve Goddard’s, so I’ll have to take you word for that. The only time I encountered Steve Goddard was when he was arguing that the high temperature on Venus was a consequence of the the high atmospheric pressure and not because of a runaway greenhouse process. I rather gave up after that.

  24. Marco says:

    Ah, but you’d love him, Wotts! He even made it snow CO2 on Antarctica!

  25. Tallbloke? Poptech? Hockeyshtick? Notrickszone? Bishop Hill. There is no shortage of raving nutters.

  26. Oh go on: someone take Curry to pieces for taking this (http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/22/data-corruption-by-running-mean-smoothers/) drivel seriously.

  27. I don’t think I have the time or the energy at the moment 🙂

  28. verytallguy says:


    Oh go on: someone take Curry to pieces for taking this (http://judithcurry.com/2013/11/22/data-corruption-by-running-mean-smoothers/) drivel seriously.

    Why? It meets all of Judith’s necessary criteria for a post. It includes the word “corruption” in the title and has no substance of merit. At the same time it can be claimed “interesting” whilst maintaining plausible deniability as a “guest post” and therefore in no way “endorsed” (TM Willard) by Doc Curry.

    Now you’ve tempted me over there we can see Judith in action in all her incoherent and contradictory glory:

    Our friend the Scottish Sceptic also meets the criteria:

    The Scottish Sceptic has two very interesting posts…

    A later post continues:

    Warsaw Loss and Damage Mechanism: A climate for corruption?

    (this at least has some merit in its content)

    But for sheer, breathtaking chutzpah, this really takes the biscuit:

    JC on Mann:

    the wacko alarmist wing of climate science

    Incredibly,unbelievably, immediately followed by “JC message to Michael Mann”:

    stop trashing other scientists that disagree with you.

    She lives in a realm beyond parody.

    (all emphasis mine)

  29. I notice that a BBC climate science expert has commented on the Die Klimazwiebel post to express his views about the IPCC video. He appears to think that it isn’t very good. Apparently there are some outright lies and also the CO2 concentration during the Cambrian was much higher than it is today and there was no untoward warming. I guess the latter point is technically true in that any warming during the Cambrian would not be regarded as untoward (probably beneficial at that time).

  30. Wotts is that really you or did someone hack your account? Are there BBC climate experts that prefer the NIPCC over the IPCC? That would make me automatically drop the word expert. Why do you think that this guy with a new blogger account is from the BBC?

    The same aggressive tone towards the climate ostriches would, at least, be followed by a warning by Hans von Storch. I am curious whether you can use this tone toward main stream scientists at the Klimazwiebel.

  31. Can’t quite tell if you’re being ironic or not Victor :-). If not, this may explain my comment.

  32. Sorry! 🙂 Being a foreigner I had not detected you subtle irony and did not know that BBC climate expert is a code word for the opposite.

  33. Rachel says:

    Oh god, not another Aussie contrarian. The place is crawling with them. Makes me ashamed to be Australian. He says the “NIPCC’s work was truly independent”. Yeah, right.

  34. Marco says:

    No work is independent. But Carter’s comment about the Cambrian is so misleading that if he were to make this comment in a scientific paper, the reviewers should tell the journal to not ever accept even any submissions anymore. The distribution of the continents during the Cambrian was much, much different from today, with the vast majority of the land mass on the Southern hemisphere. Also, solar output was lower by a few %. Add the fact that temperatures were ultimately likely warmer at the end of the Cambrian than today, and we have another example of the NIPCC lying.

  35. BBD says:

    It’s funny how contrarians never talk about the major role of CO2 in driving Cenozoic climate change. After all, no other forcing altered by anything like as much as the reduction in CO2 forcing from ~50Ma to the present (it fell by about 10W/m2; Hansen & Sato 2012). The gradual, overall cooling trend from the peak of the Eocene hothouse to the present requires a physical mechanism, and CO2 provides it.

  36. > Now you’ve tempted me over there we can see Judith in action […]

    You should look at the comment section, Very Tall. Start here:

    Meanwhile I ran across something puzzling on Wikipedia. The article on Moving Average was edited on Nov. 10 by an anonymous editor with IP address (in Georgsmarienhütte, Germany, perhaps?) who cited Goodman’s blog as the source for the editor’s claim that “This solution [triple running mean] is often used in real-time audio filtering since it is compuationally quicker than other comparable filters such as a gaussian kernel.”

    However Goodman’s blog does not mention audio, and the first time Goodman claimed any such thing here was on Nov. 22. It would be interesting to know where this editor got the information about real-time audio if not from Goodman personally. I seriously doubt it appears anywhere else older than Goodman’s May 2013 blog post. It seems very likely Goodman simply made this up.

    Wikipedia also gives Goodman’s number of 1.3371 as the right ratio to decrease the window size each time. Clearly neither Goodman nor the editor understood the spreadsheet supporting my poster, which gives 0.4% as the maximum passed by my F3 past the cutoff, see cell Y279 on the main sheet. 1.3371 gives 0.9% which is considerably worse. More on this in my reply just above to NiV.


  37. verytallguy says:


    personal responsibility in choosing which blogs to read is important although perhaps less so than personal responsibility in carbon emissions (see Stoat). I guess that the philosophy of ethics might come into this somewhere.

    The toxicity of the comments at Judith’s there led me to avoidance a while ago; but having failed once already in reading above the line at Judy’s, I have now doubly failed, by following your link BTL.

    The exchange there, I’m happy to say, is entirely incomprehensible to me on a 30 second read. I now realise that ignorance is an alternative to avoidance and might cultivate that. I’m sure, though, that Judy in no way endorses the homophobia and bullying BTL that I perceive. Perhaps she finds it interesting

  38. Joshua says:

    VTG –

    What’s BTL?

  39. Tom 🙂

    Joshua, I think in this case, BTL means Below The Line (i.e., the comments). I had to think about it myself for a while, but that’s what I concluded.

  40. The IPCC is supposed to be policy neutral. Many people in the IPCC would like to be policy prescriptive. Many people outside the IPCC like to use it as a political weapon. As a result, the IPCC has lifted being de facto policy prescriptive while being de jure policy neutral to a new level of sophistication.

  41. BBD says:

    And ECS/2xCO2 is still probably close to 3C.

  42. verytallguy says:

    BTL – I’m afraid Wotts is right rather than Tom 😦 I shall resolve to avoid jargon in future.

  43. BBD says:

    Yes – any more of that kind of talk and you might be mistaken for a marketing executive!

  44. Richard, so you’re suggesting that they’ve managed to remain within their remit while still implying something else. Strange, I had the impression that you were quite comfortable with that kind of behaviour.

    I actually fail to see the problem. If I remember correctly, the final statement was along the lines of “if we wish to avoid climate change we need to reduce emissions”. It’s consistent with the science. It’s policy neutral. One could argue that it ignores the possibility of BAU with geo-engineering, but I don’t think anyone thinks that’s viable. It’s doesn’t preclude the possibility of geo-engineering and it’s doesn’t specify what policies we should be considering. I can only conclude that you don’t like the statement for some reason. If so, maybe you could clarify why that is.

  45. chris says:

    Richard Tol, any scientific evidence with potential impacts on policymaking can also be considered political – that’s obvious and unremarkable, yes?

    Notice btw that your assertions “The IPCC is supposed to be policy neutral.” and “Many people outside the IPCC like to use it as a political weapon.” are entirely compatible and unremarkable, and can’t constitute a valid complaint against the IPCC as a policy-neutral provider of scientific summary and assessment (unless you really mean to say that any scientific evidence that you choose not to like should not be summarised and disseminated). If there may (or may not) be some truth in your assertion “Many people in the IPCC would like to be policy prescriptive.” that’s not especially problematic because (a) the scientific evidence is paramount in scientific analyses and the IPCC assessments are about the science, and (b) it’s not up to the IPCC to decide policy – that’s for policymakers and the public.

  46. @Wotts, Chris, Tom
    If you want to play naive or dumb, be my guest. The downside to that strategy is that people won’t take you seriously.

    It beggars belief to assume that someone would pay a lot of money for a slick video without very carefully considering the script and the message.

    There are three things going on this video. Stocker is positioning his allies, particularly Knutti, to say the things an IPCC Chair cannot. The imagery is alarmist, even if the tone is sober. (Recall that a picture is worth a thousand words.) It ends with a strong recommendation to rapidly cut emissions.

  47. BBD says:

    It ends with a strong recommendation to rapidly cut emissions.

    Given that ECS/2xCO2 is ~3C, what else would you suggest that we do, Richard? Or are you going to play “naive or dumb”?

  48. Richard, I’m sure they did consider the message. The message is that the fundamentals of the science are robust (i.e., we are almost certainly causing global warming). This will result in a change in the Earth’s climate, likely to a state never before experience by the human race. If we wish to avoid this we should cut emissions. I actually fail to see how it would be acceptable for scientists not to present this message. They have not insisted that we do choose to do so. We could decide to ignore this and carry on. We could still decide that adaptation is the way forward. All they are saying is that if we wish to avoid climate change (or some amount of future climate change) we should cut emissions. Maybe you could explain in what way what they’ve said is inconsistent with the scientific evidence and in what way what they’ve said is policy prescriptive.

  49. Tom Curtis says:

    Richard Tol, let me quote Thomas Stocker’s “objectionable” sentence again, in full as you did not have the courtesy to do:

    “Therefore we conclude limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

    So far as I can see, his claim is simply true. The IPCC does indeed conclude that “limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse emissions. They conclude this, notwithstanding discussion of geoengineering because, geoengineering that stabilizes temperatures will have side effects that themselves represent changes to climate.

    Further, as noted by Wotts, the conclusion is a conditional, with the consequent only following from acceptance of the antecedent clause. It is perfectly open to governments around the world to accept this advice from the IPCC and respond that, as a matter of policy, they have no desire to stabilize climate – that they are convinced by Lomborg (for example) that gritting our teeth and adapting is the best policy, even though mitigation requires reductions in emissions.

    Further, the policy in the antecedent clause is in theory at least, the policy already adopted by the worlds’s governments who are signatories the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which states:

    “ARTICLE 2
    The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

    (My emphasis)

    Thus the IPCC conclusion is not about some arbitrary policy about which the governments of the world are, in theory, agnostic, or which they have not considered. Had it been, it might be considered as a not so subtle nudge, cloaking policy advice as scientific advice. On the contrary, however, the nations of the world have adopted a policy, and the IPCC has merely provided them with the best scientific evidence on how that policy can be achieved. What more can be asked of policy neutral scientific advice?

    Given this, the only way the IPCC can be construed as crossing a line is by misquoting the last sentence by dropping the antecedent clause, or by ascribing conspiratorial motives to the IPCC, of which you have not evidence. Of course, you have already done both. Your comment at Die Kimazwiebel was both underhanded, and dishonest.

  50. @BBD
    It is not for the IPCC to say this, let alone IPCC WG1.

    I think that greenhouse gas emissions should be cut.

    I don’t think the IPCC should say that. The IPCC has a credibility problem. Violating its own rules will not help the IPCC to become more credible.

  51. chris says:

    It ends with a strong recommendation to rapidly cut emissions.”

    Does it Richard? It ends with “Continued greenhouse gas emissions cause further climate change and constitute a multicentury commitment in the future. Therefore we conclude limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

    Those are objective statements based on scientific evidence. There are no necessary policy consequences there. After all the public and policymakers might choose to disregard this scientific evidence and adopt policies based on other more political positions (e.g. “the future and its peoples can sort it out”…or “we are prepared to bet that committed climate change won’t be so bad” and so on).

    The part of the video just before the end describes the development of “…an atlas of global and regional climate projections which allows decision-makers to see how climate might change in their regions; this can facilitiate more informed decisions on adaptation strategies.”

    No policy prescription their either Richard. It’s a description of scientific information that gives policymakers information on which to make more informed decisions. That’s what publically-responsive science is supposed to be for, yes? Obviously, policymakers can choose to utilise this information, or they may choose not to if they consider other factors are more important.

    Perhaps it would help to make your point if you were to give some evidence in support of your assertions. Clearly what you say about the end of the video is objectively incorrect.

  52. Richard, you seem to be suggesting that scientists can show with virtual certainty that our emission of greenhouse gases will lead to climate change, but they’re not allowed to then say that to avoid climate change we should reduce emissions. If that is what you’re saying, then I think that’s absurd.

  53. BBD says:

    I don’t think the IPCC should say that. The IPCC has a credibility problem.

    That’s two consecutive arguments from assertion, Richard.

  54. BBD says:

    And here we are again, completely baffled by what Richard is doing? What *is* Richard doing? Why is he doing it? Who else is doing it? Is Richard affiliated with others doing this sort of thing? Etc.

    Richard mentioned credibility problems.

  55. verytallguy says:


    The tone of the video I would characterise as “ominous”. The science also has ominous implications, so that seems reasonable to me. It could do without the corporate muzak, though. I don’t know why you object to a professional video to communicate the output of AR5, unless you don’t want a wide audience to understand the science.

    the video actually concludes

    limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

    This is factually accurate and is not policy prescriptive. Politicians need to decide whether to accept the consequences of climate change or reduce emissions.

    Your interpretation

    the IPCC has lifted being de facto policy prescriptive while being de jure policy neutral to a new level of sophistication

    Perhaps reveals the problem – the science (not the IPCC) is indeed de facto policy prescriptive; the consequences, once understood, are so severe the need for action is self evident.

    It’s just that you don’t like the policy implications, hence your railing against the science and it’s communication.

  56. @verytallguy
    The impacts of climate change, ominous or not, are not part of the remit of IPCC WG1. That is WG2.

    Science cannot be policy prescriptive.

  57. Richard, apart from the how one might interpret the music I still fail to see how anything in the video was policy prescriptive. Even implying that something may be ominous (through the use of music) isn’t technically policy prescriptive either.

  58. @Wotts
    Maybe you should do a study of the role of music in movies (or read a textbook on the matter).

  59. Richard, maybe you should try answering a question directly. Personally, I think you’re clutching at straws if you’re suggesting that the IPCC have violated their policy neutral position through the use of ominous sounding music.

  60. BBD says:

    Untenable position = silly argument.

  61. Tom Curtis says:

    I’m not sure why we are discussing music as Richard did not raise the topic. Nor should he have, for there is nothing untoward about the music. Richard does suggest that Wotts should “… do a study of the role of music in movies (or read a textbook on the matter)” but as neither Richard nor Wotts is expert in the role of music in movies, neither of them is in a position to tell us that the music helped promote “alarmism”.

    Richard does claim that some of the imagery is “alarmist”. I have to admit, my reaction to all that footage of scientists sitting in a conference was indeed to be very alarmed /sarc. In fact the purportedly “alarmist” footage has very little screen time, most of which is devoted to scientists talking, either to camera or in a conference; or to scientists doing “sciency stuff”. If any messaging is going on, it is that these are considered opinions of serious people who have done serious research to find out these facts.

    Even that small part of “alarmist” imagery that gets screen time is not, in fact alarmist. It consists of imagery of a small amount of ice breaking of a glacier, a swollen torrent, a dried out oasis in a desert, falling dam levels, and some minor flooding presumable (from later context) related to sea level rise. Given the footage available from events whose intensity has probably been increased by global warming, that is incredibly restrained. Not one death, animal or human is shown. Not even the risk of death is shown (except just possible with the raging torrent, whose future path is simply unknown from footage but which occurs near human habitation). No matter how much Richard wants to portray it as such, a small child standing in ankle deep water is not alarmist.

    Had the video shown footage of cars being washed away by the Toowoomba floods, the tidal surge from Typhoon Haiyan, animal skeletons in blowing dust from droughts, or equivalents; the charge of alarmist imagery would have some force. As it stands, however, the imagery of potential consequences of climate change are among the mildest imaginable. The only way the video could have been less “alarmist” is to not show any potential consequences at all. But a requirement that the IPCC ignore the potential hazards of global warming altogether if it is to not be considered alarmist is simply an attempt to censor the science by vilifying any fair reporting of it.

    And contrary to Richard’s claims above, the physical consequences of climate change, ie, the increased frequency of floods, droughts, high temperature days and sea level rise (among other things) are very much within the remit of WG1. Only if they venture beyond that into social and economic costs have WG1 exceeded their mandate, and they transparently did not.

  62. Rachel says:

    I have to admit, my reaction to all that footage of scientists sitting in a conference was indeed to be very alarmed /sarc.

    I felt the same way when John Church came on at about 5 minutes in. He discusses sea level rise and does it in such an unemotional way that I could almost imagine his next sentence being a discussion over whether or not to eat pasta for dinner tonight.

  63. Tom Curtis says:

    Turning from Richard’s “messaging” to diffuse the potential for the WG1 report to change peoples minds on climate change, I am going to draw attention to a genuine flaw in the video.

    It is similar to the Salby Ratio thing. As with Salby, the video shows two graphs comparing temperature and CO2 levels; and as with Salby the ratio or units is not maintained between the two. When showing the relationship betwen temperature and CO2 in the Vostok core, the scale ratio is 20 C Antarctic temperature anomaly per 100 ppmv. In contrast, the comparison of CO2 to global temperature anomalies has a scale ratio of 1.4 C global temperature anomaly per 100 ppmv. This is not as straightforwardly dishonest as in Salby’s case. Antarctic temperatures do not equal global temperatures, so we must expect some difference in the scale. How much difference should be allowed for that is controversial in that it depends on estimates of the global temperature change between LGM and Holocene. Using a global temperature difference of 6 C, we would expect to scale Goblal temperatures to be 43% of Antarctic temperatures. Allowing that the recent graph shows the equivalent to the TCR rather than the ECR would require us global temperatures to be a further 33% smaller again. That still leaves us with an expected scale ratio of 5.8 C per 100 ppmv, four times too large. A further part of the difference lies in the fact that temperatures respond not linearly, but to the natural log of CO2 concentration.

    However, even after allowing for all legitimate adjustments, there still remains a discrepancy between the scales. That arises from the fact that GHG in general, represent just less than half of the LGM to Holocene forcing, the rest coming from albedo changes. CO2 represents even less. In plotting the scale of the vostok comparison so that variations in CO2 have the same magnitude as those in temperature, the vostok graph shown conceals this fact. By doing so they misrepresent the science in a way that requires fudging the scale ratios when making a twentieth century comparison.

    As I said, this is a genuine flaw, and one that should be well known given the flak Al Gore copped for the same error. It should not have occurred in an IPCC video.

  64. verytallguy says:


    The impacts of climate change, ominous or not, are not part of the remit of IPCC WG1. That is WG2.

    Yes. The findings of WG1 are significant and serious, which behoves a significant and serious tone of communication, which is what we have here. An honest reflection of the science. Or perhaps you think we should accompany the content with Benny Hill music?

    Science cannot be policy prescriptive..

    Yes. You’ve been quoted directly from the video, showing clearly that this video is not policy prescriptive.

    You seem not to like the policy implications of the science, and your conclusion is that we should not clearly communicate the science. My conclusion is that your preferred policies are incompatible with the facts, which you then try to avoid.

    Face the facts Richard:

    limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions

  65. verytallguy says:


    I think you’re right on the graphs, but on a point of detail, does the timescale of the vostok core not imply you should use ESS rather than ECS in your comparison? Which would make a factor of 2-3 less in the error?

  66. verytallguy says:

    A poll http://poll.fm/4iswp

    looking forward to the obsessive audit of your methodology 🙂

  67. Rachel says:

    I don’t really like any of the choices in your poll, Richard because the video explicitly says what the main message is and there are three of them, none of which are included in your poll. These are the three messages:

    *The warming in the climate system is unequivocal
    *Human influence on the climate system is clear
    *Continued greenhouse gas emissions will lock us into climate changes for centuries to come

    I still voted though 🙂 Mine is the only sensible answer so far.

  68. @Rachel
    It is not a test of listening comprehension. You did that in primary school (or high school if English is not your native language).

  69. Rachel says:

    Sure, except that you have no option for those of us who think that the message they say they are trying to convey is the same as the message they are in fact conveying. So you are always going to get an answer that is different from what the IPCC is hoping to communicate with this video. But I realise that in this case the Tol Pol is not meant to be a serious poll 🙂

  70. Tom Curtis says:

    verytallguy, you can use ESS, which then leaves you with an expected scale factor of 2.9 C per 1000 ppmv, ie, still too large. Further, as the change in albedo is included in the ESS, you are left with no more adjustment factors. Admittedly uncertainties are then large enough to potentially account for the difference; but if the your relying on the edge of the uncertainty margin to make your point, you have no point to make.

    The simple fact is that the relationship between GHG forcing in the glacial/interglacial cycle and that seen today is fairly complex. Eliminating some of that complexity by dropping albedo and CH4 forcing from the glacial cycle will result in a misleading conclusion if taken literally and it shouldn’t be done.

  71. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, the poll wouldn’t be a Tol Pol if it didn’t bias the responses with a poorly chosen set of potential responses. We aren’t for a minute imagining Tol makes his polls out of genuine curiosity, are we?

  72. I’m interested in the message that comes across, not in the signal that was sent.

  73. KR says:

    Short version of Richard Tols last poll: “When did the IPCC stop beating its wife?” – a “loaded question” rhetorical trick.

    Nothing to be taken seriously, in other words. Which really describes much of what I’ve seen wrt Tol and surveys, whether his or others.

  74. Tom Curtis says:

    And yet you exclude a priori the possibility that the message that came across was the signal that was sent. That shows a clear bias on your behalf.

  75. Marco says:

    Richard, don’t lie, please. If you were interested in the message coming across, you’d not have included the last two options at all.

  76. Lars Karlson says:

    Tom, regarding the ice core graph, I would say that the problem is rather that they talk about “a link between CO2 and temperatures”, giving the impression that it is the same causal relation in both cases (it is not).

  77. andrew adams says:

    Yeah but no-one is going to pick one of the last three answers unless they already held those opinions anyway.

  78. A good test, then, of how pre-conceived opinions can influence a poll.

  79. andrew adams says:

    Well that’s about all it’s good for.

  80. andrew adams says: “Yeah but no-one is going to pick one of the last three answers unless they already held those opinions anyway.”

    To be honest. Because the real answer wasn’t included and the poll thus clearly was just for fun, I chose the funniest answer.

    The IPCC is a corrupt organization, infiltrated by environmentalists and profiteers.

    Those ostriches just want to annoy greenies. Let’s not jump their hoops. We need more Never Ending Audits.

  81. andrew adams says:


    Unfortunately my view (Al Gore is fat) wasn’t an option.

  82. Willard, am honoured that you are honoured.

    Andrew, also missing: who determines what the optimal temperature is?

    Wotts, just noticed your tweets about a new blog name. The advantage of the current name is that when people search for Watts Up With That, they also get you on the first Google page. This is probably partially because Google takes misspellings into account. Changing your name would thus reduce your visibility for the people that need you the most.

  83. Pingback: Another Week of Global Warming News, November 24, 2013 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  84. So far, fewer than 10% of respondents share my view that this video is stealth advocacy.

    Vote! http://poll.fm/4iswp

  85. Rachel says:

    I think your blog name is fine as it is and as Victor points out, it does well in Google searches.

  86. Marco says:

    So far, none of the available answers even remotely offers the opinion that several here have already voiced. Richard Tol and his polls: fail.

  87. @Marco
    Only Rachel suggested alternative answers. They are in fact encapsulated in my answers 1 and 6. Stocker says the 3 key messages are: warming is real, warming is human, and emission reduction is needed to slow warming. At a stretch, you could say that this is my answer 1 (understanding has improved; this, by the way, is the mandate of the IPCC WG1) . More truthfully, this is answer 6 (didn’t AR1 say this?).

    But, as I wrote, i’m not interested in people’s ability to playback a text they just listened to. I’m interested in what they make of it.

  88. Richard, yup I guess interpretation is everything to some. For others, there’s mainly physics.

  89. Why does my blood pressure go up everytime Tol shows up?

  90. Rattus, I don’t know but I’d quite like to know the answer to that question too.

  91. BBD says:

    Beta-blockers ‘n’ gin all round.

  92. @Rattus
    It is a normal reaction to a heretic. It is an abnormal reaction to a dissenting scientist.

  93. @Richard, I would modify your comment to “It is an abnormal reaction to a dissenting scientist who behaves reasonably”.

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