As I read through the surprisingly underwhelming IPCC Summary for Policy Makers released Friday, I was struck by one of Matt Ridley’s comments in the London Times a couple of days ago (unfortunately behind a subscriber firewall that I can’t seem to breach with the usual tricks):
In the climate debate, which side are you on? Do you think climate change is the most urgent crisis facing mankind requiring almost unlimited spending? Or that it’s all a hoax, dreamt up to justify socialism, and nothing is happening anyway? Because those are the only two options, apparently. I know this from bitter experience. Every time I argue for a lukewarm “third way” — that climate change is real but slow, partly man-made but also susceptible to natural factors, and might be dangerous but more likely will not be — I am attacked from both sides. I get e-mails saying the greenhouse theory is bunk and an ice age is on the way; and others from guardians of the flame calling me a “denier”.
Meanwhile, I’m making my way slowly through some early leaked draft chapters of the main report that will be out tomorrow morning, and while I’ll wait to see whether the final draft has significant changes, I can’t help but bring to everyone’s attention just this one totally amazing sentence from Chapter 9 (“Evaluation of Climate Models”):
The ability of a climate model to make future climate projections cannot be directly evaluated. . .
Let that sink in for a bit. Needless to say, this sentence (and the related material admitting the weaknesses of the models) didn’t make the Summary for Policy Makers. The SPM totally punted on discussing the 15-year pause in warming, and instead says this:
Climate phenomena exhibit large natural variations both in amplitude and spatial patterns. While they are increasingly well simulated by climate models, there still remain uncertainties in the physical understanding. This results in overall low confidence in projections in many aspects of these climate phenomena.
Sounds like fully settled science to me.
And then there’s this, from Friday’s IPCC press conference: