Royal Society Climate Science Report Royally in Error

Published March 20, 2015

Climate Change Weekly #164

The Royal Society – the first and arguably still one of the most prestigious scientific organizations in the world – just got egg on its face with its release of “A Short Guide to Climate Science.” The report purports to answer 20 critical questions about the cause and consequences of climate change.

Criticism of the report has come from inside and outside of the Royal Society. Five years before this most recent report, 43 fellows of the Royal Society wrote to its president warning the society was in danger of violating its guiding principle, Nullius in verba – “Don’t take another’s word for it; check it out for yourself.” Their warning came in response to a report issued by the society that stated, “If you don’t believe in climate change you are using one of the following [eight] misleading arguments,” implying there was no longer room for substantive debate concerning the theory humans are causing dangerous global warming – the science was settled.

Professor and Royal Society Fellow Michael Kelly reports the group’s new paper is more dogmatic than the last despite the fact uncertainty concerning the causes and consequences of climate change have grown, not receded since the previous report.

Kelly writes:

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise, but since 1998 there has been no statistically significant rise in global temperatures at all. This flies in the face of the confident predictions made by nearly all the climate computer models that the temperature would continue to rise as it did from 1975 to 1998. More than 60 different explanations have been proposed to explain why this “pause” or “hiatus” has happened, and their sheer number is the clearest evidence that the system that climate scientists are seeking to model is irreducibly complex. Human-sourced carbon dioxide is at best one of many factors in causing climate change, and humility in front of this complexity is the appropriate stance. Last year, at the request of the [Royal Society] president, I produced a paper that urged the Society’s council to distance itself from the levels of certainty being expressed about future warming. I said it ought at least to have a “plan B” if the pause should last much longer, calling the models into still more serious question. I got a polite brush-off.

Researchers outside of the Royal Society also have noted a number of serious defects with its report. For instance, Ross McKitrick, chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s (GWPF) Academic Advisory Council, writes, “the Royal Society addresses the question of why Antarctic sea ice is growing, but in doing so they present a recently proposed hypothesis as if it were settled science. Failing to admit when the answer to an important question is simply not known does a disservice to the public.”

GWPF also notes the Royal Society claims the Sun has not played a major role in recent climate change, when significant evidence of that role exists.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: The Royal Society; The Global Warming Policy Foundation; The Daily Mail


EU green schemes lead to push for greater autonomy … Obama orders federal emission cuts … Major model error found … Cosmic rays linked to temperature changes … Beware of green investments … Earth’s albedo may stabilize climate


EU member states are pushing for greater autonomy over their energy policies, as evidenced by changes in a draft agreement being hashed out as EU commissioners develop the next common energy program. EU member states including France, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK are thought to be behind the recent push to insert greater state sovereignty into EU energy policy. According to a leaked draft, new language since the last draft has been added to ensure “the right of member states to decide their own energy mix is respected.” Euractiv notes, “The reference to national sovereignty, added since the last draft, is significant.” Environmental activists fear the language supporting national energy sovereignty and language calling for greater energy security is meant to open the door for nuclear power, fracking, and using other domestic fossil fuels.

Why European nations are moving from a unified energy policy to one stressing individual state sovereignty may be found in a Bloomberg article detailing the severe economic impact the EU’s green energy policies have wreaked on member nations’ economies. A study from employers’ federation BusinessEurope reports the European Union is being outpaced by the rest of the world on business conditions and Europe’s energy prices, double those of the U.S.’s, are largely to blame. According to the study, the EU is the only major economy where investment in broadband infrastructure has declined and the share of world’s foreign investment flowing into the EU fell to 17 percent in 2013 from more than 40 percent in 2000.

BusinessEurope is requesting a section on energy in the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the U.S., and it also supports improved interconnections between France and Spain so Portugal can play a bigger role in liquified natural gas, or LNG.

BusinessEurope’s general director, Markus Beyrer, blames Europe’s renewable energy policies for “much higher political costs in Europe” and “market distortion” resulting in a less friendly business environment in Europe than in the U.S. and elsewhere. Beyrer stated to Bloomberg, “If the rest of the world doesn’t sign on to the EU’s ambitions for reducing emissions targets, it may be time for Europe to ‘discuss our level of ambition’ to avoid economic damage.”

SOURCES: Bloomberg and


Once again flaunting his executive powers, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and use 30 percent more renewable energy. That 30 percent increase would leave renewable energy with just a 12 percent share of overall power supplied to the federal government, with nuclear, hydro, and fossil fuels accounting for the rest. The move is more about burnishing the president’s environmental legacy than substantially altering the course of climate change. The New York Times reports the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions are less than 1 percent of total U.S. emissions, although the federal government is the single biggest user of energy in the U.S. The increase in renewable energy use will increase costs to taxpayers – but if agencies were to reduce emissions by using less energy, say by closing offices and cutting staff, that could save taxpayers money. My suggestion? The federal government should shut down all agencies and departments not specifically authorized in the Constitution and sell off the vast majority of public lands and buildings. This would go a long way towards balancing the budget while surpassing the president’s goal of a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions. Freedom wins, the public wins, and markets win. That’s a global warming policy I can get behind.

SOURCE: The New York Times


A new paper published in Geophysical Research Letters found large errors in the way state-of-the-art complex climate models used by IPCC and most research laboratories calculate solar radiation. IPCC calculates the total impact (radiative forcing) of human carbon-dioxide emissions since 1750 to be 1.68 W/m2. The Coupled Model Intercomparison Phase 5, in which 20 international climate modeling groups coordinate climate model experiments, exhibits a “large error of basic astrophysical calculations,” 18 times greater than the purported human contribution to warming. If this paper is correct, daily diurnal (day to night and back) and regional climate projections of the CMIP5 models can’t be trusted. GiGo strikes again: garbage in/garbage out.

SOURCE: The Hockey Schtick


Apparently confirming the theory of noted Danish National Institute physicist Hans Svensmark, a new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a link between fluctuations in cosmic rays (CR) bombarding Earth’s atmosphere and global temperature (GT). According to the authors, “Our results suggest weak to moderate coupling between CR and year-to-year changes of GT. However, we find that the realized effect is modest at best, and only recoverable when the secular trend in GT is removed.” The secular trend is human-induced warming. Though the authors believe the influence of cosmic rays is too variable and weak to account for the twentieth century’s warming trend, their discovery adds one more to the growing list of factors unaccounted for as inputs in climate models, and thus another factor confounding climate model projections.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Cliff Asness, manager of AQR – among the world’s largest and most successful hedge funds, with assets of more than $122 billion – issued a co-authored paper arguing global warming is not a present danger and will not likely be a danger for at least 500 years. Asness recognizes global temperatures have risen over the past 150 years, though he notes the rate of rise is much slower than predicted by climate models. Evidence major market players seem to support or share Asness’s view can be found in the investment sector. An article in the Telegraph provides five reasons to beware green energy investments: Green funds underperform in the market; green schemes are riskier than other investments because green companies fail or declare bankruptcy more often than other companies; green investments can be difficult to unload; the falling price of oil makes it harder for green energy schemes to compete; and government subsidies and tax breaks for green energy schemes are declining.

SOURCES: Fortune magazine and The Telegraph


Earth’s albedo is the amount of incoming solar radiation scattered and reflected back out into space having never reached the surface. Understanding the albedo is critical to an accurate accounting of climate change. This paper examines the ways albedo affects climate model projections and climate changes, suggesting Earth has a stabilizing atmospheric feedback mechanism linking the atmosphere, ocean circulations, clouds, and radiation, none of which climate models account for. This failure of the models raises doubts about their assumptions concerning the sensitivity of the climate to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

SOURCE: Reviews of Geophysics

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