When something is fashionable it is so much better if you can dress up whatever you care about with the right clothes. Step forward UNICEF, then, launching itself into a remarkable case of verbal gymnastics to link the very much serious-but-evidently-unfashionable problems of poor children around the world, with…climate change.
“Warming ‘affecting poor children‘“, reports the BBC, notably with those single quotes, but with no link to the UNICEF report itself “Our Climate Our Children“. From UNICEF’s presentation of the report, by Lord Nicholas Stern:
Here in the UK, flooding is becoming a more common occurrence. Birds are nesting earlier, animals are moving territories, the duration and range of seasons is changing.
The usual collection of baseless remarks then? Not encouraging. Let’s move further:
[Children] are already seeing the impacts of climate change through malnutrition, disease, poverty, inequality and increasing risk of conflict – and ultimately an increase in child mortality rates.
Unfortunately, malnutrition, disease, etc were with us long before anybody had said “climate change”. Has UNICEF and/or Lord Stern found a way to identify the climate-change signal in current child mortality rates? Let’s find out. Here’s a quote from the Press Release:
the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children are being hit the hardest by the impact of climate change…the implications of climate change for the world’s children’ draws attention to the fact that climate change is impacting very seriously on children and their rights
So the BBC is right…it does look like UNICEF is claiming climate-change stuff is affecting children RIGHT NOW. But is that so? Here’s the list from the same press release:
…Climate change could cause an additional 40,000 to 160,000 child deaths per year…
…an additional 30 – 200 million people will be placed at risk of hunger…
…may make it more likely that parents remove their children from school…
…Malaria…is now being seen in areas which were previously outside the range of malarial mosquitoes, such as the highlands of Kenya and Jamaica. Diarrhoea: Climate change will increase the burden of diarrhoeal disease…
Out of FIVE claims, only ONE is for the present (malaria in Kenya and Jamaica highlands). Everything else is for the FUTURE. So much for “already seeing the impact“…
How can this be reported as happening in the present? By creatively using the vocabulary: as written by the BBC: “Climate change is already affecting the prospects for children in the world’s poorer countries, according to Unicef“.
What is claimed to be affected right now is the ESTIMATED FUTURE RISK for children. A strange definition of “PRESENT” indeed…
ps it’s sadly ironic that the one PRESENT consequence of UNICEF’s work about climate change, is that kids are getting anxious. One wonders if the UNICEF’s founders ever planned for their organisation to be on the forefront of the business of…scaring young children.
pps At page 8 of the UNICEF report there is a separate section “Examples of hazardous weather in 2007”. But as we well know, weather is not climate, so what is that list about, one is not sure. Also, note that more or less any kind of “hazardous weather” would do, cold, warm, dry, wet, whatever.
to develop improved methods and tools for the diagnosis and intercomparison of general circulation models (GCMs) that simulate the global climate
Here’s what the PCMDI has to say about “devising robust statistical methods for climate-change detection/attribution“:
Well, it looks like we will just have to be patient. We will be told how to detect and attribute climate change…one day, perhaps after some considerable amount of time will have ben spent in the frankly rather wasteful efforts of mostly comparing climate models to each other, rather than to the actual world.
p.s.: Applause to the PCMDI for their frankness:
The need for innovative analysis of GCM climate simulations is apparent, as increasingly more complex models are developed, while the disagreements among these simulations and relative to climate observations remain significant and poorly understood. The nature and causes of these disagreements must be accounted for in a systematic fashion in order to confidently use GCMs for simulation of putative global climate change.
This being the age of the Internet, not everybody reads after the second or third paragraph. So here’s a quick summary explaining why I write that “RealClimate Raises the Bar AGAINST Climate Models“:
(1) In the “RealClimate World”, models cannot be falsified by a single observation (i.e. atmospheric phenomenon). That phenomenon is called ”weather”, and “weather” for RealClimate is “noise”)
(2) In the “RealClimate World”, models cannot be falsified by a set of short-term observations. That set is just part of a “specific trajectory” towards the expected climate change / global warming. And RealClimate is “not too concerned” about a “specific trajectory“.
Example for point (1): If models indicate the world will get warmer by the year 2100, but world temperatures dip in January and February 2008, RealClimate can still “honestly” claim the models are right, and whatever happened is just a momentary event, during which the “signal” of anthropogenic global warming has been “obscured” by this or that natural (or man-made) cause.
Example for point (2): If models indicate the world will get warmer by the action of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, but world temperatures don’t climb after 1998, RealClimate can still “honestly” claim the models are right, and whatever happened is just the way things are going at the moment, with a random pause in temperature increases that is just one of the hundreds of possible “trajectories” that will take us to a warmer world.
The only way to verify if the climate models are right is by waiting a sufficient number of years in order to statistically check the world has actually got warmer. How many years? More than 10, evidently (see 1998), perhaps more than 30, following the classical definition of “weather”. And by how much, the temperature increase? Pretty much any positive amount would suffice to state, once again, that the “models are right”.
This looks like some kind of “suffocating love”, with the modellers so worried about their models, they have shielded them from almost all possibilities of falsification (in the process, pretty much abandoning “science” as usually understood).
And this is not the only contradiction: if the only way to see the models at work is by waiting a number of years, how could anybody advocate to “act now to save the Planet” because “the science is settled”?
The issue of model falsifiability has already been a topic on the NYT’s “Tierney Lab”, daring to ask this past January questions such as “Are there any indicators in the next 1, 5 or 10 years that would be inconsistent with the consensus view on climate change?” and “Are there any sorts of weather trends or events that would be inconsistent [with global warming}?“.
And what did Gavin Schmidt reply on RealClimate? No, and no:
this subject appears to have been raised from the expectation that some short term weather event over the next few years will definitively prove that either anthropogenic global warming is a problem or it isn’t. As the above discussion should have made clear this is not the right question to ask. Instead, the question should be, are there analyses that will be made over the next few years that will improve the evaluation of climate models?
No “short-term weather event over the next few years” could ever disprove that “anthropogenic global warming“. And observations (events) and their analyses, in the RealClimate world, are only interesting to “improve the models“.
It’s hard to fail to spot in Schmidt’s reply that they did go back to “Hansen’s 1988” and other old projections, but whilst the bits that agree with the models are signs that those projections are “good“, those that disagree are so “for reasons that are as yet unclear“.
Instead of scientists trying to interpret the world, in RealClimate we have people subordinating the world to their models.
With the death of Ed Lorenz and a world apparently taking a hiatus on the way to unstoppable anthropogenic global warming, It has taken a group effort at RealClimate to try to deal with the issue of chaotic weather vs. climate modelling: “Butterflies, tornadoes and climate modelling“.
Rather unfortunately for the authors, the conclusions contain a remarkable amount of unintended irony.
[…] But how can climate be predictable if weather is chaotic? The trick lies in the statistics. In those same models that demonstrate the extreme sensitivity to initial conditions, it turns out that the long term means and other moments are stable. […] Climate change then is equivalent seeing how the structure changes, while not being too concerned about the specific trajectory you are on
In other words, “climate change” is an entity that can only become observable in the long, long term. And since there is little concern for the “specific trajectory”, there literally exists NO possible short-term sets of observations that can falsify the climate models.
Another way of saying it is that for the climate problem, the weather (or the individual trajectory) is the noise. If you are trying to find the common signal that is a signature of a particular forcing then averaging over a number of simulations with different weather works rather well […]
In other words, since each and every atmospheric event can be obviously described as “weather”, there is no single observation that can falsify the climate models.
Their work doesn’t have to deal with any single observation, no short-term sets of observations…do they realize what they are saying???
Real climate is in their own words almost perfectly insulated from the real world. Nothing that can ever happen will be able to disprove the work of the climate modellers, apart from multi-decadal averages that are so poorly defined, they can easily be used to demonstrate anything.
Is this “science”? Looks more like long-term guaranteed employment to me… No wonder Anthropogenic Climate Change has important detractors in the metereological community.
In further irony, the above pairs up perfectly well with RC’s “comments policy” that can be summarized more or less into “we will censor everything we do not like“.
RealClimate: the insulated web site, where insulated researchers post insulated content. Now I understand why poor Gavin Schmidt had such a hard time dealing with an open debate…
(thanks to SBC for pointing this one out)
In a sentence: the BBC Pension Trust has been investing left, right and centre in climate-change-related products. If the AGW bubble bursts, so many a journalist’s pension funds will evaporate.
It is surely a coincidence that the BBC Climate Change Propaganda Committee has been remarkably active in pumping up the case for Anthropogenic Global Warming for quite some time now.
Investors fall short on climate risk assessment – IIGCC
London, 17 April: Investors are more aware of climate change than previously, but are failing to fully assess the risks it poses when the financial implications are not clear, according to the European investor body Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).
In its first report of members’ activities, the IIGCC found that investors are struggling to assess the risk posed by uncertainties over future climate change regulations and the physical impacts of global warming. But an increasing number of asset managers are focusing on the issue and are expanding their ability to analyse the effects of climate change.
“The IIGCC’s report highlights that the investment community has come a long way in understanding and analysing the investment implications from climate change, but also that there is room for further progress from investors, companies and government,” said Peter Dunscombe, chairman of the IIGCC and also the head of investments for the BBC Pension Trust.
The report also found that asset managers increasingly are looking to invest in low-carbon or clean energy funds, are working with companies to improve their disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and are using environmental rankings or analysing climate change impacts on their whole portfolio. And around 80% of pension funds and asset owners are asking their managers to exercise their voting rights on climate change issues.
But only 30% of respondents are integrating climate change considerations when appointing fund managers or seek advice on the matter from their advisors, reports the IIGCC. Investors are also failing to engage with companies on unavoidable climate change risks and climate-friendly products.
Troubled about Friends of the Earth’s goebbelite campaign in the USA against Houghton Mifflin‘s decision to dare suggest to high school pupils that there can be a thing called “debate” about global warming?
“Goebbelite” in the sense of being yet another attempt at using all means and powers to repress dissent, so that people will eventually come to believe in anthropogenic global warming.
Well, trouble yourself no further: just go to Friends of the Earth’s US website and enter the following text in place of the existing “message”:
Subject (instead of “Teach the truth about the Environment”):
Keep up the good work about the Environment
Message under “Dear Sir, Madam” (instead of a long, incoherent tirade that first asks for censorship by appealing to authority and then claims to uphold the need for people to be provided all information):
I am writing to support Houghton Mifflin against the debate-stifling, coarse, ethically unsound attempts by Friends of the Earth to force Houghton Mifflin to immediately issue a corrective packet to all the school districts currently using the textbook: American Government, 11th edition, by Professors James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio, Jr.
I also ask that Houghton Mifflin keep up in the future too, its consensus-challenging, fact-based outlook that can only enhance the capabilities for critical thinking in high school pupils.
The reason? Chapter 21 on Environmental Policy is a godsend, not a “disgrace” as claimed by Friends of the Earth.
We trust the textbook authors to be fair and speak the truth. To address global warming as “enmeshed in scientific uncertainty” is to describe things as they are. Far from dismissing the work of the nation’s and the world’s top climate scientists, such text underlines the huge challenges facing them and us in understanding the relationship between humanity and the rest of the planet.
We need the nation’s youth to be given all the information we have available, not just the so-called “consensus”, so that they are able to make their own well-informed decisions. For years, Houghton Mifflin has provided that information–and I am encouraged to see that a company with such a highly respected reputation is continuing to publish along the same tradition.
I am copying my governor with this message to ensure that my state knows that there is absolutely no problem whatsoever with this textbook!
(alas, I do not have a US address as yet, so I took the liberty of putting Hayden Planetarium‘s, a place I do consider like home).
Of course, my message is unlikely to reach Houghton Mifflin or Governor Paterson of New York via Friends of the Earth, but who knows? And by the way: here’s a form to send your support to Houghton Mifflin directly.
Many thanks to JunkScience for pointing in this direction. More here about Friends of the Earth’s “contempt for democracy”.
Letter sent to the BBC via their website:
The title of Richard Black’s article “More doubt on cosmic climate link” is wrong, as Mr Black proceeds in the second part of the article to illustrate a relationship between cosmic rays and “local” polar temperatures. A better choice would be “New findings in cosmic climate links“. How on Earth can an effect on both poles be considered as “local”, I cannot understand. The maps published in the article seem to show cosmic rays changing temperatures over large parts of the globe.
Some hope! Since I am not a pro-AGW rabid activist threatening the reputation and livelihood of Richard Black or any other journalist, chances are my comments won’t be taken into consideration.