back to article Global warming much less serious than thought - new science

Climate scientists funded by the US government have announced new research in which they have established that the various doomsday global warming scenarios are in fact extremely unlikely to occur, and that the scenarios considered likeliest - and used for planning by the world's governments - are overly pessimistic. The new …


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  1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge


    But...but.... I thought it was all settled?

    This was going to be the worst thing to happen since the planet cooled. Billions of people were going to fry, and the human race (and every other creature on the planet) were going to go extinct.

    That was why we were paying these scientists and their associated organisations billions of pounds a year to mitigate the problem.

    Can we have our money back?

    1. A. Lloyd Flanagan


      Billions of pounds? Really? I haven't found a source for England's budget for meteorology, but the entire Department of Health received 98.7 billion pounds in 2008-9.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      billions of pounds?

      Total EPSRC budget for 08/09 was £815 million.

      The EPSRC might not be the only source of UK funding for climate science, but mostly spends its money on other sorts of Engineering and Physical Sciences research (but not enough on me, naturally).

    3. Adam-the-Kiwi

      re: thought it was all settled

      The science is pretty settled - that doesn't mean that new models won't apply that science and be published with new results (often not much different from the old results) on a regular basis. Ultimately, that is what this paper is - a new model run with the model extended at little more than past ones have been.

      I note, though, that Lewis' long-held hatred of models as used in climate science seems to have been suspended for this particular paper. The scientific scepticism, which should be applied to all new results and is a very healthy thing, seems to be a bit selective here at El Reg.

      Ultimately, if this model does further refine the science (and I've not yet read the paper in full nor seen any responses from the authors' peers), it provides excellent news. The caveat, as with all these papers, though, is that this is only one modelling paper among many on this topic.

  2. nemenator

    Glacially slow Peer Review

    Science magazine state they received the paper in January. No Tweets from Richard Black at the BBC yet.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poorly written

    Poorly written and no critical analysis of the present paper with previous findings by the IPCC. This article author requires greater knowledge of subject matter before attempting to discuss such critical finding.

    In addition, using boffinry to describe one of the top 5 international peer-reviewed journals is a complete and utter joke.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: boffinry

      Are you new here?

    2. Steve 151


      I take it you don't read Mr Page's stuff all that often?

      I seem to recall 'Boffinry' is actually rather complimentary in Lewis-speak

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Boffinry

        Indeed, boffinry is a real word, and (like boffin, egghead et al) is used in an endearing manner. Someone must be new here!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This is clearly not the result the US Govt was seeking. Sadly for people like yourself, sometimes honest scientists release honest papers.

    3. Goat Jam

      The IPCC?

      Now there's an honest to goodness bastion of integrity, not.

      The IPCC is about as "Independent" as the East German FDR was "Democratic".

      Rather they are packed to the brim full of environmental activists after they ejected the majority of scientists for not getting on board with the groupthink that pervades the place.

      1. Arthur Dent

        @Goat Jam

        "The East German FDR" ?????????

        The FDR was (from 1949 to 1990) the WEST German Federal Republic, and the German Federal Republic is now the whole united Germany.

        If you really think that the FDR was teh East German DDR then your dislike of the IPCC suggests that teh IPCC may not be quite as incompetent as I previously thought.

        1. Goat Jam


          I knew it as the GDR, it was a simple slip of the finger.

  4. Richard Wharram

    It's all probabilities.

    Some otherwise sensible scientist was on Radio 4 last night talking about how to discuss risks with the public so that they can relate to them. On every other topic he sensibly discussed the probability and the impact. On climate change he immediately veered off onto 'the consensus'. Grrrr.

    I do believe that human activities are causing some degree of warming even though I'm not a carbon-cultist. It just infuriates me that most scientists cannot discuss climate change in the way they would any other science. Maybe people wouldn't be so sceptical if everyone agreed that climate change could be discussed just the same as anything else.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Consensus is how science is done.

      Your wife is pregnant - you go to a trained midwife or gynecologist, they have the best knowledge of the subject, based on consensus. You don't use an oncologist.

      You get cancer - you go to an oncologist, he/she will treat you based on the best consensus knowledge of the subject. You don't use a midwife who knows an oncologist.

      You need to go somewhere in an aeroplane, that plane will have been designed based on consensus in engineering science.

      You want to know about the climate - what do you do? Ask about the consensus? Or some guys who have specialist knowledge in another field who reckon they know about climate?

      As caveats: The media don't help here most of what is published is (rightly) simplified because the subject is so incredibly complicated. This can result in the man on the street thinking they know a lot more about a subject than they do.

      1. Richard Wharram

        The point...

        You missed it.

        My point was the he was perfectly willing to discuss the probabilities of various outcomes in relation to other topics but not in relation to climate change. The 'consensus' blurb is used as a wall.

        Actual climate science has all this data in. They calculate the probabilities of different rises at different periods. For some reason though nobody feels that this information can be trusted to the general public. They instead have to bleat about the consensus to stop people from becoming sceptics.

        My contention is that people can see them doing this quite easily and it actually fuels scepticism.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You want the info?

          You want the information?

          It's (pretty much) all on the internet. NASA is a good archive, there are also many others. The trouble is that most people are happy to hide behind "It's not available" "They say we can't be trusted with it", when in actual fact they just want to fuel speculation, rather than bother to do anything about it.

          1. Richard Wharram

            Point again ?

            I specifically said the information WAS available and that I believe at least some man-made global warming is definately occuring. However, that doesn't change the fact the the message we are bombarded with is stripped of this information. We are presented, in the public space, with climate-porn instead of anything that resembles the actual science. This just fuels scepticism.

            1. Adrian Midgley 1

              Public space == www

              I agree much of the media commentary is poorly based but this in no way stops any of us from commenting on the data and the recipes which are in a spacemore public than any

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        @Anon at 12:31

        Funny how you use the medical profession as inspiration as consensus. If I go to the local practitioner then they'll examine me according to medical consensus, then give me a vague description of what might be wrong with me, although without the tests necessary to prove it, and then he'll prescribe some completely useless medicine plied by the pharmaceutical industry and adopted, by consensus, in order to placate my *need* for some action.

        Seems to fit the Scientific Community, Politicians and Public exactly.

        The only way I (the man on the street) is ever likely to come across the truth is if I fry on the street, drown by impending flood, OR nothing happens and I survive. Either way, non of the Politicians, Scientists or Public will ever admit they were wrong.

        Scientists, Politicians, Activists are all making my head hurt. Don't trust any of them.


        Man on the street.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 1454

          I also used engineering as an example - typical conspiracist - ignore the inconvenient bit!

          Also - I assume you're from the US because in the UK the medicines that are prescribed on the NHS as controlled by consensus of NICE the organisation who evaluate drugs.

          After that you wander off into paranoia - You should really try trusting people, the world isn't a conspiracy against you. Many people do admit they're wrong, especially in science, some don't but that's human nature.

      3. btrower

        Reach for your wallet.

        "Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had." -- Michael Crichton

        It is a false comparison to equate the corrupt world of the barely emerged non-scientific political discipline of 'climate science' with established disciplines. It is true that Biologists almost universally support the Theory of Evolution and that there is a genuine, bona-fide, fact based consensus that Evolution is fundamentally correct. It is generally *NOT* true that they bully non-believers with this 'consensus', even though Evolution, as Ashley Montague has said, is "the most thoroughly authenticated fact in the whole history of science". We present our evidence and logical arguments over and over again ... because we have them to present. See here for an overview:

        The Theory of Evolution is not correct because there is a consensus; there is a consensus because it is (for this discussion) correct. Unlike the religion of 'Climate Science', Biology actually does have overwhelming evidence, a bona-fide consensus about fundamentals (some things upon which even creationists agree), a logical argument you can follow and tidy integration with the rest of the maths and sciences. If you look at established disciplines like Math, Physics, Chemistry and Biology they abound with people eager to explain. They want you to stop and look. By way of contrast, you are always being told by climate alarmists to move along. "Nothing to see here". "Trust us, we're scientists".

        Skeptics keep saying, "wait, let's look". They keep saying "show us". They keep pointing out how the climate religion fails to integrate with both the body of scientific thought (hint 'climate science' is not part of that) and common sense (follow your own common sense on that). Alarmists keep saying they do not want to talk any more about 'settled science'. They keep saying "nothing to see here" and "move along". They will not present evidence and the more you ask for it the more hysterical they become.

        The 'hockey stick' graph (the original, not the new one they switched out at Wikipedia) does not pass the 'smell test' for someone with a real background in science. It nullified the well established MWP and the LIA using arbitrary (and proven incorrect) data manipulation. It looked uncharacteristic and suspicious and it was. When called to task, they quietly swept that under the rug, modified their methods and the MWP and LIA magically re-appeared. Quel surprise. Of course, when a discussion about the fundamental dishonesty of the hockey stick comes up they revel in presenting a different graph and pointing out how they were correct all along. However many layers they put on this onion, whenever you peel those layers back, you always find corruption.

        There is a *TON* of lipstick on 'Climate Science'. It surprisingly gets a lot of dates; but it is still a pig.

        It is highly instructive to look at the old and new batches of 'Climategate' email. You will see the fatal corruption and dishonesty that lies at the heart of the (rather small) 'Climate Science' cabal. They are so bad, that they have difficulty spinning it. In many instances, they honestly cannot see they are doing anything wrong. For them, the ends justify the means; even though the desirability of the ends is uncertain at best.

        Respectable scientists do not have to depend upon your trust and they do not have to pretend that the political and social enterprise of organized establishment science is somehow magical and beyond inspection or reproach. Ask a Biologist, Chemist, Physicist for proof, they will show it to you. When it comes to Mathematicians, the proof itself is what they have to show. Ask a 'Climate Scientist' for proof and what you get is an irritating lesson in sophistry. I wanted to itemize the logical fallacies they indulge in, but there are just too many. The ill-named 'climate science' is an absolute 'tour-de-force' in dishonest argument.

        Here is how 'consensus' works in the topsy-turvy world of 'Climate Science':

        Mr. Mann called upon his colleagues to try and put Climate Research out of business. "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," he wrote in one of the emails. "We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board."

        After Messrs. Jones and Mann threatened a boycott of publications and reviews, half the editorial board of Climate Research resigned. People who didn't toe Messrs. Wigley, Mann and Jones's line began to experience increasing difficulty in publishing their results.

        This happened to me and to the University of Alabama's Roy Spencer, who also hypothesized that global warming is likely to be modest. Others surely stopped trying, tiring of summary rejections of good work by editors scared of the mob. Sallie Baliunas, for example, has disappeared from the scientific scene.

        GRL is a very popular refereed journal. Mr. Wigley was concerned that one of the editors was "in the skeptics camp." He emailed Michael Mann to say that "if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official . . . channels to get him ousted."

        Mr. Mann wrote to Mr. Wigley on Nov. 20, 2005 that "It's one thing to lose 'Climate Research.' We can't afford to lose GRL." In this context, "losing" obviously means the publication of anything that they did not approve of on global warming.

        Soon the suspect editor, Yale's James Saiers, was gone. Mr. Mann wrote to the CRU's Phil Jones that "the GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership there."

        From: "How to Manufacture a Climate Consensus" by PATRICK J. MICHAELS

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          What a long post.

          You do yourself a disservice by referring to climate science as a religion while regurgitating all of the clinches of a climate change denier.

          This is a short post.

          1. btrower

            How grotesque. You trot out boilerplate alarmist misdirection by way of rebuttal to a reasonably substantive original post. Your post is straight out of the Church of Climatology playbook. Besides having difficulty typing and poor reading comprehension, climateers and their fanboys are seriously irony impaired.

            I am very much enjoying a frisson of delicious schadenfreude watching the alarmists hang themselves with their own words as they are cheered on by their vexatiously illiterate acolytes. I feel all tingly.

            I will stop typing now, before your lips fail you from reading too much.

    2. Ant Evans


      It's not all probabilities, because the climate is a sample of one.

      We get to run the models as often as we like. History runs once.

      That's why the precautionary principle is the right way to deal with climate, and most of ecology.

      To paraphrase: Don't fuck with fucking up what you can't unfuck.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Ant Evans

        If only we had a pre production earth. That way we'd be able to make sure everything worked ok - w2k bug, climate change, sea defences etc. etc.

  5. wheelybird

    People seem to have adopted runaway climate change as a religion - that is they get very worked up about something that they don't understand and have no proof for. Try suggesting to the more vociferous types that, no matter how hard we try, human impact on the Earth's climate is never really going to amount to much. The least that will happen is that they will scoff at you for being ignorant.

    It's annoyed me so many times that all this climate research never seems to have taken into account the distant past - not just hundreds of thousands of years ago, but millions of years ago when the planet did indeed have a fair amount of CO2. The climate has shifted dramatically, but it seems to bear life still the last time I looked.

    I look forward to the believers in runaway human climate change respond to this study with derision. As they surely will.

  6. CPU


    21,000 years ago CO2 levels were low and we didn't die: From that the report cannot say 'ergo' high CO2 levels also means we will not die (Neanderthal Man might have a few choice words on that subject if he were alive today). Obviously too little CO2 makes it colder, too much CO2 makes it hotter. What the report could conclude is that if we had the motor car 21,000 years ago we might not have had an ice age. Either way the Wooly Mammoths days were numbered.

  7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Glug, glug, glug

    2 degrees doesn't sound a lot, BUT - how high does sea level rise as a result? a few feet? more if the Greenland ice shelf starts to go - and who lives on the coast? And locally - could 2 degrees affect the Gulf Stream? Switch that off and the British Isles get seriously nippy.

    All the evidence suggest that an extra 2 degrees does not simply mean warmer summers and winters - it likely means all sorts of things - heat waves, extreme storms, coastal flooding (central London anyone?), extreme winters - impossible to predict the exact details, but it's pretty clear what the trends are.

    1. boltar Silver badge


      "human impact on the Earth's climate is never really going to amount to much."

      Says who? Increasing CO2 by 30% so far since before the industrial revolution seems quite a lot to me.

      "It's annoyed me so many times that all this climate research never seems to have taken into account the distant past "

      Oh please, what do you think all the ice core samples are for?

      "look forward to the believers in runaway human climate change"

      Hardly anyone believes the venus style runaway climate change scenario but its a useful straw man for people like you. What most believe is that only a few degrees of climate change could make a large part of the planet that is already marginal for human habitation completely uninhabitable leading to mass starvation and migration of millions, possibly even billions of people which could ultimately lead to war.

      Get your head out of the sand - you're not a wheelybird, you're just another Ostrich.

      1. Anonymous John

        "Sounds" is the operative word, but it's 30% of a very small percentage. Put another way, the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere has gone up from 0.030% to 0.039%. It doesn't sound so bad now does it? Is it a significant increase? That what the argument is about.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't have a choice!

      Climate change has to be "catastrophic", otherwise mitigation just becomes another small sensible budget item, and they lose their power, influence and funding.

      17,000 will be attending Durban - think of the lost Air Miles! -

      "CLIMATE change bureaucrats are among the most travelled public servants in the land - spending an average of $250,000 a month on overseas conferences and study trips.

      As 40 boffins prepare to leave next week for Durban in South Africa for the doomed UN climate change conference, it emerged last year's overseas trips cost taxpayers $3.1 million.

      According to documents supplied by the department, 86 staff travelled overseas - flying business class or first class - last year.

      The bureaucrats, including assistant secretaries, deputy secretaries, senior executive officers and research scientists, had an accommodation and meals bill of more than $750,000.

      The documents claim a total of more than 250 individual trips or cities visited last year."

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Flying first class

        Since the CO2 emissions are shared among all passengers, one could argue that flying first class emits less CO2 per dollar spent, so we should all do it. Must tell the boss...

      2. MrCheese

        The cost they didn't mention

        How much was the carbon cost of all that business is what I want to know?

      3. Paul Shirley

        Climate change has to be portrayed as 'catastrophic' because otherwise there would be NO mitigation effort at all. Hell, look around, 20 years on there's still bugger all real effort being made. At times it seems like there's more money being wasted on lobbying for inaction.

        A bunch of vested interests and plain crackpots declared war on climate change and played dirty to derail any sensible, balanced response. Too late to complain now that the sides are polarised and infested by freeloading bureaucrats - that's what happens during long wars.

        Shit, 20+ years to come up with new tech, to improve efficiencies and find better energy supplies wasted. If mitigation turns out to be necessary we're now screwed, if we'd done the work and it isn't needed we'd all be richer and safer - I'd quite like my energy not to be supplied by terrorist states.

        An opportunity pissed away where only a rich minority could lose, the rest of us win whatever the truth of climate change is.

      4. A. Lloyd Flanagan

        Re: They don't have a choice!

        Wow, that's a lot of words for a completely irrelevant post.

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      I think it's slightly more complicated than that.

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "From that the report cannot say 'ergo' high CO2 levels also means we will not die (Neanderthal "

      That is not what they are arguing.

      From the abstract they have re constructed the temperature levels and CO2 levels around at the time of the last Ice Age.

      They have run (at least one) climate model with *those* starting points to see if the models predict behavior.

      They do not.

      When you twiddle the knobs the values you needs to get a model that matches *reality* (rather than the other way around) gives an Earth which (when you dial up the CO2 levels) gives an estimated maximum *probable* rise of 2.3K, not the current 3K with a 66% probability of 4.5K but of 2.3K IE new model *worst* case is still below current model most *probable* outcome.

      Caveats. 66% (odd choice of number as for a standard probability model 1 standard deviation is for models giving the right value within a range 68.3% of the time) suggests there is still a fair bit of "tail" on either end with extreme values, but the distribution of the new model seems much *narrower*,

      It's a moving target but it looks like they have done a lot more *predictive* work (IE running it forward from known levels to see what happens) which does *not* seem to have been done with other models except in the most *dire* of scenearios.

    5. chr0m4t1c

      Current predictions say that doubling of CO2 levels will lead to runaway change that will ultimately destroy life, but levels have already more than doubled in the last 21,000 years without causing that outcome - so it is entirely possible that the prediction is incorrect. There *may* be a level of atmospheric CO2 that will lead to runaway warming, but there may not.

      Unfortunately, it seems we cannot correctly predict what those levels are and so may only find out when (if) it happens, at which point it is too late.

      Last one alive turn out the lights.

      1. Tim Parker


        "Current predictions say that doubling of CO2 levels will lead to runaway change that will ultimately destroy life"

        No, they don't.

    6. Alexander 3
      Thumb Up

      All true, and...

      Further, that 2 degree change would have far more of an impact in areas with already harsh climates. Areas susceptible to desertification, for instance, might see the growth of the desert onto arable land sped up, cutting food production in areas where food security is already very poor. Even worse, if the warming meant that rain patterns changed, vast areas of the world - typically where people live - would find themselves drying up. They, and their crops, would die or be forced to relocate. A small change could dramatically impact population support capacity in areas, which is where the deaths and conflict will stem from.

      Some areas, of course, will likely benefit from shifts in environment - perhaps the Canadian North will become warm enough for crops, or the Himalayas might become wetter. But... even if this does happen, it will take a long time for us to take advantage of it - the ground to become fertile, people to move, infrastructure to be built etc... and we have no guarantee that any of this will offset the loss in resources.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "coastal flooding (central London anyone?), extreme winters..."

      1) Woohoo, a solution to the other major problem we have, the bankers!

      2) Brilliant, I love snow, me :-)

    8. occamskiss

      Aaah Ha Ha Ha! Keep this wonderful wisdom around to show your grandchildren when London is half underwater, the oceans have lost most of their seafood, your islands have tripled in population partly with environmental refugees, etc. etc. etc. By the way, are you still smoking those ciggies because the lung cancer is not yet proven?

      1. Bob. Hitchen

        Why is one of those water based asteroids going to hit us? I keep going to Cornwall and the sea level don't vary much. Oh enlightened one tell me how you measure the sea level? Land is constantly rising or falling the ocean floor has heaps of volcanoes and is also in flux. Your other comments are not worth discussing.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      human impact on the Earth's climate is never really going to amount to much

      so let's try having a large scale nuclear war, and see if that affects the climate.

    10. Stevelane
      Black Helicopters

      The runaway is already beginning!

      The runaway is already beginning! There are more and more extreme climate events occurring across the globe. Each time one occurs like the floods in OZ or the huge wild fires in Texas or the excessive show falls in eastern US or the exceptionally mild autumn weather in UK etc etc and for each event people ask "Is this evidence for climate change" and the answer is "No" but of course the increasing number of extreme events is and there is nothing we are doing that will slow the runaway down. Historically these changes tended to happen relatively slowly but now comparatively they are changing in the blink of an eye and when the inevitable positive feedback effects come in to play like arctic methane release the change will be more rapid still. Unlike religion modern climate science is based on evidence and accumulated data. No amount of Koch brothers financed denialist head burying will change that.

  8. thehealer


    "Earth highly unlikely to suffer severe warming - new science"

    Shouldn't that be "... new boffinry"?

    "Climate scientists funded by the US government have announced new research..."

    Shouldn't that be "Climate boffins..."?

    "Andreas Schmittner, professor at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State uni."

    Shouldn't that be "...Atmospheric Boffinry..."?

    "The new study is published in top-ranking boffinry journal Science. The research was funded by the US National Science Foundation."

    Shouldn't that be " boffinry journal Boffinry. The research was funded by the US National Boffinry Foundation."?

    Just to be consistent with the latest Register styleguide, you understand.

    1. hplasm Silver badge

      Not all scientists are boffins-

      But all boffins are Good Scientists.

  9. Thought About IT

    Cherry picking again

    You quote Schmittner as saying: "Now these very large changes (predicted for the coming decades) can be ruled out, and we have some room to breathe and time to figure out solutions to the problem.", as reported in the Australian.

    Here's what he also said, as reported by New Scientist:

    "Even if the climate sensitivity really is as low as 2.4 °C, Schmittner says that doesn't mean we are safe from climate change. The Last Glacial Maximum was only 2.2 °C cooler than today, yet there were huge ice sheets, plant life was different, and sea levels were 120 metres lower.

    "Very small changes in temperature cause huge changes in certain regions," Schmittner says. So even if we get a smaller temperature rise than we expected, the knock-on effects would still be severe."

    Funny how you only report stuff on climate change which fits your agenda.


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