Sunday October 26th 2014

Yes, Deniers And Confusionists, The IEA And Others Warn Of Some 11°F Warming by 2100 If We Keep Listening To You

It always amazes me how many climate bloggers don’t know the scientific literature and don’t use Google to check key facts.

And so, in the annals of phony attacks on climate realists, such as International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol (and me), we now have the most inane. Our bunny friend Eli Rabbet has a brilliant post nibbling on the know-nothings who foisted this inanity on the blogosphere (click here, reposted below).

But the story is so entertainingly informative (informatively entertaining?) as to how the blogosphere fabricates attacks on people that I’ll run through the key elements. On Friday, May 24, I published a piece headlined “IEA: Global CO2 Emissions Hit New Record In 2011, Keeping World On Track For ‘Devastating’ 11°F Warming.”

I have written literally dozens and dozens of posts explaining that this is what the IEA (and others) now says is possible by 2100. Here, for instance, is an M.I.T. figure I use a lot:

Humanity’s Choice (via M.I.T.): Inaction (“No Policy”) eliminates most of the uncertainty about whether or not future warming will be catastrophic.  Aggressive emissions reductions dramatically improves humanity’s chances. Note that this is 2091-2100 surface warming compared to 1981-2000 — and the mean warming during that time is 5.17°C [See Table 4], which means from preindustrial times to 2100, the total warming would likely exceed 5.7°C.

I confess I thought this was so obvious that it slipped my mind to actually put in the phrase “by 2100.” But the original Reuters story (here) did have an obvious mistake:

“When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist told Reuters.

Again, I thought the mistake, “(by 2050),” was so obviously one the reporter foisted on Birol with the parenthetical comment that I simply omitted it in my post:

“When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius [11°F], which would have devastating consequences for the planet.”

I (too) cleverly took out the obviously incorrect parenthetical comment by the reporter and replaced it with  Fahrenheit conversion. I had intended when I was writing the article to mention that Reuters made a mistake but it slipped my mind by the time I finished.

Note to self: Always do things when you think of them and don’t expect to remember them at some later time!

When a commenter went to the original Reuters piece and pointed out that 2050 “makes no sense,” I noted in the comments “I meant to post that 2050 is obviously a mistake by the reporter.”

What I didn’t know — because I have stopped reading the blogs of the disinformers and confusionists since their traffic and their impact have hit a brick wall a long while ago — is that some easily and/or willfully confused bloggers spun up a phony attack on Birol (and me) because they assumed, nonsensically:

  1. That Birol made the mistake, not the reporter.
  2. That I agreed with the mistake — even though I had never posted it and in fact had obviously omitted it from my post!

Now what makes this exemplary of the kind of nonsense the disinformers and confusionists push on a regular basis is that anybody who actually had a moment’s doubt about the timeframe over which EIA actually believes the warming will occur could  find out the answer in under 30 seconds on Google!

Just Google “IEA 6C Warming” and the second hit is this UK Guardian piece from April 24 of this year, “Governments failing to avert catastrophic climate change, IEA warns,” about IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven:

On current form, she warns, the world is on track for warming of 6C by the end of the century – a level that would create catastrophe, wiping out agriculture in many areas and rendering swathes of the globe uninhabitable, as well as raising sea levels and causing mass migration, according to scientists.

And just in case there was any confusion, the article quotes her directly two paragraphs later:

“Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs, and under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, and almost double by 2050. This would be likely to send global temperatures at least 6C higher within this century.”

Talk about much ado about nothing. Or is that much ado from know nothings?

I should add that whether the 11F warming is from preindustrial levels or just the warming this century or it doesn’t happen until say 2125 is beyond irrelevant. The first 4C (7F) of warming is going to destroy a livable climate, possibly for centuries, and what comes after that is, well, beyond imagining. Still, the planet would almost certainly keep warming past 2100 if we were on the high emission scenario:

Steve Easterbrook’s post “A first glimpse at model results for the next IPCC assessment” shows that for the scenario where there is (5°C) 9°F warming by 2100 (from preindustrial levels), you get another 7°F warming by 2300.  Of course, folks that aren’t motivated to avoid the civilization-destroying 9°F by 2100 won’t be moved by whatever happens after that.

I’ll end my post with Birol’s great quote from late last year, World on Pace for 11°F Warming, “Even School Children Know This Will Have Catastrophic Implications for All of Us.” If only school children blogged more!

Finally, I’ll let our hopping mad friend Eli Rabett explain the full story.

What follows is a repost from Rabett Run. I’m not indenting it for reasons that should become clear. I do caution folks not to read any further without a very good head vise.

Axe Grinding

By Eli Rabett

A recent rather scary example of the speed of blogs and how even small mistakes can be amplified in service of serial axe grinding.  It is also a story of how news organizations and reporters can behave ethically in timely correction of mistakes.

It may come as a surprise to many bunnies, but Joe Romm is really despised by many out there in Blogland.  The obvious come to mind, Tony Watts, Hans v. Storch, Keith Kloor, Roger Jr, etc., but in this particular case, David Appell (herehere and now here), and also many of the Kool Kids (that’s you Weasel and James).  The latter class think that one should be, well, cerebral about the threats of major global warming, and well, Joe is hot.  Eli was holding off on this little tale to give it a chance to settle after the original  small burn, but it has gone thermonuclear and needs to be discussed immediately.

Recently an article appeared in Reuters which quoted the Chief Economist of the IEA, Fatih Birol, as saying

“When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,”

Joe Romm picked this up but omitted the (2050) which turns out to be correct.  David Appell on the other hand, went into full attack mode on Romm for predicting a 6C change by 2050.  As the subsequent comments show, Romm did no such thing.

In fact, after reading the Appell post, Eli asked a question at ThinkProgress

  1. In the Reuters piece it says 6 C by 2050 which makes no sense. What did Birol really say?? any idea

    • Martin Vermeer says:

      Good question Eli. I only find 2050 in the Reuters piece,
      “When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist told Reuters.
      It’s not in Birol’s slides, and not in his transcript. And it doesn’t make sense.

      • Joe Romm says:

        I meant to post that 2050 is obviously a mistake by the reporter.

        • Steve Bloom says:

          If the 2050 figure did get mentioned, it could perhaps refer to a commitment to 6C by then given a continuation of current emissions trends.

Now one of the annoyances of blogs is that people would rather discuss endlessly what they thought somebunny said, rather than ask that bunny. Eli and others finally got Appell to write to Birol, but Birol is a big cheese, and no reply yet.  It occurred to the Rabett to write to the person whose byline appeared on the Reuters piece. So he did (much more background below in the letter)

Dear Sir

In a recent article published with your byline in Reuters

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/05/24/co2-iea-idUKL5E8GO6B520120524

Fatih Birol is quoted as follows

“When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist told Reuters.

To be frank 6C by 2050 is risible, and there are good reasons to think that Birol simply said 6 degrees Celsius without a date including the IEA 2011 World Energy Report and a recent panel discussion in which he participated, where he said “the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius [11°F], which would have devastating consequences for the planet.”

http://carnegieendowment.org/files/112811_transcript_energyoutlook1.pdf

This has been picked up in several places, particularly by David Appell

http://davidappell.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/11-f-warming-by-2050-no-way.html

who explains why 2050 is not reasonable by going through some of the numbers. Joe Romm while using the 6 C figure did not quote the date and, indeed there is some published work out there that there really is a chance of 6 C by 2100, though they predict a median of 5.1 C (not much of a difference).

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/climate-change-1002.html
http://globalchange.mit.edu/research/publications/1989
http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/roulette-0519.html
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2009JCLI2863.1

The question is what is the source for the 2050 date?

Thanks for your attention to what may on the surface appear to be a minor matter, but which, given the politicization of climate issues is likely to spread and to be used badly

E

and received this useful reply from the reporter, Michael Rose

Dear Eli,

Thank you for your email. As you said in your message, Birol did not specify a date for that 6°C increase, and that’s why “by 2050” was between brackets in the story, to show that this was added by Reuters for context. Considering the target for a 2°C trajectory is 2050 and this is the timeframe always referred to in climate change discussions, we thought Birol was comparing like for like, or else why give a number and no date. After reading what you sent me, I’ll certainly check that with him and issue a correction if need be.

Cheers,

It is so bad to be proven right.  Eli had hoped that with a quick resolution this would go away and was waiting for Reuters to catch up with Fatih Birol and get this straightened out, with perhaps a note on the original article, but alas, Hans von Storch put the boot in

A forth [sic] interesting issue is that climate science has become irrelevant; it shows up in passing, when “limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers” is mentioned, and the quote “the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (by 2050)” is made. This is a pretty bold prediction, given that we have so far less than 1 degree warming since pre-industrial times, so that the warming must be more than 5 degrees/38 years, i.e., about 0.7-0.8 deg/decade. I consider this pure alarmism, which is related to the timing, and a misuse of scientific analysis for creating some unsustainable short term drama for the Bonn-negotiations. I wonder if this 6-degrees claim is really from IEA, or just an addition by Fatih Birol, because is no not mentioned in the IEA’s announcement.

Eli got there a bit late in the comments:

This attack on Joe Romm and Fatih Birol is an argument in bad faith which originated in David Appell’s dislike of Joe Romm and which you are amplifying for similar reasons. The 2050 is an insertion by Reuters based on a misunderstanding.

On Appell’s blog, Eli pointed this out and suggested that Appell ask Birol. In the discussion there scientific sources were found by others for the 6C claim in 2100. Eli himself has asked Reuters and received a response

Tony Watts has now leveraged your bad faith posting into an attack on Joe Romm.

Be proud

It had already bled over from the Pielkesphere into the Blogs of Denial and from there, but a short hop to the Capital, Wattsville

This is sad. Joe Romm promotes another overt fabrication, and some poor kid writes in despair, hoping all the “oil/coal people” here die “a horrible death, preferably caused by climate disasters”. If that were sent to somebody at ANU, it would by the Appell/Stokes rule, be declared a “death threat”. Since it’s on Romm’s site, the poster gets sympathy and counseling instead of admonishment. See below.

and they are off!!!  and how.  But Reuters has issued a correction

11:41 30May12 RTRS-CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-Global CO2 emissions hit record in 2011 led by China-IEA

(Corrects MAY 24 story to fix timeframe reference in fourth paragraph)
* CO2 emissions rose by 3.2 pct last year
* China the biggest contributor to the global rise
* Trend could have “devastating consequences” -IEA’s Birol

By Michel Rose

PARIS, May 24 (Reuters) – China spurred a jump in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to their highest ever recorded level in 2011, offsetting falls in the United States and Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday.

CO2 emissions rose by 3.2 percent last year to 31.6 billion tonnes, preliminary estimates from the Paris-based IEA showed.

China, the world’s biggest emitter of CO2, made the largest contribution to the global rise, its emissions increasing by 9.3 percent, the body said, driven mainly by higher coal use.

“When I look at this data, the trend is perfectly in line with a temperature increase of 6 degrees Celsius (towards the end of this century), which would have devastating consequences for the planet,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist told Reuters.

Scientists say ensuring global average temperatures this century do not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is needed to limit devastating climate effects like crop failure and melting glaciers.

They believe that is only possible if emission levels are kept to around 44 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2020….

There are several morals here, certainly Reuters and Michael Rose, the journalist, behaved responsibly when informed of the issue, investigating and then issuing the correction.  Similar action may limit the damage that Appell and v. Storch are doing to their reputation.  In Watts’ case the Bunnies strongly suspect what the answer will be.– By Eli Rabett

This article was originally posted on Climate Progress