IPCC Admits they Could be Wrong about Humans Causing Global Warming

June 13th, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

If that headline surprises you, then it is a good indication of how successful the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been in their 20-year long effort to pin the rap for global warming on humanity. I’m not reporting anything really new here. I’m just stating what is logically consistent with, and a necessary inference from, one of the most recognizable claims contained in the Summary for Policymakers in the IPCC’s 2007 report:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

They assign a probablility of 90% to the term “very likely”. This is a curious use of statistical probability since warming over the last 50 years is either mostly due to anthropogenic emissions, or it isn’t. Probabilities do not apply to past events like this.

What the IPCC is really using probabilities for is to attach some scientific value to their level of faith. I would be very surprised if there weren’t vigorous objections to the use of probabilities in this way from members of the IPCC…but the IPCC leadership really needed a scientific-sounding way to help push their political agenda, so I’m sure any objections were overruled.

But I digress. My main point here is that the IPCC is admitting that they might be wrong. That doesn’t sound to me like “the science is settled”, as Al Gore is fond of saying. If it is “very likely” that “most” of the observed warming was due to mankind, then they are admitting that it is possible that the warming was mostly natural, instead.

So, let’s play along with their little probability game. Given the extreme cost of greatly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, wouldn’t you say that it would be important to actively investigate the 10% possibility that warming is mostly natural, as the IPCC readily admits?

Where is the 10% of government research dollars looking into this possibility? I suspect it is going to environmental NGO’s who are finding new ways to package “global warming” so that it doesn’t sound like a liberal issue. Or maybe they are working on more clever names to call researchers like me other than “deniers”, which is getting a little tiresome.

For many years the Department of Defense has had “Red Team” reviews devoted to finding holes in the “consensus of opinion” on weapons systems that cost a whole lot less than punishing the use of our most abundant and affordable sources of energy. It seems like a no-brainer that you would do something similar for something this expensive, and as destructive to the lives of poor people all over the world.

One could almost get the impression that there is more than just science that determines what climate science gets funded, and how it gets reported by the news media. Oh, that’s right I forgot…the United Nations is in charge of this effort. Well, I’m sure they know what they are doing.

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