Lennart Bengtsson: “The whole concept behind IPCC is basically wrong”

The GWPF yesterday announced that Swedish scientist Lennart Bengtsson joins their Academic Advisory Council. Among the members of this council are many well-known “climate sceptics” like Richard Lindzen, Ross McKitrick, Henrik Svensmark, Bob Carter, Nir Shaviv etc.

Bengtsson (born 1935) was the director of of ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) for 18 years and after that he was the director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. So his background is very “mainstream”. His entry to the GWPF Council will certainly have raised a few eyebrows in the climate community that sees the GWPF as a sceptical think tank.

Bengtsson has written some very nuanced/critical opinion articles in recent years (see here and here). I decided today to ask Bengtsson about his motivation to join the GWPF Council and sent him a list of questions to which he kindly responded.

Why did you join the GWPF Academic Council?
I know some of the scientists in GWPF and they have made fine contributions to science. I also respect individuals that speak their mind as they consider scientific truth (to that extent we can determine it) more important than to be politically correct. I believe it is important to express different views in an area that is potentially so important and complex and still insufficiently known as climate change.
My interest in climate science is strictly scientific and I very much regret the politicisation that has taken place in climate research. I believe most serious scientists are sceptics and are frustrated that we are not able to properly validate climate change simulations. I have always tried to follow the philosophy of Karl Popper. I also believe that most scientists are potentially worried because of the long residence time of many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, our worries must be put into a context as there are endless matters to worry about, practically all of them impossible to predict. Just move yourself backward in time exactly 100 years and try to foresee the evolution in the world for the following 100 years.

Is this your way of telling the world that you have become a “climate sceptic”? (many people might interpret it that way) If not, how would you position yourself in the global warming debate?
I have always been sort of a climate sceptic. I do not consider this in any way as negative but in fact as a natural attitude for a scientist. I have never been overly worried to express my opinion and have not really changed my opinion or attitude to science. I have always been driven by curiosity but will of course always try to see that science is useful for society. This is the reason that I have devoted so much of my carrier to improve weather prediction.

Is there according to you a “climate consensus” in the community of climate scientists and if so what is it?
I believe the whole climate consensus debate is silly. There is not a single well educated scientist that question that greenhouse gases do affect climate. However, this is not the issue but rather how much and how fast. Here there is no consensus as you can see from the IPCC report where climate sensitivity varies with a factor of three! Based on observational data climate sensitivity is clearly rather small and much smaller that the majority of models. Here I intend to stick to Karl Popper in highlighting the need for proper validation.

Mojib Latif once said at a conference of the WMO (in 2009) “we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves”. Do you think the climate community is doing that (enough)? or are others like the GWPF needed to ask these “nasty” questions? If so, what does this say about the state of Academia?
I think the climate community shall be more critical and spend more time to understand what they are doing instead of presenting endless and often superficial results and to do this with a critical mind. I do not believe that the IPCC machinery is what is best for science in the long term. We are still in a situation where our knowledge is insufficient and climate models are not good enough. What we need is more basic research freely organized and driven by leading scientists without time pressure to deliver and only deliver when they believe the result is good and solid enough. It is not for scientists to determine what society should do. In order for society to make sensible decisions in complex issues it is essential to have input from different areas and from different individuals. The whole concept behind IPCC is basically wrong.

I noticed that some climate scientists grow more sceptical about global warming after their retirement. Can you confirm this? Does it apply to yourself? Is there a lot of social pressure to follow the climate consensus among working climate scientists which can explain this?
Wisdom perhaps comes with age. I also believe you are becoming more independent and less sensitive to political or group pressure. Such pressure is too high today and many good scientists I believe are suffering. I am presently a lot on my own. As I have replied to such questions before, if I cannot stand my own opinions, life will become completely unbearable.

Are you satisfied with the role that the GWPF has played so far? What could or should they do differently in order to play a more successful and/or constructive role in the discussions about climate and energy?
My impression is that this is a very respectable and honest organisation but I will be happy to reply to your question more in depth when I have got experience of it.

From the GWPF:
Professor Lennart Bengtsson has a long and distinguished international career in meteorology and climate research. He participated actively in the development of ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting) where he was Head of Research 1975-1981 and Director 1982-1990. In 1991-2000 he was Director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg. Since 2000 he has been professor at the University of Reading and from 2008 the Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland.

Professor Bengtsson has received many awards including the German Environmental Reward, The Descartes Price by the EU and the IMI price from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). He is member of many academies and societies and is honorary member of the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological Society and European Geophysical Union. His research work covers some 225 publications in the field of meteorology and climatology. In recent years he has been involved with climate and energy policy issues at the Swedish Academy of Sciences.



PVV stelt kamervragen over Lewis/Crok

In de voor de partij zo kenmerkende stijl heeft de PVV vandaag kamervragen gesteld naar aanleiding van het rapport Een gevoelige kwestie: Hoe het IPCC goed nieuws over klimaatverandering verborg.

PVV: Klimaatbeleid Mansveld kan in de prullenbak

PVV: Klimaatbeleid Mansveld kan in de prullenbak

Dinsdag 18 maart 2014

De PVV wil dat staatssecretaris stopt met haar klimaatbeleid. PVV-Kamerlid Machiel de Graaf: “Uit nadere bestudering van het 5e IPCC-rapport blijkt dat het klimaat amper gevoelig is voor broeikasgassen.” Daarnaast blijkt uit onderzoek dat een klein beetje opwarming goed is voor de mensheid en voordelen kan hebben voor de biodiversiteit.

“Het beste dat we kunnen doen is stoppen met klimaatbeleid dat gericht is op het verminderen van CO2 in de atmosfeer”, aldus De Graaf. “Weggegooid geld, zo blijkt weer.”

Schriftelijke vragen van het lid De Graaf (PVV) aan de staatssecretaris van I&M

Bent u bekend met onderstaand rapport(*)?

Hoe luidt uw separate reactie op elk van de 14 conclusies in het rapport?

Deelt u de mening van de PVV dat er geen onafhankelijk wetenschappelijk bewijs bestaat van de mening dat de CO2-uitstoot als gevolg van menselijk handelen de oorzaak is van klimaatverandering? En dat het IPCC dat wederom niet heeft kunnen bewijzen? Zo neen, waarom niet, ook in acht nemende het voorliggende rapport van Crok en Lewis?

Deelt u onze mening dat niet alleen de conclusies uit dit rapport, maar ook de conclusies uit het wetenschappelijke onderzoek van Prof. Richard S.J. Tol(**) bewijzen dat de Klimaatagenda een overbodig beleidsstuk is? Zo neen, waarom niet?

Bent u bereid de Klimaatagenda terug te trekken, aangezien de methodes en beweringen van het IPCC -de hoeksteen van de Klimaatagenda- rekenkundige en statistische rookgordijnen blijken te zijn? Zo neen, waarom niet?

(*)Nicholas Lewis en Marcel Crok 2014 “Een gevoelige kwestie”http://www.groenerekenkamer.nl/2365/een-gevoelige-kwestie/

(**) Climate Change: The Economic Impact of Climate Change in de Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries (o.a. verschenen in How much have global problems cost the world – edited by Bjørn Lomborg, ISBN 978-1-107-02733-6)

Het moge de lezers hier duidelijk zijn dat ik niets heb met de manier waarop deze vragen geformuleerd zijn. Ik deel de mening van de PVV dat ons rapport kamervragen waard is. Machiel de Graaf toonde ook belangstelling voor het rapport en was aanwezig (net als Reinette Klever van de PVV) bij de presentatie in Nieuwspoort. Maar zoals nu geformuleerd zullen de vragen weinig interessante antwoorden opleveren. Misschien is dat ook helemaal niet de bedoeling van de PVV. Jammer, wat mij betreft een gemiste kans.


Nic Lewis’ submission to the AR5 inquiry

All the written submissions to the UK Energy and Climate Change Committee are now online. Many interesting things to read. Lots of critical submissions. Judith Curry calls Nic Lewis’ contribution a “tour de force” which it really is. Some readers here might know that Nic and I have been working for the past few months on a report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation about how AR5 dealt with climate sensitivity. His submission is a nice introduction/summary of our report which hopefully will be published in January. Below is Nic’s submission. I strongly encourage readers to read it in full.


Written evidence submitted by Nicholas Lewis

Credentials and statement of interests

I am an independent, self-funded climate science researcher. In recent years I have specialised in the key area of climate sensitivity. My work has been published in the peer reviewed literature and is cited and discussed in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). I was an expert reviewer of AR5.

Introduction and summary

  1. The terms of reference for this inquiry ask various questions. I address the following questions; my related conclusions are italicised.
  • How robust are the conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report (AR5-WG1)?
    In the central area of climate sensitivity, they are misleading. The substantial divergence between sensitivity estimates from, on the one hand, satisfactory studies based on instrumental observations over an extended period and, on the other hand, from flawed studies and from computer models was not brought out.
  • Does the AR5 address the reliability of climate models?
    Not adequately. Shorter-term warming projections by climate models have been scaled down by 40% in AR5, recognising that they are unrealistically high. But, inconsistently, no reduction has been made in longer term projections.
  • Do the AR5 Physical Science Basis report’s conclusions strengthen or weaken the economic case for action to prevent dangerous climate change?
    Although the conclusions fail to say so, the evidence in AR5-WG1 weakens the case since it indicates the climate system is less sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously thought. Lees verder…

Submission to AR5 inquiry

The UK Energy and Climate Change Committee invited anyone with interest in the AR5 report to submit answers on a long list of questions. The deadline has now passed and several people have already made their contribution public (Richard Tol, Paul Matthews, Mike Haseler). As sooner or later all the submissions will be public anyway I have decided to do the same. My submission follows below and can also be downloaded as a pdf here.

Energy and Climate Change Committee inquiry into AR5
Written submission by Marcel Crok

Credentials and statement of interests

I am a Dutch freelance science writer based in Amsterdam. Since 2005 I specialised in the global warming debate. In 2005 as an editor of the Dutch monthly popular science magazine Natuurwetenschap & Techniek (recently this has become the Dutch edition of New Scientist) I published a long and critical article about the infamous hockey stick graph featuring the criticism of Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. Many of the issues described in that article came back in the Climategate emails.
I published a critical book in 2010 that focused on the third and fourth assessment reports of the IPCC (TAR and AR4). The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment then gave me funding to critically review AR5 as an expert reviewer.
Since Climategate I am in favour of a more constructive interaction between climate scientists with opposing views. Late 2012 the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment funded an international discussion platform, ClimateDialogue.org, that organises constructive dialogues between climate scientists with opposing views. This has been set up by the leading Dutch climate related institutes KNMI and PBL and myself. [1] We cover controversial topics and invite scientists with a range of views.
In 2013 I was co-author of my first peer reviewed paper (describing a European temperature shift in 1988).

How robust are the conclusions in the AR5 Physical Science Basis report?
To answer this question is beyond the scope of this inquiry I would say. However your own introduction provides a good start to deal with it. You wrote: “The report concluded that, ‘it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.’ But it reduced the lower bound for likely climate sensitivity and for the first time did not publish a best estimate of it because of lack of agreement.”
It’s good that you picked up this apparent paradox. AR5 itself focused on the 95% certainty that humans are the cause of most (>50%) of the warming since 1950. Most media outlets brought this as the major news of AR5 writing things like ‘how much more certainty do you want (before you act)?’.
However this interpretation of the 95% claim is misleading. In a sense the 95% claim of AR5 (itself a result of expert judgment and not some sort of mathematical calculation) is a no-brainer.
To understand this we focus on this other important parameter, climate sensitivity (the rise in global temperature after a doubling of the CO2 concentration). Recently several papers have been published estimating climate sensitivity from observational data since 1850. These studies assume that almost all of the warming since 1850 is due to greenhouse gases. These papers then come up with best estimates for climate sensitivity in the range of 1.5 to 2.0°C, considerably lower than the best estimate of 3.0°C that IPCC has presented in all their assessment reports so far.
So claiming that at least 50% of the warming since 1950 is due to humans is meaningless. The much more important question is whether the contribution of greenhouse gases to warming is big or small. AR5 has all the ingredients to conclude that the contribution is much smaller than we have thought for the last three decades. But by not giving a best estimate for climate sensitivity it failed to communicate this important message. So IPCC failed to give policy makers its most important conclusion. And IPCC only dealt with this important decision in a footnote in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM).
The 95% claim also tells you nothing about the seriousness of the climate issue. The 95% can be completely in accordance with there being no climate problem at all. IPCC failed to explain this clearly and journalists didn’t pick it up.
To conclude: the 95% claim of AR5 has been misinterpreted by most people, including policy makers and the media as the final proof that we have a huge anthropogenic climate problem. The claim itself proves no such thing and is in fact pretty meaningless.
Although it seems contradictory, there is in itself no conflict between the increasing certainty (the 95% attribution claim) and not giving a best estimate for climate sensitivity (less certainty). The 95% claim is just very conservative and tells you little about the seriousness of the climate issue. Lees verder…


Climate Dialogue maakt “doorstart”

Climate Dialogue, het internationale discussieplatform dat in november 2012 gelanceerd werd door KNMI, PBL en mijzelf, maakt in 2014 een “doorstart”. Dat is afgelopen donderdag besloten in de Tweede Kamer, nadat een meerderheid in de kamer instemde met een amendement van VVD-kamerlid Remco Dijkstra. Ik gebruik hier het woord doorstart tussen aanhalingstekens omdat Climate Dialogue officieel nooit gestopt is. Actieve bezoekers van klimaatblogs zullen echter opgemerkt hebben dat er sinds afgelopen zomer weinig activiteit is geweest op de site en dat het ook daarvoor niet altijd even soepel verliep.

De stilte van de afgelopen maanden is vrij eenvoudig te verklaren. Het budget was op. De bijdrage vanuit de instituten valt dan eigenlijk automatisch weg. Voor mij als freelancer was de ontstane situatie behoorlijk frustrerend. Ik kon proberen de site aan de gang te houden, maar zonder garantie op betaling. In september bleek ook nog eens dat het Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu (I&M) Climate Dialogue niet begroot had voor 2014. De enige mogelijkheid die ons toen nog restte was proberen de politiek ervan te overtuigen dat Climate Dialogue belangrijk genoeg is om tenminste nog een jaar te steunen. Dat hebben met name Theo Wolters en ik de afgelopen tijd gedaan.

Een logische plek om te starten was de VVD. Climate Dialogue is immers voortgekomen uit een motie van VVD-kamerlid Helma Nepperus.  Remco Dijkstra heeft als VVD-kamerlid klimaat in zijn portefeuille. Daarnaast heb ik de PvdA benaderd. Hen heb ik er vooral op gewezen dat Diederik Samsom in een vroeg stadium achter Climate Dialogue is gaan staan (hij en René Leegte van de VVD traden toe tot onze Board of Recommendation). Dijkstra heeft vervolgens een amendement ingediend bij de begroting van I&M om alsnog Climate Dialogue te begroten.

Ondertussen liet staatssecretaris Mansveld van I&M een externe evaluatie doen van Climate Dialogue door de Griekse sociaal wetenschapper Eleftheria Vasileiadou van de VU. Zij interviewde de meeste betrokkenen de afgelopen tijd en ze benaderde ook alle discussianten. Haar evaluatie is op 4 december door I&M naar de kamer gestuurd met een begeleidende brief. De brief luidt als volgt: Lees verder…


Spreekt Mansveld zichzelf graag tegen?

NU.nl publiceert vandaag een lang interview met Wilma Mansveld, die dinsdag zal afreizen naar Warschau voor de jaarlijkse klimaattop. Mansveld is vol goede wil om er iets van te maken in Warschau maar ik kan me toch niet aan de indruk onttrekken dat ze de zaken nog niet helemaal helder op een rijtje hebben. Het kan natuurlijk aan de uitwerking van de journalist liggen (nooit uitgesloten) maar meerdere keren in het gesprek lijkt Mansveld zichzelf tegen te spreken.

Zo vraagt de journalist of wat haar betreft de afspraken juridisch bindend gemaakt moeten worden. Mansveld zegt dan:

“Juridisch bindend is ingewikkeld. We moeten eerst met zijn allen een inbreng leveren en afspreken hoe we dat waarderen. Daarna moet gekeken worden of we de ambities kunnen ophogen en in hoeverre we dat juridisch bindend moeten maken.”
“Amerikanen schieten in de stress als er juridisch dingen worden vastgelegd. Dat schrikt af.”

De journalist vraagt dan of de top dan niet erg vrijblijvend wordt waarop Mansveld antwoord:

“Nee, aan het einde moeten we wel zorgen dat iedereen de afspraken nakomt.”

Hoe dan?
“Door de doelstellingen wel zo veel mogelijk juridisch bindend te maken of in politieke besluiten vast te leggen.”

Huh? Dus eerst is juridisch bindend maken ingewikkeld en Amerika schiet er van in de stress. Twee tellen later moet vrijblijvendheid voorkomen worden door “doelstellingen zoveel mogelijk juridisch bindend” te maken. Lees verder…


Roger Pielke jr. summary of the science of weather extremes

Today Roger Pielke jr. is one of many testifying in a US senate Hearing. His written testimony is here. I reproduce his take-home points below:

Take-Home Points
* It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally.1 It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.
* Globally, weather-related losses ($) have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP (they have actually decreased by about 25%) and insured catastrophe losses have not increased as a proportion of GDP since 1960.
* Hurricanes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. The same holds for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970 (when data allows for a global perspective).
* Floods have not increased in the US in frequency or intensity since at least 1950. Flood losses as a percentage of US GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940.
* Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined.
* Drought has “for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century.”2 Globally, “there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.”3
* The absolute costs of disasters will increase significantly in coming years due to greater wealth and populations in locations exposed to extremes. Consequent, disasters will continue to be an important focus of policy, irrespective of the exact future course of climate change.



Hans Labohm reacts to McKitrick: Please, no more taxes!

Hans Labohm read yesterday’s article about Ross McKitrick’s plan for a temperature-indexed carbon tax. Hans – as you will see – is not very positive about the proposal. He prepared a reaction for his DDS blog in Dutch. I asked him to provide an English translation which he kindly did.

Ross McKitrick proposes new kind of CO2 tax

Ross McKitrick has launched a new proposal for a CO2 tax, whereby temperatures and the market play an important role. The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has organized a special meeting to present his views in London.

And Marcel Crok  has written about it on his website, ‘The State of the Climate’, under the title: ‘Can a carbon tax solve the politicization of climate science?’.

Let me state from the outset that I hold Ross McKitrick in the highest regard as an economist who has specialized in climate issues. Together with Steve McIntyre he has proved that the so-called hockey stick temperature reconstruction by Michael Mann was incorrect. Their article in Energy & Environment on this topic has been a game changer in the climate debate. Moreover he has published a number of other excellent articles on climate issues. Yet, I am less enthusiastic about his latest proposal. Lees verder…


Sessie met Kamp opgepikt door Trouw

Trouw komt vandaag met maar liefst twee stukken (een zelfs op de voorpagina! en een op pag 12/13) over de klimaatsessie die Economische Zaken vorige week organiseerde voor minister Kamp. De stukken putten met name uit de notitie die PBL/KNMI schreef ter voorbereiding op de sessie. Die stukken plus de presentaties van Bart Strengers en Wilco Hazeleger staan nu ook online.

Mijn naam is weliswaar genoemd in Trouw maar uit mijn stuk is niet of nauwelijks geciteerd. Trouw zet stukken tegenwoordig niet meer gratis online en ik zal daarom de stukken zeker vandaag nog niet integraal online zetten. Het stuk op de voorpagina begint als volgt:

Kamp wil feiten over het klimaat

Nieuwe minister hoopt zin en onzin te scheiden zodat hij weet waarop hij beleid moet baseren

Minister Henk Kamp (economische zaken) wil af van de controverse tussen klimaatsceptici en wetenschappers over de opwarming van de aarde. In een vertrouwelijke sessie met deskundigen heeft hij getracht de zin en de onzin in het klimaatdebat te scheiden, als basis voor nieuw beleid.

Kamp is sinds kort verantwoordelijk voor het klimaatbeleid. Wetenschappers zijn het over het algemeen eens over de ernst van de opwarming van de aarde, maar in het maatschappelijk debat worden de uitkomsten van onderzoek betwist. Kamp wil weten welke argumenten in de discussie op feiten zijn gebaseerd, en welke op fictie. Hij vroeg vertegenwoordigers van het KNMI en het Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL) om presentaties te houden. Ook klimaatjournalist Marcel Crok, die vraagtekens zet bij de rol van CO2 bij de opwarming van de aarde, mocht zijn visie geven. Alle deelnemers hebben geheimhouding moeten beloven over het gesprek, maar publiceerden wel de door hen geleverde stukken.

De rest van het stuk op de voorpagina put uitsluitend uit de Notitie van het PBL/KNMI. In het tweede langere stuk wordt wel heel summier iets over sceptische argumenten gezegd. Bijvoorbeeld: Lees verder…


Presentatie bij Economische Zaken

Afgelopen woensdag organiseerde het ministerie van EZ een besloten sessie over het klimaatprobleem. Doel van de bijeenkomst was minister Henk Kamp bij te praten over de stand van de klimaatwetenschap en het klimaatdebat. Er waren twee afgevaardigden van het PBL, een van het KNMI en ikzelf. Voor de bijeenkomst gold de zogenaamde Chatham House rule, wat betekent dat ik niets kan melden over wat er ter plekke besproken is. Wel hebben zowel PBL/KNMI als ikzelf van tevoren informatie aangeleverd die wel openbaar is. Hieronder volgt mijn ingebrachte stuk integraal (of hier als pdf). De slides van mijn presentatie zijn hier te downloaden. KNMI/PBL is van plan hun stuk ook online te zetten op www.klimaatportaal.nl. Zodra dat gebeurt zal ik op hun stuk een reactie geven. [Update: hun stukken, zonder expliciete verwijzing naar de EZ-sessie, staan nu online: http://www.pbl.nl/nieuws/nieuwsberichten/2013/klimaatverandering-de-feiten-en-het-debat]


Informatie voor sessie Klimaatprobleem met minister Kamp
Woensdag 9 januari 2013, Ministerie van EZ

Over een aantal zaken bestaat overeenstemming. De CO2-concentratie stijgt door toedoen van de mens en zal blijven stijgen in de 21e eeuw. De CO2-concentratie is in honderdduizenden jaren niet zo hoog geweest. Verder terug in het verleden is de CO2-concentratie wel vele malen hoger geweest dan nu.
CO2 is een broeikasgas en heeft als zodanig de potentie om de aarde op te warmen. Het is nu warmer dan anderhalve eeuw geleden. Een deel van de opwarming is dus waarschijnlijk het gevolg van de toegenomen concentratie aan broeikasgassen in de atmosfeer. Mainstream en sceptische onderzoekers gaan ervan uit dat een verdubbeling van de CO2-concentratie sec (we zitten nu op een 40% toename sinds de start van de industriële revolutie) een theoretische opwarming zal geven van ongeveer 1 graad Celsius. Tot zover is er geen onenigheid. Het punt is alleen dat alle hierboven beschreven punten op zichzelf nog geen reden zijn voor grote zorg. Lees verder…




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