Tag Archives: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Climate change deniers don’t understand expertise

Expert report commission by World Bank

Many of you will have picked up that the World Bank has released a very important report on climate change. Its titled Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” and can be downloaded as a pdf.

The report mentions as highlights:

  • The world is on track to a “4°C world” marked by extreme heat-waves and life-threatening sea level rise.
  • Adverse effects of global warming are “tilted against many of the world’s poorest regions” and likely to undermine development efforts and goals.
  • Increased support is needed for adaptation, mitigation, inclusive green growth and climate-smart development.

You can get an overview at the World Bank’s press release (Climate Change Report Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century), at Science daily (Four-Degrees Briefing for the World Bank: The Risks of a Future Without Climate Policy) or at New Zealand’s own Hot Topic (Turn down the heat: even bankers know a bad thing when they see it (sometimes)).

Or you could even download and read the report – its only 106 pages all in.

I won’t go into its content here – just comment on a typical climate change denial reaction to the report. But first – let’s get this straight. The world Bank does not describe this as its own report – they describe it as a World Bank-commissioned report.” An important point – but one that is obvious to anyone used to dealing with such reports. Organisations like the World Bank commission experts to produce up-to-date summaries of, and reports on, such matters when they need them.

It’s a no-brainer – want a reliable report – employ experts.

The “left liberal slime” conspiracy

So how do the local climate change denial cabal over at Climate Conversations Group dismiss this report (and dismiss it they must – that’s how they pass their time. Dismissing science and slandering scientists).

Andy (familiar to many readers here for his sock-puppet behaviour) starts mildly with:

“based on current climate models -is all I need to take away from this “report” from the World Bank”

He obviously has no idea of the important role models can play in bringing understanding to complex situations. These guys just rely on anything they can use to discredit the science.

Then he continues:

“The last time I heard, banks were in the business of lending money. I didn’t think they had any expertise in determining the sensitivity of the atmosphere to carbon dioxide. Unless, of course, they have a financial interest in, say, carbon trading.”

No – he doesn’t understand the report commissioning process does he. He seems to think that bankers in pin-striped suits did the research and wrote the report.

But no – it’s more basic than that. Doesn’t matter if they were wearing pin-striped suits or white lab coats. They are all part of a world-wide conspiracy and he hates them:

“Yes I understand that the World Bank is yet another part of the left liberal slime that uses Climate Change to further its agenda. Do you think I have any respect fir these organisations at all?”

Poor Andy! How does he manage to get by in this complex world?

Who are the experts

I don’t think Andy really wants to know – but here’s some information on the people who actually produced the report.

The world bank commissioned the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and climate Analytics to prepare the report. The team of authors included:*

Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: has been Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) since he founded the institute in 1992. He is Professor for Theoretical Physics at the University of Potsdam and External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute, USA. Furthermore, he is Chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU).

Olivia Serdeczny: was born in 1982, has earned her MA Philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin and currently works as a research analyst for Professors Schellnhuber and Rahmstorf at the German Advisory Council on Global Change to the Federal Government (WBGU). In summer 2011 Olivia spent two months with the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research on board the research vessel Polarstern. She documented the cruise in several blog articles (all German)

Dr Dim Coumou: is a geophysicist by training, worked for a while as marine geophysicist in the offshore industry, before starting PhD research at ETH in Zurich. In Zurich, he worked on the development of efficient multiphase fluid flow transport schemes to study hydrothermal systems. More on hisPhD work can be found here and here.

In 2008, he joined PIK and is currently working on development of the atmospheric component of the next-generation Earth System model CLIMBER-3 (as part of PIK´s flagship project NEXT). This novel atmosphere model, Aeolus 1.0, treats the dynamical equations in a statistical way, which makes the model computationally very efficient compared to the more common general circulation type models. We can therefore study the sensitivity of atmospheric circulation to global mean temperature and other key parameters. Next, this newly developed model (a so-called Earth System Model of Intermediate Complexity – EMIC) should pave the way to efficiently study tipping elements in the Earth climate system, of which some could potentially cross a tipping point in the coming century due to anthopogenic forcings.

His recent work focused on the link between extreme weather events and global warming, which got some popular-media attention in e.g.  WIRED and FOCUS (in german). And his scientific interests include climate dynamics, extreme events, global warming, complex earth system, hydrothermal and geothermal systems. Technical interests include parallel programming, C++, object-oriented design, etc, etc, etc…

Dr Katja Frieler: Her current research focus includesdevelopment of impact functions that allow for probabilistic projections of regional climate changes and changes in the occurrence of extreme events in terms of global mean temperature change (see PRIMAP).

Dr Maria Martin: Maria Martin’s research focuses on the Antarctic sheet-shelf system.With others she developed the Potsdam Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM-PIK), a derived class of PISM (UAF, Alaska). She took part in a scientific expedition to Antarctica Nov. 2010 – Feb. 2011. Maria Martin also is Research Analyst in the Director’s Office at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research from April to December 2012.

Dr Ilona M. Otto: specializes in institutional and political economy. She investigates coordination mechanisms for provision of public and common goods such as biodiversity and water. Currently she is working in the Project on Sustainable Water and Agricultural Land Use in the Guanting Watershed under Limited Water Resources (www.Guanting.de). Her research in the Project focuses on governance of water resources, socio-economic impacts of water scarcity, and evaluation of possible adaptation options that could lead to a more sustainable water use in the Guanting Watershed.

Mahé Perrette: Is a PhD student working on probabilistic sea-level projections, both a the global (with Stefan Rahmstorf) and regional (with Malte Meinshausen) scales. His current project consists in developing a model for the outlet glaciers / fjord system of the Greenland ice-sheet, for a better representation of ice/ocean interactions (with Reinhard Calov and Andrey Ganopolski). He is also generally interested in combining climate models with past and present-day observations to reduce uncertainty in future sea-level projections and works in the PRIMAP group, with Stefan Rahmstorf as main supervisor.

Dr Alexander Robinson: His main interest lies with studying the interactions between the Greenland Ice Sheet and the climate. He is now employed as a post-doctoral researcher in the Paleo Modeling and Analysis (PalMA) group at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in the Department of Astrophysics and Atmospheric Science. Alexander is a guest scientist at PIK, collaborating with Andrey Ganopolski, Reinhard Calov, Stefan Rahmstorf, Dim Coumou and Anders Levermann, among others. In his Ph. D. work he, working with Andrey Ganopolski and Reinhard Calov, developed a simple regional energy-moisture balance model (REMBO) to produce realistic climate forcing and feedbacks over Greenland, given that warming in the future could drastically change the regional distribution of temperature and precipitation. The work was funded by the Marie Curie 6th Framework Programme and was a part of the Network for Ice sheet and Climate Interactions (NICE).

Jacob Schewe: researches in the areas of stability of monsoon circulations, global oceanic overturning (with Prof. Dr. Anders Levermann), and climate impacts (within the ISI-MIP project).

Dr Lila Warszawski: works on climate impacts and vulnerabilities.

*Want to find out more about these scientists – click on the links to get CVs, publication lists, etc.

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