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 ( 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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9 responses to “Climate change deniers don’t understand expertise

  1. Andy.?…Just out of curiosity what are your qualifications regards your comment on the World Bank report? Is there a list of peer reviewed papers you contributed to the science of climate warming? Are you in a science field of work?

  2. Richard C (NZ)

    Ken, please explain why the World Bank’s Left hand is saying “Turn Down the Heat” while the right hand is busy financing coal-fired power with US$5.3bn?

    They seem to have a conflict of interest.

  3. I agree, Richard. It’s appears contradictory.

    So just as well to recognise that this report was prepared by scientists – not bankers. It’s a World Bank-commissioned report.

    I am not surprised to see such schizophrenic behaviour in an organisation. Realistically such organisations are often open to getting up-to-date scientific advice while at he same time following their capital driven agenda.

  4. Why Richard Cumming, you managed a post without including half a page of links to articles and papers that you haven’t read. Things are improving.

    Calling for change to a social or economic system while still operating within existing parameters and rules is nothing to go and wet your pants over. Is there anything in your observation that should concern people?

  5. Richard C (NZ)

    >”It’s appears contradictory”

    But on reflection it’s not contradictory at all is it? The World Bank (not a real bank) is simply an agent for lending out from capital supplied by the world’s governments (the five largest shareholders being France, Germany, Japan, UK and USA) and whatever other funds they can get their hands on (remembering that the survival of the organization is at stake). Their best chance of having capital plus interest returned is to lend to projects that make economic sense – like coal-fired power, that’s their mainstay.

    That latter funding source is where their Climate Change arm comes in. Given that it is operating in an ailing sector they need to drum up business with ‘Turn Down the Heat’ tactics to supplement and consolidate funds like the Green Climate Fund for which they are only interim administrator (and ticket clipper).

    Governments strapped for cash (especially Japan and US) have not been forthcoming with Green-dream billions so the World Bank is facing a dilemma: how to open the spigots of cash-strapped govts reluctant to dole out “green” funding to middlemen when those same govts could undertake aid projects themselves for the economic benefit of both parties (as they already do making the middlemen redundant)? Answer: commission (read “pay”) compliant “experts” to put together a scary scenario in the hope it will gain traction.

    There’s no contradiction then, in the agencies business promotion activities presenting an apparent duplicity if the promo is successful (no saying it will be). For the World Bank as an organization that would be win-win. Funding to administrate (clip ticket) for fossil-fueled power projects, funding to administrate (clip ticket) for climate change mitigation. Definitely win-win – like war – fund both sides.

  6. Ah, Richard, those (so-called “compliant”) experts. Someone has to stand up to them!

    Mind you – look at the contradictions when dogmatic ideology meets scientific expertise. Your mate Andy supports fossil fuel use to the hilt – but gets caught writing 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?”

    And isn’t that your schizophrenic position too, Richard? Biting the hand that feeds your climate change denial?

    You are caught in the conspiracy dilemma of having to describe scientific expertise as “compliant” and “manufacturing” “scary scenarios.” Yet you attempt to use science, and scientists, to critique well empirically supported scientists and science!

    So no wonder you demonstrate the typical tactics of ideological schizophrenia – selecting data, manufacturing “facts”, misinterpreting situations and all the time attacking and slandering honest scientists.

    Well, the NZ High Court gave you the full attention you deserve.

    When are you guys going to pay the legal expenses for your little legal escapade?

  7. Richard C (NZ)

    >”You are caught in the conspiracy dilemma…”

    Not me Ken, it’s the World Bank’s dilemma and consequent duplicity that’s been exposed as I’ve described above. If they really did believe the “science” they’ve purchased they wouldn’t be in the business of funding coal-fired power.

    But great for the developing countries benefiting from the construction of those fossil-fuel power stations nevertheless. Lifts them out of poverty which is just what the World Bank is endeavouring to achieve is it not?.

  8. Richard Cummings, It’s not a matter of the World Bank, or any individual “believing” the research they commissioned. (Read the report and you will find the usual weasel words denying responsibility that organisations like this use in their legalese).

    The fact is that they did commission experts and, especially with the consistency of scientific assessments in this area, one has to be a paranoid schizophrenic denier to reject their research out of hand. (Yes, I know you and your mates do fall into this group – hence your rejection of the research out of hand, and use of terms like “left liberal slime”).

    When people resort to words like “belief” rather than acceptance of scientific research I know they are on a denial journey, willing to disparage any honest person or finding that gets in their way. You are welcome to your own “beliefs” but not to your own facts.

    The key question is not belief but acceptance of expertise in good faith. Good faith is the thing that deniers seem to lack when it comes to science.

    Notice you avoid the issue of your group responsibility for the legal fees you have yet to pay!

  9. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “Today, I’m going to deny science”.
    Yet denialism is a real phenomena. People out there can be accurately labelled as deniers of science.
    In the same way that someone can deny they have cancer after they have heard the bad news from their doctor, one can deny that they have contracted AIDS.
    Nobody wants to hear bad news and some bad news is so bad that people respond to it irrationally.
    Climate denialism is real.
    On the one hand you have the vast body of scientific literature and scientific communities all over the planet telling you one thing, and on the other you have American “think tanks” and no-name blogs peddling conspiracy theories.
    In science, only the work matters.
    If you want to know one way or the other what’s happening with the Earths’ atmosphere, you have to go to the atmospheric scientists-all of them.
    If they don’t tell you what you want to hear then…that’s a problem.

    NASA might well be lying to you but it’s not just unlikely; it’s physically impossible.
    There no way to effectively set up a conspiracy to somehow fudge everything that they do and keep it under wraps from other people at NASA and the wider global scientific community in general.
    The same basic problems you have in explaining away NASA’s position on climate change are exactly the same problems you have in NASA’s position on whether or not they went to the moon.
    Conspiracy theories don’t work.

    That Mitchell and Webb Look – Moon Landing Sketch

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