Back in the mists of time, the television show Ally McBeal popularized the one-word dismissal of all past wrongs–‘Bygones.’ Where normal people would offer an apology and attempt to make things whole, a senior lawyer would, when confronted with mistakes or misdeeds, just utter the magic word and expect everyone to get on with their lives.
He wasn’t the hero.
Yesterday in comments to a previous post, Michael Tobis of Only In It For The Gold made a number of surprising assertions, which I’ll discuss in a moment. But what really struck me is that he is willing to throw under the bus entire lines of argumentation regarding sensitivity and temperature rises that inspired endless debate, name calling and accusations of climate denial and utter, base ignorance.
The Alarmist Brigade, which I have taken to calling Klimate Kultists, are the ones who made those arguments and uttered most of the insults. They insisted that the sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2 was the key metric in climate change and that it was obviously high. Cuz their models told them so.
Now, observation-based models strongly suggest that sensitivity is low. Well, duh. 18 years with almost no increase in temperatures accompanied by the emission of almost one-third of all the CO2 humans have emitted throughout history will kind of wake most of us up.
But not the Klimate Kultists. They are now engaged in a campaign to pretend sensitivity doesn’t matter–and hilariously, that it never mattered.
They have replaced their devotion to sensitivity with a dogmatic belief in an artificially constructed forcing figure, the RCP 8.5 monstrosity I have discussed frequently. (Basically, a team of scientists was given a forcing figure–8.5 watts per square meter–and a date–2100–and told to develop inputs for climate models based on those two assumptions. They were asked for, but have not yet delivered, narratives that showed how this could plausibly happen. In everything this team of scientists have written they have explicitly said they were not predictions or projections. They started with the conclusion as a given. But that hasn’t stopped Klimate Kultists from treating the one with the highest forcing as gospel truth.)
Based on this artificial end-point to the data, Tobis insists:
“The ECS is probably between 2.5 and 3, where it has always been.” No, Tobis. The ECS has been continually defined–and defined down.
Tobis says, “The extent of change can already be expected to be comparable in magnitude to the Milakovic cycle changes but much faster, leaving local adaptations, both artificial and natural, stressed and at risk of decline.”
Measured peak to trough, the Milankovitch cycle appears to correspond with about 11C of temperature change at its strongest. The smallest change peak to trough looks like 6C. If Tobis is suggesting that this will manifest in a short period of time due to climate change, he is not basing that suggestion on either observation or model output.
Sensitivity still matters. It matters to scientists trying to narrow the broad range of potential values–the IPCC still has it at between 1.5C and 4.5C, which is so broad that you can justify skeptics, lukewarmers and alarmists using a value potentially acceptable to the IPCC.
Sensitivity still matters to policy. If it is low, we will have to do less in the way of preparation and accommodation and we will have more time to make those preparations.
To suggest otherwise is daft. Tobis has been daft frequently in the past. He claims Peter Gleick and Stephan Lewandowsky as friends. One is a thief and a forger, the other a charlatan. He calls Michael Mann a ‘mensch,’ which basically redefines the term to include a whining, litigious, sloppy wannabe scientist under the rubric. All three have been conspicuously wrong on what Klimate Kultists want to call the defining issue of our age.
Temperature rises have not been notable. Nor has sea level rise. Drought, flooding, heatwaves, storm frequency and intensity are all within the range of historical variation. This is probably because sensitivity is quite low.
So Tobis wants to change the subject.