The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued another large research result showing a unanimous decision that humans are causing global warming… they are 95% confident in that conclusion. Not all that surprising since many of these scientists have been talking about this for decades and have slowly become more confident that humans are the one and only cause. But what was really surprising to me was how confident they are about it… 95%... hmmmmmm... So what has changed since their last result giving them so much confidence?? Quite literally nothing… Yep, you read that right, absolutely nothing.
Now, I want to be clear… there isn't anything in their report that can be refuted with any certainty... it is all considered to be a scientific hypothesis. According to our own technological calculations, the global temperatures are rising, ice sheets are receding, there has been less snow extent in the Northern Hemisphere in the last couple of decades, heat waves have seemed more aggressive, greenhouse gas emissions are rising, humans are polluting the earth. But there is a lot that they don't mention. They say nothing about hurricanes, which in their last report stated that these would become more frequent and more intense… for the moment it has been quite the opposite. They also leave out that the Antarctic ice sheet has been growing for several years, and that it has recorded a record high winter extent the last three years running. The oceans are rising, but far slower than they had predicted in the past. They don't even make mention of normal climate variability that shows natural warming and cooling since the Earth was made (this is responsible for the countless ice ages and hot periods). But more importantly, they still aren't accounting for one undeniable fact… many of our measurements come from instruments that are in heavily populated areas that continue to grow, OR have been placed so recently in parts of the planet that they have just a few years of data to draw a conclusion. Now most of the longest official records are located at giant asphalt laden airports in cities that continue to grow and airports that continue to expand. More asphalt and concrete means more heat locally… this would show up on all of those observations made at an airport as a rise in temperature over decades of time. We have no idea how these local effects change the overall heat structure of the atmosphere. These observations would account for AT LEAST some of their "calculated rise in temperatures" over the past 50 years. But even more astonishing is that they can make any conclusion at all with 95% confidence.
We have about 150 years of physical records with sensors and thermometers starting to be installed in the 1850's. But we have all of 30 years of really accurate measurements when the computer era started. This means we have data for 150 years of the planets 5 billion year existence… that's not exactly what you would call a good record base. Even IF you include the rough estimate of weather patterns found in records since man started walking the earth or even the ice cores that have been drilled out of Antarctica and show up to one hundred thousand years of the very basic composition of the atmosphere, you are only able to see about .002% of Earth's history. Clearly far less if you want verifiable temperature and precipitation records. In any other part of life, if you had just .002% of the information given to you, would you be able to come to a conclusion with 95% accuracy?? I wouldn't want to leap that far.
As for greenhouse gas emissions… yes, logic tells us that they are rising because of the significant burning of fossil fuels starting with the industrial revolution, which can't exactly be good for the environment. But can we really say with any confidence how much of an effect this will have on the planet?
Just food for thought when you read the following conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I am NOT saying that it isn't happening. What I am saying is that I would want more information before drawing a 95% confident conclusion… and unfortunately, that only comes with time. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind…
Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years (medium confidence). Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.
Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence).
The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m.
The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.
Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750. Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.
Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence).
Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in the Earth's energy budget together provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing.
Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 for all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. It is likely to exceed 2°C for RCP6.0 and RCP8.5, and more likely than not to exceed 2°C for RCP4.5.
Warming will continue beyond 2100 under all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to-decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.
Changes in the global water cycle in response to the warming over the 21st century will not be uniform. The contrast in precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions.
The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation. It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.
Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century. Under all RCP scenarios the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets.
Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification. Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.