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It provides, in my opinion, the most accurate portrayal of the scientific debates surrounding climate change.
While each of the six scientists agreed on the primary scientific evidence, we each had a unique perspective on how to reason about the evidence, what conclusions could be drawn and with what level of certainty.
“One of them is the huge uncertainties even in the historical forcings,” he said.
Commenting on the “structural certainty” of climate models, he observed that there were “a number of processes in the climate system we just do not understand from basic physical principles. We understand a lot of the physics in its basic form.
This essay by Rupert Darwall explores the expressions of public certainty by climate scientists versus the private expressions of uncertainty, in context of a small Workshop on Climate organized by the American Physical Society (APS).
Rupert Darwall’s essay provides a timely and cogent argument for a red/blue team assessment of climate change that provides both sides with an impartial forum to ask questions and probe the other side’s case. Global warming mitigation policies depend on the credibility and integrity of climate science.
Such an assessment would both advance the science and open up the policy deliberations to a much broader range of options. In turn, that depends on a deterministic model of the climate system in which it is possible to quantify the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) with a high degree of confidence.
Steven Koonin, chairing the APS workshop, read an extract from chapter 10 of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.
Model-simulated responses to forcings—including greenhouse gas forcings—“can be scaled up or down.” To match observations, some of the forcings in some of the models had to be scaled down.
While the IPCC is extremely certain that the late 20th century warming is mostly man-made, to this day it cannot collectively decide whether the earlier warming, which is of similar magnitude to the one that started in the mid-1970s, is predominantly man-made or natural.