Misrepresentation of leaked review draft IPCC climate assessment report shows intellectual bankruptcy of global warming denialists

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“A draft of a major report on climate change, due to be published next year, has been leaked online. Climate-sceptic bloggers have seized on it, claiming that it admits that much of global warming has been caused by the sun's variability, not by greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the report says nothing of the kind,” reports New Scientist (UK).  “I think the most interesting aspect of how this has been blogged by the climate deniers is that it reveals how deeply in denial they are,” said Steve Sherwood, one of the authors of the report.

The denialists got it completely and obviously wrong in their misrepresentation of scientific findings discussed in the draft IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Multiple sources of reporting and commentary moved quickly to set the record straight. “A new IPCC report is due next fall. Look for more attempts to muddy and confuse the public about it," says Peter Sinclair at Climate Crocks.  "The reality-based community is, this time, prepared.”

A partial compendium of coverage and commentary on this most recent denialist gambit follows.

New Scientist (UK): Leaked IPCC report reaffirms dangerous climate change

A draft of a major report on climate change, due to be published next year, has been leaked online. Climate-sceptic bloggers have seized on it, claiming that it admits that much of global warming has been caused by the sun's variability, not by greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the report says nothing of the kind.

The Conversation (Australia): Human role in climate change now virtually certain: leaked IPCC report

A leaked draft report by the world’s top climate scientists has found that is virtually certain that humans are causing climate change but parts of it have been wildly misinterpreted by climate change deniers, experts said.

The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was prematurely published on a blog called Stop Green Suicide by blogger Alec Rawls, who obtained the document as a reviewer.

The draft report, which was still undergoing a peer review process, said that “there is consistent evidence from observations of a net energy uptake of the earth system due to an imbalance in the energy budget.”

“It is virtually certain that this is caused by human activities, primarily by the increase in CO2 concentrations. There is very high confidence that natural forcing contributes only a small fraction to this imbalance.”

Rawls drew attention to another part of the report about the effect of cosmic rays on global warming, saying in a statement that “admission of strong evidence for enhanced solar forcing changes everything.”

However, this section had been taken out of context and could not be used to cast doubt on the idea that human activity is warming the globe, said Steve Sherwood, one of the authors of the report and Co-Director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

“I think the most interesting aspect of how this has been blogged by the climate deniers is that it reveals how deeply in denial they are,” he said in an email to The Conversation.

“If they can look at a short section of a report and walk away believing it says the opposite of what it actually says, and if this spin can be uncritically echoed by very influential blogs like WattsUp, imagine how wildly they are misinterpreting the scientific evidence. This should open people’s eyes as to the credibility of the alternative ‘views’ they are serving up.”

Guardian (UK): Landmark climate change report leaked online

Guardian (UK): Global warming is not due to the sun, confirms leaked IPCC report -- Climate sceptics' claims that UN climate science panel's AR5 report show the sun is causing global warming don't stack up

DeSmogBlog: Major IPCC Report Draft Leaked Then Cherry-Picked By Climate Sceptics

What this leak … shows is the tendency by some to dishonestly engage in an open process and to cherry-pick "facts" about climate change to suit their own arguments, while failing to consider the full body of evidence.

Skeptical Science: IPCC Draft Report Leaked, Shows Global Warming is NOT Due to the Sun

Alec Rawls, an occasional guest poster on the climate contrarian blog WattsUpWithThat who signed up to review the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (as anyone can), has "leaked" a draft version of the report and declared that it "contains game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing."  This assertion was then repeated by James Delingpole at The Telegraph (with some added colorful language), and probably on many other climate contrarian blogs.

If the IPCC was to report that the sun is a significant player in the current rapid global warming, that would indeed be major news, because the body of peer-reviewed scientific literature and data clearly show that the sun has made little if any contribution to the observed global warming over the past 50+ years (Figure 1).

So why would the latest IPCC report contradict these studies when its purpose is to summarize the latest and greatest scientific research?  The answer is simple — it doesn't.  Rawls has completely misrepresented the IPCC report. …

To sum up,

  • The leaked IPCC report states that there may be some connection between GCRs and some aspects of the climate system.
  • However, the report is also consistent with the body of scientific literature in stating that research indicates GCRs are not effective at seeding clouds and have very little influence on global temperatures.
  • Solar activity has been nearly flat and slightly decreasing in recent decades, meaning that if GCRs do amplify solar influences on climate, they are amplifying a cooling effect.

The body of peer-reviewed scientific literature is very clear: human greenhouse gas emissions, not solar activity or galactic cosmic rays, are causing global warming.  The leaked IPCC report is entirely consistent with this conclusion.  In fact, in attempting to argue to the contrary, Rawls has scored an own goal by showing that if anything, GCRs are currently amplifying a solar cooling effect.

Climate Progress: Leaked IPCC Draft Report: Recent Warming Is Manmade, Cloud Feedback Is Positive, Inaction Is Suicidal

The draft 2013 Fifth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leaked this week makes clear inaction on climate change would be devastating to modern civilization. The report finds that the human fingerprint on climate has grown more obvious, concluding “it is virtually certain” the energy imbalance that causes global warming “is caused by human activities, primarily by the increase in CO2 concentrations. There is very high confidence that natural forcing contributes only a small fraction to this imbalance.”

Yes, I know, the easily-duped deniers and their media stooges have reported the opposite is true, that solar forcing has been a significant driver of recent warming, but the deniers are as likely to be right as the flat earthers. The only question is why anyone still listens to them.

Australian Broadcasting: Draft IPCC Report Leaked (good interviews)

Climate Crocks: Deniers Reach For Cherry, Come up with Pits

The climate denial clown car careens onward.  In breathless, puffed-up prose, the bizarro-sphere was buzzing last night about a “game changing” passage in a draft IPCC document, posted online by a self promoting would-be “mole” in the IPCC review process.

A new IPCC report is due next fall. Look for more attempts to muddy and confuse the public about it.  The reality-based community is, this time, prepared.

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