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February 09th 2013 print

Michael Kile

Weird-weather shenanigans: Part I

A cool day in summer, that's just weather. But a January scorcher, well that's a further symptom of mankind's toxic contempt for the planet we are killing with carbon emissions. If that sounds like a script, the reason is that it is


Climate models are complex. Fortunately, more of their creators – and promoters – are being forced to defend publicly their alleged powers of simulation, attribution and prediction. But be warned: the new analogy-diced-and-sliced, pseudo-predictive climate-speak is shrewdly crafted to be more persuasive, near-term relevant – and scarier.


“Loading-the-dice” recently drew ahead of "connecting the dots", "whatever the weather, it’s climate change" and "my way or the highway" as the favourite mantra for folk calling the climate shots down at the Carbon Cargo Cult Club (CCCC).

 

Load-the-dice: (Idiom.) 1. To put someone or something in a favourable or unfavourable position. 2. To affect or influence a result. Eg: Lack of sufficient disclosure loaded the dice against anyone seeking the truth. 3. (Gambling): To add weights to dice in order to bias them.  4. (Climate-speak): A rhetorical expression used to deceive the gullible, especially an audience involved in a climate-conversation with representatives of an alarmist government-funded agency.

 

How to do it: Decide what number (or outcome) you would like to try to roll with your dice. You can only weight it to increase the probability of one number. Decide what number would be most beneficial for you and your agency. Place it in a microwave for about twenty seconds; or leave them in a hot car with the value (or outcome) that you want facing the top. Let global warming do the rest.

For them, record cold snaps are “just weather”; a consequence of (unpredicted and unpredictable) “natural variability” overriding their warming “trend”.

Severe storms and heat waves, by contrast, are – “more likely than not” – increasing in frequency and intensity because of (dangerous anthropogenic) global warming (DAGW).

Whatever happens atmospherically, of course, is now an “event” and – yes – invariably “consistent with climate change” (DACC), or with “climate disruption” (DACD).

Another phenomenon recently appeared too in the “weird-weather” space. CCCC folk are keener to promote – yet oddly reluctant to question – the dodgy “attribution” claims being made for “extreme” weather events (EWEs) by researchers.

Extreme, adj. 1. being of a high or of the highest degree or intensity: extreme cold; extreme difficulty. 2. (often pl.) either of the two limits or ends of a scale or range of possibilities: extremes of temperature. 3. (IPCC) occurrence of a value of a weather or climate variable above (or below) a threshold value near the upper (or lower) ends of the range of observed values of the variable. 4. ~ event; in climate attribution studies, when a modeler – unable to simulate real-world events or to explain away an undesirable outcome – such as the possibility there may be nothing “wrong” with the planet’s climate – joins a carbon cargo cult in Ushuaia: “end of the world, beginning of everything”.

Today’s dicey-dialectic has been traced by semantic cyber-sleuths to a cabal launched four years ago: the Attribution of Climate-related Events (ACE) initiative.

ACE’s inaugural meeting was held in Boulder, Colorado, 26 January 2009, at the Pei-designed National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab. Attendees included Myles Allen (Oxford University), Martin Hoerling (NOAA, USA), Peter Stott (UK Met Office, Hadley Centre), Kevin Trenberth (NCAR) and David Karoly (University of Melbourne).

ACE later released a four-paragraph statement. Its mission would be: “to provide authoritative assessments of the causes of anomalous climate conditions and EWEs”, presumably for government agencies and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013/2014 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

ACE’s “conceptual framework for attribution activities” would be: “elevated in priority and visibility, leading to substantial increases in resources (funds, people and computers).” With both a research and operational dimension, it would provide “a lot more concrete information in near real-time about what [was not about to, but] has happened and why in weather and climate.”

Robust, adj. 1. strong in constitution, hardy; vigorous. 2. requiring or suited to physical strength. 3. (esp. of wines) having a rich full-bodied flavour. 4. rough or boisterous. 5. (of thought, intellect, etc.) straightforward and imbued with common sense. 6. (esp. of climate models) able to withstand scrutiny in any weather; eg: ~ prophecy: the art and practice of selling one’s credibility for future delivery.

But just how “robust” – one of orthodoxy’s favourite adjectives – was the climate modelling underpinning ACE’s grand design? How could it be sold to the public “in the face of continuing uncertainty?” The participants agreed they sure needed “increased real-time numerical experimentation activity” – and a (dicey) narrative to kick-start waning public interest.

There was concern, too, that everyone must sing from the same song-sheet: “A consistent use of terminology and close collaborative international teamwork will be required to maintain an authoritative voice when explaining complex multi-factorial events such as the recent Australian bushfires” (author’s italics).

Three years later, Dr Peter Stott, now Hadley Centre Head of climate monitoring and attribution, and eight colleagues, again stressed the importance of reining in mavericks and having a unified “authoritative voice”; this time in a conference paper.

“Unusual or extreme weather and climate-related events are of great public concern and interest,” they noted, "yet there are often conflicting messages from scientists about whether such events can be linked to climate change.”

“All too often the public receives contradictory messages from reputable experts. If the public hears that a particular weather event is consistent with climate change they may conclude that it is further proof of the immediate consequences of human-induced global warming. On the other hand, if the public hears that it is not possible to attribute an individual event, they may conclude that the uncertainties are such that nothing can be said authoritatively about the effects of climate change as actually experienced.” (author’s emphasis)

Whatever you do, don’t confuse the public with chatter about uncertainties!

Imagine the furore if too many folk begin to suspect that nothing "can be said authoritatively about climate change" other than that (unpredictable) change is what the planet’s climate (and weather) does and always has done. As for seeing extreme weather events as other than the consequences of their alleged human cause,  well members of the Carbon Cargo Cult Club would prefer that not be mentioned.

But why has there been an apparent shift of focus from long-term climate to near-term weather? Was there agency concern that public interest in the planet’s French-fry fate a century hence – or perhaps “as soon as 2060”, according to the Word Bank’s Potsdam consultants – was declining, especially with the lack of global warming since 1997?

Whatever the reason, expect the orthodoxy – together with the decarbonising political elite, carbon capitalists, militant environmentalists and apocalyptic religious groups – to increase propagation of  “loading-the-dice” rhetoric at every next storm, flood, drought, fire and nasty wind.

Tomorrow: Tricks of the Trade