Seven years after its last report in 2014 on the state of climate science (AR5) the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) will publish a report on Monday, updating the global public on the latest data, observations and predictions about climate change. But will it acknowledge reality?


Monday’s report is part of the final Sixth Assessment Report, or AR6, to be released in 2022. Two other chapters are due – on climate change impacts on communities, societies and economies and how they might adapt to cope, and another one on ways of curbing emissions and mitigating climate change.

The report is highly anticipated, particularly after being delayed for months because of the COVID pandemic. It is widely expected to say that “temperatures are rising more quickly than we thought” as the average global temperature has only continued to climb. As a result of this increase there has already been more deadly and disastrous weather around the world. The world’s glaciers are melting faster than ever and hurricanes are stronger. There have been unprecedented rains in Asia and Europe, as well as wildfires almost everywhere.

While AR5 said it was “extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the new report will use stronger language. Corinne Le Quéré from the University of East Anglia has been reported as saying, “Obviously, it is going to be stronger than what we had in the past because of the growing warming of the planet.”

As we anticipate dramatic headlines let’s just consider one small problem – global warming has not been accelerating since the last IPCC report. Quite the opposite.

Whatever else is said, asserted or implied, the basic annual average global temperature data is the bedrock upon which much of the IPCC assessment and its predictions should rest. The question is whether or not it will be represented accurately and fairly.

Consider the HadCRUT5 global temperature database maintained by the UK Met Office.

Global temperature 2000-2021; Source HadCrut5, Met Office

The data for this century shows several features; a long hiatus (2002 – 2014) that was acknowledged by the IPCC (but later denied by some scientists), an intense multi-phased El Nino event and its aftermath (2015 -2020) and now a recent decline to levels where they were when the IPCC published its last report. Unequivocal is not a word to describe this data.

2021

After six months 2021 looks set to be the coldest year since 2014 and possibly colder than 2010 and 2005. This year might be somewhere between the fifth and eighth warmest. Consider that against the claim that “global temperatures have never risen faster” meme.

It’s true that global temperatures have been depressed this year by a La Nina event, but between 2015 – 2020 the global temperatures were considerably boosted by the warmth of a record-setting El Nino event.

The heatwave in late-June in the north-west Pacific was exceptional with Portland setting a record of 47 degrees, surpassing its previous record by 5 degrees. Some scientists said it was “virtually impossible” at the 1-in-150,000 chance of it happening. Without global warming it would have happened once in a thousand years, they said, but in the future when the globe has warmed 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels it could occur as often as once every 5 years. I’m reminded that the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, they said.

In all the global temperature databases for the first 6 months of 2021 no individual month has been the warmest on record and although July seems to be warm globally it may well remain that way for the rest of the year.

So when you read the new IPCC report and take in the alarmist headlines it will undoubtedly generate, bear in mind that since its previous report in 2014 global temperatures have barely changed, and have declined from their El Nino-inspired peak of a few years ago.

Feedback: david.whitehouse@thegwpf.com

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August 6, 2021