In House Testimony, Botkin Dismantles the IPCC 2014 Report
Policycritic writes: You need to read this, Anthony. He dismantles the IPCC 2014 report for Congress.
“Daniel B. Botkin, a world-renowned ecologist, is Professor (Emeritus), Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara, and President of The Center for The Study of The Environment, which provides independent, science-based analyses of complex environmental issues. The New York Times said his book, Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century is considered by many ecologists to be the classic text of the [environmental] movement.” His Environmental Science, now in its Sixth Edition, was named 2004′s best textbook by the Textbook and Academic Authors Association.”
“Daniel B. Botkin是一位享誉世界的生态学家，也是加利福尼亚大学圣塔芭芭拉分校生态、进化和海洋生物学系荣休教授兼环境研究中心主任，该机构对复杂的环境问题进行独立的、基于科学的研究。《纽约时报》称，‘他的著作《不谐和的和谐：二十一世纪新生态学》被众多生态学家认可为环保运动经典教科书。’他的《环境科学》一书目前已出到第六版，该书曾被教科书及学术作家协会评选为２００４年度最佳教科书。”
Indeed, and I’ve made the full written testimony available, plus a video showing Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) poses questions to the witness panel at the Full Committee hearing titled, “Examining the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Process.” where he grills Daniel B. Botkin with idiotic questions like: ‘Doctor, do you look both ways before you cross the street?’
我找到了Botkin的书面证词全文，还有一段众议员Joe Kennedy（民主党，马塞诸塞州）的一个视频，内容是在主题为“审查联合国政府间气候变化专门委员会的工作进程”的全体委员会听证会上，对证人小组作出的提问。听证会上，Joe用诸如“博士，您过马路前两边都需要看吗？”等愚蠢问题刁难Daniel B. Botkin。
WRITTEN TESTIMONY TO THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY. MAY 29, 2014
DANIEL B. BOTKIN
证人：Daniel B. Botkin
Since 1968 I have published research on theoretical global warming, its potential ecological effects, and the implications for people and biodiversity. I have spent my career trying to help conserve our environment and its great diversity of species. In doing so I have always attempted to maintain an objective, intellectually honest, scientific approach in the best tradition of scientific endeavor.
I have, accordingly, been dismayed and disappointed in recent years that this subject has been converted into a political and ideological debate. I have colleagues on both sides of the debate and believe we should work together as scientists instead of arguing divisively about preconceived, emotionally based “positions.”
I hope my testifying here will help lead to a calmer, more rational approach to dealing with not only climate change but also other major environmental problems. The IPCC 2014 report does not have this kind of rational discussion we should be having. I would like to tell you why.
The IPCC 2014 report is actually a series of reports, each long, complex in organization, and extensive in scope. Since it’s not possible to discuss the Summary Reports for Policymakers in detail today, I will highlight some of my thoughts for you here as they relate to the reports, hoping to bring a saner, more sober approach to this highly charged issue.
To characterize where we are with this report and this issue, I would like to quote James R. Schlesinger, the first U.S. Energy Secretary, who said: “We have only two modes — complacency and panic.” — commenting on the country’s approach to energy (1977)
为了描述我们在这份报告以及这个问题上的处境，我想引用美国首任能源部长James R. Schlesinger于1977年就美国能源政策所做的评论，他说：“我们只有两种状态——怡然自得和惊慌失措。”
Now to my major points.
1.I want to state up front that we have been living through a warming trend driven by a variety of influences. However, it is my view that this is not unusual, and contrary to the characterizations by the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment, these environmental changes are not apocalyptic nor irreversible.
2.My biggest concern is that both the reports present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports are “scientific-sounding” rather than based on clearly settled facts or admitting their lack. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen usually think.
3.HAS IT BEEN WARMING? Yes, we have been living through a warming trend, no doubt about that. The rate of change we are experiencing is also not unprecedented, and the “mystery” of the warming “plateau” simply indicates the inherent complexity of our global biosphere. Change is normal, life on Earth is inherently risky; it always has been. The two reports, however, makes it seem that environmental change is apocalyptic and irreversible. It is not.
4.IS CLIMATE CHANGE VERY UNUSUAL? No, it has always undergone changes.
5.ARE GREENHOUSE GASES INCREASING? Yes, CO2 rapidly.
6.IS THERE GOOD SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON CLIMATE CHANGE?Yes, a great deal of it.
7.ARE THERE GOOD SCIENTISTS INVOLVED IN THE IPCC 2014 REPORT? Yes, the lead author of the Terrestrial (land) Ecosystem Report is Richard Betts, a coauthor of one my scientific papers about forecasting effects of global warming on biodiversity.
7.有优秀的科学家参与到IPCC 2014年度报告中吗？有，例如陆地生态系统报告的主要作者Richard Betts，他是我的一篇关于预测全球变暖对生物多样性的影响的科学论文的共同作者。
8.ARE THERE SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE STATEMENTS AT PLACES IN THE REPORT? Yes, there are.
9.What I sought to learn was the overall take-away that the reports leave with a reader. I regret to say that I was left with the impression that the reports overestimate the danger from human-induced climate change and do not contribute to our ability to solve major environmental problems. I am afraid that an “agenda” permeates the reports, an implication that humans and our activity are necessarily bad and ought to be curtailed.
10.ARE THERE MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH THE REPORTS? Yes, in assumptions, use of data, and conclusions.
11.My biggest concern about the reports is that they present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports, in other words, are “scientific- sounding,” rather than clearly settled and based on indisputable facts. Established facts about the global environment exist less often in science than laymen usually think.
12.The two reports assume and/or argue that the climate warming forecast by the global climate models is happening and will continue to happen and grow worse. Currently these predictions are way off the reality (Figure 1). Models, like all scientific theory, have to be tested against real-world observations. Experts in model validation say that the climate models frequently cited in the IPCC report are little if any validated. This means that as theory they are fundamentally scientifically unproven.
Figure 1: Climate model forecasts compared to real worldtemperature observations (From John Christy, University of Alabama and Alabama State Climatologist. Reproduced with permission from him.)
13.The reports suffers from the use term “climate change” with two meanings: natural and human-induced. These are both given as definitions in the IPCC report and are not distinguished in the text and therefore confuse a reader. (The Climate Change Assessment uses the term throughout including its title, but never defines it.) There are places in the reports where only the second meaning—human induced—makes sense, so that meaning has to be assumed. There are other places where either meaning could be applied.
In those places where either meaning can be interpreted, if the statement is assumed to be a natural change, then it is a truism, a basic characteristic of Earth’s environment and something people have always know and experienced. If the meaning is taken to be human-caused, then in spite of the assertions in the report, the available data do not support the statements.
14.Some of the reports conclusions are the opposite of those given in articles cited in defense of those conclusions.
For example, the IPCC 2014 Terrestrial Ecosystem Report states that “there is medium confidence that rapid change in the Arctic is affecting its animals. For example, seven of 19 subpopulations of the polar bear are declining in number” citing in support of this an article by Vongraven and Richardson, 2011. That report states the contrary, that the “‘decline’ is an illusion.
In addition, I have sought the available counts of the 19 subpopulations. Of these, only three have been counted twice; the rest have been counted once. Thus no rate of changes in the populations can be determined. The first count was done 1986 for one subpopulation.
The U. S. Marine Mammal Commission, charged with the conservation of this species, acknowledges“Accurate estimates of the current and historicsizes of polar bear stocks are difficult to obtain for several reasons–thespecies‘ inaccessible habitat, the movement of bears across internationalboundaries, and the costs of conducting surveys.”
According to Dr. Susan Crockford, “out of the 13 populations for whichsome kind of data exist, five populations are now classified by the PBSG [IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group] as ‘stable’ (two more than 2009),one is still increasing, and three have been upgraded from ‘declining’ to ‘datadeficient’… . That leaves four that are still considered‘declining’‐ two of those judgments are based primarily on concerns of overhunting, and one is based on a statistically insignificant decline that may not be valid and is being reassessed (and really should have been upgraded to ‘data deficient’). That leaves only one population – Western Hudson Bay – where PBSG biologists tenaciously blame global warming for all changes to polar bear biology, and even then, the data supporting that conclusion is still not available.”
根据Susan Crockford博士称，“在有部分数据的13个种群中，5个被PBSG【译注：PBSG，全称Polar Bear Specialist Group，是国际自然保护联盟物种存续委员会的北极熊专项小组】归为‘数量稳定’（比2009年多了两个），有1个数量仍在增加，有3个的数据信息从‘数量减少’更新为‘数据不足’……这样，被认为数量正在减少的就只剩下4个，其中有2个主要是受到过度捕猎的影响，另1个种群的数量减少在统计意义上则并不显著，这一数据信息可能无效，正在被重新评估（实在应该被更新为“数据不足”）。这样，唯一剩下的就是西哈德森湾种群。当地的所有北极熊生物学变化都被PBSG的生物学家坚定地归咎于全球变暖，而即便如此，仍然没有充分数据支持这一结论。”
Polar Bear Status (Source: Polar Bear Science Website.)
15.Some conclusions contradict and are ignorant of the best statistically valid observations. For example, the Terrestrial Ecosystems Report states that “terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems have sequestered about a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by human activities in the past three decades (high confidence).”
I have done the first statistically valid estimate of carbon storage and uptake for any large area of Earth’s land, the boreal forests and eastern deciduous forest of North America, and subtropical forests in Queensland, Australia.
The estimates of carbon uptake by vegetation used by IPCC and in major articles cited by the reports are based on what can best be called “grab samples,” a relatively small number of studies done at a variety of times using a variety of methods, mainly in old- growth areas. The results reported by IPCC overestimate carbon storage and uptake by as much as 300 percent.
16.The report for policy makers on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability repeats the assertion of previous IPCC reports that “large fraction of species” face “increase extinction risks” (p15). Overwhelming evidence contradicts this assertion. And it has been clearly shown that models used to make these forecasts, such as climate envelope models and species-area curve models, make incorrect assumptions that lead to erroneous conclusions, over-estimating extinction risks.
Surprisingly few species became extinct during the past 2.5 million years, a period encompassing several ice ages and warm periods.Among other sources, this is based on information in the book Climate Change and Biodiversity edited by Thomas Lovejoy, one of the leaders in the conservation of biodiversity. The major species known to have gone extinct during this period are 40 species of large mammals in North America and Northern Europe. (There is a “background” extinction rate for eukaryotic species of roughly one species per year.)
17.THE REPORT GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT LIVING THINGS ARE FRAGILE AND RIGID, unable to deal with change. The opposite is to case. Life is persistent, adaptable, adjustable.
18.STEADY-STATE ASSUMPTION: There is an overall assumption in the IPCC 2014 report and the Climate Change Assessment that all change is negative and undesirable; that it is ecologically and evolutionarily unnatural, bad for populations, species, ecosystems, for all life on planet Earth, including people. This is the opposite of the reality: The environment has always changed and is always changing, and living things have had to adapt to these changes. Interestingly, many, if not most, species that I have worked on or otherwise know about require environmental change.
19.The summary for policy makers on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability makes repeated use of the term “irreversible” changes. A species going extinct is irreversible, but little else about the environment is irreversible. The past confirms this. Glaciers have come and gone repeatedly. The Northwest Passage of North America has gone and come again. The average temperature has greatly exceeded the present and forecasted and has declined only to rise again.
Implicit in this repeated use of irreversible is the belief that Earth’s environment is constant — stable, unchanging — except when subjected to human actions.This is obviously false from many lines of evidence, including the simple experience of all people who have lived before the scientific-industrial age and those who live now and so such work as farm, manage rivers, wildlife and forests.
20.The extreme overemphasis on human-induced global warming has taken our attention away from many environmental issues that used to be front and center but have been pretty much ignored in the 21st century. The Terrestrial report in a sense acknowledges this, for example by stating: “Climate stresses occur alongside other anthropogenic influences on ecosystems, including land-use changes, nonnative species, and pollution, and in many cases will exacerbate these pressures (very high confidence).”
21.Do the problems with these reports mean that we can or should abandon any concerns about global warming or abandon any research about it?Certainly not, but we need to put this issue within an appropriate priority with other major here-and-now environmental issues that are having immediate effects.
22.The concerns I have mentioned with the IPCC apply as well to the White House’s National Climate Assessment. I reviewed and provided comments on the draft White House’s National Climate assessment and, unfortunately, it appears that these issues have not been addressed in the final assessment. For example, I stated:
“The executive summary is a political statement, not a scientific statement. It is filled with misstatements contradicted by well-established and well-known scientific papers.”
“Climate has always affected people and all life on Earth, so it isn’t new to say it is ‘already affecting the American people.’ This is just a political statement.”
“It is inappropriate to use short-term changes in weather as an indication one way or another about persistent climate change.”
WHAT HAS GONE WRONG, AND HOW TO FIX IT
1.Rather than focus on key, specific and tractable aspects of climate-change science, the long-term approach throughout the 20th century was to try to create de nova a complete model of the climate.
2.This approach has been taken despite a lack of focus on monitoring key variables over time in statistically and scientifically valid ways, e. g. carbon sequestering by forests; polar bear population counts. As a result, there is an odd disconnect between theory and observation. The attempt to create complete models of every aspect of climate has meant that many factors had to be guessed at, rather than using the best scientific methods. Too many guesses, too little checking against real, observed effects.
3.The IPCC reports are the result of a very large number of people doing long reviews of the scientific literature. This easily leads to people being so overburdened that they misinterpret specific papers, fail to understand where the major observational gaps are, and have trouble making an accurate list of citations and all sources of information. The fundamental IPCC and White House Climate Change Assessment approach has been to gather a huge number of scientists from a large number of disciplines, on the assumption that a kind of crowd approach to what can be agreed on is the same as true scientific advance. While this might seem a reasonable and effective approach, there is some danger in relying on this “crowd-sourced” model of information sharing.
Groups of people, particularly when credentialed “experts” are involved, are very prone to a condition called an “information cascade” in which error is compounded by group think, assumptions become unchallenged “fact” and observations play second fiddle to unchallenged models.
The excellent scientists involved with the IPCC reports are no less prone to this than the excellent scientists who relied on Aristotelian models of a geocentric universe. Entrenched beliefs are hard to extricate, even amongst supposedly rational thinkers. This is probably in part responsible for the problems listed with the White House Climate Assessment report’s table of Biological Effects, discussed in my document reviewing that report.
4.What a scientist discovers is different from what a scientist says. The first is science, the second is opinion. Have small groups of scientists work on this problem, no more than can easily argue with one another, that is less than 20 and preferably even smaller, representing the primary disciplines. Divide the problem into areas, rather than try to answer all questions in one analysis. I have used this approach in my own work and found it to be successful.
5.The desire to do good has ironically overridden the desire to do the best science.
6.Under the weight of this kind of crowd rule and approach, some specific alternative approaches to the science of climate change, have not been allowed to rise to the surface.
7.Among the approaches that would improve climate science:
a.Return to the former reliance on science done by individuals and small groups with a common specific interest and focus.
b.Change the approach from trying to make a complete, definitive model of every aspect of climate to a different level. See kinds of models that explore specific possibilities and phenomena.
c.Get out of the blame game. None of the above suggestions can work as long as global warming remains a moral, political, ideologically dominated topic, with scientists pushed into, or at least viewed as, being either for or against a single point of view.
9.We need to focus again on major environmental Issues that need our attention now (see the list above).
10.ARE THERE EXAMPLES OF THE KIND OF RESEARCH I BELIEVE WE NEED MORE OF? YES.
a.NASA Carbon Monitoring System (CMS)
b. Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study
c. Whooping Crane monitoring, e.g. of an endangered species
d. In-place monitoring on carbon flux, being done by the USGS in the Great Cypress Swamp, Florida.
e. Many others.