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A security guard walks past the United Nations logo at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri A security guard walks past the United Nations logo at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, August 31, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri  

Report: UN officials hid overblown global warming estimates

The United Nations doesn’t want you to know the facts about global warming, according to a new report out of Europe.

Over the years climate scientists have been reducing their estimates of how much global warming will occur over the next 70 to 100 years if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were doubled — an estimate called “climate sensitivity.”

But readers of the most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment would be ignorant of this, according to a report by the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The IPCC’s fourth climate assessment in 2007 estimated that the Earth would warm 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century — this estimate was in a range of warming from 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius. But as the 2000s wore on and little warming occurred, climate scientists began to lower their climate sensitivity estimates from 3 to 2 degrees Celsius in a century and only 1.5 degrees of warming in the next 70 years.

But this revelation was only hinted at in the IPCC’s 2013 climate assessment. Instead of lowering their central climate sensitivity measure down from 3 degrees Celsius, the IPCC simply did not give a central estimate and just reduced its lower-bound warming estimate from 2 to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now the IPCC’s warming range for the next hundred years is 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius.

“Good empirical evidence of both long-term warming and that over a seventy year period now imply very different expectations of future warming than do climate models — some 40% to 50% lower to 2081-2100,” according to the study by independent UK climate scientist Nic Lewis and Dutch science writer Marcel Crok.

“This is almost certainly the most important finding of climate science in recent years, particularly since there are good reasons to doubt the reliability of climate model forecasts,” the authors continue.

“However, in its report the IPCC only alludes to this issue in an oblique fashion,” the authors add. “Moreover, rather than reducing its best estimate of climate sensitivity in the light of the new empirical estimates, it simply reduced the lower bound of the uncertainty range and omitted to give a best estimate, without adequately explaining why it had been necessary to do so.”

The IPCC only added a paragraph on why they did not give  central climate sensitivity estimate in the technical summary of its final report — published in January 2014, four months after the report’s initial release.

Climate sensitivity is used by policymakers to predict global temperature increases and economic costs, and therefore is a crucial estimate to nail down. In the U.S., the Obama administration is using the UN’s climate sensitivity measures to come up with its “social cost of carbon” (SCC) estimate, which applies monetary damages to each ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

Last year, the Obama administration raised the SCC from from $21 per ton to $37 per ton before the president went public with his plans to cut U.S. emissions 17 percent by 2020. Raising the SCC inflates the benefits of policies that reduce carbon emissions, therefore, giving more justification to Obama’s fight against global warming.

“The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way,” Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union Address. “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say, ‘Yes, we did.’”

But the recent GWPF report casts doubt on Obama’s justification for raising the SCC to $37 per ton, as it was based on the UN’s misleading climate assessment. If the IPCC can no longer give a central climate sensitivity estimate, can the Obama administration credibly peg a price to carbon dioxide emissions?

“It should be obvious that no SCC estimates should be published until a credible climate sensitivity probability distribution is developed,” wrote attorney Francis Menton in his comments to the White House on the SCC changes. “This multi- agency effort has relied on the IPCC work, but IPCC’s own results imply that the U.S. government should stop publishing any estimates of SCC until such a credible distribution exists.”

The Obama administration, however, has showed no indication that it intends to scale back its SCC estimate or scrap it altogether.

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