When the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases a report, it’s safe to say it’s a pretty big deal. For the one released Monday, more than 1,271 people were nominated to partake in its writing, of which 309 were chosen as lead authors, and 436 as contributing authors. Just to drive the point home a little further: 745 men and women from at least 73 different nationalities took part in writing the latest IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. It was an enormous, momentous effort in scientific consensus.
With that in mind, it is only more mind-boggling when the importance of this gargantuan undertaking is downplayed and misinterpreted, most generally by members of a conservative blogosphere who routinely seek to ignore the realities of climate science, nit-picking at inherently cautious scientific language for any sign that there may be some doubt; that maybe climate change isn’t so bad; that maybe we can keep extracting carbon reserves without atmospheric punishment.
For a look at what the report actually says, click here. Read on for a look at some of the day’s worst offenders.
Delingpole’s analysis — published before the report was released — hones in on one statistic which purportedly found that “a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century will cost the world economy between just 0.2 and 2 percent of its GDP.”
This is apparently a “huge blow” to “everyone from the Prince of Wales to Al Gore” who argue that climate change will be disastrous and that we have to work to combat it. The average GDP will be fine, Delingpole argues, and therefore everything else will be too.
Note: A 2.5 degree Celsius rise by 2100 is a low-to-moderate emissions scenario, which the IPCC states will only take place if we take significant action on climate mitigation. Though the IPCC does not quantify projected GDP costs for a temperature rise of about 2.5 degrees Celsius, it does say this: Under a high-emissions scenario, “the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year is projected to compromise normal human activities, including growing food or working outdoors.” No mention of that in Delingpole’s piece.
Matt Ridley’s article makes some of the same points as Delingpole’s, but focuses in on this very optimistic point: “Over the next several generations,” he writes, “the overall effect of climate change will be positive for humankind and the planet.”
To make this claim, Ridley cites not the IPCC — which conservatively projects close to 4 degrees Celsius of warming by about 2100 under a business-as-usual emissions scenario — but an entirely different survey projecting a 1 degree Celsius warming rate by 2090.
The IPCC’s cautious nature assumes that we will undertake emissions-reductions technologies and mitigate our effect on the climate. If we do that, the IPCC estimates, we have a chance at dodging the truly detrimental impacts of climate change. But reports like Ridley’s only make that business-as-usual 4 degree Celsius warming scenario more likely. If everyone falsely assumes climate change will be positive, then there is no incentive for mitigation, and the catastrophic 4 degree scenario becomes even more likely to occur.
There is a great deal of misinformation-laden tweets coming from JunkScience.com’s Twitter feed this week, but this one is arguably the worst, comparing the IPCC’s recommendation for aggressive climate change adaptation and mitigation techniques to a thousand-year reign of Nazi supremacy.
Our summary comment on IPCC report: Most imbecilic vision for future since the COMMINTERN and the THOUSAND YEAR REICH.
— JunkScience.com (@JunkScience) March 31, 2014
Marc Morano, honored with Media Matters’ 2012 award for Climate Change Misinformer of the Year, opines that the nearly-800 scientists who authored the U.N. report are in fact not scientists, but a “political body masquerading as a ‘science’ body.” He says the U.N. doesn’t want you to look at temperature statistics, but at whether “your local Chipotle is serving guacamole.”
In fact, it was actually ClimateProgress that wanted you to look at that.
This is an article on a 1079-page report called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), released the same day as the IPCC report, criticizing the IPCC report’s science.
The study was funded completely by The Heartland Institute — a think tank that has questioned both climate change and the dangers of second-hand smoke. Joseph Bast, the Institute’s president and co-founder, has called the IPCC “a joke in the scientific community,” and equated people who believe in global warming to the Unabomber.
Heartland has wound up losing sponsors and more than $800,000 exactly because of its extremist position on the climate, but it has retained support from the coal industry, among other fossil fuel interests.