Leading Scientists Debunk Ridley Piece, Even Climatologist Cited By Ridley Says He “Is Just Plain Wrong About Future Warming”
Memo to media, deniers: “Climate sensitivity” is NOT the same as projected future warming!
Projected warming even with (an unlikely) low climate sensitivity of between 1.5°C and 2.0°C from Michael Schlesinger et al 2012. A WSJ op-ed that cites this work absurdly concludes “Evidence points to a further rise of just 1°C by 2100.” Not even close — one of the key math errors in the piece.
Every major projection of future warming makes clear that if we keep listening to the falsehoods of the anti-science crowd and keep taking no serious action to reduce carbon pollution we face catastrophic 9°F to 11°F [5°C to 6°C] warming over most of the U.S. (see literature review here).
The Wall Street Journal, however, has published a piece, “Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change,” that (falsely) asserts observations suggest global warming will be so low as to “be benificial.” This risible piece by Matt Ridley is so riddled with basic math and science errors it raises the question of how the Journal can possibly maintain its reputation as a credible source of news and financial analysis.
Ridley and the Journal apparently don’t know the difference between water vapor and clouds. They don’t understand the basic concept of climate sensitivity. And they can’t do simple math. Naturally, the climate deniers have embraced this nonsense and spread it across the internet.
UPDATE: Ridley has made an even more self-defaming response at Bishop Hill’s blog and WattsUpWithDisinformation. He doesn’t actually refute any of my points– just repeats his mistakes. His piece proves once and for all that Ridley doesn’t know the first thing about climate science or the IPCC. As but the most astounding example, in my debunking below I explicitly quote the IPCC’s draft Fifth Assessment (AR5) — “the new IPCC draft report, upon which Ridley makes all his claims” — which summarizes the recent literature on clouds this way: “The net radiative feedback due to all cloud types is likely positive.” Ridley then absurdly asserts “He gives no backing for this dogmatic conclusion.” Seriously. It’s like he never read my piece — or the AR5! And he apparently thinks you can’t read either! I must say it is shocking that Bishop Hill would print such an easily falsifiable claim. It is not shocking Watts would.
I wasn’t going to waste time with the umpteenth debunking of the Wall Street Journal‘s nonsense — especially a piece written by someone whose “family leases land for coal mining”! But one of Ridley’s many basic mistakes is often seen in the media — the confusion of the “climate sensitivity” (to a doubling of CO2 levels to 560 parts per million) with projected warming (from actual greenhouse gas levels projected for this century plus carbon cycle feedbacks). That confusion needs clearing up (again).
First, though, let me start by quoting some of the country’s leading climate experts in an excellent debunking piece by Media Matters, “WSJ’s Climate ‘Dynamite’ Is A Dud“: