"The New Middle is Old and Should be Laid to Rest"
Realclimate has a post critiquing a recent Andy Revkin article in the New York Times that was titled “A New Middle Stance Emerges in Debate over Climate.”
I must side with Realclimate here. The Revkin article begins:
Amid the shouting lately about whether global warming is a human-caused catastrophe or a hoax, some usually staid climate scientists in the usually invisible middle are speaking up.
This is a bizarre statement for three reasons. First, it is the media which insists on quoting the extreme opinions on both sides. So this lede is truly the pot calling itself boiling mad: “I’m shocked, shocked that the media has polarized the issue.”
Second, the “invisible middle” is in fact the highly visible consensus created by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments–the starting ground for all arguments.
Third, global warming will be “a human-caused catastrophe” if we fail to act within the next decade. What is emerging among the dozens of climate scientists that I talked to for my book Hell and High Water, is the exact opposite of what Revkin wrote. Louis Fortier, Canada Research Chair on the Response of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change at Universite Laval, echoed the thinking of many when he said at a June 15, 2006 transatlantic conference I attended:
The ongoing Arctic warming corresponds to the predictions of the more pessimistic climate models. By extension, the pessimistic scenarios of climate change can be expected to unfold in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.
ClimateProgress has posted on this subject many times, including “Ten Reasons Why Climate Change May Be More Severe than Projected” and “The Permafrost is not so Perma.” It is always a surprise to people when I tell them that no IPCC models include the feedback from a melting permafrost, and thus all the models severely underestimate likely future impacts.
Ironically, then, if we listen to the people telling us we don’t have to act urgently now, we will be guaranteeing the worst-case scenario of global warming impacts and thus proving the “extremists” were right.