Bipolar reporting of scientific certainty

bipolar reporting

Picture my surprise when I read this in the newspaper a couple days ago: “Mini ice age coming in the next 15 years” (Dutch)… It presents the results of the research of Professor Zharkova, who predicts that the activity of the sun will diminish with 60 percent by 2030, which will give rise to a “Maunder minimum” style event with extremely severe winters. She comes to this conclusion on basis of a new and improved model of sun cycles.

The feeling is double. In a way, I am pleased to hear that attention is given to another side. This is a rare occasion where one find a different message than the global warming meme, certainly now in the running up to Paris when the media are hyping scaring stories even more.

However, I am less pleased to notice this makes EXACTLY the same mistakes as global warming reporting. Just look how it starts (translated from Dutch):

We will face a new Little Ice Age in the next fifteen year.

That is putting it with an incredible high level of certainty. There is nothing in that sentence that expresses any kind of doubt or uncertainty. According to the scientist, or interpretated by the reporter, this is what WILL happen. Very comparable with the global warming reporting in which claims are made in no uncertain terms.

I have no idea how good this new model is. Maybe it is extraordinary in its capabilities and manages to do where other models fail. But even if we can be pretty sure of the predictions what the sun will do in 2030, that is still far cry from being able to use this solar activity to predict how climate will react in the next fifteen years. The sun is definitely a piece of the complex climate puzzle, as is CO2, but claiming to know how climate is going to act within fifteen years is rather tricky to say the least. That is exactly the same arrogance as claiming to know what the climate will do on basis of changing CO2 levels.

If we look at the reactions of the public on this article, then we see quite some reactions like “Warmer or colder? What is it?”, “Hey guys, make up your mind” or “Yeah, we will see”. But also the “Wait until the warming comes back, we will fry”. Which is not surprising. We got to hear in no uncertain terms that temperatures are going up in the run up to 2050, 2100, … take your pick, that this will have a serious impact and we should urgently do things to prevent it.

Now we get to hear in the same absolute terms that we will get Little Ice Age style conditions within the next fifteen years on basis of a model.

The good thing of course is that the public can see there is more than that one side of the story that is usually told. The bad thing is that it is still not honest reporting.


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