After writing previous post I bumped into the blog post titled: Reminder: Things Have Gotten Much Worse Since An Inconvenient Truth. As the title suggest, the post explains that things got worse after the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” came out in 2006. It starts with a fiery hot chart followed by a bold introduction (my emphasis):
In 2006, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth spread the idea of human-caused climate change far and wide in what is now considered a watershed moment for the science. But today, on the ten-year anniversary of the film’s release, we’ve made little progress toward addressing the grave planetary concerns Gore raised. In fact, by practically every metric, things have gotten much worse.
Much worse? By practically every metric? That is interesting. There are many things that have been invalidated after the movie came out, like for example the melting of Kilimanjaro snow (which had nothing to do with global warming anyway and reversed), a 20 foot sea level rise (which is way off anything projected and reality), low-lying Pacific atolls will drown (rather unlikely because these are atolls, not islands), polar bear dying, hurricanes getting stronger (on the contrary), droughts getting worse, shutting down the ocean conveyor and so on. So, by practically every metric, really?
The author first starts to explain that emissions have risen steadily, as has atmospheric CO2. Both statements are true, but correlation is not necessarily causation. She continues that this made the temperature to go up, culminating in the hottest years 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the making. The data sets being used are NOAA GlobalTEMP, NASA GISTEMP and UKMO HadCrut. All surface temperature data sets. According to me these are the least accurate ones. These are not measurements, but estimates and riddled with things like incomplete and uneven spatial coverage, convenience sampling and other measurement biases like Urban Heat Island, Time of Observation and so on. It were only these data sets that had these years as hottest year. Satellite data sets disagreed on this one, but were not mentioned.
I seen that before. The author of this article just relies on the most unreliable and heavily adjusted data sets, ignored other sources like the satellite datasets which, contrary to the surface data sets, are actually global.
Luckily, the author of the article also explained what those metrics were exactly. Some of them surprised me, like droughts and extreme storms. As far as I know droughts were not increasing on a global scale (red vertical line indicates May 2006: the time An Inconvenient Truth came out):
Unless there was a remarkable change in the last years, droughts stayed roughly the same or if there is a trend it seems to be down.
Also, as far as I know, there is not much change in frequency or strength of storms, at least not globally.
So how could the author then claim that these became much worse since 2006? Luckily there were some links to explain this worsening.
The link to the increasing extreme storms argument was about ONE storm: Hurricane Patricia. I have no problem believing that Patricia was a strong storm, but that storm alone doesn’t prove that storms got worse since 2006.
The link of the droughts went to a page about ONE drought period in ONE US state (California).
What about the other metrics? Heat waves went to a page describing ONE heat wave (May 2015) in ONE country (India).
The page of the sea level rise was puzzling. It was about global sea levels that are expected to rise over 90 cm in coming generations. I am not really sure how this proves that things have gotten much worse since 2006. It only says that in the future “over coming generations” sea level rise MIGHT get worse.
The link of “Rapid polar ice sheet melting went to a page titled Greenland’s Ice Sheets Are Getting Cooked By Warm Ocean Currents about ice sheets being carved away faster and more dramatically than was expected by warm currents pushing up from the tropics. To support this, there is a link to the NOAA project called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)” that will observe the changing temperature of the currents over a five year period, starting from April 2015. This will lead to more understanding of this phenomenon. Wonderful how Gizmodo already know that it is worse than expected, even before the data came in.
The link of wildfires went to a page about Megafires. In the linked article (with the catchy title “Climate Change Is Literally Setting The World On Fire”) was referred to one article in which was said that, according to weather data, wildfires could go stronger (not whether it actually went stronger, but it seems the author believed it was).
The article itself gave some examples like Australia (in fact a fire in Tasmania), Canada (Fort McMurray of course) and the United States. Not much information on the latter one though, only cost information, like the graph with the projected growth in the annual cost of wildfire suppression in the United States from the US Forest Service:
It shows the trend of annual cost between roughly 2013 and 2025. Interesting choice, but as far as I know there is not necessarily a relation between the affected surface or number of wildfires. People get richer, more people live in fire prone areas and probably also devaluation, therefor costs will go up whatever the trend of wildfires.
But there seems to be a good thing in all this:
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the spectre of climate change is now impossible to ignore for all but the die-hard science deniers.
I have to disagree with that. The article is high on hyperbole and low on facts. It fails to back up its central point and that impossible-to-ignore-specter-of-climate-change is created by the one-sidedness of the author herself, not by reality. If we look at both sides of the story, then the case doesn’t look terrifying anymore. One doesn’t have to be a “die-hard denier” to see that.