Category Archives: Alarmism

The cost of debunking “climate alarmists”

The starting point of the Guardian article “There are genuine climate alarmists, but they’re not in the same league as deniers” is a tweet from Richard Betts (screenshot taken from the article):

Betts writes that he considers skepticalscience political because their “misinformers” page doesn’t include those on the climate action side. Culminating in the question whether skepticalscience also should debunk climate alarmists.

This is the reaction of Dana to this tweet:

There is some validity to these critiques, and in response, Skeptical Science is renaming the page Climate misinformation by source.‘ But the site is run entirely by a team of international volunteers, and as such, opportunity costs must be considered. Time devoted to refuting alarmists is time not devoted to debunking the constant deluge of climate denial.

That “response” of skepticalscience didn’t make much sense to me initially: simply renaming that page doesn’t counter the “no alarmists refutations” critique of Betts. Unless they added some climate alarmists to that page of course. So I visited that “misinformers” page to see whether this was the case. That page looks a bit different now than it did before. In the past, that page was a simple list of “misinformers” with their photo:

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GW = AGW = CAGW?

As a non-native English speaker, I often encounter new words. One such word is “equivocation” (using the same word for different things or the use of such word in multiple senses throughout an argument, leading to a false conclusion). The first time I heard about it, I recognized it as something that is frequently used in global warming/climate change communication.

At the end of last week, when searching for something related to the consensus, I landed at the Skeptical Science page titled The 97% consensus on global warming (intermediate version). I am pretty sure that I must have read this before, but having “equivocation” at the back of my mind, gave it a new dimension.

As the title suggests, its subject is the 97% consensus. It starts from the statement of the Petition Project that “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere”.

The Skeptical Science author calls this a myth and tackles it by explaining that a consensus of around 95% is found in papers like Cook et al 2013 & 2016, Oreskes 2004, Doran 2009 and Anderegg 2010. Also mentioned are the Vision Prize poll that basically found something similar and a list of scientific organizations that endorse the consensus.

I don’t know much about the Petition Project, but from the excerpt given in the Skeptical Science article, it is clear that the Petition Project statement is very specific. They claim that there is no consensus specifically on the catastrophic nature of global warming caused by human emissions.

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The fifty-times-more-deaths-by-weather news item: the contribution of the “expert”

In previous two posts, I explained a television news item explaining the scientific paper in which was proposed that there would be fifty times more deaths in the period 2070 to 2100. This post will focus on the dubious contribution of the expert in that news item. It was not really clear to me why he was invited. I expected that he was interviewed to explain the content or conclusions of the paper, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

The expert had seven lines in total, yet only two of them were related to the paper. These are his first two lines (translated from Dutch):

The heat is clearly the effect that will make the majority of victims. Flooding by rivers, by sea, but also by forest fires and extreme weather, storms etc.

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Fifty times more deaths by weather

VTM news August 5, 2017: fifty times more deaths by weather

The hyperbole level was high in this news item from the VTM news of last Saturday: Fifty Times More Deaths By Weather. This is how it is introduced (translated from Dutch):

South and Central Europe are moaning under a heatwave these days and this has consequences. In Italy, for example, is it up to 46 degrees and there are already three deaths. It is an example of what will happen much more by the end of this century: people who die from extreme weather. That is what researchers of a working group of the European Commission say. According to their study, there will be about 152,000 deaths by weather-related phenomena per year between 2071 and 2100, mainly caused by climate change.

That 50 times more is compared to the weather-related deaths in the reference period 1981→2010 and projected into the future with demographic and climate models. The study at issue is titled Increasing risk over time of weather-related hazards to the European population: a data-driven prognostic study and is written by Giovanni Forzieri et al of the Joint Research Center of the European Commission.

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The IPCC is not alarmist because it understates sea level rise (while using words like “endgame” and “5 minutes to midnight”)

Almost three weeks ago, I wrote a post on the “climate myth” that the “IPCC is alarmist”. I then focused on how an actual statement from Dr. Roy Spencer was changed beyond recognition before it was “debunked” in a skepticalscience article. The climate myth “the IPCC is alarmist” is tackled in their article by the use of four examples. The subject of this post will be the argument of the second example:

[…] By 2100 sea-level rise was predicted by the IPCC to be in the range of 18-59 cm. It is now believed that figure may be far too low, because estimates of contributions from Greenland and Antarctic ice-caps were excluded from AR4 because the data was not considered reliable. (This omission hardly supports the notion that the IPCC seeks to exaggerate global warming trends).

I heard similar claims before. The IPCC is excluding things that it is not sure about, so their predictions could be much more alarmist if they wanted to. Therefor the IPCC is considered “conservative”, “cautious” or “to err on the side of the least drama”.

In this case, if estimates of contributions from Greenland and Antarctic ice-caps were excluded because “the data was not considered reliable”, then it is likely that the sea level rise is going to be faster than projected and then the IPCC isn’t exactly alarmist if they report this number that is too low. At least when it comes to sea level rise.

Well, yes … and no.

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The “experts” who counted their chickens before they hatched and don’t know the difference between equal and minimum

Remember the news item from the post of last week with the story of the “experts” claiming that the “drought” of December 2016 was the direct result of climate change? To recapitulate, the VTM news brought on December 27 the story that there were only 7 days with rain in December due to a high pressure system over the European continent. The forecast was that there would be no more rainy days in December, so they declared December 2016 as the driest month since 126 years. This, together with a very wet June, warm days above 30 °C in September (1) and the current floods in Southern Spain, was evidence that climate change produced more “extreme weather”.

To me it looked like cherry picking. But there were two things that didn’t add up. First there was their claim that “we have to go back 126 years for a month of December with so few rainy days”, which is not exactly true.

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A wet/dry December because of climate change

wet dry december

The Flemish TV news (VTM) of this evening left me completely and utterly bewildered (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

December is almost over and if the forecast doesn’t change, it will remain dry for the rest of the year and then there will only be seven days with rain during this month. That is very little, we have to go back 126 years for a month of December with so few rainy days. The air quality is bad. A lot of smog is lingering. And it is yet another indication that our climate is changing.

¿Que?

There were only seven days with rain this month and that is ALREADY an indication of climate change?

Less than … one entire month?!

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