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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There were only seven days with rain this month and that is ALREADY an indication of climate change?
Less than … one entire month?!
After the claim of the projections of the climate models being “really conservative”, the scene continued with a conversation about the Greenland ice loss:
If climate stays at the temperature that it has been in in the last decade, Greenland is going away.
That is interesting. When I heard this claim, it started to itch to explore this a bit more. But before doing that, let’s see how the conversation on the glacier continued. Leonardo walks towards a crevasse in which there was a violent stream of glacial water finding its way to the ocean:
In the documentary “Before the Flood” there were several scenes that stood out like a sore thumb. One of them was a scene in which Michael Mann claimed:
There is about as much as robust a consensus human caused climate change than there is for any matter in science, be it the theory of gravity. 97% of climate scientists agree that the globe is warming. Our climate is changing and it is due to fossil fuel burning and other human activities. Unfortunately we are fighting this massive disinformation campaign to confuse the public.
The comparison between human caused climate change as a robust consensuses like gravity was quite puzzling. So I searched the internet for what he could mean by this claim. I ended up with the recent article “We can’t afford to wait”, in which he and Kim Kasting explain their gravity example and what it means for climate science. This is how they explain it, apparently as a reaction to a column of a Jonah Goldberg on settled science (my emphasis on the most important parts to understand the reasoning):