Category Archives: Alarmism

Realists need not apply…

Continuing from previous two posts on the “interview” of Nic Balthazar, something that was clear from the beginning was that Balthazar was not very keen on “realism”. I certainly can understand why and will explain it later in this post. One of those realists that Balhazar looked down on is a certain “climate critic” (whatever that may be) (translated from Dutch):

A climate critic was in De Morgen (Belgian newspaper) this weekend and he said two things a) that two percent [sic], that is not enough anyway, also we should not cheer about it. Even if we get there, it would be far too little and 2) [sic] there are many other important things for many people on this planet, namely, do I survive today? Do I survive this week?

My first thought was that it must be Bjørn Lomborg. He got, to my surprise (and that of many others), interviewed in that (left-wing) newspaper only about two weeks ago. I knew that Lomborg indeed claims that there are more important things than climate, but then, as far as I knew, he didn’t claim that “two degrees is not enough/far too little”.

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The doctor’s analogy again: the climate is like a child with a diagnosed cancer

The doctor’s analogy is frequently used in climate change communication. In most cases, it goes like this: “Wouldn’t you go with the advises of your doctor when he tells you …?” or “When you have cancer would you go to a cardiologist?”. Last Sunday I saw that doctor enter the analogy in a different way in the interview of Nic Balthazar in the current events program “De 7de dag” (see previous post) (translated from Dutch):

Screenshot of “de 7de dag” of December 16, 2018. Nic Balthazar: making the doctor’s analogy

You should really have to compare to, an unpleasant comparison, the doctors come and they say, madam and sir, your child has cancer. At the moment, it could still be contained, we can operate, do chemo therapy, everything. It is going to cost, it will be difficult, hard and all, but we can get that child to recover. And when you now talk about our economy, we can really come out of this better. We can, with renewable energy, cleaner air, end up in a much safer life in geopolitics. But it will be difficult. Would that father and mother then say, yes but, pfff, it’s a bit too expensive? No, they will not do that. We [sic] are going to say: whatever it takes. Just look at Music for Life, everything is possible at that moment. And yet we do not do it, and an annoying comparison, one single child that have cancer, but we are talking about all the children of the world.

and also later this emotional appeal (translated from Dutch):

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A falling coffee mug and the latest IPCC report

Some believe that we, due to rising temperatures as a result of our emissions, might be close to a tipping point and will experience irreversible changes for the worse. One of those is Nic Balthazar. He made the claim as a guest in the current affairs show “De 7de dag” (the 7th day) of last Sunday. He was invited there to comment on the COP 24 climate conference in Catowice. Nic Balthazar, a Belgian film director and a TV/radio personality, is also a co-founder of “Klimaatzaak” (an organization that filed legal action to force the federal and regional governments to improve their climate policies). The latter position is why he was invited.

He had mixed feelings about the conference. On the one hand, he was glad that some agreement was made, considering how many countries were present and all had to come to a consensus. On the other hand he was disappointed (translated from Dutch, my emphasis):

On the other hand, it is the again incomprehensible that they didn’t want to listen to what all the scientists say today.

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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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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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