Category Archives: Alarmism

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.


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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Oh, My God! Greenland is melting!

Before The Flood - sceenshot 4

After the claim of the projections of the climate models being “really conservative”, the scene continued with a conversation about the Greenland ice loss:

[Jason Box]
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:

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A “massive” disinformation campaign, sure, but by whom?

Before the flood: 97% agree

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):

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Before The Flood: yet more alarmism

Before The Flood

The building where I work has a sophisticated fire alarm system. It is incredibly sensitive and on a regular basis the alarm went off, without having a fire. In the beginning everybody fled the building as quick as possible and then later got to hear that it was just a false alarm. A lot of things could trigger it. Some dust, high humidity in a room,… After a while people didn’t react to it anymore. When an alarm sounded again, someone went to the control box and muted the alarm. As far as I can see, the control is now disabled for quite a while.

I had to think about this when I watched the alarmentory “Before The Flood” from Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is 1 hours 35 minutes long and as expected it is one-sided, superficial and rather predictable. It is a rehash of the usual style of images that the media is bombarding us with for several decades. Smoking chimney, cars, storms, wildfires, floods, droughts, melting ice, mass migration, coral reefs, the news flashes in the background describing the extremes,… All attributed to our emissions.

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More floods, fires and heat waves if we don’t act nów

The same old story. When reading the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad on September 1, I bumped on an article with the headline (translated from Dutch): “More floods, forest fires and heatwaves” and with an even bigger font type: “if we don’t act nów”. With emphasis on “now”. I lost count how many times I heard that before, yet it apparently can get recycled time and time again. Now a full page was devoted on it.

There was no source, but it seemed to be based on an article in the Guardian published two days before, combined with a statement about the July data from the NASA dataset. The article was build on the statements of Gavin Schmidt (NASA GISS) who seems to go well beyond what the data tells us.

The print version of Het Nieuwsblad was even more over the top than the Guardian article. This is how the case is built:

  1. Schmidt is presented as the “indisputable climate expert of NASA”
  2. More floods, fires and heat waves if we don’t act now
  3. The earth is warming at an alarming rate
  4. Never seen in thousand years
  5. We don’t have to step it up one notch, but 10 notches, to keep it below 2 degreesC
  6. We came close to the 1.5 degree this year
  7. The problem is immediate: if we keep emitting like we do now during the next 5 months [sic] we can not reach the 1.5 degrees goal
  8. Rapid and significant measures are needed
  9. Optimists think wrongly that there are fluctuation and lows will cancel out highs, but this is not the case
  10. Temperature increases faster in the last 30 years than in the last 1000 years. Reconstruction at NASA show that global temperatures over the last 5000 years increased gradually, but only in the last century the temperature increase was already 0.7 degrees (10 tiems faster)
  11. In the last decades even faster
  12. Schmidt is not a doom monger, but a realist. Proof: since October last year every month broke a record, the highest temperature was 54 [°C], the most aggressive forest fires in California and the first anthrax case in Siberia due to the melting permafrost
  13. 2014 was a record, as was 2015 and 99% sure also 2016
  14. The measurements started in 1800 [sic]
  15. On the short term: further decrease of Arctic ice, increase of heat waves, floods and forest fires
  16. Island states will be the first victims of sea level rise
  17. Sea level could rise by 10 meter
  18. Mass destruction of animal species will increase.

I am not surprised. This is how climate change is portrayed in the media. What is wrong with this picture? In my believer’s years I probably would have agreed with it without []. Luckily I learned to speak climatese in the last few years.

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