Category Archives: Climate Communication

Breaking windows for a better economy?

Factchecker energie SER

Last week, I came across the “factchecker energie” from the Energy Agreement of the SER (Social Economic Council, the Netherlands). The goal of this fact checker is to give, ahem, “objective information about sustainable energy to civilians and companies”, because the “heated discussions on this subject are not always based on facts”.

Nice to hear that they care about the facts, but it is a pity that, as usual, only the facts from one side are provided.

This post will be about the first fact check from a series of (currently) five and is called Episode 1: The Energy Agreement is good for the economy (attention, Dutch ahead). This is how it starts (translated from Dutch):

What are actually the benefits of the Energy Agreement?
The Energy Agreement contributes to an affordable, clean energy supply for the Netherlands. […]

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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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Some fun with the escalator

Previous post about the “climate myth” that the “IPCC is alarmist” was about an actual statement from Dr. Roy Spencer that was contorted into something that was not recognizable as his statement anymore. In that post, I made the remark that fabricating arguments of the other side seems some sort of a habit of the “skeptical”science team. I have seen them doing the same thing several times before.

This week I bumped into yet another example in which the skepticalscience team, who are clearly alarmist, made up the “arguments” of the other side. That example is called the “escalator” and can be found in the right sidebar of their website.

For those who didn’t see the graph before, it is a moving gif depicting two scenarios. The first scenario depicts how the, ahem, “contrarians” see the graph with global surface temperatures since 1970:

escalator graph blue lines 625px

The moving gif slowly iterates through every blue trendline and at the end the blue lines disappear. Then these are replaced by one single red line showing how, ahem, “realists” see the same graph:

escalator graph red line 625px

Basically, those “contrarians” are so short-sighted that they see a series of cooling trends, while not recognizing the overall upward trend. Skepticalscience explain it as those contrarians don’t know the “difference between short-term noise and long-term signal” and “inappropriately cherrypick short time periods that show a cooling trend”. This:

simply because the endpoints are carefully chosen and the trend is dominated by short-term noise in the data.

At that time, I was already rolling over the floor laughing…

Those endpoints are indeed “carefully chosen”, let there be no doubt about that! But not by those “contrarians”. Most of those blue trendlines didn’t make any sense when it comes to their claims. Those blue lines were clearly chosen by the skepticalscience team themselves for maximum visual effect.

That is easy to see. First consider the source of this data:

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Déjà vu: fabricating a “skeptic” claim

Almost a week ago, I got a comment on my post about the framing of the Greenland melt as worse than it is. It contained two videos and two links. One of those links went to the skepticalscience website and the commenter encouraged me to read it in order to get more information on the reason why “the IPCC is too conservative with models”.

It was with mixed expectations that I followed the link to the climate myth “IPCC is alarmist” page. What started as a puzzling experience, culminated into something very funny.

Let’s start with the things that puzzled me. I was presented this link so I could find some information about the “inherent conservatism of climate models”, yet I didn’t even see the word “model”, nor in the title, nor in the post. Also, the url suggested that the article was about the “IPCC scientific consensus” and the title sounded as if it was about the “IPCC underestimating climate response”.

skepticalscience: climate myth: ipcc is alarmist

Initially I had the impression that I was presented the wrong url.

The most puzzling thing however was that the subject of the webpage (the “climate myth” that the “IPCC is alarmist”) was unrelated to the skeptical statement from Roy Spencer that was given as an example:

“Unquestionably, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed to build the scientific case for humanity being the primary cause of global warming. Such a goal is fundamentally unscientific, as it is hostile to alternative hypotheses for the causes of climate change.” (Roy Spencer)

I didn’t find the claim that “the IPCC is alarmist” in this statement. So I followed the link to Spencer’s post and also found exactly 0 (zero) instances of “alarmist” or even “alarm” in that post. The subject of the post was in fact about the IPCC ignoring natural variability by focusing completely on external forcing (anthropogenic greenhouse gases), a focus Spencer considers unscientific. That is not the same as “the IPCC is alarmist”.

But, if that claim was not in the summary and also not in the Spencer’s post, then where does that “IPCC is alarmist” claim comes from?!?!

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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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The noble art of framing the Greenland melt as worse than it is

The subject of previous post was a scene in the documentary “Before The Flood” in which Leonardo DiCaprio had a conversation with Jason Box in Greenland. I then came to the conclusion that they didn’t give a honest representation of the facts. This post will build on that, but it will expand it to how the public perceives such a scene.

From my own history, I remember that I was interested in the global warming issue, but I was too busy with other things in my life. I wasn’t checking facts, I just relied on what the media was claiming. I believed what they said was true and, although I assumed that they were exaggerating the issue, I believed that in essence they were right. This post will be about how people with no background on the issue (and do not check these facts after viewing for example this documentary) will probably perceive this scene.

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