Friday, May 26, 2006

Global Warming Scare Tactics

From, of all places, the BBC:

Unlike the usual treatment in the U.S. media, they actually went out and talked to some scientists. They reported the following:
Hardly a day goes by without a new dire warning about climate change. But some claims are more extreme than others, giving rise to fears that the problem is being oversold and damaging the issue.

How much has the planet warmed up over the past century? Most people reckon between two and three degrees. They are not even close. The real figure, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is 0.6C.

It’s not surprising most people get it wrong. We are bombarded by stories warning us that global warming is out of control. The most extreme warn us we will be living in a tropical Britain where malaria is rife and Norfolk has disappeared altogether.
According to the BBC, the media has hyped absurdly large figures.
In 2005 the scientific journal Nature published the first results of a study by Climateprediction.net, a group of UK climate scientists. They had been testing what effect doubling the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere would have on temperature.

The vast majority of their results showed that doubling CO2 would lead to a temperature rise of about 3C. Such an increase would have a major impact on the planet. The scientists of Climateprediction.net say that is what you would expect their model to produce, and many other scientists have produced similar results. However a tiny percentage of the models showed very high levels of warming - the highest result was a startling 11C.

Attention grabbing

When it came to selling the story to journalists, the press release only mentioned one figure - 11C.

The ensuing broadsheet headlines were predictably apocalyptic, from “Global warming is twice as bad as previously thought” to “Screensaver weather trial predicts 10C rise in British temperatures.”

They may be dramatic but they are also wrong. Dr Myles Allen, principal investigator at Climateprediction.net, blames the media.

“If journalists decide to embroider on a press release without referring to the paper which the press release is about, then that’s really the journalists’ problem. We can’t as scientists guard against that.”
But it’s not just journalists hyping absurd numbers. It’s bureaucrats too.
Even government agencies have been criticised for overselling climate change. When the Environment Agency publicised research on global warming over the next 1,000 years, it predicted cataclysmic change; temperature rises of 15C and sea levels increasing by 11m. The agency said action was needed now.

But this isn’t how the study’s lead author, Dr Tim Lenton sees it. His research shows if you did nothing for a century you would still only get a fraction of the worst case scenario. He says there’s consternation among scientists at the presentation of their science by the Environment Agency. Scientists would have liked to have seen a more balanced picture presented.
The simple fact is that the Global Warming hustlers have a political agenda. They want to use the bogey of climate change to promote a massive increase of government regulation of the economy and of people’s lifestyles.

No doubt some conservatives doubt global warming because they don’t want more government regulation. But it’s important to keep clear on the fact that the liberals, whose scare tactics are reliably echoed by the media, have dominated the debate way too much.

So much so that even the liberal BBC has to demur.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled past this, thanks for posting it. As I recall this isn't the first time in history that this scare tactic has happened. To me it doesn't really add up. Why would the problem all of a sudden be an issue when we have been producing CO2 for decades without any real problem. I don't doubt that the plwsnet is heating up..... but like you said it's at a much slower pace than the media is claiming it is.

1:40 PM  

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