Monday, 15 February 2010

Climate comeback

Scientists and those who still believe in science are pushing back on many fronts against the recent wave of attacks against the IPCC.

UN climate panel's errors no excuse to put work on ice by UNEP head Achim Steiner ran in today's Toronto Star (and elsewhere I'm sure.) Steiner hits back directly at the absurd charges that have been flying about, launched by anti-science bloggers and parroted by the talking featherless bipeds on Fox and elsewhere:

One notion promulgated in recent weeks is that the IPCC is sensationalist: This is perhaps the most astonishing, if not risible claim of all. Indeed, the panel has more often been criticized for being far too conservative in its projections of, for example, the likely sea-level rise in the 21st century. Indeed, caution rather than sensation has been the panel's watchword throughout its existence. [...]

The fact is that the world would have to make a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient future even if there were no climate change. With the world's human population set to rise from 6 billion to 9 billion people in the next half-century, we need to improve management of our atmosphere, air, lands, soils and oceans anyway. Rather than undermine the IPCC's work, we should renew and redouble our efforts to support its mammoth task in assembling the science and knowledge

Toronto's own green energy guru Tyler Hamilton also takes on the overheated babble about the IPCC sinking and/or burning in his Clean Break column today:

In Canada, the Financial Post's resident libertarian Terence Corcoran wrote a column in late January with a headline that shouted "Climate agency going up in flames," while The Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente wrote early in February that "the science scandals just keep on coming" and that the entire climate-change movement has been discredited. Columnist Rex Murphy, who has fittingly moved on to the National Post, is pretty much saying the same thing, only with bigger words.

Wishful thinking doesn't make it so.

Hamilton notices both Terrence Corcoran and Margaret Wente point for support to leading Canadian climatologist Andrew Weaver at UVic. One problem: Weaver doesn't agree with them at all. As Hamilton writes:

Here's what Weaver had to say when asked by the Star about the recent coverage. "It would be nice if they actually called me," he said.

He said his comments from an earlier CanWest News Service story have been cherry picked and twisted. "It's all utterly ridiculous. The way it's being spun is that there's this sinking ship and the rats are trying to leave."

But the true sinking ship is the Earth's climate system, he said. [...]

Weaver points out that the 2007 IPCC report was, in fact, conservative with its conclusions. At the time it didn't have access to more accurate satellite data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission.

The new GRACE data, said Weaver, "has revealed that Greenland has been melting rather dramatically. Also, not only is Antarctica melting, but West Antarctica is melting quite rapidly."

As Hamilton sums this up:
Is this alarmism? Sure it is, and so it should be. Do climate-change scientists sometimes get worried and show it? Sure they do. Do we really expect them to go about their scientific duties with Mr. Spock-like precision that's void of emotion and human imperfection?

So we've got a top Canadian climatologist telling us there's a serious problem, and then three highly visible non-scientists editorializing that the problem is just "alarmists" and trying to point to Weaver as being with them on that. Hmmm.

To see how top Canadian climatologists feel about climate change, check out my list of Canadian climate scientists where Dr. Weaver ranks #1 (by far) in number of climate-related journal papers. Note that the top ten all signed one or both CMOS letters supporting prompt action to cut greenhouse emissions, as did 37 of the top 50; the only skeptic in the top 50 by paper count is an economist.

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