I wrote two short articles on climate change here and here . I smelled a dead rat somewhere so i wrote the first article. And this one is from Bjorn Lomborg taken from The Star daily yesterday. The previous blogpost was a video clip that is worth watching too.
CLIMATE SCIENCE OR CLIMATE EVENGELISM
AS George W. Bush and Tony Blair learned the hard way, the public does not take kindly to being misledabout the nature of potentialthreats.The after-the-fact revelation thatthe reasons for invading Iraq werevastly exaggerated – and in somecases completely fabricated – producedan angry backlash thathelped toss the Republicans out ofpower in the United States in 2008and may do the same to Britain’sLabour Party later this year.A similar shift in global publicopinion is occurring with respect toclimate change. The process pickedup momentum late last year, afterhackers leaked thousands of emailsfrom a top British researchfacility showing that some of theworld’s most influential climatologistshad been trying to disguiseflaws in their work, blocking scrutiny,and plotting together toenforce what amounts to a partyline on climate change.More recently, the UnitedNations’ respected advisory group,the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change (IPCC), has beendeeply embarrassed by the revelationthat some alarming predictionscontained in an influential reportthat it released in 2007 have littleor no scientific basis.Although none of these lapsesprovides any reason to doubt thatglobal warming is real, is man-made,and will create problems for us,these challenges to the IPCC are takingtheir toll. Indeed, recent surveysshow that the public is growingsteadily less trusting of the scientificconsensus on global warming.The biggest headlines about IPCCerrors concern a claim about meltingHimalayan glaciers that it madein its 2007 report on the likelyimpacts of climate change.“Glaciers in the Himalaya arereceding faster than in any otherpart of the world,” the report noted,adding that “if the present rate continues,the likelihood of them disappearingby the year 2035 andperhaps sooner is very high.”As it happens, this prediction wasnot based on any peer-reviewedscientific research but was liftedfrom a report by the World WildlifeFund, which was repeating anunproven speculation by a singleresearcher.This lack of scientific basis didnot stop countless global-warmingactivists from citing the glacier predictionat every opportunity. Whenthe Indian government suggestedlast year that the Himalayan glacierswere in better shape than theIPCC claimed, the I PCC chairman,Rajendra Pachauri, dismissed India’sobjections as being based on “voodooscience.”Earlier this month, the Indiangovernment reacted to the revelationsabout the baseless nature ofthe glacier claim by announcingplans to establish what amounts toits own “Indian IPCC” to assess theimpact of global warming. India’senvironment minister, JairamRamesh, declared: “There is a fineline between climate science andclimate evangelism. I am for climatescience.”Climate evangelism is an aptdescription of what the IPCC hasbeen up to, for it has exaggeratedsome of the ramifications of climatechange in order to make politicianstake note.Murari Lal, the coordinating leadauthor of the section of the IPCCreport that contained the Himalayanerror, admitted that he and his colleaguesknew that the dramaticglacier prediction was not based onany peer-reviewed science.Nonetheless, he explained, “wethought that if we can highlight it,it will impact policymakers andpoliticians and encourage them totake some concrete action.”The concrete action that they hadin mind was getting governmentsto mandate drastic cuts in carbondioxideemissions. Activists havebeen pursuing this approach totackling global warming withoutsuccess for nearly 20 years, mostrecently at last December’s failedclimate summit in Copenhagen.The problem is that it is tooexpensive a solution for politiciansand the public to swallow easily –which is why many well-meaningclimate scientists have apparentlyconcluded that instead of relyingon reasoned discussion, they mightas well try to scare us witless.Consider what the IPCC had tosay about extreme weather eventssuch as intense hurricanes. The costof such events in terms of destroyedproperty and economic disruptionhas been rising steadily. Every peerreviewedstudy has shown that thisis not because of rising temperatures,but because more people livein harm’s way.Nonetheless, in the IPCC’s influential2007 assessment of climatechange, the panel’s Working GroupII (charged with assessing the potentialimpact of global warming) choseto cite one, then-unpublished studythat supposedly found that globalwarming had doubled damage costsover the past 35 years.In fact, when this study wasfinally published, it stated categoricallythat there was “insufficientevidence” to link the increasedlosses to global warming. In otherwords, what Working Group IIreported was plain wrong.Elsewhere in the 2007 assessment,Working Group II claimedthat “up to 40% of the Amazonianforests” were at imminent risk ofbeing destroyed by global warming.The basis for this claim was asingle report from the WorldWildlife Fund that itself cited onlyone study, which didn’t even lookat climate change, but rather at theimpact of human activities like loggingand burning.In similar fashion, WorkingGroup II claimed that “by 2020, insome (African) countries, yieldsfrom rain-fed agriculture could bereduced by up to 50%.” Much quotedsince, this alarming statisticturns out to have been based on asingle, unreferenced bullet-pointfrom a report by an environmentalthink tank.There are numerous other examplesof similar shenanigans byWorking Group II. Yet, aside from agrudging admission that its predictionsabout Himalayan glaciers were“poorly substantiated,” the IPCC hasyet to acknowledge – much lessapologise for – any of the lapses.If the IPCC is to do to its job properly,it must own up to all of its misstepsand clean house. Nobodyexpects it to be infallible. But neithershould we tolerate its attempts toscare policymakers rather thaninform them. — © Project Syndicatel Bjorn Lomborg is director of theCopenhagen Consensus Centre atCopenhagen Business School and theauthor of Cool It: The SkepticalEnvironmentalist’s Guide to GlobalWarming.