Ben Pile has another article up at Spiked, Apocalypse Delayed: The IPCC report does not justify climate scaremongering.
We should all be dead by now, thanks to overpopulation and resource depletion. The few of us remaining should be scavenging a landscape denuded of life by acid rains and UV rays. Thankfully, we are not. Also still standing are the scientific institutions and the global bureaucracies that predicted our premature demise. One of those is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Ben discusses the origin of the latest IPCC report, SR15, and the disappointment in some quarters (leading to fears that it’s conclusions had been watered down) that the report was not sufficiently alarmist:
The problem for Stern, his financial backers, researchers and PR men is that their political agenda depends on science identifying dramatic risks, which can act as a spur to action: catastrophic increases in the frequency and intensity of storms, flooding and drought, devastating changes to agricultural productivity, increases in diseases and poverty, impacts across society that could lead to civil conflict and war for resources. But so far, signs of these dramatic consequences have not materialised. As a result, these activists, researchers and technocrats are now at odds with the science.
Of course, the media, such as Roger Harrabin and his fellow climate scare-promoters at the BBC, were on hand to fabricate the alarm that wasn’t in the report, for example by using a Greenpeace quote, rather than an IPCC quote, as a news headline.
The IPCC’s work regularly gives licence to hysteria, which it feels no need to correct. For instance, the meteorologist Eric Holthaus claimed that the IPCC suggested that, ‘The world’s top scientists just gave rigorous backing to systematically dismantle capitalism as a key requirement to maintaining civilisation’. In the same embrace, BBC climate activist Roger Harrabin reported that, ‘Scientists say we ought to eat much less meat’, and criticised the government for failing to force us to be vegetarians. ‘The battle over climate change will have to get personal’, he wrote.
Meanwhile, Harrabin’s colleagues Matt McGrath and David Shukman at the BBC kept changing the headline of their article on the IPCC report. It started as ‘Climate report: scientists politely urge “act now, idiots”’. Then it was changed to ‘Climate report: scientists urge deep rapid change to limit warming’, and finally it became ‘Final call to save the world from “climate catastrophe”’.
The problem for all three BBC journalists, however, is that they quoted no scientists and no science, but factoids, couched in claims that we have heard many times before. Every IPCC report has been the ‘final call’. Every UNFCCC meeting has been the ‘last chance’. Countless climate deadlines have passed but arctic ice still exists. The polar bears still exist. And most frustratingly of all for these environmentalists, the world’s human population is doing better than ever before. It is not the IPCC’s science that appeals to these vapid hacks – it is the cover it provides for their profoundly undemocratic impulses.
Here are three other related articles.
At Climate Etc, Nic Lewis has been working through the numbers of the IPCC’s projections in the new report. He finds that is is indeed a case of “Apocalypse delayed”, as in Ben’s headline. The “carbon budget” – the amount of carbon dioxide the IPCC thinks would get us to 1.5 degrees, is much larger than was stated in its last report.
In The Spectator, Matt Ridley writes Ignore the global warming hysteria: hurricanes are not getting worse. He was in the US during the latest hurricane.
That day Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida, causing devastation and killing 26 people. It had the third lowest recorded atmospheric pressure (919 millibars) of any hurricane to make landfall in America. The lowest (892mb) was the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, which killed 423. Yet the media continues to imply that recent hurricanes are linked to climate change, as if they would go away if we stopped driving cars: ‘The Hurricanes, and Climate-Change Questions, Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked’, said a New York Times headline on Thursday. I find almost nobody knows that there is no upward trend in the frequency or strength of such cyclones over the last four decades — a fact reconfirmed in the latest UN report last week. Globally, deaths from floods, droughts and storms are down by 98 per cent in a century, not because of less bad weather, but because of better technology and forecasting.
It’s illustrative of the state of the climate debate today, as Ben points out in his piece, that people who quote the IPCC are regarded as ‘deniers’, while in fact it is the self-reinforcing echo chamber of climate activism that is in denial. (See this twitter conversation in which journalist Sunny Hundal has these facts explained to him by Les Johnson and me and others, but stubbornly refuses to accept that he’s got anything wrong.)
Finally, Donna Laframboise in The IPCC’s Cynical Ploy discusses how the SR15 report was set up and designed to fire up the media – “a cynical ploy to produce alarmist media headlines that succeeded beautifully.” She also draws attention to how the IPCC, in the opening paragraph of its SR15 press release, breaks its long-standing commitment to be policy-neutral.