Journalism / Uncategorized

Climate Change The Facts – As Seen In The Mirror

 

I’ve already brought this subject up in a comment on John Ridgway’s latest post. But I’ll labour the point because I think it does bear labouring and it’s indicative of a disturbing trend in climate change activist circles now to ignore science, ignore evidence and basically make stuff up, which is then re-packaged as ‘facts’ which conform to the extreme alarmist narrative which they hope will spur people into taking action or accepting extreme policies.

Oreskes is now openly criticising the IPCC and economists for being too conservative in their science-based judgement of the risks posed by climate change. She accuses them of being biased against worst case scenarios in order to achieve consensus. She might equally have accused them of being biased against low risk scenarios also in order to achieve consensus, but this does not seem to occur to her strangely enough. The IPCC are not alarmist enough now for the likes of Oreskes and Extinction Rebellion, simply because they don’t put sufficient empahsis on the extreme worst case scenarios.

Pielke Jr. takes her to task for this opinion. He says:

An example of the delegitimization of mainstream climate science from climate advocates can be found in today’s New York Times in an op-ed by historian Naomi Oreskes and economist Nicholas Stern. They advance a broad claim that “climate scientists have been underestimating the rate of climate change and the severity of its effects.” Scientists are not alone in their mistaken views, they argue, economists also show systemic biases too because they “underestimate the economic impact of many climate risks and to miss some of them entirely.”

Some climate advocates may see potential political advantage in trying to create a public perception of emergency and crisis. To achieve this perception may require undercutting legitimate scientific assessment bodies such as the IPCC, which has not endorsed the language of catastrophe or apocalypse. But delegitimization tactics also pose risks, as maintaining public trust in science and scientific institutions may be a key factor in securing a political consensus on policy action.

He’s saying what we all strongly suspect: climate activists are deliberately overplaying the risks of climate change in order to justify radical policies. In doing so, they seek to delegitimise even mainstream climate science as somehow being ‘biased’ in favour of not stressing the extreme risks and therefore sending out the ‘wrong’ message re. the need for very urgent remedial action. In doing so, they also threaten to undermine the whole idea of fact-based policy making.

Extreme risks = possible worst case scenarios = tail end risks = highly unlikely but theoretically possible. Climate activists would prefer that the public were not cognisant of this simple definition. They would prefer instead that the public focus more or less exclusively upon these worst case scenarios as ‘real’ and therefore they have reframed these high risk/low probability future projections of climate change and impacts as ‘facts’. To lend unearned credibility to these ‘facts’ they are busily expropriating virtually all current instances of extreme weather resulting in property damage, financial loss and/or loss of life as not simply weather but “climate impacts”. That way they get to make the false claim that it’s bad now and it’s going to get even worse in the future if we don’t do something immediately to fix the climate, which apparently is broken and in need or urgent repair.

Take for instance Mark Lynas, an ‘environment/science writer’ with 24,000 followers on Twitter who posted a few photos of the River Wye currently in flood due to heavy rain and said:

David Rose pulled him up on it by replying:

He responded by saying that David would have to wait to read his book. Well, you would, wouldn’t you, if you were trying to sell a fake crisis and sell a book to make money out of it in the process. But we don’t have to wait for Lynas’s book to get the answer. Here it is, courtesy of empirically measured monthly (October) rainfall in England and Wales – rather closer I would imagine to actual fact (within the limits of measurement error) – than Lynas’s random assertions regarding the current weather.

ts_EWP_October.jpg

Will 2019 set a new record? Probably not, but even if it did, it would not be evidence of any long term signal of climate change. There isn’t any. But this won’t stop Lynas and many others like him from continuing to plug the climate crisis narrative by co-opting the highly variable British weather into their cause. Which takes us neatly to the Mirror’s list of climate change ‘facts’, the existence of which apparently means that we, as a society, must act, and which Tamsin Edwards has sadly lent her scientific credibility to by choosing to be on their panel of ‘experts’:

Facts that mean we must act

1. The increase in ocean temperatures means that we are set to lose between 70% and 90% of the world’s coral reefs.

2. Floods in the UK have become more frequent. In 2000, we had the highest level of rainfall since records began at 337.3mm, topping the 330.7mm of 2012.

3. Globally, the six warmest years on record were notched in the last seven years – and it is predicted that by 2050, the UK is facing a trebling of deaths caused by heat.

4. This year saw the UK experience the hottest temperature since records began. It was 38.7C at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden on Thursday, July 25.

5. A study found 68% of all extreme weather events, including droughts, flooding, hurricanes and tropical storms, were either made more likely to occur or more severe.

6. Our cities are getting hotter. A rise in global temperatures of only 1.5 degrees centigrade will leave 350 million people at the risk of heat stress.

7. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk in every successive decade since 1979.

8. Glaciers in Central Europe, Caucasus, North Asia, Scandinavia, the Andes, eastern Africa and Indonesia are expected to lose 80% of their mass by 2100.

9. More than 1.1 billion people – 17% of the population – could face life with severe shortages of water.

10. Farming will suffer. If global temperatures rise by another two degrees centigrade this will see a fall in livestock production by between 7% and 10%.

11. There has been a 60% decline in wildlife populations in 40 years. A report found that of 976 species, 47% of extinctions could be blamed on the effects of climate change.

12. Experts predict that climate change could force between three and 16 million people into extreme poverty because of rising food prices and crop failures.

13. Illegal logging, fires and deforestation have led to 20% of the Amazon rainforest vanishing in the past 50 years.

15. Oceans are dying, with 30% of sharks and rays and 27% of crustaceans on the brink. Rising temperatures and pollution have created 500 dead zones – areas without oxygen and life.

16. According to a 2016 report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, climate change will cause global food prices to rise 20%.

17. 800 coastal homes in the UK could be lost by 2034 says The Environment Agency. Sea levels are set to rise by 80cm by the end of the century.

18. The World Bank has estimated there could be 140million climate change migrants by 2050 because of high temperatures, crop failures and flooding.

20. Crop failures and the increased risk of flooding could lead to mass migration across the globe.

21. The World Bank has warned there could 140million climate change migrants by 2050.

I’m not going to even try to go through each and every one of these ‘facts’ to prove what nonsense they are, but note that 11 out of 21 involve gloomy prognostications of future impacts. It should not need to be pointed out that a ‘fact’, to qualify as factual, must involve observations of past or present events, not crystal ball gazing. But hey, this is post normal science we’re talking about here and so we can have post normal facts too I guess. As we’ve been talking about flooding, which is topical at the moment, let’s examine just one of the Mirror’s facts: ‘Fact’ 2. Floods in the UK have become more frequent. In 2000, we had the highest level of rainfall since records began at 337.3mm, topping the 330.7mm of 2012.

Here is the graph of annual rainfall in the UK since 1910. As you can see, if 337.3mm was the record, the UK would be more like southern Spain I think!

Yes, record rainfall near 1340mm was recorded in the years 2000 and 2012. Yes, annual rainfall has increased quite dramatically in the UK since 1970 and it now appears to have peaked and be on a downward trend. Sadly, for climate change alarmists, there is an even longer record of precipitation – at least for England and Wales – which goes all the way back to 1766. Let’s look at that shall we:

Oh dear, not so scary. The peaks in 2000 and 2012 still stand out, which gives us confidence that the two records are compatible but, sadly for those of the climate alarmist persuasion, it reveals no definite trend in annual rainfall over the entire period, a peak in the 1870s exceeding even the 21st century and yet another peak in the 1770s. Blimey, you don’t think rainfall in the UK could be like, cyclic, do you? That would really mess up the ‘it’s worse than it’s ever been and it’s even worse than we thought it was’ narrative. Best stick to the shorter UK time series.

The public are being asked, nay required, to give up their gas boilers and their cars, and thus are rightly entitled to the facts which justify these extreme measures. What they are being dished up with instead is half-baked lies, uninformed opinion, worst case scenarios based upon bad science and diagnostic analyses of bad weather based upon equally bad science or, increasingly, based upon nothing but an activist’s whim.

26 thoughts on “Climate Change The Facts – As Seen In The Mirror

  1. it’s a fact that ipcc are political and what they say is about tax-money. No manmade climate change in my opinion, after three years study.
    It’s made up, data is falsified, believe it or not.
    rik renoir

    Like

  2. Jaime,

    Thanks for this post. I think it nicely supports my own by bringing the issue up-to-date. However, I would like, if I may, to return briefly to the question of historical prescedent since I think it demonstrates that there is nothing novel going on here; rather we are dealing with a predilection that is deeply rooted in human nature.

    Back in the 15th century the modern concept of a ‘fact’ did not exist, basically because there was no such thing as making a statement based upon experience in order to establish reality. Instead, the culturally established position was that all realities had already been decreed by authority, and evermore would that remain the case. However, as we now know, it would definitely not remain the case, thanks entirely to a new breed of thinkers who were well aware that they were swimming against the tide with their unpopular obsession with experiment and observation. Take, for example, Thomas Browne, writing in 1646, in his ‘Vulgar Errors’. Wishing to overthrow such errors, but still in awe of the scale of the task, he wrote:

    “We are often constrained to stand alone against the strength of opinion; and to meet the Goliath and Giant of Authority with contemptible pebbles and feeble arguments drawn from the scrip and slender stock of ourselves.”

    Yeh, it does feel that way sometimes.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thanks for this Jaime.

    5 is the usual lie about extreme weather events, which are not increasing. The latest IPCC report says tropical storms are decreasing.

    17 is complete nonsense. Sea level is not “set” to rise 80cm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Jean, but as i understand it, there is no consensus in science, even more a consensus is not scientific as political. Everything about the manmade global warming is false. That’s why they changed the name in climate change.
    Yeah, good joke, climate change is a natural thing. And then the case of co2, that is the basic of life. And a good one, more co2 for plants is less water needed.
    So it’s all lies everywhere.
    The only good thing about an engine is the co2 coming out of it. Electric cars is all about pollution, whilst normal cars have
    nowadays engines that are really very clean.
    Then there is the fact of nuclear energy, the only problem is the DU. And the solution to that is thorium energy.
    What a joke.
    And while all prices go up and alternative energy is the least reliable option, an ice age is coming.
    Stupid Green Men.

    Like

  5. Climate change activist circles ignore not only science but also history.

    A few minutes’ search in the Trove newspaper archive returned this brief item from October 1946 about disastrous flooding in the Wye valley:

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/46173994

    “Torrential rains in England at the end of last month caused floods which made shops, schools and factories close. Thousands of people were marooned in upper rooms; sheep and cows were swept away. This aerial view of Hereford shows how the river Wye flooded the countryside for miles.”

    And here’s one from 1880:

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/814410

    “For two days very heavy rains have fallen in Monmouthshire, flooding the rivers Wye, Monnow, and Trothy. The two latter have overflown their banks, submerging very large tracts of land, and rendering several of the highroads impassable.”

    It is an inconvenient truth that rivers in the British Isles have been flooding since time immemorial.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jamie. No wonder people like Cook and Oreskes have it in for you. You counter their hyperbole with well reasoned and in-context facts. That isn’t allowed in the post-modern world where the definition of facts has to include how you feel and whether you feel safe.
    Keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Painting the IPCC as deniers of disaster scenarios is a critical step in the strategy to get the attribution part of the lawsuits against Exxon. This is something Oreskes is heavily involved in. Mr Lynas’s tweets are part of that strategy, either as a useful idiot or involvement at a higher level. Even Extinction Rebellion is not grassroots, but part of the strategy laid out in 2012. Look at who is behind the curtain.

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  8. “10. Farming will suffer. If global temperatures rise by another two degrees centigrade this will see a fall in livestock production by between 7% and 10%.”

    So why is it that over the last 50 years, during unrelenting warming, meat production has surged, led by Asia whose output has “increased 15 fold[!!] since 1961”??

    https://ourworldindata.org/meat-production

    What accounts for this decades long trend in livestock yield opposite to that projected by alarmists? Improvements in feed cost, veterinary medicine, water use and other innovations obviously have swamped any depressive effect of climate. How can future climate changes on a similar order pose a major risk to the livestock of the future?

    A persistent pessimist might still see danger lurking in the numbers — from methane, run-off, or any other health issue associated with factory farming. But that would stray quite a bit from the alarmist narrative of imminent famine and yield decline. Over- not under-production would seem the bigger risk.

    “12. Experts predict that climate change could force between three and 16 million people into extreme poverty because of rising food prices and crop failures.”

    However they arrived at this statistic, it seems to ignore the long term history, which would support a low temperature sensitivity to global food prices and crop yield. The inflation adjusted cost of most foods has declined substantially over the last 150 years, most especially in the last few decades.

    And crop yields are almost uniformly growing larger and more robust with time.

    Famine mortality is close to all-time lows, in both absolute and per capita terms.

    https://ourworldindata.org/why-do-far-fewer-people-die-in-famines-today

    These things may have nothing to do with climate of course, but surely that affects their relevance as risk factors. And calls into question whatever model spat out sensitivities so laughably exact – “7 to10%” – and yet also so at odds with experienced life and easily obtained data.

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  9. Liked the end of the “https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/23/opinion/climate-change-costs.html”

    “This is yet another reason it’s urgent to pursue a new, greener economic path for growth and development. If we do that, a happy ending is still possible. But if we wait to be more certain, the only certainty is that we will regret it.

    Do you have a question about the economic costs of climate change?
    Sorry, the form is not accepting submissions”

    a happy ending is still possible!!!
    is this aimed at children?

    Like

  10. Thanks for all the comments.

    Chris,

    I doubt that people like Oreskes or Cook have it in for me as they probably haven’t even noticed I exist. Although, if I’m wrong, and a few of my posts – along with others at Cliscep – are being noted with consternation in AGW alarmist circles, I can do the Kenneth Williams number and shout: “Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!” 🙂

    John, thanks for the Bish shout out.

    Like

  11. Tamsin has just been invited to be on a panel discussion, sonot the source of Mirror’s climate crisis list (that is down to Robin Launder – extinction Rebellion, who visted the Mirror a few weeks ago) .. I’ve asked Tamsin to reassure the sacred 13 year old on the panel!!!.. did you see her being furious with Rupert Read, the other day.. telling kids they might die by the time they are adults!! (the responses to Tamsin, by a lot of the climate concerned were a bit depressing)

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  12. I’m afraid I am not buying the responses from climate scientists to Tamsin’s condemnation of Rupert Read’s talk, which are along the lines of ‘yes, we agree, climate change is a big threat but we shouldn’t be scaring kids.’ They elevated the original scared kid to the status of an international icon a few months ago by inviting her to speak at the IPCC COP25 meeting in Katowice, Poland and were tweeting enthusiastically about her presence there. She inspired thousands of other children to fear for their future, now probably millions. XR are milking that trend. I didn’t catch any of them saying then, ‘Ah yes, but it’s not really a good idea that kids should be fearful for their future because even though climate change is bad news, it’s probably not that bad news’.

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  13. In the list Jaime has given above, so-called facts 14 and 19 are missing. 14 is “14. Over the past 100 years, some 50% of wetlands have been lost – with warmer climates and more severe weather believed to be primarily to blame” and 19 is actually missing from the Daily Mirror webpage as well.

    I’ve got a book which includes a pretty comprehensive discussion of the idea of a ‘fact’ in science, called “Science – Its method and its philosophy” by the British physicist G Burniston Brown, published by ‘The Scientific Book Club’ in 1952. I’ve had the book since I was a teenager in the 1970s.

    Some extracts from Chapter II of the book on this topic:

    “Facts are propositions which are true, and propositions are known to be true if they can be verified.”

    “Hypotheses are propositions which have not been verified.”

    “Hypotheses include all propositions from the most trivial ones, called inferences (such as “It rained last night- the ground is wet”) to the most elaborate systems called theories which may be made as the result of a great amount of investigation and thought.”

    “Propositions are sentences which assert or deny something, or more strictly, whose meaning is the possibility of the occurrence of certain events of consciousness in a normal person in certain situations. The process of arranging such situations, and the actual occurrence of the events of consciousness, constitute the verification of the proposition.”

    “We are now, at last, in a position to return to the definition of science given at the beginning of this chapter – “Science is a method of obtaining true knowledge”. From what has been said, we can now state what this means: it means that science (for the most part) is a method for discovering propositions that can be verified.”

    Now if the GB Brown definitions are applied to the Daily Mirror’s list, there are 20 propositions. I reckon 16 of them have not been verified – Nos 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21. These would be hypotheses rather than facts. If there is a predictive aspect to the proposition, it tends to be a hypothesis.

    I reckon 4 out of the 20 propositions: 2, 4, 7 and 13 have the potential to be facts, if they can be satisfactorily verified. Proposition No 2 has been debunked by Jaime above.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great stuff Dave:

    “Science (for the most part) is a method for discovering propositions that can be verified.”

    Climate science (for the most part) is a method for discovering propositions that cannot be verified.

    ‘Fact 4’ above is dubious. First none of the Met Office’s weather stations broke the record set in 2003; then amazingly, Cambridge Botanic Gardens ‘discovered’ that their thermometer, out of all the thermometers in the United Kingdom that day, was the sole one which registered a temperature higher than Britain had ever experienced before in recorded history. After a day or two of the Met Office pontificating about the need to officially verify the recorded temperature as a ‘fact’, they duly verified it and it is now enshrined as the new ‘hottest evah’ temperature in the UK.

    So that leaves 7 and 13 which I am assuming are propositions which are true and can be verified.

    7 cannot be unequivocally attributed to man-made climate change; in fact it is rather more likely that the decline in Arctic sea-ice has been driven largely by the positive phase of the AMO (as was the case in the 1930s). So therefore although 7 is a fact, it is not ‘a ‘fact which means we must act’. So in the context given, 7 also is not a verifiable proposition. Likewise with 13. The destruction of the Amazon probably has very little to do with climate change, almost certainly it is the result of clearance for farming and industry.

    So that leaves a big fat ZERO out of 21 of the Mirror’s ‘facts which mean we must act’ actually qualifying as propositions which are verifiable. That’s quite a feat.

    Like

  15. In point of fact (haha), I wrote about the Cambridge Botanical Gardens ‘record breaking heatwave’ here and how attribution ‘scientists’ subsequently used it to discover the fingerprint of man-made climate change in the British weather and elsewhere. What I said then is very pertinent to this current post:

    So what have we learnt? We’ve learned that models are rubbish at analysing the human fingerprint in extreme weather events, but that scientists still use them and express over-confidently their opinions about how climate change has significantly altered the frequency and intensity of extreme heatwaves, using those models, combined with sparse data, poor data and unsuitable data. These opinions then get relayed to the media as ‘fact’ and idiot climate activists, Greens and lefty politicians double down on ‘climate crisis deniers’ as these ‘facts’ accumulate in the public arena.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “These opinions then get relayed to the media as ‘fact’…”

    A good example of this is the estimate of 50 million climate refugees by 2010, made by Norman Myers, who also said (good quote, by the way): “Science is never, never ever completely final. It’s always a bit iffy.”

    https://sites.google.com/site/mytranscriptbox/home/20130830_r4

    Obviously it’s now 2019 – 2010 has been and gone, with no 50 million climate refugees materialising. However, his other prediction (200 million by 2050) is still out there:

    https://unu.edu/media-relations/media-coverage/climate-migrants-might-reach-one-billion-by-2050.html

    “Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.”

    And it’s interesting to follow the trail and see where it goes. Here’s the 200 million claim on the website of the World Economic Forum:

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/how-climate-change-exacerbates-the-refugee-crisis-and-what-can-be-done-about-it/

    “Climate-induced displacement is on the rise. Last year, climate-related factors resulted in the displacement of around 16.1 million people. It is estimated that, by 2050, between 150 to 200 million people are at risk of being forced to leave their homes as a result of desertification, rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions.”

    Their link goes to a UNESCO website:
    https://www.womenforwater.org/uploads/7/7/5/1/77516286/migration_and_its_interdependencies_with_water_scarcity_gender_and_youth_employment_unesco_wwap_2017.pdf

    “Global estimates report that by 2050, around 150-200 million people will be permanently displaced due to droughts, floods and hurricanes (Stern, 2007, cited in Sugden et al., 2014; Scheffran et al., 2012; UNCCD, 2012).”

    Stern, 2007 is of course the Stern Review:

    https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100407170445/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/Chapter_3_How_climate_change_will_affect_people_around_the_world_.pdf

    “By the middle of the century, 200 million more people may become permanently displaced due to rising sea levels, heavier floods, and more intense droughts, according to one estimate.”

    From the More or Less transcript from 2013:

    Tim Harford: “Now, I was fascinated by the way the UN justifies its claim that 200 million people will become climate refugees”.

    Hannah Barnes: “It doesn’t. The UN told me it “cannot comment in any way on the accuracy of a figure we did not produce”.

    Tim Harford: “So they’re happy to use the figure, just not to defend it”.

    I think we’ll keep seeing it being cited until at least 2040, maybe 2045!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. They’ll get there in the end Alex, even if they have to count the economic migrants as the ‘climate displaced’. 39 people just died tragically in the back of a lorry because of the bad weather in Vietnam.

    Like

  18. Another spooky coincidence. Just noticed this:

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  19. Jaime – Contrary to your comments on the 28th, I think you are a lot more influential than you give yourself credit for. You have already earned the ire of Mr Tobias. That alone would make the team’s hit list for when the revolution comes. Google your name and Ms Oreskes shows a number of articles where you have been quite scathing of her outlandish claims. You might not be the bete noire but you would be a thorn in their sides. They note every slight and never forget. You will be on their charts. But if it suits, treat my original comments as the generic rather than specific “you”.
    Continuing to highlight the ridiculous predictions that don’t marry with the facts, the really dodgy assumptions and their failed past is the right way to show that they are building their case on a bed of sand, It will come crashing down. Only problem is how much more damage it will do beforehand.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Pingback: October 2019 Climate Crisis Update | Climate Scepticism

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