Idiot misinterprets draft U.N. climate report, shares his idiocy with the world
Next September, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its fifth report compiling the scientific evidence of climate change. But, if you’re impatient, you can read it today, thanks to a buffoon associated with a buffoon-clogged website committed to undermining climate change. (We choose not to link to said site because fuck them.)
From The Guardian:
The fifth assessment report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is not due to be published in full until September 2013, was uploaded onto [yet another buffoon-clogged website] on Thursday and has since been mirrored elsewhere on the internet. Several scientists who helped to write the report have confirmed that the draft is genuine.
A little-known US-based climate sceptic called Alex Rawls, who had been accepted by the IPCC to be one of the report’s 800 expert reviewers, admitted to leaking the document.
As the Huffington Post puts it, this “raises questions about the process.” Um, yeah. I’d say. Hey, U.N.? Here’s a tip: Maybe don’t give review copies of important, complex documents to dingbat deniers. Go ahead and write that down; I’ll wait.
Here’s the fun part:
In a statement posted online, [Rawls] sought to justify the leak: “The addition of one single sentence [discussing the influence of cosmic rays on the earth’s climate] demands the release of the whole. That sentence is an astounding bit of honesty, a killing admission that completely undercuts the main premise and the main conclusion of the full report, revealing the fundamental dishonesty of the whole.”
Climate sceptics have heralded the sentence — which they interpret as meaning that cosmic rays could have a greater warming influence on the planet than mankind’s emissions — as “game-changing”.
Yes! Nice work, Mr. Rawls! That’s how science works: If you find even 20 words out of 100,000 that seem like they cast the evidence in a different light, then nothing else matters. Man, you just livened up the holiday party at [Idiot Climate Denier Website]’s offices, which are located in a garage behind an abandoned house somewhere in the low hills of post-Manhattan Project New Mexico, probably.
People who study science and respect the rigor of scientific analysis (hereafter, “scientists”) point out that Rawls is an idiot, and a biased one at that. Steve Sherwood, one of the report’s lead authors and a director of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales, explains: “You could go and read those paragraphs yourself and the summary of it and see that we conclude exactly the opposite, that this cosmic ray effect that the paragraph is discussing appears to be negligible.” Moreover:
The leaked draft “summary for policymakers” contains a statement that appears to contradict the climate sceptics’ interpretation.
It says: “There is consistent evidence from observations of a net energy uptake of the earth system due to an imbalance in the energy budget. It is virtually certain that this is caused by human activities, primarily by the increase in CO2 concentrations. There is very high confidence that natural forcing contributes only a small fraction to this imbalance.”
By “virtually certain”, the scientists say they mean they are now 99% sure that man’s emissions are responsible. By comparison, in the IPCC’s last report, published in 2007, the scientists said they had a “very high confidence” — 90% sure — humans were principally responsible for causing the planet to warm.
If you’d like a thorough rebuttal of Rawls (which you would), see Skeptical Science’s outline of the minute role solar activity plays. Here’s the key graph:
Click to embiggen.
But, you know, we’ve seen this movie before. The prequel was called “Climategate.” Sketchy climate denier steals information, isolates something that he thinks (erroneously) proves his point, trumpets it loudly. How long will it be before Rawls is on Fox News? He will be on before Christmas. Before the end of Hannukah, probably.
The great irony of this huge coup for Rawls and [Terrible Site for Idiots] is that the main critique of the IPCC’s fifth report is that it’s likely to be too conservative in its estimates, leaving out, for example, the effects of thawing permafrost.
The full (very early draft!) report is available online. But if you go to a site hosting it, you likely earn that site money. And since most of the sites are of the [We Hate Science Because Derp] variety, I encourage you not to seek it out. Besides, the honorable Alex Rawls has already saved us the effort of reading the whole thing by isolating the only sentence that matters. And for that, statues will be built in his honor someday, on the barren plains that were once America’s bread basket, just outside the Thunderdome.
Philip Bump writes about the news for Gristmill. He also uses Twitter a whole lot.
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