Monday, 18 March 2013

Daily Mail + Climate Change = Bullshit

So, the Daily Mail has gotten itself all excited because it has, in its hot little rightwing compulsively dishonest and hypocritical hands a pretty little graph which it claims PROVES Climate change = Bullshit and the entire science community are dirty liars who lie and have been trying to savaGELY TRICK us into selling all our cars and replacing them with bicycles made out of mung beans, or something like that.

The source of this information is a secretive clique of fearless sceptics who boldly challenge the myths and lies spread about Global Warming.  They call themselves the IPCC.

Right, so I'm smelling a rat.

Here is the Mail story.  And here is the pretty little graph that they claim proves that we've actually been living inside a gigantic ice-cube all this time, and would have frozen to death a long time ago if it hadn't been for all that hot air emitted by the IPCC.

(Have you - like me - just realised that IPCC includes the letters P and C - as in Political Correctness?  Think on, brothers!)

Sorry, I promised you that graph:


So, um, right.

First of all, the wording of the graph is disingenuous.  It claims the '95% certain estimates of the Earth heating up' were wrong.  Well, not really.  Phrased like that, you might be forgiven for thinking the graph was revealing that the Earth has not been heating at all.  Which is, of course, complete bullshit. But the Mail gleefully grabs great handfuls of the bullshit and smears it all over its body, claiming in the first line of the accompanying story (as in fiction): "No, the world ISN'T getting warmer (as you may have noticed). Now we reveal the official data that's making scientists suddenly change their minds about climate doom."

Right, yes, well.

 The Earth certainly has been heating up, this is not in serious dispute, and the graph reproduced here has nothing to do with that. The claim that the graph discredits the "95% certain claims of the Earth heating up" is bollocks. The IPCC never made that claim. The previous report stated there was of 90% certainty of human activity causing observed change; but the graph illustrates statistical certainty about the amount of warming predicted by models. Nothing to do with causation, and even less to do with whether or not there has been heating. There has been. That's why the little black line is wiggling upwards.

What the graph does show is the spread of model estimates of how much temperature increase we can anticipate over time, as CO2 concentrations continue to rise. Estimates are based on how sensitive climate is to CO2 forcing - how big an increase we can expect if we double the amount of CO2 out there. This is not a known factor, so scientists estimate within the reasonable band - usually between 2c and 4c. The difference between the predictions and actuality suggests that maybe the correct estimate is at the lower end of the range, which is a conclusion reached by many climate scientists some time ago. 

Claims in the article that the graph shows "a world stubbornly refusing to warm" is horseshit. Any fool can see the line wiggling upwards. The only question is the rate of wiggle.

And of course, for all the fulminations of the Mail, the actual data is following the lower border of the 95% certainty bracket rather nicely. Correspondence between models and reality is usually taken as bearing out the climate models, not discrediting them.

 Only in the loopy universe of the Daily Mail is being right somehow being wrong.

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