The IPCC pulls its punches, while the media exaggerates climate change risks

The media typically does a terrible at of accurately representing scientific issues, from presenting both sides of the climate change debate as being equal (when only one side has peer-reviewed data on its side), to exaggerating the effects of implementing carbon emissions caps, or exaggerating the risks of climate change, the media has failed to represent the status of the scientific knowledge on the subject.

Two leading UK climate researchers say some of their peers [who both believe that man’s activities are causing global warming] are “overplaying” the global warming message and risk confusing the public about the threat.

These exaggerations don’t help anyone, it could undermine the climate change science by by crying wolf, and making premature claims that are not supported by the science.

In contrast peer-reviewed scientific papers (like the IPCC report) are much more careful about their predictions, and tend to produce conservative predictions.

The summary describes the existence of global warming as “unequivocal” but leaves out a reference to an accelerated trend in this warming. By excluding statements that provoked disagreement and adhering strictly to data published in peer-reviewed journals, the IPCC has generated a conservative document that may underestimate the changes that will result from a warming world, much as its 2001 report did.

Skeptics will no doubt attack the media’s climate change exaggerations, but it is important to remember that by doing so they are not attacking climate science and are only attacking a straw man; when arguing science it is best to only discus what is in peer-reviewed journals and ignore the noise on both sides, and when one does not fully understand complex scientific issues (like the majority of people who argue about climate change) it is foolish to think you know better than the experts, and disagree with the peer-reviewed scientific consensus.

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