Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

IPCC Called a ‘Global Thinker of 2013’

The editors of Foreign Policy magazine inhabit a fairy tale world of planet-saving superheroes and wicked climate deniers.


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In 2008, the Washington Post purchased Foreign Policy magazine. In mid-2013, founder Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post.

Foreign Policy has now published a special, end-of-the-year double issue in which it lists “the leading global thinkers of 2013.” These thinkers are sorted into categories that include: Challengers, Innovators, Advocates, Healers, Artists and so forth (see the coloured tabs across the top of this web page).

There’s also a category called “The Naturals,” which is introduced with this paragraph:

What does humanity’s future hold? In this era of climate change and booming populations, it’s an all-too-serious question – one the Global Thinkers in this category have each addressed. They have crunched the numbers to gauge just how close to environmental catastrophe we are. They have identified ways to slow the damage we are inflicting on both our surroundings and ourselves. They have restored wastelands to their original beauty. They are helping humanity become a better steward of the planet and, in the process, ensuring that our future will be long and fruitful. [bold added]

It is in this category that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is honoured as a leading global thinker of 2013. You can read what Foreign Policy tells its readers about the IPCC for yourself. The first paragraph declares that the draft version of part one of the IPCC report released in late September is “the most authoritative rebuttal of climate-change deniers to date.”

The third paragraph says:

Perhaps the biggest news in the report, however, is the debunking of climate-change deniers’ 
favorite argument: that global warming has “paused.” The rise of atmospheric temperatures has slowed (not stopped), the report explains, because oceans are absorbing more of the new heat.

Oh, dear. A magazine that can’t write 283 words without using the phrase “climate-change deniers” twice, is out there. I mean, really out there.

There are sober, serious reasons to be concerned about the IPCC. Remember the 2010 InterAcademy Council report that identified “significant shortcomings in each major step of [the] IPCC’s assessment process”? The one that criticized the IPCC for claiming to have “high confidence” in many statements for which there is actually “little evidence”?

The fact of the matter is that while we were told to expect an “inexorably warming world” (see p. 5 of the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World report), the global average temperature hasn’t risen for 16 years. Even the Los Angeles Times knows there’s a genuine debate taking place in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, among IPCC-linked personnel no less, as to what this means:

IPCC vice chair Francis Zwiers, director of the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium at the University of Victoria in Canada, co-wrote a paper published in this month’s Nature Climate Change that said climate models had “significantly” overestimated global warming over the last 20 years — and especially for the last 15 years, which coincides with the onset of the hiatus.

The models had predicted that the average global surface temperature would increase by 0.21 of a degree Celsius over this period, but they turned out to be off by a factor of four, Zwiers and his colleagues wrote. In reality, the average temperature has edged up only 0.05 of a degree Celsius over that time — which in a statistical sense is not significantly different from zero. [bold added]

If an IPCC official admits that climate models are off by a factor of four, the discrepancy between those models and the real world is a rather important issue. But Foreign Policy, which pretends to be a sophisticated magazine, apparently considers it an irrelevant distraction. It’s prepared to dismiss a 16-year lull in temperature that was predicted by no one as nothing more than a “favorite argument” of “climate-change deniers.”

My understanding is that the notion that the extra heat has been absorbed by the oceans remains an unproven hypothesis. It’s a guess made by an organization that has spent the past two decades telling us we should be concerned about climate change because climate models say alarming things are about to happen.

Just today, over on the German blog Die Klimazwiebel, a writer says:

As far as I am aware there is no accepted explanation for the ‘pause’ at the moment, not in the latest IPCC report (which is normally quoted as the ‘highest quality’ science), and not in climate science generally (see Hans von Storch and Eduardo Zorita’s recent posts here on Klimazwiebel).

Those interested in the nitty gritty of the ocean heat debate are invited to consult Joanne Nova here, Bob Tisdale writing at WattsUpWithThat here, Lucia Liljegren here, Judith Curry here, and Roger Pielke Sr. here.

The long and the short of it: the editors and journalists at Foreign Policy magazine are naive children. They’ve mistaken eco-apocalyptic fairy tales featuring planet-saving superheroes and wicked climate deniers for reality. The dynamic, unpredictable, ever-changing real world interests them not at all.

The notion that anyone is depending on that magazine’s power of analysis with respect to foreign policy is downright frightening.



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