Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

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

The IPCC Official and the Loaded Gun

Chris Field – the head of the UN climate panel’s Working Group 2 – thinks the world “is staring down the barrel of climate change.”


Christopher Field; click for image source

In a little more than six weeks, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release the second part of its massive new climate assessment. Produced by Working Group 2, this section contains 30 chapters and has been in progress for six years. It represents a lot of time and labour.

You would think that Christopher Field, the person in charge of Working Group 2, would be behaving in an especially circumspect manner right now. Surely he wants his group’s 30 chapters to be taken seriously. Surely he wants to avoid giving anyone an excuse to dismiss him as just another politically motivated, activist scientist.

So why in heaven’s name is he giving a talk tomorrow that employs absurd, emotionally-charged language? As reported by WattsUpWithThat, a press release issued by Field’s employer, Stanford University, contains the following:

WHO: Chris Field, professor of interdisciplinary environmental studies at Stanford University and co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Working Group II.

WHAT: The world is staring down the barrel of climate change that is faster than at any time in the last 65 million years, says climate expert Chris Field. He will speak on the topic. [bold added]

Yes, you heard that right. Climate change is being likened to a loaded firearm. Field is apparently going to deliver a speech in Grand Ballroom B at the Chicago Hyatt that uses this ludicrous metaphor. During, get this, the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


photo credit: Brandon Trew; click for source

A large part of the world has evidently lost its mind. Climate change is not like a gun. That sort of rhetoric is totally inappropriate. No senior IPCC official, respectable university, or science organization should be within a mile of that kind of talk.

Honestly. If I thought we faced an environmental crisis that threatened my children and grandchildren, I’d be bending over backward to behave in a responsible, restrained, utterly prudent and judicious manner. I’d be terrified of doing or saying anything that would give skeptical individuals a pretext to dismiss me, my argument, and my evidence.

But six weeks before the IPCC releases part 2, Field has chosen to communicate his ideas via over-the-top, emotionally manipulative language. Go figure.


see also Ben Pile’s thoughtful essay, The global warming pause: the dangers of politicising science. At the end he correctly concludes that many climate scientists appear to “lack the cool, rational, and value-free approach necessary to investigate the material world.”

the Stanford press release is backed up here


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