This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
SPOTLIGHT: We’re often told that the evidence for dangerous, human-caused climate change is unequivocal. What we aren’t told is that there’s no smoking gun.
BIG PICTURE: The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most important climate body in the world. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 after releasing a major report that same year.
A front page article in the New York Times said the report had concluded that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” The IPCC pointed to a temperature graph starting at the end of the Little Ice Age. It shows less than one degree of warming spread over 150 years.
IPCC experts thought it “very likely” that human greenhouse gases had caused “more than half” of the warming during the last third of those 150 years. In 2013, they changed their opinion to “extremely likely” and said their “best estimate” was that humans had caused the lion’s share of the warming from 1950 onward.
But experts are frequently wrong. Four days before the last US election, television viewers were advised that Hillary Clinton had “a greater than 99% chance” of winning. Watch Princeton neuroscientist Sam Wang talk about 72 quadrillion possibilities, and declare that “the odds are overwhelming of a Hillary Clinton victory” here.
TOP TAKEAWAY: After billions of dollars and decades of research, the IPCC still can’t find a smoking gun. The idea that humans have triggered a climate apocalypse relies on expert opinion and best estimates. Really.
UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Activists, politicians, and journalists routinely point to IPCC reports as evidence that a climate catastrophe is imminent. Everything always leads back to this entity. The fact that the IPCC’s findings are rather bland is an important point.
Just because humanity is affecting the climate doesn’t mean we’ve bought a one-way ticket to Hades. But that is what’s constantly implied, including by IPCC officials and participants. The rhetoric is always: There’s no time to lose. We must act now. The fate of the Earth hangs in the balance. Science has spoken.
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