Thinking Citizen Blog — Spinning Data: Good News/Bad News
Thinking Citizen Blog — Wednesday is Climate Change, the Environment, and Sustainability Day
Today’s Topic: Spinning Data: Good News/Bad News
To read the mainstream media headlines, the latest IPCC report was a total disaster. A story of worst fears confirmed. The fine print tells a different story. It reminds me of what I learned in accounting “What the big print giveth, the small print taketh away.” Today, some excerpts from an article by Holman Jenkins in the Wall Street Journal on the fine print in the IPCC report. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
4.0 DEGREES NOT 4.5 DEGREES — this is good news not bad
1. “Through five previous UN assessments plus their their predecssor, the 1979 Charney Report the likely worst-case was a rise of 4.5 degrees Celsius. This came from averaging the result of inconsistent computer climate simulations about which the IPCC knew only one thing: They couldn’t all be right and perhaps none were.”
2. “Using real-world data, the new report now says the worst case is a 4-degree rise.”
3. “More important, with much greater confidence than before, disastrous outcomes above 5 degrees are now found to be very unlikely.”
DIRE SCENARIOS LESS LIKELY — 2.7 degrees this century is the best estimate not 6.1
1. “In another departure, the UN Panel now says that the dire emisssions scenario it promoted for two decades should be regarded as highly unlikely, with more plausible projections at least a third lower.”
2. “The report also notes, as the press never does, the full impact of these emissions won’t be manifested until decades, even a century later.”
3. “The ultimate likely worst-case effect of a doubling of CO2 might be 4 degrees, but the best estimate of the “transient climate response this century is about 2.7 degrees, or 1.6 degrees on top of the warming experience since the start of the industrial age.”
NB: “You might not wish this on your least-favorite planet, but compare it with media coverage fo teh US National Climate Assessment in 2018, which paraded a nearly foregone conclusion a temperature increase of 6.1 degrees.”
A BIG PICTURE PERSPECTIVE TO BALANCE THE INSTINCT TO PANIC
1. “In reality, no creature makes the whole planet its home but picks those zones it finds most equable.”
2. “Even with with technological help, humanity is present, and thinly so, on 20% of the earth’s land surface.”
3. “The boundaries of this presence will shift in response to changing climate, as they have in the past.”
NB: Personal riff: remember that the Dutch turned what was essentially part of the Atlantic Ocean into some of the most fertile land on the planet well before the Industrial Revolution.
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Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to climate change or the environment. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to climate change that the rest of us may have missed. Your favorite chart or table perhaps…
This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.