Tabloids lead climate denial charge against upcoming IPCC report

Intro

With the next major IPCC report release less than two weeks away, the climate misinformation machine is ramping up, with stories in tabloids including Mail on Sunday, the The Telegraph, and Murdoch-owned press such as The Australian and the Wall Street Journal all falsely claiming global warming forecasts were “wrong” and computer models overstated warming. It has been noted that this sudden surge in criticism of the upcoming Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), by the usual suspects, is an attempt at damage control by climate contrarians – particularly given earlier drafts of the upcoming report show that scientists are more certain than ever that human activity is driving global warming. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather eventscontinued rapid loss of Arctic sea ice and rising ocean acidity support the IPCC assessment, as does the ongoing build up of atmospheric heat – currently at four Hiroshima bombs worth of extra heat every second, and the fact that the world has just experienced its 342nd consecutive month of above average temperatures.

Tweet

RT @bundiflop: The 5 stages of climate denial are on display ahead of the IPCC report | Dana Nuccitelli http://t.co/0ywgCHIQx2 via @guardian

Key Points

  • Climate contrarians appear to be in damage control mode this week, with a new push in the UK tabloids and other publications around the world to build up skeptical spin around climate stories ahead of the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report. The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Australian and the Wall Street Journal are all displaying the hallmarks of the five stages of global warming denial, as they take part in a misinformation blizzard. The New York Times notes that it appears the IPCC report authors are “bending over backwards” to be conservative in their estimates in an attempt to preempt criticism from climate deniers, yet in response, the denier push is drawing a long bow to paint IPCC conservatism as an “admission of exaggeration”.
  • Early coverage of the report shows that scientists are now more certain than ever (95 percent certain) that human activities are driving climate change. This is a jump from 90 percent  in the 2007 IPCC report, 66 percent in 2001, and just over 50 percent in 1995. The IPCC has re-stated that warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The average global warming of 0.8 DegC from pre-industrial levels so far is enough to trigger a sea level rise of up to one metre by the end of this century. Research from Carbon Tracker and the World Bank warn that the current level of government action means the world is on track to warm by around 3DegC this century, the IPCC concur that it is unlikely we will limit warming to just 2DegC in this period. The upcoming IPCC report shows that temperatures could rise anywhere between 1DegC to almost 5DegC, and the low end scenario only applies if world governments take strong, concerted, and considerably greater action than currently promised.
  • While climate deniers continue to spread long-debunked myths and blatant falsehoods, they also ignore the real-world impacts that are already here, such as increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events, ocean acidification and angry summers. The world continues to build up four Hiroshima bombs worth of extra heat every second, and while the so-called “pause” in surface warming remains a favourite topic in the denier stable, new research is making it increasingly clear that the excess heat has been temporarily soaked up by the world’s oceans. Both the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have also highlighted the increase in global warming, the WMO examining record breaking temperatures over the last decade and the NOAA the year of record breaking extreme weather events in 2012.

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Key quotes

  • “The [Mail on Sunday] states that the Met Office’s ‘flagship’ model is too sensitive to greenhouse gases and therefore overestimates the possible temperature changes we may see by 2100. There is no scientific evidence to support this claim.” The UK MET Office.
  • “The IPCC does not do climate forecasts on its own “computer,” but analyses forecasts submitted to them by two dozen or so research organisations worldwide, including NASA and CSIRO. [I]t is possible for a report on this or any similar topic to reach firm conclusions about important questions even when some aspects of the science are well known to be “unsettled” or in a “state of flux.”  Just as it is possible to know that a cancer patient is likely to die without treatment, even if the date or particular symptoms cannot be predicted accurately.’ Professor Steven Sherwood from the Physical Meteorology and Atmospheric Climate Dynamics at the University of New South Wales.
  • “The Australian gets it wrong on global warming and the IPCC, again. The first sentence of the article states ‘The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment reportedly admits its computers drastically overestimated rising temperatures, and over the past 60 years the world has in fact been warming at half the rate claimed in the previous IPCC report in 2007’. [T]he observed global average warming of surface air temperature over the last 60 years of 0.12°C per decade is almost identical to the value reported in the IPCC report in 2007 of 0.13°C per decade (likely range 0.10 to 0.16°C per decade) for the period 1956 – 2005.” Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Melbourne and a review editor of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report David Karoly.
  • “The Australian article ‘We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC’ demonstrates the inherent dangers in sourcing scientific information from a UK tabloid rather than climate scientists. The Australian misrepresents the IPCC, fails to consider that the planet as a whole continues to build up heat at an accelerating rate – currently at a rate of 4 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat every second – and also fails to report the growing body of research indicating that the slowdown in surface warming is due to more heat accumulating in the ocean.” Skeptical Science’s John Cook.
  • “[E]very major projection of future warming makes clear that if we keep listening to the falsehoods of the anti-science crowd at the Wall Street Journal and keep taking no serious action to reduce carbon pollution we face catastrophic 9DegF to 11DegF [5DegC to 6DegC] warming over most of the U.S.” Think Progress journalist Joe Romm.

Related Tree Alerts

More tweets

  • MT @Carcharos: I see the Murdoch media is on full offensive ahead of the new IPCC #climate report release. Classic disinformation campaign
  • RT @olliemilman: The Australian tries another IPCC ‘gotcha’, relying on the Daily Mail and WSJ http://t.co/9VFjzOwwB5
  • RT @bencubby: The Australian seems to think its readers are a bit gullible. #climate
  • MT @ArghJoshi: New IPCC report says global warming both does & doesn’t exist, & will probably help puppies & kittens, reports The Australian
  • RT @Picketer: .@GrogsGamut Reporting on climate vs professional opinion in one chart http://t.co/NNU27rGSGw