Recently,  the Washington Post ran a high-profile story about the state of climate science. On January 23rd, the paper’s headline succinctly read:

     “Scientists Issue Dire Prediction of Warming.”

     In brief, the article discusses how scientists from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have reported new data showing the earth’s temperature increasing 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 and sea levels rising by a hefty 34 inches over that same period. This is actually a little more dramatic than the U.N.’s last major assessment in 1995, which then showed the earth’s temperature only going up 6.3 degrees during the next century.

     So things must be heating up fast, right?

     Well not exactly, according to Ronald Bailey from the Reason Institute who looked into substance of the U.N.’s report and found it wanting. In an interview with Dr. John Christy of NASA, Baily uncovered that “the catastrophic warming projections are based on one set of scenarios that are way off the chart.”

     According to Bailey, “the headline-grabbing projected temperature increase comes from the IPCC’s most extreme scenario, out of some 35, that it dreamed up for possible future greenhouse gas emissions. In this ultra-worst-case scenario, a rapidly growing world population merrily burns more and more fossil fuels with virtually no improvement in technology. Then this gloomy econometric forecast is fed into the global climate model most sensitive to perturbations and voila!–cataclysmic catastrophe.

     “In other words, the prediction that the world might drastically heat up is achieved by combining the outputs from notoriously inaccurate models of economic, demographic, and technological change, and then mixing those results with atmospheric models that are even more fraught with great uncertainties.”

     Since these same climate models have also done a poor job explaining past weather patterns, it seems like the Post might want to do some more fact checking on future such stories.

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