Here is a recent screaming statement of the supposed climate change emergency: “Trumps greatest dereliction of duty – – his disgraceful denial of climate change” in the Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/11/05/trumps-greatest-dereliction-duty-his-disgraceful-denial-climate-change/

This alarmist diatribe says: “At a time when the international scientific community has concluded that we have 11 years to avert the worst of climate change, Trump and his Republican allies are working to intensify the threat, not deter it. A more egregious dereliction of duty is impossible to imagine. Trumps denial mirrors the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. Like Nero, Trump is helping set the flames. Democrats are raising the alarm. The contrast cannot be clearer.”

Here is the wildly false claim: “At a time when the international scientific community has concluded that we have 11 years to avert the worst of climate change…” This claim occurs repeatedly in emergency declarations.

This false claim refers to the IPCC SR15 report issued in October 2018. What the IPCC really said was we have the 12 years until 2030 to prevent the small difference in impact between 1.5 degrees of total warming and 2.0 degrees. With one degree already done this is just the difference between 0.5 degrees of new warming and 1.0 degrees. The question only came up because both targets are mentioned in the Paris Accord. The question thus arises, what difference this difference makes?

According to the IPCC this difference in impact is very small. It is certainly not “the worst of climate change” as the Post and other alarmists repeatedly claim.

Proponents of the climate emergency scare often cite last year’s IPCC SR15 report as their scientific basis, but it is no such thing. The widely proclaimed 12 year deadline is just for holding warming to 1.5 degrees, which the IPCC says is almost impossible. The IPCC numbers also say that exceeding that warming is in no way catastrophic. The difference between the impact of 1.5 degrees of total warming (just 0.5 degrees of new warming) and 2.0 degrees is tiny. Thus, the IPCC report actually contradicts the unfounded claim of a climate emergency.

Here is an example from the SR15 Summary for Policy Makers: “Temperature extremes on land are projected to warm more than GMST: extreme hot days in mid-latitudes warm by up to about 3°C at global warming of 1.5°C and about 4°C at 2°C, and extreme cold nights in high latitudes warm by up to about 4.5°C at 1.5°C and about 6°C at 2°C.”

Extreme hot days, which are uncommon to begin with, warm by up to about just one degree going from 1.5 degrees to 2.0 degrees of total warming. This is certainly not an emergency. It is probably not even detectable due to natural variability.

Note that the 3 degrees of hot weather warming at 1.5 degrees of total global warming and the 4 degrees at 2 degrees both include the one degree that is supposed to have already happened. Presumably, something like half of this impact has already occurred, so that is not part of the future impact emergency issue.

In short we are talking about just a tiny amount of impact as being the difference between 1.5 and 2.0 degrees of total warming. There is simply no basis for declaring an emergency in these IPCC numbers. There is nothing catastrophic in going to 2.0 degrees of warming instead of 1.5 degrees.

Note too that extreme cold nights warm even more, which is arguably a good thing. Given that extreme cold is reportedly more dangerous than extreme heat, going to 2.0 degrees might even be net beneficial. Richard Tol’s integrated assessment model actually says this.

The proponents of the scary emergency need to be called out on this contradiction. No IPCC science supports the climate emergency. What the proponents of climate emergency are calling for is all cost with no benefit.

The emergency is a fallacy.

Author

  • David Wojick, Ph.D. is an independent analyst working at the intersection of science, technology and policy. For origins see http://www.stemed.info/engineer_tackles_confusion.html For over 100 prior articles for CFACT see http://www.cfact.org/author/david-wojick-ph-d/ Available for confidential research and consulting.