Every year like clockwork, starting in late July and running through to November, mainstream media around the world start hyping the message: your sinful use of fossil fuels to heat or cool your home, cook your food, power your car or truck, make and market and use your food, clothing, shelter, communications, transportation, health care, and all the other things that keep you alive and healthy will make the world overheat, and then you’ll be sorry! And this year, the United Nations’ (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), just released, amplifies the message, making headlines all over the world.
Why all the ruckus from July to November each year? Because November is when the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) holds its annual climate fest—er, Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Framework Convention. That’s when bureaucrats from all over the world gather to hammer out the next batch of agreements about how every country on earth is going to cut its carbon dioxide emissions to keep the boogieman of global warming, aka climate change, aka weather weirding, from killing us all. So of course they have to stir up fear in the masses so we’ll want to take the nasty medicine they prescribe! Or, as Al Gore put it back in 2018 about IPCC’s interim report, “The language the IPCC used in presenting it was torqued up a little bit, appropriately. How do they get the attention of policymakers around the world?”
Doubt my description of the hype? Here are a few samples:
- “Climate crisis ‘unequivocally’ caused by human activities, says IPCC report,” The Guardian, August 9
- “Analysis-U.N. climate report depicts fast-warming world where ‘nobody is safe’,” Reuters, via Yahoo News, August 9
- “U.N. climate change report sounds ‘code red for humanity’,” Reuters, August 9
- “‘Code red’: UN scientists warn of worsening global warming,” Associated Press, August 10
- “Landmark U.N. report delivers stark warning on climate change, says it’s ‘code red for humanity’,” CNBC, August 9
- “UN report: Global warming is likely to blow past Paris limit,” Fox Business, August 9
- “Major U.N. climate report warns of ‘extreme’ and ‘unprecedented’ impacts,” CBS News, August 10
- “Landmark Report Delivers Stark Warning: It’s ‘Code Red for Humanity’,” The Defender: Children’s Health Defense News & Views, August 9 (Because, y’know, it’s all for the children! Why else would a website specializing in opposing “Big Pharma,” “Big Energy,” “Big Food,” “Big Tech,” and “Big Chemical” pick up on a news release from the IPCC?)
Notice all those uses of “code red”? They’re a key indicator that the “journalists” writing the articles and the “editors” titling them aren’t reading AR6 itself. They’re all depending on the UN’s press release about it, “IPCC report: ‘Code red’ for human driven global heating, warns UN chief,” UN News, August 9. “Code red for humanity” doesn’t appear in AR6; it’s the language of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterrez, who added, “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable.” Now, that’s nice, level-headed stuff, isn’t it?
In a rare show of self-restraint, the New York Times did a little better with its headline: “5 takeaways from the major new U.N. climate report,” August 9. But the message comes through in the “takeaways”:
- “Human influence has unequivocally warmed the planet.” Well, duh, with 7 billion of us on the planet, building cities and roads and vehicles and pulling hydrocarbons out of the ground that have been trapped there for a gazillion years, you’d be nuts to think we weren’t contributing, and no “climate skeptic” I know of questions it. But how much, and with what consequences? Those are different questions.
- “Climate science is getting better and more precise.” Well, maybe. But maybe not. Every single word of the entire 3,949-page report (and keep in mind, this is just the report from “Working Group I,” which supposedly focuses on “The Physical Science Basis” for everything the IPCC says—I’ll say in a moment why I said supposedly—reports from Working Groups II and III are yet to come) depends absolutely on forecasts/predictions/simulations of future global and regional temperatures provided by models of global climate with code in the millions of lines running on the world’s fasted supercomputers. And those models consistently double observed warming over the last 40 years—and, shockingly, the newest suite of models, CMIP6 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, 6th generation), err by more than the previous generation! Oh, yes, I said I’d tell you why I said Working Group I “supposedly focuses on ‘The Physical Science Basis.’” It’s because in fact, so far as its predictions about the future are concerned, it focuses not on “the physical science basis” but on the modeling science basis. Maybe some folks with the IPCC have forgotten than models aren’t the real world. I trust you haven’t.
- “We are locked into 30 years of worsening climate impacts no matter what the world does.” There you go, there’s the fearmongering missing from the headline. And it continues in the text: “some of the noticeable effects the world is seeing now — like extreme droughts, severe heat waves and catastrophic downpours and flooding — will continue to worsen for at least the next 30 years. Some other impacts will continue for far longer. The enormous ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica will continue to melt at least through the end of the century. Global sea level will continue to rise for at least 2,000 years.” Pardon me, but I don’t think anyone knows what global climate is going to do over the next 2,000 years. We are, in terms of geologic cycles, due for another ice age.
- “Climate changes are happening rapidly.” So we definitely can’t afford to wait. We must act now! Which is the same message we’ve been getting for the last 40 years or more. And so far, predictions of catastrophe—even catastrophe within a named period—have not come to pass.
- “There is still a window in which humans can alter the climate path.” Ah, there it is! Salvation is possible! No snake-oil huckster could have done it better. First you scare, then you offer the remedy, then you warn: “But this offer ends at midnight tonight! Get it now, before it’s too late.” Yeah, and before you have time to test what we’re saying.
But don’t lose hope. Saner minds are not asleep, and they’re beginning to respond. Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry has begun a thread on her blog discussing the new report, and climate statistician Roger Pielke Jr. has a growingthread about it on Twitter.
Here are just a few points Pielke makes about AR6: (a) AR6 says the likelihood of higher emissions scenarios (and hence higher warming) is low, yet it refuses to state the comparative likelihoods of the emissions scenarios. (b) Nonetheless, those higher emissions scenarios, which AR6 says are unlikely to transpire, get 41.5% of all scenario mentions, while the lower scenarios get only 18.4%, thus revealing a clear bias toward alarmism. (c) AR6 gives greater emphasis to the higher emissions scenarios than did AR5, even though it finds them less likely than AR5. (d) IPCC “for the first time reduced its top end estimate of climate sensitivity”—which, I might add, coupled with its description of high emission scenarios as “unlikely,” means also that high warming scenarios are doubly unlikely, because lower emissions with less warming per unit necessarily means less warming.
So, fear not, the scaremongering this time around is no more grounded in solid science than before each of the previous 25 COPs. The really challenging question: How long will it take for the world to awake from this nightmare and eliminate the IPCC and all its politicized science?