Being busy with career-change stuff, I had a Denialist bring up an issue from last year that I had missed. He quoted some ABC reporters ‘debunking’ the IPCC consensus.
Due to time constraints I won’t address everything in their report, but the first thing I noticed was a scary looking quote from Mike Hulme, a prestigious climatologist. Mike had written a report on the political, sociological, and epistemological approaches of the IPCC in which they claim the following.
Hulme specifically rejects the well-known consensus declaration of 2,500 scientists agreeing that human activities are having a significant influence on the climate, and notes “That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies”.
This is a classic example of Denialist journalists’s pulling a quote right out of context. Unlike Cox and Stockwell I committed to reading the 22 page report myself. After reading it was I horrified to discover that Mike Hulme has indeed debunked the whole IPCC and uncovered a massive international conspiracy? (Politically driven Denialists salivate at that prospect). Sadly, no.
(Sadly because I honestly long for the day the PEER-REVIEWED science actually discovers some mysterious new climate ‘safety-valve’. Then we might use all that coal to make synthetic oil to help mitigate peak oil, until such time as we have truly miraculous battery or hydrogen technology.)
But sadly there is no story here other than the usual dishonesty from Denialist journalists. Cox and Stockwell have just plucked it all out of context. Hulme was so outraged at the joyous raptures exploding like a shockwave through the Denialist blogosphere that he wrote the following clarification. Check the links and everything.
If they had actually read the report they’d see Hulme was discussing how to improve the political systems of the IPCC, not debunking climate science itself. He was clarifying how the consensus has actually emerged within various branches of speciality, and debunking the image of 2500 climatologist and oceanographers and solar experts all sitting in the one large room together running tests together. That is indeed a silly image, and is not one the IPCC has promoted. (Greenpeace and other groups may have). But it is also not like Hulme was arguing the absorption spectra properties of Co2 had been fudged by 12 guys in a smoky room. He was most certainly NOT arguing there had been some sort of false consensus or cover up!
And how like a cherrypicking Denialist cult to zoom in and focus on the IPCC in this manner, and, full of triumphant joy, declare that all climate science depends on just 12 guys on this or that specific panel? They need to pull back their focus a bit and xan around the breadth of climate science analysis across the entire globe! There is not one National Academy of Science or reputable scientific organisation for that matter that disagrees with AGW! Not one.
Now of course ‘consensus’ doesn’t prove a thing in itself — ONE new fact might make climate change evaporate overnight, in which case — if it is verifiable and not from the lunatic fringe — you would see all the National Academies of Science gradually dump climate science as the truth is revealed by more experimentation. That is how science works. But until that day (if it ever comes) we have every reason to believe that the IPCC may have been too conservative! Hulme goes on to explain why just a few paragraphs after the contested lines that started all this. (If only Denialists actually read all the material they raved about! Or do they rely on the fact that most of their blog reader’s will not read the entire report?)
“That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields. But consensus-making can also lead to criticism for being too conservative, as Hansen (2007) has most visibly argued. Was the IPCC AR4 too conservative in reaching its consensus about future sea-level rise? Many glaciologists and oceanographers think they were (Kerr, 2007; Rahmstorf, 2010), leading to what Hansen attacks as ‘scientific reticence’. Solomon et al. (2008) offer a robust defence, stating that far from reaching a premature consensus, the AR4 report stated that in fact no consensus could be reached on the magnitude of the possible fast ice-sheet melt processes that some fear could lead to 1 or 2 metres of sea-level rise this century. Hence these processes were not included in the quantitative estimates.”
Hulme is saying that global warming might indeed be far more serious than the IPCC reports!
So in the end I guess I should thank these ABC reporters for illustrating just how suspect EVERYTHING from Denialist journalists and scientists really is. They cherry-pick without any conscience. If Cox and Stockwell did not publish Hulme’s response to this blatant out-of-context misreading of his rather sophisticated (but in the end simple) argument, then you can write these journalists off as reliable sources.
Denialists fight an incredibly well researched discipline with gossip from the toilet wall. They should just grow up.