Cocksure statements on climate change?

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Now and then you might hear that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) only gives cocksure statements and therefore is unscientific.

Polar bear on melting sea ice. Photo: Peter Prokosch, GRID-Arendal

Polar bear on melting sea ice. Photo: Peter Prokosch, GRID-Arendal

The IPCC issues statements on a plethora of issues, so it is often difficult to know what these persons actually mean. The fact is that the IPCC sorts all statements in a system of probability levels. If people had taken the trouble to read the IPCC reports, they would have found the following system:

Likelihood Terminology  Likelihood of the occurrence/ outcome  
Virtually certain > 99% probability
Extremely likely > 95% probability
Very likely > 90% probability
Likely > 66% probability
More likely than not > 50% probability
About as likely as not 33 to 66% probability
Unlikely < 33% probability
Very unlikely < 10% probability
Extremely unlikely < 5% probability
Exceptionally unlikely < 1% probability

The terms ‘extremely likely’, ‘extremely unlikely’ and ‘more likely than not’ as defined above have been added to those given in the IPCC Uncertainty Guidance Note in order to provide a more specific assessment of aspects including attribution and radiative forcing.Unless noted otherwise, values given in this report are assessed best estimates and their uncertainty ranges are 90% confidence intervals.
Treatment of Uncertainties in the Working Group I Assessment

IPCC 2013: Climate change. The physical science basis
New Scientist (2013) IPCC digested: Just leave the fossil fuels undergroundIPCC (2007) How do Human Activities Contribute to Climate Change and How do They Compare with Natural Influences?

Every IPCC statement in WG 1 is reviewed by hundreds of the world’s most reputable climate scientists. Every statement passes through an elaborate system of peer review to evaluate, place at the level of probability and approval.
Next time you hear that the IPCC statements are condescending or cocksure, you should ask where in the IPCC reports this cocksure statement is to be found.

Interestingly, when you go to the climate “realists” or other deniers, you will find no such system of likelihood level.  Here are some such statements:

Climate “realist” statements:

Maybe these statements are slightly more cocksure than those from the IPCC?

If you prefer reality rather than propaganda, one should take into consideration that the economic interests in keeping the fossil fuel society going for another few years are so high that the richest people in the world are willing to take unethical and extreme risk. They fund the largest propaganda machine the world has ever seen   to keep the carbon society going

Climate “realists,” climate “skeptics” and others are fighting tooth and nail to keep the fossil community going as long as possible. Depletion of resources, pollution and rivers of money to various carbon barons worldwide, oil billionaires, petro tyrants and terrorists in the Middle East, Africa and Russia are inevitable results. When it comes to billions of dollars each day, some people are willing to just about anything to make the system continue. What they are afraid of, is a quick social, ecological and economic paradigm shift.

The new paradigm: renewable energy sources and sustainable development

a. Renewable energy does not pollute air and water

b. Renewable energy is eternal

c. Renewable energy increases local resilience and robustness, keeps capital at local leves, decentralises logistics, increases innovation and local competence, stops capital accumulation in the wrong places, facilitates and enhances democratic processes.

d. Renewable energy prevents global warming and ensures a safer and prosperous future for future generations

The risk of choosing the sustainable development paradigm is having to pay some extra money for a much better and safer future for all. We are all more or less petro-holics. The sooner we start weaning ourselves off the habit, the better. The choice is yours – and many factors indicate you have to choose now.

We should have started transforming our society forty years ago. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be. We have known what to do for decades.  Margareth Thatcher on global warming 1990

About svenaake

University Teacher.
This entry was posted in Denialism, Environment, Fossil fuels and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cocksure statements on climate change?

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  2. Pingback: It’s just natural variation – isn’t it? | Education for Sustainable Development

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