1st UK media response to Royal Society event 1, 2 March

March 2, 2007 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Answer, Britain, British Future, Climate change, IPCC, Irresponsible, Royal Society | Leave a comment

Following up my own inquisitiveness as to how the British newspapers will portray the two-day showcase on IPCC WGI reports, an event in progress at the Royal Society as I write, I found the first answer. Dated 28 February, it was written ahead of the start of the showcase itself.This article by Martin Livermore in the Daily Telegraph, is the only news report so far and does not make for pretty reading from his misunderstanding of the science, his gross misrepresentation of facts, and his mis-attribution of the IPCC’s reports and role (and a quick skim of the comments is even more ugly):

All those scientists may still be wrong

Telegraph.co.uk, UK – 28 Feb 2007
Today, the Royal Society starts a two-day event showcasing the science of climate change according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A page from the IPCC report he is referring to may help Mr. Livingstone—it is certainly worth him studying before he writes his next article, since he claims the opposite of what the IPCC reports!! He writes:

peak temperatures were recorded in 1998; since then, we have had eight years with no warming

The IPCC report states:

  • Eleven of the last twelve years (1995 -2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850).

Look!

IPCC WGI SPM AR4 Figure SPM-3 on page 17 of 21

Figure SPM-3 IPCC WGI AR4 showing:

  • Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level (see Figure SPM-3)

Instead of concentrating on key facts, Martin Livingstone’s opinion piece is reassuringly creative:

The mainstream view, promulgated by the IPCC, is that this moderate warming is enhanced by the extra water vapour that higher temperatures put into the atmosphere. This positive feedback leads, in theory, to a much greater temperature rise and has led to speculation about runaway global warming.

“Mainstream view”? He is cleverly implying that this is the main point the IPCC is promulgating! Where does Mr. Livermore get the rest of his paragraph from? Oh, I see … he is picking a few phrases and stringing them together to present “a new enhanced reality”. Nice spin.

He is stringing together key quotes from the recent IPCC Summary for Policymakers*:

  • “The average atmospheric water vapour content has increased since at least the 1980s over land and ocean as well as in the upper troposphere. The increase is broadly consistent with the extra water vapour that warmer air can hold.”
  • “Water vapour changes represent the largest feedback affecting climate sensitivity.”

with his own alarmist opinions:

  • mainstream view (implying this is the main point), promulgated by the IPCC, is that this moderate warming is enhanced by the extra water vapour
  • positive feedback leads, in theory, to a much greater temperature rise
  • has led to speculation about runaway global warming

… to make it sound like the IPCC is promoting alarmism based on unpredictable positive feedback and runaway global warming.

This is a clever … and misleading … article implying water vapour should be one of our main concerns. This diverts attention from greenhouse gases and encourages people to think that nothing can be done to combat climate change. It is hardly worth commenting on the rest of Martin Livingstone’s article, as it is so full of obvious mistakes.

I shall look forward to the rest of the reporters’ articles on the Royal Society showcase.

***

*Water vapour is referred to four times in the IPCC WGI SPM AR4:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level (see Figure SPM-3 Note: I have added it to the top of my post).

  • The average atmospheric water vapour content has increased since at least the 1980s over land and ocean as well as in the upper troposphere. The increase is broadly consistent with the extra water vapour that warmer air can hold.

At continental, regional, and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones.

  • The frequency of heavy precipitation events has increased over most land areas, consistent with warming and observed increases of atmospheric water vapour.

Analysis of climate models together with constraints from observations enables an assessed likely range to be given for climate sensitivity for the first time and provides increased confidence in the understanding of the climate system response to radiative forcing.

  • The equilibrium climate sensitivity is a measure of the climate system response to sustained radiative forcing. It is not a projection but is defined as the global average surface warming following a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations. It is likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. Water vapour changes represent the largest feedback affecting climate sensitivity and are now better understood than in the TAR. Cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty.

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