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Awful Alarmism
Leading Climate Scientist Bemoans Chicken Little Green Advocacy

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report over the weekend with some pretty dire predictions. Increasing fossil fuel consumption, the panel warned, could, as the NYT puts it, “threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.” The panel’s report pointed to a target of zeroing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2100—a tall order, indeed—but said that the costs of this transition will be lower than one might expect, at least when compared to the costs climate change will run up if we do nothing.

But lost in all the hand-wringing and calls for (what remains highly unlikely) international action that the IPCC’s report has kicked off was news that one of the paper’s lead authors had castigated the environmental movement’s penchant of overstating the science. The Telegraph reports:

Some claims that non-governmental organisations have made about climate change “have undoubtedly been exaggerated”, Professor Myles Allen, one of the lead authors of a major new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said. “NGOs have at times been alarmist over climate change… but the IPCC has been very clear and measured throughout. I think alarmism on any issue is unhelpful.”

Indeed. Climate change is a real problem, but exaggerating the dangers it poses or insisting that the science behind it is somehow “settled” when time and again we see that it is anything but, does nobody any favors. Climate alarmists are one of the leading causes of climate skepticism, and though the IPCC itself has not exactly always been clear and measured, we’re glad to hear one of the IPCC’s own acknowledging the fact.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Let us not forget that every single one of the previous IPCC reports has been alarmist, and been shown by the passage of time to have exaggerated the impact of atmospheric CO2 on global temperature and its results of. Climate change happens (although the temperature has quit rising for the time being), and all the effort being put into anthropogenic climate change would be better spent figuring out how to deal with it. Nature, incidentally is lending a hand: increased temperature and CO2 have caused plant growth, and hence carbon sequestration, to increase dramatically (

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The co-founder of the Weather Channel has recently declared that “Global Warming” is Baloney. All of the data from the last 18 years says that the Globe isn’t Warming. Experiments have shown that the increase of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere from the 285 ppm to the present day 395 ppm causes plants to produce 15% more mass and be more water tolerant, which means 15% more food for all life since plants are at the bottom of the food chain. 15% more plant respiration means more water vapor, more clouds, and more precipitation.

    I don’t understand the hysteria against a warmer Globe anyway. During the Medieval Warm Period where the Earth was warmer than it is today, Greenland was colonized and people were growing grapes and making wine in Moscow. So a warmer Earth would increase the land available for cultivation, and more food would be the result. How is that a bad thing? All this talk about extinctions (when there’s more food?), increasingly severe storms (no evidence), and a rising ocean (been rising since the last Ice Age) are either untrue or alarms about nothing.

    • Andrew Allison

      Whilst obviously agreeing (see my comment) with your hypothesis that a warmer planet is, at least within reason, on balance a good thing, it cannot be denied that over the long term, global surface temperature has been increasing since at least 1850, albeit very much more slowly that the Church of AGW prophesizes. As the chart at makes clear, during the past 160 years there’s been a cyclical rise and fall with the up cycle having greater amplitude than the down; in other words the peaks and valleys are successively higher. This could possibly be due to increased atmospheric CO2, but the key point is that the long-term rate of temperature increase is an order of magnitude less that propounded by the alarmists — in other words, we have plenty time to adjust. I bring this up only because, in the same way that the exaggerated alarmist claims hurt the Church of AGW, denying that the planet is warming reduces the credibility of the legitimate questions regarding its scriptures.

      • Boritz

        In the 1970s the alarmists predicted that long term cooling would be the problem and they suffered no particular loss of credibility. If they can make contra-indicated predictions the nature of the predictions is not even an issue.

  • Rick Johnson

    Climate change is a natural. The only problem is the weak minded who fall for the Greens BS.

  • Arkeygeezer

    I still can’t understand the emphasis on CO2. Carbon Dioxide is less than 1/2 of one per cent of the atmosphere. CO2 levels may be an indicator of something, but not a cause. The only reason for the CO2 emphasis is that politicians have found a way to tax it, where they can’t tax water vapor or methane produced by farting.
    To reduce CO2 emissions to reduce climate change, is like trying to fill a gas tank by moving the gas gauge to “full”.
    I can still remember the effort to close the hole in the ozone layer by banning freon. We did that by replacing every air-conditioner in the U.S., and today the hole in the ozone layer is bigger than ever. This is now considered a natural phenomenon by scientists not worthy of alarm while GE and other air-conditioner producers pocketed the profits.

    • Andrew Allison

      You partially answered your own question: “The only reason for the CO2 emphasis is that politicians have found a way to tax it, where they can’t tax water vapor or methane produced by farting.” The more insidious answer is that so-called “climate scientists” have discovered a gravy train and eco-Nazis think they have discovered a way to destroy advanced economies. BTW, since volcanos also produce a lot of methane we should, in addition to killing all the cows, prohibit them.

  • rheddles

    Climate change is real. Whether it is a problem is questionable. Whether it is a problem we can address is even more questionable. All natural systems on this planet involve change. There is no more an equilibrium in the climate than there is in the economy. Our understanding of the forces affecting the climate is far, far less than our understanding of the forces affecting the economy. That’s why everyone was prepared for the crash of 2008.

  • brianoconnor

    I absolutely LOVE the strum and drang associated with the word “could” when used like this: “Increasing fossil fuel comsumption, the panel warned, could, as the NYT puts it . . .” where “could” means “might.”

    Why not this: “Increasing fossil fuel comsumption, the panel warned, could NOT, as the NYT puts it . . .”.

    Is there really a difference between the meanings of the two statements? I think not.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Not to worry, skeptics. Your new Republican control of Congress means the USA will do absolutely nothing you don’t like on climate.

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