No, the IPPC report didn’t say we’re done for

This was the week that Covid fear had to step aside for Climate fear because the one-world political organisation known as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was taking centre stage and provided all sorts of delicious fodder for the media and political class to spin into click bait headlines.

The Irish Times reported Minister Eamon Ryan saying that the evidence was “unequivocal” that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land – with widespread and rapid changes across the world.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said the IPCC AR6 report was a ‘code red for humanity’ adding that “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”

The (supposed) Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, echoed this “code red” trigger warning. Nothing original from our Taoiseach of second-hand catch phrases.

But what most of the public don’t realize is that the disaster predictions of the IPCC report, which are based on modeling scenarios RCP8.5 and SSP5-8.5, have been downgraded from “most likely future” in the 2013 IPCC report, to “low likelihood” in the recent one. This means that these scenarios along with the projected temperature rises are extremely improbable.

Yet they are presented by the media as our certain future. University of Colorado professor of environmental studies, Roger Pielke Jr., documents this bait and switch concisely and says the description of the report as ‘code red’ with ‘billions of people at immediate risk’ is both “wrong” and “irresponsible”.

“Nowhere does the IPCC report say that billions of people are at immediate risk,” he says. Pielke notes that the scenarios judged unlikely by the IPCC are the high [or disaster] emissions, while scenarios “in line” with current policies are intermediate scenarios.

“This is huge news. Fantastic in fact. Why? The extreme scenario RCP8.5 was in the most recent IPCC report identified as our most likely future. Now IPCC has completely reversed that, and it is now considered low likelihood. There could not be a more profound change in the scenario foundation of climate science,” Pielke writes.

The Irish media, in common with their global counterparts, seemed to have skipped that part of the report.

The Irish Mirror, for example, went with a sci-fi disaster movie pitch. In a hilarious hy-brasilian speculation they depict a scenario where major Irish cities will sink beneath the waves by 2030. This is not an “if,” they lead the reader to believe – it’s absolutely certain.

The Irish Mirror further explains that: “The UN report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said temperature rise will hit 1.5C by 2040.”

But what the astute reader of these reports will note is that they have all misrepresented the temperature rise as predicted by the IPCC. By the structure of the articles they imply that the rise discussed by the IPCC is between now (2021) and 2040.

This is not what the IPCC AR6 report stated, but it helps sell papers. It is misinformation that is repeated by nearly all news agencies across the world.

It is a perfect case of how the press seeks out scary headlines from the IPCC reports while, it seems, not even understanding the text. The pro-human flourishing campaigner who wrote The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels, Alex Epstein, forced a retraction from Twitter who made this claim.

So the truth is that the IPCC were saying that that 1.5 C rise was over a 150 year period, not the next 2 decades. Whether this misrepresentation of this fundamental but basic fact in the mainstream Media was a misunderstanding, or an eagerness to seek out click bait, or pure deception, is hard to say.

Whether the headline writers understood the report or not they misrepresented the claim made in it. But this type of misrepresentation is not uncommon. In fact there seems to be a voyeuristic preference for catastrophe when it comes to media reports on climate predictions. In this case, the Twitter story suggested that the earth’s temperature is rising 7 times as fast as the IPCC reported.

All of the doomsday climate reporting must be as sweet music to the lobbyist-types with prepared equity bills, and infrastructure bills, and calls for subsidies for wind farms and solar panels beyond 2030.

This is the 6th IPCC reports to come out and it has hit heights in dread prophesies that none have met before. This is not because the scientific knowledge it collects together has found or predicted a worsening scenario; it’s just that activist media and click bait catastrophe stories are becoming more central in the media business model.

The IPCC chapter tited The Summary for Policy Makers that provides the headlines and graphic quotes for the media and politicians. The rest of these reports are never read by the vast majority of the media or the political class.

Why would they be, when this summary document (at 42 page still beyond the attention span of most people) provides all the worst scenarios which the click bait press can present as “scientific consensus”? Which of course it isn’t! In many cases it doesn’t even present the views of the authors of individual chapters.

What Michael Shellenberger, who contributed to previous IPCC reports himself, discovered when he talked to some of the authors of individual chapters in IPCC reports, was that the summary chapter frequently misrepresented their views. His conversation with Richard Toll, a convening author of the 5th IPCC review of Climate Change, detail how the Summary chapter is political in nature, and plays down positive developments while exaggerating negative ones (Apocalypse Never p 253-6).

Toll was an early supporter of the IPCC, who due to his pioneering work on the economics of climate change became one of the most-cited economists in the world on the topic. He played a central role in some of these early IPCC reports but by the time of the publishing of the 5th IPCC report he says, “the IPCC shifted from ‘not without risk, but manageable,’ to ‘we’re all going to die.”

This seems to be a steady pattern. The editors of the summary chapter exaggerate the claims/findings of the contributing scientists, disregarding likely scenarios and focusing on catastrophic but unlikely scenarios. Media and politicians seek out the juiciest, scariest sounding predictions from this chapter, and then fan the flames of sensationalism with a steady stream of headlines and images designed to incite a state of eco-neurosis.

The “few years left until catastrophe” headline is nothing new. The UN tends to inflate the threat of danger in its environmental reports going back to the 1970s. The first of these was in 1972 when the first UN Environment Programme director, Maurice Strong, warned that the world had just 10 years to avoid catastrophe. (if the chronologically conscious reader is keeping track of these predictions, it means we have already passed the catastrophe 40 years ago – though, funny enough, I can’t remember it)

The threat of imminent danger is a theme of these reports. All of which makes political action and expenditure a pressing cause. Commentator and author, Bjorn Lomberg, collates some of these catastrophe headlines back over the years.

In 1982, according to the media and the political elite, we had just 18 years to act before we would be hit with “an environmental catastrophe as irreversible as any nuclear holocaust”. In 1988 Nasa Scientist, James Hansen, who is still in the thick of climate policy activism (meaning very costly government spending), warned of the looming catastrophe before a US congressional committee, and in 1989 the UN’s director of the NY office of the UNEP, Noel Browne, warned that we had until 1999 to act or nations would be swallowed by rising sea levels. Coastal cities would be washed away and low lying nations would be submerged in 1999 (which happened twenty two years ago, if you recall).

Another notable report of impending disaster was 2007 when the head of the UN Climate Panel claimed that 2012 would be too late. This was also the year of Al Gore’s entry into catastrophe voyeurism, which some suspected was a mid-life crisis compensation for not getting to be president.

There are plenty more examples of deadlines that have passed without the called for actions and yet without the prophesized disaster. People have very short memories, and they respond to visual cues of flaming forests and starving polar bears, so the likes of Gore and the staff at the Guardian and the Irish Times get away with these regular top ups of neurosis-inducing disaster hustling.

For instance you can look back in the Guardian’s archives and find headlines predicting the disappearance of Arctic summer sea ice in the years 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 2018, etc. Here are just a few examples:

2015 Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years | Climate change | The Guardian

2016 US Navy predicts summer ice free Arctic by 2016 | Environment | The Guardian

2017 Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years | Climate change | The Guardian

How can you be wrong this many times and still have credibility? Easily, I suppose, if you get a bit vague with the deadline and say it will happen sometime soon!

Arctic sea ice could disappear even if world achieves climate target | Arctic | The Guardian

Remember Roger Pielke Jr’s claim that the IPCC reports model scenarios that are not realistic and show no signs of happening – and that the press then takes the outcomes of these scenarios and makes headlines of them.

In a recent interview with Spiked, Roger Pielke Jr said: “Imagine a future, for example, where the only energy source we rely on is coal. We get rid of solar, wind, nuclear and natural gas. That’s pretty extreme. And it’s pretty out of line with where the world actually is now and where it’s headed. But still, this scenario is then fed into the climate models that produce projections of future impacts. There’s a ‘catastrophe bias’ baked into the IPCC,” he said.

The climate activists, media, and climate politicians, present these catastrophe scenarios as predetermined. The “code red for humanity” headline is one such example and it bears no relation to the actual meat of the IPCC report, which, for instance, made no claims that floods and storms are more frequent because of climate change. This is most peculiar considering how much of the past weeks climate catastrophe coverage was accompanied by pictures of storms and bush fires.

The IPCC report does not indicate there are worsening problems with extreme weather events, but the media continue to report breathlessly on disaster scenarios accompanied by blazing brush fires and flooded towns. Pielke calls this media reporting an “Apocalypse Auction”.

As environmentalist and fierce critic of climate alarmism, Shellenberger recently said when exposing another fake news story about climate catastrophe: “The lesson from the fake news about the AMOC is that, at this point, you really can’t trust anything the mainstream news media reports about climate change, nor what activist climate scientists say. They have misled the public for decades.

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