Friday, February 02, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Apologies for not posting anything so far today - I've had one of those days. I'm itching to post on the media hype of the latest IPCC report, but it will have to wait. Just to be going on with, though, what the media have been commenting on today is not the actual report (the Fourth Assessment Report) - which was actually completed some time ago - but the "Policymakers" summary of the report. Anyone wondering why a scientific study needs "policymakers"?

'Cause it's political.

Interestingly, the final report will be held back for another three months to allow them to change the report to make it consistent with the policymakers summary. No, that's not a mistake - the scientists change the report to suit the summary made by the policy makers.

Still think it's science driven?

For what it's worth - after all, I'm no scientist, though I do think I am still capable of rational thought - I have read the technical summary and the chapter on radiative forcing in the report. Rather surprisingly, there is a strict ban on citing or quoting from the report. Odd, don't you think?

However, from what I can make of it, the media are hyping it out of all proportion. For instance, the media have picked up on the "90 certain" that climate change is anthropogenic - but from what I've read the report actually says is that is is "very likely" (90% probable) that man's activities have exerted some contribution to global warming. It is not saying that it is 90% certain that global warming is caused by man.

It's a subtle, but crucial difference.

As man's contribution comes most significantly from the "radiative forcings" it should also be noted that the report admits to a "low level of scientific understanding" on the majority of RF's. Not clear what "a low level" means just yet, but given that the report uses a guide where "low" equates to about a 2 in 10 chance of being correct, that suggests to me that they really are struggling. The best they cite is a "medium level" - this equates to a 5 in 10 chance. 50/50.

Heads climate change is anthropogenic, tails it isn't.


Bad luck AGW fans.

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