Monday, September 16, 2013

False claims by contrarians, not scientists, caused Matt Gurney's cynicism about climate change

On Friday, Matt Gurney in the National Post blasted climate scientists, arguing that "repeated false claims have had the effect of turning a lot of people, including my fellow agnostics and I, into climate change cynics, if not yet outright skeptics".

He's right about the false claims. He's wrong about the source.

The false claims that are making Gurney and others "skeptics" come from contrarians, not the scientists.

Gurney's source material is not any actual science, it is an error-filled piece by Daily Mail columnist David Rose that has been torn to shreds by scientists.

In that column, Rose not only misinterpreted the findings in a leaked IPCC report, he flat out made up numbers. For one, the estimated rate of warming since 1950 dropped from 0.13 deg C/decade in the last report to 0.12 deg C /decade in the upcoming report -- not from 0.2 to 0.12, as claimed by Rose. Apparently there are no fact checkers at the Daily Mail, nor many people good at math, because Rose's easily debunked claim garnered the headline "Global warming is just half of what we said".

I'm sympathetic to Gurney's argument that alarmism, on any subject, can alienate the public and impede progress on solutions. We can make up legitimate arguments for and against different climate policies. We can't make up facts.

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