Review finds IPCC science is sound. The Australian thinks different.

The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has just published its review into the main findings of the IPCC’s “latest” assessment report, which came out three years ago.

Here’s the report’s main conclusion on the science.

The foundations for thirty-two IPCC Fourth Assessment summary conclusions on the regional impacts of climate change have been investigated. These conclusions show examples of projections of climate-change impacts on food, water, ecosystems, coastal regions and health, for all the earth’s continents. These conclusions have not been undermined by errors, although one of the conclusions contains a minor inaccuracy: in hindsight, not 75 to 250 million people, but 90 to 220 million people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change in Africa, by 2020. Given the large uncertainties surrounding such projections, this difference is not significant.

Seems pretty straightforward. There are concerns expressed that the summary conclusions made by the IPCC put too much emphasis on “the main negative impacts of climate change” rather than, presumably, pointing out that it might be great for cane toads.

The thrust of the Netherlands review is obvious. It’s repeated in the press release, just in case anyone misses the point.

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency found no errors that would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional impacts of climate change.

The Australian newspaper has written a story about the findings, but you’d be forgiven for thinking they must have read a different report.

Under the headline “UN’s climate report ‘one-sided'” the newspaper’s journalist appears to have crawled the publication for any glimmer of bad news. The all-important introduction to the story, goes thus.

THE IPCC’s report on climate change failed to make clear it often presented a worst-case scenario on global warming, an investigation has found.

Now if that’s not editorialising a story, then I don’t know what is, but then it wasn’t written by anyone at The Australian, but by a journalist at The Times newspaper in the UK. The chaps at The Times have a bit of a habit of misrepresenting and editorialising stories on climate change. Columnist at The Guardian George Monbiot tracks this phenomenon here, as does Tim Lambert at Deltoid.

You may think The Australian would have cause for caution in reprinting any material at all from The Times group, given that a couple of weeks ago the The Sunday Times had to publish a complete retraction of one of its climate change yarns.

The story in question, which also appeared in The Australian, had claimed that the IPCC had no sound scientific backing for a statement that 40 per cent of the Amazon was at risk of being turned to little more than dirt and dust at the hands of climate change.

The retraction of the story was lengthy due to the sheer number of errors in their original piece. A snapshot, goes like this.

In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence.

You can read the full retraction on The Australian website here.

The only error in all of this, according to Monbiot, was that the IPCC had underestimated the Amazon catastrophe. Unlike the journalists at The Times, he has two peer-reviewed papers to back his assertion.

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Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

9 thoughts on “Review finds IPCC science is sound. The Australian thinks different.”

  1. Hi Graham,
    Thought you’d disappeared without trace. Nice to find you again. Keep up the good work, global warming hasn’t given up the fight for the recognition it deserves, and neither should we.
    Nor should we expect the denier donkeys to admit defeat in the face of incontrovertible evidence. The Flat Earth Society and the Creationists are still going strong, so I expect that Bolt will still be braying well into his senility.

  2. Heya Graham & Watson too!

    Good to see you back on the blogosphere, twas fun the debates against the news ltd deniers that used to descend on your green blog on mass, all worked up from Bolts column. Haha. Pity the direction of news ltd is so dictated by its shareholders & sponsors.

  3. Haha, yes well fun should have probably been in inverted commas, lol. Must have been a frustrating place to work with so many denialist journos & such a blatant attempt to direct opinion away from science & scientific facts.

    Fortunately the ABC will be starting up their 24/7 news programs at the end of this month, which will hopefully see the readership of news.ltd plummet.

    The Australian appears to be nothing more than an industry mouthpiece now. I remember years ago when I was going through uni it had a bit of academic respect. Now its just laughed at.

  4. @Phil M definitely agree on your review of the Australian, it’s just a joke. A while back they ran an article about how sea levels were not actually rising, with the very authoritative, expert opinion of a life guard to back it up. Ridiculous.

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