The editorial in todays Australian misrepresents the recently released summary of the IPCC AR4.
This misrepresentation forms the basis of their claim that no drastic action is required in response to climate change, and to essentially endorse the Howard government’s position. In the editorial they point out that they accept the reality of climate change, yet it seems that they get their information on it from denialists.
In particular they say
The IPCC report suggests that sea levels will rise somewhere between 0.18m and 0.59m over the coming century – hardly the sort of thing that will see skyscrapers swamped, islands sink or even low-lying poor cities inundated. To the extent that dislocations will be caused, they can be dealt with, and it is far from clear that hobbling not just the Australian economy but those of China and India is the most appropriate response. To take the IPCC’s average sea level rise of 38.5cm (which, six years ago, it tipped at 48.5cm) as a starting point, this would mean, according to some of the world’s leading scientists, that Al Gore, who in his movie An Inconvenient Truth dramatically shows what the worlds coastlines would look like were sea levels to rise by 6.1m, is off by more than a factor of 15 times.
They even use a variant of the old “global warming ended in 1998” rubbish that has been doing the rounds in denialist circles for some time with the following comment:
The world may be getting warmer at the moment – though temperatures have been pretty stable since 1998 – but humans have thrived in hotter conditions than these and they have certainly survived colder periods
Note that they have toned it down a bit to fit in with their acceptance of global warming.
These arguments have already been dealt with by Nexus 6, who came across the same arguments elsewhere, but here’s the gist of it:
- The latest sea level predictions exclude the ice from Antarctica and Greenland. The previous report (TAR) did include these, so these numbers cannot be directly compared. If estimates for rise from increased ice flows are included then the numbers are similar – so they have not reduced the predicted sea level rise.
- Al Gore’s talked about what the sea level rise would be if either the ice on the West Antarctic peninsular or Greenland (or half of each) was to melt without giving a timeframe for this to occur. The AR4 summary predicts sea level rises by 2100 and excludes ice flows. These are completely different things and cannot be meaningfully compared. Al Gore was not wrong about rises in sea level.
- 1998 was an unusually hot year, those who claim that warming has stopped/stalled/slowed since then are cherry picking. This has been dealt with at length over at Deltoid. Just go there and look at the picture and see that global warming is still happening.
Also, they have a front page story which comes out in support of coal mining … coincidentally they also have a liftout (of the special advertising feature variety) with lots of stories about how we should all go to Queensland to work in the mining industry, and which, judging by the advertising, seems to be largely paid for by Rio Tinto.
Update: Nexus 6 has also written about this.
Update II: They’re at it again.