Friday, June 03, 2005

Green Ink

Had a bit of a green ink experience last night. A journalist was visiting our lab yesterday, to talk to the Hadley Centre/CGAM visitors, but we got invited out to dinner too. The journo (who seemed to be very switched-on and well-informed) is planning an article on climate science, and in between pleasantries about life in Japan he mentioned he was still looking for an exciting angle for his piece. At this point the beer was flowing so I (aided and abetted by others, I might add) descended into a bit of a rant about how the last thing climate change needed was sexed up by every researcher and journalist trying to outdo the last with forecasts of doom and gloom - firstly, because the worst case studies are highly unlikely to come to pass, and perhaps more importantly, because it gives the septics a stick to beat us with when it doesn't happen. The boring facts (IMO) are that climate will get warmer by about 0.2C per decade for the foreseeable future, perhaps rising to 0.3C or more. This is likely to cause us some financial and human cost, but in itself it will not mean the end of the world and there are a lot of other problems worth taking seriously too (like the AIDS epidemic in Africa, oil running out, ... you get the picture). Oh, I'm starting to rant here. jules bought me a Flame Warrior "Issues" mousemat a couple of years ago for Christmas - I can't imagine why :-) Now I'm digressing too...

Anyway, by this time jules was doing her best to slide under the table while I was ranting about the presentation of this particular piece of work, which seemed to be deliberately sensationalising the research (I have yet to find any climate scientist who actually admits to believing that there is a significant chance of climate sensitivity being 11C or more, it was merely not ruled out by their preliminary and limited experiment). Fortunately when the journalist got interested and asked if he could quote me I still had sufficient sobriety to point him in the direction of this article on RealClimate which expresses a similar opinion with more authority and clarity than I could hope to.

And so to bed...and then a rather subbdued and lazy Friday, with much coffee and an early night tonight, I think.

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