Climate Change and its Discontents

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I haven’t been following in detail the various recent disputes about specific global warming claims, but if Walter Russell Mead is to be believed, there are more than I thought:

The former head of IPCC has publicly said the IPCC risks losing all credibility if it can’t clean up its act.  The head of the largest British funder of environmental research has joined the head of Greenpeace UK in criticizing the IPCC.  (At Greenpeace, they want Pachauri to resign.)  The Dutch government has demanded that the IPCC correct its erroneous assertion that half of the Netherlands is below sea level.  Actually, it’s only about a quarter.  A prediction about the impact of sea level increases on people living in the Nile Delta was taken from an unpublished student dissertation.  The report contained inaccurate data about generating energy from waves and about the cost of nuclear power (this information was apparently taken without being checked directly from a website supported by the nuclear power industry). The deeply environmentalist Guardian carries a story documenting the decline in both public and Conservative Party confidence in need to address global warming.

….When the IPCC has its former chief, the Guardian newspaper and the Dutch government demanding change, something has got to give.

This is in addition to the CRU emails, the Himalayan glacier debacle, the Chinese weather station controversy, and a problem with claims about north African crop reductions. Apparently, when it rains, it pours.

But as I said, I haven’t been following this stuff closely. The CRU emails mostly seemed overblown to me, and taken by themselves they’d probably have blown over pretty quickly. But start adding all this other stuff — even if none of it really affects the core claims of climate change — and the public is going to tune out even more than it already has unless the climate community either provides some explanations post haste or else makes credible commitments to clean up its act in the very near future.

For now, though, since I haven’t spent a lot of time digging into these disputes myself, I’m just posting this in order to generate comments and responses. Is there anything to them? Or just a whole bunch of mud being thrown on the walls by the usual suspects?

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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