Why Doesn’t Anyone Care When IPCC UNDER-Estimates Climate Impacts

Imagine the following scenario:

1.  The IPCC announces a surprising figure for sea level rise by 2100.

2.  But it used a model that was off by a factor of two as applied to recent changes in sea level.

3.  It also made a 5-year change in the time period that reinforced the first problem.

4.  The most recent studies oppose IPCC.

As a recent post on RealClimate points out, if these mistakes had caused an overestimate of sea level rise, “SeaLevelgate” would be all over the blogosphere, not to mention Fox and talk radio. This would be yet more proof that the IPCC is politicized and unsound.

But in fact, the mistakes were all in the opposite direction, resulting in an underestimate of sea level change.  For some reason, that’s not newsworthy!  The reality is the IPCC is mostly too cautious rather than too bold in its predictions, according to many climate scientists.

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Why Doesn’t Anyone Care When IPCC UNDER-Estimates Climate Impacts”

  1. I’m skittish about publicizing this too much, however, Dan, because I’m afraid folks will say “well, if they are susceptible to both over and underestimations, then it casts all of the IPCC’s conclusions in doubt.” I understand your emphasis on the conservative nature of its assumptions, but not sure the press will understand the nuance.

  2. Let us propose that:

    For each and every overestimate or exaggeration of climate change impacts in the IPCC’s 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, there is an equal and opposite underestimate or understatement.

  3. Dan,
    The problem is not the IPCC estimates, it is the flawed science and politicalization of the issue. It will take years to sort out all of the scientific errors and arrive at a creditable and accurate analysis of climate change implications.

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Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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