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The 5 stages of climate denial are on display ahead of the IPCC report

 
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and The Australian are providing the media coverage for climate contrarian damage control. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “The 5 stages of climate denial are on display ahead of the IPCC report” was written by Dana Nuccitelli, for theguardian.com on Monday 16th September 2013 02.42 UTC

The fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is due out on September 27th, and is expected to reaffirm with growing confidence that humans are driving global warming and climate change. In anticipation of the widespread news coverage of this auspicious report, climate contrarians appear to be in damage control mode, trying to build up skeptical spin in media climate stories. Just in the past week we’ve seen:

Interestingly, these pieces spanned nearly the full spectrum of the 5 stages of global warming denial.

Stage 1: Deny the Problem Exists

Often when people are first faced with an inconvenient problem, the immediate reaction involves denying its existence. For a long time climate contrarians denied that the planet was warming. Usually this involves disputing the accuracy of the surface temperature record, given that the data clearly indicate rapid warming.

In the 1990s, Christy and Spencer created a data set of lower atmosphere temperatures using measurements from satellite instruments. These initially seemed to indicate that the atmosphere was not warming, leading Christy, Spencer, and their fellow contrarians to declare that the problem didn’t exist. Unfortunately, it turned out that their data set contained several biases that added an artificial cooling trend, and once those were corrected, it was revealed that the lower atmosphere was warming at a rate consistent with surface temperature measurements.

Most climate contrarians have come to accept that the planet has warmed significantly. Unfortunately many have regressed back into Stage 1 denial through the new myth that global warming magically stopped 15 years ago (most recently exemplified by David Rose in the Mail on Sunday). The error in that argument involves ignoring about 98 percent of the warming of the planet, most of which goes into heating the oceans. When we account for all of the data, global warming actually appears to be accelerating.

Global Heat Accumulation Data

Global heat accumulation data, from Nuccitelli et al. (2012)

David Rose also doubled-down on his Arctic sea ice decline denial this weekend, suggesting melts in the 1920s were just as large as today’s. Sorry David, the data debunk your denial again.

Summer Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Average July through September Arctic sea ice extent 1870–2008 from the University of Illinois (Walsh & Chapman 2001 updated to 2008) and observational data from NSIDC for 2009–2012.

 

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