Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Oz editorial - still wing-nut central. Part II

Australian editor and climate change-denialist Chris Mitchell just can't help himself. In another screeching rant against economic terrorists scientists, he spins and twists, but just ends up falling over in a heap.

On certainty:
While the recent IPCC report was held up as the last word on the subject, many scientists have pointed out that the 90 per cent certainty ascribed to the report's findings is in scientific terms not very certain at all.
Firstly, Mitchell's 90% certainty is actually the IPCC's 90% uncertainty range.
In general, uncertainty ranges for results given in this Summary for Policymakers are 90% uncertainty intervals unless stated otherwise.
In a way, the difference is academic, but when you're attempting to deny the likelihood of worst-case scenarios you can see why Mitchell didn't elude to its real meaning.
...there is an estimated 5% likelihood that the value could be above the range given in square brackets and 5% likelihood that the value could be below that range.
Doesn't sound good as 10 % chance of being wrong to the ears of denial, does it?

Still, could you imagine Mitchell at the races (even with his certainty interpretation).

Man in the know: "Mitchell, I have a tip for you. Put you money on number 8 in race 9, he's got a nine in ten chance of winning."

Mitchell: "In scientific terms, that's not very certain at all. I'm going to put all my money on the sway-backed, three-legged, emphasemic horse over there, just to prove you know-it-alls wrong!"

So do you think Mitchell actually read the IPCC summary? After all, it's not exactly very long and if you're going to pontificate at length in Australia's only national newspaper, it's surely not that difficult a task. Unfortunately, Mitchell clearly hasn't. Witness this statement about the glory of scepticism:
Today's scepticism could well prove that man-made carbon emissions are not the sole, or even primary, driver of climate change.
Not the sole driver of climate change?

That's already established fact. Does the IPCC summary say that mad-made carbon emissions are the sole drivers of climate change?


The IPCC summary says the significant radiative forcing components are:

Stratospheric ozone
Tropospheric ozone
Stratospheric water vapour from CH4
Surface albedo
Aerosol direct effects
Aerosol cloud albedo effects
Linear contrails
Solar irradiance

It goes on and on. Copernicus was a sceptic, as is 'cosmic-ray' Svensmark, so give 'em equal respect. Climate is infinitely complex (big number is infinity. Not too common in nature I suspect).

Best of all though.

Mitchell rages:
It is profoundly unscientific to say the debate is over and that sceptics are not only wrong on the facts but morally unhinged - as demonstrated by the unsubtle and offensive epithet "denier"
Mitchell's headline directly below that sentence:
Culture of denial
Steve Bracks must wake up and act on police corruption