Cherry Pick Update: How Dumb are These People?
December 14, 2012
MARK COLVIN: A blogger has put most of the drafts of the fifth International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, due next year, on the internet.
The blogger Alec Rawls is a climate change sceptic.
He and other climate sceptic journalists and bloggers have isolated one section of the draft to suggest that cosmic rays, such as those of the sun, may have a greater influence on warming than had been claimed.
The leaked IPCC drafts cover a range of subjects from the quality of climate models to measurements of sea level rise and Arctic ice loss.
Professor Steve Sherwood is a director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.
He is also a lead author of chapter seven of the IPCC report, which happens to be the one the sceptics are claiming for their side.
But Professor Sherwood is scornful of the idea that the chapter he helped write confirms a greater role for solar and other cosmic rays in global warming.
STEVE SHERWOOD: Oh that’s completely ridiculous. I’m sure you could go and read those paragraphs yourself and the summary of it and see that we conclude exactly the opposite, that this cosmic ray effect that the paragraph is discussing appears to be negligible.
MARK COLVIN: They’re saying that it is the first indication that the IPCC recognises something called solar forcing.
STEVE SHERWOOD: It’s not the first time it recognises it. What it shows is that we looked at this. We look at everything. The IPCC has a very comprehensive process where we try to look at all the influences on climate and so we looked at this one.
And there have been a couple of papers suggesting that solar forcing affects climate through cosmic ray/cloud interactions, but most of the literature on this shows that that doesn’t actually work.
MARK COLVIN: So you’re saying that you’ve managed to basically eliminate this idea that sunspots or whatever are more responsible for global warming than human activity.
STEVE SHERWOOD: Based on the peer-reviewed literature that’s available now, that looks extremely unlikely.
MARK COLVIN: So what have these people done? Is this just a case of cherry-picking a sentence?
STEVE SHERWOOD: Yeah, it’s a pretty severe case of that, because even the sentence doesn’t say what they say and certainly if you look at the context, we’re really saying the opposite.