This week, the climate science denial echo chamber was especially loud and proud in its claims that a new “international research” found no evidence of a climate emergency in records of extreme weather. The Australian was so impressed by the effort that it gave it front-and-center, unbiased attention.
Sky News Australia has accumulated over 400,000 views on YouTube over two segments on the subject using algorithm-friendly headings such as “Report finds ‘no evidence of a climate emergency.” However, a closer examination of the publication, which was originally published nine months ago in the European Physical Journal Plus, reveals something entirely different.
Little original research was done by the authors—three Italian physicists and an agricultural meteorologist—who instead evaluated papers by other academics. This wasn’t a study; it was an article.
Scientists in the field of climate change informed Temperature Check that the work was biased and inaccurately interpreted the findings of some studies while ignoring others. Why, then, is the essay receiving press just now, when it first appeared in the journal back in January? Last week, it received a lot of attention from websites notorious for distributing climate change denialist content. The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate skeptic group based in the UK, published the piece in its Net Zero Watch weekly. A long-term review of heat, drought, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and ecosystem productivity found “no obvious positive trend of extreme occurrences,” according to the piece in the Australian written by environment editor Graham Lloyd. Dr. Greg Holland, a distinguished scientist emeritus at Colorado’s National Center for Atmospheric Research, has led multiple comprehensive analyses of extreme weather. “appears to have taken the preconceived perspective that there has been no change — and then selected evidence to prove this,” he said to Temperature Check.
There are still many unknowns, Holland added, but a clear picture has developed after looking at the issue from a variety of angles. According to the authors, “more than 70% of all contemporary research investigations of extreme weather have indicated that climate change has increased the frequency and/or intensity of the occurrence; 20% were inconclusive; and 9% showed a decrease, most of which were for extreme cold or comparable.”
Professor Lisa Alexander of the University of New South Wales, a climate scientist and an expert in rainfall extremes, has said that the article’s treatment of this topic misrepresents the scientific consensus. Increases in intense precipitation are occurring, Alexander added. A similar conclusion was reached by the IPCC. We’ve noticed a rise, and it seems to be linked to human activity.
The article “completely distorted” some of the findings from her own publications, she added, by claiming they had shown little to no trend in intense rainfall. She concluded that “a clear pattern emerges” from each of the studies. No, it doesn’t exist everywhere, but that’s not something we would have expected to find everywhere.
The article makes a brief mention of a study that found an increase in severe rainfall in 8 percent of quality-controlled rain gauges worldwide. To be sure, Alexander did note that this represented a major shift in climatic statistics. She said that the article was “selective and biased,” adding that she would have requested the journal reject it or make significant changes if she had been asked to examine it.
As for drought, the article cites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report from 2013, which found that “conclusions on worldwide drought patterns increasing since the 1970s are no longer substantiated.” Newer UN reports, however, noted “growing tendencies in agricultural and ecological droughts on all continents” and that hydrological drought had increased in some places.
During 60 scientists worked together to produce a paper that said there was “high confidence” that heatwaves and droughts have become more frequent “at the global scale due to human activity” over the past century. UNSW climate scientist and professor Steve Sherwood criticized the paper for focusing on a small subset of the available research.
For instance, “the IPCC report released this year examined almost 60 research of tropical cyclones, but this new article cites only five, one of which is actually a review paper,” he explained. The IPCC found evidence that tropical cyclones were becoming more intense. There has been a definite increase in the number of stronger and more destructive cyclones, according to a more recent study that was not reported in the article. In an official statement, the journal assured readers that the manuscript had undergone the rigorous process of peer review. Asserting that they are “not climate deniers”
Lloyd described the report as an “interesting study that appeared in an international journal this month” to Chris Kenny of Sky News Australia. All periodicals are essentially global in scope, so that much is true. However, the piece was published back in January.
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Chris Smith, the host of another Sky program, said, “These authors are not climate doubters and in fact, they say we should prepare for a likely increase in disasters and do suggest no action should be taken on climate change.” They don’t believe the claims being made against them.
But three out of the four authors have proven they are skeptical of the science behind human-caused climate change. Together with climate science skeptic Franco Prodi, long-retired nuclear physicist Renato Ricci issued a proclamation earlier this year stating that there was no climate emergency.
There were claims in that declaration that “enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is helpful,” that net zero plans were “harmful and impractical,” and that global warming was occurring naturally. Lord Christopher Monckton, who has said global warming is a fraud, and Professor Ian Plimer, who denies that CO2 causes warming, were both among the declaration’s ambassadors. Professor Gianluca Alimonti of the Department of Nuclear Physics at the University of Turin stated that climate experts are not in agreement that human activities are the primary cause of warming in 2014. Pennsylvania climate scientist and professor Michael Mann called the journal article “another example of scientists from totally other domains coming in and stupidly applying incorrect methodologies to data they don’t understand” to Temperature Check.
Either the vast majority of climate scientists throughout the world are wrong in their assessment that global warming is increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, or a few Italian nuclear physicists are wrong.
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