Two leading UK climate researchers have criticised those among their peers who they say are “overplaying” the global warming message. Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier, both Royal Meteorological Society figures, are voicing their concern at a conference in Oxford. They say some researchers make claims about possible future impacts that cannot be justified by the science. The pair believe this damages the credibility of all climate scientists. They think catastrophism and the “Hollywoodisation” of weather and climate only work to create confusion in the public mind.
They argue for a more sober and reasoned explanation of the uncertainties about possible future changes in the Earth’s climate. As an example, they point to a recent statement from one of the foremost US science bodies – the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The association released a strongly worded statement at its last annual meeting in San Francisco in February which said: “As expected, intensification of droughts, heatwaves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies. These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.”
According to Professors Hardaker and Collier, this may well turn out to be true, but convincing evidence to back the claims has not yet emerged. “It’s certainly a very strong statement,” Professor Collier told BBC News. “I suspect it refers to evidence that hurricanes have increased as a result of global warming; but to make the blanket assumption that all extreme events are increasing is a bit too early yet.” (…)
A former president of the Royal Meteorological Society, Professor Collier is concerned that the serious message about the real risks posed by global warming could be undermined by making premature claims. (…)
“There’s no evidence to show we’re all due for very short-term devastating impacts as a result of global warming; so I think these statements can be dangerous where you mix in the science with unscientific assumptions.” (…)
Professor Hardaker also believes that overblown statements play into the hands of those who say that scientists are wrong on climate change – that global warming is a myth. “I think we do have to be careful as scientists not to overstate the case because it does damage the credibility of the many other things that we have greater certainty about,” he said.
“We have to stick to what the science is telling us; and I don’t think making that sound more sensational, or more sexy, because it gets us more newspaper columns, is the right thing for us to be doing. “We have to let the science argument win out.”