New Global Warming Report a Disgrace

The report “Climate Change: Evidence & Causes,” which was released on Thursday by the Royal Society (RS) and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), does a serious disservice to science and society. Rather than using the conditional language of real science, it engages in what amounts to propaganda, making absolute assertions concerning topics about which we have little knowledge.

For example, the report proclaims, “Continued emissions of these gases [carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases] will cause further climate change, including substantial increases in global average surface temperature and important changes in regional climate.”

Not "may cause," or even "probably cause," but "will cause." This is not the language of science. While it is common to see such absolute, one-sided assertions from totalitarian regimes trying to sway public opinion, it is appalling that two of the world’s foremost science bodies should engage in such unconditional rhetoric. Sir Isaac Newton, the Royal Society’s most famous member and its president until 1727, would be furious about such a violation of the scientific tradition he cherished.

Continuing in the same tone, the RS/NAS report next says that “long-term climate change over many decades will depend mainly on the total amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases emitted as a result of human activities.” And then, to ensure extensive coverage from mainstream media, which are already reporting uncritically on the document, “If the rise in CO2 continues unchecked, warming of the same magnitude as the increase out of the ice age [i.e., 7 to 9 °F] can be expected by the end of this century or soon after.”

Such confidence is preposterous. It is also irresponsible since it implies that governments can confidently prepare for warming, while ignoring the possibility that global cooling is the real threat.

We do not actually know how much climate will change as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels continue to rise. In fact, the science is so immature that we do not even know whether warming or cooling lies ahead. Trying to unravel the causes and consequences of climate change is arguably the most complex science ever tackled. Professors Chris Essex (University of Western Ontario) and Ross McKitrick (University of Guelph) write in their book Taken By Storm, “Climate is one of the most challenging open problems in modern science. Some knowledgeable scientists believe that the climate problem can never be solved.”