“We’re in a giant car heading toward a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” ~David SuzukiThe United Nations Environment Programme recently published the “Climate Change Science Compendium 2009”, a prodigious effort to bring a more current view of climate science and climate change to the public. According to the UNEP, the publication is: “a review of some 400 major scientific contributions to our understanding of Earth Systems and climate that have been released through peer-reviewed literature or from research institutions over the last three years, since the close of research for consideration by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.”This makes the Compendium a sort of “catch up” report that explains what happened in the Climate Science community after the cut off for AR4. The new data that has been so carefully gathered and examined in the past 3 years has given us a clearer picture of what’s going on with the planet. Unfortunately, it also shows that AR4 was too optimistic, that we have solid evidence of climate change happening under our noses, and that action in the next few years is absolutely critical.
But wait, where does a court jester play in this? Well, there are lots of ways to describe jesters. Other words in the same vein are buffoon, fool, or poltroon. While I prefer the poltroon definition in this instance, the proper association here is the image of the Fool in the tarot deck. The tarot depiction of the Fool includes a man walking forward distracted by pretty things while unknowingly walking off the edge of a cliff.
Yes, this is where Anthony “the man in motley” Watts steps in. The new UNEP “Compendium” has 76 pages of explanation about how things are getting worse faster than expected. What is the major critique that Watts must raise a hue and cry over? One of the graphs in the backgrounder section intended to illustrate how atmospheric CO2 and average temperature measurements have some clear correlation, WAS NOT PEER REVIEWED!OH MY HEAVENS, it’s a chart from WIKIPEDIA!!! How dare they?!?! Well, obviously this means that all the science is invalid. Toss it all!In fact, it’s as dastardly as when NCDC used Photoshop to create an illustration of what flooding looks like. Again NOT PEER REVIEWED!And how dare anyone consider using a graph created for another purpose by some know nothing janitor? Oh wait, it’s a graph built by a Norwegian ecologist named Hanno Sandvik… EVIL, EVIL, EVIL!!!! Not even a weather man, he’s a mere PhD, his doctor’s thesis on the impact of climate change on bird populations could not give him any insight. Obviously his chart is terribly misleading, since he’s never looked at climate science in a scientific context.Mr. Watts and his band of merry fools continue to prance and jape at the edge of the precipice, straining to swallow gnats (or nits, your choice) in scientific reports, and swallowing camel sized parcels of junk science without so much as a whimper. Perhaps they’ll actually take on the substance of the report soon, to show us how horribly flawed those 400 new research papers must all be. (pssst! Hey, Anthony, you guys missed mentioning the missing “r” in Introduction on page vi! That should be worth a few column inches in your blog, shouldn’t it?)In the mean time, try to remember, it’s all entertainment and satire. After all, Mr. Watts is merely playing at being an obsessed fool, he couldn’t possibly think the criticisms and pseudo-science showing up on Watts Up With That? could be taken seriously by a sane person, right?