The IPCC report: doubt it if you’re a fool


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 5th assessment report this week. You might have heard.

They have said that long-term trends confirm that our climate continues to warm, that this will very likely have very dire consequences for weather events and sea levels in the next couple of hundred years, and that they’re now 95% certain (up from 90% five years ago) that human activity is contributing to this in an unprecedented way.

Naysayers continue to dispute this. These naysayers are deluded.

I’ve read the Summary for Policymakers of the most recent report. You can too, it’s a PDF downloadable from the link above. It is complicated stuff. I get most of it, but I am a person who lives and breathes science. I was a scientist for some years. I have a Masters degree in applied science. I read about science all the time. I understand physics and probability. I take science and maths courses for fun in my spare time.

But even so it is challenging for me to absorb the details of this report.  And despite my extremely strong science background I am not a climate scientist. Which means that the vast bulk of humanity has no chance. I’m not being a snob when I say that. Most people just don’t have the background in peer review methodology and chart design and sampling theory and heat transfer methods to understand the summary, let alone judge the findings.

So the very best reasons to believe the IPCC report are:

  • There is zero chance that the roughly 800 climate science experts at the IPCC could all conspire to fool the world, even if for some reason some (or most!) of them wanted to.
  • There is zero chance that climate scientists and impacts experts (including those outside the IPCC) who comment on man-made global warming – 97.2% of whom agree it’s happening – could all be fooled or are also conspiring to fool us.
  • We trust scientists in all other areas of endeavour – medicine, chemistry, astronomy, etc. Why are we selectively second-guessing these guys?

So I’m continuing to make the personal lifestyle choices I can to minimise my own environmental impact. And I will strongly support, with my votes and donations, large-scale endeavours that I think make sense for curbing our reliance on carbon-emitting technology.

If you don’t you’re a fool.