Guest essay by Dr. Matt RidleyOn a blog called Desmog Blog, John Abraham has criticized my recent article in the Wall Street Journal on climate sensitivity. Here’s my piece http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324549004579067532485712464.html
It’s a poor response, characterized by inaccurate representation of what I said, even down to actual misquoting. In the whole article, he puts just four words in quotation marks as written by me, yet in doing so he misses out a whole word: 20% of the quotation. Remarkable. If I did that, I would be very embarrassed.
He directly contradicts the IPCC’s report on extreme weather, which found no link between current storms and man-made climate change; he is apparently unaware that the rising costs of extreme weather are entirely caused by rising investment and insurance values, not rising quantities of extreme weather, as even a small amount of research would have told him ( http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/follow-up-q-from-senate-epw.html ); he falsely claims that I say rising sea levels will be beneficial, when I wrote no such thing; and he wholly ignores the benefits of mild climate change, even though I was careful to say that the key thing is to compare costs and benefits. It is possible that he does not know the meaning of the word “net”: he certainly shows no understanding of the concept.
“General statements about extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seem to abound in the popular media,” said climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies recently. “It’s this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for 10 seconds they realize that’s nonsense.”
Mr Abraham’s main point is that up to 2 degrees C of warming is likely to do net harm. For this surprising claim, he produces noevidence. None. The evidence suggest the opposite – that less than two degrees of warming will cut excess winter deaths, increase average rainfall, extendgrowing seasons and increase rates of photosynthesis in wild and agricultural ecosystems. “A global warming of less than 2.5°C could have no significant effect on overall food production,” says the UNFCC website.
And yet it is he who accuses me of “non-science nonsense”. It’s truly disgraceful that a tenured academic, as I assume Mr Abraham to be, should make so many mistakes and yet feel free to hurl unsubstantiated abuse at another human being, however desperate he may be. In writing about climate change I am careful not to make unprovoked ad-hominem attacks – until attacked in this way.
I always play the ball, not the man. Mr Abraham, if he wishes to be taken seriously, should try to do likewise.