Wrong, Washington Post, ‘Less Warming,’ Won’t Result in Greater Climate Disasters

From ClimateREALISM

It isn’t often that we here at Climate Realism run across an article that is so erroneous and egregious that it earns the title of “Not even wrong,” but Scott Dance of The Washington Post (WaPo) has managed to do just that with his article: A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet

The phrase used in science “not even wrong,” as defined by WikiPedia “…is often used to describe pseudoscience or bad science. It describes an argument or explanation that purports to be scientific but uses faulty reasoning or speculative premises…”

There are a plethora of false claims and faulty reasoning in Dance’s article. For brevity’s sake this rebuttal focuses only on the two most prominent ones.

First, the main headline and sub-headline:

A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet

The most severe climate change scenarios now appear less likely, but extremes are nonetheless poised to overwhelm societies, scientists say

Since global warming a.k.a. climate change became an item covered by the media, the message has been unanimous in saying more warming equals worse future impacts, yet now we are expected to believe that with less future warming, we’ll have even worse impacts than before.

What Dance failed to mention was the fact the future climate impact scenarios are based on computer model projections, that is Representative Carbon Pathways (RCP), as shown below in Figure 1, which show temperature rise projections in accordance with how much carbon dioxide is in Earth’s atmosphere.

Based on computer models, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says increased concentrations of carbon dioxde are expected to:

These changes will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and even our own health.

The message is clear according to media pundits and government backed climate science; increased concentrations of carbon dioxide will be dire for future the planet.

Dance glosses over a critical point. The RCP8.5 worst-case scenario seen in red in Figure 1, has long been the accepted poster child for future climate doom. But, and here’s the rub – it has been discredited as being impossible by climate science itself.

From the January 2020 article in the prestigious science journal, Nature:

Happily — and that’s a word we climatologists rarely get to use — the world imagined in RCP8.5 is one that, in our view, becomes increasingly implausible with every passing year. Emission pathways to get to RCP8.5 generally require an unprecedented fivefold increase in coal use by the end of the century, an amount larger than some estimates of recoverable coal reserves.

Translation: even if we burned all the coal on the planet, we couldn’t get the doomy future impacts RCP8.5 predicts.

Yet Dance suggests that ditching the worst-case climate model will somehow result in greater future impact due to warming. This is absurd, implying that Dance is lying to save the climate narrative. Why? Because if intelligent people realize the future isn’t as doom-laden as they have been told, they might not care about climate any more.

The second egregious point in the WaPo article has to do with a quote from an even more off-the-rails scientist from Switzerland:

“People are already dying of climate change right now,” said Sonia Seneviratne, a professor at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland. “We have started to see events at near-zero probability of happening without human-induced climate change.”

People are dying due to climate change? Really? Where? When is the last time you saw a coroner’s report citing “Cause of death: climate change” or a news headline saying climate change had killed somebody?

The best retort to this sort of nonsense is scientific data. People like Seneviratne seem to believe that every weather event is now the same as climate, when in fact there’s no connection between the two at all. In Climate at a Glance: Deaths from Extreme Weather, actual science disproves Seneviratne’s claim:

  • Extreme weather events are often attributed to climate change, but weather and climate are not the same thing.
  • Real-world data show no significant increase in extreme weather over the past 100 years.
  • Existing data show many extreme weather events have declined significantly during the recent period of modest warming, and deaths from extreme weather events have declined dramatically.

But the real debunking of future doom comes in a peer reviewed scientific paper by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg. In that paper, Lomborg shows that, even as the Earth has warmed, deaths resulting from climate related events have fallen to a historic low, and now nearly approach zero. See Figure 2, below. Climate Realism has discussed this fact in multiple posts, herehere, and here for example.

Real world data shows that there has been no increase in drought, or heatwaves; no increase in flooding; no increase in tropical cyclones and hurricanes; no increase in winter storms; and no increase in thunderstorms or tornadoes, or associated hail, lightning, and extreme winds from thunderstorms.

This and the ability to warn people about, mitigate, and have quick emergency responses in the aftermath of extreme weather events, is why deaths from so-called climate related weather disasters have actually plummeted. Clearly, Seneviratne’s view of a death-filled future driven by climate change is not just wrong, but wildly wrong.

Unfortunately, that’s the sort of nonsense we get from the media and researchers who’ve substituted political science and activism for the scientific method. They embrace the worst-case scenarios as factual, even though there’s no science or data to support it. They live in a doomsday fantasy world of their own making.

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website wattsupwiththat.com.

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January 15, 2023 10:09 am

If ‘climate change’ is doing anything, it is causing stupidity to increase year on year……

Reply to  mrbluesky
January 15, 2023 1:03 pm

I suspect that would be socialism that is causing all that stupidity. Though of course, there is a significant overlap between the two.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 15, 2023 11:32 am

This 2020 Harvard astronomy finding might explain the anomalous cycle:

New evidence for the Suess/de Vries cycle in naked eye sunspot observations.

Last edited 2 months ago by Milo
Mr Ed
Reply to  Krishna Gans
January 16, 2023 7:49 am

Thanks for the link, well worth watching.

Bruce Cobb
January 15, 2023 10:32 am

But, but, but, I heard the climate science geniuses on NPR this morning say that the weather was “on steroids”. I dunno what else they said because I shut it off. There’s only so much nonsense you can take.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 15, 2023 12:00 pm

One could suspect that they don’t know the difference between a steroid and a hemorrhoid.

Ron Long
Reply to  Scissor
January 15, 2023 12:22 pm

Since they have their head stuck up their a$$ they might know the difference.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 15, 2023 1:08 pm

They could be judges for the Miss Universe contest then.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 15, 2023 9:58 pm

climate science geniuses on NPR this morning say that the weather was “on steroids”

NPR news zealot wantonly extemporizing about their religious beliefs.

January 15, 2023 10:35 am

Blame electronic mass media, everything is seen in as multiple, a bit like standing between two mirrors. One mirror reflects single image/event, the additional one gives hundreds.

Reply to  vuk
January 15, 2023 12:42 pm

Who knew that the Amish would become the technological elite?

Onthe Move
January 15, 2023 10:39 am

So, we should be emitting more CO2 then. More warming, less disasters, according to this logic.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Onthe Move
January 15, 2023 12:49 pm

The author has entered Lewis Carroll land.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Onthe Move
January 16, 2023 6:54 am

Ironically, that’s reality. Not the “CO2 causes warming” part, the “more warming = better weather” part.

Gary Pearse
January 15, 2023 11:03 am

“A new climate reality: Less warming, but worse impacts on the planet”

Commonly I comment on “poker tells” that abound in the doom climate narrative. The simplicity of the ‘tells’ reflect on the simplicity of the minds of the authors of them. They are an IQ test. This one needs no elaboration. He throws out cause but clings to effect. I’m definitely “all in” on this hand.

J Boles
January 15, 2023 11:06 am

In a funny Fauci voice: Get all ya boostahs or you’ll die from climate change!

Matt Kiro
January 15, 2023 11:15 am

The EPA needs to be abolished. None of the data supports any of their positions. They can not even describe the ocean accurately as alkaline. Until they can follow the facts they should be forbidden from makes any rules

Rick C
January 15, 2023 11:44 am

Anthony: Nice concise takedown of a really idiotic article. Thanks. My first reaction when I saw the article was this is getting ridiculous, but alarmist propaganda has been ridiculous for quite a long time.

Michael in Dublin
January 15, 2023 12:02 pm

As I have commented before ask anyone who has lived for many years in a place with very hot summers that has a plentiful supply of water for irrigation and you will find that their gardens flourish. They actually produce fruit and vegetables that have far less problems with pests in areas with low humidity. An adequate water supply is what helps people settle and adapt to the hot climate.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Michael in Dublin
January 15, 2023 1:19 pm

I’ve lived for “ many years in a place with very hot summers that has a plentiful supply of water for irrigation.”
Last spring was so cold the few things that I planted almost didn’t start.
Onions thought (anthropomorphizing) they were dying from an early fall cold and began to “bolt”.
Yellow beans refused to germinate, and Snow Peas finally produced – a month late.
Gaia has promised a warmer spring and a less hot summer.
Hope is my 2023 plan. 😂
If you care: bolt >> My onions bolted…. Can they be saved?? [Why Do Onions Bolt] – YouTube

Michael in Dublin
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 15, 2023 4:46 pm

We planted a cherry tree and had a good crop the first season two years ago. Last year after a tree full of flowers with the early warmer weather and plenty of fruit forming the weather then turned colder and the fruit all fell off.

Some summers ago on a visit to Switzerland, despite knowing about their cold winters and heavy snow falls, I was surprised to see cherry trees heavily laded with fruit. Must be their warmer summers. The capital Bern has a summer average high 22.5ºC. I would welcome an increased average in Dublin of 4ºC – a number that scares the alarmists witless.

CD in Wisconsin
January 15, 2023 12:16 pm

The more I see garbage like this from outlets like WaPo, the closer I get to concluding that today’s MSM outlets have (to a sizable degree) abandoned the tenets of journalism. Orwellian indoctrination outlets by any other name are still indoctrination outlets.

I always thought that our Founding Fathers gave journalist outlets freedom of the press becasue they intended the media to be a check on government. When the media becomes little more than a mouthpiece for government narratives like CAGW (among others), one has to wonder how far removed we as nation are from what the Founding Fathers intended us to be when they wrote the Constitution.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
January 15, 2023 2:17 pm

In addition to a free press as a bulwark against the Government, it takes and properly informed, rational, independent thinking populace / electorate. The well-informed part is pretty well shot, and the educational systems have tried really hard to destroy rationality and independence of thought.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
January 16, 2023 7:06 am

Well, since today’s so-called “leaders” see the Constitution as a bothersome limitation on their power, pretty damn far.

And when the built in “checks and balances” operate to protect Constitutionally guaranteed rights (see the SCOTUS strike down of egregiously unconstitutional limitations on the people’s Second Amendment rights), the so-called “leaders” pass more obviously unconstitutional laws in defiance (particularly in those areas where unconstitutional restrictions were struck down).

So yes, it’s a mess.

Boff Doff
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
January 16, 2023 9:55 am

I’m reasonably sure that the WaPo, or the NYT, CNN, CNBC, BBG etc etc, is not and has never been a mouthpiece of any recent GOP led government.

CD in Wisconsin
Reply to  Boff Doff
January 16, 2023 10:27 am

Boff Doff,

I stated that many MSM outlets were mouthpieces for govt narratives like CAGW, not for the govt itself.

My point stands that all news outlets are supposed to be checks on govt and its narratives if they still understand why our Founding Fathers gave them their press freedom. The CAGW narrative demonstrates why, all too often, they are not.

Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
January 17, 2023 7:58 pm

Freedom of the press, in the First Amendment, did not sanctify a new entity, the fourth estate. It merely defined an individual right of freedom to free expression whether expressed in direct speech or in written form. I don’t know why more people don’t get this very basic and important fact.

January 15, 2023 1:05 pm

The Climate Alarmist community is an impressive representation of the Dunning-Kruger syndrome. They’re all too stupid to evaluate their own competence, or utter lack thereof.

January 15, 2023 1:15 pm

The number of climate related deaths is zero, climate does not cause death, weather does, that and natural phenomena.

Reply to  Nansar07
January 15, 2023 1:51 pm

Actually, it is stupidity that causes weather related deaths. People continue to choose their course of action in foul and fair weather. All boating accidents increase in fair weather and are never considered weather related.

Last edited 2 months ago by doonman
January 15, 2023 1:23 pm

Mr. “journalism degree” Dance needs to find a different profession, maybe pulp fiction writer or garbage collector (no, the latter is too noble a calling to be sullied by Mr. Dance).

I regularly look up the numpties who write these stories for the main stream media. They are almost invariably non-technical humanities majors who have learned the activist-“journalism” craft and have developed a singular obsession, in this case weather and climate. They have zero credibility, but they have learned the art of getting a paycheck for spewing propaganda.

On the higher education front, “researchers” are usually second-rate pseudo-scientists who have refined the art of climate grant-writing so that they can help their grad students complete grade-school quality “science projects,” by the thousands!

So then the dumb cluck “journalists” get quotes from second-rate academics to make the story sound sciency.

Very tiresome. They wouldn’t be worthy of comment, except that someone needs to call out their fallacies. Thank you Anthony, Eric and others who post here for continuing to play climate whac-a-mole.

Someone recently commented that I should play the issue, not the person, but that just perpetuates the whac-a-mole game. Yes, that may be appropriate, but we should also highlight the writers’ and “researchers” biases and sheer lack of credibility.

January 15, 2023 2:46 pm

Every time they open their mouths the watermelons beclown themselves.

January 15, 2023 3:09 pm

Come on, we know the alarmists have their goal posts on wheels – because facts tell us there is no warming, the narrative has to shift to keep the dollars, pounds, yen, euros flowing in – after all that’s why they changed the title of their narrative from global warming to climate change

We all agree the climate changes, it’s the driver that the alarmist idiots have adopted to keep the donations coming in

Reply to  Energywise
January 16, 2023 3:28 am

..and that name change from global warming to climate change occurred some time ago. The climate oligarchy knew way back that “warming” was not enough to fuel the fear to a level required for their ultimate goals.

The inclusion of all extreme events and the entire global climate is necessary to raise the fear to an appropriate level.

Last edited 2 months ago by SteveG
Ben Vorlich
January 15, 2023 3:26 pm

I read somewhere today, naturally I can’t find it now, that the difference between the highest and lowest temperature recorded in the USA was 119C.
I don’t know how you guys survive in a country like that. It’s getting towards double our range of 67.5C

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
January 15, 2023 4:19 pm

The sites of the coldest and hottest (world record) US temperatures are far apart, in central AK and southern CA.

Death Valley hit 134 F in 1913. It fell to -80 in Prospect Creek, AK in 1971, so 119 C is right.

Last edited 2 months ago by Milo
indur goklany
January 15, 2023 4:32 pm

“The real debunking of future doom” first came out 15 years ago in a peer reviewed paper, “Death and Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events”, by Indur Goklany. WUWT reported on it July 5, 2008 here (and multiple times since then — enter extreme events and Goklany in the Search Bar). It had a bar chart showing the decline in both deaths and death rates by decade which is eerily similar to the line chart shown above, except that the bar chart version is more faithful to the data.

John Hultquist
Reply to  indur goklany
January 15, 2023 7:03 pm

WUWT reported on it July 5, 2008

I did not get a fast connection (DSL; still have) to the internet until September of 2008.
I think I’ve read most of the posts (some quickly) since then.

January 15, 2023 5:39 pm

The best retort to this sort of nonsense is scientific data.

No amount of data will convince these bozos, largely because their continued income depends on them claiming a strong belief. A better method is, in fact, laughter and mockery.

January 15, 2023 7:45 pm

Regarding “Representative Carbon Pathways (RCP)”: Please get this correctly, the C is for Concentration, not Carbon.

January 15, 2023 7:57 pm

Regarding “When is the last time you saw a coroner’s report citing “Cause of death: climate change”: Death certificates don’t say that because if a person is killed by a weather event, the report will mention things on time scale shorter than climate. For hypothetical example, brain injury, only maybe mentioning falling tree or car crash. For other hypothetical examples, hypothermia or hyperthermia. Even coroner reports with more detail than death certificates deal only with time frame of what caused a death in question, so a coroner would have to be a climate activist in an outlier way in order to blame any specific death on climate change.

January 15, 2023 8:28 pm

I noticed this WUWT article lacking graphs for any meteorological statistics of extreme weather, despite the fact that extreme weather is not worsening much. And some forms of extreme weather are worsening only a little in only a minority of land areas where people live, and getting milder where most people live (for example droughts). And some forms of extreme weather are getting milder everywhere (such as windstorms other than tropical cyclones, and extreme cold events in the northern hemisphere other than ones that can have worsening in small areas blamed on deforestation). There is the matter of changes of measurement methods around 2000-2003 that favor higher sometimes readings of snowfall and rainfall at US airport weather stations, including at least one paid-for change of snow accumulation measurement and a major change of rain gauge technology, away from one that reads low in heavy rain, that has a correction procedure that is optional and inconvenient when heavy rain has unsteady intensity.

There is another matter: Although climate activists are mostly wrong about AGW making extreme weather worse, that does not disprove AGW. Dr. Roger Pielke Jr got fired and demoted at places at request of climate activists for his true statements of extreme weather, despite saying AGW is a problem that needs to be mitigated. I also noticed WUWT article writers stopping support of Roger Pielke Jr at about the same time they stopped being critical of the Tesla car company & its CEO & its cars, or about at the time when Roger Pielke Jr got better known (after being demoted into an athletics department) for being supportive of transgender & intersex athletes (such as Caster Semenya, a black woman from southern Africa who got hit by rules specific to the specific sport subtypes that she got medals in).

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  donklipstein
January 16, 2023 8:04 am

They haven’t “proved” AGW, it is nothing but a hypothetical, speculative impact to begin with, and the attribution of rising CO2 to human activities is weak and based on assumptions based on ignorance and the scientific incompetence of directly comparing “proxy” measurements to today’s instrument measurements as if they are the same thing.

So nobody needs to “disprove” AGW.

Further, I for one always appreciated Roger Pielke Jr’s call out of the nonsense about “extreme weather” being “caused by” climate change. However, I also always expressed disagreement with the notion that a warming climate in an INTERGLACIAL period during an ice age was a “problem” – or that it was human induced.

So let’s not pretend there was ever unbridled support for *everything* Dr. Pielke Jr. said from everyone on WUWT, just what he got right about “bad weather is NOT caused by so-called climate change.”

I don’t think there’s ANYONE on WUWT (aside from the alarmist mouthpieces who come to preach their gospel) who thinks we need to “mitigate” changes to the climate by reducing our meaninglessly small CO2 emissions. The climate is not controlled by human activities and attempting to “limit” or “direct” it by our essentially beneficial CO2 “emissions” is but a foolish tail chasing exercise.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
January 17, 2023 5:12 pm

As for “our meaninglessly small CO2 emissions”: We got atmospheric CO2 increased to 420 PPMV from the 280 PPMV of previously during the current interglacial period and typical of recent interglacial periods, despite nature removing from the atmosphere about half of manmade emissions.

The recent warming, while post-1950s solar activity has been decreasing from the Modern Maximum (greatest since MWP) and while Milankovitch cycles are favoring cooling, is manmade. Although climate activists and activist scientists and most climate modelers are exaggerating the warming somewhat and climate activists are making exaggerated claims of this warming to such an exaggerated extent as to be Mostly False (some of these claims are even over 100% False), there is the matter that disproving worsening of extreme weather from warming does not disprove warming; that merely disproves most climate activist claims of the warming making extreme weather worse.

Even Dr. Roy Spencer, often cited by the WUWT crowd, is borderline in the 97%, and in the past few years has been wavering about the majority of the modern warming having been manmade. (Although he consistently argues this is not harmful.)

Another climate change scientist that the WUWT crowd used to favor after she changed over to the skeptical side is Dr. Judith Curry. Although climate activists complained about her talking-up uncertainty, I noticed that even while the WUWT crowd was mentioning Judith Curry favorably her favorite determinations / estimates of ECS (equilibrium climate sensitivity), including in studies by her and Nic Lewis and in studies by Nic Lewis without her, were around 1.5 to 2 degrees C per 2xCO2, which is in the low end of the wide range that IPCC stated in their assessment reports.

Andy Pattullo
January 16, 2023 8:20 am

I see. So if we meet the net zero goals and stop all “human-caused warming” then we can expect instantaneous Armageddon. Perhaps we should all find a new hobby.

January 16, 2023 2:46 pm

So…less is more. The same twisted logic that keeps selling newspapers (or more accurately, Subscriptions) for these discredited legacy publications that would sell their soul to the devil if it made them another buck. Meanwhile the irony completely escapes them that their very argument undermines their climate gospel that fossil fuels are the cause of global warming…..(oh i forgot it’s now back to climate change!)

Gunga Din
January 17, 2023 6:10 am

If you tried to visualize this guys train of thought you’d have something that resembles a pretzel.
Lots of looping around that returns to the same place. Nowhere.

January 17, 2023 9:22 am

The most severe climate change scenarios now appear less likely, but extremes are nonetheless poised to overwhelm societies, scientists say

This sounds like a method to make falsification impossible.

When we fix it, it will still be bad.

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