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Thursday, April 20, 2006


Misleading headline of the day

It's a widely reported story; here's the San Francisco Chronicle version:
Worst-case climate change called unlikely
The original Washington Post version isn't much better:
Climate Change Will Be Significant but Not Extreme, Study Predicts
The headlines are what will form the public perception. But now let's look at the article itself:
Climate scientists have for more than a decade concurred that climate sensitivity's most likely value is in the range of about 2.5 degrees to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. But...scientists have been unable to rule out more extreme calculations suggesting a warm-up of 16 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
They have been "unable to rule out" 16 degrees or more. OK. What does the new study show?
Climate sensitivity almost certainly falls within the more conventional range of current predictions [that's the 2.5 to 8 degrees], with only a 5 percent chance that it will exceed 11 degrees Fahrenheit.
Well, that is a relief. The "extreme" has declined from 16 degrees to "only" 11 degrees. And there's "only" a 5 percent chance of that. If there was a 5 percent chance you would die everytime you flew on a plane, how many people would be taking airplanes?

Note what's missing from the article -- any discussion of the impact of what even that more likely, 2.5 to 8 degree change, will have on the world.

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