Posts Tagged ‘IPCC’

Transparency is convincing

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Climate NYC’s post raises some good points. The skeptics who question climate change are probably in the minority in today’s trendy world (although perhaps that is just my opinion because I’m a geography and environment major). Although these opinions are for the most part unhelpful exaggerations, the use and necessity of the skeptic is undeniable. Without the skeptics politicians and others would be able to convince the public of anything. Al Gore exaggerates in the film An Inconvenient Truth and it hurts his reputation. Skeptics call him out on this and bring his study back down to earth.

The initial predictions that the IPCC reported were not very accurate. Their climate models did not do a successful job at predicting the impacts and rise in CO2; in fact the IPCC’s climate models underestimated these variables. That being said, the public does not want vague estimates. The public wants precise numbers. The IPCC therefore feels compelled to provide the public with quantitative information that may potentially break bad habits.

More recently, as shown by Climate NYC, the IPCC offers multiple climate change scenarios. Not only do they provide the graphs shown below, but they also show future estimates regarding temperature rise using different levels of CO2 reduction. These methods of visualizing error and uncertainty have a positive impact on the public. The transparency of these reports counteract the skeptics’ critiques benefit the research of the IPCC more than if they chose to exaggerate as a scare tactic.

Although perhaps not necessary in all academic reports, it would be interesting to see more visualization of error and uncertainty. Granted, some error and uncertainty cannot be quantified, rather more qualitatively listed, but it gives me the impression of a more honest report.