Real Climate: When In Doubt, Slime Lomborg–The Witch Hunt Never Stopped

Coming just days after they posted approvingly about something they admit is ‘a long winded story’ about a paper written by the Konsensus hit team that happened to be rejected by five journals before finally being accepted, Real Climate (should it be Real Klimate or Real Slimeate?) goes after Bjorn Lomborg. Again.


I don’t know if it’s embarrassment over their hit job paper or if it’s just something they’ve contracted to do, but they have gone after Lomborg before. See here and here for just two examples.

Lomborg, the Skeptical Environmentalist, is sure to attract ire from Konsensus Kooks such as Dana Nuccitelli and John Cook. But Stefan Rahmstorff? I sort of thought he was a serious scientist.

Rahmstorff goes after Lomborg because he has only published 20 papers (seriously–I guess there’s a metric out there for enemies). Considering that Lomborg doesn’t even call himself a climate scientist (he’s a statistician), I don’t know why Rahmstorff is jumping up and down and screaming.

Rahmstorff also highlights the fact that Lomborg recently won, then lost, a chance to establish a branch of the Copenhagen Consensus Center in Australia. I don’t know why this speaks to Lomborg’s fitness, but then nothing in Rahmstorff’s attempted assassination does.

He goes after Lomborg for accurately describing the state of understanding of sea level rise in 2008 (Lomborg wrote, “Since 1992, we have had satellites measuring the rise in global sea levels, and they have shown a stable increase of 3.2mm per year (1/8 of an inch) – spot on compared to the IPCC projection. Moreover, over the last two years, sea levels have not increased at all – actually, they show a slight drop. Should we not be told that this is much better than expected?”) which Rahmstorff calls ‘a debating trick’.

Considering the NOAA describes sea level rise as between 1.7 and 1.8 mm per year, Lomborg’s writing seems almost… alarmed. But I doubt if that’s why Rahmstorff is out to hang the poor guy.

Then Rahmstorff tries to label RCP 8.5 a projection so he can criticize Lomborg’s description of the IPCC writing on sea level rise (Lomborg accurately describes it.)

Rahmstorff is flat out wrong here. RCP 8.5 is not a projection at all. The authors of RCP 8.5 are crystal clear on that. ” “Scenario development after the RCP phase will focus on developing a new set of socio-economic scenarios.

They were tasked with describing the effects of 8.5 watts per square meter and they also included a possible scenario that might produce it. They say that it is not a prediction and not a projection. The narrative hasn’t even been written yet. RCP 8.5 is just a set of inputs into climate models. If a climate scientist like Rahmstorff doesn’t know this, he is incompetent. If he knows it but is mischaracterizing it he is dishonest.

The Konsensus Brigade has been after Lomborg since the publication of The Skeptical Environmentalist. As the Economist wrote, “Mr Lomborg defends these positions on the basis of official data and published science. Environmentalists typically use the same sources, but, as Mr Lomborg lays bare, are much less scrupulous about setting short runs of data in their long-term context, for instance, or about quoting ranges of data, where that is appropriate, rather than whatever extreme of any given range best suits their case.

…”The January issue of Scientific American devoted many pages to a series of articles trashing “The Skeptical Environmentalist”. The authors, all supporters of the green movement, were strong on contempt and sneering, but weak on substance. The arresting thing about Scientific American‘s coverage, however, was not this barrage of ineffective rejoinders but the editor’s notion of what was going on: “Science defends itself against the Skeptical Environmentalist,” he announced.

“That is amazing. Mr Lomborg’s targets are green scare-mongers and their credulous servants in the media. He uses the findings of scientists to press his case. How can using science to criticise the Kyoto agreement, to show that the world’s forests are not disappearing, to demonstrate that the planet’s supplies of energy and food will suffice indefinitely, and the rest, constitute an attack on science?

…”The fuss over Mr Lomborg highlights an attitude among some media-conscious scientists that militates not just against good policy but against the truth.”

After noting that Stephen Schneider was one of Lomborg’s critics, and after skewering Schneider’s critcism, The Economist closes with a statement that is equally appropriate of Rahmstorff’s rant:

“Science needs no defending from Mr Lomborg. It may very well need defending from champions like Mr Schneider.”


5 responses to “Real Climate: When In Doubt, Slime Lomborg–The Witch Hunt Never Stopped

  1. Mr Rahmstorff has a well documented relationship with the reinsurance giant Munich Re. With that in mind, one reflects on the best way to boost profits in the insurance business… overstate risk.

  2. In the RC article, I see “RCP 8.5 scenario”, not “projection”.

    “Stefan Rahmstorff? I sort of thought he was a serious scientist.” Rahmstorf [one f, by the way] is a serious scientist, yet he also wrote some seriously slanted pieces. Along the lines of Hansen. For example, Rahmstorf & Coumou, “Increase of extreme events in a warming world”, PNAS(2011) ascribed the 2010 Moscow heatwave to global warming. Pielke Jr discussed the paper here and here; see also NOAA. There’s also Foster & Rahmstorf, “Global temperature evolution 1979–2010”, ERL(2011), which purports to show that there wasn’t a pause after all: their “adjusted temperatures” rose consistently.

  3. Pingback: Real Climate’s Stefan Rahmstorf–A History of Convictions for Defamation | The Lukewarmer's Way

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