Professor Richard Betts, Head of Climate Impacts Research, Met Office Hadley Centre, responded to an alarmist news story in the Independent, both with a comment at the article, and in a tweet (or two). If more scientists spoke out publicly, reporting would get better.
Prof Richard Betts commenting at the Independent (my bold):
Official prophecy of doom: Global warming will cause widespread conflict, displace millions of people and devastate the global economy
Leaked draft report from UN panel seen by The Independent is most comprehensive investigation into impact of climate change ever undertaken – and it’s not good news
Climate change will displace hundreds of millions of people by the end of this century, increasing the risk of violent conflict and wiping trillions of dollars off the global economy, a forthcoming UN report will warn.
Based on thousands of peer-reviewed studies and put together by hundreds of respected scientists, the [IPCC] report predicts that climate change will reduce median crop yields by 2 per cent per decade …
“I’m one of the authors of the IPCC WG2 report, and I think this article by the Independent is highly irresponsible, especially the headline.
The author of this article has chosen some juicy bits which back up the “climate doom” meme, but ignored other information. The headline writer has then done the same with the original article to come up with the headline of catastrophe.
They’ve also completely ignored all the important discussion in the report on adapting to climate change and increasing resilience.
The upshot is a very biased, alarmist headline.
The problem is this then risks damaging the credibility of the report. There’s much more to it than the impression given by this article, especially concerning other (non-climate) influences on human health, economies, etc.
Yes, anthropogenic climate change is real and poses major risks, but manufacturing scaremongering headlines by cherry-picking leaked reports is not at all helpful in informing a response to this complex situation.
I strongly encourage readers to read the actual report for themselves, and not rely on journalists who just want to get a scary headline.”
Chair in Climate Impacts, University of Exeter
Head of Climate Impacts Research, Met Office Hadley Centre
While I’m not at all concerned about potential damage to the IPCC’s credibility, I share with Richard Betts a desire to see less hype and more accuracy. But if the IPCC wanted to be credible, then statements like Betts’ to pull in careless reporters would be an excellent start (shame it is 24 years too late).
He also tweeted:
Cringeworthy coverage of leaked IPCC AR5 WG2 report http://t.co/ydsfkaT8li Cherry-picked, ignoring adaptation & non-climate influences
— Richard Betts (@richardabetts) March 18, 2014
H/t Barry Woods.