This is a short comparison of the “timeline” published by An Taisce in its January 2014 ezine with the sources claimed for these “timeline” items. For a more exhaustive (and exhausting!) treatment of this “timeline” see Through Giant Green Goggles
Update (November 22, 2016): You may notice that the link below for the Copenhagen Diagnosis report is to an Australian university rather than to the Copenhagen Diagnosis website. This is the link provided at http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.org/press.html , this page having now replaced the old Copenhagen Diagnosis homepage.
The article and “timeline” are taken from a website, tomdispatch.com, but have been widely republished by credulous believers, including Mother Jones and a Huffington Post blog, who seem to have never heard that if something seems too good (too good, that is, when feeding a confirmation bias) to be true it probably is too good to be true.
Click on any image below to open enlarged in a new window or tab.
Taking these “timeline” items one by one:
|Late 2007: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announces that the planet will see a one degree Celsius temperature increase due to climate change by 2100.
Late 2008: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research predicts a 2C increase by 2100.
|The timeline starts modestly enough, with IPCC AR4. A one degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100. But here we have our first cherrypicking example, albeit a rather unusual example, presented as an announcement by the IPCC rather than a prediction. The IPCC AR4 WG1 Summary for Policymakers (page 13) and 2008 Hadley Centre report do indeed show these modest rises – but only for the most benign scenarios. The cherrypicking here is indeed unusual, selecting the lowest extreme case rather then the highest which seems otherwise the rule for alarmists, but it does of course serve to add drama as the timeline quickly escalates: 2C increase by 2017, 3.5C increase by 2035!|
|Mid-2009: The U.N. Environment Programme predicts a 3.5C increase by 2100. Such an increase would remove habitat for human beings on this planet, as nearly all the plankton in the oceans would be destroyed, and associated temperature swings would kill off many land plants. Humans have never lived on a planet at 3.5C above baseline.||At Mid-2009 on the timeline the U.N. Environment Programme Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 linked does not seem to predict a 3.5C increase by 2100. The closest approximation appears to be on page 11, but 2.4°C is not 3.5°C, other than for careless journalists.|
|October 2009: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research releases an updated prediction, suggesting a 4C temperature increase by 2060.
|The Guardian article linked does not include a link to the Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research prediction, suggesting a 4C temperature increase by 2060. The relevant paper arising from the workshop reported on is: When could global warming reach 4◦C? [Richard A. Betts et al, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2011) 369, 67–84].
A scenario used by the IPCC need only be considered possible, not necessarily plausible. The paper being misrepresented (as “an updated prediction, suggesting a 4C temperature increase by 2060”) at that October 2009 point set out to show that the highest emissions A1FI scenario used in AR4 was not merely possible, as generally thought, but also plausible, but as a “plausible worst-case scenario”, dependent on conditions which appear “less likely”.
|November 2009: The Global Carbon Project , which monitors the global carbon cycle, and the Copenhagen Diagnosis , a climate science report, predict 6C and 7C temperature increases, respectively, by 2100.||I could not see any obvious report from the Global Carbon Project to examine, but it is not quite true to say that the Copenhagen Diagnosis predicts a 7C temperature increase by 2100. Page 49 shows instead a projection of 2°C – 7°C, a wide range taking care of the omission of emission scenarios, rather than any definite prediction of 7°C. Misleading by presenting only the upper limit.|
|December 2010: The U.N. Environment Programme predicts up to a 5C increase by 2050.||Does the U.N. Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report predict up to a 5C increase by 2050? The answer is yet again NO. The link provided is actually to the UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2013 rather than the 2010 Report which would have been appropriate. While both are similar, we’ll take the 2010 Report. Page 15 discusses a range of pathways through to 2100 hinted at by models (“hint at” is the phrase actually used on the second line of the text for Box 4 below, not an interpolation by me), implying a temperature increase of between 2.5°C to 5°C before the end of the century. The figure does show a purple band corresponding to “T > 5°C”, but the legend also indicates that this is “likely temperature increase (T) in the 21st century”, not “by 2050”, and this is for the most extreme of six pathways shown. Yes, the most extreme pathway does allow “up to a 5C increase”, although not for the claimed 2050|
|2012: The conservative International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report for that year states that we are on track to reach a 2C increase by 2017.||Did the IEA’s World Energy Outlook report for that year state that we are on track to reach a 2C increase by 2017? Again NO. (“On track”, and its cousin “exactly in line with” are more examples of those lovely weasel phrases which are often employed to mislead in situations where these phrases would be unlikely to spring to mind for an objective observer). 2C by 2017 might have seemed overoptimistic in 2012 even to the most died-in-the-wool alarmist. On track to reach a 2C increase by 2017 sounds much more plausible.
The report does mention both 2°C and 2017 in the same bullet point, third from the bottom, on page 241. But this is not a projection of a 2C increase by 2017, and most certainly not a prediction, but rather two different sentences, the first talking of the scope for reaching the 2°C goal and the second discussing emissions accounting if action is not taken before 2017.
|November 2013: The International Energy Agency predicts a 3.5C increase by 2035.||The link, purportedly to an International Energy Agency prediction of a 3.5C increase by 2035, is in fact a link to a Christian Science Monitor article from 2010. And so this is a November 2013 prediction by the IEA? Foreseen in 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor?
Leaving aside for now the curious chronology of a November 2013 IEA prediction being foretold in November 2010, and my sarcasm directed at believers who would swallow such sloppy writing, a more important question is whether in fact the IEA did predict “a 3.5C increase by 2035” (or not). And unfortunately, that is for the many believers who have repeated this “fact”, the answer is NO.
Dahr Jamail, our award winning journalist failed to check the original 2010 IEA World Energy Outlook report, like An Taisce’s own John Gibbons, who relied on an Irish Times blunder for a similar “IEA predicted” 3.6C increase by 2035, and failed to check the original 2012 IEA World Energy Outlook report, on which these claims were based[IT OpEd: Irish Times Editorial “Climate change and Ireland”, November 19, 2012 (2035 in printed edition which was corrected to 2200 for the online version, or see the editorial in full at the Irish Times with the note that “This article was edited on November 20th, 2012” – but with no indication that this was to correct a blunder)].
Looking at the 2010 report, note the important little words “eventual increase” on page 77, “in the long term” on page 97, and “long-term path” and “stabilising at” on page 384.
All these little words refer to 2200, not 2035. The 2012 report is even clearer in this regard on page 247 (my highlighting):