The climate science denial echo chamber was loud and proud this week with claims that a new “international study” found no evidence of a climate emergency in severe weather records.
The Australian was so impressed with the work that he gave non-critical coverage on the first page and the second page.
Using algorithmic headlines such as “Report finds ‘no evidence’ of a climate emergency,” Sky News Australia has amassed more than 400,000 views on YouTube across two parts of the story.
However, a closer look at the publication, which appeared nine months ago in the European Physical Journal Plus – a little-known journal for climate studies – reveals something quite different.
The authors – three Italian physicists and an agricultural meteorologist – did little original work, but instead reviewed selected papers from other scientists. This was an article, not a study.
Climate scientists told Temperature Chek that the work was selective and misinterpreted the results of some studies, while leaving others out.
But why is the article covered now, when it appeared in the magazine in January?
It was highlighted last week in internet outlets known for publishing stories promoting climate denial. One UK-based climate skeptic group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, included the article in its Net Zero Watch newsletter.
The report in The Australian newspaper, from environment editor, Graham Lloyd, described the article as “a long-term analysis of heat, drought, floods, cyclones, cyclones and ecosystem productivity” which found no “clear positive trend for extreme events”.
Dr. Greg Holland, a senior scientist emeritus at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, coordinated several reviews of severe weather.
“He appears to have taken the pre-established view that there was no change – and then the evidence was chosen to prove it,” he told the magazine’s Temperature Check.
Holland said there is a lot of skepticism in understanding the impact of fossil fuel combustion on extreme weather, but a clear picture has emerged across many different approaches.
As a result, more than 70% of all recent research studies on extreme weather have found that climate change has increased the frequency and/or intensity of the event; 20% were unspecified; And 9% found a decrease, mostly due to extreme cold or something.”
Professor Lisa Alexander, a climate scientist and expert on extreme precipitation from the University of New South Wales, said sections of the article on precipitation had misrepresented the state of science.
“There is definitely an increase in extreme precipitation rates,” Alexander said. “The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] He says that too. We have not only seen an increase, but it is also attributed to human activity.”
She said the article claimed they found no significant trend in the torrential rains, which “completely skews” some of the conclusions from its own papers.
“They all showed an important trend,” she said. “Not everywhere [in the world] But we don’t expect to see that anyway.”
The finding that 8% of the globally monitored rain gauges showed an increase in heavy precipitation was given a passing mention in the article. But Alexander said in Climate Statistics that this was a big change.
She called the article “selective and biased” and said that if it was sent for a review, it would either ask for it to be rejected by the magazine, or make major revisions.
Regarding drought, the article refers to the 2013 IPCC Fifth Assessment Report which stated that “conclusions regarding increasing global drought trends since the 1970s are no longer supported”.
But the latest round of UN assessments said the studies found “increasing trends in agricultural and environmental droughts on all continents” and some regions had seen a rise in hydrological droughts.
That report – compiled by more than 60 scientists – said there was “high confidence” that simultaneous heat waves and droughts had been occurring more often over the past century “on a global scale due to human influence”.
Professor Steve Sherwood, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales, said the article only looked at a few studies.
“Last year’s IPCC report, for example, reviewed more than 60 studies on tropical cyclones, while this new paper cites only five studies – one of which is itself a review paper,” he said.
Regarding cyclones, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that tropical cyclones are likely to be becoming more extreme. A recent study, not covered in the article, said there was a clear rise in the number of stronger and more destructive tornadoes.
A spokesperson for the magazine said the article had been peer-reviewed.
Not climate deniers
In Sky News Australia, Lloyd told Chris Kenny that the article was “an interesting study that appeared in an international journal this month”.
Meaning that all journals are international, this part is true. But the article appeared in January.
In another Sky segment, presenter Chris Smith said: “These authors are not climate deniers, in fact they are saying we should prepare for a possible increase in disasters and not saying that no action should be taken on climate change. They are not deniers.”
But three of the article’s four authors have previously shown they are skeptical about the science of human-caused climate change.
Renato Ricci, a long-retired nuclear physicist, and Franco Prodi, a known climate science skeptic, signed a declaration earlier this year that there was no climate emergency.
This announcement claimed that “enriching the atmosphere with carbon dioxide is beneficial,” net-zero policies were “harmful and unrealistic” and that the planet was naturally warming.
Among the ambassadors for this declaration were Lord Christopher Monckton, who claimed that global warming was a hoax, and Professor Ian Plimer, who rejected the evidence that carbon dioxide was causing warming.
The article’s lead author, nuclear physicist Professor Gianluca Alimonte, argued in 2014 that there is no consensus among climate scientists that human activities are causing the warming.
Professor Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, told Temperature Check that the article in the journal is “another example of scientists from completely unrelated fields coming in and naively applying inappropriate methods to data they don’t understand.”
“Either the consensus of the world’s climate experts that climate change is causing a very visible increase in many types of extreme weather events is wrong, or two nuclear physicists in Italy are wrong.”