Cherry-picking is for cherry orchards

I grew up in Niagara-on-the-Lake. On a cherry farm. Cherry-picking on a cherry farm is a good thing.

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Cherry-picking as a pundit speaking to the business community about climate risk is not a good thing. At best, it’s sloppy thinking. At worst, it’s being disingenuous (a polite way of saying “lies! damned lies!). The IPCC reports contain a lot of data. Cherry-picking something comforting-sounding from those reports isn’t hard – you just have to be willing to ignore everything else (including the conclusions)!

In the first two debates (here and here) with the Fraser Institute’s resident ‘luke-warmist’ Ken (don’t-call-me-a-denier) Green on The Exchange (w Amanda Lang – CBC NN), Ken insisted – against the vast majority of peer-reviewed evidence – that warming has paused, and we face maybe 1-2C of warming this century. Now that’s cherry-picking par excellence: the lowest bound of the lowest estimate combined with the lowest sensitivity estimate in the most optimistic IPCC scenario …  can’t even really get us there unless you … squint and bend the page a bit … (see here for a takedown of the luke-warmist position via a simple ‘And your confidence level is …?’ and here on their positioning relative to outright denial).

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I challenged that view in my last post – really just asking we respect the intelligence of The Exchange’s audience and refer to peer-reviewed expert consensus opinion as a starting point for a more substantive and meaningful debate about economics, technology, etc – and there was a fun flurry of twitter-ing in response.

On the following show Ken decided to abandon the cherry tree altogether – ‘No, the IPCC is not the gold standard on climate … ‘ … no cherry tree, no cherries to pick, hence no cherry-picking! What is the gold standard on climate risk then? … it seems there is none. There are just ‘different views’.

Hmm. Ken has actually argued – see first two shows – that all views on warming are equally valid. This equality of viewpoints extends, presumably, to his own estimate of low climate risk derived from “looking out the window” (I couldn’t make this up). I wonder if this equality of views would apply to structural integrity of bridges, fly-ability of planes, toxicity of medicine … (reminds me of Margaret Wente’s functionally-illiterate rants on energy systems, climate risk, etc … but that’s a fight for another day)

Wow. If there weren’t so much at stake this would be funny. See next instalment this Tuesday @ 7 pm, CBC News Network.

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