Monday, March 31, 2014

A Scientist who Disagrees with the Conclusions of the AR5 WGll

The findings of the recently released second part of the IPCC AR5 report were disputed by Richard Tol. He is the sole contributor who sought to downplay the adverse economic impacts of climate change.

Although it at first appears farcical, Tol was seriously trying to argue that climate change will be economically beneficial. However, his research was largely discounted as it is the only study that suggested climate change would have a positive impact on gross domestic product.

"Of the 19 studies he surveyed only one shows net positive benefits from warming. And it's the one he wrote," said Bob Ward, an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Unit on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

It should come as no surprise that the one study suggesting that there would be a positive economic benefit from global warming came from ranking climate skeptic, Richard Tol. He is an economics professor at the University of Sussex and a professor of the economics of climate change at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Tol is a member of the academic advisory council for The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate change skeptic think tank founded by the UK's leading climate denier, Lord Lawson.

Lawson is among those who want the UK government to abandon efforts to combat climate change. He said the he is "unconvinced" that climate change is caused by greenhouse gases. Some have stated that his comments indicate he does not have a "grasp" of climate science. The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir John Beddington accused Lawson of lying in his book on climate change.

In response to Lawson's deception, Beddington wrote: "It is clear from the scientific evidence … that the risks are real and, I believe, it is not going too far to say, potentially catastrophic in the absence of strong global action to reduce emissions."

Tol's support for Lawson's climate denial group speaks to his credibility as a scientist. In a paper published in 2013, Professor Tol stated that "the impact of a century of climate change is roughly equivalent to a year's growth in the global economy," and that "carbon dioxide emissions are probably a negative externality".

Tol was the only one of the 70 authors of the draft U.N. report to pull out of the writing team because, in his words, it was "alarmist" about the threat. Far from exaggerating the impacts of climate change, the IPCC reports have actually been found to be too conservative in its estimates of the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

In the end delegates in Japan voted to approve the second installment of the IPCC AR5 including the chapter on adverse economic impacts of climate change. Tol said the IPCC emphasized the risks of climate change far more than the opportunities to adapt. Tol said climate change was not so bad given the possibility that less severe winters may reduce the number of deaths among the elderly as well as the possibility that a warmer world may improve crop yields in some regions.

Ward suggested the Tol's research, "is patently not supported by the evidence presented." Ward went on to remark on a few of the many shortcomings in Tol's research. He (Tol) "excluded a long list of important impacts, including those relating to recreation, tourism, extreme weather, fisheries, construction, transport, energy supply and morbidity," Ward said.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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