The latest federal climate report “reinforces alarm with incomplete information” that doesn’t put the alleged effects of global warming in context, a former Obama administration official argued in a Thursday op-ed.
Theoretical physicist Steven Koonin is once again leveling criticism at the soon-be-released Climate Science Special Report, which is part of the fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA). Koonin said the special report leaves out important historical context to make its findings more alarming.
“The report ominously notes that while global sea level rose an average 0.05 inch a year during most of the 20th century, it has risen at about twice that rate since 1993,” Koonin wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
“But it fails to mention that the rate fluctuated by comparable amounts several times during the 20th century,” said Koonin, who served as undersecretary of energy for science at the Obama Energy Department.
Federal agencies and scientists from academia take part in putting the NCA together, but Koonin argued “the institutions involved in the report should figure out how and why such shortcomings survived multiple rounds of review.”
Koonin previously criticized the Obama administration for putting out “misleading” information on global warming in order to influence policy, specifically singling out the 2014 Climate Science Special Report’s section on hurricanes.
“Such data misrepresentations violate basic scientific norms,” Koonin wrote in his op-ed.
“The report’s executive summary declares that U.S. heat waves have become more common since the mid-1960s, although acknowledging the 1930s Dust Bowl as the peak period for extreme heat,” Koonin wrote of the latest NCA report. “Yet buried deep in the report is a figure showing that heat waves are no more frequent today than in 1900.”
Koonin said “the report should be amended to describe the history of sea-level rise, heat waves and other trends fully and accurately” and “the government should convene a ‘Red/Blue’ adversarial review to stress-test the entire report,” echoing a suggestion from April.
“Critics argue such an exercise would be superfluous given the conventional review processes, and others have questioned even the minimal time and expense that would be involved,” Koonin wrote. “But the report’s deficiencies demonstrate why such a review is necessary.”
The 600-page climate report says “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” according to a copy of the final report obtained by NPR.
The NCA specifically focuses on how global warming could impact the U.S., predicting more heat waves, wildfires, floods and stronger storms. The last NCA was released during the Obama administration in 2014.
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