This week, a new paper
was published in Nature Geoscience that shows that the planet has not been warming quite as fast as most climate models have predicted, so far. There's a deficit of 0.3 degrees C. I'm no climate scientist, so I don't feel qualified to judge whether this methodology is good; it's passed peer review, but it'll be worth waiting a week or three to see whether any other relevant scientists disagree with the findings. This article
has a dissenting view. Either way, though, it changes little: If correct it gives a little more breathing room, and the point that is mostly being made is that it makes a 1.5C rise merely "challenging" rather than impossible... but we're still likely to breeze through and beyond that anyway, IMHO. It changes little in terms of the required actions.
So faced with that finding, how to communicate it without either causing the denialist community to go "THE MODELS ARE WRONG! WE TOLD YOU SO! IT'S ALL A HOAX!", or causing the more moderate politicians to go "Phew. We have time. We can ignore this and let the next government deal"? And at the same time not being perceived as hiding less alarmist news? The first author made an excellent effort in this article
, which IMHO is a really good example of giving an honest and straightforward lay explanation of a scientific study.
Did it help? Not really. It's escaped the front pages for now, perhaps due to the ongoing series of natural disasters in the Carribean and central America, but the usual suspects have still written what you'd expect. Scientific American
has a reserved and balanced take. The Guardian
is more optimistic, but warns us that "politics is still not easy". The BBC
presents so many views that it's not clear what, if anything, they are concluding. Both of these note the possibility that the original article's conclusions about 1.5C being easier to hit may be wrong. Meanwhile Dellingpole, in The Sun
, is spinning this story as "I WAS RIGHT!", saying "a tiny bunch of scientists got their sums wrong and scared the world silly with a story about catastrophic man-made global warming." Meanwhile an MP who is a member of the Commons Science and Technology Committee - and also a trustee of the denialist GWPF - complains in the Mail
that "There has been no word of apology, no sign of humility. Remarkably, they carry on preaching their diehard gospel. With their habitual arrogance, they argue that the lower levels of global warming mean that we now have even more time to implement their radical policies."
Hmm. Yeah. Whether or not this study proves to be correct in its conclusions, we'll be hearing about it from denialist groups for the next 5 years or more. But I don't think there's anything that one can do about that; keeping quiet about such results would be far worse.
 AIUI nobody disputes the paper's direct findings so far, but some are doubtful about its import - some say that there is a natural cycle which has had a cooling influence in recent years, but will have a warming influence in future ones. Superimposed on the overall warming trend, this could apparently explain the discrepancy without changing the urgency of the problem.