Prof. B Sharp: How I changed my mind… about global warming

Professor of Marketing Science, Director Ehrenberg-Bass Institute


Short summary: I now worry less about global warming than I did, the scientific evidence is that it’s not going to be catastrophic. ..

               I’ve been a “greenie” since I was a child. I raised money and marched to save the whales. .. When Al Gore’s 2006 movie came out about global warming I used it to to rally my colleagues in the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute — “how could we contribute to the solution?” I asked.

               But then the forecasting scientists in the Institute told me that the forecasts of global warming were not to be trusted. .. They pointed out that climate scientists were not forecasting scientists .. and that their forecasting approaches were a very long way from best practice.    I knew that complex multivariate models in marketing (and elsewhere) have a miserable track record in making predictions, even in quite stable environments.

               Indeed, in 2007 Professor Scott Armstrong challenged Al Gore to a 10 year global warming forecast competition. The losing forecaster would make a donation to charity. Al Gore declined. .. Ten years later and Scott Armstrong’s forecast turned out to be more accurate.

               The IPCC’s has done an assessment of climate models.. but even they reported that almost every model failed to predict the slowdown in warming that occurred after 1998.   Climate scientists are now working out why their predictions were wrong,     ..Some climate scientists [note that] .. “the long-term warming trend in response to human emission of greenhouse gases is found remarkably steady since 1910 at 0.07°–0.08°C decade”).


Anyway, decide for yourself, be open-minded. Here are a few important climate science articles that don’t get much coverage in newspapers:

The world is getting substantially greener. This is a positive effect of CO2. Also as the world become richer (and cleverer) people stop cutting down forests, and start planting trees.

Wildfires are not increasing, “Instead, global area burned appears to have overall declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago”. Globally, the total acreage burned by fires declined 24 percent between 1998 and 2015. It appears that changes in agricultural practices are more than offsetting the increased fire risk now that they world is 1 degree warmer.

The world’s beaches are not disappearing. Most are stable, some are shrinking, but slightly more are growing. And Pacific and Indian Ocean atolls aren’t shrinking.

Oceans are rising. This article says the trend is less than 2mm a year (or 20 centimeters per Century). Here is an articlewhere a climate scientist explains the error of newspapers of reporting the very unlikely forecast of a one metre rise this Century.

There has been no increase in North Atlantic tropical cyclone flooding. Nor tornadoes in the USA. Tropical cyclones in Australia tend to also show a small declining trend.

NASA says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

And even though most Australians believe that there are more droughts, there is actually no drying trend over the past hundred years, according to Bureau of Meteorology data. Professor Andy Pitman (Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, and a Lead Author for the IPCC) says there is no reason to think global warming will cause more droughts in Australia (at 1hr, 11 minutes).

So because of the evidence, I’ve gone from being a climate alarmist to a climate realist. I hope that both ‘alarmists’ and ‘deniers’ will do likewise. Then we can all move on to working out feasible solutions that don’t harm people and the environment while trying to save them.

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