Thursday, March 29, 2007

Murray and RP Jr. getting overbroad in their critiques

Iain Murray, at the denialist/weaselist Planet Gore website, cites approvingly to Roger Pielke Jr.'s attack on the Climate Appraisal website, for doing what Murray calls "selling alarmist predictions of what climate change might do to your property." RP Jr. says:

Call me a skeptic or a cynic but I'm pretty sure that the science of climate change hasn't advanced to the point of providing such place-specific information.

I think the name-calling I'll use is "sloppy," or to be more civil, "overbroad". It's not clear to me that either critic has actually read what the website promises. The sample report is here. The only site-specific, climate change predictions relate to regional temperature changes, derived from US government data, and the local effects of sea level rise. The sea level rise shown ranges from 3 to 20 feet, but they're quite clear about the high end:

Climate Appraisal Services LLC Science Advisors project up to 20 feet of sea level rise within the next several hundred years, possibly by 2500 if there is no material slowing in the rate of global warming via a substantial reduction in greenhouse gases.

On the low, 3 foot end, they say: "Climate Appraisal Services LLC Science Advisors project that up to three feet of sea level rise is likely to occur over the next 100 years, or by 2100, with more than half of that rise likely occurring in the second 50 years." I assume they're rounding to the nearest foot. This is a probability assessment for a higher sea level beyond that found in the current IPCC, but within range of a scientist's expert judgment (see RealClimate for reasons why the IPCC may be underestimating rise by 50%).

Other than pushing the envelope somewhat on sea level rise, I see no validity to the critique of Climate Appraisal. The one good thing from reading the critique, though, is that I now think I'll fork out the $30 to see what results I get at my address.

UPDATE: Reading more closely, Climate Appraisal says "up to" 3 feet is likely. I hope they're not relying on the "up to" qualifier, or else I'd consider it somewhat misleading.

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