About three weeks ago Spiegel science journalist Axel Bojanowski wrote a highly critical piece of the IPCC’s recently released 5th Synthesis Report, claiming that the report IPCC misled the public and needlessly sounded the alarms, background here.
Also at Twitter Bojanowski pointed to “gross problems” that “need to be discussed”. The Spiegel journalist in the article wrote that the IPCC final report “suppressed central scientific findings”.
Bojenowski’s harsh criticism immediately drew heavy fire from some of Germany’s leading political climate alarmists, such as the climate alarmist website Klimaretter and leading green politicians such as Hermann Ott at Twitter, and the IPCC itself.
So who is right? At the German Science Skeptical site, Dr. Peter Heller closely examined the claims made by Bojanowski point-by-point and the counter claims launched by the climate activists surrounding Klimaretter and the IPCC itself.
Heller lists the accusations that the Klimaretter activists fired at Bojanowski in attempt to discredit him and to exert pressure on Spiegel editors:
- Careful selection of formulations by the IPCC were imprecisely translated.
- By shortening the IPCC quotes, he leaves out such details that could damage the central thrust of his article.
- He uses passages from the technical chapters that the Synthesis Report does not at all contradict – when examined closely. The passages in the technical chapters that do support the Synthesis report do not get quoted.
- Sources to the (supposed) evidence are not given, so that all the accusations cannot be verified, or done so only with great difficulty.
Peter Heller investigated to see if the climate activists surrounding Klimaretter had any merit. Here’s what he found.
- Bojanowski does not “translate” at all. He concisely summarized passages from the Reports for the regular online speed-readers. The problem here are by far more the requirements by his chief editors with respect to article length and the complexity of the formulations, to which he must yield.
- The main thrust of his article is not that there is not risk of a climate-change dependent species die-off. The main thrust is that the IPCC fails to mention the known uncertainties in its summary of the long reports. And he provides proof of this with passages from the reports. It#s not about contradictions, but it gets down to incompletenesses.
- In the meantime the sources have been provided. But also without the page numbers one quickly finds the corresponding passages when one looks closely enough. A look at the table of contents suffices. As I have shown above, everything can be verified.
In summary, the accusations by the Klimaretter activists fired at Bojanowski have no merit. Heller also adds, at the very end of his article (for those who are too lazy to search a little):
One may object that the criticism of the IPCC is excessive because a summary is precisely just that, and thus it cannot give the full content of the main reports. However: people should at least be aware of this. And their position on climate policy should not be derived from summaries, but rather from the complete, comprehensive literature. Bojanowski’s text here fulfills an important function in that he exposes for the first time, to many people, the one-sided selection of content the summaries have. When people at Klimaretter, when the signatories of the petition against Bojanowski, and when someone like Herrmann Ott recognize reprehensible “climate skepticism ”, then as activists they expose themselves as something more than fanatics. For fundamentalists not only is the message sacrosanct, but so is also its proclaimer.”
What can we take home from all this?
Any journalist who actually investigates and researches, instead of blindly believing everything told by the one being investigated, risks getting smeared and discredited. Luckily we have diligent and open-minded people like Peter Heller to make sure this does not go unchallenged.