As we predicted, with the return of warmth, alarmism springs eternal. Thus NBC just ended winter one more time, more or less, with an email teaser “Six-month summers could be common by the end of this century, scientists say”. So our response, as you may have guessed, is… not why is warmth climate and cold just weather, it’s you’ve been hitting the RCP8.5 again, haven’t you? And of course they have.
RCP8.5 is known to be a worse-than-worst-case scenario, a check on any modeling exercise because if your computer program puts you at or over the RCP8.5 line you know it’s totally unrealistic verging on literally impossible. And what’s crucial here is the “known to be” part.
OK, journalists might not know. The story in question doesn’t mention RCP8.5 and the author, “Science reporter” Denise Chow, has an MA in journalism and a BA in criminology so she’s not, how shall we put it, a climate scientist. But the scientists who say, in Geophysical Research Letters, certainly are. (The lead author, Yuping Guan, is for instance an oceanographer, in case some of the alarmist put-down artists out there are trying to grasp the broad range of disciplines relevant to climate.)
In the face of this sort of tiresomely tendentious scaremongering, by journalists who may not know what they are doing abetted by researchers who very certainly do know, it is tempting to lapse into the language of hoax and fraud. But we continue to resist it, partly because if it were a hoax it wouldn’t be done this dumb and obvious way.
If RCP8.5 were some secret scenario and they kept using it, well, it would smell like a plot. But it’s known to be bogus, so when people use it they’re basically donning a fools’ cap in the lab and then wandering out into the street going “the world is about to end” without their colleagues going “Say, that might make you look silly.” Which is not what “they” do, “they” famously being the shadowy masterful manipulators whose shoulder is at the other end of the sleeve from the hidden hand.
As Jerry Fletcher says in Conspiracy Theory, “A good conspiracy is unprovable. I mean, if you can prove it, it means they screwed up somewhere along the line.” Whereas continually trotting out RCP8.5 to frighten people is so crude and obvious a blunder that it can only mean one thing: sincere zealotry.
As for that weasily “could”, monkeys “could” fly out of my armpit. And while it’s difficult to think of a plausible mechanism, it’s at least as likely as RCP8.5 coming true.