This almost gets tiresome, but someone’s got to do it and it won’t take but a moment. Let’s just get this on the record, OK, so that if it comes up again it’ll be in Google.
Duane Freese, in a Tech Central Station piece on the Kyoto Protocol, tries to help his readers by quoting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But he so botches the job, either by not reading the surrounding context or choosing to ignore it, as to render the quote completely out of its useful context and using it to mean something rather different than a careful reading shows the IPCC intended. To whit:
Their “consensus” opinion, stated in the first chapter of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2001, was:
“The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late 19th Century and that other trends have been observed does not necessarily mean that the anthropogenic (human-induced) effect on the climate has been identified. Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural.”
But wait! I thought the IPCC, scourge of the climate skeptics, had concluded, famously, that “Most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” Could the IPCC be speaking with forked tongue?
Well, no, Freese has merely quoted them – rather egregiously, frankly – out of context. And, not surprisingly, if you Google the quote, you’ll find that others have repeatedly done the same thing with this little bit of business – including Tech Central Station.
I invite you to read for yourself the full section of the IPCC report, but I’ll summarize it for you here. The quote in question is the beginning of a section that starts with a resonable premise – that warming since the 19th century does not, by itself, prove people are messing up the climate. More evidence is required. And then what does the IPCC do? It goes on to look at the available evidence. This is the part the TCS people, and the other climate skeptics, don’t like to quote for you. I guess they just assume y’all won’t go read it yourself. With that as background, I’ll offer you the full quote:
The fact that the global mean temperature has increased since the late 19th century and that other trends have been observed does not necessarily mean that an anthropogenic effect on the climate system has been identified. Climate has always varied on all time-scales, so the observed change may be natural. A more detailed analysis is required to provide evidence of a human impact.
Freese, and every other case I found in the skeptics’ literature leaves off that last sentence. Because what the IPCC then proceeds to do, is to conduct that “more detailed analysis,” using it to support the conclusion that the detected climate change is “likely” (their carefully defined term of art) anthropogenic in nature.