A top scientific journal which claimed that global warming may already be unstoppable has been forced to issue a clarification after being accused of potentially causing “unnecessary despair”.
Scientific Reports sought to publicise a study by Norwegian scientists with a doom-laden press release headlined: “Ending greenhouse gas emissions may not stop global warming.”
After being strongly criticised by leading British scientists, the journal issued a revised press release which admitted that the prediction was based on a particular computer model and said the results should be tested by “alternative models”.
The study says that even if man-made greenhouse gas emissions were to reduce to zero this year, global temperatures would still be about 3C warmer and sea levels 2.5m higher by 2500 compared with 1850.
Richard Betts, professor of climate impacts at the University of Exeter, criticised the press release and questioned the study’s conclusions, saying there was a risk of the public being given a “frightening message” that was misleading. “While the press release suggests that global warming may now be unstoppable for centuries, the model result in this paper is not convincing as support for that message,” he said.
“The paper itself does not actually claim to be a prediction of the real world, it just reports the behaviour of one model — but the press release goes a big step further and presents it as a prediction.”…
Andrew Watson, a Royal Society research professor at the University of Exeter, said that he did not agree with the press release describing global warming as potentially catastrophic, “given that it occurs over 500 years”.
Full story (£)