Monday, July 8, 2013

Oops. Sun News interviews the "wrong" climate scientist

In an earlier post, I described how an interview with climate scientist Hans von Storch had been cherry-picked – quote-mined, to be precise – by the denialsphere to make it seem like a well-credentialled believer in the climate change consensus has lost his religion.

Well it seems that “ethical oil” promoter and leading Sun News Network (Canada's answer to Fox News) pundit Ezra Levant read the interview or, more likely, one of the quote-mined versions, because soon later – as von Storch, whom I had contacted with some questions, himself told me – Levant's show “The Source” asked the forthright scientist for an interview.

Now the interview is online and it is, in its own way, a howler. But not because of anything von Storch said.

Still from Sun News Network's not-quite-according-to-plan interview with climate scientist Hans von Storch.
Watch the whole thing here
Levant's leading questions clearly were prepared for the quote-mined von Storch – a presumptive new ally in the war on mainstream climate science. As a result, von Storch – a German national unfamiliar with Sun News, tipped off by me on what to expect – spent most of his time correcting Levant and the standard misconceptions that viewers of Sun News are chronically spoon-fed.

The result was all the more incongruous given the B-roll graphics and teasers (as in “ENVIRON"MENTAL"” in the still above) that accompanied the interview. As these served up a steady stream of climate science denial, von Storch just kept correcting Levant and affirming the key findings of climate science, only giving Levant a crumb of validation on the mostly contrived claim that there has been “no warming” for the past 16-odd years, but that this doesn't mean (in von Storch's view) that anthropogenic global warming has “stopped.” Rather, he elaborated, climate models need improvement to better anticipate and explain plateaus like this one.

I believe the models already have this phenomenon well covered, as do most climate scientists, it seems (for example, see here and here; I'm working on a post about this myself). So on this point I find myself respectfully disagreeing with von Storch's statements.* But for once I'm grateful for cherry-picking. Without it, viewers of Sun News might never have been exposed to such a stiff dose of uninterrupted authoritative affirmation of the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

*At least with some of his rhetoric about the recent plateau in surface temperature warming. To quote once more from his Der Spiegel interview, where he drills deeper into the explanation:
SPIEGEL: In which areas do you need to improve the models?
Storch: Among other things, there is evidence that the oceans have absorbed more heat than we initially calculated. Temperatures at depths greater than 700 meters (2,300 feet) appear to have increased more than ever before. The only unfortunate thing is that our simulations failed to predict this effect.

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