One of the complaints often directed at climate scientists is that they’re quick to criticise media reports that claim that alarmist projections are wrong, but don’t criticise the media when they incorrectly make alarmist claims. A recent Spectator article by Matt Ridley claims that climate change is good for the world. It is very explicitly based on a review paper by Richard Tol about The economic effects of climate change.
I discussed an earlier version of this paper in a post a while ago, and I certainly don’t think that one can use it to conclude that climate change will be good for us. A NewStatesman article called no, climate change will not be good for the world appears to suggest the same.
So, we appear to have two different articles, both based on the same piece of peer-reviewed work, that reach – what appear to be – completely different conclusions. Surely they both can’t be right? If Richard Tol does think that academics have an obligation to correct the media when they mis-interpret their work, surely he should now do so? Of course, he could argue that he simply presents the research and that journalists have the right to interpret it as they see fit. If so, then that would seem to apply to all peer-reviewed work, and maybe people should stop criticising climate scientists for apparently not doing this sufficiently often (to be fair, I don’t know if Richard has actually done this). If Richard does believe that academics should engage with the media in a way that ensures that their work is correctly represented, then I look forward to Richard clarifying which article is correct and which is wrong. Of course, maybe there’s a reason why somehow both have represented his work correctly, but – at this stage – I fail to see how that is possible.