Alexis Berg member picture

Alexis Berg

Research Associate, Harvard University

Expertise: Land-atmosphere interactions, Climate impacts on agroecosystems

CO2 coalition sponsored article in The Washington Times presents list of false and misleading statements about the impacts of CO2 and climate change

“This article recycles old tropes such as “it’s been warm before”, “CO2 levels have been higher in the past” (millions of years ago!), “CO2 is plant food”, “warming is good for ecosystems/humans”, “so far impacts are small, so they will remain small”, etc. All these pseudo-arguments have been addressed many times before (see examples here, here, and here). This article is clearly motivated, misleading and biased.”

Video interview of Ian Plimer at Sky News falsely claims that a new study announces an incoming ice age, partly based on an incorrect Daily Mail headline

“This video is chock full of false and misleading information, and presented in a way to make the correct scientific information seem like a farce. For example, the direct link between human emissions of carbon dioxide and global warming is very well established. The physics and chemistry of this link has been understood for well over 100 years, and science continues to affirm it.”

Ian Plimer op-ed in The Australian again presents long list of false claims about climate

“This article is a mixture of misdirection, misleading claims, and outright falsehoods. The author attempts to paint a picture of current climate change as simply a continuation of natural changes that have occurred in the past. But this neglects the clear evidence that climate change over the last two centuries has been shown to be largely man-made, that it is much more rapid that anything we have seen in the last two thousand years if not longer, and that it is occurring in the context of a globe with more than 7 billion human inhabitants.”

New York Times op-ed claiming scientists underestimated climate change lacks supporting evidence

“Most of the specific facts and statistics in this op-ed are correct, but the overall effect is significantly misleading. The author’s central point is that scientists have been drastically underestimating the scope and the pace of climate change until just the past decade or so, and recent events such as permafrost melting, ice cap loss, and extreme weather events have caught them by surprise. This is simply not true.”

Guardian story conveys statement by scientists stressing role of deforestation in climate change

“The article correctly links estimates of current carbon dioxide emissions from land use and land cover change with fairly conservative estimates for potential carbon sequestration embedded in “natural climate solutions” as part of the climate mitigation strategy to avoid 1.5°C warming.
Land-use and land-cover change is responsible for roughly 10-15% of total global carbon dioxide emissions. Forest management, reforestation, and afforestation where appropriate, is part of the climate mitigation portfolio assessed by Integrated Assessment Models used in the IPCC process.”

Guardian coverage of essay on potential of future "hothouse" climate is generally accurate, but misstates some details

“The article reasonably summarizes a new study published in PNAS, which describes the potential of tipping elements to enhance climate warming and the potential for the Earth to transition into a hot-house climate state. The article is careful to point out uncertainties and thus avoids being sensational. However, there are many small errors scattered throughout the article.”

Daily Caller uncritically reports poorly supported conclusion of satellite temperature study

“The absence of accelerating warming trends is meant to go against prevailing climate science, but I find that to be a strawman argument. In that sense the article is misleading—however, to its credit, it does report on other published results that contradict this recent study, but it fails to provide further context or to make any effort to compare/reconcile the validity of these different studies.”

Scientists explain what New York Magazine article on “The Uninhabitable Earth” gets wrong

“While it is clear that ongoing warming of the global climate would eventually have very severe consequences, the concept of the Earth becoming uninhabitable within anywhere near the timescales suggested in the article is pure hyperbole. The author has clearly done very extensive research and addresses a number of climate threats that are indeed major issues, but generally the narrative ramps up the threat to go beyond the level that is supported by science.”

Playing semantics, misleading Breitbart article downplays US contribution to climate change

“This whole post is based on semantics and basically one big strawman fallacy. The author is deliberately confusing air pollution from suspended particulate matter (as discussed in the WHO report) with pollution from carbon dioxide emissions (as discussed in the Reuters link and the Paris Agreement). Even though CO2 does not impact our health through “disease-causing pollutants that get into people’s lungs”, it does change our environment and the Earth’s climate, and in that sense does classify as a pollutant.”

Analysis of "About Those Non-Disappearing Pacific Islands"

“This article is very interesting because it exemplifies a highly-misleading rhetorical practice that is effective, frequently used, but not easily recognized by the public: “paltering”… A successful palterer will try to avoid being untruthful in each of his/her utterances, but will nonetheless put together a highly misleading picture based on selective reporting, half-truths, and errors of omission…”

Analysis of "Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun"

“The theory of sea-level rise and flood problems is pretty well understood — this makes the point that this theory is also happening now and can only be expected to get worse — sea levels have been rising on the US east coast for the last 150 years or more and even if current trends simply continue, impacts will continue to grow. As the article states, we actually expect a significant acceleration of sea-level rise in the coming decades meaning the impacts will grow more rapidly.”

Analysis of "Next year or the year after, the Arctic will be free of ice"

“before propagating a marginal view, one should ensure having a very strong argumentation; in this interview no argumentation is put forward to support Peter Wadhams’ central claim. Wadhams’ alarmism is potentially harmful, because when such spectacular predictions are not realized some people may perceive the whole scientific community or science itself as untrustworthy.”

Analysis of "Thanks to climate change, the Arctic is turning green"

“The article reports about recent evidence that terrestrial ecosystems are ‘greening’ in response to human activities, principally the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration. The author presents this ‘greening’ as a new finding while annual global carbon budgets have reported that about 25% of the fossil-fuel emissions have been taken up by the biosphere since the 1960s. Nothing is fundamentally wrong in the article but it is organized in a somewhat misleading way”

Analysis of "…in many ways global warming will be a good thing"

“This article presents a highly biased view of global warming, only presenting the “positive” aspects of it. As the author is criticizing media doing the opposite (always showing the bad side of climate change) it is a shame the author didn’t present a balanced view here.”

Analysis of "An Overheated Climate Alarm"

“Lomborg is using scientific ‘language’ to suggest that climate change will have insignificant health impacts; this goes against a vast body of evidence. The notion that benefits from warmer winters could be more important than risks from hotter summer in terms of human health is plain wrong.”

Analysis of "2015 Was Not Even Close To Hottest Year On Record"

“This article makes startlingly inaccurate claims about the earth’s surface and satellite temperature records, as well as attempts to ascertain the earth’s temperatures over the past two millennia through proxy measurements. The author would do well to talk to scientists involved in surface and satellite records and to consult the peer-reviewered scientific literature rather than blogs when writing in the future.”

Analysis of "Scientists say human greenhouse gas emissions have canceled the next ice age"

“The article presents an accurate account of recently published research which suggests that human-induced global warming will delay the onset of the next ice age by 50,000 years. The research supports the findings of several studies published over the past 15 years, and is consistent with the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate with very long-term consequences.”

Analysis of “Climate Change Will Cause Increased Flooding In Coastal Cities ”

“The article discusses a manuscript that is still under “open access” review, so naturally there is still significant (and public) discussion about the details among scientific reviewers. Overall the article is accurate, […] and it correctly states that sea level rise is a real problem regardless of this particular Hansen publication.”

Analysis of “The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here”

“The article rightly communicates the urgency and seriousness of human-induced climate change, […] However, by the title, subtitle, and overall framing, it is likely to give an impression that some current events can be attributed to human influence for which the scientific evidence supporting such an attribution is either weak or non-existent.”

Analysis of "9 questions on rising seas"

“This article does a very good job at presenting the main aspects of sea level rise and how it will impact coastal regions…”