A cardinal rule amongst statisticians is to avoid comparing apples with oranges. But it seems that Danish statistician and climate change skeptic Bjorn Lomborg has no such reservations. In an opinion column, Lomborg rails against those who argue that sea levels will rise more than projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Most models, however, find results within the IPCC range of a sea-level increase of 18 to 59 centimeters this century. ... Studies claiming one meter or more, however, obviously make for better headlines," Lomborg writes. However, the IPCC report explicitly states (pdf - see page 23) that its estimate excludes "future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow," and assumes that the Greenland ice cap and Antarctica will melt at the rate observed from 1993 to 2003 -- important caveats Lomborg fails to mention. Assessments that include increased melting rates and other non-linear responses to higher temperatures do predict sea-level increases of one meter or more.
By Bob Burton on October 21, 2008