Pace of Estimate Changes Exceeds Estimates

The Washington Post published an article today with the headline "Scientists: Pace of Climate Change Exceeds Estimates". From that, you might get the idea that, you know, the actual pace of climate change, say temperature, was exceeding the estimates. You'd be wrong:

CHICAGO, Feb. 14 -- The pace of global warming is likely to be much faster than recent predictions, because industrial greenhouse gas emissions have increased more quickly than expected and higher temperatures are triggering self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms in global ecosystems, scientists said Saturday.

"We are basically looking now at a future climate that's beyond anything we've considered seriously in climate model simulations," Christopher Field, founding director of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University, said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

So what they really mean is that the estimates themselves are likely to be low. Now, that may be truly bad news; I don't know much about climate science. But it isn't the case that the actual pace of climate change has exceeded anything, and headlines to the contrary are misleading and annoying.

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