An interesting piece from last year at Daily Climate suggests that scientists underplay climate impacts.
The late William Freudenberg in a study claiming this skew suggested that members of the press
reporters, he warned, “need to learn that, if they wish to discuss ‘both sides’ of the climate issue, the scientifically legitimate ‘other side’ is that, if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested in scientific consensus estimates to date.”
Is this a fair assessment? I’m not sure. It’s my claim that the purpose of IPCC is to establish the center of gravity of the conversation, not to close it down. I think what is fair is that equal time be given to fringes in some sense equidistant from the IPCC on the complacency/alarm spectrum.
But Naomi Oreskes is quoted at the link with a similar conclusion to Freudenberg’s, which also argues that the argument we are having is backwards:
Oreskes has spent a career studying climate science. She finds ample evidence that climate scientists are indeed biased – just not in the way portrayed by politicians such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who claimed scientists paint a bleak picture to secure more research funding.
In reality, Oreskes said, scientists skew their results away from worst-case, doomsday scenarios. “Many people in the scientific community have felt that it’s important to be conservative – that it protects your credibility,” she said. “There’s a low-end bias. It has led scientists to understate, rather than overstate, the impacts.”