Try searching the headlines of Anthony Watts’ WUWT blog for the words “alarmist” or “alarmism” over the past year and you will get 17 hits. The words are never clearly defined but imply that climate scientist claims are exaggerated and thus unworthy of merit.
Fortunately, a literature review by Brysse et al has recently been released that looks into whether this is true (the original is here and Skeptical Science also provides a good summary here).
Restated, the question is whether the scientific community, for which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) can be used as a proxy, has made exaggerated predictions. For a full answer to this question, please read the original article or the Skeptical Science post. In summary, the article’s conclusion is that the IPCC has been too cautious in its predictions with respect to sea level rise, Arctic sea ice extent retreat, snow cover reduction, the rise in carbon emissions and ice sheet melt. Hurricane intensity and global mean temperature rise have been in line with predictions.
The most interesting part of the article deals with why scientists have had a tendency to be conservative in their predictions—what the study calls to ‘err on the side of least drama (ESLD)’. In their words: Continue reading