Climate Feedback analysis of 'The Uninhabitable Earth', published in New York Magazine, by David Wallace-Wells on 9 July 2017. Graphic: Climate Feedback

13 July 2017 (Climate Feedback) – Sixteen scientists analyzed the article and estimated its overall scientific credibility to be ‘low’. A majority of reviewers tagged the article as: Alarmist, Imprecise/Unclear, Misleading. [cf. The Uninhabitable Earth, Annotated Edition]

New York Magazine published an article by David Wallace-Wells detailing the potential impacts of climate change if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Much of the article explores “worst case” scenarios of change in the climate system and the resulting impacts on human populations.

Scientists reviewed the article to determine whether the descriptions of those scenarios accurately reflect the state of scientific knowledge. The New York Magazine article has triggered a number of responses debating the merits of the decision to focus on worst case scenarios, but our review simply addresses the scientific accuracy of the article.

The reviewers found that some statements in this complex article do misrepresent research on the topic, and some others lack the necessary context to be clearly understood by the reader. Many other explanations in the article are correct, but readers are likely left with an overall conclusion that is exaggerated compared to our best scientific understanding.

Michael Mann, Professor of Meteorology, PennState University:

The article paints an overly bleak picture by overstating some of the science. It exaggerates for example, the near-term threat of climate “feedbacks” involving the release of frozen methane (the science on this is much more nuanced and doesn’t support the notion of a game-changing, planet-melting methane bomb. It is unclear that much of this frozen methane can be readily mobilized by projected warming).

Also, I was struck by erroneous statements like this one referencing “satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought.”

That’s just not true. The study in question simply showed that one particular satellite temperature dataset that had tended to show less warming that the other datasets, has now been brought in line with the other temperature data after some problems with that dataset were dealt with.

Ironically, I am a co-author of a recent article in the journal Nature Geoscience (see e.g. this piece), using that very same new, corrected, satellite dataset, that shows that past climate model simulations slightly over-predicted the actual warming during the first decade of the 21st century, likely because of a mis-specification of natural factors like solar variations and volcanic eruptions. Once these are accounted for, the models and observations are pretty much in line—the warming of the globe is pretty much progressing AS models predicted… which is bad enough.

The evidence that climate change is a serious problem that we must contend with now, is overwhelming on its own. There is no need to overstate the evidence, particularly when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness. [Read more]

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


  1. Anonymous said...

    I’d like to see where these reviewers get (all) their paychecks from.

    I read the article - and found it under-reporting the expected severity of climate change. The impacts upon civilization will be significantly WORSE. I’m not being paid by anyone to write and research this, and never have.

    What I find interesting is how there is an obvious effort to downplay the expected effects from global warming - and what it really means to civilization and the future of our species. There does seem to be a real agenda at work here - please see this article, which is chock-full of astounding inaccuracies, assumptions, hopium and techno-wizardy ‘fixes’ (that don’t exist) from real scientists:

    These science authors are wrong - on EVERY. SINGLE. POINT. Easily proven.

    This was a truly terrible article. Inaccurate, presumptive and fanciful thinking (I’m being generous here).

    a) The alleged ‘landmark’ Paris Agreement has accomplished almost nothing in the real world.
    b) Current temperature increases have already exceeded 1.4C.
    c) Global emissions ‘peaking’ by 2020 is based on pure imagination (zero facts). No country on Earth is going to do this.
    d) Lag time temperature increases are uncounted and ignored.
    e) Critical tipping points have obviously already occurred.
    f) Fusion is imaginary salvation and does not address the energy consumption of civilization (perpetuates consumption).
    g) Warming ‘below 2C’ is factually not stoppable by any means.
    h) There is no carbon budget left – as accelerated warming factually demonstrates.
    i) It is not possible to meet the Paris temperature goals – and never was.
    j) Alternative energy creates carbon emissions too – perpetuating civilization’s consumption, growth, resource use. Alternative energy creation remains heavily reliant upon fossil fuels and always will.
    k) If this is the best ‘science’ can envision, we’re in severe trouble. This article is grossly inaccurate and misleading. Intentional? Ignorance? Naivety? Or?

    I fail to see the point to this article at all. It’s simply wrong – on every single point. Because it was written by scientist, this is truly alarming.


  2. Anonymous said...


    Now, returning to the other article, “The Uninhabitable Earth”, it is very interesting to see - once again, that the scientists are making the SAME MISTAKES they’ve always made. That is, they are claiming that the “science does not support this” with the evidence currently accepted. That is the key here - and something that must be well understood.

    The current accepted science has CONSISTENTLY and SERIOUSLY under-estimated the effects being measured by a warming planet. It takes YEARS for papers to be written, peer reviewed and published (a good reason why the IPCC is woefully obsolete in ALL of its publication).

    Climate and earth science is having to constantly update their reviews and revisions of published estimates - as their record clearly shows. Warming is always “worse then expected” and “happening faster then estimated”. This is exactly the problem Mann and others have had since forever. So when they say that the “science does not support this”, what they are really saying is WE do not support this because we have consistently failed to grasp the severity and speed of global warming.

    Nor do they even have a CLUE about how this is going to affect civilization. I have not found a single scientist that understands this. Not one, and I have looked for intelligent life on this topic for years. They seem to think that all the food comes from supermarkets and that technology will be the panacea “just in time” in every situation. Their failure to grasp the scale and scope of this issues is truly astounding.

    The article is not “high-end” in reality - it’s middle-of-the-road estimates, but is being misinterpreted as “worse-case scenario”. No, it’s worse then this as some of the science already shows.

    I find climate scientists to be seriously under-informed on the state of the Earth and the current measurements, their significance and speed. They still do not grasp the true effects and meaning of what these temperature rises will mean to humanity, civilization and all life on Earth (which is why you'll still often read of the bogus "2C limit"). I have (finally) come to realize that they are woefully under-educated on the topic of saving civilization. They have no idea. They are the wrong experts to be asking these questions.

    I have posted suggestions on how to solve the climate crisis deadlock. Some of the biggest failures of all are coming right from the climate science community. They do not believe their own results - and certainly do not act or behave like they believe the results.

    For this reason, they are failing the world badly at a very critical time - and so are we, by failing to move on to the real experts (not me). So expecting the 'scientists to review the claims in the article' and expect honest answers is failing to realize that they are going to do what every group does - act / respond in self-preservation fashion. Don't let the horrifying truth leak out. They have failed us - by failing to warn the world sufficiently that we are now in severe peril. ~Survival Acres~  

  3. Anonymous said...

    Here's some information about -

    It's pretty clear that they're not very effective. The Rolling Stone article mentioned, "Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares are Already Here" said that the article "may have been to straightforward, too direct, too certain in assertions."

    This is what they are afraid of - telling the whole truth and letting the public really know what is unfolding. I remember the Rolling Stone article and featured it on my blog, at the time it was very widely read because it portrayed a very scary future - one which we have inched even closer to today.

    Downplaying the climate threat seems to be the new job description for some scientist - particularly since Trump came into office. Coincidence? I don't know, but I'm sure they know where their bread is buttered.

    Anyone truly interested in understanding the scale, severity, speed, significance and scope of the "climate threat" just needs to read what has already been published.

    It is not hyperbole at all to say that human life as we know it today is very much imperiled and will not likely last anywhere near the time scales these "expert deniers" are now claiming. These scientists are making it worse (again) because they're unwilling to speak up and tell the truth. The global climate emergency is already here. ~Survival Acres~  

  4. Anonymous said...

    Look like Michael Mann is getting rather mixed up -



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