The UnAustralian

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
 
Misleading Maths About the Earth

Among the peusdoscientific community, it's not hard to find examples of misleading maths. To use one example, Bob Foster of the Lavoisier Institute has written (about Ian Castles work - however, without seeing the context as too how Castles presented this information, I'm reluctant to attribute it to him):

"the high-end scenario has world coal consumption growing 31% in 1990--2000. Actually, it fell slightly."

While this might be true, it is also highly misleading. The IPCC present a range of scenarios, which represent both high and low levels of coal consumption. It's good that the real life data is below the high consumption levels - if it wasn't, then they would be underestimating.

Bob doesn't say how much coal consumption fell by in the 1990 to 2000 period, so we'll have to look at the scenarios in a qualitative, not quantitate sense. Many of the emission scenarios show coal consumption dropping over the 1990 to 2000 period. To use one example, the B2 MARIA scenario has coal consumption dropping from 90 to 71 EJ over this time period. Other scenarios have bigger drops.

A more informative way of presenting this information, would have been to write "over the period 1990 to 2000, coal consumption fell inbetween the range of IPCC projections".
| 7:29 PM