Geoffrey Lean at the Telegraph has, somewhat belatedly, picked up on the low climate sensitivity news.
Yes, you read that correctly, Geoffrey Lean. Who will be next to turn sceptic?
The new research focuses on the arcane but crucial issue of “climate sensitivity”. This is normally expressed as the amount of warming that would eventually result from doubling the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from its level before the Industrial Revolution – something which, on present trends, we will achieve in the next few decades.
The resulting increase has long been put at between 1.5C and 4.5C (the threefold range itself gives some idea of how little is known): the best guess has been 3C, which would be likely to have devastating effects on the climate. But the latest findings – which stretch over several papers from different, well-established scientists – suggest that the rise may be towards the lower end of that big range, possibly less than the 2C danger level.
When even zealots like Lean are in retreat it's fair to say that something significant has changed. One can only wonder whether this change of tune is a function of the Economist's coverage of the issue or of what Lean's contacts are whispering to him about the Fifth Assessment Report.
Either way, this is an interesting moment for those, like Joe Romm and Keith Kloor, who laid into Matt Ridley for saying the same thing.