It is easy to overlook the caveats applied to data in the news. Frequently, climate change data is reported as “conservative”. In science, nominal means average or expected. Conservative can mean lower projections, but ones that are more likely. As data is coming in, conservatism in previous sea level rise estimates is being revised. Instead of predicting a 20 inch sea level rise by 2100, the new prediction is for 29 inches. That is also conservative as;
“I want to stress those numbers are probably underestimates,” Jason Box, a Greenland ice sheet researcher and one of the report’s authors, said. – Climate Central
As awareness of the issue has increased, more studies are being conducted. The numbers will continue to be revised as studies are refined and concluded. The planet is a dynamic system, so the numbers will also continue to change as the natural processes, pollution, and mitigating actions proceed. Considering the increase in conservative values and resistance to action by major portions of the population, many may be surprised when they experience nominal or even non-conservative realities.
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