Environmental panel’s upcoming report fuels doubter’s argument against global warming as the IPCC’s facts are leaked.
Set to be published on September 27, the juiciest portions of the fifth report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are already out, thanks to Reuters and, perhaps, a mole or an unscrupulous volunteer. The IPCC’s facts were leaked last weekend after being passed off to a group of volunteer reviewers meant to evaluate the document.
The gist of the new report is that carbon released by humans into the atmosphere is increasing the global temperature a bit less rapidly than first predicted in 2007. The report uses the verbiage “likely” and “most likely” to predict the rise in global temperature, a fact that deniers have held up as crumbling confidence in global warming. Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, The Australian, for instance, wrote a front page story about the report claiming that the world was warming only half as much as first indicated by the IPCC. It uses the conservative British tabloid The Daily Mail as its source. Not one climatologist is quoted in that story, however. Conservative websites, such as Fox News and other climate deniers, have latched onto this story too. The IPCC is a target due to its reputation as the leading global authority on climate change.
Climatologists and global warming advocates say that the change in prediction is not really that significant to the overall phenomenon of climate change. The slowdown is seen as a short term occurrence within the larger scope of the planet’s warm up. Yet, this leak of the IPCC’s facts is already fueling potent arguments for climate change deniers to lure skeptics to their side. Another fact fueling deniers, is that the planet has been cooling for at least the last 15 years. While some scientists say the last 17 years.
Many believe this is due to the date of measurement. The IPCC report project was started in 1992, an extremely warm year globally. This is thought to be throwing off the evaluation of global temperature data. Although the vast majority of climatologists embrace global warming, climate change deniers can point to these latest facts and make a convincing argument.
Despite this latest setback, climate change embracers point out that the world is still warming overall, though more slowly than first predicted. They also cite what the latest IPCC report will state with 95-100% near certainty, that climate change is due to carbon emissions caused by human activities. Further, the newest IPCC report says that the sea level could rise over three feet a hundred years hence, but this is their most cautious estimate.
In a more dramatic scenario, the sea levels could rise 21 inches. A large portion of the world’s population live in coastal areas, spelling disaster for them should the worst part of the report become reality. This is even more dramatic than first predicted in 2007, the year the IPCC and Al Gore concurrently won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on climate change.
It’s important to realize that the IPCC doesn’t do any research itself, but summarizes the findings of other climatologists and organizations. Still, with its reputation as the leading climate change organization worldwide, the IPCC has been targeted by climate deniers since its groundbreaking 2007 report. That document was scrutinized heavily by skeptics which seems to be why the IPCC has taken special steps to be extra careful this time around. Their final report and statements to the press will still be a bit different from what is available to the news media today. IPCC members are to meet on Monday in Stockholm for their final analysis of the report, but with the IPCC’s facts leaked ahead of time, their hard work may still be undone.
By: Philip Perry