The 4th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was released today, and the results are unsurprising. This is in part because the drafts of the report have been released, so there’s not much new in there. The major points are that the global scientific consensus can now unanimously agree that global warming is “very likely” (read: about 90% certain) caused by humans. And that global warming can be linked to stronger storms, like Katrina. There is also some controversy over sea-level rising, as many scientists say the amount the report predicts for rising sea levels is very low, especially in the face of new developments just within the last year concerning glacial and icecap melting (the cut off for data in the report was December 2005).
Here are a few articles on the report:
The science behind the basic mechanisms (the ‘trunk & branches) of global warming and climate change have been well understood for quite a while now. So, while these reports might be useful in sparking some meaningful policy – they really represent just a detailed analysis “in the leaves” of things we know already. In that way they are a bit of a distraction. A way to delay meaningful action until we “get more evidence.” It’s not the best use of our time, energy, money and intellect, particularly when there are so many profitable, inspiring, and equitable solutions out there. Remember that this is a consensus document among scientists, who are naturally skeptical and cautious – by their very method. Finding consensus amongst the leaves of detail is very difficult, and inevitably results in watered-down, cautious statements. So the fact that this report is so strong in its wording about the threats of global warming, further solidifies what is obvious to so many of us.