Findings? Human-caused global warming is all-but-certain, temperatures have risen nearly a degree in the past hundred years and will continue to rise, sea levels are rising and will continue to rise, ice in glaciers and in the Arctic is dwindling, and weather has become and will continue becoming more extreme. On all that there is widespread agreement. On the details differences remain.
Known by the shorthand of AR5, the U.N. fifth assessment is the work of more than 200 leading scientists embodying the findings of more than 9,000 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. The IPCC has upped the odds of humans being the cause of global warming from the 90 percent noted in the fourth assessment published in 2007 to 95 percent.
You may have noticed that the IPCC's release is being preceded by a well-funded—sound familiar?—effort by global warming deniers to undermine the assessment's findings in the eyes of the public. They're helped along by parrots and stenographers in much of the traditional media.
Leading the denier effort is the oil- coal- and rightwing foundation-fueled Heartland Institute. As reported by Katherine Bagley at the Pulitzer prize-winning InsideClimate News, Heartland has released its own 1,200-page study, the cutely named Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. You might remember Heartland's notorious campaign tying those who accept the scientific findings about global warming to Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. The nastiness of Heartland's public discourse is a match for its scientific "research."
Please read below the fold to see the pushback being given to Heartland and other deniers.
In a conference call last week, the cautious chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra K Pachauri, said that he has high confidence in the fifth assessment:
"There will be enough information provided so that rational people across the globe will see that action is needed on climate change." [...]The trouble, as Pachauri knows but was too kind and diplomatic to point out, is that the U.S. government is brimful of irrational people on many issues, and especially when it comes to global warming.
"I really wouldn't want to say anything about any perceived effort for a pushback," he went on. "We are doing our job and we are reasonably confident that rational people in government and all over the world will see the merit of the work that has been done."
The IPCC remains very conservative in its global warming calculations. Too conservative, according to Joe Romm at ClimateProgress, who has often complained that all the IPCC's assessments have been out of date before they are published. He recently wrote about the latest obsolescence:
“Every climate scientist I’ve spoken to has said we will blow past 550 [parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere] if we continue to put off action. Indeed, we’re on track for well past 800 ppm. And a 2012 study found that the carbon feedback from the thawing permafrost alone will likely add 0.4°F – 1.5°F to total global warming by 2100.One of the key recent attacks of the denier crowd hasn't been directly on the AR5, but rather on recent reports regarding Arctic ice. The fact that the minimum summer coverage of the ice was significantly greater than the minimum in 2012 spurred the notoriously denier Daily Mail newspaper to publish David Rose's article. Thus, he and other journalists implied, all the scientific conclusions about melting polar caps are wrong.
So the alarming disruption in our previously stable, civilization-supporting climate depicted in the top figure is our future. On our current emissions path, the main question the [equilibrium climate sensitivity] answers is whether 9°F warming happens closer to 2080, 2100, or 2120—hardly a cause for any celebration. Quite the reverse. Warming beyond 7F is “incompatible with organized global community, is likely to be beyond ‘adaptation’, is devastating to the majority of ecosystems & has a high probability of not being stable (i.e. 4°C [7F] would be an interim temperature on the way to a much higher equilibrium level,” as climate expert Kevin Anderson explains here.
That bogus view emerges from a failure to understand the summer melt of Arctic ice doesn't set records every year. The minimum covers more or less area one year than the next. For 2012, a rise was predicted by 80 percent of climate scientists who weighed in on the subject. But that rise doesn't mean the melting trend has changed direction. That trend has been steadily downward for decades.
Moreover, the ice coverage the denier journalists latched onto in their reporting is surface ice. Volume matters. A lot. And the volume is far less than it was just 10 years ago. What that means is ... well, let somebody who really knows what he's talking about explain—Phil Plait at Slate's Bad Astronomy:
Arctic ice will be just one of the hooks the denier crowd grabs hold of when the IPCC assessment is released. Expect some infuriating headlines and television coverage. Expect some know-nothing and/or fossil-fuel shilling remarks from congresspeople. Smart journalists not just interested in reporting in a "scientist said/denier said" fashion can visit the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, a group of scientists who have decided they're not going to take it anymore and provide antidotes to misleading claims about the reality of global warming. They might actually expose some lies that way.
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Dartagnan has a post up on the same subject here.