Notes for editors
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will this week to release a major report that is expected to warn of catastrophic consequences to food supplies, livelihoods, health and security across the world if climate change is allowed to continue unchecked.
Leaked versions of the report, published in Japan on Monday, warn that changing temperatures, droughts and heatwaves will threaten food supplies and human health, while hundreds of millions of people will be affected by coastal flooding.
Climate change will cause economic losses, make poverty worse and increase migration and risks of violent conflict. It will also harm wildlife and habitats, the study by experts from around the world is expected to say.
In Europe, heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainstorms will increase and there will be a greater risk of coastal and river flooding, it is expected to say, while heat-related deaths will also increase.
The report, which collates work by thousands of scientists from across the world, is likely to state that climate change has already left its mark on all continents and oceans, and is expected to warn that even a small rise in temperatures could lead to irreversible changes.
Williams, who stepped down as leader of the Anglican church just over a year ago, said Monday’s report put “our local problems into a deeply disturbing global context”.
Sorry for the epic delay and happy 2014! Go with these three:
These are the best of the best. There are a ton of rabbit holes to get lost in on the above sites, so I advise taking a gentle-but-steady approach - focus on reading one report per month rather than click click clicking your way around…
Keep in touch and let me know how it goes over the next year…
The IPCC is releasing a massive new report on global warming. But is there anything we didn’t already know back in 1990?
As for letters on climate change, we do get plenty from those who deny global warming. And to say they “deny” it might be an understatement: Many say climate change is a hoax, a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom.
Before going into some detail about why these letters don’t make it into our pages, I’ll concede that, aside from my easily passing the Advanced Placement biology exam in high school, my science credentials are lacking. I’m no expert when it comes to our planet’s complex climate processes or any scientific field. Consequently, when deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts — in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.
And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — a body made up of the world’s top climate scientists — said it was 95% certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now isn’t whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.
On why the LATimes avoids publishing op-eds by climate deniers. Well done, LATimes.
And why should the world care about its new climate report? We tell you everything you need to know to sound smart at a cocktail party.
Scientists will hike pressure next week on the UN’s troubled climatetalks as they release a report pointing to the dizzying challenge of meeting the international body’s target for global warming.
In the first volume of a massive trilogy, the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its projections for warming by 2100.
Just a single scenario — and by far the toughest to achieve — sees the possibility of safely anchoring the temperature rise to within two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), according to a draft seen by AFP.
In the other projections, the UN’s much-trumpeted 2 C goal will be overshot.
At the very top of the range, warming would be more than double the UN target and more than triple that set by vulnerable small-island states.
Warming on this scale would gravely accentuate the peril from drought, flood, storms and rising seas.
"It’s been known for a long time that we are running out of time," said Alden Meyer, with the US environmental group the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
"The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes and the more expensive it gets."
The UN’s panel of climate scientists has issued only four overviews in 25 years. The last was in 2007 and despite fierce opposition from skeptics, climate science has made many advances since then.
The work released in Stockholm on Friday comprises a 2,000-page report authored by 257 scientists, plus a 31-page Summary for Policymakers.
What The Science Says
Surface temperature measurements are affected by short-term climate variability, and recent warming of deep oceans.
Why doesn’t the temperature rise at the same rate that CO2 increases?
The amount of CO2 is increasing all the time - we just passed a landmark 400 parts per million concentration of atmospheric CO2, up from around 280ppm before the industrial revolution. That’s a 42.8% increase.
A tiny amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, like methane and water vapour, keep the Earth’s surface 33°Celsius (59.4°F) warmer than it would be without them. We have added 42% more CO2 but that doesn’t mean the temperature will go up by 42% too.
There are several reasons why. Doubling the amount of CO2 does not double the greenhouse effect. The way the climate reacts is also complex, and it is difficult to separate the effects of natural changes from man-made ones over short periods of time.
As the amount of man-made CO2 goes up, temperatures do not rise at the same rate. In fact, although estimates vary - climate sensitivity is a hot topic in climate science, if you’ll forgive the pun - the last IPCC report (AR4) described the likely range as between 2 and 4.5 degrees C, for double the amount of CO2 compared to pre-industrial levels.
So far, the average global temperature has gone up by about 0.8 degrees C (1.4 F).
“According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)…the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.” Source: NASA Earth Observatory
It led to the creation of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which publishes major climate reports every five-ish years. These reports are the primary source for many policy maker’s (and media’s) climate science and knowledge. I play a minor role in the IPCC’s reports. Here’s how.
Organized by the World Meteorological Organization, it was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Researchers and a few policy makers gathered to present new scientific observations about global warming and its impacts. It also explored new techniques on monitoring systems.
One of the main drivers of holding a Climate Conference was increased awareness that food, drought, and other climate related systems were much more sensitive to fluctuations. Several disasters in the 1960s and 70s created a fundamental need for more climate science to better understand these systems. It was showcased increased scientific knowledge that GHGs caused warming, and that governments around the world needed to take some sort of pre-emptive action before system collapse.
The First World Climate Conference recognized climate change as a serious problem in 1979. This scientific gathering explored how climate change might affect human activities. It issued a declaration calling on the world’s governments “to foresee and prevent potential man-made changes in climate that might be adverse to the well-being of humanity”. It also endorsed plans to establish a World Climate Programme (WCP) under the joint responsibility of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU). Via UNFCCC
Several programs were created as a result of the World Climate Conference, including the World Climate Programme and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (e.g., the IPCC).
The IPCC was established in 1988, and released its first report in 1990. The IPCC issues highly peer-reviewed, non-political climate reports about every 5 years. Their 5th report will be published in 2014. Here’s a link to the 4th report summary, published in 2007.
These reports are written by the top scientists and researchers in the world. I play a minor role in the IPCC.
The reports are divided into three chapters: The Physical Science; Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and Mitigation. Each chapter is written by a committee, called a Working Group, comprised of several hundred to over a thousand scientists. These Working Groups peer review the available climate science. They then write a meta-analysis and conclusions based on their reviews.
Next, each of the three chapters are reviewed and edited by what’s called Expert Reviewers, of which I am one. I’m currently reviewing/editing Working Group II’s 5th Report: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Fun stuff…
You can see some of the work the WGII has done, here.
More movement in Congress on Climate Change. Sunday I posted about the new 22 member “Safe Climate Caucus,” who have vowed to discuss climate impacts and solutions every time congress is in session.
Signs of activity as the ‘climate silence’ from the President and Congress come to an end: On February 13 Senate Environment Committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) held a “Briefing on the Latest Climate Science" featuring scientists Jim McCarthy, Don Wuebbles, J. Marshall Shepherd, and John Balbus. Seven Democratic members of the committee in attendance; all Republican members appeared to be AWOL.
An archived webcast of the briefing is posted on the Environment and Public Works Committee’s website (the briefing starts at 12:30 of the webcast), along with written testimony by:
• Dr. James J. McCarthy, Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University; leader of the IPCC Third Assessment Report (2001) on global climate change impacts and vulnerabilities.
• Dr. Donald J. Wuebbles, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois.
• Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, President of the American Meteorological Society and Director for Program in Atmospheric Sciences, University of Georgia.
• Dr. John M. Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Each of the presenters gave a concise state-of-the-science overview for Senators and staff, followed by a substantial question-and-answer period.