February 15, 2007
Responses to IPCC 4th Assessment
Here's the IPCC 4th Assessment summary for policymakers regarding climate change science: IPCC4 Climate Science Summary
Here are a random few responses (original 2/2; revised thru 2/15)
Nature editorial (see below)
Worldwatch Institute (see below)
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Real Climate on sea level change Prior ELP Blog post
World Council of Churches (see below)
Tiempo (see below)
"Any notion that we do not know enough to move decisively against climate change has been clearly dispelled," said Yvo de Boer, head of the Climate Change Secretariat on the release of the first volume of the Fourth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on February 2nd. The report sparked a range of comments in the days that followed. "The world's scientists have spoken," said Timothy E Wirth of the United Nations Foundation. "It is time now to hear from the world's policy makers. The so-called and long-overstated 'debate' about global warming is now over," he continued. "Faced with this emergency, now is not the time for half measures. It is the time for a revolution, in the true sense of the term," concluded French President Jacques Chirac.
There were dissenting voices. In the United States, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe described the IPCC assessment as "the corruption of science for political gain." William O'Keefe of the George Marshall Institute said that predictions of a "climate catastrophe in this century are unjustified." In Lagos, Nigeria, Thompson Ayodele of the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis announced the launch of the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change to provide "more rational thinking" on the climate issue. "Many of the proposed policies are likely to harm a society like Nigeria more than the climate changes they are intended to control," he said.
Nature Editorial 2/8/07
Light at the end of the tunnel
An emphatic and clear status report on global warming opens the way
for action - presenting new risks.
The release of the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC)last Friday marks an important milestone.
Following the scientific consensus that has been apparent for some
time, a solid political consensus that acknowledges the problem
finally seems to be within reach. But achieving this outcome brings
its own risks.
Until quite recently (perhaps even until last week),the general
global narrative of the great climate-change debate has been
deceptively straightforward. The climate-science community, together
with the entire environmental movement and a broad alliance of
opinion leaders ranging from Greenpeace and Ralph Nader to Senator
John McCain and many US evangelical Christians, has been advocating
meaningful action to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions. This
requirement has been disputed by a collection of money-men and some
isolated scientists,in alliance with the current president of the
United States and a handful of like-minded ideologues such as
Australia's prime minister John Howard.
The IPCC report, released in Paris, has served a useful purpose in
removing the last ground from under the climate-change sceptics '
feet, leaving them looking marooned and ridiculous. However, this
predicament was already clear enough. Opinion in business circles,in
particular, has moved on. A report released on 19 January by
Citigroup, Climatic Consequences - the sort of eloquently written,
big-picture stuff that the well-informed chief executive reads on a
Sunday afternoon - states even more firmly than the IPCC that
anthropogenic climate change is a fact that world governments are
moving to confront. It leaves no question at all that large
businesses need to get to grips with this situation - something that
many of them are already doing.
So then, the enemy is vanquished and the victors can rejoice? Hardly.
In fact,the pending retreat from the stage of the president of the
United States and his allies leaves those who do acknowledge the
severity of the problem facing an even greater challenge than before.
The world now broadly accepts that we have a problem, if not a
crisis. So what is to be done?
The policy choices that lie ahead are more daunting than political
leaders (or the media) have thus far been ready to acknowledge. In a
sense, twenty years of frustrating trench-warfare with the sceptics
has prevented a rational discussion about what needs to be done from
even taking place.
At present, the political response to the situation is, in large
part, incongruous. We need to restrict emissions in the developed
world, and some steps are being undertaken to do just that, chiefly
through the much-maligned Kyoto Protocol. We need to develop clean
energy sources, and these are being pushed ahead quite rapidly,
although each one - nuclear power, biofuels wind power and
hydropower, for example - creates its own environmental battlefield.
Steps are also being taken to build systems for large-scale carbon
capture and storage ,and to improve the efficiency with which energy
The trouble is, none of this is even close to being sufficient to
meet the challenge. Hybrid cars are being purchased (and often allow
their lucky drivers special access to empty highway lanes). David
Cameron, the leader of Britain 's Conservative Party,has sought
planning permission to erect a wind turbine in his back garden. And
Pink Floyd and Pearl Jam have declared that their most recent world
tours would be 'carbon neutral '. But we are all vaguely aware that
all of this is nowhere near enough.
Even the most progressive governments continue to put the issue of
climate change on the back seat behind their fundamental commitment
to strong economic growth, which is needed to ensure political
survival (in developed countries) and to enable human dignity (in
developing countries). So in a typical European nation, for example,
governments are calling for strenuous emissions cuts while also
planning airport expansions that anticipate a further tripling over
the next twenty years of air travel -- the fastest-growing source of
and one not capped by the Kyoto Protocol.
The fundamental difficulty here is that it has been politically
impossible to accept that fighting global warming may involve some
economic sacrifice, at least while the sceptics were in the picture.
As these are vanquished, it becomes possible - and indeed necessary -
to start the discussion. Similarly, it has been hard to talk about
actions that need to be taken to mitigate the damage already certain
to be caused by climate change and associated rises in the sea level,
as such steps were regarded as a capitulation to those who just want
to keep emitting greenhouse gases. This is no longer the case.
Mitigation,which can take many forms ranging from the Thames Barrier
in London to the introduction of drought-resistant crop strains in
the Sahel and the establish-
ment of a proposed climate-change adaptation fund, needs to be
squarely on the agenda, alongside emissions cuts.
A similar relaxation arises with regard to revised negotiations for
the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol. There is a case for opening
the second phase beyond a simple extension of the cap-and- trade
proposals that made up the core of the first. US President George W.
Bush will remain a participant in such negotiations until the end of
2008. But even before then, talks should include all the options open
to a planet that is now ready, at last, to acknowledge the fix it is
From “Inconvenient” to Incontrovertible
Last year, the world was captivated by academy award and Nobel Prize nominee Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Now, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the science is not only inconvenient—it’s incontrovertible.
Some 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries agree that there is at least a 90 percent probability that warming observed during the past 50 years is the result of human activity (up from 66 percent chance stated in the last IPCC report released in 2001).
IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri has said the report’s greatest contribution to the debate was in achieving consensus about the threat. The question now is: What can we do about global warming and how can we prepare our world for worsening storms, droughts, floods and other impacts?
- The United States (the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and whose action is necessary to encourage China and India to reduce their emissions) can displace a large portion of its fossil fuels by looking to the American Energy vision.
cover only 0.4 percent of the Earth’s surface yet generate the bulk of
the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—can make significant reductions in
emissions by sourcing power locally and investing in energy efficiency.
Communities can plan for disasters due to the likely increase in sea-level rise, floods, heat waves, droughts, and hurricane intensity.
World church body says UN climate report shows need to act now Geneva (ENI). The World Council of Churches and other Christian groups say immediate action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after a UN climate panel issued its strongest warning yet that human activities are to blame for global warming. "The global debate over human impact on the environment must now shift from denial and delays to responsibility and remedies that are well within humanity's grasp," said the Rev. Martin Robra, who is responsible for the WCC's work on climate change.
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