Sunday, November 18, 2007

IPCC releases instant-guide to stop climate change

A clear, concise statement on climate change [pdf]– why it’s happening and what the underlying science says will happen if action isn’t taken immediately. What more could one ask for?

That’s what delegates from 140 countries produced Friday in a summary report referred to an “instant guide” consisting of 20 pages of the most important need-to-know data, science and computer projections assimilated over the past six years from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon

stressed the report makes clear that “concerted and sustained action now can still avoid some of the most catastrophic scenarios” in the IPCC forecasts. (Science Daily)

Download the long-form report here.

The long-form report and its summary were released on Saturday, November 17.

From USA Today:

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” the summary begins, in a statement meant to dispel any skepticism about the reality of climate change, said participants in the meeting.

The document doesn’t contain any new data since the previous meeting. Even so, over 40 authors worked together and compromised on the exact wording to simmer down more than 3,000 pages to get to the final brief, which was presided by the IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri of India, Al Gore’s co-recipient of the this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

While the brief doesn’t commit any nation to a course of action, it’s meant to provide a foundation of understanding for ongoing and upcoming political talks. It also provides a map for industrial and developing nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases.

From the NYT:

“You look to a synthesis report to provide clarity, to clarify what was obscure in previous reports,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University. “Now, how can we take these findings and formulate a policy response that’s quick enough and big enough?”

The IPCC intends the report to help begin a political process of international cooperation to control global warming.

Probably not much in the near term. Why? The United States delegations among only a few others were resistant to key wording surrounding the cause of climate change.

Again from NYT:

While the United States, Saudi Arabia and China tried to change the text in order to play down the consequences of global warming, developing nations — which will bear the initial brunt of climate change — were much more forceful than at previous meetings in opposing these efforts, one scientist who was in the negotiating room said.

"I suspect that will continue,” [one scientist in the room] said. “As they feel more and more threatened by the sea and the storms they will insist that, as one of them put it, ‘We do not want this report to be warm and fuzzy when the reality is cold and risky,’ or something like that,” he said.

That remains to be seen. Remember that the United States failed to ratify or back the Kyoto accord.

Australia and the U.S. were among the largest of nations who have decided against Kyoto in the last few years… doing so for “economic concerns”. You’ll also recall that the PM of Australia and the Bush Administration cited the emission exemption given to China (estimated to be the largest CO2 emitter on the planet) as reasons for not ratifying the agreement.

And while we remain under the control of the Bush Administration… there will likely be no federal action toward reducing national emissions. Or at least it won’t be easy.

It may come down to States’ rights. Take for example the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeastern US.

The group consists of 11 states that have made agreements to

design and implement a flexible, market-based cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the Northeast United States. RGGI will be the first mandatory cap-and-trade program in the United States to reduce emissions of the gases that cause global warming.

Not bad.

Meanwhile, on the other coast… Governor Schwarzenegger is pushing the environmental issue harder than anything else during his term in California. In fact, he’s planned a climate forum with Al Gore to take place next month in New Hampshire.

From USA Today:

The forum, which is still in the planning stages, is being designed so presidential candidates from both parties will attend. Adam Mendelsohn, a spokesman for the governor, said the format was not completely developed, but the former vice president was handling the Democratic candidates, while Schwarzenegger would handle the Republicans.

Many cities and smaller communities are also enacting their own legislation.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky… Jim Gooch (D-District 12, KY)... yes, a democrat, presided over a menagerie that brought shame upon the legislature of the Bluegrass State when he sought to discredit anthropogenic climate change.

From the Lexington-Herald Leader:

Chairman Jim Gooch, D-Providence, a longtime ally of the coal industry, said he purposefully did not invite anyone who believes in global warming to testify.

"You can only hear that the sky is falling so many times," said Gooch, whose post makes him the House Democrats' chief environmental strategist. "We hear it every day from the news media, from the colleges, from Hollywood."

Neither of Gooch's invited panelists was a scientist.

Who was on the Gooch-list? Lord Christopher Monckton, a British skeptic… and James Taylor, lawyer and fellow with the Heartland Institute, a free-market think-tank in Chicago partially funded by ExxonMobil.

Monckton, who recommended locking up those with AIDS in the 80s,

quoted the Bible and quickly recited math formulas as he accused Gore and IPCC scientists of lying to make warming seem worse than it is. The Earth admittedly has warmed a small amount during recent decades, Monckton said, but that's unrelated to carbon dioxide -- it might be due to especially strong solar rays -- and it should end soon.

And Taylor suggested that

most scientists don't believe in global warming. Not that warming is bad, he said. Hotter weather means more vegetation and crops and more diversity of wildlife, as in the tropical rain forests, he said. He distributed a report that urged Americans to burn more coal, oil and natural gas so "our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed."

Pure garbage. Or rubbish in Monckton’s case.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard non-scientific remarks in the guise of fact and logic. Just last week, founder of The Weather Channel John Colman (now a San Diego TV meteorologist) made a public statement decrying anthropogenic climate change as “the greatest scam in history”.

Gooch is also of the belief that coal mining in Eastern Kentucky isn’t destroying the Appalachian mountains.

But I bet he believes in the coal lobbyists that come to call. Kentucky is the third largest coal-producing state in the Union. So recognizing that carbon dioxide, which comes from the burning of coal and other fossil fuels, is likely leading to global climate change… would be unfathomable.

Even if you’re a democrat.

How 'bout the wingnuts stand down and pick a new topic of denial? I hear that Intelligent Design is debatable in Kentucky. Oh wait, that’s where the creation museum is. Maybe try gravity… that’s only a theory.

Meanwhile, that “no-so-huge warming trend” Gooch would ask you ignore… is still on target to surpass some of the worst-case-scenario models the IPCC brought to light with the condensed report yesterday.