back to article IPCC report: no surprises, not much hope either

Humanity is "very likely" to blame for global warming and, regardless of what action is taken now, recent increases in atmospheric carbon will have a profound effect on the planet. In the first of a series of four reports to be published this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has fingered humans as the …


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  1. Greg Nelson

    If it's not one thing it's another

    As a staunch environmentalist I welcome any work that brings us to our collective sense when dealing with the environment. The biosphere is a system of systems and our just concern with climate change is that once the parameters shift we've no way of knowing what the outcome may be. A system in a runaway state is a wild ride, as exemplified by two states of runaway we come to as individuals, sexual climax and death.

    Unfortunately I can't help but see life in the biosphere as very much a loosey goosey affair that we are only now fully recognizing. The study of complex systems is a relatively new endevour. Previously studies of the environment and biology generally tended to be premised upon the principle of uniformitarianism as the underlying rule informing conjecture about the earth's past. Uniformitarianism was fundamental to Darwin's formulation of the theory of evolution and extrapolated from the idea that the earth had been as it was and is for many millions of years to allow for the evolution of the species. Counter to the theory of uniformitarianism was the idea of catastrophism. Catastrophism suggested that the data available suggested the earth to be a geologically volatile place. Uniformitarianism seems bred to mate with the 19th c. scientific methodology of unidirectional, single level, deterministic views. Catastrophism speaks more to current ideas in evolution like punctuated equilibrium and Alvarez's K-T event. In geology plate tectonics had a rough initial ride in light of the principle of uniformitarianism before being widely accepted.

    We are now coming to grips with the world in post Biblical terms. No longer is the world the centre of the universe fixed in creation by God and only catastrophically altered by God's wrath in world floods. So as much as I welcome the findings on climate change and its impact on our environmental consciousness I think we are only just peeking out from behind the comfort of our collective mythologies to see the biosphere as a system of systems subject to violent change on a geologic time scale that in terms of our short lives as a new species doesn't easily permit us to accept the inevitable catastrophic changes coming our way.

  2. Arthur E Lemay

    The IPCC is worthless

    Global Warming is, as President Chirac of France says: "a wonderful way to introduce world socialism run by the UN."

    It is well known that the scientists on the IPCC complain that UN bureaucrats tell the press things which they do not believe are true. And, every year, the IPCC makes its annual report predictions more dire and awful. There has been little new work in the last two years, in comparison to the decades of work done in the 20th century; yet, the IPCC keeps making its predictions more definitive.

    Climate scientists have re-run the same models used for these predictions with real data from the last hundred years, and, guess what? The models severely overstate the temperatures and climate conditions we can observe with real measurements. They reject the theory that the sun's energy variations have anything to do with observed warming, yet the there is very good correlation; they say it is CO2 greenhouse gas, but the ice core records show that temperature changes, then, CO2 levels change. So, there is no correlation with CO2, and good correlation with the Sun’s activities. Yet, they say its greenhouse gases!

    Their conclusions can be translated into this language "the world is warmer now than it has been for centuries and there are no reasons we know why this is happening, except it is likely that man is doing it." Oh, really, well they can't explain why the climate changed before the industrial period either. Well, if they cannot see the correlations with the Sun’s energy, I doubt if they can see anything else either.

    The efforts of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other skeptics like Bjorn Lomborg threaten to put the whole Global Warming wagon into the ditch. Senators Rockfeller and Snow have sent a muzzling letter to Exxon to stop funding CEI and other small think tanks who, increasingly are saying "the Emperor has no clothes."

    But, of course, if the Sun is causing climate change there would be no carbon taxes to pay for a UN administration of an anti-Warming bureauracy and there would be no cushy UN jobs for them.

    So, there is nothing to worry about: it's a scam, like "end of growth" of the Club of Rome, Global Cooling, and other scams whose solution is always the same: Stop industrialization, transfer wealth to the third world (this time with the environmental carbon tax trading system), put heavy controls on economies -- just like the Kyoto protocols, but much worse. The costs are staggering, and, if implemented will cause economic crises.

    The whole Global Warming scare is overstated and not based on science. It is a political movement of socialist countries in the UN. Their facts are wrong, their models are wrong, and the press has got it wrong too.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let us say this is really true...

    And I have my doubts. Is the most beneficial way of dealing with the issue to tell the world 'you're all going to die and you've no-one to blame but your evil, planet-raping selves'?

    The reality is that even if we all do our utmost to radically change the way we live, these changes are probably going to occur. I say probably, because particularly with complex systems such as our planet's biosphere and climate, scientists have not been entirely unknown to get things completely and spectacularly wrong (Y2K anyone? - coincidentally a massive moneyspinner for the computer industry).

    So what's a more positive approach to this situation? Couple of thoughts:

    1) End recriminations and doommongering. The media loves global warming because it represents the ultimately headline-generating disaster flick. Time to start saying - 'there may be very difficult times ahead, but we can get through this by working together.' Apart from anything else, we're set to raise the most mentally ill generation of humans yet if we keep telling them they're ALL screwed from the moment they're born.

    2) Start state-sponsored and subsidised work to deal with the challenges ahead - people will not radically change their behaviour and way of living unless they have the means to do so. This however will not happen while governments can simply use climate change as an opportunity for new 'green' taxes, and industry pursues vested interests.

    3) A point related to the one preceding it. Plan and budget for the worst case. Build the tools and technology we would need to support this world if the planet's nature changes radically, and the tools we would need for a realistic proportion of our species to survive offworld (many of the technologies involved would be related to both of these goals, and could greatly boost the world economy through the innovations produced). If we lack the imagination to consider the need for a new 'space race' as anything other than science fiction... maybe we don't deserve to evolve further anyway.

  4. David Blair

    global Warming delusion

    More hysterics from the IPCC. The Earths temperature can never be constant. If there is a problem it is one of an unsustainable population.

    If human activity is causing any global warming at all it is marginal. The Greens however cannot loose. The temptation for Governments to raise revenue on the back of global warming will cause some change in habits. When the dire predictions do not come true the Greens will say it is because of the actions taken.

    The world will soon be priced out of fossil fuel and this will automatically lead to other non global warming fuels being developed. End of fossil fuels rather than global warming is my concern. The biggest users are powere stations.

    The largest amount of CO2 is produced by power stations. Turning off TVs etc will not have any effect. The number of power stations in use on any day is determined by the maximum demand for electricity as power stations cannot be easily switched on or off. The 2 periods of maximum demand are in the morning and early evening. It is only by reducing demand at these times that a station may be taken out. Electricity should be charged for on the basis of maximum demand of the premises or by placing a limit on the property.

    Electricity is in fact free at other times of day!

    A few ideas then-

    Encouraging the use of cars rather than trains for commuting would reduce demand during these periods.

    Using power imported from a different time zone during these critical hours.

    Staggering the working day for some workers. Staggering school hours.

    Stopping TV broadcasts during these hours.

  5. steven W. Scott


    It's truly disturbing when the science community begins distorting evidence and ignoring facts to support their premise, namely that man is responsible for global warming. What about:

    * - The sun is warmer .. and all of these scientists don't seem to be willing to credit a warmer sun with any of the blame for global warming.

    * - The polar ice caps on Mars are melting. How did our CO2 emissions get all the way to Mars?

    * - It was warmer in the 1930s across the globe than it is right now.

    * - It wasn't all that long ago that these very same scientists were warning us about "global cooling" and another approaching ice age.

    * - How much has the earth warmed up in the last 100 years? One degree. Now that's frightening.

    * - That famous "hockey stick" graph that purports to show a sudden warming of the earth in the last few decades is a fraud. It ignored previous warming periods ... left them off the graph altogether.

    * - The Kyoto accords exempt some of the world's biggest CO2 polluters, including China and India.

    * - Many of these scientists who are sounding the global warming scare depend on grant money for their livelihood, and they know the grant money dries up when they stop preaching the global warming sermon.

    * - Global warming "activists" and scientists seek to punish those who have different viewpoints. If you are sure of your science you have no need to shout down or seek to punish those who disagree.

    * - What happened to the Medieval Warm Period? In 1996 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a chart showing climatic change over a period of 1000 years. This graph showed a Medieval warming period in which global temperatures were higher than they are today. In 2001 the IPCC issued another 1000 year graph in which the Medieval warming period was missing. Why?

    * - Why has one scientist promoting the cause of man-made global warming been quoted as saying "we have to get rid of the medieval warming period?"

    * - Why is the ice cap on the Antarctic getting thicker if the earth is getting warmer?

    * - In the United State, the one country with the most accurate temperature measuring and reporting records, temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees centigrade over the past 100 years. The UN estimate is twice that.

    * - There are about 160,000 glaciers around the world. Most have never been visited or measured by man. The great majority of these glaciers are growing, not melting.

    * - Side-looking radar interferometry shows that the ice mass in the West Antarctic is growing at a rate of over 26 gigatons a year. This reverses a melting trend that had persisted for the previous 6,000 years.

    * - The sea levels have been rising since the last ice age ended. That was 12,000 years ago. Estimates are that in that time the sea level has risen by over 300 feet. The rise in our sea levels has been going on long before man started creating anything but natural CO2 emissions.

    * - Like Antarctica, the interior of Greenland is gaining ice mass.

    * - Over the past 3,000 years there have been five different extended periods when the earth was measurably warmer than it is today.

    * - During the last 20 years -- a period of the highest carbon dioxide levels -- global temperatures have actually decreased. That's right ... decreased.

    * - Why did a reporter from National Public Radio refuse to interview David Deming, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma studying global warming, after his testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unless Deming would state that global warming was being caused by man?

    * - Why are global warming proponents insisting that the matter is settled and that no further scientific research is needed? Why are they afraid of additional information?

    * -On July 24, 1974 Time Magazine published an article entitled "Another Ice Age?" Here's the first paragraph:

    "As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age."

    * - Why do nearly ALL meterologists discredit man-made global warming and immediately refer to the sun's increased output?

  6. Steve Linton

    Have any of you even looked at the report?

    Have any of you even looked at the report? There is a huge chapter summarising the work since 2001; a chapter on the validation of the models using historical data; comparisons of the level of warming expected due to increased solar output, volcanos, etc. with what we are actually seeing, etc. etc.

    The points you make are ALL addressed, in detail, in the report.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Official IPCC response to this article

    From the Independent Police Complaints Commission:

    "Someone has stolen the 'o' from IPoCC, the police are dealing with it, now move along there, nothing to see here, move along now, nothing to see..."

  8. Ed


    The list of points in the last post has appeared elsewhere on the net: all the points have been addressed already at a scientific level. Here's a quick run through.

    1) The sun is getting warmer over a period of 100s of millions of years, too slowly to be noticeable to us. It also fluctuates on periods of 100,000 (and other) years coinciding with the start and finish of ice ages. Sunspot cycles over decades have produced a small warming over the 20th century (about 1/5th of effect of GHG warming (from Weather, Climate and Climate change O'Hare et al 2005)).

    2) Mars is subject to the same solar influences that we are but doesn't have human industry and agriculture pumping out 25 billion tonnes/year of greenhouse gases, so will not warm as fast as Earth.

    3) 11 of the last 12 years are in the 12 hottest years since global records began in 1850 (IPCC AR4 WG1). Where does the 1930s come into that?

    4) 'these very same scientists' - what, all 2500 of them in a group report signed off by most of the member nations of the UN? We live in an interglacial and previous interglacials have been about 10-20,000 years long so some scientists forecasted an ice age. However, 30 years later, computers, satellites, earth science and most importantly industrial emissions have moved on dramatically.

    5) 5degC separates us from the last ice age and industrial emissions are still on a rapid upward trend, implying faster and faster change to the atmosphere and potential temp increase of 5degC or more by 2100. The problem is not what we have already experienced but what we are committed to in the future.

    6) The significance of the hockey stick graph is the recent run of record temperatures. The US National Academy of Sciences issued a report backing up this finding. The Medieval Warm Period might not appear in global temperature measurements if it was a regional effect - see Michael Mann (one of the authors)'s comments at

    7) Indian Gross National Income/head is $600, Chinese GNI is $1200, British GNI is $33,000, US GNI is $43,000. Developing countries will adopt green technologies but can't afford to develop them: we need to do that. China already has higher public awareness and car pollution standards than the US.

    8) Actually, successfully destroying a widely accepted falsehood would be an excellent way to go down in scientific history. A recent paper (Parmesan 2006) surveyed studies of changes in plant and animal distributions in different continents as evidence of climate change: let's be specific - do you have any evidence of any sort that the data in this study were falsified, exaggerated, distorted, alarmist or anything else? You think we should ignore evidence of ecosystem changes because according to you, all the researchers are simply chasing headlines and money? Perhaps the birds are changing their migrations so they can qualify for 'distressed bird' grants?

    And on and on .. some of the points (eg solar influence, ice age) are repeated. It's also true that not all parts on the earth are getting warmer - warming is concentrated in the arctic e.g. Canada, Russia. But one point which illustrates the non-science on which these arguments lie: 'There are about 160,000 glaciers around the world. Most have never been visited or measured by man. The great majority of these glaciers are growing, not melting.' When the glaciers that are being studied are all shrinking, how can you possibly assert that all the ones which 'have never been visited' are growing? How do you know? Where are your measurements for all these glaciers that 'have never been .... measured by man'?

    Luckily humanity has a sufficiently functioning political system despite all the lobbying that our energy and environment policy is not based on this sort of bar room logic. Download the IPCC report and have a read of that if you want an up-to-date view of what is really happening to the Earth.

  9. David Ford

    At Last! Some sense!

    At last we have a report with some sense in it! The climate is changing. There is nothing we can do about it. It's time we stopped buggering around looking for things to tax and started working out how we're going to live with it.

    How are we going to live with it?

    Well, for a start we're going to need a good few modern nuclear power stations. But how are you going to get elected with that in the manifesto?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heads in the sand

    It's quite amazing to me that so many people still refuse to beleive what is patently obvious if you look at fairly basic evidence.

    Should we laugh or cry when we seem politicians say "now is the time for action not words" (and do nothing).

    On the basis of this, and knowing what I know about Clathrates (frozen methane deposits that are boiling up off the bottom of the sea off San Diego, California, in bubbles up to the size of a house), my beleif is that there is a 90% chance that most humans on the earth are screwed.

    We all die, but generally we hope human society will keep on rolling. But it's hard to see when we have representatives not leaders.

    ExxonMobile offered the scientists of the IPCC $10,000 each to make their evidence not support global warming.

    What is it with Exxon? Don't they have kids?

    Surely ALL their kids can't have places on the US moonbase that is planned (when the planet becomes a desert planet).

  11. Simon Holt

    Fundidng for the boys

    All this shrill whinnying about the "scientific" theory of global warming, sorry, "man-made global warming" as they are now apparently interchangeable terms has reminded me of something.

    There is an apparent certainty of data and consensus of "scientists" who now have the ears of all governments but as yet there appears to be no actual "science"? Can speculation really be this good, I thought we were taught to theorise, test and then amend.

    Hands in funding cooky jar perhaps? The doomsayers at last can ride their (wind-powered) gravy train to its ultimate destination at the heart of government. With safe knowledge they are the good guys.

    Oh now I remember, I studied environmental science in the early 90s, climate change - i.e. normal oscillation of climate between ice ages - was well known if not understood. Back then all the nodding-head sages were prepping us for another catastrophe.

    Global cooling anyone?

  12. José Ospina

    Sleepwalking to disaster

    Its hard to stomach the smug complacency and inertia of those with power, politicians and civil servants, corporate executives and developers, who refuse to take seriously or act on the repeated warnings given regarding climate change. The irresponsability is monumental. They have been used for too lomg to getting their own way in enforcing the status quo on targets that don't resist (much), they don't unerstand that nature is not a soft target and will get retribution in the end.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother with facts when you can make stuff up?

    The great thing about being a skeptic is that you just get to make stuff up and tell everyone else they're wrong. Being a skeptic, you can just use the enormous powers of your gigantic mind to deduce things without doing all that boring work that scientists have to do.

    Witness the comments of steven W. Scott:

    "There are about 160,000 glaciers around the world. Most have never been visited or measured by man. The great majority of these glaciers are growing, not melting."

    Okay, so if these glaciers have never been visited or measured, can you please tell me how on earth *anyone* can say whether they are growing, shrinking, staying the same size or turning purple with yellow spots?

    Easy - just become a climate change skeptic today, and you too can just invent any reality you want to live in.

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