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IPCC report continues global warming scaremongering   February 4th, 2007


More observations...

On February 2nd, 2007, the first report of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC was released. This document, produced by climate scientists and, interestingly, bureaucrats , basically says that global warming is almost definitely caused by humans and that, even if we were to curtail emissions, it's too late at this point: The climate will continue to warm and sea levels continue to rise for centuries.

This is an interesting conclusion because it has the very real political possibility of rendering virtually moot the discussion about whether to make any real effort to reduce CO2 emissions. Based on previous reports, there was at least some hope that reducing CO2 emissions would actually avert the supposed catastrophes that civilization faces as a result of global warming. Advocates for harsh reductions in emissions or staggering wealth redistribution from developed countries to third world countries could make the assertion that it was a necessary evil to avoid the even worse perils that we were up against. No more. The latest IPCC report says, on page 12 that "Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized." In other words, even if we make draconian adjustments to our society to reduce emissions, we're still toast.

It's enough to make one wonder, then, why we presumably will continue to spend money on research, scaremongering, artificial economies such as carbon trading, or attempting to make massive reductions in our CO2 emissions. Whether or not we do anything, we need to prepare for what the IPCC now says is inevitable.

So what does the IPCC say is inevitable? Well, not that much really--they're basically predicting a 0.5C increase in temperature in the next 200 years and a 30cm to 80cm rise in sea level in the next 300 years. That's quite the change since the 1995 report that said "models project an increase in global mean surface temperature relative to 1990 of about 2C by 2100. This estimate is approximately one-third lower than the 'best estimate' in 1990." and "models project an increase in sea level of about 50 cm (20 inches) from the present to 2100. This estimate is approximately 25% lower than the 'best estimate' in 1990 due to the lower temperature projection, but also reflecting improvements in the climate and ice melt models."

Pay special attention to the time frames. The 1995 report gave estimates for the year 2100 but the new 2007 report gives estimates for the years 2200 and 2300. Even given the extended dates, the effect of temperature is reduced: Instead of 2C change expected in the next 100 years, we're to expect 0.5C in the next 200 years. As for sea level rise, instead of a 50cm rise in the next 100 years, we're to expect a 30-80cm rise in the next 300 years.

Let's try to put that in perspective. Although it's not accurate to assume that all warming and sea level rise will occur evenly over the specified time periods, let's assume that the 0.5C temperature rise over 200 years happens evenly such that we'd expect 0.5/200 = 0.0025C per year, which is 0.025C per decade, or 0.25C per century. That means that the 1995 report suggested a 2C increase in temperature by 2100 but their new report essentially implies an increase of only 0.25C. Even if we assume the increase initially happens twice as fast, that's only an increase of 0.5C by 2100. Their estimate for 2100 went down by 75% from 2C to 0.5C.

Doing the same with sea level rise, even if we use their upper estimate of an 80cm rise in sea level over 300 years, that's 80/300 = 0.27cm per year, which is 2.7cm per decade, or 27cm in a century. So, again, their 1995 report indicated a sea level rise of 50cm by the year 2100 but their new report essentially indicates a worst case sea level rise of 27cm by 2100. Their worst-case estimate went down 54% from 50cm to 27cm.

Also keep in mind that the quotes above from 1995 indicate that their 1995 temperature estimate was 33% lower than their 1990 estimate and the sea level rise estimate was 25% lower. Now, 12 years later, their temperature estimate is down 75% and their temperature estimate is down 54%. Interestingly, this IPCC report does not indicate how much their estimate changed by from the previous report.

The point is, it seems the more we learn about climate change, the further the estimates of the impact are reduced. This seems to be an ongoing trend ever since the first IPCC report was issued. The more we know, the less it seems we need to be concerned--yet the more we are told we need to be concerned. In an honest media, this report would be reported as "New IPCC report indicates that temperatures will rise 75% less than we thought they would 12 years ago, and sea levels will rise 50% less." But, no, we are treated to gloom and doom.

But it gets better: As I said in the beginning, this new report says that even if we curtail CO2 emissions, it's too late: Temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise for centuries, even if we stabilize CO2 emissions.

According to the IPCC, it's too late.

In a rational world, that would be the death knell of global warming research funding. We have the answer, we know it's coming, and we know we need to prepare for slightly higher temperatures and a modest sea level rise; and it's inevitable. What more do we need to know? Unless, of course, they really aren't as certain about their conclusions as they seem to be. I know that I'm not certain about their conclusions. As has already been demonstrated, the more we learn, the more we realize the estimated increases are less and less than we originally expected. In other words, the more we know, the less it seems we are really impacting our climate. That sounds strangely like what global warming skeptics have been saying for decades.

Keep in mind that political bureaucrats participated in the writing and editing of the IPCC document. The fact that politicians are involved in what should be a purely scientific matter should alarm you. The document may be based on science, but it is strongly influenced by politics.

It is my guess that it is the hope of global warming scaremongerers that this be a final, conclusive report on what they consider to be the "reality" of global warming. I suspect we will see a gradual shift from predicting the exact increases in temperature and sea level to an emphasis on policy decisions based on this latest report. Why? Because if we keep learning more and more about climate change, at the rate we've been going over the last 17 years, it would seem that within another 5-10 years we would know that, surprise, there's not going to be much of a drastic change in the climate and this issue will no longer serve any political purpose.

Watch the evolution of the debate over the next few months and years. Already, global warming advocates assume that it's real and that we're causing it. To any honest and curious mind, the fact that every IPCC report reduces its estimate of temperature and sea level rise should be a red flag. If the global warming movement now takes this last report as indisputable gospel and pushes for fast policy decisions based on it even though the estimates continue to appear less and less worrisome, that should be a huge red flag.

And it's already happening: "The debate has clearly shifted from a battle over the science to fighting over the scope and design of the solution," says Jason Grumet, executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a private bipartisan advocacy group on the country's future direction on energy. " RED FLAG!

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