"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Whoa ... not so fast

To paraphrase Al Gore : "An Inconvenient Report"

IPCC report on Climate - New York Times:

"In his film “An Inconvenient Truth,” Mr. Gore has done a brilliant job of reaching the masses by combining a sober science lecture with a horror movie: gigantic ice sheets quickly melting, seas rapidly swamping vast areas, hurricanes relentlessly battering the coasts, the Gulf Stream stopping and plunging Europe into an ice age.

But there are two problems with this approach. One is that scaring people doesn’t necessarily make their political leaders do anything substantive.

The other problem is that most of the horror-movie scenarios are looking less and less plausible. Climate change will probably occur not with a bang but with a long, slow whimper, as you can see in the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

and about the graphics right out of Hollywood ...

The report concludes that it’s “very likely” that humans are now the main factor warming the climate. But even as the panel’s scientists are becoming surer of the problem, and warning of grim consequences this century and beyond, they’re eschewing crowd-thrilling catastrophes. Since the last I.P.C.C. report, six years ago, they haven’t raised the estimates of future temperatures and sea levels.

While Mr. Gore’s movie shows coastlines flooded by a 20-foot rise in sea level, the report’s projections for the rise this century range from 7 inches to 23 inches. The panel says Greenland’s ice sheet will shrink and might eventually disappear, but the process could take “millennia.” The Antarctic ice sheet is projected to grow, not shrink, because of increased snowfall.

The scientists acknowledge uncertainties and worrisome new signs, like the sudden acceleration in the flow of Greenland’s glaciers several years ago. But the panel, unlike Mr. Gore, didn’t extrapolate a short-term trend into a disaster, and its caution is vindicated by a report in the current issue of Science that the flow of two of the largest glaciers abruptly decelerated last year to near the old rate."

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