Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Climate Change Deniers in Newsweek

The Truth About Denial

So Newsweek is beating up on climate change deniers this week. One minor problem with the lead though:
Aug. 13, 2007 issue - Sen. Barbara Boxer had been chair of the Senate's Environment Committee for less than a month when the verdict landed last February. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies.
Then there's this:
The response to the international climate panel's latest report, in February, showed that greenhouse doubters have a lot of fight left in them.
What's the problem? Simple. Climate Change 2007 The IPCC 4th Assessment Report isn't out yet. See the future tense on the front page of the IPCC's website. "The IPCC 4th Assessment Report is coming out." And:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio- economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. It is currently finalizing its Fourth Assessment Report "Climate Change 2007", also referred to as AR4.
So what came out in February? The political summary of one part (about 1/3) of the final report.

IPCC adopts major assessment of climate change science

Paris, 2 February 2007 – Late last night, Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adopted the Summary for Policymakers of the first volume of “Climate Change 2007”, also known as the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). “Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis”, assesses the current scientific knowledge of the natural and human drivers of climate change, observed changes in climate, the ability of science to attribute changes to different causes, and projections for future climate change.

Not released is the actual report on the science of climate change. That won't be adopted until November or December.

If AR4 - when finally released - is "a definitive statement on the science of climate change" it will answer a few of the following questions but still leave the hard ones unanswered:
  1. Is the Earth warming?
  2. Did human activity cause it?
  3. Is the level of warming dangerous or can we live with it?
  4. Can it be reversed?
  5. Are the changes required to reverse warming worse than the harm it is likely to cause? (e.g. impoverishment of mankind)
  6. Will plant growth, cloud formation, etc. mitigate it without human intervention?
  7. Should we reduce GHG releases to reverse warming or use technical means to remove GHGs from the atmosphere? (e.g. dump an iron-oxide solution into the Arctic Ocean to cause a plankton bloom.)
  8. What changes in human activity should be made to reduce GHG emissions?
  9. What forms of social organization should direct those changes? (i.e. Is a bureaucratic command economy the best designer of solutions to such problems?)
Lots of questions still unanswered.