Monday, April 09, 2007

A little late but still important

The vision presented was stark, frightening, even "near-apocalyptic." The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change minced few words, portraying a world of
hundreds of millions of people short of water, extreme food shortages in Africa, a landscape ravaged by floods and millions of species sentenced to extinction. ...

Africa will suffer the most, with up to a quarter of a billion people running short of water by 2020, and yields from rain-fed crops falling by half in many countries. The continent could spend at least 5% to 10% of its gross domestic product to adapt to rising sea levels, the report said.
But while Africa might suffer the most, it will hardly be the only area affected. Everywhere is at risk.
Asian coastal areas, especially the big cities in the seven "mega-deltas" from India's Ganges to China's Yangtze, will be at greatly increased risk of flooding, with an associated increase in death to due to diarrhoeal disease, while by 2050, crop yields in central and south Asia may drop by 30 per cent.

In Latin America, water supplies available for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation are predicted to be "significantly affected" by changes in rainfall patterns and the disappearance of Andean glaciers. Parts of the Amazon rainforest are likely to turn into semi-arid savannah.
And no, we don't get off, either.
North America can expect more hurricanes, floods, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, the report said, and the coasts will be flooded by rising sea levels. Crop production will increase initially as the growing season gets longer, but climbing temperatures and water shortages will ultimately lead to sharp reductions.
And, as I reported just the other day, the poor - including poor nations and the poor in the wealthier nations - will in each case get the worst of it.

Global warming is not only real,
[t]he impacts are already visible, the report said, with significant changes due to rising temperatures now apparent in ice masses, water bodies, agriculture and ecosystems. Changes consistent with higher temperatures have been noted in 29,000 sets of data and 75 separate studies; they range from melting permafrost in Arctic regions to shifting distributions of fish populations, and earlier timing of spring events such as leaf-unfolding, bird-migration and egg-laying.
How bad will it be, really? Consider that this is a softened version of the report. The Summary for Policymakers was the subject of five days of negotiations and bitter arguments between governments and scientists. Tensions ran high enough that
[s]ome of the world's best-informed climate change scientists walked out of an all-night drafting session of yesterday's report on global warming, as tempers flared.
Among those who left was Cynthia Rosenzweig, a senior researcher at NASA and one of the report's authors.

The fractious nature of the meeting of representatives of 115 countries and 52 scientists was driven by the determination of certain nations - the US, China, and Saudi Arabia primary among them - to change the report to their benefit. The final result was several deletions that affected the intensity of the report and removed timelines related to development of effects, to the frustration of the scientists.
"The science got hijacked by the political bureaucrats at the late stage of the game," said John Walsh, a climate expert at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who helped write a chapter on the polar regions. ...

Several scientists vowed afterward that they would never participate in the process again because of the interference.

"Once is enough," said Walsh, who was not present during the negotiations in Brussels but was kept abreast of developments with a steady stream of e-mails from colleagues. "I was receiving hourly reports that grew increasingly frustrated."
In the words of another, "The authors lost. ... I have had it with them (the IPCC)."

I understand the frustration, understand the anger of scientists finding their years of work being picked over by political operatives and bureaucrats more concerned with PR than the future of humanity. But that very weakness of the report is also its strength. Consider:
Negotiators pored over the 21-page draft meant to be a policy guide for governments. The summary pares down the full 1,572-page scientific assessment of the evidence of climate change....

Each word was approved by consensus, and any change had to be approved by the scientists who drew up that section of the report.
Let me repeat that: Each word was approved by consensus. Each. And. Every. Word. Take that to those idiot global warming deniers and stuff it down their throats. This is a consensus document that reflects the unified opinion of thousands of scientists and representatives of well over 100 countries. These. Are. The. Facts!

So hey, deniers: You lost the scientific debate some time ago. You have now lost the political debate, as all those nations have signed on to what this summary says. So grow up. And shut up.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');