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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The chairman of the 'Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II'.. Rajendra Pachauri.. has announced that if we do nothing about the current levels of carbon, and other noxious gasses into our atmosphere.. we will render parts of this planet absolutely uninhabitable..
Now they had a time frame.. but did not announce that..
It has to be considered, that Governments fund these think-tanks, and to a somewhat greater amount than we would like to think, control what findings are released for public consumption..
Dr. Pachauri continued:
"We have far greater regional detail than in..our previous global assessment in.. 2001 on things like glacier melting, and what the implications of that melting will be.. on sea level rise, which clearly threatens a number of countries in the world including mega-deltas which are particularly vulnerable.. and on agriculture, which has implications for food security."
Twenty-nine thousand 'real world' studies were included in this particulr study group.. the extra detail a testament to the increased experimentation and observation which has been spurred by the real concern over global climate change..
"There is observational evidence of regional impacts on every continent on physical and biological systems,".. according to Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climate impacts specialist with the US space agency Nasa..
"There are multiple lines of evidence that human-induced climate change is happening now, and the impacts are being seen now."
Pretty strong stuff.. but not nearly as strong a statement than the one the scientists had planned to deliver.
Going back to the fact that Governments fund these studies, it must be understood that the same Governments would have input into what was released..
The IPCC is an unusual organisation in that the evidence is supplied by scientists, but the summaries of its reports are agreed upon between scientists.. and government representatives.
Thus.. "climate sceptics" and "climate catastrophists" alike have regularly contended that the conclusions are unreliable.. that scientists' drafts are altered through political pressure to make them either too weak or too strong, depending on which direction the criticism is coming from.
Here, a number of governments have sought to tone down the degrees of certainty on various issues.
The draft for this meeting began by stating with "very high confidence".. that natural systems on land and sea are being affected by regional climate changes, a statement not well recieved by Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China...
Of course, these countries are in the business of selling oil, gas and oil, and using vast amounts of coal for industrial development, respectively..
There was a deadlock which continued until the early hours of the final day's negotiations, with finally Dr Rosenzweig presenting a 'note of protest to the chair' on behalf of senior scientists, saying that their evidence-based conclusions were being ignored.
At one point she left the room, and the whole process could have unravelled..
The upshot was diplomatic leadership by the US, the favoured bogeyman of activists, which found a compromise everyone could live with.
"The final document states that observational evidence on every continent and most oceans shows that natural systems are being affected by regional changes, particularly temperature increases," announced Dr Rosenzweig.
This, she said, she was happy with..
Martin Parry, one of the co-chairs of this working group, made this observation on what the involvement of government representatives means for the IPCC's significance:
"The real secret is that governments buy in..otherwise it would be just another report."
These governments.. those which objected and those which concurred.. will soon have the conclusions thrust under their noses at an unprecedented level.
Later this month, the United Nations Security Council will discuss the security implications of climate change.. the very first time this Group has ever considered such a question.
In June, the G8+5 group which includes the world's most powerful and populous nations will also have the IPCC's conclusions on their negotiating table.
"The science has come across as so strong and so confident in this report that really governments have nowhere to hide," commented Catherine Pearce.. an international climate campaigner with 'Friends of the Earth UK'.
That would presume though.. that each government speaks with a single voice on climate change.. and does not take into account the voice, or the clout of very powerfull.. very rich.. lobby groups.
Many governments, including the UK's, have environment departments which include enthusiasts for tough action on emissions, even at the expense of a little economic hardship.
These views will almost certainly not be shared though in departments of finance, transport, energy and industry in these prosperous countries.
And the arguments can be quite hard to win in rich northern nations which.. as the IPCC report acknowledged.. may actually benefit from a modest amount of warming. and where resources are enough to defend against rising sea levels and shrinking rainfall.
It is in the poorest countries that the climate axe will fall.

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