Well yes indeed, someone has leaked bits of the upcoming IPCC AR4 report to the BBC. The only odd thing is that its taken this long. The draft has “do not cite or quote” written on it, of course, but so many people have access to it that its hard to believe the media don’t. Chris Mooney has noticed the BBC; but the Grauniad had much the same a day earlier. RP predictably enough uses this as a peg to hang his favoured IPCC-is-politicised hat on; but this is nonsense: there is no evidence at all to connect this to anyone IPCC-ish.
The Grauniad leads with The Earth’s temperature could rise under the impact of global warming to levels far higher than previously predicted, according to the United Nations’ team of climate experts. This is probably nonsense, and a bad paraphrase of something that might actually be in the report scientists are now unable to place a reliable upper limit on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase (if I sound unsure here its because I have an early draft, but I’m guessing this is from a later one; and it may well be an attempt at the SPM. Who knows, this is all fluff…).
What I would like to draw your attention to is lower down in the Grauniad, because its less exciting: James Annan, a British climate scientist who works on the Japanese Earth simulator supercomputer in Yokohama, says the risks of extreme climate sensitivity and catastrophic consequences have been overstated. He is about to publish a study showing that the chance of climate sensitivity exceeding 4.5C is less than 5%. In fact James’s study is more interesting than that, see the 2006 in press GRL paper for details. I’m allowed to say that now cos his press conf is finished :-)
The Beeb take is somewhat different: The global scientific body on climate change will report soon that only greenhouse gas emissions can explain freak weather patterns (ie, this is *attribution* not rate-of-change, for those of you who haven’t been following…). I’m sort-of assuming that all this freak weather hype includes the boring but far more statistically do-able temperature increase. If true, this is a distinct strengthening over the TAR, wot said only “In the light of new evidence and taking into account the remaining uncertainties, most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely7 to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations. (7 is a footnote ref to the technical meaning of likely in this context: 66-90%) (again, RP’s post is bizarre, since he purports to believe the new language isn’t stronger than the TAR; however, I don’t trust the Beeb to have paraphrased correctly).
Of course, even UK efforts to reduce CO2 are still a mess: read the end of the Beeb: [Blair] … would strive to meet his unilateral target of cutting Britain’s CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010…. Central figures in the review process are now admitting that the 20% target will be virtually impossible to hit, and are looking for a “respectable” near miss.