It's going to busy weekPart II: The IPCC Report and Backlash (both ways)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be releasing the first of four reports on Friday, including a 12-page summary of policy recommendations. In its first report since 2001, it finds that the planetary warming observed since 1950 is 90% likely to be due from human activities.

Predictably, climate science deniers are already throwing stones. More surprising is the story that some scientists are predicting the report will be too optimistic. From the Associated Press:

Early and changeable drafts of their upcoming authoritative report on climate change foresee smaller sea level rises than were projected in 2001 in the last report. Many top U.S. scientists reject these rosier numbers. Those calculations don't include the recent, and dramatic, melt-off of big ice sheets in two crucial locations:

They "don't take into account the gorillas - Greenland and Antarctica," said Ohio State University earth sciences professor Lonnie Thompson, a polar ice specialist. "I think there are unpleasant surprises as we move into the 21st century." [...]

The melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are a fairly recent development that has taken scientists by surprise. They don't know how to predict its effects in their computer models. But many fear it will mean the world's coastlines are swamped much earlier than most predict.

This minor controversy seems to run in the opposite direction of the newly-dubbed non-skeptical heretic movement.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe editorial staff is weighing in on our favorite Pacific Northwest school system.

If a middle-school science teacher wanted to introduce the subject of global warming to students, she could do worse than to show the Al Gore documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." Unless, that is, she lived in the Seattle suburb Federal Way, where some parents recently objected to having their children see it. One father agreed that the planet is warming, but said it is caused by God, not man, and is a sign that Judgment Day is approaching. [...]

Federal Way has thus joined school districts around the country that refuse to stand up for teachers whose duty is to educate students about basic elements of biology, evolution, or what virtually all climate scientists believe is the greatest environmental threat: global warming. We hope the unfavorable publicity the Federal Way district has received will keep other school boards from caving in so readily to manufactured controversies.

It will be enlightening to see what "alternate views" teachers who want to show the Gore movie come up with. This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2,500 scientists will report that it is "very likely" -- more than a 90 percent chance -- that human activities, especially combustion of fossil fuels, are causing the warming of the planet that has occurred since 1950.

Six years ago, the panel put the likelihood at 66 percent or more. President Bush, who was then still in deep denial about global warming and had just broken off US involvement in the Kyoto protocol to curb greenhouse gases, sought an "alternate view" from his own government's National Academy of Sciences. But it only confirmed the findings.

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, Bush himself finally referred to the "serious challenge of global climate change," so Federal Way teachers should not pore through his utterances for an alternate view. Source

From Federal Way to Boston to Washington D.C., it's going to be a busy week on the subjects of climate change, politics, and science.


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