Global environmental challenges
Global warming accelerates; Climategate rumbles on
A report by a group of leading scientists that global warming is accelerating and that world sea levels could rise at worst by 2 metres by 2100* is grim reading.
But sceptics are using a flood of leaked e-mails from a British University — dubbed “Climategate” – to question the findings.
You can read the Copenhagen Diagnosis here, by 26 researchers worldwide. It says a thaw of summer sea ice around the North Pole, for instance, has far outpaced projections in a report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) two years ago. They say world emissions must peak by 2020 to avoid the worst of climate change.
They say that sea levels could rise by perhaps a metre, at worst 2 – a figure also mentioned recently by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon — and far above scenarios in 2007 by the IPCC. More than 190 nations will meet in Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18 to try to agree a new pact to combat global warming.
But the leak of thousands of hacked documents from the University of East Anglia has added fuel to the debate because they include snide comments about climate sceptics and exchanges about how to present the data to make the global warming look convincing.
Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the university, is quoted today as saying that he “absolutely” stands by his findings and says the suggestion that there was a conspiracy to alter evidence was “complete rubbish”.
I’ve had a several e-mails from people who doubt humans are to blame for global warming saying that “Climategate” indicates that the Copenhagen Diagnosis is a new example of alarmism. Will this be a new pattern before Copenhagen?
Experts say the leaks from the University don’t affect conclusions by scientists who found in the 2007 IPCC report that it was more than 90 percent sure that human activities, led by burning fossil fuels, were to blame for warming over the past 50 years. Governments — including the United States when President George W. Bush was in office — also signed off on those findings.
But the U.S. Senate has not agreed carbon-capping legislation and the leaks are hardly a good argument to persuade waverers to join other industrialised nations in capping carbon emissions.
*by 2100! thanks for pointing out!
(Picture: Icebergs float in the calm waters of a fjord, south of Tasiilaq in eastern Greenland August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Bob Strong)