Environment Forum

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.

2008 to be 10th hottest year: warming trend up, or stalling?

This year is set to be about the 10th warmest since records began in the 19th century, according to Phil Jones, a leading British climate scientist — see story here.

But does that confirm a long-term trend of global warming, stoked by human emissions of greenhouse gases, or show that it has stalled? The warmest year on record is now a while ago, in 1998.

Jones, head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, has no doubt that the underlying trend is still up — 1998 was an unusual year when global temperatures were boosted by an El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean. And this year, the opposite La Nina effect is cooling the planet.