Nobel IPCC Finalizes Out-of-Date Report, Next Due in 5 Years
Having recently won the Nobel Peace Prize, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [search] is meeting in Spain Monday to finalize the landmark Fourth Synthesis Report on global warming. Scrutiny and criticism of the IPCC's processes is growing [ark | more/ark] despite their new found fame. The synthesis report may be badly out of date before it is even printed, past IPCC reports have been shown to be too conservative in their assessment of the climate threat, some current trends are already at the upper range of current IPCC projections, and even these conservative outdated findings will not be updated in 5 years.
The IPCC scientific process, like international and national government's policy making processes, is falling dangerously behind with what's happening to Earth's climate systems and what must be done in response. Consider that:
“The new report notably fails to take into account a batch of dramatic recent evidence, including the shrinkage of the Arctic ice cap, glacier loss in Greenland, a surge in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and an apparent slowing of Earth's ability to absorb greenhouse gases… Taken together… these phenomena suggest climate change is be occurring faster than expected — and may even unleash “tipping points” that could uncontrollably accelerate the damage.”
The IPCC must get more involved in policy than generally concluding “to get ready for a warmer world and reduce emissions”. They must stop shying away from controversy, and resist relentless political pressure to water down drafts as they are finalized. Policy-makers need the best science truthfully and powerfully presented them, in order to set mid-term sizable emission reductions.
I concur that while the panel's caution and rigor has built awareness and given credibility to climate change, it is now “time for the IPCC to move to a faster and more assertive track.. The issue now is what to do and how fast it needs to be done.” And first and foremost is to build the case for immediate and mid-term emissions reductions, rather than putting off the pain. It is rather nonsensical to speak boldly of far-off 80% GHG reduction targets for 2050, when in fact we need ambitious yet achievable carbon and other GHG emission reductions of 25% by 2015 and/or 35% by 2020. The longer we wait, the more change and possibility of a truly catastrophic outcome.