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  Geotimes - March 2007 - Climate report points finger at fossil fuels
Science and Society
Climate report points finger at fossil fuels

The world is warming, and the burning of fossil fuels is “very likely” to blame, according to a new report released Feb. 2 in Paris by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC is a nonpartisan group involving thousands of scientists from 180 governments that operates under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. The report is “a very emphatic reaffirmation” of the seriousness of human-caused global warming, Richard Somerville of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Feb. 2 at a press conference to announce the release of the report.

The IPCC report, the fourth in a series of assessments since the panel was established in 1988 to outline a scientific consensus on current climate change and humans’ role in it, is the firmest yet in establishing a link between human activities and global climate change. While the previous 2001 report stated that humans were “likely” the cause of a global warming trend, the new report changes that language to “very likely.” The new term is not just semantics, but indicates a quantifiable upgrade in scientific certainty, from 67 percent to “more than 90 percent,” said Somerville, who was lead author on the first, overview chapter of the report.

In addition to updated model projections of future climate change, the new assessment includes observations of currently changing climate, such as rising ocean temperatures, sea ice melting and retreating glaciers — including data from the last six years, which are among the seven warmest years on record. The observation data are also largely consistent with earlier model projections, and lend confidence to the report’s projections for future climate change, researchers said.

Two additional reports, on the impacts of climate change and mitigation strategies, will be released in April and May.

Carolyn Gramling

For more about the IPCC report, read the original story posted online Feb. 2, 2007, in the Geotimes Web Extra archive at:

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