Going beyond the hype...

Is it real? Is it Hype? Is it Hot in Here? GreenhouseTruth.com, an unbiased portal for climate change resources and news is the proud home of Nathan Cool's new book, Is it Hot in Here? where these and other questions about a potentially warming world are revealed in their simple, and sometimes sobering truth.

GreehouseTruth Blog  ::  Global Warming Forecast Downgraded

Free newsletter

Free newsletter


Tell a friend about this page

Tell a friend



Global Warming Blog

Global Warming Forecast Downgraded
The IPCC takes edge off climate change apocalypse in upcoming fourth assessment report
Posted September 3, 2006 by Nathan Cool

This year's doom and gloom media frenzied coverage of global warming is about to get a cold shower--or at least a bit of a cool-down. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recognized as the leading authority on climate change forecasting, has apparently lightened up on its early predictions of a warming world in a draft of its upcoming fourth assessment report known as AR4. According to an article issued by Reuters, this new, cooler outlook on our warming world should have a softer landing.

According to the original Third Assessment Report issued by the IPCC in 2001, by the year 2100 global temperatures would increase up to 10°F. Now though, it looks like the IPCC is thinking more along the lines of 8°F. As for the rises in sea level, original projections were for an increase of 34 inches, but this has subsided to about 17 inches--half of what was originally forecast just five years ago.

One of the things I emphasize time and again in my latest book, Is it Hot in Here?--The simple truth about global warming, is that while human-induced global warming is real, the science behind it is burgeoning. Even the IPCC has used a cautious lexicon in its reports, stating in footnotes that "virtually certain" denotes a greater than 99% chance that a result is true; "very likely" gives it a 90-99% chance; "likely" a 66-90% chance; "medium likelihood" a 33-66% chance and so on. Yet so many books, documentaries and articles covering the topic of global warming don't do a good job at explaining what it means when a climate scientist says that temperatures are likely to increase or that sea levels are likely to rise by a specific measure.

Using the L-word (likely) in an IPCC report means that there is as much as a 34% chance that it is not likely at all (only 66-90% chance that it is). This watchfulness of words is not intended necessarily as a legal disclaimer; instead, it is used within scientific studies to present uncertainty principles, and to clearly state that something is still being theorized and is yet to be completely proven and understood. Still, there are some disturbing trends in the IPCC's recent data, and foresight should rest heavily on hindsight.

In the IPCC's Second Assessment Report (issued in 1995), sea level rises and global temperature projections were slightly lower than in their Third Assessment Report (issued in 2001). And now, with the Fourth Assessment Report being finalized, these figures are edging back more towards what they were more than a decade ago. In the 1970s, Time and Newsweek both ran articles that spoke of a possible ice age in the near future. In similar fashion today, the IPCC is also flip-flopping on some of their earlier decisions--proof of just how confusing the newly emerging science of global warming can be.

Most recent compendiums on climate change have ignored the uncertainty that abounds within the study of our climate, choosing instead to lean to the extreme and leave out details that lessen the shock and awe of their reports. In so doing, a Hollywood kind of sensationalism hangs like a dark cloud over the topic of global warming, which has made this issue in vogue, hindering this critical science to the point of polarized politicization. Just this last week, California passed its new Global Warming Solutions Act--not surprisingly as policymakers have been deluged by the abysmal, ill-boding, baneful and only partial representation of the facts.

Climate change is a tricky issue, riddled with uncertainties. Understanding the full story behind the scenes, and seeing both sides of the science allows each of us to exercise our inalienable right to decide if it's real, if it's hype, or if it really is Hot in Here. The devil's in the details, and what lies between the crevices of conversation, apocalyptic ballyhoo and polarization in the politics of global warming is sometimes surprising.

More information on the IPCC, future projections, sea level increases and other topics discussed in this blog can be found in my new book, Is it Hot in Here?--The simple truth about global warming. Click here to get your copy today.