Don't stop me if you heard this. Because you have, and you'll hear it many more times. A big conference of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meeting and will soon issue a dire warning on the course and consequences of climate change should the world continue to take no strong steps against the ways we've caused it.
One cannot be surprised that a fair contingent of the international press has just given up on covering these events on scene. You know, ground hog day and all that. Just this month the AAAS weighed in with its own statement of grave concern. But a few disciplined souls are in Yokohama Japan – or following closely via streaming video and other 21st century means – for what is formally the IPCC's Working Group II of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). It started early today (Tuesday Mar. 25) and is to wind up with a press conference on the 31st. Its charge is to reach consensus on what the impact on humanity will be, according to several scenarios of much more carbon dioxide and other climatically mischievous gases we emit in decades to come. Also on WGII's agenda: Adaptation options. Wire services are among the stubborn few writing the first draft of this iteration of what historians some day will surely look back upon as a grand, and perhaps tragic, epic in human affairs.
This is, by its nature, a tough assignment. The scare, the warnings, the atmospheric physics, the political gridlock, the hopes and nightmares, all its dramatic aspects have been written before. To find an angle that is both fresh and responsible is no easy task. And meetings are not all that exciting no matter how they're covered. At least the working draft of the report now in final polish has leaked.
We'll take another look in a week or so. In the meantime…
Stories so Far:
- AP (filed in US, he's leaving Wed Mar. 26 to the scene) Seth Borenstein: Big Climate Reports: Warming Is Big Risk For People ; Hed is not lazily generic. It is the angle that Borenstein takes: The impacts are hurting not just polar bears or butterflies but people, people like you and me and our neighbors, now with the big hurt hardly begun. He quotes more than half a dozen people including the flinty-eyed iconoclast – but not quite skeptic – Roger Pielke Jr. and outright skeptic John Christy, but does so with effective and fair context. He quotes Michael Mann too. On scene from the start has been AP's Elaine Kurtenbach who filed this opener: Scientists meeting in Japan say global warming brings risks and chance to build better world.
- Reuters (from Oslo) Alister Doyle: Climate change to disrupt food supplies, brake growth: U.N. draft ; A straight recitation, broken up by quotes, of the main points in the leaked draft.
- AFP – Horoshi Hiyama: Scientists meet in Japan after grim climate forecast ; Summary of the draft, few quotes or other indications of extra reporting with anyone beyond a few IPCC leaders.
- Xinhua – Changyang ed.: IPCC launch int'l climate change conference in Japan ; Looks like a distillation of IPCC press statements. Some surprising fact assertions, such as that "more than 500 scientists from some 100 countries" are gathered. It's a surprise that 500 scientists are there. Delegates and staff, sure. AP's Borenstein says scientists on hand number about 60. Either number is conceivable. Nothing in this Xinhua account refers to the leaked draft.
- Irish Times – David McNeill: Scientists to issue starkest climate warning yet at Japan conference ;
- The Age (Australia) Tom Arup: New IPCC climate report projects significant threats to Australia ;
Grist for the Mill: IPCC Media Portal