KSJ Tracker August 20, 2013

Reuters - IPCC report leaked, of course. AGU panel ('cept for one guy) agrees. We're warming Earth for sure-er.

This is a three part post.

1) Officially it is the IPCC Assessment Report V and is not even due to have all its parts, and an overall synthesis, formally presented and distributed until December of next year. The draft of sections on the physical science of climate change both globally and sectorally is officially to come out however on Sept. 26. It is the UN's and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest and sternest-yet listing of reasons, as found in exhaustive review of recent peer-reviewed technical literature,  why and how fast climate is and probably will keep changing. Draft versions could never have been kept confidential. Hordes of f experts have it. Plus, and more on this below, the American Geophysical Union just released its own brief position statement on climate change with its own kerfuffle. The IPCC has the larger news. Bursting with it from the gate first is.....

  •    Reuters (Aug 16) Alister Doyle: Experts surer of manmade global warming but local predictions elusive ; Datelined Oslo. Doyle (Longtime Reuters staffer and Knight Science J. Fellow at MIT 2011-12) leads on the news. He waits a couple of grafs before shouting scoop! bymentioning that his story relies on preliminary documents slipped to Reuters through the side window. The news's essence is two-fold. One, the IPCC has raised the odds (to a 95 percent chance) that temperature rise is due primarily to mankind's emissions of greenhouse gases and, two, that for all that certainty about global trends specific regional and local forecasting is still vague at best. 

  Even then, it's not a clean scoop in all dimensions. Earlier versions of parts of AR-V have circulated. Check this statement from late last year from IPCC, scolding those who leaked them and declaring that "unauthorized posting...interferes with the process of assessment and review" and adds that the drafts are "works in progress."

   Doyle's reports and those that have followed contain considerable detail, including adjustments in the estimated forecast for temperature and sea level rise. None of the new numbers are outside the general ranges found in earlier assessment reports going back nearly 20 years.

   Other outlets have jumped in, some by re-doing Reuters, others be getting their own hands on the documents:

  • BBC - Matt McGrath: Climate leaks are 'misleading' says IPCC ahead of major report ; Focus is on why temperatures have wobbled around at a high level but a less clear upward trend for the last decade or so (source of the "global warming has stopped!" syndrome) and on why the report may easily change on this point from what the present draft says.
  • NY Times - Justin Gillis: Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming ; Solid piece. Hed's angle seems safe. One doubts that the confidence level for we-dunnit will shift much with further iteration. Body goes through some numbers and a history of the arc of this and the four previous Assessment Reports.
  • The Guardian (UK) John Abraham: With the forthcoming IPCC report, the contrarians finally agree we are changing the climate ; Written by a scientist who has not read the report, says the leaks are from mischief makers, but then goes ahead and guesses what will be in it when the draft goes public in five weeks. His guesses seem sensible. His angle will be that the report may slightly lower the sensitivity of climate to changes in greenhouse gases, which will stir great hurrah from denialists, who thus will sit themselves on their pitard (what IS a pitard?) but thus sort of conceding that humans are indeed the prime agents of climate change. Rather subtle essay of the sort the Guardian presents well. Last graf has a telling, if cliche'd line which means it fits the facts: "the history books will tell us, we were warned."
  • Politico - Alex Guillen: Leaked draft of IPCC reports ups odds man causing climate change to 95 percent ; Lead item on longer news roundup. Guillen does what ksjt does - looks at some coverage and summarizes it. But with a different take on credibility. He picks from Reuters piece, plus reax from the battling M&Ms -  Michael Mann and Mark Morano. Mmmm, well, the publisher is focussed not on science but on politics, a realm where legitimacy of opinion is metered almost entirely by its ability to influence policy.
  • ClimateProgress - Joe Romm: New IPCC Report: Climatologists More Certain Warming is Caused ?By Humans, Impacts Are Speeding Up ; Romm's usual feisty, despairing plea for action now because we're almost doomed. I am partial to that stance. One notes that the web page includes a shout-out to MSNBC's report by Chris Hayes last Friday on the science and politics of power and climate change. I have been meaning to look at that. Perhaps soon.

Could go on and on. The IPCC report will be bobbing in the news for more than a year, so plenty of time to search for remarkable coverage of it.

2) The American Geophysical Union earlier this month released an update to its position regarding climate change. It says emphatically, but much more briefly,  the same thing IPCC gets across at length via extensive footnotes and other pertinent citation. It received some but not much attention in media. Newly out is a fresh analysis and some of the report's back story: on the panel was one vigorous dissenter. That episode is been well reviewed for the public and reporters who might want to follow up:

  • Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media - Bud Ward: AGU's New Climate Change Statement Emphasizes Human Role ; Much of the Ward's reporting delves into the "sharp elbows" that meteorologist Roger Pielke Sr. of the U. of Colorado wielded during the AGU panel's deliberation. Pielke Sr. is a climate skeptic, but not a full-throated member of the denialists crowd in which so many are idiots or shills. He has standing among experts. He argues that certainty about climate change's causes is elusive and that land-use changes,non-greenhouse emissions (soot, etc), cloud feedback, and natural cycles don't get their due from most in the academies of science around the world. Ward also refers us, thank you very much, to further info on his differences with the AGU committee - at fellow climate change gadfly (if not quite denier) Judith Curry's website, climate etc.

 3) Just to recognize that there is astounding and fresh science news on climate change going around here is some of the coverage of an unexpectable report. It blames Australia's outback for temporarily reversing sea level rise about two years ago. It seems that the middle of the island continent is not only far from the sea, but is so dry and spongy not to mention basin-shaped that hardly any rain that falls there gets into a river or stream that reaches the sea. What wetness happens out there stays there. It'll take years to work its wayback into the global hydrological cycle via groundwater. And boy howdy, did it ever rain there like crazy, the hardest and longest anybody can remember. Three regional, natural oscillations in weather, new analyses say and with La Nina among them, ganged up and aimed a firehose at Australia.

Grist for the Mill: NASA JPL Press Release, NSF Press Release ;


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