The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a report, “Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” finding that warmer global temperatures are causing profound changes in many of the earth’s natural systems and warning of mass extinctions, desertification and threats to food security. (Science Daily, April 8) In one dire warning, the report found that New Zealand is likely to face waves of refugees over the next century as Pacific islands disappear beneath the waves and off-the-scale cyclones ravage the region. (PacNews, April 11)
However, some scientists charged that pressure from the US, China and Saudi Arabia watered down the report’s findings. AP reports: “China and Saudi Arabia wanted to lower the level of scientific confidence (from more than 90 percent to 80 percent) that the report had in a statement about current global warming effects, and it looked like they would win because they wouldn’t accept the original wording.” This prompted NASA scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig to file a formal protest and temporarily walk away from the talks where the document was hashed out in Brussels. However: “A US-based compromise saved the day, avoiding any mention of scientific confidence.” (AP, April 9)
“Saved the day”? By allowing the report to sidestep the critical question of broad scientific consensus on climate change?