Upcoming IPCC climate change report leaked by skeptics
Climate doubters are apoplectic over a few misinterpreted sentences in the draft report.
Thu, Dec 20 2012 at 11:44 AM
Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
A draft version of portions of the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leaked by climate-change doubters, who have been upset over their interpretation of a few phrases within the report.
The report, the IPCC's fifth assessment of climate change, is due for release in late 2013. Parts of the report are available for public review, and anyone can sign up to see it as long as they agree not to release it, which climate doubter Alec Rawls did anyway. He reposted the report on the notorious climate-doubting blog Watts Up with That.
Rawls, as Mother Jones points out, is a proponent of the theory that solar activity causes global warming. He reacted to the following text in the report, calling it a "game-changing admission of enhanced solar forcing": "Many empirical relationships have been reported between GCR [galactic cosmic rays] or cosmogenic isotope archives and some aspects of the climate system...The forcing from changes in total solar irradiance alone does not seem to account for these observations, implying the existence of an amplifying mechanism such as the hypothesized GCR-cloud link."
But as the website Skeptical Science illustrates, Rawls has actually misinterpreted these few sentences, as the report also contains the following: "...there is medium evidence and high agreement that the cosmic ray-ionization mechanism is too weak to influence global concentrations of [cloud condensation nuclei] or their change over the last century or during a solar cycle in any climatically significant way." Skeptical Science writes that the report is "consistent with the body of scientific literature in stating that research indicates GCRs are not effective at seeding clouds and have very little influence on global temperatures" and says solar activity actually has a cooling effect on the planet.
Meanwhile, The New York Times' Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin pulls another key phrase of the draft report which states that it is at least 95 percent likely "that human activities have caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature since the 1950s. There is high confidence that this has caused large-scale changes in the ocean, in the cryosphere, and in sea level in the second half of the 20th century. Some extreme events have changed as a result of anthropogenic influence."
In addition to his criticism of the report, Rawls also spends a lot of time defending its leak, writing "I believe that the leaking of this draft is entirely legal, that the taxpayer funded report is properly in the public domain under the Freedom of Information Act, and that making it available to the public is in any case protected by established legal and ethical standards."
The IPCC released a statement (PDF) on December 14, the day after Rawls leaked the report, saying it "regrets this unauthorized posting which interferes with the process of assessment and review. We will continue not to comment on the contents of draft reports, as they are works in progress."
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