Sunday, December 05, 2010

Revkin notes a $45 trillion "glitch" or "detail"

A 'Shared Vision' on Climate, With a Glitch -
I’m not sure how the clause “as a consequence of human activity” slipped in, but it shouldn’t be there. The only major conclusion of the climate panel that is described as “unequivocal” is that the climate has warmed. (I’ve had some very long discussions about these subtleties with Susan Solomon, the federal atmospheric scientist who was co-leader of the group that wrote the science summary for the 2007 report. The cause of warming is described in a much more nuanced way, and one that’s tripped up reporters and campaigners many times:
Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.
I sent an e-mail on the glitch today to several panel scientists and Rajendra K. Pachauri, the climate panel chairman. Hopefully they’ll suggest a change. It’s minutiae in some ways, particularly because the phrase comes in the throat-clearing preamble. But details matter, as the climate panel discovered last year when some small errors in its reports ballooned into a major inquiry and a largely-welcomed call for reform.

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