IPCC Report: Strongest Case Yet for Human-Caused Global Warming

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's latest report on the science of global warming squarely blames humans as the primary cause of climate change, saying it is "extremely likely" that human activities have caused most of the warming of the planet's surface that has occurred since the 1950s.

The assessment, released today (Sept. 27), is the first major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2007, and presents the strongest case yet for human-caused global warming since the IPCC was established in the late 1980s.

"There's much stronger evidence connecting human activity to changes in temperature, melting glaciers and ocean warming," said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and one of the authors of the new report. "There's a lot more evidence that connects human activity to changes in the climate system."

In the new summary, climate scientists say they are at least 95 percent certain that people are responsible for the warming oceans, rapidly melting ice and rising sea levels that have been observed since the 1950s. The 2007 report linked human activities to climate change with 90 percent certainty, which was a considerable leap from the 66 percent probability stated in the organization's 2001 report.

Written By: Denise Chow
continue to source article at livescience.com

26 COMMENTS

  1. IPCC reports may be the most important things humans write today. There are those who don’t accept their findings, but they don’t do justice to the thousands of pages with which the IPCC summarises these findings, or the far, far more numerous pages in the original research. Before anyone pretends the 4th report was error-riddled, it’s worth noting even sceptics don’t claim to have found so much as a third mistake therein after all these years, and the mistakes we have identified are a typo (why else would 2350 become 2035?) and the Dutch government mixing up a number it was asked to provide with another one. But brief attempts at dismantling an entire field are to be found all over the media. Shame on the journalists for giving so much air time to the minor details and cherry-picking they concern, and hardly any to an elucidation of the huge body of evidence all pointing in the same direction.

    The 5th report will be met with the same complaints as usual; climate is more complicated then the report admits, they’ll say. Explain its length to me. I am reminded of an exchange between Bill Maher and libertarian Matt Welch last night on the subject of Obamacare, but with the same laughable pretense:

    Welch: We solved it with Obamacare, which is a very huge one size fits all way. That, I don’t think, is the best way to solve that problem. I agree you want to help those 10-14 million people. Maher: But how, how can it be one size fits all if all you ever do is complain that it’s 2,000 pages long? Welch: (after a 3-second pause) That’s a good question, actually. (Audience applause)

  2. I think I’m going to buy an extra pair of boots because it looks like we’re in for trouble here in the Netherlands. I guess the Chinese are not going to curb their economic rise on the basis of yet another report that says we’re more certain than ever now and it’s all even worse than last time we were certain. It all sounds like a washing detergent commercial stating that now they have better cleaning capabilities than ever, forget the old white, this is really clean. Sigh. It’s these types of announcements that make me doubt the whole circus. Does anybody understand what I mean?

    • In reply to #2 by Klaasjansch:

      Does anybody understand what I mean?

      I don’t. This report is the kind of hard evidence that anyone who believes in critical thinking will take as more evidence (although the evidence was already overwhelming) that climate change is real and man made and we better do something about it. Blaming the people who give us such strong evidence — because they give us too much evidence too often — is just one of the obfuscation techniques used by the climate change deniers. I’m not saying you are a denier but that your argument demonstrates their influence.

      And it’s nonsensical to blame this all on China. All nations should do more to address this but one metric that a rational person would use to determine who has the most responsibility for climate change is which nations have contributed to it the most and by that metric the US is the worst. We’ve been highly industrialized and have been releasing far more carbon per person than China has. Also, the US has more influence in world affairs than any other nation, partly by choice since we spend about the same as the rest of the world combined on our military. Hence as Spiderman says “with great power comes great responsibility”. For that reason alone we should be leading on this and we’ve been doing just the opposite, refusing to sign things like Kyoto.

      But I don’t want to quibble about which nation is the worst, the important point is that all the nations should be doing more if we care about the kind of world we are going to leave to future generations.

  3. The problem is, to the public, “extremely likely” will be treated as if it meant 0.4 odds.

    For public consumption they should give numerical odds or just say it IS caused by human activity. They are throwing fodder to the change deniers.

    Given the discoveries of Arhennius and Fourrier back in the 1800s linking CO2 concentration to warming, and given we know how much CO2 we have released, how could it possibly be that the warming is not accounted for by fossil fuel burning?

  4. @Klaasjansch

    I think I’m going to buy an extra pair of boots because it looks like we’re in for trouble here in the Netherlands. I guess the Chinese are not going to curb their economic rise on the basis of yet another report that says we’re more certain than ever now and it’s all even worse than last time we were certain.

    Big waders and boat to climb into??

    I think the Chinese are starting to see a kick up the backside coming over their coal usage, and are already working quite hard at developing green energy.

    Energy policy of China

    The energy policy of China is a policy decided on by the Central Government with regard to energy and energy resources. The country is currently the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases according to a Dutch research agency.[1][2][3] However, China’s per capita emissions are still far behind some of the developed countries. In addition, China is also the world’s leading renewable energy producer.

    China is the world’s leading renewable energy producer, with an installed capacity of 152 GW.[4] China has been investing heavily in the renewable energy field in recent years. In 2007, the total renewable energy investment was $12 billion USD, second only to Germany.[39] In 2012, China invested $65.1 billion USD in clean energy (20% more than in 2011), fully 30% of the total investment by the G-20, including 25% ($31.2 billion USD) of global solar energy investment, 37% percent ($27.2 billion USD) of global wind energy investment, and 47% ($6.3 billion USD) of global investment in “other renewable energy” (small hydro, geothermal, marine, and biomass); 23 GW of clean generation capacity was installed.[40]

    China is also the largest producer of wind turbines and solar panels.[41] Approximately 7% of China’s energy was from renewable sources in 2006, a figure targeted to rise to 10% by 2010 and to 16% by 2020.[17] The major renewable energy source in China is hydropower. Total hydro-electric output in China in 2009 was 615.64 TWh, constituting 16.6% of all electricity generated. The country already has the most hydro-electric capacity in the world, and the Three Gorges Dam is projected to be the largest hydro-electric power station in the world, with a total capacity of 22.5 GW. It has been in full operation since May 2012.

    The Chinese have set up some very large hydroelectric power generation plants but some water for these, comes from the Himalayan glaciers and ice caps which are melting away with global warming!

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19029-himalayan-ice-is-stable-but-asia-faces-drought.

    Until now, it has been unclear how much Asia’s rivers rely on melting glaciers. Immerzeel fed his GRACE data on ice cover, as well as temperature and rainfall data gathered between 2001 and 2007, into a standard model of river flow.

    The model shows that the Indus and the Brahmaputra rely most on glaciers: meltwater accounts for 60 per cent of water carried by the Indus and 20 per cent of that in the Brahmaputra, but less than 10 per cent of the Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers comes from melted ice. Rainfall makes up the rest.

    These results would suggest that the Indus and Brahmaputra will be hardest hit by climate change – but taking into account changes in rainfall patterns with climate change causes a different pattern to emerge, says Immerzeel.

    To make up for this, he fed temperature, rainfall and snow projections into his model. He found that by 2050, the upstream flow of the Brahmaputra and Indus could shrink by 19.6 per cent and 8.4 per cent respectively, despite 25 per cent more rain. The Ganges, Indus and Yangtze could see declines of 17.6, 8.4 and 5.2 per cent respectively.

    This means that by 2050, 60 million fewer people – 4.5 per cent of the world’s population – will be able to feed themselves using water from the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Yangtze and Indus, which supports the world’s largest irrigation system.

    The Yellow river is the only winner in a warmer world: with meltwater accounting for just 8 per cent of its flow, and rainfall predicted to rise by 14 per cent, it will be able to feed 3 million extra mouths by 2050.

    • In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:
      It was not my intention to blame China for all future climatic problems. It is still the fastest growing economy which undoubtably will cause a strong increase in carbon emissions but it’s not solely responsible for the future, we all are. Even with the predicted percental increase of renewable energy the remainder will still be carbon emissions. Besides that, renewable energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Wind energy for example is interresting but the energy involved in building a wind park with the capacity of a conventional power station is huge and severely supresses the benifits. And that doesn’t take into account the possible climatic side effect a large ammount of wind mills is going to have.

      I think, and I might sound radical at this point, we should start researching how we can counter the ever growing number of people on this Earth in a humane way. That – the number of people – I think is fundamental to this problem. There seems to be a taboe on this subject but I am convinced we will never be able to tackle the climatic problem if we ignore our tendency to reproduce like rabbits.

      • In reply to #7 by Klaasjansch:

        Even with the predicted percental increase of renewable energy the remainder will still be carbon emissions.

        It really does not have to be. There is vast potential for further renewable energy generation, with much safer nuclear generation using thorium or advanced gas cooled reactors.
        http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/643310-water-cooled-nuclear-power-plants-aren-t-the-only-option

        Besides that, renewable energy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

        In the appropriate environments, targeted types of renewables can be very effective as this post of mine illustrates for sunny desert climates. http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/9/23/axing-the-climate-commission-splits-australians-from-science#comment-box-6

        There is also considerable scope for improved building design with better insulation, waste heat recovery, and ground heat storage.

        Brazil is a good model in using bio-ethanol in car fuel.

        Wind energy for example is interresting but the energy involved in building a wind park with the capacity of a conventional power station is huge and severely supresses the benifits.

        It needs a lot of open space in a windswept location, but can (and already does) provide a large potion of the generation in some countries. Fortunately the wind blows at different times in different places. I don’t see how it “suppresses the benefits”. Could you explain this?

        And that doesn’t take into account the possible climatic side effect a large ammount of wind mills is going to have.

        I think the proportion of wind tapped for generation is very small in terms of global wind patterns – or even the wind diverted by a small cliff, mountain or forest.

        There are also some very promising tidal turbine and wave energy projects. Here is a small one in New York: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-25/energy-turbines-may-be-spinning-in-new-york-s-east-river-by-2013.html

        [http://energy.gov/articles/turbines-nyc-east-river-will-provide-power-9500-residents](http://energy.gov/articles/turbines-nyc-east-river-will-provide-power-9500-residents(http://energy.gov/articles/turbines-nyc-east-river-will-provide-power-9500-residents)

        There are more ambitious projects for tidal turbines in India and in Scotland, using the Atlantis model underwater turbine.

        The French of course, have been using the Rance tidal barrage turbines since 1963.

        I think, and I might sound radical at this point, we should start researching how we can counter the ever growing number of people on this Earth in a humane way. That – the number of people – I think is fundamental to this problem. There seems to be a taboe on this subject but I am convinced we will never be able to tackle the climatic problem if we ignore our tendency to reproduce like rabbits.

        I agree this is the core problem behind most environmental problems. If you look at my earlier link on China, it mentions the benefits of their rather drastic “one child” policy.

        • In reply to #8 by Alan4discussion:

          I agree with all of that but would just say that Brazil’s bio-fuel is not a cause for unalloyed celebration: they continue to slash and burn rain forests to make the stuff, and (I believe) one of the worldwide consequences of biofuel has been to push up food prices.

          Which for people on the margins in third world countries can be fatal.

          A better response would be to reduce dependence on cars. Maybe large(r) incentives for short-range electric cars for commuters, shoppers etc?

          • In reply to #11 by Stevehill:

            In reply to #8 by Alan4discussion:

            I agree with all of that but would just say that Brazil’s bio-fuel is not a cause for unalloyed celebration: they continue to slash and burn rain forests to make the stuff, and (I believe) one of the worldwide consequences of biofuel has been to push up food prices.

            Which for people on the margins in third world countries can be fatal.

            I agree that their destruction of rainforests and effects on food prices are counter productive, but a lot of that comes down to Catholicism and an expanding population. The fact is that if the world got the human population explosion and the greedy corporations under control, we could all have a good standard of living and standard of life.

  5. The expression climate change is grist to the mill of those who don’t believe the scientific evidence for global warming, or say they don’t, and point out quite rightly that climate change has always occurred and that this is just more of the same. But, these are unprecedented climatic events.

    Geological records show that despite there having been innumerable ice ages and tropical periods there is no evidence of a period of warming as fast and extreme as the present one. This period of climate change has gone far beyond any previous parameters and morphed into global warming, which could take a thousand years to correct.

    Every so called sceptic I’ve heard so far has talked about how much money it will cost to counter the effects; I don’t think they deserve the honourable name of sceptic and should be thought of instead as cynics.

    In any event, for obvious reasons, the precautionary principle must adhered to.

  6. There are nearly 3,000 comments on this in the Independent which I would not advise anyone to read in full.

    But one of the points to emerge is that while 95%+ of scientists trained and qualified to opine about what is going on say yes, there’s a problem, and we’re causing/contributing to it, about 40% of the public say no. That’s enough people to win elections in most democracies.

    There is (I suggest) some scope for serious research into the extent to which confirmation bias, the Pollyanna principle, and maybe also the Dunning-Kruger effect are conditioning public responses. Basically, the truth hurts. Just getting one’s mind round possible species extinction (the planet will be just fine) is more than many people can handle. So wishful thinking takes over.

    The Deniers have founded a new religion, based on articles of faith which seemingly triumph over any amount of evidence.

    (Sadly, the irrational religious zeal of many Greens just encourages them).

    • In reply to #10 by Stevehill:

      There is (I suggest) some scope for serious research into the extent to which confirmation bias, the Pollyanna principle, and maybe also the Dunning-Kruger effect are conditioning public responses. Basically, the truth hurts. Just getting one’s mind round possible species extinction (the planet will be just fine) is more than many people can handle. So wishful thinking takes over.

      Moreover, what evidence are you gong to present to people who don’t value evidence in the first place – when the waves are lapping at their front porch they’ll tell you it’s gods wrath because we allowed gay marriage.

  7. Given the amount of research on the subject of climate change and the almost religious and sometimes rabid stance on both sides of the argument, some of which in both cases is hog wash and very selectively presented or analyzed, there seems to be at least even in the most ardent “denier” camp an acceptance of climate change as a natural phenomena.

    The argument now seems to be more centred on how much of it is man made, and what in natural over which we have zero influence. The long wave length natural cycles seem to be overlaid by shorter wavelength (higher frequency) natural cycles, and further overlaid by even higher frequency cycles that are a function of human activity. Given the age of the planet and life on it, the last 200 years over which we have statistical significant evidence in the form of measurements of significant parameters ( temperature, sea salinity, emissions of all kinds etc etc) .represents nothing but a clustered anomaly on the graph of time. It is this albeit important anomaly we are trying to explain and arguing about since it directly affects us and our immediate future generations because of the seriousness of the consequences it represents if ignored.

    Of course the easy answer and the elephant in the room no one wants to address, except Thomas Malthus 250 years ago is that there are simply too many of us. With the invention of the fixation of dinitrates in nitrogen based fertilizers through the Haber-Bosch process in the 1920ies, the problem of adequately feeding an ever expanding human population had broken a self checking cycle- namely that of access to a limited food supply that had in the past controlled population growth.

    To put it another way, man made climate change is real. The root of it is simply too many people consuming too much for the size and resources of the planet. Blaming climate change simply on Co2 emissions is a lazy and dishonest way out by not pointing the finger at the real culprit because it will offend too many of us. Almost sounds like another religion to me! jcw

  8. @Stevehill
    IPCC report is definitely interesting reading. Those “5%+ of scientists trained and qualified to opine about what is going on say” for example this: “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on
    values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.” (IPCC report, page 11) Translated to simple English – they have no clue what is going on. You are just like somebody stating: “I do not need to read the Bible, because I have priests qualified to do it, and they will tell mi what is in it.” You should no better.

    • In reply to #13 by golemXIV:

      @Stevehill
      IPCC report is definitely interesting reading. Those “5%+ of scientists trained and qualified to opine about what is going on say” for example this: “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given…”

      That fact that we don’t know the equilibrium point does not negate the overwhelming evidence that we are warming up the planet and causing a problem.

      But even if you give the Deniers half a point, what actually is wrong with doing everything we can to get rid of dirty, polluting, disease-causing forms of energy generation and usage, and replacing them with cleaner and more modern technologies?

      Britain is on track to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. We will close all coal power stations by 2020 (probably…). Every new house we build from 2016 is legally required to be carbon-neutral. It can be done, so why not do it? If climate change is a real problem, we’ve done our best to mitigate it. If it is not, at least we live in homes which are better insulated and cheaper to heat and possibly have micro-generation capabilities in a world of rising energy bills.

    • In reply to #13 by golemXIV:

      @Stevehill
      “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on values across assessed lines of evidence and studies.” (IPCC report, page 11)

      It is well known that we are like to encounter unpredictable levels of feed-back effects which can affect the details and time-scales of calculations.

      Translated to simple English – they have no clue what is going on.

      Err! NO! “We can predict a range of detailed possibilities”, does not equal, “We no clue what is going on”!

      You are just like somebody stating: “I do not need to read the Bible, because I have priests qualified to do it, and they will tell mi what is in it.”

      Detailed climate science has no resemblance to reading the bible or the blind faith of priests. You are just illustrating your own lack of understanding. There are quite clearly ranges of climate conditions which benefit humans (in specific locations), and other conditions which are severely detrimental. (droughts, desertification of farmland, floods, increased storms, acid-seas, migrations of pest species, crop-failures, unpredictable weather, extinctions)

      There are some very good climate models, but that does not mean that idiot governments or corporations cannot mess them up, or aggravate problems, by irresponsible actions or head-in-the-sand policies!

      Climate scientists have compiled detailed records of past climate variations as I linked here; http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/9/23/axing-the-climate-commission-splits-australians-from-science#comment-box-20

      They also have global figures on pollution:

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news-articles/2013/9/23/axing-the-climate-commission-splits-australians-from-science#comment-box-23

    • In reply to #13 by golemXIV:

      @Stevehill
      IPCC report is definitely interesting reading. Those “5%+ of scientists trained and qualified to opine about what is going on say” for example this: “No best estimate for equilibrium climate sensitivity can now be given because of a lack of agreement on
      values across assessed lines of evi…

      Why would a lack of agreement about exactly what constitutes equilibrium invalidate the agreement that the global temperature has risen faster in the last hundred years than any other time in history and man is the most likely cause? This is precisely the kind of irrelevant nit picking that Steve is referring to.
      The thing is I can point you to a range of peer reviewed papers that show the exact climate change effects I have just stated plus geological research that shows carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are now higher than any time in human history.

      Further research is available about past high co2 levels and the effect on the environment (methane too and we’d better hope that doesn’t start to rise or it’s game over Homo Sapiens) .

      These 5% of scientists you quote who dispute the evidence, have they ever published a paper? No? Don’t you find that odd considering what the energy companies would pay for such research? Its just like the kind of flannel put out by the tobacco companies to counter the evidence on smoking causing lung cancer.

      • In reply to #15 by TrickyDicky:

        In reply to #14 by Terra Watt:

        STOP CONSUMING MEAT, DAIRY, FISH, EGGS and OTHER ANIMAL PRODUCTS!

        PROBLEM SOLVED!

        Try stopping breathing – problem solved

        Abstaining from consuming animal products will not only solve the problem of climate change, but could
        also stop world hunger by no longer wasting grains and land on artificial animal populations, which are killed and replaced
        every year by the BILLIONS!
        The animal industry is an utter waste of valuable resources on top of being repugnant for disregarding ethics!

        p.s.
        It has only been a little over a year since I’ve stopped consuming animal products.
        It is incredibly easy to do.

  9. @ Stafford Gordon

    Geological records show that despite there having been innumerable ice ages and tropical periods there is no evidence of a period of warming as fast and extreme as the present one.

    But wasn’t the Younger Dryas (cold period between 12,8K – 11,5K BP) terminated by an increase of several degrees Celsius in mean annual temperatures, all in a matter of a few decades? This extremely rapid warming (as well as the equally rapid cooling preceding it) was well documented in the North Atlantic, but was possibly of global scale though it is debated – e.g. Tibby, J. 2012. Quaternary International 253:47-54. I’d be curious to read IPCC scripture about the this strange cold episode. Given the level of alarmism around the current rate of change, I would have thought that the Younger Dryas would have had cataclysmic consequences. Just curious, not ‘denying’ anything here.

    • In reply to #23 by parotia:

      @ Stafford Gordon

      Geological records show that despite there having been innumerable ice ages and tropical periods there is no evidence of a period of warming as fast and extreme as the present one.

      But wasn’t the Younger Dryas (cold period between 12,8K – 11,5K BP) terminated by an increase of several degrees Celsius in mean annual temperatures, all in a matter of a few decades? This extremely rapid warming (as well as the equally rapid cooling preceding it) was well documented in the North Atlantic, but was possibly of global scale though it is debated – e.g. Tibby, J. 2012. Quaternary International 253:47-54.

      Why don’t you follow my links @18 to the links on earlier discussions which give the climate figures on past temperatures and the man-made pollution causing the present changes.

      http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/ctl/100k.html

      Abrupt cooling about 15,000 years ago gives way to abrupt warming at the end of the Younger Dryas period some 11,600 years ago, with a climatic ripple effect impacting habitats around the world.

      There can be feed-back effects causing rapid climate change related to massive ice melts, rafts of sea-ice, CO2 emissions and changing ocean currents.
      That is why it is important to avoid triggering such feed-backs, by increasing droughts, increasing forest fires, melting ice-caps melting sea-ice etc.

      I’d be curious to read IPCC scripture about the this strange cold episode. Given the level of alarmism around the current rate of change,

      The is the language of ignorant denialists! The information was on record for those who bothered to look before the IPCC commented. It is identifying the causes of changes which are important.

      I would have thought that the Younger Dryas would have had cataclysmic consequences.

      It certainly had severe effects on life where ice sheets advanced or retreated and rainfall varied.

      Just curious, not ‘denying’ anything here.

      Why not look up the information? The basics are already there on the links I have provided. The IPCC climate scientists have of course looked in considerable detail both at earlier and current research.

    • In reply to #23 by parotia:

      Just curious, not ‘denying’ anything here….

      We find that contempt for climate science is associated with paranoid personalities and a taste for conspiracy theories. That’s the considered view of science, per Stephan Lewandowsky’s meticulous research into this contagious, irrational fear.

      People seldom fear aerodynamics or hydraulics and trust the scientific experts. With climatology it is extremely hard to imagine the scientists have considered the effects of clouds. They’re spooky, coming and going, looming ominously at times. I can see how nerdy scientists preoccupied with computer models, in air conditioned labs could completely overlook the effect of clouds… or volcanoes, or Mars…

  10. The last I read, the latest report is something of a joke. Global warming fanaticists are screaming that it is more obviously man-made than ever before, and skeptics are saying the actual evidence shows climate changes naturally and we can’t do much about it.

    On balance, I’d say the skeptics win so far. A basic knowledge of Geology and Archaeology is enough to realise that climatic conditions are a function of large scale factors which have been active throughout global history, or at least as long as geological records in the rocks can show.
    Recent archaeological material can cast a light on this subject, in Britain at least. For instance, it is quite well established that sea levels were higher than currently at around the time the Romans and Saxons were prevalent – the level of wharves in the old Thames areas, for instance, plus the levels of the remains in such ports as the eastern English port at Bradwell-On-Sea show that, including isostatic landmass adjustments, sea levels were between 2 and 4 feet higher than today. In addition, there is notable evidence that Bronze Age farmers were able to grow crops at relatively high altitudes and latitudes that would not be possible now, because it is too cold.

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