Scientists Report Overwhelming Evidence

NWF   |   February 2, 2007

                                 The IPCC begins the release of its 4th assessment

More than 2,200 of the most qualified scientists from around the world have been involved in developing the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)consensus on global warming.

On Friday, Feb. 2 (Groundhog Day), the 4th Assessment Working (Group I) issued its findings. This report warns that we’ve crossed the threshold of doubt. The evidence is now overwhelming that humans are causing global warming. The evidence that humans are causing global warming has become even stronger since the last assessment. According to the IPCC report, it is at least 90 percent chance, or "very likely," that human activities, especially combustion of fossil fuels, are causing the warming of the planet that has occurred since 1950.

This report underscores our moral responsibility to confront global warming immediately to protect our children’s future. We face an uncertain future if we don’t do everything we can to cut the pollution causing global warming. We cannot allow our children to inherit a crippled planet when we have the know-how and ingenuity to solve it if we act now.

The clock is running out for wildlife. The potentially dramatic sea-level rise projected by the IPCC could devastate coastal wildlife habitats, not to mention human communities that depend on tidal marshes, coastal barriers and natural buffers to storm surges.  More intense hurricanes, drought and other severe weather events summarized in this report will threaten the most vulnerable wildlife populations already struggling to survive human encroachments. We must solve global warming to protect our children’s future and the future of wildlife.

                                              America must be a leader in this fight

By listening to the scientists, our nation can be a leader in finding clean energy solutions that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, create a new generation of green collar jobs and provides climate and energy security.

By investing in strategies that strengthen the resiliency of wildlife to existing human threats like development and loss of habitat, we can help the most vulnerable species survive global warming.

                                              The 2-Percent Solution

We have the technology and ingenuity right now to solve global warming. If we hope to reverse global warming, we must reduce pollution by 80 percent by mid-century. We can do that by reducing current pollution by 2 percent each year. Beginning now, by the year 2050 we will reduce pollution by 80 percent.

Since the first report issued in 1990, there has been a compelling body of science concerning global warming. This is the first of three working group reports and a final summary to be released this year that will encompass a comprehensive account of the scientific knowledge on climate science published before December 2005.

This first report, from Working Group I, will focus on what is known about the climate system, how it is changing and what is causing this.They use a rigorous process to consider only research that has been peer-reviewed and published in respected scientific journals. The resulting consensus is generally conservative as it seeks the lowest common denominator of scientists. It is based on facts gathered within the IPCC’s review period.

It is important to note that significant scientific research that has come out since the deadline a year ago is not included in this assessment, but is even more compelling.

The evidence of global warming is more profound that ever.  According to the IPCC, global temperatures are expected to rise between 3.2 – 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, and sea level is expected to rise by 7-23 inches. An additional 3.9-7.8 inches are possible if recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues.

Also, the IPCC confirms that global warming has made hurricanes including those in the Atlantic such as Katrina, more intense.

The report notes that 1998 and 2005 were the warmest years on record. Five of the six warmest years have occurred in the last five years (2001-2005); heat waves have increased in duration beginning in the latter part of the 20th century; droughts are more widespread since the beginning of the century. All are evidence of a dramatic change in the planet’s climate that has serious consequences for people and wildlife.

The report makes clear that scientists have a much greater level of confidence that humans are causing global warming. There is no debate about the science. While the IPCC may debate wording in the report, the science behind it is rock solid. The only people who disagree are a dwindling number of nay-sayers led by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who still insists global warming is a hoax. 

Even more compelling science has been published in peer-reviewed journals since the IPCC’s deadline for submitting research for inclusion. So, studies showing rapid melting in the Arctic and in Greenland were not included. They most certainly will be included in the next assessment, but that won’t come out for another five years. Clearly, we can’t wait that long to act.  Working together we can change this dire forcast for the planet.

Published: February 2, 2007