Monday, September 24, 2018

Climate change: Toned down

North Carolina is flooded with animal corpses, pigshit, and toxic coal ash after a hurricane. A hundred people have died in the Philippines due to Typhoon Mangkhut. Extreme wildfires have ravaged California. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is toning down its reports to keep denier-states happy:

Warnings about the dangers of global warming are being watered down in the final version of a key climate report for a major international meeting next month, according to reviewers who have studied earlier versions of the report and its summary.

They say scientists working on the final draft of the summary are censoring their own warnings and “pulling their punches” to make policy recommendations seem more palatable to countries – such as the US, Saudi Arabia and Australia – that are reluctant to cut fossil-fuel emissions, a key cause of global warming. “Downplaying the worst impacts of climate change has led the scientific authors to omit crucial information from the summary for policymakers,” said one reviewer, Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

“However, if governments do not recognise the full scale and urgency of the risks, they may underestimate how critical it is to meet the goal of the Paris agreement on climate change. And that could have very serious knock-on effects in the battle to limit the impact of global warming.”

This is partly a consequence of how the IPCC works: it does everything by consensus, so the final language has to be acceptable to the representatives of states which deny climate change. The solution is obvious: leak. Leak the drafts, say which deniers vetoed them, and run the conversation around them. This is too important to let the self-interest of polluters censor the truth. The fate of the world is literally at stake.