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Ear to the Ground

Landmark U.N. Climate Report Leaked Online

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Posted on Dec 14, 2012
EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin' hook-y ;o) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A little-known U.S.-based climate change denier named Alec Rawls leaked an early draft of a major global warming report, claiming that a single sentence about the influence of cosmic rays on the earth’s climate “completely undercuts the main premise and the main conclusion of the full report.” Other report reviewers say he is wrong.

Rawls, who was one of 800 experts to assess the report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, uploaded the draft to a website called Stop Green Suicide. The final version was not due to be released until September 2013. Several scientists who helped write the report have confirmed that the draft is genuine.

The leaker and his fellow climate deniers interpret the sentence in question as meaning that cosmic rays could play a bigger role in the planet’s warming than man-made emissions. They herald the sentence as “game-changing.”

But scientists who wrote the report say the discussion of cosmic rays was included to argue against their effect. Moreover, scientists are now 99 percent sure that man’s emissions are responsible for warming—up from the 90 percent certainty found in the panel’s 2007 report.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Guardian:

The isolation by climate sceptics of one sentence in the 14-chapter draft report was described as “completely ridiculous” by one of the report’s lead authors. Prof Steve Sherwood, a director of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, told ABC Radio in Australia: “You could go and read those paragraphs yourself and the summary of it and see that we conclude exactly the opposite, that this cosmic ray effect that the paragraph is discussing appears to be negligible … It’s a pretty severe case of [cherry-picking], because even the sentence doesn’t say what [climate sceptics] say and certainly if you look at the context, we’re really saying the opposite.”

The leaked draft “summary for policymakers” contains a statement that appears to contradict the climate sceptics’ interpretation.

It says: “There is consistent evidence from observations of a net energy uptake of the earth system due to an imbalance in the energy budget. It is virtually certain that this is caused by human activities, primarily by the increase in CO2 concentrations. There is very high confidence that natural forcing contributes only a small fraction to this imbalance.”

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