Scientists feel climate report is too weak

They take issue with how diplomats edited the latest warning on global warming and plan their own update.

BRUSSELS – Two distinctly different groups — data-driven scientists and nuanced offend-no-one diplomats — collided and then converged last week. At stake: a report on the future of the planet and the changes it faces with global warming.

An inside look at the last few hours of tense negotiations at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals how the diplomats won at the end thanks to persistence and deadlines. But scientists quietly note that they have the last say.

Diplomats from 115 countries and 52 scientists hashed out the most comprehensive and gloomiest warning yet about the possible effects of global warming, including increased flooding, hunger, drought, diseases and the extinction of species.

The 23-page summary certainly didn’t sound diplomatic. But it was too much so, scientists said.

In the past, scientists at these meetings felt that their warnings were conveyed, albeit slightly edited down. But several of them left Friday with the sense that they had lost control of their document. At one point, NASA’s Cynthia Rosenzweig filed a formal protest and left the building, only to return, make peace and talk in positive tones. Others talked about abandoning the process altogether.

“There was no split in the science — they were all mad,” said John Coequyt, who observed the closed-door negotiations for the environmental group Greenpeace.

The report doesn’t commit countries to action, like the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but those involved agree that the science is accurate and that global warming is changing the planet and projected to get much worse.

Still, scientists have their fallback: a second summary that consists of 79 densely written, heavily footnoted pages.

The “technical summary,” which will eventually be released to the public but was obtained by the Associated Press, will not be edited by diplomats. The technical summary, Rosenzweig said, contains “the real facts.”

Some of its highlights, not included in the 23-page already-released summary:

• “More than one sixth of the world population live in glacier- or snowmelt-fed river basins and will be affected by decrease of water volume.” And depending on how much fossil fuels are burned in the future, “262-983 million people are likely to move into the water stressed-category” by 2050.

• Global warming could increase the number of hungry in the world in 2080 by anywhere between 140 million and 1 billion, depending on how much greenhouse gas is emitted over the next few decades.

• “Overall a 2- to 3-fold increase of population to be flooded is expected by 2080.”

• Malaria, diarrhea diseases, dengue fever, tick-borne diseases, heat-related deaths will all rise with global warming.

• In eastern North America, depending on fossil fuel emissions, smog will increase and there would be a 4.5 percent increase in smog-related deaths.

– Thx to the Climate Progress Blog for the link I traced to this story

– To the StarTribune article, itself:

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