In news that should be surprising to no one, the rate of melting of mountain glaciers is accelerating, according to New Scientist. Also not surprising is additional allegations about the Bush administration’s attempts to modify scientific reports. As reported in that New Scientist article as well as a CNN article, a congressional hearing is investigating the complaints.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Al Gore’s efforts to educate and motivate people, culminating in An Inconvenient Truth, will be found to have played a major role in changing public opinion. Perhaps reflecting this influence, An Inconvenient Truth has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Its excellent song, “I Need to Wake Up” by Melissa Etheridge, has been nominated for Best Original Song. Furthermore, Mr. Gore has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Resistance seems to be melting away in the U.S. government, perhaps the last major vestige of global warming skepticism. As a LiveScience article opens, “Maybe it’s the weird winter weather, or the newly Democratic Congress. Maybe it’s the news reports about starving polar bears, or the Oscar nomination for Al Gore’s global warming cri de coeur, An Inconvenient Truth. Whatever the reason, years of resistance to the reality of climate change are suddenly melting away like the soon-to-be-history snows of Kilimanjaro.” There still is some opposition in Congress, though the holdouts are becoming few indeed. “At [Senator Barbara] Boxer’s Senate hearing, her predecessor as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, had his own view of the science,” the CNN article mentions. Senator Inhofe, as you may recall, is notorious for calling global warming a “hoax” and for accepting large amounts of campaign contributions from the oil and gas industries. Even President Bush has admitted that global warming is a problem. As I mentioned in a previous post, in his recent State of the Union address, he discussed the nation’s energy issues and new technologies, ending the section with the words “…and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change,” making it his most clear acknowledgment of the issue to date. A CNN article mentions “The Bush administration acknowledges that global warming is man-made and a problem that must be dealt with, Bush science adviser John Marburger has said.” Time also had an article discussing this, entitled “Bush Goes Green?” Of course, there is a difference between admitting a problem and implementing solutions, but at least it is a start. But as LiveScience reports, “The top U.N. official for the environment asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday to convene an emergency international summit to combat global climate change, an official said, joining a growing chorus of world leaders and scientists calling for urgent action to cut greenhouse gases.”
And of course, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to release the first segment of its next report today. Established by the United Nations, the IPCC is generally considered to be authoritative. The 1600-page report is expected to state “there is a 90% chance humans are responsible for climate change,” an estimate revised upwards from 66% in 2001. CNN and New Scientist have articles discussing the report. Several scientists have criticized the panel for being too conservative in their estimates and that the problem is more severe. Sea levels have risen faster than predicted by the last report, published in 2001.
I’ll write more about the reports once it’s been released to the public.
Update: I fixed an incorrect link address.