News / Science & Technology

Report Expected to Highlight Human Causes of Climate Change

A leaked climate change report finds it is extremely likely, 95 percent likely, that humans are major contributors to global warming.
A leaked climate change report finds it is extremely likely, 95 percent likely, that humans are major contributors to global warming.
Rosanne Skirble
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) brings together hundreds of the world’s leading scientists to study the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, the impact of climate change on the environment and civil society and ways to mitigate its effects.

Since 1990 the IPCC has issued four assessments; the fifth is due out Friday, September 27. The IPCC reports help governments and civil society make more informed decisions on climate issues.

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report will be released in stages over the next year, beginning with an analysis of the physical science of climate change. The report is a consensus of how and why the climate is changing and how it might change in the future.

“It will look at changes in the temperature of the atmosphere and oceans, changes in storms, rainfall patterns, droughts, and other extreme weather events, and the consequences of changes in glaciers and ice sheets for sea level rise," said Alden Meyer, a policy analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It will also assess the contributions to these changes from both human activities and natural factors.”

The report synthesizes peer-reviewed studies on climate change science released since the last IPCC report in 2007. It is an immense task that has engaged hundreds of authors, editors and reviewers from 47 countries. Meyer doesn’t expect any startling new findings.

“But it will validate and reinforce the findings of previous IPCC reports with probably an increased level of confidence in some areas,” Meyer said.  
    
James McCarthy played a lead role in the Third IPCC Assessment Report released in 2001. The Harvard oceanographer says that since the fourth report, climate science has advanced significantly. Much more is known, for example, about the heat content of the ocean, he says, as reflected in data from an immense array of floats in the world’s oceans.

“The ocean heat content has been steadily increasing over the last 20 years and although earlier data would have allowed us to make a statement like that, the precision, coming from these 3500 floats, allows us to say this with much greater confidence," McCarthy said.

Also, McCarthy adds, a lot more is now known about the accelerated loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica, and the projection of sea level rise connected to that loss.  

“If the ice melts on Greenland and Antarctica, how much will sea level rise? We’ll see now in the calculations for projected sea level rise that we didn’t see in 2007," he said. "So this will be a big improvement for people who are indeed looking with increasing concern at what might happen in coastal areas.”  

A draft version of the report leaked to the media last month states that the planet has warmed at a rapid pace since the 1950s and that it is extremely likely, 95 percent likely, that humans caused more than half of the observed changes, including melting snow and ice, sea level rise and climate extremes.
        
Climatologist Heidi Cullen with the non-profit group Climate Central says if that degree of certainty remains in the language of the report it will be significant.

“I think that with this report coming out, a statement like 95 percent certainty that human influence on climate is a result of our actions, that statement in and of itself, is quite profound," Cullen said. "We have altered the planet. Our actions have altered the planet, and we’re about as precise as you can get, as confident as you can get in that."

The Fifth Assessment Report will be released on Sept. 27 in Stockholm, followed by reports in 2014 on the impact of climate change and what can be done about it.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: scott from: philippines
September 21, 2013 6:20 AM
We are destroying the planet and their is NOTHING we can do at this point . The damage is done.


by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, T-site
September 20, 2013 8:36 PM
OK. We understand that the climate is changing at a rapid pace since the 1950s.
But what does it mean for the long term climate change? The world climate has been changing for 100 years, 1000 years and more. Maybe there might be some rapid changes in the past.
Does scientists proof there was no such a rapid change in the past?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid