Friday, April 06, 2007

Watered-Down Report on Water Shortages

It's telling when even USA Today is reporting that governments are working to soften scientific consensus on the effects of man-made global warming:

BRUSSELS (AP) — An international global warming conference approved a report on climate change Friday, chairman Rajendra Pachauri said, after a contentious marathon session that saw angry exchanges between diplomats and scientists who drafted the report.
Why are we always in the worst of company on international stage?

The United States, China and Saudi Arabia raised the most objections to the phrasing, most often seeking to tone down the certainty of some of the more dire projections. ...

The report concerns the effects global warming is already having and will have on life on Earth. The disputed paragraph centered on what has already happened.

The paragraph originally said scientists had "very high confidence" — which means more than 90% chance of accuracy — in the statement that many natural systems around the globe "are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases."

After days of intensive small group negotiations over this section, delegates from China and Saudi Arabia on Friday insisted that the confidence be reduced to "high confidence" which means more than 80% accuracy.

Three top scientists-authors formally objected to the change by the diplomats, including American scientist David Karoly of the University of Oklahoma. The scientists said it was an unprecedented weakening of the scientific confidence that was not raised when the report was circulated the past several months.

In the hurry to get the report finished before its 4 a.m. ET release and press conference, diplomats forced the last-minute removal and altering of parts of the iconic table, which shows the ill effects of warming with each 1.8 degree increase in temperature, scientists and other delegates tell the Associated Press.

A final draft of the report obtained by the AP — written by scientists before government officials edit it — said "roughly 20-30% of species are likely to be at high risk of irreversible extinction" if global average temperature rises by 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

That part has been "diluted," said retired scientist Ian Burton attending the session on behalf of the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Did you catch that? Twenty to thirty percent of species facing irreversible extinction. Bloomberg has more:
April 6 (Bloomberg) -- A United Nations panel warned global warming will cause extinctions to mount, water shortages to spread and droughts and floods to become more frequent as man-made emissions of greenhouse gases cause the Earth to warm.
In a related story, America's Dust Bowl could suffer severe water shortages due to global warming:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Changing climate will mean increasing drought in the southwestern United States, where water already is in short supply, according to a new study.

"The bottom line message for the average person and also for the states and federal government is that they'd better start planning for a Southwest region in which the water resources are increasingly stretched," said Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory.

Seager is lead author of the study published online Thursday by the journal Science.

PostBlog: If you want a real treat, read some of the comments (there's a tiny comment link under the article title) from the swivel-chair set accompanying the first article. Nothing makes thirty-percenters go crazy like stating scientific consensus on global warming.