Climate scientists panic; public yawns

burning earthIn 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its comprehensive, multi-peer-reviewed Third Assessment Report on the state of climate science, warning of “new and stronger evidence” that human activity is driving destabilizing changes in the climate. By its fourth report in 2007, the IPCC called the basic conclusion of anthropogenic climate change “very” (i.e., more than 90 percent) likely. In late November 2009, on the eve of the Copenhagen climate talks, a group of 26 climatologists released a “Copenhagen Diagnosis” updating the IPCC report with the latest science. Every advance in climate science over the last decade has revealed that things are getting worse, faster, than most climate models predicted. The so-called Climategate scandal in late 2009 embarrassed a few climate scientists, but did nothing to undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is a big f***ing deal.  Yet alongside this steadily more dire news, which has scientists on the edge of panic, public opinion has barely shifted. There was a hubbub over a small drop in climate concern last month, but a change from “eh” to “ehh” is hardly news.