Already, there are serious reservations about the final IPCC summary for policymakers, which was released today.
The BBC leads the charge, noting that the economic models used to recommend mitigation policies aim to hold the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration at 550 parts per million (ppm). However, more recent scientific evidence suggests, and I agree, that our policies need to keep concentrations much closer to 450 ppm.
I certainly applaud the IPCC and its work, but the reality of the process is that every month devoted to writing and editing is a month that doesn’t account for the most current data. By the time of publication, the final product has spiraled out of date by two years.
This isn’t the first time. The story should be familiar if you recall the release of the first IPCC report in February, whose potential sea level rise estimate excluded accelerated melting on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.
And, of course, every government — including ours, China’s and Saudi Arabia’s — must agree on every word, making it all too easy to water down previously strong conclusions. We need a better process if we are going to solve the climate problem.