Scientists, officials hash out climate report wording in Paris

Call it the cram session from hell: about 500 scientists and officials are spending the week cooped up in Paris, undertaking a word-by-word edit of a major report on climate change. The first installment of the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, due Friday, is expected to offer more certain conclusions about our global fate than earlier versions. Since the report must be approved by 154 countries, its seemingly radical predictions of devastating heat waves, sea-level rises, and more are in fact quite conservative. Some critics even say the report is too cautious, ignoring recent findings on the dangers posed by melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. However, U.S. reviewers — who are pushing for the draft to dwell on the wonders of voluntary (read: anti-Kyoto) action — think the whole thing is too darn pessimistic. They complained in a letter to the IPCC that “the report tends to overstate or focus on the negative effects of climate change.” Vive le dumb.