Over on DotEarth, Andy Revkin has an interesting post about the “burning embers” diagram from the latest IPCC. The upshot of the story is that several countries well-known for their desire to do nothing about climate change were able to remove an alarming figure from the 2007 report:

The diagram, known as “burning embers,” is an updated version of one that was a central feature of the panel’s preceding climate report in 2001. The main opposition to including the diagram in 2007, they say, came from officials representing the United States, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

People who argue that the IPCC is an “alarmist” body forget that virtually all of the world’s governments belong to it. Thus, governments that don’t want to do anything about climate change have just as much input to the report as countries that do.

This tension between the ideological factions of the IPCC actually gives the reports credibility. Only statements that everyone agrees to make it into the report. A few countries that object to some result can keep it out of the report. This is, in fact, why the IPCC process was designed this way.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

This is why some people argue that the actual science of climate change is more alarming than that revealed in the IPCC reports. In any event, if you read the IPCC reports and find it alarming, then you can have great confidence that your alarm is warranted.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.