Perspective From the Program Manager

Monday, October 28, 2013

As you probably know, just before the government shutdown the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first of three volumes of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Although these documents are essentially just lengthy summaries of the latest literature on climate change, they are particularly useful for two reasons.  First, they allow those of us who are not reading every journal and paper relevant to the subject to get a broad view of what is understood in the realm of climate change and its impacts. Second, they create space in the media and political sphere to focus on the subject of climate change, what's happening and what we're going to do about it.

The report highlights include an increased certainty (>95%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century; repeats the best-estimate warming from the previous report of 4°C (for the highest greenhouse gas emission scenario) by 2100; and projects 28-98 cm of sea level rise by 2100, more than 50% higher than previously reported.

Although a lot of the discussion around the IPCC report goes to looking to the future, it is important to remember that we humans and the natural world around us are already experiencing the effects of anthropogenic climate change. The real question is what we can do about it.  Hope that you find some answers in the information below!

-->  IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5):

-->  For further reading, a useful review of the recent IPCC report can be found at the great website RealClimate: