Yesterday’s New York Times op-ed piece by Al Gore is well worth a read. It’s one of those pieces where I found myself nodding along to the computer screen. Gore helpfully cuts through to the heart of the supposed controversies about the climate science and within the climate science community.
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His arguments echo what I heard at a recent seminar here at the Bank on the role and functioning of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the overblown reaction to mistakes that are real but which in no way alter the overwhelming majority of existing scientific findings about climate change.
During that seminar Kristie Ebi, Executive Director of the IPCC Technical Support Unit for Working Group ll (which authors the volume addressing physical and social impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation) for the next round of assessments coming out in 2013, carefully explained the extensive review process applied by the IPCC.
I am also looking forward to a lively lunch-time discussion this Wednesday with Mike MacCracken, the former Senior Global Change Scientist for the Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), and Rosina Bierbaum, Dean and Professor at the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan, and co-director of the WDR 2010.
Such discussions feel to me like yet one more nail in the coffin of climate change denial, that beast that feeds on political motives but also more simply on individuals’ discomfort with unpleasant facts (see the WDR 2010 chapter on Overcoming Behavioral and Institutional Inertia). But that ghost always returns, rattling its chains in the hallways of power. To that ghost, I say, with all due sincerity and seriousness: rest in peace.