1000 Years of Global Warming

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FEB. 2, 2007: WorkingGroup 1 of the UN Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change today issued its Summary for Policy Makers, summarizing the main conclusions of the major report on the Physical Science Basis of climate change that will be published in the spring.

Among the most important conclusions: global warming is real, it’s happening faster than expected, and it’s caused by human activity — mainly by burning fossil fuels. The effects of what has already been done to the planet will continue to be felt for over 1000 years, even if we radically slash greenhouse gas emissions today. If we keep on emitting gases at the present rate, things will get much worse.

The full text of the Summary for Policy Makers is available online, at the IPCC site.You can also hear the Press Conference at which the Working Group’s representatives explained their findings.

There’s an excellent summary of the report, together with useful background on how the IPCC process works, on the Real Climate website.

This Working Group report focuses on the background science — it contains little about the consequences of the changes it foresees. Ross Gelbspan’s website, The Heat Is On, includes a summary of the expected effects of temperature increases at 1 degree C., 2 degrees C., and so on up.

There will be more reports from the IPCC in the course of this year. Working Group II reports on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability in early April, and Working Group III reports on Mitigation of Climate Change in early May.

A Synthesis Report is planned for early November.