R.J. Ruppenthal  @  ChelseaGreen

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Disappearing Island. Did IPCC UNDER-estimate climate change?

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 at 3:59 pm by R.J. Ruppenthal

Recent news reports of the disappearing island in the Bay of Bengal (link below) remind us that sea levels are continuing to rise. Somewhat separately, there has been a conservative uproar over some glaring errors in the 2007 climate change report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The conservative denialist belief is that the scientists had an "agenda" and purposefully exaggerated scientific results to show that climate change was worse than it actually is. It looks like this was true in some parts of the report. But overall (and unfortunately for all of us), a close reading shows how the opposite may be true: the report conservatively UNDER-estimated the results of climate change in terms of sea level rise. In fact, sea levels may rise much more than predicted, especially given that the same models the IPCC used have already UNDER-estimated (by 50%) the last 40 years' worth of sea level rises. The following NEWSWEEK article, and the RealClimate analysis it cites, show how the IPCC arrived at its numbers, which by no means describe a worst-case scenario (the worst case could be much worse). Of course, any of these scenarios will wreak havoc on agricultural growing areas, making it a much more difficult task to feed the world. Let's hope they're all wrong, but continue preparing for a more difficult future.

NEWSWEEK: Where's the outrage when the agency lowballs the threat? http://www.newsweek.com/id/235366

RealClimate analysis of IPCC report: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/the-ipcc-sea-level-numbers/

Island in Bay of Bengal disappears: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=10188225

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