Updated: November 1, 2013 6:11AM
AUnited Nations panel on Friday released a summary to a major new report that concludes, in the most forceful language yet, that human activity is “extremely likely” the dominant cause of global warming and that the potential dangers are great.
That didn’t stop climate change deniers, of course, from immediately trying to poke holes in the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Writing online for the National Review, for example, columnist Michael Barone cherry-picked the facts to claim the report discredits global warming alarmists.
Barone pointed to part of the report that says temperature increases have slowed down for the past 15 years. In reality, that’s a credit to the objectivity of good science. The researchers behind this report didn’t try to hide the facts, though they surely knew critics would seize on the “hiatus” as evidence that climate-change theories are in doubt.
What the facts — taken together — really show is that scientists are more certain than ever that human activity has been the driving force behind long-term global warming since the 1950s, and it is no small matter. In fact, scientists are twice as certain as they were back in 2007, partly because they have better observations, a clearer understanding of how the climate works and better models.
Every nation should, though many such as China won’t, respond by making the control of greenhouse gases a priority.
The U.N. panel’s report is issued every six years, and Friday’s findings were the most compelling and convincing yet. Scientists found that the ocean has warmed, snow and ice have diminished, sea levels are up and greenhouse gases are more concentrated. The full 2,000-page report will be released Monday.
As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “If this isn’t an alarm bell, then I don’t know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.”