The latest update of scientific consensus on climate change - to be released Friday, Feb. 2, 2007, is said to present "smoking gun" evidence that global warming is happening now and that human emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing it.
The news fallout and political consequences will be widespread and intense, as Congress this week began work in earnest on climate. That included hearings not only to begin hammering out legislation, but also hearings on Bush administration censorship of climate science. Judging by some new polls and the behavior of candidates, climate may prove a major issue in the 2008 presidential election.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the premier scientific body on the subject, including thousands of scientists from many climate-related specialties all over the world. Every five years or so the IPCC pulls together thousands of studies in an "Assessment Report," and the one released this year will be the fourth. The first report (Working Group I), out this week, is on the physical science of climate change. Later this year will come reports from Working Group II (impacts, adaptation, vulnerabilities) and Working Group III (mitigation), and a report synthesizing the whole thing.
The "Summary for Policymakers" of the science report will be released at a press conference in Paris at 3:30 am EST (that's 9.30 am Central European Time) Friday, February 2. The Summary for Policymakers is expected to be approved by a meeting of official scientific delegations from governments at a Jan. 29-Feb. 1 meeting in Paris. It is based on the main report, which is written and reviewed only by scientists.
The press conference will be Webcast live, with audio and slides. You will be able to link into the Webcast from the IPCC  and Working Group I Web sites before it starts. The text and graphics of the Summary for Policymakers will be available in English from these Web sites at that time.
"The full WGI Report, including 11 chapters and a Technical Summary, will be published by Cambridge University Press and should be available by mid-2007 in book form and online from IPCC web sites," according to the IPCC. The fuzziness of that date suggests that it may be informally circulated much earlier. Despite a tight embargo, late, if not final, drafts are already in limited circulation.
"Media participation at the opening ceremony and the press conference is subject to accreditation by the IPCC," IPCC states. "Media are also kindly invited to pre-arrange interviews with the WGI Co-chairs or lead authors. To accredit and/or address interview requests, please fill up the form you find at http://www.ipcc.ch/3475jrn/index.htm.  Username: press123. Password: presswg1. The form is suitable both for live and for phone interviews. Please submit requests for interviews as early as possible."
IPCC Press Contacts:
- Carola Traverso Saibante,  IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland, +4-22-730-8066 (office); +41-79-666-7134 (cell).
- Kristen Averyt,  IPCC Working Group I Technical Support Unit, Boulder, Colorado, 303-497-4885.
- Michael Williams,  United Nations Environment Programme, Geneva, Switzerland, + 41-22-9178-242/244/196 (office); +41-79-409-1528 (cell).
- Carine Richard-Van Maele,  World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, +41-22-730-8315.
- Working Group I Web site.  IPCC Press Web site. 
Coverage of the leaks, sneak-peeks, pre-spin, and counter-spin has already begun:
- "Report Has 'Smoking Gun' on Climate Change,"  Associated Press via Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Jan. 22, 2007, by Seth Borenstein.
- "New Climate Report Too Rosy, Experts Say,"  Associated Press via Chicago Tribune, Jan. 29, 2007.
- "UN Pushes for Special Global Warming Summit,"  Reuters, Jan. 30, 2007, by Daniel Wallis.
- "Fact Box: Global Warming - Impacts of Temperature Increases,"  Reuters, Jan. 29, 2007.
- "A Chilling Conclusion on Global Warming,"  Newark Star-Ledger, Jan. 28, 2007, by Kitta MacPherson.
- "World Ice Retreat To Spark U.N. Urgency, Scientist Says,"  Bloomberg, Jan. 29, 2007, by Alex Morales.