Climate: "Smoking Gun" is Laid on the Table-With a Thump

January 31, 2007

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 IWeb 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."

The list of lead authors is here. You will find direct phone numbers and e-mails for many of the US lead authors on the SEJ climate Web siteunder "Expert Rolodex."

IPCC Press Contacts:

Coverage of the leaks, sneak-peeks, pre-spin, and counter-spin has already begun: