Earth’s biggest news story will hit on Friday, September 27, 2013 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases its 5th report on climate change’s progress. IPCC’s first report was published in 1990.
Let’s see how splashy this big story diagnosing the earth’s health reaches American audiences, especially on a Friday, a notoriously slow news day. Maybe the IPCC presenter will wear a racy outfit or say something inappropriate so the report’s conclusions goes viral?
The word on the street is that the IPCC’s 800 experts from 195 countries reviewing over 9,000 climate-related studies will use the term “extremely likely” to explain that global warming is caused by humans and our ever-growing greenhouse gases pollution. In scientific speak, the term extremely likely describes a 95 percent probability of an outcome.
Global warming’s biggest challenge is a public relation’s one - the topic just isn’t sexy and for the most part isn’t newsworthy. The 1.4 degree rising global temperature is a topic that first popped on the world’s radar in 1988 when NASA scientist James Hansen spoke to the U.S. Senate about greenhouse gas emissions, hot temps and melting glaciers. (Question: How do you feel when your body temp goes up 1.4 degrees? ) Throw in a some doubt seeded by oil and gas interests and a few outlier deniers and global warming isn’t on mainstream’s radar.
The lack of sense-of-urgency needed to reduce CO₂ in the near-term can be explained by recent April 2013 Gallup polling; 50 percent of Democrats, 30 percent of Independents and only 18 percent of Republicans believe climate change will threaten their way of life in their lifetime. What’s the hurry if the mainstream thinks global warming's consequences are far-off?
The real bummer is that our global warming perception doesn’t match global warming’s hot reality. In just the 25 years since Mr. Hansen spoke to Washington, atmospheric CO₂ has grown from 350 ppm to 400 ppm. Scientists have agreed that 450 ppm may be the “we’re cooked” scenario.
For reference, in 1750 CO₂ ppm was 180 and had been stable forever. The wide-spread use of coal, which Britain began mining around 1700, fueled the Industrial Revolution. The first U.S. coal mine was dug in Virginia in 1748.
Here’s hoping the IPCC 5th report is a huge hit, gets more news hits than Syria, Putin or Miley’s twerking and some jaw-dropping reality pops from the report. In any case, greenlaurel will publish Part 2 of this article and outline the IPCC 5th report conclusions and will also provide useful and clear steps on what you personally can do tame your carbon monster. It does appears we’ve been left to our own devices since the oil and gas industry and American politicians have punted on global warming, for now.