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Item #d96jan85

Meeting in Madrid at the end of November, Working Group I of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change settled on the final wording of the 1995 Summary for Policy Makers of its contribution to the 1995 IPCC assessment. The group's review of the state of scientific understanding of climate change has been one of the most controversial portions of the assessment, as early drafts asserted that scientific evidence for a human influence on climate now exists. (See Global Climate Change Digest News, Oct. 1995)

Most observers find the wording of the final version somewhat weaker, due largely to efforts by the oil-producing states, but the summary still states that despite considerable scientific uncertainty, "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on climate." The current best estimate of increase in global mean surface temperature by the year 2100 is 2° Centigrade, two-thirds the corresponding estimate made in 1990 for the first IPCC assessment. The most likely sea level rise (50 centimeters) is down by one quarter since 1990.

The complete text of the summary has been reproduced in Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 969-971, Dec. 13; or contact the IPCC Secretariat (see next news item, Global Climate Change Digest, January 1996) or the U.S. Global Change Res. Prog. (202 554 5113). The following articles discuss the report:

"Future Warming May Be Less than Predicted, but Clearly Tied to Human Activity, IPCC Says," ibid., p. 936. Highlights the debate over the final wording, quoting IPCC Chair Bert Bolin, energy industry lobbyist Donald Pearlman, and others.

"It's Official: First Glimmer of Greenhouse Warming Seen," R.A. Kerr, Science, pp. 1565-1567, Dec. 8. Emphasizes the range of opinion among scientists that underlies the careful phrasing of the summary conclusions, and how the summary answers two major criticisms of greenhouse skeptics.

"Climate Panel Confirms Human Role in Warming, Fights off Oil States," E. Masood, Nature, p. 524, Dec. 7. Emphasizes details of the negotiation process in Madrid and its outcome.

"Climate Observations Substantiate Global Warming Models," B. Hileman, Chem. Eng. News, pp. 18-23, Nov. 27. A comprehensive review of the latest developments in the science of global warming. (This article is also available on the World Wide Web:

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