Climate Change and the Royal Society

There seems to be a story going around that the Royal Society has backed down on climate change.  I’ve seen several internet comments to this effect, and there’s a posting making this claim at something called IPCC News. I dutifully went to look at the Royal Society’s guide to climate science.  The main conclusion of the report is

There is strong evidence that the warming of the Earth over the last half-century has been caused largely by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, including agriculture and deforestation. The size of future temperature increases and other aspects of climate change, especially at the regional scale, are still subject to uncertainty. Nevertheless, the risks associated with some of these changes are substantial. It is important that decision makers have access to climate science of the highest quality, and can take account of its findings in formulating appropriate responses.

The Royal Society guide also says: “this document draws upon recent evidence and builds on the Fourth Assessment Report of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in 2007, which is the most comprehensive source of climate science and its uncertainties.”

To be honest, I may be missing some subtle differences in phrasing, but everything that I read in the Royal Society’s report seems totally in-line with the IPCC’s views.  I haven’t gone back to read the earlier statements from the Royal Society, so I can’t exclude the possibility that they are now being more careful in their phrasing.  But I don’t see any sign of a retreat from the IPCC/consensus view of climate science.


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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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