We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Who You Gonna Trust: The IPCC, or the Senate Republican Policy Committee?

The Intersection
By Chris Mooney
Mar 2, 2007 6:00 PMNov 5, 2019 10:15 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Sadly, this recent paper on global warming (PDF) from the Senate Republican Policy Committee, which is chaired by Kay Bailey Hutchison, demonstrates that too many in the GOP still refuse to cop to the scientific consensus in this area. Many aspects of the document's discussion are judicious and well informed. Yet at the same time, the conclusions are completely skewed:

There are three general areas of scientific agreement on climate change. • Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have risen from 280 parts per million (ppm) to 380 ppm over the last century due in large part to fossil fuel consumption. • The Earth's average temperature has risen approximately 1.3 degrees F over the last century. • Carbon dioxide, methane, and a few other trace gases exert a warming influence on the climate. • Beyond these areas of general agreement, there is considerable uncertainty. • Although rising greenhouse gas concentrations should warm the planet, it is difficult to determine how much of the past warming is due to human activities. • It is even more difficult to determine whether human activities will have a relatively benign or catastrophic effect on the climate in the future.

Actually, the latest IPCC summary (PDF) said we know a lot more than that; most notably, that we have 90 percent or higher confidence that most of the recent warming is caused by humans. The Senate Republican Policy Committee goes on to criticize climate models (a standard trope) and imply that we shouldn't trust the latest IPCC Summary for Policymakers because it might be different from the full report (another standard trope). There's also questioning of the water-vapor feedback loop, the suggestion that Arctic melting might be part of a natural cycle....and on and on. Why they can't just state the latest science--without putting their own misleading spin upon it, and without having the arrogance to think that somehow they're in a position to reinterpret and outthink the IPCC--I fail to understand.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.