Climate change report puts heat on policy-makers – but sceptics pour cold water

The first section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment has triggered the expected mix of responses – it has amplified calls for urgent policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reignited warnings about the credibility of the research. But among many members of the public it was met with a bothersome indifference.

The report, released in Stockholm on Friday, is the first of three volumes making up the AR5.

A Radio NZ report (here) described the assessment as the most comprehensive evaluation so far.

It firms up previous reports by concluding that it is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in the global surface temperature since 1950.

It predicts global mean temperatures will continue to rise over this century unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed.

Radio NZ quoted Victoria University Climate Change Research Institute director Dave Frame, one of 259 authors from 39 countries who contributed to the UN report.

He said the scientific community was increasingly confident that human activities are changing the climate, mainly through the use of fossil CO2.

While New Zealand won’t warm as much as the global average, Professor Frame says temperatures will continue to rise slowly.

“We think rainfall precipitation is likely to increase in western regions in winter and in spring, but the magnitude of change is likely to be comparable to that of natural variability through much of the century.”

Professor Frame says New Zealand has quite a variable climate anyway.

He says more extreme weather events are likely, but that will also vary in different regions.

Professor Frame said more extreme rainfall events are expected as the planet warms basically because hotter parcels of air are able to carry more water when they’re saturated.

He said the extremely wet events, such as that in Golden Bay at the end of 2011, are expected to happen more frequently over time.

Farm leaders are using the UN report to buttress their case for more water storage.

Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers spokesperson on climate change, said (here):

“Newspapers are reporting that New Zealand can expect a climate on average 0.9 Celsius warmer by 2040 and 2.1 Celsius warmer by 2090.

“We have two options for adaption. First is researching new crops and pasture varietals in the knowledge that farms will face greater environmental stress. This demands an on-going and bipartisan ramp up in both our agricultural research and development spend and science capability.

“The second of course is the huge opportunity we have to store rain water.”

Water storage was as much environmental infrastructure as it was economic, Rolleston said. Every region should be looking at storing rain water.

But Profressor Bob Carter, chief science advisor of the International Climate Science Coalition and honorary fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand said (here) no one should trust the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

“The IPCC has a history of malfeasance that even includes rewording recommendations of expert science advisors to fit the alarmist agenda of participating governments.”

For more information about the new IPCC report, see the website <a href="For more information about the new IPCC report, see the website www.climatechange2013.org.

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