Title: Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report
Source: IPCC
Author: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Published: 2001

Overview: Several organizations report to the UN, providing scientific research. The IPCC is one of those organizations, and the report reviewed here deals with questions about the confirmation of climate change and methods to curb it. Many consider this to be the report that solidifed the international community's certainty of the existence of global warming.

Details: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) created the IPCC in 1988 for the purpose of assessing climate research. The IPCC has completed a total of three assessment reports dated 1990, 1995 and 2001.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions to a point where the climate system is not harmed. The IPCC provides the UNFCCC with scientific information, reports and analyses.

The concerns of nations involved in the UNFCCC treaty are clearly seen through the types of questions the IPCC has been asked to answer. It is apparent that these nations acknowledge the evidence and dangers of climate change. They are particularly interested in the costs (economic) of curbing climate change and the costs (environmental, economic, and social) of allowing it to happen. The IPCC responses evaluate projected changes in greenhouse gas concentrations, assess potential risk to environmental and socio-economic systems, and propose strategies to help reduce those risks.

The IPCC provides a scientific evaluation with statistics and projections. The IPCC may even possess the ability to alert skeptics and provide calm to alarmists.

Three Points of Personal Interest:

1. The IPCC is able to evaluate the probability of global warming trends and their consequences: from Virtually Certain (>99%) and Very Likely (90-99%) down to Unlikely (10-33%). They declare it “Very Likely” that the duration of northern river and lake ice cover decreased by 2 weeks in the 20th century, and that global snow cover decreased by 10% since the 1960s.

2. The sea level rise due to melting ice will continue for several millennia, long after our peak in carbon dioxide emisisons that will occur within the next 100 years.

3. By 2100, with no climate policy intervention, the average surface temperature of the Earth will increase 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius, CO2 levels will double or triple and sea level will increase 9 to 88cm.