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IPCC Report Cites 95% Certainty Global Warming is Man-made

Sep 28, 2013 04:21 PM EDT
Climate change
A group of California youth is suing a slew of government agencies, including the EPA, for failing to develop a plan of action against climate change.
(Photo : Reuters)

The long-awaited report by the UN's climate panel was released Friday, citing a 95 percent certainty that humans are the "dominant cause" behind global warming since the 1950s.

The report is considered the most comprehensive statement on the known drivers of climate change, and outlines evidence of the phenomenon throughout the globe, including the oceans and atmosphere.

"Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased," Qin Dahe, who contributed to the report, said, according to the BBC.

One of the largest controversies framing the report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is a 15-year blip in what has otherwise been a consistent rise in global temperatures since the mid-century -- a fact global warming skeptics have cited as evidence human activity is not altering the climate.

The authors of the report, however, merely brush the pause to the side, saying the 15-year period is too short to reflect long-term trends.

"Trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends," the report says.

Meanwhile, the report warns that continued emissions of greenhouse gases will further exacerbate changes in the world's climate system.

For example, the scientists warn that future sea level rise will occur at a faster rate than what has taken place over the last 40 years, with estimates falling between 26 centimeters and 82 centimeters depending on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during the next century.

A key change over the last IPCC report, issued in 2007, was an increase for the temperature range given the doubling of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Previously, the range included 2 degrees Celsius to 4.5 degrees Celsius; in the new document, this has been expanded to 1.5 degrees Celsius to 4.5 degrees Celsius.

"We are performing a very dangerous experiment with our planet, and I don't want my grandchildren to suffer the consequences of that experiment," Brian Hoskins, a researcher from Imperial College London, told the BBC.

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