Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a new assessment of the speed and scope of human-caused temperature rise. It is indeed a sobering report, a responsible and soundly based set of recommendations as to the steps that must be taken if the limits to warming spelled out in the Paris Accords are to be met, and warnings of what is to come if they are not. Predictably, some find it a scare tactic, lacking in sober analysis of the realities. The report is controversial in terms of its assessments of some potential directions for mitigation. Peter Shellenberger writes in Forbes that it is unreasonably critical of the potential of nuclear power to partially address the need for energy from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources. From what I can see of the matter, I agree with him. It’s important to look toward new nuclear technologies that bypass most of the issues the reports frets about, including safety. This is an area that deserves more, not less investment. But the report as a whole is compelling and frightening to those with the imagination to look beyond the immediate present.
The Guardian has an extensive coverage of reactions to the report. The most disheartening aspect of reactions to the IPCC report is the reaction of Republican party politicians. Since the Republicans voted in 2011 to no longer accept the recommendations of the IPCC, the party line has been to unreservedly reject IPCC recommendations. In the wake of this latest assessment, one after another Republican politician has eagerly reached for a microphone to mock it. What is so sad about this display is that this very real threat to human society should not be a matter of local US politics. The IPCC is an agency of the UN, a global alliance of nations. To turn everything that comes from UN into a political football is irresponsible. When the fruits of their short-sighted blockage come home to haunt this nation, these tinhorn so-called representatives of the people will have faded from view, leaving it to their progeny to try to figure out how to make their way in vastly changed world. Ignorance is bliss, they say, but not forever.