An international panel of scientists says it has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.
The scientists, whose findings are reported in a draft summary of the next big United Nations climate report, largely dismiss a recent slowdown in the pace of warming, which is often cited by climate-change doubters, attributing it most likely to short-term factors, according to The New York Times.
The report emphasizes that the basic facts about future climate change are more established than ever, justifying the rise in global concern. It also reiterates that the consequences of escalating emissions are likely to be profound.
“It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010,” the newspaper cited the draft as saying. “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.”
The draft comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of several hundred scientists that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore.
Its summaries, published every five or six years, are considered the definitive assessment of the risks of climate change and they influence the actions of governments around the world. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent on efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, for instance, largely on the basis of the group’s findings.