October 28, 2010

French Report Says Global Warming ‘Unquestionable’

The French Academy of Science said in a report published Thursday that global warming exists and is unquestionably due to human activity.

"Several independent indicators show an increase in global warming from 1975 to 2003. This increase is mainly due to the increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide," the academy said in conclusion to the report.

"The increase in carbon dioxide, and to a lesser degree other greenhouse gases, is unquestionably due to human activity," said the report, which was written by 120 scientists from France and abroad.

The report contradicts France's former education minister Claude Allegre, a geochemist, who published a book that claimed that carbon dioxide was not linked to climate change.

Minister for Research Valerie Pecresse commissioned the report in April in response to hundreds of environmental scientists who complained that Allegre was disparaging their work.

Allegre is a member of the Academy of Sciences and signed off on the report.

"He has the right to evolve," the academy's president Jean Salencon said. Pecresse said: "The debate is over."

Allegre questioned the work of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and criticized worldwide mobilization around "a myth without foundation" in his book.

He disagreed with linking climate change and an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and said clouds or solar activity has a bigger influence.

The IPCC has been hit by a raft of criticisms and the U.N. said it needs a major overhaul. 

Errors revealed in the panel's landmark 2007 Fourth Assessment Report said the Himalayan glaciers that help provide billions of people in Asia with water could be lost by 2035.

The Academy's report said that "solar activity, which has dropped slightly on average since 1975, cannot be dominant in warming observed during this period" even if the mechanisms involved "are not yet well understood."

"Major uncertainties remain on how to model clouds, the evolution of marine ice and the polar caps, the connection between the oceans and the atmosphere, the biosphere's evolution and the carbon cycle," the report said.

Allegre said it was impossible to predict the climate's long-term evolution.  However, the Academy said that "climate evolution predictions of 30 to 50 years are little affected by uncertainties on modeling slow evolution processes."

"These predictions are particularly useful in responding to society's current concerns, worsened by the predictable population growth."

Frenchman Jean Jouzel, the IPCC's deputy head, welcomed the report.

He told AFP, "Even if in this text lots of space is given to the arguments put forward by climate change skeptics, I note that the document clearly reaffirms the IPCC's broad conclusions."

"Clearly skeptics will find some things to make their case. It says that not all is clear about the sun's role. The debate is never over," he said.

The Academy said the report was the result of written contributors as well as closed-door discussions held at the Academy on September 20 and subsequent exchanges.


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