Robert VerBruggen at Blogger News Network takes a closer look at the UN climate report.

First of all, the scientists are 90 percent humans cause warming to what degree? I don’t think anyone has said that natural fluctuations don’t affect climate at all. If emissions cause 1 percent of warming, that’s not that helpful for solving the problem. Even if you’re 100 percent certain.

Indeed, that’s a key question. If all our efforts and our billions of dollars won’t make a dent, is it really worth the effort? Robert looks into the report for the answer.

To answer the question I read the report itself (OK, the policymaker summary, sue me). Soon after claiming a 90 percent chance that humans have caused more warming than cooling (page 3), the report claims that “most” of the warming is “very likely” (90-95 percent) to have been human-caused.

So of the warming that is happening, the UN panel says that >50% is caused by humans. Except that they’re less sure when they’re dealing with actual data than when they’re doing their predictions of the future.

Finally, take a look at the chart on page 7 of the report, where the researchers look at various trends — whether they occurred, whether human activity caused them and whether they’ll continue in the future. Somehow, the first two columns have “likely” and “very likely” popping up a lot, but the future predictions have two “virtually certains.” In every single category, the scientists are equally or more certain about the future than the past.

Tell me how is it, exactly, that the panel is better at predicting the future than at analyzing established data? For example, it’s “very likely” that there were fewer and warmer cold days in the late 20th century, and “likely” human activity contributed to it, but “virtually certain” this will continue in the future.

Good question. In the coming days, I expect more folks will be taking a closer look at this. If we really are causing most of the global warming–if we broke it–we should fix it. And in the meantime, there are so many simple things we can do to reduce our energy requirements (florescent bulbs, telecommuting, etc.) that there’s no real reason to ignore this.

At the same time, in the current not-so-scientific climate where people are being cowed into silence by man-made-global-warming proponents, you’ll have to forgive me for being a bit wary of any report from scientists who are in lockstep agreement on the issue.

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