Before facing major surgery, wouldn’t you want a second opinion? When a nation faces an important decision that risks its economic future, or perhaps the fate of the ecology, it should do the same. It is a time-honored tradition in science to set up a “Team B,” which examines the same original evidence but may reach a different conclusion. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) was set up to examine the same climate data used by the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In 2007, the IPCC released to the public its threevolume Fourth Assessment Report titled Climate Change 2007 (IPCC-AR4, 2007). Its constituent documents were said by the IPCC to comprise “the most comprehensive and up-to-date reports available on the subject,” and to constitute “the standard reference for all concerned with climate change in academia, government and industry worldwide.” But are these characterizations correct? On the most important issue, the IPCC’s claim that “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations [emphasis in the original],” NIPCC reaches the opposite conclusion— namely, that natural causes are very likely to be the dominant cause. Note: We do not say anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) cannot produce some warming or has not in the past. Our conclusion is that the evidence shows they are not playing a substantial role.
Almost as importantly, on the question of what effects the present and future warming might have on human health and the natural environment, the IPCC says global warming will “increase the number of people suffering from death, disease and injury from heatwaves, floods, storms, fires and droughts.” The NIPCC again reaches the opposite conclusion: A warmer world will be a safer and healthier world for humans and wildlife alike. Once again, we do not say global warming won’t occur or have any effects (positive or negative) on human health and wildlife.