The report hasn’t even been released yet, but one of the big stories around this Friday’s release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the conservative edge to the final product, which does not fully account for the melting of the Greenland nor Antarctic ice sheets.
The report is consensus-based and as such, carefully written and meticulously reviewed. The process is heavily bureacratic, a maze of international political and scientific red tape, which is both its strength and weakness.
While its level of international cooperation attests to its conclusions, scientists have struggled with how to model variables like melting ice sheets. Taking into consideration the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet is likely to move measurements of the sea level rise from inches to feet or meters within this century.
Uncertainties in the science need to be addressed with more research, certainly not the proposed cutback in funding for climate studies. And for as cautious as the IPCC report is in its creation, it needs to consider and calculate the potential consequences of climate change even more cautiously.
That means at least two things need to accompany the report’s release: a public awareness campaign of the missing pieces and future IPCC reports that include models of disintegrating ice sheets.