Here today, gone tomorrow?

Apparently the big science/climate story today is that the "Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Synthesis Report" was released. Although the stories I've read (e.g.,EarthTimes.org), haven't made it very clear, this report was issued by the UN, and the information in it was compiled by people working for the UN (and in conjuction with the UN). You can read the official press release, which actually has more information than the news stories I saw online, at this link. It is the first of a series of seven reports that will be released dealing with the state of global ecosystems and human well-being. The bottom line is that humans are f'ing up the environment, and ecosystems are going to suffer badly in the near future.

Of course, this is all well and good, but who reads this report? The answer: no one does, not even the people who wrote it will read the other parts. The report is some 2500 pages! You can actually download it (~7MB), at this link, or you can see the "popularized version" at greenfacts.org. Actually, it looks like that popularized version is pretty nice, giving several layers of information, from bullet points to more detail, and then linking to the actual report. Nice job, greenfacts.org.

Don't get this report confused with the well-known IPCC report on climate change. The fourth assessment report of the IPCC is starting to be written this year, and will probably come out next year. While the MA report probably won't be read much, the IPCC is essentially used as a text book because it is a careful, complete, and technical review of the state of knowledge of the climate system and climate change. It is the one that is honest enough to say that we know X about climate change, but the uncertainty is Y (or is unknown), and that is what anti-environmentalists like to use to say "we just don't know." Actually, we do know, but there are uncertainties that could allow a variety of solutions. Anyway... stay tuned for more news about the IPCC coming in the next months.

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