One of the most controversial subjects in the 2,000-page report was how to deal with a purported slowdown in warming in the past 15 years. Climate skeptics say this “hiatus” casts doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change. Many scientists say the purported slowdown reflects random climate fluctuations and an unusually hot year, 1998, picked as a starting point for charting temperatures. Another leading hypothesis is that heat is settling temporarily in the oceans, but that wasn’t included in the summary.
As expected, the IPCC raised its projections of the rise in sea levels to 10-32 inches by the end of the century. The previous report predicted a rise of 7-23 inches.
Going well beyond its four previous analyses of the emissions problem, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change endorsed a “carbon budget” for humanity — an upper limit on the amount of the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, that can be emitted from industrial activities and forest destruction.