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Warming by committee

The most exhaustive official account of global warming has just been published by the UN. John Maddox shares its anxieties but believes that the committees which produced it need reform

By John Maddox   November 1996

With the threat of an imminent nuclear exchange behind us, there is now only the prospect of global warming to keep us awake at nights. And that threat is not all that distant. By the middle of the next century, we shall all be uncomfortably warmer than now unless we live in Manitoba or Siberia-by which time it will be too late to do much about a further worsening of the climate.

That is what the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) has been saying since 1990, when it produced its first assessment of the prospects. (Others, Roger Revelle of…

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