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Inside the global scientific debate over climate change warnings

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Arctic sea ice loss graph NSIDC
Arctic sea ice loss graph NSIDC

An international panel of scientists, convened by the United Nations, will soon release a major report summarizing the most recent findings on climate change. The assessment, to be published in late September, is expected to emphasize the deleterious impact of human activity on the global climate — and warn of dire consequences as a result.

But exactly how dire remains a topic of debate, at least among the hundreds of scientists involved in the report. According to The New York Times, two key issues — the extent to which sea levels will rise and the severity of temperature increases — remain contentious sticking points as the panel hammers out a final version of the report. Right now, the draft version of the analysis opts for conservative estimates on both topics — a decision that some are criticizing as an effort to avoid harsh attacks from climate change skeptics.