This is a difficult and somewhat dangerous question to answer because it calls for a value judgment on the relative “honesty” of various climate change assessments, which is a politically contentious issue. The document that is still most often cited as a starting point for a global overview of climate change is still the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Third Assessment Report, Working Group 1, which was issued in 2001 and is still regarded as the most comprehensive assessment of climate change science that has ever been attempted. The IPCC’s report culled together data from scientists all over the world that have been studying climate change since the 1980s, and its conclusions–that global warming is a severe problem, that it is being made substantially worse by human activity, and that action must be taken to address it–have not been convincingly refuted in the past 9 years. The conclusions of the IPCC, which works under the rubric of the United Nations, have generally been the departure point for nations’ policy-making processes with regard to climate change, and for that reason, coupled with the fact that no persuasive criticism of the IPCC’s methodology or conclusions have been produced, it has come to be regarded as authoritative. Skeptics of climate change may disagree with this assessment, but it is fact that the IPCC reports have been accepted and credited far more often worldwide than have studies or statements to the effect that anthropogenic global warming is not happening or that the extent of the problem is different than the IPCC has concluded.
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