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According to the researchers' collective results, the predicted range of climate change by 2050 will place 15 to 35 percent of the 1,103 species studied at risk of extinction. The numbers are expected to hold up when extrapolated globally, potentially dooming more than a million species.
Soon and Baliunas are astrophysicists affiliated with the harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who study solar variation (i.e., changes in the amount of energy emitted by the Sun). Solar variation is one of the many factors influencing Earth’s climate, although according to the IPCC it is one of the minor influences over the last century.
In the mid-1990s, ExxonMobil-funded groups had already begun to spotlight the work of Soon and Baliunas to raise doubts about the human causes of global warming. To accomplish this, Baliunas was initially commissioned to write several articles for the Marshall Institute positing that solar activity might be responsible for global warming. With the Baliunas articles, the Marshall Institute skillfully amplified an issue of minor scientific importance and implied that it was a major driver of recent warming trends.
IPCC wins the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with contributions from external experts The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepares periodic climate assessments on science, impacts and adaptation, and mitigation based on the contributions of several hundred expert authors nominated by governments. The majority of experts work in academia and government labs, but a handful work in business, including Haroon Kheshgi and Brian Flannery from ExxonMobil. Over the years, they have contributed to three IPCC assessments and two special reports and have served as review editors for IPCC publications. The valuable contributions of these experts were recognized, when the IPCC received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Messrs. Flannery and Kheshgi were among the scores of scientists who helped write the U.N. panel's latest broad assessment of climate science, published in 2001. It said atmospheric concentrations of CO2 had jumped by 31% since the start of the industrial age and the 1990s were "very likely the warmest decade in instrumental record." Most of the observed warming of the past 50 years, it said, is "likely" the result of "human activities." Still, the panel said, models of climate change remain a work in progress. Among the remaining uncertainties it cited is to what extent "natural factors" unrelated to human activity play a role.
The Exxon scientists say they agree with much of the assessment. But they argue that policy makers often disregard the uncertainties noted in it. In 2003, Mr. Kheshgi and a University of Illinois scientist published a paper in an American Geophysical Union journal arguing that oceans, plants and soil suck up more of the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil-fuel burning than previously thought. As a result, the paper said, models that predict a big buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere need to be rethought.
Messrs. Flannery and Kheshgi argue in their papers for more research into how the world can live with, rather than avoid, the effects of global warming. That concept, known as "adaptation," worries some environmentalists because they fear it will deflect attention from reducing fossil-fuel emissions. But it's one of the subjects that the U.N. climate-change panel has studied, and Mr. Kheshgi argues it's only prudent. "Climate change might pose serious risks," he says. "But it might not."