A new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is out. If you're not familiar with the IPCC its the organization that Peggy Noonan wished existed, but was too dumb to realize already did. Also unbeknownst to Noonan was the fact that the IPCC had apparently been doing, uh, actual work, the entire time. No, really.
Anyway the new report focuses specifically on the likely impact of climate change and the vulnerability of human systems to these changes. I read much of the IPCC 2001 series reports for a research paper last year and was struck by how regressive the likely impacts would be. Even though upper latitudes are seeing the most significant warming (see pg. 5 of the report), the tropics are by far the most vulnerable, since they have the least capacity to adapt to the changes.
So while the 'benefits' of climate change accrue mainly to the higher-income countries in the upper lattitudes, the biggest losers are the poorest bits of Central and South America, but particularly Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Oh but don't worry, since per capita GDP in these countries is only a few hundred dollars, our 'benefits' of greater mineral access, year-round port openings, etc., will still look good in monetary terms compared to their losses. Human suffering is another matter.
Oh yea, and in another cruel irony, these countries of course contribute the least to greenhouse gas emissions.
Its not surprising that Republicans aren't exactly jumping out of their shoes to address, or even acknowledge this problem, since its practically a mirror image of any Republican-designed social policy of the last 30 years: redistribute benefits upward, let the masses 'adapt'. It's almost like God is doing the work for them! Neato!
So while James Inhofe, Michael Chrichton, and Dana Rohrabacher continue to grapple with dinosaur farts, actual scientists are sounding the alarm. And yes, they're alarmist in the same sense that a person on fire calling the fire dept. is alarmist.
The Economist has a good article about it, which interviews academics who reviewed the report prior to publication.