But with much of the document remaining to approve—and much contentious subject matter to cover, such as the appropriate boundaries for sea level rise—the final product (or language) remains to be seen. "The projections [for sea level rise] will stay what they are," Petersen speculates, noting that current computer models cannot take into account melting from Greenland or Antarctica. "The uncertainties on predictions of sea level rise are difficult to project. We really don't know. You can't say what is the upper limit."
Already, anomalous extreme weather events such as storm surges have begun to destroy property or poison fields with salt in the island nation of Kiribati, according to Riibeta Abeta, climate change planning officer for Kiribati's Ministry of Environment and sole delegate from the smaller island nations of the Pacific. "We notice the level of the sea, it is rising," he says. "It is always difficult to find the words to express science."
But the IPCC summary aims to be clear and unequivocal in its main finding: that the globe is warming and scientists are 90 percent certain—a category dubbed "very likely" (just behind "extremely likely" at 95 percent certainty and "virtually certain" at 99 percent certainty)—that humanity is behind it. "If everyone agrees, you cannot ignore it," adds another participant, who declined to be identified. "If all governments say glaciers are retreating, it is hard to deny."