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See Inside April 2007

Conservative Climate

Consensus document may understate the climate change problem

This month the IPCC releases its second report, which focuses on global warming's impacts, ranging from intensifying droughts to heavier downpours and other extreme weather events. The third report--due out in May--will discuss options for mitigation, such as alternatives to fossil fuels. In the U.S., the commitment to such alternatives remains precarious--the budget for biofuel and hydrogen research has risen, but funding for other renewable energy sources has declined. And all that has been budgeted for such research represents less investment than the U.S. made in the 1970s.

"There is at least a perception among at least some students," Alley notes, "that the support for the search for solutions to energy and global warming is not yet reliable enough for those students to commit their future to it." Given the conservative IPCC estimates, the need for such solutions seems evident.

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