The Christian Science Monitor

At COP24, climate consensus reigns. But what does that really mean?

As leaders from around the world gathered in Poland for start of the United Nations’ annual climate change conference, the scientific consensus underpinning our understanding of global warming and its likely effects through the coming years and decades is a key backdrop.

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24, comes just a couple months after the most recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, focusing on the consequences of exceeding 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F.) of warming.

And just over a week ago, the US government released Volume 2 of its Fourth National Climate Assessment – a major body of work that involved input from 13 agencies and some 300 scientists, and that outlines impacts, risks, and adaptation in the United States.

Both documents represent the most authoritative and comprehensive summary of current climate science. And both paint a picture of an increasingly urgent problem.

But just what does consensus mean in a scientific sense? Some

Getting to consensusA ‘lively process’Acknowledging mistakes

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