The report painted a grim picture of the future -- rising sea levels, more intense storms, widespread drought.
Predicting the future of disease, however, has proven difficult because of myriad factors -- many of which have little to do with global warming. Diseases move with people, they follow trade routes, they thrive in places with poor sanitation, they develop resistance to medicines, they can blossom during war or economic breakdowns.
"No one's saying global warming is the whole picture here," said Dr. Paul R. Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University. "But it is playing a role. As climate changes, it's projected to play an even greater role."
In a Beltsville, Md., laboratory filled with bathroom-sized aluminum chambers, U.S. Department of Agriculture weed physiologist Lewis Ziska is peering into the future of one of the key components of global warming -- rising carbon dioxide levels.
CO2 levels have been on the rise since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution more than 200 years ago. Today, they are at their highest point in more than 650,000 years.
In the tightly sealed chambers, Ziska re-created pre-industrial conditions by turning down the concentration of carbon dioxide to 280 parts per million. In another box, he simulated the present with 370 parts per million. In a third box, he pumped up the carbon dioxide to 600 parts per million, the estimate for 2050.
Much of Ziska's work has centered on ragweed, a noxious plant that sets off allergy sufferers, such as Ziska himself. The weeds inside the tanks suck up carbon dioxide. "It's like feeding a hungry teenager," he said.
Collecting yellow pollen in plastic bags fitted around the plants, Ziska found that current conditions produced 131% more pollen than pre-industrial conditions. Future conditions produced 320% more.
"For us weed biologists, this is the worst of times and the best of times," he said.
The impact of global warming has not been all bad. Researchers recently found that rising temperatures have helped reduce some diseases related to cold weather. One British study found that the number of children infected with a cold-like virus known as respiratory syncytial virus has been declining with warming temperatures.
Combining meteorological data and emergency room admission rates from 1981 to 2004, physiologist Gavin Donaldson at University College London found each increase of 1.8 degrees clipped three weeks off the end the virus' winter season.
"A small amount of warming can go a long way, as far as changing disease transmission dynamics," said Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of Global Environmental Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Given the gradual pace of warming, there are also some chances to adapt.
After Prince William Sound's \o7Vibrio \f7outbreak in 2004, the state required more oyster testing in some areas. In the last two years, there have been only four cases of \o7Vibrio \f7food poisoning.
Life in Aguiar's remote inlet has largely returned to the way it was before. This winter has been cold. Aguiar, a bear of a man with a riotous beard, huddled inside the houseboat for warmth recently as the temperature outside hovered around 20 degrees. The pale Northern Lights pulsed over the snow-laced Chugach Mountains, and skins of ice grew on the still water.
Come summer, Aguiar will start sending oyster samples to the state. When the temperature hits about 55 degrees, he'll drop his oyster baskets 60 or 100 feet in the water for about 10 days to clear out the bacteria.
It's a solution he can live with in a warming world.
"It's not all evil," he said. "I just don't like to see rapid change."