Primer on climate change

Posted by Christine, September 12, 2011

From Seth Borenstein, Associated Press, 6 September 2011:

For those who haven’t talked to scientists like I have, looked over the data like I have or read the scientific papers on climate change like I have: I firmly believe in education, so in that spirit, let me point to places that might help:

Federal weather data clearly shows that global temperatures have increased in the past 30 years. The decade of 2000 to 2009 was the hottest in the 130 years of weather records; before that it was the 1990s and before that it was the 1980s. Notice a trend there?

Last year tied with 2005 as the hottest year ever, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ten hottest years on record have all occurred in the past 15 years. The last month that was cooler than normal was more than 26 years ago: February 1985. That’s 317 hotter than normal months in a row. Think of tossing a coin, with heads being warmer than normal, and tails being cooler. Heads have come up 317 times in a row. The odds of that happening randomly are astronomical.

Independent groups of scientists that have said global warming is real and man-made include the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the World Meteorological Organization, the American Geophysical Union, the American Chemical Society, the Geological Society of America.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation’s biggest organization of science professionals, said in a 2009 statement: “The vast preponderance of evidence, based on years of research conducted by a wide array of different investigators at many institutions, clearly indicates that global climate change is real, it is caused largely by human activities, and the need to take action is urgent.”

Here are a couple of the scientific societies with links below:

National Research Council: “Preponderance Of Scientific Evidence Indicates That Humans Are Changing The Climate.” In a recent report, the National Research Council stated: “[T]he preponderance of scientific evidence points to human activities – especially the release of carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – as the most likely cause for most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades.” [National Research Council, 5/12/11 http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12781, http://www.nae.edu/File.aspx?id=24518

American Chemical Society: Climate Change Is “Largely Attributable To Emissions From Human Activities.” According to the American Chemical Society: “[C]omprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” [American Chemical Society, accessed 8/3/11
http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fportal.acs.org%2Fportal%2FPublicWebSite%2Fpolicy%2Fpublicpolicies%2Fpromote%2Fglobalclimatechange%2FWPCP_011538

American Meteorological Society: “Humans Have Significantly Contributed To Climate Change.” In a February 2007 statement, the American Meteorological Society said “there is adequate evidence” to conclude “that humans have significantly contributed” to climate change and that “further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies, on economies, on ecosystems, and on wildlife through the 21st century and beyond.” [American Meteorological Society, 2/1/07
http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ametsoc.org%2Fpolicy%2F2007climatechange.html

Geological Society Of America: “Human Activities … Account For Most Of The Warming Since The Middle 1900s.” From an April 2010 position statement of the Geological Society of America:  The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the
National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s. If current trends continue, the projected increase in global temperature by the end of the 21st century will result in large impacts on humans and other species. [Geological Society of America, April 2010
http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geosociety.org%2Fpositions%2Fposition10.htm

Here’s the month by month data (negative is cooler) since 1880:

ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/monthly.land_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat

Or you can try what the National Academy of Sciences (a prestigious society of only the US top scientists) says:
http://dels.nas.edu/Climate/Climate-Change/Reports-Academies-Findings

Or the American Geophysical Union, which is a collection of scientists (not a labor union) who study space, earth, weather, climate, volcanoes, earthquakes:

http://www.agu.org/sci_pol/positions/climate_change2008.shtml

Or the American Meteorological Society:

http://www.ametsoc.org/POLICY/2007climatechange.html

The IPCC report from 2007::
http://www.ipcc.ch/

Or the U.S. EPA:
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basicinfo.html

Or NASA:
http://climate.nasa.gov/

Or the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations
Environmental Program:
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=521&ArticleID=5707&l=en

And if you think this is a partisan Democrat thing, here’s the last report on climate change from the Bush White House, Republican George W. Bush, in May 2008:

http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/scientific-assessment/6-SA-FAQ-LO-RES.pdf

“Studies that rigorously quantify the effect of different external influences on observed changes (attribution studies) conclude that

most of the recent global warming is very likely due to human-generated increases in greenhouse gas concentrations.

IT IS LIKELY THAT THERE HAS BEEN A SUBSTANTIAL HUMAN CONTRIBUTION TO SURFACE TEMPERATURE INCREASES IN NORTH AMERICA.”