Global Warming and Climate Change

published by George Tsiattalos

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What is the difference between the two? As the names suggest, global warming refers to the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures and climate change refers to the changes in the global climate which result from the increase in average global temperatures, so climate change is a result of global warming. An overwhelming scientific consensus and physical evidence shows that human activity since the industrial revolution, most notably over the past century, has led to a rapid increase in global average surface temperatures at rates unparalleled in Earth's history, primarily due to the greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels and cutting down of carbon-absorbing forests. The trend is clear: if we don't take steps to curb global warming pollution, the far-reaching consequences will become increasingly dire for many generations to come.
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased exponentially since the Industrial Revolution. Source: NOAA
The Earth is warming.
We are causing it!
No we aren't! It's natural!
97-98% of Climatologists. Every national academy of science of every major country in the world. Every professional scientific society in every field related to the field of climate.
Politicians, PR spin campaigns, the fossil fuel industry and their funded think tanks and individuals, rhetorical manipulation, confirmation bias, ideology and cherry-picked arguments.
The greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a phenomenon in which greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, ozone, water vapor and methane, envelop the planet in a 'thermal blanket' that traps warm air allowing the Earth's atmosphere to be warm enough to support life. About 30% of the sunlight that beams toward Earth is deflected by the outer atmosphere and scattered back into space. The rest reaches the planet's surface and is reflected upward again, but a certain amount of this heat gets trapped by greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases regulate the climate by trapping heat and holding it in a kind of warm-air blanket that surrounds the planet. However, this warm-air blanket is becoming increasingly thicker trapping more and more heat due to carbon emissions produced by human activities.
Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Where Humanity's CO2 Comes From
Where Humanity's CO2 Goes
Fossil Fuels & Cement
Land Use Changes
a tale of two planets
Mercury Photo: NASA-APL
Venus Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The atmosphere of Venus is extremely thick, comprised nearly entirely of carbon dioxide, producing a runaway greenhouse effect and an average surface temperature of 735 kelvin (461° C, or 863° F), which is hot enough to melt lead. The atmosphere on Venus is so thick that you would experience 93 times the pressure you’d experience at sea level on Earth. Despite the fact that Venus is twice as far from the sun and the sunlight it receives is only a quarter as intense as the sunlight shining on Mercury, the surface of Venus is hotter than the surface of Mercury, due to the greenhouse effect. Venus has a very thick atmosphere, comprised mainly of carbon dioxide which traps an immense amount of heat from the sun, whereas Mercury has no atmosphere.
"If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm (now 400+) to at most 350 ppm." ~Dr. James Hansen, NASA Scientist/One of the world's most respected climatologists
No Greenhouse Effect
Too Much Greenhouse Effect
Evidence Scientific Consensus Effects Skepticism
Global Warming
Your Guide to
Global Warming Evidence
Global Warming and Climate Change
The evidence of rapid climate change is irrefutable and effectively transcends all social, economic, political and environmental bounds. Everything is affected. Since 1880, the average global temperature has risen about 0.8°C (1.4°F), resulting in many of the weather extremes and climatic changes we see today, however, the most comprehensive CO2 study to date by the Global Carbon Project, published by leading scientists in the journal Nature Geoscience, says that the world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6°C (11.5°F) by the end of the century. The effects of climate change are becoming alarmingly visible throughout America and the rest of the world. The 2013 draft National Climate Assessment states, "Many aspects of the global climate are changing rapidly, and the primary drivers of that change are human in origin. Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans (Kennedy et al. 2010). This evidence has been painstakingly compiled by scientists and engineers from around the world using satellites, weather balloons, thermometers at surface stations, and many other types of observing systems that monitor the Earth’s climate system. The sum total of this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming. Temperatures at the surface, in the troposphere (the active weather layer extending up to about 8 to 12 miles above the ground), and in the oceans have all increased over recent decades."
Sea Level Rise
Global sea levels rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century and NASA scientists are predicting it could be as much as several meters sea level rise this century, if global warming is not addressed. With 70% of the world's population living on low-lying coastal plains and with 60% of the 39 largest metropolitan areas with a population over 5 million, including 12 of the 16 with populations exceeding 10 million, located within 100km of the coast, sea level rise is a global problem that affects far more than just small island nations. Sea levels, which are now rising 60% faster than previously estimated up until 2011, could rise 6 feet by
Rising Temperatures
All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that the Earth has been warming since 1880, including human-induced global ocean warming, with the past decade being the warmest on record according to scientists in 48 countries and 2012 being the hottest year ever in the U.S. with 362 all-time record highs and zero all-time record lows, and 34,008 daily high records being broken at weather stations across the country and the second most extreme for weather. There are now an average of five times as many record-breaking hot months worldwide with an 80% chance that a new monthly heat record is due to climatic change. Even though the last decade witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continued to increase, due to anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.
2100, 18-29 feet above current levels over the next few centuries and 69-200 feet in the next, at least, 1000-2000 years, if we continue our current carbon emissions path.
Shrinking ice sheets
Compared to the rest of the world, average temperatures in the Arctic region are rising twice as fast and three times as fast in Western Antarctica, which is one of the fastest-warming regions on Earth. Every year, arctic ice is getting thinner, melting and rupturing as seen in the total arctic sea ice volume, which has been reduced to one fifth of its level in 1980, and in Greenland, which is losing 200 billion tons of ice every year. Since 1979, the volume of summer Arctic sea ice has declined by 75% and is accelerating, while Greenland ice melt increased nearly five-fold since the mid-1990s and Antartica’s ice loss increased 50% in past decade. According to a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, at least 75% and as much
Increasing & Intensifying Climate Extremes
Like a baseball player on steroids, global warming exacerbates the risk factors for extreme weather events by contributing to the intensity, frequency and duration of these extreme weather events. According to an IPCC worldwide scientific collaboration of 62 counties, 220 authors and 18,611 review comments and simple observations made by people all over the world, there has been and at present trends, will continue to be an increase in warm daily temperature extremes, more intense heat waves, heavy precipitation events, such as
Image 1: NASA GISS | Image 2: CDIAC, NOAA, GISS | Image 3: NOAA and GISS
as 95% of this Arctic sea ice loss is a result of human activities, such as burning fossil fuels. Images from NASA satellites show that the area of permanent ice cover is now declining at a rate of 11.5% per decade, relative to the 1979 to 2000 average, with sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean reaching a record low minimum extent of 1.32 million square miles, breaking the previous record by 18%. If this trend continues, summers in the Arctic could become ice-free in as few as 30 years.
of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades, compared with a quadrupling in Asia, 2.5 times as many events in Africa, twice as many in Europe and 1.5 times in South America. According to Kevin E. Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in the journal Climatic Change, "The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be. The air is on average warmer and moister than it was prior to about 1970 and in turn has likely led to a 5–10 % effect on precipitation and storms that is greatly amplified in
Ocean Acidification
flooding, an increase in the maximum wind speeds of hurricanes, intensified droughts, wildfires and increases in sea level rise. In 2011, there was a record 14 billion dollar disasters in the U.S., and 11 billion dollar disasters in 2012. There is now strong evidence linking specific events or an increase in their numbers to the human influence on climate. Moreover, climate change may bring '100 year-storms' every at least 3 years, according to a team of scientists from MIT and Princeton University. According to “Severe weather in North America,” by Munich Re, the world's largest reinsurance company, there has been a nearly quintupled number
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has increased exponentially. The ocean absorbs about half of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean - making them more acidic. Our
Oceanic pH Levels Image: EUR-OCEANS, 2007
Acidity Levels Today and in 2100 With and Without CO2 Reduction Image by NOAA Climate Services
extremes. The warm moist air is readily advected onto land and caught up in weather systems as part of the hydrological cycle, where it contributes to more intense precipitation events that are widely observed to be occurring."
current acidification rates are unparalleled in Earth's history and will lead most ecosystems into unknown territory. The acidity of the planets oceans have risen by 30% since the industrial revolution by absorbing 530 billion tons of CO2, and the current rate of ocean acidification is at least a hundred times faster than any time in the last few hundred thousand years and is most likely unprecedented in the Earth’s history. If we continue on our currents emissions trajectory, by the end of the century the acidity of the planet’s oceans could be more than double what it was prior to the industrial revolution.
Rise in CO2 & Glacial Loss
Coral bleaching
Coral Reefs are disappearing four times faster than the rainforest. Due mainly to warming temperatures, acidifying oceans and pollution, close to 30% of the ocean’s reefs have already vanished since 1980, including half of the reefs in the Caribbean, and scientists forecast that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may be dead by the year 2050, tropical corals could be gone by the middle to the end of this century, cold-water corals will be severely stressed by 2040 with two-thirds of them in a corrosive environment by the century’s end, 70% of the world's coral reefs will be destroyed by the year 2050 and all coral reefs could be gone by the end of the century.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef may be dead by 2050!
Declining snow cover
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important heat-trapping greenhouse gas, which is released through human activities, such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, as well as natural processes, such as respiration and volcanic eruptions. Without carbon dioxide, there would be no life on Earth, however, too much of a good thing can be bad. As the world continues to produce 2.4 million pounds of CO2 a second, the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are continuing to rise at an accelerating rate, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, reaching a new record high in 2011. According to the World Meteorological Organization, "Between 1990 and 2011 there was a 30% increase in radiative forcing — the warming effect on our climate — because of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other heat-trapping long-lived gases. Since the start of the industrial era in 1750, about 375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as CO2, primarily from fossil fuel combustion. Despite all of this knowledge, the world has largely failed to act on reducing emissions." Scientists warn the maximum "safe" limit of CO2 in the atmosphere is 350ppm, we are currently at 395.55ppm and rising about 2ppm per year. By 2100, the IPCC estimates a range of 500-1000ppm by 2100 compared to 280ppm pre-industrial times.
According to NOAA, "Warming temperatures lead to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The total volume of glaciers on Earth is declining sharply. Glaciers have been retreating worldwide for at least the last century; the rate of retreat has increased in the past decade. Only a few glaciers are actually advancing (in locations that were well below freezing, and where increased precipitation has outpaced melting). The progressive disappearance of glaciers has implications not only for a rising global sea level, but also for water supplies in certain regions of Asia and South America." According to a UN climate report, the Himalayan glaciers, which are melting faster than anywhere else in the world and are the sources of Asia's biggest rivers, could disappear by 2035 as temperatures rise. Approximately three billion people live in the drainage basin of the Himalayan rivers, depending on it's immense, but dwindling freshwater supply. Glaciers in the South American tropical Andes have been shrinking at the fastest rate in the past 300 years. Since the 1970s, they've shrunk by an average of 30-50%.
Source: Global Snow Lab, Rutgers University
As global average temperatures rise, the Northern Hemisphere average annual snow cover declines. Some of the largest declines have been observed in the spring and summer months. According to the IPCC, "Observations show a global-scale decline of snow and ice over many years, especially since 1980 and increasing during the past decade."
Scientific consensus on global warming
Scientists are falsifying data!
Are scientists really corrupt?
I thought the scientists agreed..
There is no scientific consensus on global warming. It is due to natural forces!
Drill, baby drill
Ain't nothin' that money can't do
Don't get caught up in the noise...
Every national academy of science of every major country in the world agrees. Every professional scientific society in every field related to the field of climate endorses it. 97-98 percent of all scientists that are most active in publishing in the field of climate science agree with it. The consensus is unequivocal: human activities are causing climate change. This overwhelming consensus among climate scientists has been confirmed by an independent study which surveyed all climate experts who have publicly signed declarations supporting or rejecting the consensus and found between 97% to 98% of climate experts support the consensus that human activities are causing climate change (Anderegg 2010). Most striking is the divide between expert climate scientists (97.4%) and the general public (58%). The paper concludes: "It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to policy makers and to a public that continues to mistakenly perceive debate among scientists." Moreover, a new survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers by the citizen science team at Skeptical Science has found a 97 percent consensus in the peer-reviewed literature that humans are causing global warming. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the theory of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change. Not one.
For the full list of organizations and experts with their statements, visit
Scientific Organizations and Climate Experts Endorsing the Consensus on Global Warming and Climate Change
U.S. National Academy of Sciences, International Academies of Science, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), National Research Council of the National Academies, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Royal Society of New Zealand, Polish Academy of Sciences, American Meteorological Society, American Physical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Geological Society of America, American Chemical Society, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, British Antarctic Survey, Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, Environmental Protection Agency, European Federation of Geologists, European Geosciences Union, European Physical Society, Federation of American Scientists, Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, Geological Society of America, Geological Society of Australia, International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA), International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Royal Meteorological Society, Royal Society of the UK, African Academy of Sciences, Cameroon Academy of Sciences, Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, Kenya National Academy of Sciences, Madagascar's National Academy of Arts, Nigerian Academy of Sciences, l'Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal, Uganda National Academy of Sciences, Academy of Science of South Africa, Tanzania Academy of Sciences, Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences, Zambia Academy of Sciences, Sudan Academy of Sciences, American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Society of Agronomy, American Society of Plant Biologists, American Statistical Association, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, Botanical Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, Ecological Society of America, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Society of Systematic Biologists, Soil Science Society of America University, Corporation for Atmospheric Research, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, American Lung Association, American Astronomical Society, Peter T. Doran, Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, Naomi Oreskes, Michael E. Mann, James E. Hansen
These scientific organizations and climate experts endorse the consensus position that "most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities"
Why climate deniers have no scientific credibility
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The effects of climate change are profound and far-reaching. Learning the hard way that we can't separate the economy from the ecological systems that support it, climate change, perhaps the greatest challenge and threat humanity has ever faced, has been left largely unchecked by world leaders to continue unabated threatening the basis of civilization itself. Year after year, the predictions of the consequences of climate change become more and more daunting and research shows that climate scientists, despite how already disturbing their findings are, consistently underestimate key global warming impacts by being biased toward overly cautious estimates rather than more alarming predictions and that global warming is likely to be on the high side of current projections with dry regions becoming drier and wet regions becoming wetter. Heatwaves, droughts, diseases, floods, intense downpours, wildfires, rising sea levels, resource conflicts, air pollution, and melting glaciers are now causing widespread havoc and are having an impact on a wide range of fronts including health services, insurance, infrastructure, water supply, agriculture, transport, flood defenses, national and international security. Earth is set to become a hotter, drier, unhealthier, unstable, more uncomfortable, dangerous and more disaster-prone place in coming years and these changes will be largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped. There is no certainty that adaptation to this new world would be possible, but there is near-certainty that we will cross many climate tipping points this century, pushing the climate into self-perpetuating feedback loops that are unstoppable, if we stay anywhere near our current greenhouse gas emissions path. Some tipping points in the climate may even occur below 2°C of warming. Since 1880, the average global temperature has risen about 0.8°C (1.4°F), resulting in many of the weather extremes and climatic changes we see today, however, the most comprehensive CO2 study to date by the Global Carbon Project, published by leading scientists in the journal Nature Geoscience, says that the world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6°C (11.5°F) by the end of the century. Such a temperature rise, which would be much higher near the poles, would have devastating and irreversible consequences for the Earth, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable and threatening the basis of human civilization. As National Geographic states, "At six degrees, the oceans could be marine wastelands, the deserts could march across continents, and natural disasters could become common events. The world’s great cities could be flooded and abandoned. This could be 'the doomsday scenario'.” Even a global temperature rise of just 2°C is considered a "prescription for disaster". The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming. A failure to act on climate change will, as Professor Anthony Costello of the UCL Institute for Global Health states, "Result in an intergenerational injustice, with our children and grandchildren scorning our generation for ignoring the climate change threat – with moral outrage."
Effects of global warming
Image: Gordon Hatton/Creative Commons
Oxfam predicts climate change will help double food prices by 2030. *Light Green = Impacts of Climate Change on food prices up to 2030
Food Prices Trend
Aerial photo of spruce bark beetle kill burned area. Creative Commons/Public Domain Image
Image: Climate Central
Chart: Oxfam International
African civil war could increase 54% by 2030 due to climate change.
Heat Waves Could be Commonplace in the U.S. by 2039. Credit: Noah Diffenbaugh, Stanford University
Large Fires Are Becoming More Common In The West. Source: Climate Central
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite shows fires around the world. Credit: NASA
Source: Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level
Credit: Skeptical Science
Source: Climate Desk
Decline in glaciers worldwide
Chart: NOAA
This graph shows a 40% increase in North Atlantic tropical storms over the historic maximum of the mid-1950, which at the time was considered extreme. Source: Pew Center
Water Supply Sustainability Index (2050) With Climate Change Impacts.
Image by NRDC
Oceanic pH Levels Image: EUR-OCEANS, 2007 | Acidity Levels Today and in 2100 With and Without CO2 Reduction Image by NOAA Climate Services: Ocean Acidification Today and in the Future
Global Warming Skepticism
Scientists are falsifying data!
Drill, baby, drill
Why haven't we taken enough action on climate change?
Fox News
Source: UCS
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Apparently, if you do - according to the Heartland Institute - you're a madman terrorist, comparable to Fidel Castro, Ted Kaczynski and Osama bin Laden. "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen," says Joe Bast, the brains behind this statement. The Heartland Institute has been called by The Economist "the world's most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change."
9 out of 10 Top Climate Change Deniers have links to Exxon Mobile
Arguments used by climate skeptics to poke holes in the science and dispute man-made global warming vary from climate change being a result of natural forces, such as the sun or volcanoes, to carbon dioxide not being a pollutant, to the climate actually cooling, to there being no consensus, to models and temperature records being unreliable to scientists distorting data and more. Every single argument has been debunked and rebutted by science.
Scientific skepticism is healthy and even necessary to keep the science pulsing with new challenges and fresh perspectives. As Skeptical Science states, "Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming." The evidence of rapid climate change is irrefutable, the effects are profound and far-reaching and the scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change is unequivocal. Despite the fact that every national academy of science of every major country in the world agrees; that every professional scientific society in every field related to the field of climate endorses it; that 97-98 percent of all scientists that are most active in publishing in the field of climate science agree with the consensus that human activities are causing climate change, there are still individuals and groups dedicated to opposing effective action to limit greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change, which would also reduce air pollution, water pollution and the endless host of health, social, environmental and economic issues associated with burning coal, oil and gas. Faced with irrefutable physical evidence and an incontrovertible scientific consensus, many of these "skeptics" find refuge and success in rhetorical manipulation, in confirmation bias, in ideology, in PR spin campaigns, in exploiting scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all, in narrow pieces of the puzzle while neglecting the broader picture and perhaps most important, in dirty energy money and secret funding to keep them going and build vast networks of climate denial thinktanks. In the beginning, skeptics, whom have now been linked to conspiracy theories, argued that "Global warming isn't happening." Then, they evolved to "It is happening, but we're not causing it," followed by "We are causing it, but it isn't harmful - it's actually beneficial - and there is little to nothing we can do about it," and so on. Underlying their cherry-picked arguments is the position that "there's no need to take effective regulatory action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions just yet, if at all." Why is all of this happening? Implications of human-induced global warming are in direct contrast to the most powerful industry in the world: the fossil fuel industry, which has links to 9 out of 10 top climate change deniers. No matter how sound the science may be or how incontrovertible the consensus has become, this industry has funded senators, think-tanks and others in an attempt to confuse the public that global warming may not be real and climate change may not be caused by humans. Why? Their bottom-line depends on it. The tobacco industry did it when scientists linked cigarettes to cancer. The lead industry tried to discredit a scientist who found that lead exposure hurt children's cognitive abilities. Now, it's climate scientists turn, except this time the effects won't affect just smokers or those exposed to lead, it will affect every single person and living thing on the planet, unless we act now.