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Confused by ‘sceptical’claims about global warming? Here is what the science says. Climate Change Making Up Your Mind

Climate Change - Climate Institute · “Climate change is real and it is happening much faster than it has before… We know that recent warming is largely due to human activities

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Confused by ‘sceptical’claimsabout global warming? Here is what the science says.

Climate Change Making Up Your Mind

Climate Institute I 12 Climate Institute I 12

ContentsWhat we know about climate change The scientifi c story so far 5

myths 6

Where can i fi nd more information? 24

references and endnotes 25

scientists can’t agree.the jury is still out.

it’s just part of natural change.

Volcanoes emit more carbon dioxide than humans possibly could.

carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it’s natural and essential for life.

Far back in time, global warming episodes had nothing to do with carbon dioxide levels.

The 10 Myths ofClimate Change

australia has always had droughts, heat waves and extreme bushfi re weather. there is no link to climate change.

the globe has stopped warming.

it’s the sun.

Global Warming is good for us!

scientists have exaggerated claimsthat the world’s glaciers are disappearing.

Climate Institute I 54

The world is warming at a rate unprecedented in human history. Global air temperatures, humidity and rainfall patterns show a distinct ‘fingerprint’ that cannot be explained without the rise in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases caused by human activity.

The level of CO2 has risen sharply and is now about 30 % higher than at any time for 800,000 years.3

Globally, the average temperature has risen by about 0.75°C over the last 100 years. The rate of warming is increasing and over the 50 years from 1956 to 2005 the world warmed about 0.13°C, on average, every decade.

Global warming is also driving increases in sea-level. Global average sea-level is rising at about 3.1 millimetres per year and is now 57 millimetres higher than it was in 1993. Decreases in snow and ice cover are also consistent with a warming planet.

There are now many studies showing that climatic change is driving significant changes, such as the recent warming and prolonged drought conditions across Australia and an increased frequency and severity of bushfires in the country’s southeast.

What we know about climate changeThe scientific story so far1

“I see myself as a climate change sceptic and a sceptic looks at the evidence and bases conclusions on the evidence rather than on belief. To hold the view that this is not an issue that you need to do something about, to hold the view that it’s all a furphy takes belief.” Professor Ross Garnaut, AO, Economist and author of the Garnaut Climate Change Review2

About 20 % to 30 % of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction, if increases in global average temperature climb 1.5°C to 2.5°C above where they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Furthermore, the world’s oceans are absorbing some of the additional CO2 and are becoming more acidic as a result, with serious consequences for marine life and for people who depend on the sea to sustain them.

In Australia, the mean temperature has increased by about 0.7°C since 1960. Some areas have experienced a warming of 1.5°C to 2°C over the past 50 years.

The number of days with record hot temperatures has increased each decade, with the decade from 2000 to 2009 being Australia’s warmest on record.

Note: The text here draws on peer-reviewed scientific literature, consensus or mainstream scientific opinion, and reviews of the literature undertaken by experts in the field. Neither the discussion of topics nor the references cited are intended to be exhaustive. Climate change is a complex subject and we have endeavoured to summarise and pull together the best available and most relevant scientific information in a way that is accessible to most people. We encourage you to access the resources provided in the “Where can I find more information?” section of this document for more information.

Climate Institute I 76

Fact An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human activity is largely responsible for recent warming. There is consensus among scientists that the climate is being changed by human activity, in the same way as there is consensus on the existence of gravity or that the Earth is round.4

“Anyone who watches the evening news or trolls the internet knows that there is enormous debate about climate change, right? Well, no.” Prof Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History and Science Studies, University of California, San Diego.5

Dozens of the most prominent scientific academies and associations have re-affirmed the majority scientific view that says the world is warming rapidly, that human activity is highly likely to be the main cause, and that prompt action is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

These include the leading academies in 13 of the world’s most powerful developed and developing countries, including the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, Canada, China, Russia and India, who issued a joint declaration on climate change in 2009.6

Of course, there will always be a few who question whether humans are causing climate change.

Some may have a personal, political or even financial interest they feel is threatened by the scientific consensus.

A small few are active in relevant fields, but the vast majority of scientists with relevant, high-level qualifications agree that human activity is the main force behind climate change.7 With each passing year, the science underpinning climate change has been getting stronger and stronger. Knowledge gaps remain of course, but the scientific community is surer than it has ever been. This is why the world’s leading academic institutions and an increasing number of individual experts have called for action. 8

“There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.”Letter from 255 members of the United States National Academy of Science to the journal Science9

It’s one thing to say that the Earth’s climate is always changing, because of course it is. It’s quite another to leap to the conclusion that just because past changes were natural, global warming today is also natural.

After decades of research by many different academic institutions around the world, scientists have become more and more confident that the world is warming rapidly, and that most of this warming since the Industrial Revolution is due to human activity.

In fact, past changes actually help scientists to understand the sensitivity of the global climate to the Sun or volcanoes or CO2 and other greenhouse gases.10

The scientific community has rigorously examined the other candidates for the cause of the warming in recent decades – forces that have changed the climate in the past, such as changes in the Sun’s output or volcanic eruptions – and found them wanting.11

Fact The climate has changed throughout the Earth’s history but this isn’t the same as saying that global warming in today’s era is natural. In fact, past changes help scientists to understand the sensitivity of the global climate to forces such as the Sun, volcanoes and greenhouse gases.

It’s just part of natural change.

Scientists can’t agree. The jury is still out.

Climate Institute I 98

Fact Temperature records clearly show the world has continued to warm over the past century.

The The three main scientific centres12 that track global surface temperatures all say that the decade from 2000 to 2009 was the warmest on record13.

Each of these centres separately analyse temperature data supplied from thousands of weather stations on land14 and from thousands of measurements taken from sea surface temperatures15.

Each has reached the same conclusion: the globe is still warming.

In fact, all the years from 2000 to 2009 have been in the top 15 warmest years on record.

Globally, the average temperature has risen by about 0.75°C over the last 100 years.

Other studies, based on indirect measurements of Northern Hemisphere temperature data from much further back in time, indicate it is warmer now in that hemisphere than it has been for at least 1,300 years.16

Some think that because parts of the Northern Hemisphere have had record cold spells, the globe can’t be warming. However, much of the Northern Hemisphere experienced an unusually warm winter in 2009-2010! Even though parts of Europe and North America were unusually cold in December 2009, this was the fifth warmest year on record.17

Weather and climate are not the same thing. Weather is the state of the atmosphere on any given day, and it varies a lot from day to day and hour to hour. Climate is the average condition prevailing over years, decades and centuries.

Global warming doesn’t mean that each year will be hotter than the last. There has always been, and will always be, short-term variation in climate. There will still be cold spells but, taking the planet as a whole, we are witnessing warming at a rate and to an extent not seen since the end of the last Ice Age.

The globe has stopped warming.

This graph shows how actual temperatures compare to the 1951-1980 mean temperature (a type of graph that shows temperature anomalies). It shows a warming trend over many years.

It also shows how temperatures can temporarily fluctuate due to natural events. For example, in 1963 the eruption of Mount Agung in Indonesia caused a temporary drop in global temperature because so much ash spewed into the atmosphere, dimming warmth from the Sun. And, in 1998 the global temperature was particularly high because of an El Niño event. However, the long-term, continuing warming trend is clear.Source: Hadley Centre for Climate Change

Global Near-surFace temperatures:aNNual aNomalies 1850 – 2006

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Climate Institute I 1110

“Climate change is real and it is happening much faster than it has before… We know that recent warming is largely due to human activities. Nothing else explains it.”

CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, State of the Climate 200918

The Sun certainly influences the climate, but if recent warming was caused by a more active Sun, then scientists would expect to see warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere. However, only the surface and the lower atmosphere are warming, while the upper atmosphere is cooling. This is because CO2 and other greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.

In recent years, many scientific studies have carefully looked for any sign that the Sun is to blame for global warming; all credible evidence strongly suggests that the influence of greenhouse gases is far, far greater.19

In fact, for the last 35 years the Sun has been exceptionally cool. At the same time, however, global average temperatures have risen.20

Some believe that cosmic rays or the position of the Earth in the galaxy influence such things as cloud formation. It’s far from clear how these rays affect cloud formation. Furthermore, increases and decreases in cosmic rays reaching the Earth don’t correspond to global total cloud cover after 1991.21

It’s the Sun.Fact The Sun obviously has a big influence on the Earth but changes in the Sun’s activity cannot explain the rise in global temperatures in recent decades. If anything, the Sun’s output has diminished in recent decades yet the world is still warming.

Climate Institute I 1312

The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was a massive international effort, involving thousands of scientists working in more than 130 countries. The fact that so many scientists from many different disciplines, together with more than a hundred governments, could even reach a consensus says a lot about the strength of the evidence for human-induced climate change.

Also, the IPCC is not the only body to assess the science of climate change. For example, as noted earlier, the leading science academies in 13 of the world’s most influential developed and developing countries, including the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, Canada, China, Russia and India, have supported the conclusions of the IPCC.

“There is mounting evidence that climate change is triggering a shrinking and thinning of many glaciers world-wide which may eventually put at risk water supplies for hundreds of millions — if not billions — of people.”World Glacier Monitoring Service & United Nations Environment Programme22

While numerous ‘sceptics’ and some newspapers claimed to have found many errors, there were, in reality, only a smattering, all of which were honest mistakes. Any written work this ambitious runs the risk of making a few errors.

Since its work began in the late 1980s, the IPCC has been the subject of intense scientific and media scrutiny. The latest independent review, this time by the Dutch environmental agency (PBL), reaffirmed the IPCC’s basic advice to policy makers.23

Fact The IPCC’s 2007 assessment report holds up extremely well under the most rigorous, independent scrutiny. It’s important to keep things in perspective: Among hundreds of pages of projected regional impacts, only three “significant errors” have been confirmed, all of which were honest mistakes and none of which affect the IPCC’s overarching advice at all.

Indeed, out of hundreds of pages, the Dutch could find only three significant shortcomings, which, they say, did not undermine the IPCC’s overarching conclusions at all.

The IPCC had already acknowledged its mistake24 in predicting a “very high” likelihood that glaciers in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035 “and perhaps sooner”.25 It has set in motion an independent review of its procedures to minimise the risk of making this kind of mistake again.26

While this specific claim is wrong, it does not mean that global warming isn’t affecting the world’s glaciers. Measurements taken by the World Glacier Monitoring Service of hundreds of glaciers around the planet paint a grim picture - the world is losing ice as it heats up.27 Cutting greenhouse gas emissions would save the many millions of people who rely on glacial melt-water for drinking and agriculture from a dire future.

The next “significant error” was, ironically, to cite a Dutch government paper that stated a large percentage of the Netherlands lies “below sea-level” when in fact it is simply “subject to flooding”. The Dutch themselves have admitted to providing the IPCC with poorly worded information.

The only other substantive error had to do with fish stocks off the African west coast: The 2007 report speaks of a “50 to 60%” decline in productivity of an anchovy fishery but these figures actually relate to wind turbulence, not fish stocks. Here again it was nothing more than a misreading of numbers in the original scientific paper. A mistake, certainly, but clearly an honest one.

PBL also notes a few, minor referencing, wording and other inaccuracies crept into the 2007 report. While there is room for improvement in the way the IPCC prepares its reports, its overarching advice remains sound. In true scientific spirit, the IPCC has welcomed the criticism.28

Indeed, far from being ‘alarmist’, there is evidence that the IPCC may have sometimes been too conservative. Projections of sea-level rise for instance, were probably underestimated in the 2007 report.29

In other cases, reports have turned out to be false or at least grossly distorted: The UK Sunday Times newspaper recently issued an apology for twisting the facts, making up quotes and misrepresenting experts in a front-page report on the IPCC’s assessment of impacts on the Amazon rainforest.30

In a related incident, thousands of emails to and from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia were hacked and splashed across the Web, some of which claimed to show that the scientists had dishonestly changed or hidden data.

But, four separate and independent inquiries, including one by the UK House of Commons,31 have all cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing whatsoever.32

As one inquiry panel put it “we saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it.”33

Scientists have exaggerated claims that the world’s glaciers are disappearing.

Climate Institute I 1514

Volcanic activity occurs both on the land surface and underwater. Current submarine volcanoes may emit as much as 97 million tonnes of CO2 each year (compared to Australia’s national emissions of 425 million tonnes), but this is offset by carbon sequestered in phytoplankton blooms around undersea volcanic vents and by newly created volcanic lava on the ocean floor.34

Volcanoes on the land (called ‘subaerial’ volcanoes) are estimated to emit around 242 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Compare this with the 29 billion tonnes, and rising, of CO2 emitted by human activity each year.35 That is more than 100 times as much CO2 than is contributed by volcanic activity.

There is no doubt that volcanoes affect the climate, such as when Krakatoa (Indonesia) erupted in 1883 or Mount Pinatubo (the Philippines) erupted in 1991, lifting aerosols (such as sulphur dioxide) and dust high into the air, reflecting sunlight back into space and actually causing widespread cooling for several years.36

Volcanoes emit more carbon dioxide than humans possibly could.

Fact Volcanoes emit less than 1% of the CO2 humans put into the atmosphere in a year. This percentage is growing smaller as emissions from human activities continue to rise.

Climate Institute I 1716

Fact ‘Natural’ does not always equal ‘safe’. Rapidly increasing high concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases generated by human activity are jeopardising human health and wellbeing, and are most certainly pollutants.

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it’s natural and essential for life.

Just because a substance is natural or even essential does not mean it cannot do harm in the wrong context or in high concentrations. Oxygen is entirely natural and, of course, without it we would suffocate. However, too high a concentration of oxygen is poisonous. Likewise, the deadly toxin cyanide is a naturally occurring compound found in a wide variety of plants, including nuts and fruits.

Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 reached 385 parts per million (ppm) in 2008, higher than at any time for at least 800,000 years.37 CO2, together with methane, nitrous oxide and many other artificially produced greenhouse gases are causing the atmosphere to heat up, posing a huge health risk for humans and many other species besides. In this sense then, the greenhouse gases we emit are without doubt pollutants in the truest sense of the word.

Sometimes, the term ‘carbon pollution’, while not a scientific term, is used as a short-hand catch-all term for greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.

Our planet is billions of years old. In that time, many things have triggered episodes of warming and cooling and many things have influenced the extent and length of these climate changes. When global temperatures change, the carbon cycle38 changes in response and vice versa.

The great ice ages – caused by slight, occasional changes in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun – led to lower CO2 concentrations, reducing the greenhouse effect and enhancing the cold across the planet. At the end of the last ice age, the oceans warmed and released stored CO2, which amplified the warming.39

No-one claims that the build up of CO2 kick-started every episode of warming in the Earth’s history. Historically, changes in solar activity and volcanic activity are particularly important natural causes of climate change.

Far back in time, global warming episodes had nothing to do with carbon dioxide levels.

Fact Carbon role of CO2 in the planet’s history is reasonably well understood. While changes in CO2 levels are certainly not the only force at work on the climate, past climate change cannot be explained without an understanding of the greenhouse properties of CO2.

Climate Institute I 1918

Climate Institute I 2120

“Decisions by the Australian and the Victorian governments, together with those of other governments around the world, on reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have a direct influence on increases in the risk of very high and extreme fire danger days in Victoria due to anthropogenic climate change.”Prof. David Karoly, Professor of Meteorology, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne.40

In February 2009, Victorians were hit with the most devastating fires in Australia’s history. Around the world, wildfire patterns are shifting, with increases in frequency and intensity of fire as emissions rise and the planet continues to heat up.

Many experts concluded that if climate change did not light Victoria’s February 2009 bushfires, it certainly stirred the cocktail of conditions necessary for the catastrophe, including prolonged drought.

Two years earlier, in 2007, the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research and The Climate Institute jointly concluded that there is a general trend towards more fire weather over southeastern Australia since the 1970s. Indeed, the majority of more intense fire seasons have occurred since the late 1990s, with seasons starting earlier and finishing later. 41

Australia has always had droughts, heat waves and extreme bushfire weather. There is no link to climate change.

Fact Droughts, heat waves and bushfires are far from unusual in Australia but many scientists say there is a human signature in recent extreme events, making Australia’s already highly variable climate even more hostile.

Modelling of near-future fire weather risk in the southeast of Australia indicated that, on present trends of global warming, the incidence of catastrophic fire days would nearly double by 2020. By 2050, the modelling suggests, Melbournians risk a catastrophic fire day not once in every 33 years as at present but once every two and a half years.

Climate change is bringing about dramatic and very fast shifts in fire danger in many parts of the world, according to a recent study by the University of California, Berkeley and Texas Tech University. While some regions may experience reduced fire danger, others – such as Tibet and California – will suffer worsening conditions.42

Prolonged, recurrent drought is certainly one of the key ingredients in worsening fire weather conditions in Australia. The most recent dry period that gripped much of the continent has generally been hotter, with higher maximum and minimum temperatures than in earlier big droughts, such as in the 1930s and 1940s.43 These conditions are consistent with the science of global warming.

A recent report by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) concluded that droughts in southeastern Australia were growing in extent and frequency. Within a few decades, they suggest, drought conditions requiring an “exceptional circumstances” declaration would occur on average not once every quarter century, but once every two years or so.44

Climate Institute I 2322

“Climate scientists are probably the only scientists in the world who go to work in the morning hoping upon hope that they’re wrong.”Professor Dave Griggs, Director, Monash Sustainability Institute45

The direct impacts of a rapidly changing climate are likely to include hotter weather, less rainfall (or, conversely, heavier floods), higher fire risk, the emergence of new diseases and the spread of old ones.46

In the short-term, like any change, there will be winners and losers along the way. In higher latitudes, warmer weather will allow longer growing seasons and reduce the need for heating. On the other hand, more frequent and hotter heat waves will take their toll on the elderly and sick especially.47

In a world heading for a population of more than nine billion by mid-century, more hostile climatic conditions are likely to make existing hunger, poverty, disease, conflict and environmental degradation even worse. In tropical countries, reduced rainfall will make food production difficult. Around low-lying coasts and islands, rising sea-levels and storm surges will threaten communities worldwide.48 People will move as they look to escape the impacts on their homes, but in a crowded world mass migrations may compound pre-existing tensions.

Global Warming is good for us!

Fact While we can all hope for the best, left unchecked, climate change will undoubtedly make life a lot harder for a great many people, especially the world’s poor who can least afford to adapt.

Some people seem to think that global warming means the world will shift in a steady, gentle, incremental fashion towards a new, comfortable if somewhat warmer climate. In fact, the history of climate change teaches us that it is likely to be anything but gentle and comfortable. Instead, the climate may swing abruptly in the space of a few decades, as it has done several times since the end of the last Ice Age.49 Rapid climate change puts pressure on communities, plays havoc with natural ecosystems and food production, and generally makes life much more uncertain.50

It’s often suggested that a richer mix of CO2 in the air will boost food production. While it’s broadly true more CO2 boosts plant growth, it’s not known exactly what impacts this so-called ‘CO2 fertilisation effect’ is likely to have. Denser vegetation can make landscapes more fire-prone. Weeds, as well as crops and pastures, will be spurred on, raising the cost of farming. Higher concentrations of CO2 are also known to reduce the nutritional quality of some staples, such as wheat, and increase the atmospheric concentration of ozone at ground level, impeding plant growth.51 At some point, we might expect any positive impact on agriculture from extra CO2 to be overwhelmed by all of the other impacts of climate change.

Climate Institute I 2524

1 CSIRO & Bureau of Meteorology, State of the Climate, 2009 http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pvfo.pdf (accessed 03/06/10); The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science. Allison, et al. UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney NSW. (2009) http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/ (accessed 01/06/10); Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Based on a draft prepared by L. Bernstein, et al. (2007): 39 http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf (accessed 04/06/10); CSIRO. Climate Change in Australia. Technical Report 2007. CSIRO. (2007) http://www.csiro.au/resources/Climate-Change-Technical-Report-2007.html (accessed 06/06/10). For an excellent “real-time” overview of key data, such sea-level rise, CO2 concentrations, Arctic ice extent, etc., visit NASA’s Global Climate Change site at http://climate.nasa.gov/ (accessed 09/06/10)

2 R. Garnaut, Victorian Climate Change Summit, Session Two, Parliament House, Melbourne (April 4, 2008) http://www.climatechange.vic.gov.au/summit/Transcript_2.html (accessed 04/06/10)

3 J. Slingo, Explaining the evidence of climate change, UK Met Office, Hadley Centre. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/science/controversy/facts.html (accessed 04/06/10)

4 P.H. Gleick, et al. “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science.” Science 328, no. 5979 (May 2010) 689 – 690. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5979/689 (accessed 04/06/2010)

5 N. Oreskes, “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?” in Joseph F. DiMento & Pamela Doughman. Climate Change, p. 73. (MIT Press, 2007).

6 G8+5 Academies’ joint statement: Climate change and the transformation of energy technologies for a low carbon future http://www.nationalacademies.org/includes/G8+5energy-climate09.pdf (accessed 04/06/10)

7 P.T. Doran & M.K. Zimmerman, “Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 90, No. 3 (January 2009): 21 & 22. http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf (accessed 07/06/10)

8 ‘Carbon’ is used here as shorthand for ‘greenhouse gases’, including but not limited to carbon dioxide. The word ‘pollution’ is used to emphasise the damage being caused by an excess of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

9 P.H. Gleick, et al. “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science.” Science 328, no. 5979 (May 2010) 689 – 690. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5979/689 (accessed 04/06/2010)

10 R. Knutti & G.C. Hergel, “The equilibrium sensitivity of the Earth’s temperature to radiation changes.” Nature Geoscience 1 (October 2008): 735-743

11 See, for example Erlykin, A.D., et al., “Solar Activity and the Mean Global Temperature.” Environ. Res. Lett. 4, no. 1 (January 2009). For a longer list of links to recent research papers that examine the role of the Sun in global warming, see also “Solar activity & climate: Is the sun causing global warming?” Skeptical Science. http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm (accessed 03/06/10).

12 The United Kingdom’s Met Office’s Hadley Centre, and centres at NASA and the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

13 The phrase ‘on record’ refers to the time since about 1880, before which direct temperature data are too patchy and unreliable. Scientists use a variety of temperature ‘proxies’ which, taken together, indicate how the climate has changed further back.

14 For example, the UK Met Office draws on land data from about 8,000 stations.

Where can I find more information?

References and Endnotes

1. australian academy of science http://www.science.org.au/policy/climatechange2010/index.html The objectives of the Academy are to promote excellence in science. Based on a series of key questions, the Academy has addressed confusion created by contradictory information in the public domain. They set the current situation in climate science, including where there is consensus in the scientific community and where uncertainties exist.

2. csiro http://www.csiro.au/science/Changing-Climate.html The CSIRO is a world leader in climate science. Here they compile up-to-date, accessible information on what the science is saying about our changing climate and what it means for all Australians.

3. Bureau of meteorology (Bom) http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/ The BoM provides policy-makers and all Australians with up-to-date information on the state of the Australian climate, together with a sound introduction to climate change now and into the future.

4. uS national aeronautics and Space administration (naSa) Global climate change http://climate.nasa.gov/ NASA provides an excellent overview of the science behind our understanding of climate change, including real-time indicators such as global temperature, sea-level and CO2 levels.

5. uS national Ocean and atmospheric administration (nOaa) http://www.climate.gov/#climateWatch NOAA is the Unites States Government’s lead climate science agency providing solid scientific information to inform decisions at every level of American and global society.

6. uK met office http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/ The Hadley Centre at the UK Met Office is one of the key institutions monitoring climate change and its impacts in the United Kingdom and around the world. It communicates the latest science in a user-friendly way to the public.

7. skeptical science http://www.skepticalscience.com/ A highly accessible, interactive website that uses peer-reviewed science to counter a lot of myths and misconceptions about climate change, and encourages genuine scientific scepticism.

8. intergovernmental panel on climate change (ipcc) Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/contents.html The IPCC’s website not only has information on climate change, it’s likely causes and consequences, but on how it compiles and reviews scientific literature.

9. the Garnaut climate change review http://www.garnautreview.org.au/synopsis.htm Professor Ross Garnaut’s analysis of what climate change means for Australia now and into the future. The Synopsis of Key Points summarises his findings.

10. the copenhagen Diagnosis: updating the World on climate science http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/ Prepared by some of the world’s leading experts on climate science, this short report outlines the latest scientific information on climate change, gathered in the three years since the IPCC’s last report.

11. New scientist’s Climate Change: A Guide for the Perplexed http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11462 One of the world’s most popular and reputable science magazine with a special section dealing with common myths and misconceptions about climate change, and explaining the science.

12. the climate institute http://www.climateinstitute.org.au Established in late 2005, The Climate Institute is a non-partisan, independent research organisation that works with community, business and government to drive innovative and effective climate change solutions. We research. We educate. We communicate.

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29 E.J. Rohling, et al. “High rates of sea-level rise during the last interglacial period.” Nature GeoScience 1 (2008): 38-42; S. Rahmstorf. “A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise.” Science 315 (January 19, 2007): 368-370

30 G. Schmidt. Leakegate: a retraction. RealClimate.org (June 20, 2010) http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/leakegate-a-retraction/ (accessed 06/07/10)

31 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Eighth Report: The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Parliament of the United Kingdom (March 24, 2010). http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/387/38702.htm (accessed 07/06/10)

32 International Panel, University of East Anglia. Report of the International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit. (Submitted to the University April 12, 2010) http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/CRUstatements/SAP (accessed 07/06/10); M. Russell, et al. The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review (July 2010) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/07/findings-muir-russell-review (accessed 08/07/20); Penn State. Investigation of climate scientist at Penn State complete. (July 1, 2010) http://live.psu.edu/story/47378 (accessed 08/07/10)

33 Report of the International Panel set up by the University of East Anglia to examine the research of the Climatic Research Unit, p5

34 N-A. Mörner & G. Etiope “Carbon degassing from the lithosphere.” Global and Planetary Change 33, no. 1-2 (June 2002): 185-203; P.W. Boyd, et al. “A mesoscale phytoplankton bloom in the polar Southern Ocean stimulated by iron fertilization.” Nature 407 (October 2000): 695-702

35 C. Le Quéré, et al. “Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide.” Nature Geoscience 2 (2009): 831 – 836

36 J. Wolfe. Volcanoes & Climate Change, NASA Earth Observatory (September 2000) http://eob.gsfc.nasa.gov/Features/Volcano/ (accessed 03/06/10)

37 The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science. Allison, et al. UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney NSW. (2009) http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/ (accessed 01/06/10)

38 The ‘carbon cycle’ refers to the continuous process by which carbon is exchanged between living things and their environment. Carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere by plants and converted to energy through their use of sunlight. Carbon is then passed into the food chain and returned to the atmosphere by the respiration and decay of animals and plants. The burning of fossil fuels also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

39 A. Timmermann, et al. “The Roles of CO2 and Orbital Forcing in Driving Southern Hemispheric Temperature Variations during the Last 21000 Yr”, Journal of Climate 22, no. 7 (April 2009): 1626-1640; N. Caillon, et al. “Timing of Atmospheric CO2 and Antarctic Temperature Changes Across Termination III”, Science 299, no. 5613 (March 2003): 1728-1731;

40 D. Karoly. Submission to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Submissions/View-Submissions (accessed 01/06/10)

41 C. Lucas, et al. Bushfire Weather in Southeast Australia: Recent Trends and Projected Climate Change Impacts, Bushfire CRC, Bureau of Meteorology & CSIRO. (2007) http://www.climateinstitute.org.au/images/stories/bushfire/fullreport.pdf (accessed 06/06/10)

42 M. A. Krawchuk, et al. “Global Pyrogeography: the Current and Future Distribution of Wildfire.” PLoS ONE 4, no. 4 (2009): e5102. Note also that global warming and an increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere are predicted to lead to an increase in woody vegetation and changes in the mix of trees and shrubs, which, when combined with less rainfall, may be making large parts of the landscape more fire-prone.

43 CSIRO. Climate Change in Australia. Technical Report 2007. CSIRO. (2007) http://www.csiro.au/resources/

15 Because oceans cover so much of our planet, scientists use sea surface data gathered from buoys and satellites to more accurately determine the planet’s average surface temperature.

16 Several independent studies indicate it is likely (with a probability greater than 66%) that the last 50 years were the warmest in the Northern Hemisphere for at least 1300 years and that this warmth is more widespread across the hemisphere than it has been for at least that amount of time. (Data limitations so far prevent estimates over this time-scale for the Southern Hemisphere). See Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Based on a draft prepared by L. Bernstein, et al. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK & New York, USA, 2007) http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf (accessed 04/06/10)

17 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. State of the Climate - Global Analysis - Annual 2009. National Climatic Data Center. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global&year=2010&month=1&submitted=Get+Report (accessed 06/06/10)

18 CSIRO & Bureau of Meteorology, State of the Climate. (2009) http://www.csiro.au/files/files/pvfo.pdf (accessed 03/06/10)

19 See, for example A.D. Erlykin, et al., “Solar Activity and the Mean Global Temperature.” Environ. Res. Lett. 4, no. 1 (January 2009). For a longer list of links to recent research papers that examine the role of the Sun in global warming, see also “Solar activity & climate: Is the sun causing global warming?” Skeptical Science. http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm (accessed June 3, 2010).

20 M. Lockwood. “Recent changes in solar outputs and the global mean surface temperature. III. Analysis of contributions to global mean air surface temperature rise.” Proc. R. Soc. A 464, no. 2094 (June 2008): 1387-1404.

21 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “TS.2.4 Radiative Forcing Due to Solar Activity and Volcanic Eruptions.” Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/tssts-2-4.html (accessed 06/06/10

22 World Glacier Monitoring Service & United Nations Environment Programme. Global glacier changes: facts and figures. WGMS (2008) http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/ (accessed 10/06/10)

23 Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). Assessing an IPCC assessment: An analysis of statements on projected regional impacts in the 2007 report (PBL, The Hague/Bilthoven, 2010) http://www.pbl.nl/en/publications/2010/Assessing-an-IPCC-assessment.-An-analysis-of-statements-on-projected-regional-impacts-in-the-2007-report.html (accessed 06/07/10)

24 IPCC Secretariat. IPCC Statement on the melting of the Himalayan glaciers. IPCC. (Geneva, January 20, 2010) http://www.ipcc.ch/press_information/press_information.htm(accessed 10/06/10)

25 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “10.6.2 The Himalayan glaciers.” In Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability. M.L.Parry, et al. (eds.) Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK & New York, USA, 2007). http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-6-2.html (accessed 07/06/10)

26 IPCC Secretariat. Scientific Academy to Conduct Independent Review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Processes and Procedures at Request of United Nations and IPCC. Press Release. (Geneva, February 27, 2010) http://www.ipcc.ch/press_information/press_information.htm (accessed 10/06/10)

27 World Glacier Monitoring Service & United Nations Environment Programme. Global glacier changes: facts and figures. WGMS (2008) http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/ (accessed 10/06/10)

28 IPCC Secretariat. Review by Dutch Government Confirms IPCC’s Core Conclusions on Impacts of Climate Change, Recommendations for Future Improvements Welcomed. IPCC. (Geneva, July 5, 2010) http://www.ipcc.ch/ (accessed 06/07/10)

28

Climate-Change-Technical-Report-2007.html (accessed 06/06/10)

44 K. Hennessy, et al. An assessment of the impact of climate change on the nature and frequency of exceptional climatic events. Bureau of Meteorology/CSIRO. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra. (2008) http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change (accessed 06/06/10)

45 D. Griggs. “Is global warming just a conspiracy between climate scientists to increase their funding?” Video Q&A. ClimateWorks Australia. (2009) http://climatescientistsaustralia.org.au/science/faqs.html (accessed 02/06/10)

46 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability. M.L.Parry, et al. (eds.) Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK & New York, USA, 2007). http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-6-2.html (accessed 07/06/10)

47 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability. M.L.Parry, et al. (eds.) Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK & New York, USA, 2007). http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-6-2.html (accessed 07/06/10)

48 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability. M.L.Parry, et al. (eds.) Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK & New York, USA, 2007). http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-6-2.html (accessed 07/06/10)

49 Various scholarly works look at how natural climate changes have influenced the course of human history. Some of the most readable and authoritative are those by renowned archaeologist and anthropologist Brian Fagan, including The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. (Bloomsbury Press, NY, 2008); The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization. (Basic Books, NY, 2003); The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300–1850. (Basic Books, NY, 2000)

50 The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science. Allison, et al. UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney NSW. (2009) http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/ (accessed 01/06/10)

51 A. Bloom, et al. “Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Inhibits Nitrate Assimilation in Wheat and Arabidopsis.” Science 328, no. 5980 (May 2010): 899 – 903; P. Högy, et al. “Effects of elevated CO2 on grain yield and quality of wheat: results from a 3-year free-air CO2 enrichment experiment.” Plant Biology 11, no. s1 (July 2009): 60-69.; S.P. Long, et al. “Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations.” Science 312, no. 5782 (June 2006): 1918 – 1921.

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