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Is the Climate Changing?

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  • Is the Climate Changing?

    Is the climate changing? Yes! In fact, the evidence is so strong that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls the evidence of global warming reflected in the work of hundreds of scientists around the world “unequivocal,” and that most of the warming that has occurred over the previous half-century is “very likely” the result of greenhouse emissions from human activities. The report states that “warming of the climate is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level.” (IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report released in 2007, page 30)

    The IPCC consists of an international group of scientists and experts that was created in 1988 to advise the world’s governments on global warming. New research published since the 2007 report paints a bleaker picture of the planet’s environment; indicating that global warming coincides with human contributions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
    A study done by climate scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2009 concluded that global warming could be a lot worse than was previously thought.

    “The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century shows that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago -- and could be even worse than that.”

    In May of 2010 the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council issued it’s comprehensive study, America’s Climate Choices, reporting that “projections of future climate change anticipate an additional warming of 2.0 to 11.5 degrees F over the 21st century, on top of the 1.4 degree F already observed over the past 100 years.”

    “Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for (and in many cases is already affecting) a broad range of human and natural systems. The compelling case for these conclusions is provided in Advancing the Science of Climate Change, part of a congressionally requested suite of studies known as America’s Climate Choices.”

    UNEP’s 2009 Year Book reports that the ice melt in the Arctic, the Antarctic, and Greenland is much worse than the IPCC had projected, and that it is formally to be attributed to human influence.

    “Climate change has long since ceased to be a scientific curiosity, and is no longer just one of many environmental and regulatory concerns. It is the major, overriding environmental issue of our time, and the single greatest challenge facing decision-makers at many levels. It is a growing crisis with economic, health and safety, food production, security, and other dimensions. Shifting weather patterns threaten food production through increased unreliability of precipitation, rising sea levels contaminate coastal freshwater reserves and increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, and a warming atmosphere aids the pole-ward spread of pests and diseases once limited to the tropics.” (page 21)

    UNEP’s report concluded that “human activities have already caused significant warming in both polar regions with likely consequences for indigenous communities, biological systems, ice-sheet mass balance, and global sea levels.” Citing a 2008 Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center study, the Report states that for the second year in a row, there was an ice-free channel in the Northwest Passage through the islands of northern Canada. But this year also saw the opening of the Northern Sea Route along the Arctic Siberian coast. The two passages have probably not been open simultaneously since before the last ice age, some 100,000 years ago.

    This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, with many more credible sources affirming the fact of global warming and it’s connection with human activity. Climate Central, a non-profit news and research organization that analyzes and reports on climate science is an excellent research tool. It’s composed of scientists and science journalists, conducts scientific research on climate change and energy issues, and produces multimedia content that is distributed via their website and media partners. Climate Central has been featured in many of the nation’s most respected news sources including the New York Times, AP, NBC Nightly News, CBS News, CNN, ABC News, Nightline, Time, NPR, PBS, Scientific American, National Geographic, Science, and the Washington Post.

    CC’s President and CEO since April of 2011 is Dr. Paul A. Hanle. Prior to that, between 2000 and 2011 he was president of the Biotechnology Institute. He earned a masters degree in physics and a PhD in the History of Science and Medicine from Yale. Former Weather Channel climate expert Dr. Heidi Cullen is the group’s Director of Communications and Chief Climatologist. She earned a masters degree in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University, and went on to earn a PhD in climatology and ocean-atmosphere dynamics at Columbia. The organization’s research team is directed by Richard Wiles, while the editorial team features veterans of CNN, Time Magazine, The Weather Channel, Environment and Energy Daily, DISCOVER Magazine,, and

    Then there is the National Wildlife Federation, that focuses on global warming on their webpage.

    NWF is the largest private, nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization in the U.S., with over four million members and supporters. They publish the National Wildlife Magazine, Ranger Rick, Your Big Backyard, Wild Animal Baby; and produce TV shows like Wild Animal Baby Explorers, Campus Ecology Program, Eco-Schools, and runs an expansive network for volunteer programs that reaches over 10 million people.

    There is much to learn and discuss here about climate change/global warming. This is one of the most important issues of our time, and we here at FACTnet would like to open up a dialogue for the purpose of education and awareness concerning the effect of human influence on our planet’s climate, the scientific evidence, and our collective responsibility.

  • #2
    Understanding Climate Change

    “Climate change” is a name given to a set of physical phenomena, sometimes referred to as “global warming,” though climate change involves much more than warming. Understanding of climate change relies on the accumulation of observational data and the formation, testing, and refinement of hypotheses, theories, and models. Scientists understand what this all means through collective assessments and peer-review of the evidence. These assessments support the conclusions with a high or very high degree of confidence that:

    1. The Earth is warming, the planet’s average surface temperature was 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer during the first decade of the 21st century than during the first decade of the 20th century, with the most pronounced warming over the past three decades.

    2. Most of the warming over the last several decades can be attributed to human activities, the most important of which is the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas for energy. Natural climate variability that leads to year-to-year and decade-to-decade fluctuations cannot explain the long-term warming trend.

    3. Global warming is closely associated with a broad spectrum of other climate changes, such as increases in the frequency of intense rainfall, decreases in Northern Hemisphere snow cover and Arctic sea ice, warmer and more frequent hot days and nights, rising sea levels, and widespread ocean acidification.

    4. Individually and collectively these changes pose risks for a wide range of human and environmental systems, including freshwater resources, the coastal environment, ecosystems, agriculture, fisheries, human health, and national security, among others.

    5. Human-induced climate change and its impacts will continue for many decades, and in some cases for many centuries. The ultimate magnitude of climate change and the severity of its impacts depend strongly on the actions that human societies take to respond to these risks.

    Climate scientists and educators see climate risks growing, and understand that delayed action will increase the risks further. The public needs to be educated about climate change, because support is needed to implement policies that will help reduce these risks. However, there are many adults in the U.S. who doubt that climate change is happening, is anthropogenic, or presents serious risks. These attitudes result from misconceptions/preconceptions about climate change that are inconsistent with scientific understanding. Therefore, it’s important for scientists to continue to explain what is and is not known about climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the general public; and to continue to correct errors and mischaracterizations of the science of climate change, which continue to be publicized despite repeated corrections. These efforts are necessary to raise the level of public understanding in the current politicized environment.

    Improved public understanding of the risks associated with climate change will help in the support of policies, and induce people to act personally to reduce climate risks. Public support for policies to reduce fossil fuel consumption is much stronger than public belief that climate change is anthropogenic; and many people already accept low-carbon energy policy objectives and are willing and able to assimilate good information on how to reduce their emissions regardless of what they understand about climate change.

    The above is paraphrased from Public Understanding of Climate Change in the United States, by Elke U. Weber (Columbia University) and Paul C. Stern (National Research Council) published in June of 2011 in American Psychologist, the official academic journal of the American Psychological Association.


    • #3
      yes the climate has certianly changed i think some may be on account of the big cities now with all the heat and smoke from them


      • #4
        How could humans change the whole world’s climate?

        By adding enormous quantities of carbon dioxide and other green-house gases to the atmosphere over the last 150 years. As their name implies, these gases warm the atmosphere, though not literally in the same way a greenhouse does. The gases absorb heat that’s radiated by Earth, but they release only part of that heat to space, which results in a warmer atmosphere.

        The amount of greenhouse gas we add is staggering -- in carbon dioxide alone, the total is more than thirty billion metric tons per year, which is more than four metric tons per person per year. And that gas goes into an atmosphere that’s remarkably shallow. If you picture Earth as a soccer ball, the bulk of the atmosphere would be no thicker than a sheet of paper wrapped around the ball.

        Even with these facts in mind, there’s something inherently astounding about the idea that a few gases in the air could wreak havoc around the world. However, consider this: the eruption of a single major volcano -- such as Krakatoa in 1883 -- can throw enough material into the atmosphere to cool global climate by more than 1.8 degrees F for over a year. From that perspective, it’s not so hard to understand how the millions of engines and furnaces spewing out greenhouse gases each day across the planet, year after year, could have a significant effect on climate. Yet many people respond to the threat of global warming with an intuitive, almost instinctive denial.

        To support claims that global warming is caused by human activity, scientists use results from two types of work: detection and attribution studies. Detection research is meant to establish only that an unusual change in climate has occurred. Attribution studies try to find the likelihood that humans are involved.

        One way to attribute climate change to greenhouse gases is by looking at the signature of that change and comparing it to what you would expect from non-greenhouse causes. For example, over the past several decades, Earth’s surface air temperature has warmed most strongly near the poles and at night. That pattern is consistent with the projections of computer models that incorporate rises in greenhouse gases. However, the pattern agrees less well with the warming that might be produced by other causes, including natural variations in Earth’s temperature and solar activity.

        It isn’t possible to simply “stop” climate change. The century-plus lifespan of atmospheric carbon dioxide means that the planet is already committed to a substantial amount of greenhouse warming. Even if we turned off every fuel-burning machine on the planet tomorrow, climate modellers tell us that the world would warm at least another 0.9 degrees F as the climate adjusts to greenhouse gases we’ve already emitted.

        The best we can do is try and limit the amount of warming that will occur. This will only be possible if and when changes in technology and lifestyle enable us to pull back far beyond our current emission levels, or unless we find some safe method to remove enormous amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, or both. That’s a tall order -- but if we’re determined to reduce the risk of a wide range of climate impacts, we have no choice but to fulfill it.

        Paraphrased from Robert Henson’s 2011 book, pages 6-18, The Rough Guide to Climate Change: The Symptoms, the Science, the Solutions. The author is an award-winning science journalist who writes about the weather and climate change. He got his undergrad degree from Rice University, and earned his master’s in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Henson’s work has appeared in Nature, Scientific American, Discover, Audubon, Sierra, and dozens of other publications.


        • #5
          admin, let me ask you a question though we have the ability to produce carbon dioxide, the carbon has to come from something correct, or is that synethic, no I think not. How much carbon dioxide is actually produce - what is actually available to produce. Kind of like H2O, if all the hydrogen and oxygen became water how much water would fill the earth. Does there not have to an opposite, for even water evaporates back into the air. How does carbon dioxide not have the same principal. If that is that case then what is occuring in our atomsphere, can be undone if we produce the opposite of carbon dioxide as well.


          • #6
            the admin i dont think it is a question of us changeing the weather but of the way we do i mean when i was growing up we didnt have all the things we have now you know to make smoke andd plution ad all (just some places) but now we do and i do thik that is what ahs broguht or helped bring the climate changes


            • #7
              Hi Chad14. Actually, the question is about human activity and our responsibility in the production of greenhouse gases that scientific evidence seems to point to as the leading cause of climate change/global warming. This poses a serious risk, and it’s important that we do what is necessary to reduce our emissions of these greenhouse gases (which includes carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere that are responsible for warming the planet and its oceans.
              If you want to educate yourself in these matters, there are many excellent sources you could refer to. I mentioned Climate Central and the National Wildlife Federation in the first post, both of which have sections on their websites that explain what global warming is and what the causes are.

              The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper that was founded in 1821, has a climate change section you could look at.


              The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization that focuses on energy security, economic development, and environmental protection, acts as a policy adviser to its member states. Their annual report, Tracking Clean Energy, is widely regarded as the gold standard for energy research. It ranks progress on eleven key low-carbon indicators, including renewables, nuclear energy, and carbon capture/storage; and found that the world is on track to meet just one of these targets.


              The IEA’s executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, wrote that “the world’s energy system is being pushed to its breaking point,” and “our addiction to fossil fuels grows stronger every year. Many clean energy technologies are available but they are not being deployed quickly enough to avert potentially disastrous consequences.” Van der Hoeven added that the world is on track for warming six degrees Celsius by the end of this century, “a level that would be catastrophic,” and that “some technologies that governments have been relying on to reduce emissions (carbon capture and storage) were not even off the ground yet, despite years of development.

              The best way to understand climate change is to get your information from experts in the field. One of them is Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist who earned his PhD from Harvard and teaches atmospheric science at Texas A&M University. Dessler wrote a book on the subject called An Introduction to Modern Climate Change, (copyright 2012) that he believes will bring people to see, as he does, that climate change poses a serious risk which we should head off by reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases. It was written as a textbook for non-science majors, assuming no prior knowledge of any field of science. It’s accessible to any general reader willing to put the time in to follow it.


              The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a nonprofit consortium of more than seventy-five universities offering PhDs in atmospheric sciences, and manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has a webpage designed to educate the public about human activity and climate change.


              They explain that “most scientists believe that human activity is altering the composition of the atmosphere by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases,” and describe the gases involved and the science behind it.

              So, Chad14, you’re right that the “things” we have that “make smoke and pollution” helped bring about climate change,” but it goes back to the beginning of the industrial revolution. The evidence is overwhelming that Earth’s climate is changing, and there is abundant evidence that the increase in greenhouse gases, which is due primarily to human activities, is responsible for the present-day warming. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change wrote in their 2007 assessment report, “most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”


              • #8
                thanks so very much


                • #9
                  Truth is that opposition to scientific evidence supporting global warming represents an anti-intellectual strain of right-wing religious fundamentalism, which is part of a rejection of reason and scientific inquiry by the biblically-indoctrinated. Amongst qualified climate scientists, there is no debate whether the Earth is warming; and there is nearly unanimous consensus that human activity significantly contributed to this warming.

                  The Geological Society of America has a position statement saying it concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science, the National Research Council, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the mid-1900s; and if current trends continue, the projected increase in global temperature by the end of the twenty-first century will result in large impacts on humans and other species.


                  The American Chemical Society posted a similar position statement, that “comprehensive 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.”


                  …as well as the American Physical Society in their climate change policy statement: “Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a rangte of industrial and agricultural processes.

                  The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.


                  American Geophysical Union statement:

                  “The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century.”


                  In October of 2009 a collection of scientific organizations sent a letter to the United States Senate stating that climate change is a serious problem facing the entire human race and that emissions of greenhouse gases have to be dramatically reduced for us to avoid the most severe impacts.


                  It was signed by representatives of the following scientific organizations:

                  American Association for the Advancement of Science

                  American Chemical Society

                  American Geophysical Union

                  American Institute of Biological Sciences

                  American Meteorological Society

                  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

                  Who should we rely on to give us accurate information concerning climate change/global warming? Qualified scientists with education and training in climate science, or right-wing biblically/politically motivated representatives of corporations whose self-interests are being served?


                  • #10
                    Dodge what does heat do to at 110degrees to 120 degrees to gas especially in the air. Now what happens if this global warming say reaches 150 above us what would happen to these gases, at what point is gases in earth and in the sky combustible. Can we really make a change to really clean the air enough to stop the procedure?


                    • #11
                      Hi Turtle -- Your lack of communication skills makes it difficult to decipher what it is you’re trying to express; but I gather what you’re asking is what the temperature would have to be to set the Earth’s atmosphere on fire.

                      I don’t know. However, the wonderful thing about the internet is that all you have to do is ask a question and you will be taken to where answers may be found. So, if you Google “atmosphere temperature ignition” it will take you to, among other websites, the “Naked Science Forum” where this very question was posed.


                      The answer seems to be that Earth’s atmosphere will not ignite no matter what temperature it reaches. With a high enough temperature all life will be destroyed, wood will burn; but the air itself will not ignite. Even the temperatures associated with nuclear bombs have never been high enough to ignite Earth’s atmosphere.

                      I looked briefly at other sources, and they come to the same conclusions. So, Turtle, I wouldn’t worry about the atmosphere bursting into flames and destroying our planet. It will not end for us in that way.

                      Of course, you could have done your own research; but that doesn’t seem to be something that you’re interested in or capable of doing. I guess you want others to do the leg work for you. What’s that matter with you, don’t you know how to Google?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dodge View Post
                        Hi Turtle -- Your lack of communication skills makes it difficult to decipher what it is you’re trying to express; but I gather what you’re asking is what the temperature would have to be to set the Earth’s atmosphere on fire.

                        I don’t know. However, the wonderful thing about the internet is that all you have to do is ask a question and you will be taken to where answers may be found. So, if you Google “atmosphere temperature ignition” it will take you to, among other websites, the “Naked Science Forum” where this very question was posed.


                        The answer seems to be that Earth’s atmosphere will not ignite no matter what temperature it reaches. With a high enough temperature all life will be destroyed, wood will burn; but the air itself will not ignite. Even the temperatures associated with nuclear bombs have never been high enough to ignite Earth’s atmosphere.

                        I looked briefly at other sources, and they come to the same conclusions. So, Turtle, I wouldn’t worry about the atmosphere bursting into flames and destroying our planet. It will not end for us in that way.

                        Of course, you could have done your own research; but that doesn’t seem to be something that you’re interested in or capable of doing. I guess you want others to do the leg work for you. What’s that matter with you, don’t you know how to Google?

                        No dodge I am capable of googling However you are not very bright. See gas only takes a spark to combust. What is gas, liquid no it is fumes. Now with gas in the atmosphere that could ignite, how long would it take for those flames to reach earth. Well they might fizzle out before reaching us, However if the ozone layer of gas is so think that it reaches earth surface earth becomes a combustible problem. What I mean. Will if the ozone layer is depleting it being depleted by something. Lightening comes from the sky. The sunset is bright orange why. If you take a ball the size of a golf ball and allow it to go around the earth the size of a basketball or a little bigger and put a light in it. and That light generates heat. What do you have. A ball with a light circling the earth in a dark room yet the light never turns orange unless you put orange bulb in it.

                        So now what causes the sunset orange and pink and all kinds of huges. It is gas in the air. Is it igniting a color, perhaps not, but possibly. Point is that the atmosphere could already be lit by solar flares, and as long as the gas is far above it never effect us but by occasional fire ball that occurs in summer.

                        Dodge here you go. You need an article because your to lazy to read.


                        One more thing we got some of the problem already it called static clean, but it usually does not ignite it usually just floats. However I have not seen static in years. But there alot on these boards.
                        Last edited by turtle; 05-11-2012, 04:04 AM.


                        • #13
                          Turtle -- It’s obvious you didn’t read the article you linked to. It’s about a “solar (or geomagnetic) storm,” a “stream of highly charged particles,” that the author is pointing to, which may disrupt or damage the Earth’s power grid. Mike Hapgood, the author, is overly-dramatic about it, saying that it may “plunge the world into darkness and bring the global economy screeching to a halt.” We hear this kind of stuff with every solar flare. It has nothing to do with setting the atmosphere on fire.

                          The first wave of charged particles from the “solar storm” is impacting the Earth as we speak; and could intensify this weekend. This will result in more Northern Lights and the potential of interrupting some electronics; but nobody’s talking about the Earth’s atmosphere bursting into flames. Don’t panic, everything is OK. However, none of this has anything to do with this discussion of global warming, Turtle. I would ask you to focus on the topic.
                          Last edited by dodge; 05-11-2012, 04:13 PM.


                          • #14
                            dodge do you ever try and think abstractly. Here how it works. Particles where in the atomsphere burn why, because of a solar flare coming down to earth. Gas in the atmosphere is like a ignitor. Imagine having a dust storm and the dust becoming ignited. Where does the storm get's it flame from a solar flare coming to earth pentrating the earth surface.


                            • #15
                              Turtle -- Seems you’re doing your best to hijack this thread with your overwhelming misunderstanding of science, derailing the conversation away from climate change/global warming. I doubt if you’ll be able to understand this; but solar flares are not heading for Earth, and the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are not going to burst into flames.

                              Do you even know what a “solar flare” is? It’s magnetic energy released from the Sun’s atmosphere, consisting of high energy photons and particles. When the resulting charged particles reach Earth, they can play havoc with the magnetic field around the planet and lead to satellite disruptions, enhanced auroras and perhaps even power outages. These flares coincide with the Sun’s eleven year cycle.

                              Pay attention, Turtle (there will be a test): it isn’t solar flares that reach Earth, it’s the clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms produced by the solar flare that arrive a day or two after the event; carried by the Solar Wind in the form of a geomagnetic storm impacting the Earth’s magnetic field. You seem to think that this is some sort of ball of fire that can ignite the gases that are in the atmosphere. Are you beginning to understand the flaw in your thinking here? Am I getting through? Hello, is there anyone in there?

                              Now, please try to focus on the topic of this thread, human activity and its relationship to climate change and global warming. What are your thoughts?