Myth Busting: Climate Change

The climate may be changing, it goes in natural cycles, but the change is not caused by human activity.

There is overwhelming evidence that the climate of this planet is being adversely affected by the the activities of humans. This is accepted as fact by a large majority of scientists and world leaders.

 

In addition, there is increasing evidence to suggest that large-scale changes in the nation's building efficiency, transportation, and energy sectors must be made within the time frame of decades, not generations. Climate change is a very complex topic that can't be summed up in a web blog or a few short lines. We've put together some information here for those who want to take the time to learn more.


The Science of Climate Change

While science is not a "consensus" discipline, professional scientific bodies regularly review the existing body of evidence about a subject and release a statement about their educated conclusions. The general conclusion is that while there are still some uncertainties, the vast majority of the data points to human causes for current climate change.

 

Below are statements from some very well respected scientific groups. Click the link for the original documents that these statements are taken from.

 

"The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society."

Summary statement from the Board of Directors of the AAAS (American Academy for the Advancement of Science, publishers of Science)

 

"Many components of the climate system...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."

Summary statement from the American Geophysical Union
(professional organization for scientists who study the planet, with 50,000+ members)

 

"It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate."

Joint National Academies of Science summary statement (signed by 11 National Academies of Science)

 

"It is now evident that human activities are already contributing adversely to global climate change. Business as usual is no longer a viable option. - The balance of the scientific evidence demands effective steps now to avert damaging changes to the earth's climate."

Royal Society summary statement (signed by 16 National Academies of Science)

 

"First, we know the surface temperature of the earth is warming...There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming...And the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity. Our country, the United States is the world's largest emitter of manmade greenhouse gases."

Public Statement by President George W. Bush; June 11, 2001

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

 

The most thorough analysis of climate science is conducted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Fourth Assessment Report was recently published in parts throughout 2007.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about the IPCC and Climate Change

If you would like a very in-depth but readable FAQ about the science of climate change, take a look at the Climate FAQ from the IPCC

 

The FAQ includes

  • What Factors Determine Earth's Climate?

  • What is the Relationship between Climate and Weather?

 

To read the official summary reports that have been prepared for each of the three working groups please visit the links below:


  • The Physical Science Basis - (What do we know and how)

  • Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability - (What could happen)

  • Mitigation of Climate Change - (What can we do to keep it from happening)

  • The Final Summary Report - (A summary of all three working groups)

 

Complete IPCC Reports

 

If you would prefer to read the full reports rather than the summaries, you can find them at the IPCC website


Information about specific Greenhouse Gases

 

US EPA Overview of Greenhouse Gases

EPA Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas emissions and Sources

US DOE Energy Information Administration Greenhouse gas information page

State-by-state summary of carbon emissions by sector (individual .xls files)

 

UTube: "How It All Ends"

A fun but well reasoned video lecture that discusses the logic of action or inaction regardless of whether someone "believes" about climate change.