The Truth About Global Warming group has been growing and therefore it may be difficult for new readers to know what has already been covered, and loyal followers to remember the same. A while back someone recommended I put together a summary post to help keep track. So I’ve summarized the main take home point(s) of each of the posts to date here. Click on the title to get to the original article. I’ll continue to update this article whenever I post new Climate Truths (as the series has come to be known; CT for short). Feel free to tweet, facebook or otherwise share this post as you feel appropriate.
Climate Truth 1: So it it “Global Warming” or “Climate Change?”
Well, it’s both, or either, depending on if you are talking about the specific, the general, or simply misusing the terms. This post highlights some of the key terms most likely to be heard in climate change discussions and serves as a great place to start learning.
Climate Truth 2: What is the Greenhouse Effect, And What Does it Have to Do with Global Warming?
The greenhouse effect is the process by which light energy from the sun, upon passing through the atmosphere and reflecting off the earth, is partially blocked from leaving the atmosphere again. This is what warms the earth. It’s basic physics and not controversial at all. Here you can get the basic principles of the greenhouse effect and some history of the more than 200 years of research since those principles were first discovered.
Climate Truth 3: So What are the Greenhouse Gases, And What are NOT Greenhouse Gases?
The atmosphere is made up of various gases, but not all of them actually contribute to the greenhouse effect. In fact, nitrogen and oxygen, the two gases that make up about 99% of our atmosphere, are essentially invisible to the process. Only a small part of the less than 1% left, primarily CO2, methane and a couple of others, are responsible for the entire natural greenhouse effect. Which is why any increases to their concentration have significant effects. Learn all about them here.
Climate Truth 4: CO2 and Other Radiative Forcings of Global Warming
Now that you know what causes the greenhouse effect, this article gives an overview of the relative contributions of various “forcings,” i.e., factors that drive (or “force”) the climate system to change. See how much of this change is attributed to greenhouse gases, albedo (i.e., how much is reflected by various surfaces like white ice versus the dark ocean), solar activity, ozone, aerosols, clouds, and even the contrails from jets. It’s pretty clear that human activity accounts for the vast majority of the warming.
Climate Truth 5: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – The Smoking Gun of Climate Change
So how do we know that carbon dioxide (CO2) is so important to global warming? This is why. Here you can see the dramatic increase in CO2 emissions and the correlation with increasing temperatures. Of course, their are still short term ups and downs in the temperature record as short-term phenomena like El Nino and La Nina affect yearly averages, but the trend of increasing temperature tracks with increasing CO2. (I’ll talk more about the importance of CO2 and another greenhouse gas, methane, in future articles).
Climate Truth 6: Let’s Talk About Carbon Dioxide – Understanding Carbon’s Role in Global Warming
Why is carbon dioxide so powerful? This series of short videos narrated by PBS correspondent Robert Krulwich and with excellent (and simple) animation by Odd Todd gives an easily understandable review of why carbon can do what it does. Both cute and educational…you can’t beat that!
Climate Truth 7: Ten Key Indicators That Make it Clear – The Planet is Warming
The planet is warming, and this is very clear. How do we know? Because we follow the empirical evidence. Empirical means “by observation and experiment.” And there is a lot of empirical evidence demonstrating that the planet is warming, from increasing surface temperatures to increasing sea levels to increasing ocean heat content and more. And from factors that we would expect to decrease with warming, including decreasing sea ice and melting glaciers. All these and more tell us the planet is warming.
Climate Truth 8: Ten Indicators of a Human Fingerprint for the Current Warming of the Planet
So not only is there massive evidence that the planet is warming, there is massive evidence that human activity is the reason. Things like cooling in some parts of the atmosphere and warming in others, which is consistent with the source of the warming. Factors like night warming faster than days, fossil fuel carbon signatures in the atmosphere and in corals, and much more. Like it or not, we are taking carbon that has been locked up for millions of years in oil and coal and pushing it all in a short time into the atmosphere.
Now besides my numbered Climate Truth series, the Truth About Global Warminggroup has had posts by guest writers.
Steve B posted a great article on The Scientific Consensus Concerning Global Climate Change. The consensus reflects the consistency of opinion of climate scientists based on the overwhelming scientific evidence for global warming. Around 98% of all climate scientists concur, as do all the major scientific organizations around the world.
Chris Wiegard brings us back to the 1970s in This Cooling World – A Blast from the Past. This was a time when aerosols from pollution and other sources were masking the warming trend. The warming was still there it just wasn’t as apparent because of these other factors. Ironically, one of the main players in the 1970s debate was Stephen Schneider, who passed away unexpectedly last month.
I’ll update as new articles are added. Please feel free to forward this post to others who want to learn the Truth About Global Warming.
© David K, August 2010