Sunday, 11 January 2009

Royal Society - Climate Change

Reposted from: Royal Society Climate Change Home Page

Paul Entwhistle at David Wardens talk recommended Royal Society overview - Climate Change controversies, a simple guide (April 2007)

Climate change controversies

The Royal Society has produced this overview of the current state of scientific understanding of climate change to help non-experts better understand some of the debates in this complex area of science.

This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of global warming. Instead, the Society - as the UK's national academy of science - responds here to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out, in simple terms, where the weight of scientific evidence lies.

  • Misleading argument 1 : The Earth's climate is always changing and this is nothing to do with humans.
  • Misleading argument 2 : Carbon dioxide only makes up a small part of the atmosphere and so cannot be responsible for global warming.
  • Misleading argument 3 : Rises in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are the result of increased temperatures, not the other way round.
  • Misleading argument 4 : Observations of temperatures taken by weather balloons and satellites do not support the theory of global warming.
  • Misleading argument 5 : Computer models which predict the future climate are unreliable and based on a series of assumptions.
  • Misleading argument 6 : It's all to do with the Sun - for example, there is a strong link between increased temperatures on Earth with the number of sunspots on the Sun.
  • Misleading argument 7 : The climate is actually affected by cosmic rays.
  • Misleading argument 8 : The scale of the negative effects of climate change is often overstated and there is no need for urgent action.

Our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Science moves forward by challenge and debate and this will continue. However, none of the current criticisms of climate science, nor the alternative explanations of global warming are well enough founded to make not taking any action the wise choice. The science clearly points to the need for nations to take urgent steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, as much and as fast as possible, to reduce the more severe aspects of climate change. We must also prepare for the impacts of climate change, some of which are already inevitable.

This document was compiled with the help of the Royal Society Climate Change Advisory Group and other leading experts.

April 2007

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