Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Climate Change, a fad?

(The Ford Quadricycle was as far as 'motor cars' had advanced by 1896, perhaps cars are the real fad that we could have done without)

I recently read somewhere that 30% of Americans believe that climate change is a fad.

Here is the history of climate change (via climate scientist at princeton) you decide...

Over one hundred years ago, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius recognized that human activities were likely to be increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, and that this would cause the world to warm; his detailed calculations actually came quite close to present estimates (Arrhenius, 1896). By the 1930s, British scientist G. S. Callendar asserted that he had measured both the CO2 increase and an associated increase in the Northern Hemisphere surface temperature (Callendar, 1938).

By the late 1950s, American scientist Roger Revelle and Swiss scientist Hans Suess had clearly explained why the growing emissions of CO2 fromcombustion of coal, oil, and natural gas (as well as from accelerated clearing of the land and oxidation of soil carbon) could not be taken up rapidly by the oceans, and so human influences on atmospheric composition and the climate would last for centuries, making clear that humans were undertaking a great “geophysical experiment” (Revelle and Suess, 1957).

In 1965, a distinguished panel of American scientists convened by the President’s Science Advisory Council (PSAC) summarized the science and reported that climate change was an issue that:

  • The views presented in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily of any of the organizations with which he is or has been affiliated. His experiences with these groups, have, however, provided many of the insights.
  • Needed to be addressed (PSAC, 1965. By 1978, the fledgling U.S. Department of Energy2 (DOE) had initiated a major research program on the carbon cycle and climate change.
In 1979, working with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the US scientific community outlined the full range of potential impacts to society and the environment. By the mid 1980s, the National Research Council (NRC) and the DOE had both issued reports that detailed the state of scientific understanding, clearly establishing that human-induced climate change was becoming a very significant issue (NRC, 1983; DOE, 1985a, 1985b). The world community was also coming to realize that the climate change issue was important. The first international scientific meetings took place in the early 1970s (e.g., SCEP, 1970; SMIC,1971). By 1979, the World Climate Programme was being planned and research and other activities were initiated. By 1985, an international meeting of scientists and government officials in Villach, Austria had agreed that governments needed to be taking the issue seriously (WMO, 1985). Modeled on the success of the international effort to protect the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer, the UN established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the late 1980s and tasked it with preparing comprehensive assessments that represented the best critical review of the science that the world’s scientific community could provide. With an unprecedented effort, the IPCC has published three such assessments and a few dozen supporting reports since 1990, all unanimously accepted by the roughly 180 nations that make up the IPCC3 (the most recent reports are IPCC, 2001a, 2001b, 2001c, 2001d).

No other major issue has led to such a broad international consensus of scientific understanding and the prospects for future conditions.

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