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“Those who question the need to take action are the flat-earth brigade of the modern era. The scientific evidence from across the world shows we need to act.” - Ed Miliband (2009). What the overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree upon: (i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact. (ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. (iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes. (iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sealevel rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic. (v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more. Claim: Global temperatures haven’t warmed since 1998. In fact, hasn’t the world cooled since 1998? Response: This is a classic case of cherry picking data. Actually, the decade 2000-2009 was the warmest since records began. The decade 1990-9 is the second warmest, and 1980-9 the third warmest on record. 1998 is the warmest year on record but every year since then (in fact every single year for the past three decades) has been significantly warmer than the temperatures you’d expect if there was no warming. It is just that these years have not been quite as warm as 1998. This is because the human-forced warming trend is taking place on top of natural variations. These natural variations made 1998 particularly warm (because there was a very strong El Nino event). Year-to-year, we will always see fluctuations, but to see climate change we need to rely on long-term trends of 30 years or more. In fact, 2010 is currently tied as the warmest year on record (NOAA 2010) How can we trust just one set of temperature recordings? Hundreds of independent measurements of the Earth’s temperatures all agree. Separate datasets from all over the world all point towards a rapid warming: not just the Earth’s surface temperatures, but
also the temperatures in the lower atmosphere (troposphere), and oceanic surface temperatures have all risen sharply since the industrial revolution. Even scientists can’t agree The overwhelming majority of leading climate scientists agree on the fundamentals – that climate change is happening and has recently been caused by increased greenhouse gases from human activities. There are some people who argue that climate change is not happening, or that it is not caused by human activity. While some of these individuals have scientific backgrounds, these opinions are very rare indeed amongst scientists working on the science of the Earth’s climate. There is no evidence for any conspiracy. Three independent investigations found no scientific misconduct in emails stolen from the UEA’s Climate Research Unit. The IPCC reports are the result of combined work from many thousands of scientists, and the IPCC process has been designed to have the highest levels of international transparency; their summary texts are agreed by every country in the world. One error in referencing (not content) does not undermine the 3000 page report, or support a conspiracy to misrepresent climate research. The latest IPCC report show very good agreement between the models and observations, not only temperature trend, but also spatial properties – over the different continents, and as a function of altitude. Climate models are based on fundamental physical laws and are rigorously tested to ensure their reliability. They do not depend on observational data trends, such as the CRU analysis, to make their projections. We don’t rely on models for our understanding of the effect of greenhouse gases on climate. Theory (i.e. the simple physics of the greenhouse effect, first discovered in 1850, demonstrable in the most simple experiments and taught to every British 12year-old in school), and observations are the foundations of our ability to understand climate change. Models are unable to reproduce past warming if they don’t include human caused emissions. They unanimously predict warming with rising greenhouse gas concentrations. The weather is a fundamentally chaotic system. Modelling the climate is different – it involves representing the long term balances/changes in the system. These are slowly varying and easier to predict over long timescales. The analogy of the sea can be used. Climate is like the sea level; weather would be the waves. Even though we can predict to high accuracy expected sea level changes, so many factors affect individual waves it’s impossible to predict them with any certainty. Of all the hundreds of climate models that have been created,
Climate scientists are engaged in a conspiracy; global warming is just a big hoax.
Climate models are inaccurate and therefore cannot provide evidence of climate change, or reliable projections of future climate trends
If we can’t predict the weather next week, how can we predict the future climate?
and that include all known natural factors, not a single one has been able to reproduce/explain past patterns of warming if human emissions are not also considered. Natural events can’t explain the observed temperature changes. Temperatures are warming faster than they ever have in the past. The last time the earth experienced warming at anything like the pace we now expect was about 55 million years ago, when temperatures rose by about 11 degrees Farenheight over the course of 20,000 years (which is much slower than the current pace of warming.
The Medieval Warm Period was just as warm as today, or warmer
This may be the case, but it isn’t possible to say with any certainty, because records are few and far between, and their coverage is spotty. There is also no evidence that it was global; just observed in parts of the northern hemisphere, especially Europe. We do know that the climate has varied in the past, but this doesn’t challenge the case for human-caused climate change today. These past changes also occurred at a much slower rate. Carbon dioxide levels may have been higher, but they’ve never risen at a rate anywhere near the rate that they’re rising now. Air bubbles trapped in ice show CO2 concentrations over the last 800,000 years; levels rose and fell gradually between 180 and 280 ppm. They have shot to a current 387 ppm since the industrial revolution began – a rate of change faster than ever seen in the geological record Despite the recent decline in the sun’s brightness, the long-term trend of global temperatures continues to rise. Sunspots have been observed since the invention of telescopes in 1610, and although climate predictions from sunspots have long been attempted, the predictions have not held up. The Sun’s natural variability on the climate is very small; according to the last IPCC statement, around 10% of the influence of human greenhouse gases. Globally, this is not the case. While some glaciers are growing, overall the trend is for an accelerating rate of mass loss. This evidence comes from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the US, and the World Glacier Monitoring Service. Firstly, warming due to the enhanced greenhouse effect lags behind changes in CO2 (and other greenhouse gases), due to inertia in the climate system. It takes time for the changes to take effect. Secondly, greenhouse gases are not the only determinant of temperature. Aerosols, which are also emitted from human activities, are also important and can be shown to explain much of the cooling seen in the middle of the 20th century. Without them, warming would most likely have been greater. Volcanic eruptions and small changes in solar output also complicate the picture. Models have been used that take into account all these factors.
Carbon dioxide levels have been higher in the past; therefore it is natural Isn't climate variability shown to correlate with solar variability /sunspots?
Aren’t glaciers growing rather than melting? The CO2 trend over the past century doesn't match the trend in global warming. How can it be a driver?
These have been able to simulate the historic changes in global and regional temperatures and have shown that most the warming over the past half century has been caused by the rise in greenhouse gas concentrations. Human emissions of carbon dioxide are tiny in relation to natural flows of carbon dioxide, for example, the biosphere, the oceans and volcanoes. How then can humans be responsible for global warming? Could water vapour be responsible for the atmospheric warming? Are the amounts of carbon dioxide being added really making a difference? Isn't global warming caused by Cosmic Rays? Isn't the apparent warming just due to increased urbanisation around weather stations? Won’t climate change actually improve the situation in the UK? Are we not better off just adapting to climate change? While human emissions are relatively small compared to natural emissions, e.g. from terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans, these natural emissions are generally in balance: the amount emitted is then reabsorbed. Human emissions have tipped the balance leading to an accumulation of gases in the atmosphere.
While water vapour is an important greenhouse gas, it is only when humans have added carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that the balance of this warming has started to shift. The effects of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations are magnified by feedback loops which allow more water vapour to be held in the atmosphere. This exacerbates the warming.
Variations in cosmic rays over the past few decades cannot explain the long-term global warming trend. Some laboratory experiments have indicated their possible importance, but these have not been validated in the real world. No. Scientists have conducted rigorous tests to determine the effects of urbanisation on temperatures trends and found this to be negligible. The IPCC recently concluded that urban heat island effects have a negligible influence on the global scale, contributing less than 0.006°C per decade (<1%) to observed trends over land and zero over the oceans. No. Climate change will bring serious impacts for the UK, including increased flood risk, heat waves and increased water stress. Only by limiting our emissions can we keep these impacts to a minimum. We know that some climate change is unavoidable, so it is absolutely right that we research and fund adaptation strategies such as flood defences and better fresh water management. However, the science shows strongly that the more our emissions grow, the more severe the impacts of climate change will be. Past climate changes have often been accompanied by migration, war, disease, and mass extinction. It will not be possible to adapt to all the potential impacts of climate change, especially if unrestrained. Only by applying our
Human societies and natural systems have adapted to
climate change in the past Won’t increased CO2 stimulate plant growth, improve agricultural yield and absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere? Why think about how climate change will affect us now, when its effects won’t be felt for many years?
ingenuity to cutting emissions can we have hope of keeping the impacts of climate change to a manageable level. Studies have shown that initially, plant growth is stimulated and plants take up more CO2. However, after a short period of time, plants adapt to increased levels so don’t take up any more CO2. Altered growing conditions will also counteract any increased yield.
If we delay action, we risk more damage to the earth, our prosperity and security: the costs of doing nothing to tackle climate change would be equivalent to between 5 and 20% of global GDP, per year, far outweighing the costs of taking action (Stern 2007). And our call for ambition to act is not solely focused on managing risks; it is about seizing opportunities. Moving to a low carbon economy offers enormous economic and social benefits and is a necessary precondition for a successful, competitive British economy. It will also reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels and increase energy security. We cannot afford to wait for new technologies before tackling climate change. We know a 2-degree future relies on emissions cuts being made soon. We also do not need to wait: we know that we can make significant emissions cuts by applying today’s green technologies. We can all play our part too - 40% of emissions are traced back to our individual choices, so we don’t need to wait to take action on those either.
It is not costeffective to act now; technologies to cut emissions will have improved in the future.
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