This page is meant to be a place to find information about the science of climate change. It will be updated as relevant data or information comes to my attention.
Consensus? What Consensus?
Yes, there is a scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. Many individual and groups continue, however, to sow confusion and doubt about the science of climate change. These groups often evoke the banner of “science” to back their claims. Whatever their motives are, they are performing a great disservice to the cause of truth.
Below are links to bonafide scientific sites or sites which cite and explore genuine science in good faith. (see also “Trump Administration Agrees CO2 Will Warm the Planet”)
What are the Causes of Climate Change?
The most important trigger of the climate change we are currently witnessing and experiencing is something called the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect describes the way the earth’s atmosphere traps heat due to the presence of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) . All of these greenhouse gases are released by various human activities. Since industrialization began we have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by more than 30%. Human sources of CO2 include the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation (forests act as “carbon sinks” which absorb CO2–more forests means less CO2, less forests mean more CO2). Industrial food production accounts for increases in methane, nitrous oxide and CO2 (through deforestation). Read more about these causes at NASA. Explore further here.
Explore graphics depicting aspects of climate change and its causes here.
How do we know the earth is warming?
In short, scientists measure temperatures of air and water and observe key indicators like ice melt. The measurements are taken regularly and then studied for patterns and averages. Over a span of years and decades one can detect patterns. These patterns indicate warming trends.
The above graph charts the rise of global temperatures since 1890 using five different scientific data sets. More information on this graph may be found here.
How Do these Changes Impact Weather and Climate?
As the atmosphere warms up due to increasing levels of greenhouse gases, the air warms up. Warmer air over land causes more evaporation, leading to increasing drought conditions. The drier conditions increase the likelihood and severity of fire. The result has been longer and more destructive fire seasons. This increase in evaporation leads to an increase in rainfall in other areas, thus leading to more devastating floods in interior regions. Warming ocean water expands, which means coastal areas shrink and when storms come ashore more water is pulled over land, increasing the damage done through storm surges in coastal areas. Finally, wind patterns are responsible for the formation of storms such as hurricanes. Warmer water produces greater wind speeds which increases the likelihood of more powerful storms. For a more detailed explanation of the connection between climate change and hurricanes and other weather events see scientist Katherine Hayhoe’s video here. If you need a friendly intro to climate related questions I recommended checking out Katherine Hayhoe’s videos here, she is a scientist and educator who lives in Texas.