Documents from Scientific Organizations
- IPCC 2007 FAQ – This is a set of Frequently Asked Questions with answers that are taken directly from the IPCC Working Group I Reports, but with language that is easily understood by the non-scientist. All persons interested in the latest science of climate change should begin with this document. The IPCC Working Group I (WG I) assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change. The main topics assessed by WG I include: changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere; observed changes in air, land, and ocean temperatures, rainfall, glaciers and ice sheets, oceans, and sea level; historical and paleoclimatic perspective on climate change; biogeochemistry, carbon cycle, gases, and aerosols; satellite data and other data; climate models; climate projections, causes and attribution of climate change.
- America’s Climate Choices – At a time when responding to climate change is one of the nation’s most important and complex endeavors, the National Research Council of the National Academies provides helpful analysis and advice to policymakers and stakeholders through its expert, consensus reports, and other activities. These reports are produced by committees of the nation’s top scientists, engineers, and other experts who are convened to address key scientific and technical aspects of climate change and other topics.
- Synthesis Report from the Climate Change Congress 2009 – The Synthesis Report adds the latest research to the basis of knowledge on climate change compiled in the IPCC reports. This conference is one of the world’s largest-ever interdisciplinary conferences on climate change with more than 2,000 participants from around 80 countries. The Congress is the result of a unique cooperation between ten of the world’s leading universities; the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), which consists of the Australian National University, ETH – Zürich, National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Cambridge, University of Copenhagen, University of Oxford, University of Tokyo and Yale University.
- Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States – The report by The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) summarizes the science and the impacts of climate change on the United States, now and in the future. It focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the U.S. and on various aspects of society and the economy such as energy, water, agriculture, and health. It’s also a report written in plain language, with the goal of better informing public and private decision-making at all levels. In addition to discussing the impacts of climate change in the U.S., the report also highlights the choices we face in response to human-induced climate change.
- Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years – In response to a request from Congress, the National Academy of Sciences prepared Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years which assesses the state of scientific efforts to reconstruct surface temperature records for Earth during approximately the last 2,000 years and the implications of these efforts for our understanding of global climate change. Because widespread, reliable temperature records are available only for the last 150 years, scientists estimate temperatures in the more distant past by analyzing “proxy evidence,” which includes tree rings, corals, ocean and lake sediments, cave deposits, ice cores, boreholes, and glaciers. Starting in the late 1990s, scientists began using sophisticated methods to combine proxy evidence from many different locations in an effort to estimate surface temperature changes during the last few hundred to a few thousand years. This online book is an important resource in helping to understand the intricacies of global climate change.
- Frequently Asked Questions About the Science of Climate Change 2008 Update – This FAQ by Atmospheric Science Assessment and Integration Section Science and Technology Branch of Environment Canada covers all the major climate change topics in a very easy-to-read, illustrated format.
- US Climate Change Indicators Report (April 2010) – The indicators in this report present clear evidence that the composition of the atmosphere is being altered as a result of human activities and that the climate is changing. They also illustrate a number of effects on society and ecosystems related to these changes. Topics in this highly illustrated document include Greenhouse Gases, U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Atmospheric Concentrations of Greenhouse Gases, Climate Forcing, Weather and Climate, U.S. and Global Temperature, Rate of Temperature Change in the United States, 1901–2008, Heat Waves, Drought, U.S. and Global Precipitation, Heavy Precipitation, Tropical Cyclone Intensity, Oceans, Ocean Heat, Sea Surface Temperature, Sea Level, Ocean Acidity, Snow and Ice, Arctic Sea Ice, Glaciers, Lake Ice, Snow Cover, Snowpack, Society and Ecosystems, Heat-Related Deaths, Length of Growing Season, Plant Hardiness Zones, Leaf and Bloom Dates, and Bird Wintering Ranges.
Other Useful Documents
- The Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism is a 16 page booklet that looks at both the evidence that human activity is causing global warming and the ways that climate ‘skeptic’ arguments can mislead by presenting only small pieces of the puzzle rather than the full picture. The science is explained in plain language intended for the layperson. More detailed treatments of the science are available at Skeptical Science.
- A Brief Assessment of the Impact of Large-Scale Climate Change on Severe Thunderstorms and Tornadoes – A summary of the current scientific understanding of: 1) observed changes in severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and 2) the possible role of human influences in modulating past and future changes in these events. Eight members of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team contributed to this response to an informational request from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
- Climate Change: What Does It Mean for Our World? – Katharine Hayhoe is a research associate professor at Texas Tech University and expert reviewer for the IPCC who has put together a stunning visual slideshow that explains why humans are causing global warming, the devastating impacts of global warming, and what we can do to mitigate the problem. This is a powerful presentation displayed with simplicity so everybody can understand the importance of addressing climate change.
- Building a Green Economy – In a truly phenomenal ten-page essay in the New York Times, Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman discusses how it is possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying the economy. Krugman describes the pros and cons of carbon taxes vs cap and trades along with examples of how of these solutions are already effective in other areas. Krugman describes the strong scientific consensus regarding humanity’s role in global warming and how most projections are now worse than previously thought. Krugman outlines ways to get China to “play along” with carbon mitigation and why conservatives are abandoning their free-market ideals with regard to the carbon mitigation issue. This is a must-read for those that accept global warming but are worried about the costs involved with fixing the problem humans have created.
- Mind the Gap – Kate, a Canadian high school student and author of the ClimateSight blog, has written a marvelous piece called Mind the Gap where she discusses the issues of science credibility and communication with the public. Coming from a non-scientist, this article will appeal to those of you that are unsure about what to believe but feel as if you are not qualified to question either “side”. A must-read for all.
- – Climate Change and Anthropogenic Greenhouse Warming: A Selection of Key Articles, 1824-1995, with Interpretive Essays – Primary Articles Learning Environment (PALE) NSDL Classic Articles in Context, Issue 1. April 2008. By Dr. James R. Fleming. A selection of research articles on climate change and anthropogenic greenhouse warming presented here appeared in peer-reviewed journals over the course of two centuries, from 1824 to 1995. Each article is significant in its own right. Some are landmark papers. Each is accompanied by a short essay that provides historical context and points the reader to additional readings and citations.
Blogs & News
- Realclimate.org – Climate science blog by expert climate scientists (can be a bit technical for non-scientists)
- Skeptical Science – Superbly researched and illustrated blog that examines climate change skepticism
- UU-UNO Climate Portal – accessible information and news on climate science, impacts, and risk-mitigating action.
- Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says
- Global Warming: Man or Myth? – Professor Mandia’s comprehensive site about climate change
- NASA: A Warming World – New articles, videos, data visualizations, space-based imagery and interactive visuals that provide unique NASA perspectives on climate change.
- The Carbon Capture Report – daily news and public perception reports of carbon capture and sequestration, climate change, and the energy sector
- Yale Environment 360 – Online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues
- The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media – An online publication and forum to foster dialogue on climate change among scientists, journalists, policymakers, and the public
- Ethics and Climate – A commentary site on climate change science and policymaking by those working on climate change ethics.
- Central Coast Climate Science Education – “contains a set of tutorials in the basics of climate science suitable for high school and community college science teachers”.
- The Daily Climate provides a daily summary highlighting the best news on climate change from around the globe.
- Carbon Brief fact-checks stories about climate science online and in the press. They provide briefings on the people and organisations talking about climate change, and they produce background materials on science issues and news stories.
The Discovery of Global Warming by Spencer R. Weart
This is the first book one should read if new to the subject of climate change (global warming). Spencer R. Weart, director of the Center for the History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics, takes the reader on a journey that begins as a scientific detective story about what caused the ice ages and ends up being the story of how scientists realized that humans were influencing climate more than nature. Excerpt from review by Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times Sunday Book Review, 10/5/2003:
“Debate persists over the extent of human-driven warming and what to do about it. But recognition that in a short span our species has nudged the thermostat of the planet remains a momentous, and sobering, finding. “The Discovery of Global Warming” describes the intellectual journey toward that conclusion, with all of its false starts, flawed hypotheses, inventiveness and persistent uncertainties. It reveals the effort as one of the great exercises in collective sleuthing, with pivotal insights provided by experts in fields as varied as glaciology, physics and even plankton paleontology.”
Six Degrees: Our Future On a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas
This is the second book one should read because it shows degree by degree the impacts of climate change. Lynas has researched hundreds upon hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles to show the reader how each degree of future warming will impact droughts, floods, human migration, sea level rise, ice melt, ecosystem changes/extinctions on land and in the sea, human security issues, etc. Given that 3-4 oC warming is likely before the year 2100, read those chapters first and you will quickly see just how catastrophic the road humans are traveling down really is. This book is not for the faint of heart and will be a huge wake-up call to those that think waiting to take action is a viable option.
Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity by James Hansen
This is the third book one should read. Dr. Hansen describes the history and science of global warming and the potential dire consequences of inaction. Hansen also describes how politicians are fooling the masses with their “greenwashing” (talking green but not legislating green), how cap and trade is likely to be ineffective, why new coal plants should be immediately stopped unless they are carbon-free, and why we must use nuclear power as a wedge to buy us time. This book is different in that a well-respected scientist (arguably Dr. Hansen is the most famous climate scientist) has crossed “the line” between science and politics. Hansen shows just how dangerous divorcing politics from science is. It is clear that the science is not convincing the masses so more scientists must become activists. Dr. Hansen is the scientist exception: he states publicly what he says privately. Many scientists are aware of the coming catastrophe that is global warming but few are bold enough to shout this from the rooftops. Kudos to Dr. Hansen. If only the world had more Hansens. Maybe policy-makers would wake up to the reality of climate change.
Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming by Michael E. Mann and Lee R. Kump
The IPCC documents are quite heavy for the non-scientist who wishes to learn about the current state of climate change science. This book provides the reader with the most important information of these IPCC documents in an easy-to-read, highly illustrated format. A 7th grade student could easily understand the IPCC reports after reading this book.
Climate Change: Picturing the Science by Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolfe
As noted by the authors, this book was structured around a medical metaphor of symptoms, diagnosis, and possible cures. The book is a collection of essays from scientists from many fields: climatology, meteorology, biology, geology, oceanography, chemistry, climate modeling, environmental politics, astrophysics, and other fields, so it becomes clear to the reader how climate change has impacted all aspects of planet Earth. The authors have summarized the latest research in climate science in a style that makes the information very accessible to the non-scientist. The authors also make it clear what is well known vs. what is not well known in the rapidly evolving field of climate science. A very fair representation of the current science.
Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
The U.S. scientific community has long led the world in research on such areas as public health, environmental science, and issues affecting quality of life. Our scientists have produced landmark studies on the dangers of DDT, tobacco smoke, acid rain, and global warming. But at the same time, a small yet potent subset of this community leads the world in vehement denial of these dangers.
Merchants of Doubt tells the story of how a loose-knit group of high-level scientists and scientific advisers, with deep connections in politics and industry, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. Remarkably, the same individuals surface repeatedly—some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole. “Doubt is our product,” wrote one tobacco executive. These “experts” supplied it.
Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, historians of science, roll back the rug on this dark corner of the American scientific community, showing how ideology and corporate interests, aided by a too-compliant media, have skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era. Amazon.
Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate by Stephen H. Schneider
It’s been nearly four decades since scientists first realized that global warming posed a potential threat to our planet. Why, if we knew of the threats way back in the Carter Administration, can’t we act decisively to limit greenhouse gases, deforestation, and catastrophic warming trends? Why are we still addicted to fossil fuels? Have we all just been fiddling for 40 years as the world burns around us?
Schneider, part of the Nobel Prize–winning team that shared the accolade with Al Gore in 2007, had a front-row seat at this unfolding environmental meltdown. Piecing together events like a detective story, Schneider reveals that as expert consensus grew, well-informed activists warned of dangerous changes no one knew how to predict precisely—and special interests seized on that very uncertainty to block any effective response. He persuasively outlines a plan to avert the building threat and develop a positive, practical policy that will bring climate change back under our control, help the economy with a new generation of green energy jobs and productivity, and reduce the dependence on unreliable exporters of oil—and thus ensure a future for ourselves and our planet that’s as rich with promise as our past. Amazon.
Earth’s Climate: Past and Future by William F. Ruddiman
As the title suggests, this book describes the cause-and-effect relationship between climate forcing and climate change from ancient climate to the present. Ruddiman also explains how human activities are likely causing climate change in recent times and the possible future changes. This book is primarily designed to be a textbook aimed at undergraduates in science or for non-science majors taking an entry-level science course. It is also appropriate for the general public but it is written at a much higher level than the books listed above. Ruddiman uses the scientific method to build his topics. He begins with a hypothesis, explores the data, and then discusses if the hypothesis is valid or not. This writing style shows how scientists approach problems and how they offer possible solutions. The illustrations are superb – quite a few have been used on this site.
Hell and High Water: Global Warming–the Solution and the Politics–and What We Should Do by Joseph Romm
Joseph Romm is a physicist and founder and director of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions. Romm presents a very sobering outlook on the consequences of failing to act on global warming. His book is divided into two parts. The first, The Science and the Future of Global Warming contains a wealth of information about how human emissions are causing global warming and the likely best-case and worst-case scenarios of action vs. inaction. The notes that go along with this chapter are invaluable. The second section, The Politics, and the Solution details how politics have trumped science and why this rhetoric has allowed people to believe that technology will save us so no actions to prevent climate change are required.
Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan
This a real eye-opener for those that wonder why the overwhelming scientific consensus about anthropogenic global warming is not reaching the general public. There has been and still is a well-orchestrated campaign by the fossil fuel industry to deliberately confuse the general public with misleading statements and publications presented by the few scientists that are “on the take” from this industry. Hoggan, who founded DeSmogBlog.com, exposes the individuals and the organizations behind the global warming cover-up. You will be saddened and likely outraged at how the misinformation lobby is willing to sacrifice our children’s future to save a few dollars today.
Climate Wars: How Peak Oil and the Climate Crisis Will Change Canada (and Our Lives) by Gwynne Dyer
Climate Wars is a bit different from the other climate change books you may have read. This book’s central theme is that dwindling resources, water shortages, and droughts/floods caused by global warming are setting up the possibility of regional and perhaps global wars as the haves and the have-nots are further separated. Increased immigration due to expanding regions of drought will heighten political tensions between Mexico, the US, and Canada, and will pit southern Europe vs. northern Europe, thus destabilizing the EU. As glaciers recede and drought increases, will countries such as India divert waterways that now run into Pakistan? Will Pakistan use its nukes to secure water for its starving people? Most compelling is Dwyer’s research that shows military planners from many countries are already worried that climate change will lead to increased terrorism and wars as we move toward 2100. Wars will have the effect of slowing progress on the climate change mitigation that will be required to solve the problems that created these wars in the first place – a vicious cycle for sure. Although Dwyer presents the worst-case scenarios for many examples in this book, it becomes clear to the reader that climate change isn’t just about global temperatures – it may be about global war.
Noise: Lies, Damned Lies, and Denial of Global Warming by Grant Foster
Noise: Lies, Damned Lies, and Denial of Global Warming by statistician Grant Foster should be an essential part of everyone’s climate change library. It is a powerful weapon! Grant Foster is a genius at delivering complex statistics to the average person. He explains the statistics (without using equations!) in a writing style that is far more typical of a liberal arts professor or a high school teacher than that of a world-class mathematician. At 120 pages, it is a quick read and it fits in one’s back pocket. Armed with the helpful information in this handy guide, any person will be able to shoot down the BS from those that try to mislead with bad analyses. Grant Foster shows the ways these fraudsters are trying to trick unwitting persons with cherry-picked data and outright lies while at the same time, he shows the reader how to look at data the correct way. For a chapter-by-chapter review please read my blog post on this book.
- To What Degree? What Science is Telling Us about Climate Change – A National Science Foundation (NSF) video series that features many of the world’s top scientists discussing climate change and why humans are responsible for today’s changes. Using plain language combined with stunning video this series is a must-see for anybody interested in the issue. Topics include: How Do We Know?, IPCC, Carbon Cycle, Water Cycle, Earth’s Heat Balance, Climate Modeling, What Americans Believe about Climate Change, and History of Climate Change Research.
- Global Warming: is It True? – Author and scientist Dr. James Powell published this video outlining the many lines of evidence for a warming world. This ten minute video is easy to follow and is quite convincing.
- Climate Denial Crock of the Week – Peter Sinclair is a long time advocate of environmental awareness and energy alternatives. An award winning graphic artist, illustrator, and animator, Mr. Sinclair runs Greenman Studio from his home in Midland, MI. Mr. Sinclair’s cartoons and illustrations have appeared in newspapers around the world, and his work has been profiled in numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Utne Reader, and HaAretz of Jerusalem. Constantly updated information, made vivid with striking, clear graphics and animations, many derived from NASA, The National Snow and Ice Data Center, and top international sources, an expert knowledge of the issues of energy and environment, and an informal, good humored delivery, make difficult concepts easy to see and grasp.
- Climate TV – ClimateTV is an interactive, high-definition online television channel bringing you movies, live interviews, interactive talk shows and events on climate change related issues. ClimateTV is all about interactive video content. Their goal is to offer viewers high quality content and the opportunity to pose questions and offer comments in real time to ClimateTV hosts and special guests.
- David Archer’s Lectures for Global Warming Course – David Archer, a professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, offers a course called Global Warming which is based on his book Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast. These videos are a compilation of his weekly lectures for the course and they offer an introduction to all aspects of global warming. Watch the videos and save your tuition!
- Greg Craven’s: How It All Ends – These videos from high school science teacher, Greg Craven, reframe the question “Are we certain we’re responsible for global warming?” to “Given the risks and uncertainties of global warming, what is the best action to take?” Greg uses simple explanations of complex topics, along with humor, to get the viewer to understand the scientific method and risk management regarding the topic of climate change. A brilliant collection of videos.
- The Biggest Control Knob: Carbon Dioxide in Earth’s Climate System – A video by Dr. Richard B. Alley of Penn State University that shows the multiple lines of evidence that CO2 has been the climate thermostat for millions of years. Dr. Alley is a wonderful speaker who is able to break down complex issues into simple concepts. With much humor, this video delivers a knock-out blow to those who think CO2 plays a minor role in climate change.