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Man-made Climate Change

Man-made Climate Change

It is my opinion that climate change is one of the largest threats to our species that we will know in our lifetime. Despite the general apathy the general public feels, the overwhelming majority of experts in the field agree that anthropogenic (man-made) climate change is real and poses a risk to all of us.

Since there is a sizable minority of Americans that are in denial about the existence of man-made climate change, I've decided to focus today's article on refuting a few of the more common misconceptions and conspiracy theories.

Claim: "Man-made climate change is a scam perpetuated by scientists in on the scam"

"All the scientists in on the scam" constitute almost every single climate scientist on the planet. See the bibliography links at the bottom for a meta-analysis that determined between 97 and 99.9% of climate studies found evidence of man-made climate change. This cover-up would also include most people in STEM fields can that corroborate the climate scientists' findings. Remember, peer-reviewed studies must be reproducible.

This logic doesn't make sense. It assumes that "Big Environmental" or whoever can simultaneously bribe every member of the climate studies field to reach the same conclusion with increasing frequency over several decades. What was first acknowledged as possible has gained acceptance by virtually every major scientific body globally.

This type of logic indicates that the entire planet Venus does not exist as a perfect model of a runaway greenhouse feedback loop. We've been studying this planet for a very long time.

This logic ignores the obvious corollary that there is far more money to be had from large businesses manufacturing a non-existent scandal in an attempt to preserve the status quo. Muddying the waters on anthropogenic climate change prevents legislation that could cost billions to each respective heavy-polluting industry.

Claim: "Climate change is moving the goalpost now that global warming has been disproven."

The terminology shift from "global warming" to "climate change" was due to the difficulty the layperson has with the understanding that the climate is an extremely complex system that must be observed over a long period. "Climate change" more accurately reflects the small and large perturbations that may be seen in our climate. You can have a decade where arctic sea ice extants grow, followed by periods of shrinkage. The layperson will not take the root-mean-square of an oscillating system to see that there is an overall rise over a long period of time. They will see that things are getting a little better this year while ignoring the bigger picture.

Global warming was never disproven.

It was relabeled.

Claim: "I just read that the Arctic sea ice extant is expanding!"

As certain areas heat up, others may see greater cooling as global air flows and ocean currents shift. Ice extants are just one measure of our climate. It's a complicated subject that requires a holistic approach rather than a single metric to determine trends. Skeptical Science has an excellent technical write-up on this subject.

Claim: "A famous climate scientist, Dr. John Christy, has disproven man-made climate change and global warming."

This is a study published regarding the satellite data that Christy was drawing from. It concluded that the substantial difference between Christy's conclusions and everyone else was due to incorrectly applying tropical amplification (using an incorrectly calculated value of 0.56 instead of the correct value of 1.4 as determined by an independent review of Christy's data [which matches the number calculated by other studies/data sets]). Refactoring the math, you get a warming trend that has a slope of about 4x higher than the one that Christy calculated. This warming trend matches what other datasets and studies have expected with their models.

Short version: The scientist makes a math error that supports his previous conclusions. Independent review points out math errors. Everyone agrees. The scientist publishes the review. The scientist that is wrong does not issue a retraction after peer review.

Claim: "Even if climate change was real, we've had high temperatures and CO2 levels in the past!"

Ever since we developed permanent coastal cities, we've been fixed to a certain maximum temperature. If temperatures rise above that threshold, you get mass flooding, death, and destruction. Pointing out that a million years ago, we had a 1000ppm CO2 level ignores the fact that such a climate is incompatible with human life as it exists today. We would not enjoy a world like that. If we had CO2 levels similar to the past, my city would be underwater. Besides, the last thing I need is an ichthyosaurus eating my pug.

Claim: "I saw a news headline that said some climate scientists think climate change is inevitable."

There are indeed a fair number of climate scientists that believe that the complete and immediate stop of all human-caused polluting activity would not result in a significant impact on what will happen. They believe we have already signed our death warrants, and nothing will save us now.

Some climate models predict that we've already gone too far to reverse climate change. Others feel that we haven't been alarmist enough in our models, which is reinforced when things like this happen.

At this point, I'd like to let other people speak for the remainder of this article. Here are some choice quotes (with attribution link) from various government and non-government organizations:

"The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society." (2006) - American Association for the Advancement of Science

"Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem." (2004) - American Chemical Society

"Human-induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes." (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013) - American Geophysical Union

"Our AMA ... supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant." (2013) - American Medical Association

"It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide." (2012) - American Meteorological Society

"The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now." (2007) - APS Physics/American Physical Society

"The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s." (2006; revised 2010) - The Geological Society of America

"The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." (2005) - U.S. National Academy of Sciences

"The global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases. Human 'fingerprints' also have been identified in many other aspects of the climate system, including changes in ocean heat content, precipitation, atmospheric moisture, and Arctic sea ice." (2009, 13 U.S. government departments and agencies) - U.S. Global Change Research Program

For further reading, here's the famous 97% meta-analysis bib link:

Cook, et al., "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature," Environmental Research Letters Vol. 8 No. 2, (June 2013); DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

Here's the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, a collection of 1300 experts in the field discussing the existence of man-made climate change.

Here's how to do your own meta-analysis of climate change studies if you don't believe the 97% study or the 99.9% study.

Here are some lesser-known studies:

R. L. Anderegg, Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 107 No. 27, 12107-12109 (21 June 2010); DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1003187107.

T. Doran & M. K. Zimmerman, "Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change," Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union Vol. 90 Issue 3 (2009), 22; DOI: 10.1029/2009EO030002.

Oreskes, "Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change," Science Vol. 306 no. 5702, p. 1686 (3 December 2004); DOI: 10.1126/science.1103618.

As the magnum opus for this post, I present a list of some global organizations that hold the opinion that man-made climate change both exists and is a threat to human life:

Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Chile

Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, Portugal

Academia de Ciencias de la Republica Dominicana

Academia de Ciencias Fa­sicas, Matematicas y Naturales de Venezuela

Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala

Academia Mexicana de Ciencias,Mexico

Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia

Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru

Academie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal

Academy des Sciences, France

Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada

Academy of Athens

Academy of Science of Mozambique

Academy of Science of South Africa

Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)

Academy of Sciences Malaysia

Academy of Sciences of Moldova

Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt

Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand

Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy

Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science

African Academy of Sciences

Albanian Academy of Sciences

Amazon Environmental Research Institute

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Anthropological Association

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Association of State Climatologists (AASC)

American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians

American Astronomical Society

American Chemical Society

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Fisheries Society

American Geophysical Union

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Institute of Physics

American Meteorological Society

American Physical Society

American Public Health Association

American Quaternary Association

American Society for Microbiology

American Society of Agronomy

American Society of Civil Engineers

American Society of Plant Biologists

American Statistical Association

Association of Ecosystem Research Centers

Australian Academy of Science

Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Australian Coral Reef Society

Australian Institute of Marine Science

Australian Institute of Physics

Australian Marine Sciences Association

Australian Medical Association

Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

Bangladesh Academy of Sciences

Botanical Society of America

Brazilian Academy of Sciences

British Antarctic Survey

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

Cameroon Academy of Sciences

Canadian Association of Physicists

Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences

Canadian Geophysical Union

Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

Canadian Society of Soil Science

Canadian Society of Zoologists

Caribbean Academy of Sciences views

Center for International Forestry Research

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)

Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences

Crop Science Society of America

Cuban Academy of Sciences

Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters

Ecological Society of America

Ecological Society of Australia

Environmental Protection Agency

European Academy of Sciences and Arts

European Federation of Geologists

European Geosciences Union

European Physical Society

European Science Foundation

Federation of American Scientists

French Academy of Sciences

Geological Society of America

Geological Society of Australia

Geological Society of London

Georgian Academy of Sciences

German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina

Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences

Indian National Science Academy

Indonesian Academy of Sciences

Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology

Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand

Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK

InterAcademy Council

International Alliance of Research Universities

International Arctic Science Committee

International Association for Great Lakes Research

International Council for Science

International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences

International Research Institute for Climate and Society

International Union for Quaternary Research

International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics

International Union of Pure and Applied Physics

Islamic World Academy of Sciences

Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Kenya National Academy of Sciences

Korean Academy of Science and Technology

Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts

Acadamie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal

Latin American Academy of Sciences

Latvian Academy of Sciences

Lithuanian Academy of Sciences

Madagascar National Academy of Arts, Letters, and Sciences

Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology

Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts

National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina

National Academy of Sciences of Armenia

National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic

National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka

National Academy of Sciences, United States of America

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Association of Geoscience Teachers

National Association of State Foresters

National Center for Atmospheric Research

National Council of Engineers Australia

National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, New Zealand

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Research Council

National Science Foundation

Natural England

Natural Environment Research Council, UK

Natural Science Collections Alliance

Network of African Science Academies

New York Academy of Sciences

Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences

Nigerian Academy of Sciences

Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters

Oklahoma Climatological Survey

Organization of Biological Field Stations

Pakistan Academy of Sciences

Palestine Academy for Science and Technology

Pew Center on Global Climate Change

Polish Academy of Sciences

Romanian Academy

Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium

Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain

Royal Astronomical Society, UK

Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

Royal Irish Academy

Royal Meteorological Society (UK)

Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Royal Scientific Society of Jordan

Royal Society of Canada

Royal Society of Chemistry, UK

Royal Society of the United Kingdom

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Russian Academy of Sciences

Science and Technology, Australia

Science Council of Japan

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Slovak Academy of Sciences

Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Society for Ecological Restoration International

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Society of American Foresters

Society of Biology (UK)

Society of Systematic Biologists

Soil Science Society of America

Sudan Academy of Sciences

Sudanese National Academy of Science

Tanzania Academy of Sciences

The Wildlife Society (international)

Turkish Academy of Sciences

Uganda National Academy of Sciences

Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities

United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

World Association of Zoos and Aquariums

World Federation of Public Health Associations

World Forestry Congress

World Health Organization

World Meteorological Organization

Zambia Academy of Sciences

Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences

Hopefully that's enough.