Global warming

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Global warming is the scientific evidence that temperatures of the near surface Earth atmosphere are rising, and that "higher temperatures threaten dangerous consequences [on planet Earth]: drought, disease, floods, lost ecosystems."—Natural Resources Defense Council [1]

"Global warming" refers to an average increase in the Earth's temperature, which in turn causes changes in climate.—U.S. EPA [2]

While the term global warming is in common usage, "climate change" is used as a broader term to describe the effects of rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, although this term is also used by groups who want to downplay the negative connotations of "global warming." For example, in some locations the most significant effect of climate change will be increased rainfall. (In SourceWatch the bulk of the material on this topic will originate from the "climate change" page).


Evidence of global warming

Global Warming's Deadly Denial

Reviewing the continued campaign by climate change skeptics, David McKnight, an associate professor at the University of New South Wales (Australia), notes that there several reasons why companies such as Exxon have had some success playing the global warming denial card. "First, the implications of the science are frightening. Shifting to renewable energy will be costly and disruptive. Second, doubt is an easy product to sell. Climate denial tells us what we all secretly want to hear. Third, science is portrayed as political orthodoxy rather than objective knowledge, a curiously postmodern argument," he writes. While the tobacco industry is often referred to as the template for the fossil fuel industry's campaign, McKnight argues that there is an important distinction. "There are no 'smoke-free areas' on the planet. Climate denial may turn out to be the world's most deadly PR campaign," he concludes. [1] Climate change deniers have also seized on private emails that were hacked and disclosed in what has been dubbed Climategate.


On November 31, 2009, the Pennsylvania State University announced an inquiry into the potential misconduct of Michael Mann, director of its Earth System Science Center.[2] On February 3, 2010, the inquiry moved into the 'investigatory stage' following the determination that additional investigation was needed for one of the four allegations of impropriety, and to determine whether his actions had caused public doubt about his scientific findings, although it decided he had not directly or indirectly falsified research data.[3][4] Following this, Pennsylvania State University's Young Americans for Freedom organized protests against the findings, stating the three panel members had incentive to protect the university's funding and had not examined the evidence while relying primarily on Mann's own statements.[5] In April 2010, the National Science Foundation, an independent government agency and major funder of climate change research, had its Inspector General re-examine PSU's findings to ensure adequacy.[6]

On December 1, 2009, the University of East Anglia similarly announced an investigation into Phil Jones, its director of Climate Research.[2]

In April 2010 Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli asked the University of Virginia to produce "a sweeping swath of documents relating to Mann’s receipt of nearly half a million dollars in state grant-funded climate research" conducted from 1999-2005, when Mann was employed by the university.[7] Following this, Sean Sublette, a meteorolist employed for a Virginia ABC News affiliate, criticized Cuccinelli for the investigation.[8]

In May 2010, Christopher Horner, following his previous Freedom of Information Act request three years ago, stated that he would file a lawsuit against NASA for release of potential 'Climategate' emails, and suggested NASA might be withholding them long enough to prevent their impact on an upcoming Senate debate on Global Warming.[9]

Public Perception

Following the uproar, Gallup polling surveyed a sharp increase in American belief that the seriousness of Global Warming is exaggerated.[10] Rasmussen found a similar drop in public belief that Global Warming is caused by human activity.[11]

Gallup: Thinking about what is said in the news, in your view is the seriousness of global warming -- (ROTATED: generally exaggerated, generally correct, or is it generally underestimated)?
Global Warming Poll 1997 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Generally exaggerated 31% 30% 31% 33% 38% 31% 30% 33% 35% 41% 48%
Generally correct 34% 34% 32% 29% 25% 29% 28% 29% 33% 29% 24%
Generally underestimated 27% 32% 32% 33% 33% 35% 38% 35% 29% 28% 25%

Leaked Emails Online

The leaked emails are indexed at "East Anglia" and at "".

Specific analysis of the emails/documents in question has been provided by John P. Costella[12],[13], and James Delingpole.[14]

Impacts of Climate Change - Science in 2008

The Methane "Time Bomb"

In September 2008, The Independent newspaper reported how preliminary scientific findings suggested that massive deposits of subsea methane were bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

The move is seen as extremely worrying, because it could be a positive feedback mechanism, where the more the Arctic melts the more methane is released. As methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, its release into the atmosphere causes much greater rates of climate change and warming and hence more methane release. So you could get the runaway greenhouse effect.

The Scientists had been sailing the entire length of Russia’s northern coast discovered intense concentrations of methane – sometimes at up to 100 times background levels – over several areas covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf. They saw areas of sea foaming with gas bubbling up through “methane chimneys” rising from the sea floor. This could mean that the sub-sea layer of permafrost, which has acted like a “lid” to prevent the gas from escaping, have melted away to allow methane to rise from underground deposits.

Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden, one of the leaders of the expedition, said in an email. "Yesterday, for the first time, we documented a field where the release was so intense that the methane did not have time to dissolve into the seawater but was rising as methane bubbles to the sea surface. These ‘methane chimneys’ were documented on echo sounder and with seismic [instruments] ... Nobody knows how many more such areas exist on the extensive East Siberian continental shelves."

He continued: "The conventional thought has been that the permafrost 'lid' on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place. The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane... The permafrost now has small holes. We have found elevated levels of methane above the water surface and even more in the water just below. It is obvious that the source is the seabed." [15]

Greenhouse Gases Last 'Forever'

New research was published in November 2008 that showed that the effects of CO2 pollution would be felt for hundreds of thousands of years. The research was shocking because most governments and even scientists had assumed that CO2 emissions would work their way out of the atmosphere in about a century, enabling it to clean itself fairly rapidly once the world switched to clean sources of energy.

But one of the main researchers of the new research, Professor David Archer of Chicago University, warned that "the climatic impacts of releasing fossil fuel carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will last longer than Stonehenge, longer than time capsules, far longer than the age of human civilisation so far. Ultimate recovery takes place on timescales of hundreds of thousands of years, a geologic longevity typically associated in public perceptions with nuclear waste." Archer's paper will be published in the journal Annual Reviews of Earth and Planetary Sciences. [16]

Climate Change Happening Faster, Sooner, Stronger

Just as European leaders were faltering in their efforts to tackle climate change, a new survey of the science by the environmental organisation, WWF has found that the climate is changing much faster, stronger and sooner than even the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) forecast.

According to WWF, research on climate change and its impacts published since the latest assessment report from the IPCC revealed that global warming is accelerating at times far beyond IPCC 2007 forecasts. The report argued that the first ‘tipping point’ may already have been reached in the Arctic, where sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and may be gone completely within five years.

WWF warned that ‘extreme weather events’ such as the hot summer of 2003, which caused an extra 35,000 deaths across southern Europe from heat stress and poor air quality, will happen more frequently.

It could result in rapid and abrupt climate change rather than the gradual changes forecast by the IPCC. Other findings included:

  • Global sea level rise could more than double from the IPCC’s estimate of 0.59m by the end of the century.
  • Natural carbon sinks, such as forests and oceans, are losing their ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere faster than expected.
  • Rising temperatures have already led to a major reduction in food crops resulting in losses of 40m tonnes of grain per year.
  • Marine ecosystems in the North and Baltic Sea are being exposed to the warmest temperatures measured since records began.
  • The number and intensity of extreme cyclones over the UK and North Sea are projected to increase, leading to increased wind speeds and storm-related losses over Western and Central Europe. [17]

The report was endorsed by Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the newly elected Vice Chair of the IPCC, who said: “It is clear that climate change is already having a greater impact than most scientists had anticipated, so it’s vital that international mitigation and adaptation responses become swifter and more ambitious.” [18]

"The Deadly Dozen"

Avian flu, TB, cholera and Ebola are just some of the broad range of infectious diseases that will get worse because of climate change, according to a report issued by the Wildlife Conservation Society in October 2008. Others include intestinal and external parasites, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, Lyme disease and even the plague. The diseases are likely to spread more easily, because of changes in temperature and precipitation, threatening human health and global economies. For instance, avian influenza and several other livestock diseases that have reemerged since the mid-1990s have caused an estimated $100 billion in losses to the global economy.

“The term ‘climate change’ conjures images of melting ice caps and rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities and nations, but just as important is how increasing temperatures and fluctuating precipitation levels will change the distribution of dangerous pathogens,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO launching the report. [19]

Sea-Level Rise to “Substantially Exceed” Projections

In December, new research revealed that sea level rise will “substantially exceed” previous estimates. The latest estimates were that it could rise 150 cm this Century. The research, which was commissioned by the US Climate Change Science Program, concluded that the rises will substantially exceed the forecasts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and will mean catastrophic flooding that would affect millions of people. It added urgency to the growing calls for an official update to the science before the next UN Climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009. [20]

Arctic Issues

Arctic Sea Ice "Plummets"

A study by British researchers, published in October 2008, found that the Arctic sea ice thickness “plummeted” the previous winter, thinning by as much as half a metre in some regions.

The team from University College London argued that the results provided the first definitive proof that the overall volume of Arctic ice was decreasing. “The ice thickness was fairly constant for the five winters before this, but it plummeted in the winter after the 2007 minimum,” lead author Katherine Giles said.

The team found that sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record in September 2007, when it extended across an area of just 4.13 million sq km, beating the previous record low of 5.32 million sq km, measured in 2005.

The recent record losses of ice cover in the Arctic led to suggestions that the region could have reached a “tipping point” argued the paper’s co-author Seymour Laxon. “About five years ago, the average projection for the sea ice disappearing was about 2080. But the ice minimums, and this evidence of melting, suggests that we should favour the models that suggest the sea ice will disappear by 2030-2040, but there is still a lot of uncertainty.” [21]

Proof that Cimate Change at the Poles is Man-made

In October 2008, a study was published that showed that temperature rises in the Antarctic as well as the Arctic are the result of man-made emissions of greenhouse gases.

It was the first time scientists had been able to prove the link between the temperature changes in both polar regions are down to human activity.

The findings contradict the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said that Antarctica was the only continent where the human impact on the climate had not been observed. The new study showed that Antarctica has been caught up in the changes to the global climate over the past 60 years and that this warming cannot be attributed to natural variations.

"We're able for the first time to directly attribute warming in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to human influences on the climate," said Nathan Gillett of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who led the study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The analysis has also shown there is a significant change to the Antarctic climate caused by human activity.

Peter Stott of the Met Office Hadley Centre, who took part in the modelling analysis, said: "In both polar regions the observed warming can only be reproduced in our models by including human influences – natural forcings [increases] alone are not enough. There was a clear detection in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions of a human influence on the climate. We had shown we had detected the human fingerprint in both regions." [22].

Has the Arctic “passed the point of no return”?

In December 2008, the Independent newspaper reported that scientists had found the first unequivocal evidence that the Arctic region is warming at a much faster rate than the rest of the world. The finding happened a full decade before it had been predicted.

Scientists found evidence of what is known as “Arctic Amplification”, which is where air temperatures in the region are higher than would be normally expected during the autumn because the increased melting of the summer Arctic sea ice is accumulating heat in the ocean.

The new research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. It showed that Arctic amplification has been under way for the past five years, and will continue to intensify Arctic warming for the foreseeable future.

The lead researcher, Julienne Stroeve, from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Colorado, said “The observed autumn warming that we’ve seen over the Arctic Ocean, not just this year but over the past five years or so, represents Arctic amplification, the notion that rises in surface air temperatures in response to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations will be larger in the Arctic than elsewhere over the globe”.

Temperature readings for October 2008 were significantly higher than normal across the entire Arctic region – between 3C and 5C above average – but some areas were dramatically higher. In the Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska, for instance, near-surface air temperatures were more than 7C higher than normal.

The findings, said the Independent “will further raise concerns that the Arctic has already passed the climatic tipping-point towards ice-free summers, beyond which it may not recover.” [23]

Impacts of Climate Change - Science in 2009

Sea Losing Ability to Absorb C02

In January 2009, new research from the Sea of Japan heightened fears that the Earth is rapidly slowing down in its natural ability to absorb man-made CO2.

Scientists found that there had been a sudden and dramatic collapse in the amount of CO2 being absorbed by the Sea of Japan. This is seen as deeply worrying: The world’s oceans soak up about 11 billion tonnes of human C02 pollution each year, about a quarter of all produced.

Even a slight weakening of this natural process would leave significantly more CO2 in the atmosphere. Kitack Lee, an associate professor at Pohang University of Science and Technology, who led the scientific research, says the discovery is the “very first observation that directly relates ocean CO2 uptake change to ocean warming”.

According to Lee, warmer waters alter a process known as “ventilation” - the way in which seawater flows, then drags absorbed CO2 from surface waters to the depths. He warns that the effect is probably not confined to the Sea of Japan. It could also affect CO2 uptake in the Atlantic and Southern oceans.

Announcing their results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientific team led by Lee argued: “The rapid and substantial reduction … is surprising and is attributed to considerable weakening of overturning circulation.” [24]

Antarctica is Warming

New scientific research published in the journal Nature in January 2009, showed that Antarctica, seemingly the only continent on Earth that had not been warming because of climate change, was in fact getting warmer.

The lead scientist Eric Steig from the University of Washington in Seattle and his team, looked at the sparse temperature records of the past 50 years and combined them with satellite records. Combining these two, they concluded that a large area of Antarctica had warmed up.

They have concluded that Anarctica has warmed about 0.6C over the last 50 years, although it is not warming uniformly. Temperatures on the West Antarctica ice sheet, which includes the Antarctic peninsula and is as large as California, Texas, Alaska and Kansas put together, are rising much faster than in East Antarctica.

Writing in the journal Nature, they argued the trend is “difficult to explain” without the effect of rising greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. “It’s much less than Arctic warming but it pretty much is on par with global average warming,” Steig said.

As previous studies have not found a warming trend in Antarctica, Steig’s conclusion is significant. “This shouldn’t cause anyone to worry more than they did before. But what it does do is kill off the rather silly and careless statements out there from some people to the effect that Antarctica’s cooling,” said Steig. [25] [26]

Emperor Penguins Face Extinction

In January 2009, new scientific research warned that Emperor penguins are heading towards extinction. Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95% by 2100, reported the scientists.

Though the penguins could avert disaster by shifting their breeding patterns with the climate, the study’s lead author Stephanie Jenouvrier said that was unlikely. “Unlike some other Antarctic bird species that have altered their life cycles, penguins don’t catch on so quickly,” she said. “They are long-lived organisms, so they adapt slowly. This is a problem because the climate is changing very fast.”

She added: “I hope people will be sensitized by the effect of climate change on such a charismatic species and realize there are strong ecological consequences of climate change.” [27] [28]

The Marathon of the Penguins

In February 2009, scientific research was published that had found that penguins from the largest colony in mainland South America were being forced to swim the equivalent of two marathons farther to find food because of climate change.

The survival of the Magellanic penguin colony at Punta Tombo, on the Atlantic coast of Argentina, is now threatened by the increasing distances the birds must travel to feed themselves and their chicks.

Dee Boersma, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said that Punta Tombo penguins were now routinely swimming 25 miles farther on their foraging expeditions than they did a decade ago.

“That distance might not sound like much, but they also have to swim another 25 miles back, and they are swimming that extra 50 miles while their mates are back at the breeding grounds, sitting on a nest and starving,” she said.

The longer foraging trips have contributed to the colony's decline: penguin numbers have fallen by more than 20 per cent in the past 22 years, leaving only 200,000 breeding pairs today. [29]

Fish Stocks Collapsing Too

The world's fish stocks will soon suffer major upheaval due to climate change, scientists also warned in February 2009. Changing ocean temperatures and currents will force thousands of species to migrate polewards, including cod, herring, plaice and prawns. By 2050, US fishermen may see a 50% reduction in Atlantic cod populations. Cod numbers in the North Sea could also fall 20 % by then too.

The predictions of "huge changes", published in the journal Fish and Fisheries, were presented at the AAAS annual meeting in Chicago. "The impact of climate change on marine biodiversity and fisheries is going to be huge," said lead author Dr William Cheung, of the University of East Anglia in the UK.

While scientists have made projections of climate change impact on land species, this is the most comprehensive study on marine species ever published. "We found that on average, the animals may shift their distribution towards the poles by 40km per decade," said Dr Cheung. "Atlantic cod on the east coast of the US may see a 50% reduction in some populations by 2050." The invasion of new species into unfamiliar environments could seriously disrupt ecosystems, the researchers warned. [30]

The Old-Growth Forests are Dying

A study published in January 2009 in the journal Science found that tree death rates in the old-growth forests of western North America that stretch from Arizona to British Columbia have more than doubled over the last 30 years. Temperatures in the forests have increased by on average over 0.5 degrees C over the period, reducing snowfall accumulations, prolonging summer droughts and raising the insect population, including tree-killing bark beetles.

The study found that the increase in dying trees had been pervasive. Tree death rates have increased across a wide variety of forest types, at all elevations, in trees of all sizes, and in pines, firs, hemlocks, and other kinds of trees. Moreover, the scientists believe that the accelerated forest loss could trigger an environmental domino effect on the region’s wildlife and climate.

“Tree death rates have more than doubled,” said study co-author Phillip van Mantgem, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). “The same way that in any group of people a small number will die each year, in any forest a small number of trees die each year. But our long-term monitoring shows that tree mortality has been climbing, while the establishment of replacement trees has not.”

“Tree death rates are like interest on a bank account - the effects compound over time,” added Nate Stephenson, the research team co-leader. “A doubling of death rates eventually could reduce average tree age in a forest by half, thus reducing average tree size.”

“If anything, it’s a warning bell,” concluded van Mantgem. “A lot of people like to think of these majestic old-growth forests as unchanging, but this showed us that they do in fact respond rather quickly to the environment.” [31] [32]

Climate Change is "Irreversable"

In January 2009, a US government-sponsored report warned that many effects of climate change were already irreversible. Even if carbon emissions were somehow stopped, global temperatures could remain high for 1,000 years, concluded the scientists. The report, sponsored by the US Department of Energy, appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The scientists warned that, if carbon levels in the atmosphere continued to rise, there would be less rainfall in already dry areas of southern Europe, North America, parts of Africa and Australia. The added that oceans that are currently slowing down climate change by absorbing heat, will eventually release that heat back into the air.

“People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 year - that’s not true,” said researcher Susan Solomon, the lead author of the report. [33]

"Heatwave shows climate scientists are right"

In January 2009, Australia was gripped by its worst drought in a century. And the blistering heat which scorched southern Australia proves the accuracy of warnings by scientists, said country’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong. "All of this is consistent with climate change and all of this is consistent with what scientists told us would happen."

In the last week of January, temperatures hovered around 45 degrees in Adelaide, which experienced nearly a week of such temperatures. In Melbourne the temperature stayed above 43 degrees for days. Even normally mild Hobart was in the 40s. Over 28 people died, leaves fell off trees to conserve water, railway tracks buckled, with people retiring to their beds with deep-frozen hot-water bottles. [34]

The heat-wave came as most of the south of the country was already gripped by an unprecedented 12-year drought. The "Australian Alps" had had their driest three years ever, and the water from the vast Murray-Darling river system was failing to reach the sea for 40 per cent of the time. Harvests had also fallen sharply. [35] In one episode, over 10,000 homes were without power in southern Australia as the unprecedented demand for air conditioners, coupled with the heat, forced a substation to malfunction. [36]

People in Australia were calling it a once in a 100-year event, but scientists acknowledge that events such as these will become more common.

Tropical Forests Could go up in Smoke

In February 2009, Dr Chris Field, co-chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that tropical forests may dry out and become vulnerable to devastating wildfires as climate change accelerates over the coming decades.

Dr Field, the director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institute, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago that the IPCC's last report on climate change in 2007 had substantially underestimated the severity of global warming over the rest of the century. The report concluded that the Earth's temperature is likely to rise between 1.1C and 6.4C by 2100, depending on future global carbon emissions. "We now have data showing that from 2000 to 2007, greenhouse gas emissions increased far more rapidly than we expected, primarily because developing countries, like China and India, saw a huge upsurge in electric power generation, almost all of it based on coal," Field said. The next report, which Field will oversee, is due in 2014 and will now include future scenarios where global warming is far more serious than previous reports have suggested, he said.

Field said that if the tropics became dry enough for fires to break out, tropical forests would pass a "tipping point" from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to releasing it.

"Tropical forests are essentially inflammable. You couldn't get a fire to burn there if you tried. But if they dry out just a little, the result can be very large and destructive wildfires. It is increasingly clear that as you produce a warmer world, lots of forested areas that had been acting as carbon sinks could be converted to carbon sources," he said. The result could lead to runaway warming.” [37]

Heading for 2 Degree C Rise and Resource Wars

In March 2009, leading climate scientists in Britain argued that there is a 50-50 chance of temperature rises reaching dangerous levels over the next century. Even with heavy cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of 3 per cent a year from 2015, scientists from the Hadley Centre in Exeter, believed the chance of preventing the temperature rise from exceeding 2C by 2050 is no more than half. And every decade’s delay in reducing emissions would cause temperatures to go up by half a degree.

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Hadley Centre, said that a 2C rise could be delayed but it was extremely unlikely that it could be avoided. “We are pretty much going to head towards 2C whatever we do. There are some impacts that are already happening and we are going to be living in a very different world.”

Any rise above 2C could lead to wars over key resources, including water supplies, falls in crop yields in southern Europe and the spread of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Almost a third of animal and plant species could become extinct. [38]

Sea-Levels Rising Twice as Fast

At the climate conference on Copenhagen in March 2009, leading scientists predicted that sea levels will rise twice as fast as was forecast by the United Nations only two years ago.

Rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are likely to push up sea levels by a metre or more by 2100, swamping coastal cities and obliterating the living space of 600 million people who live in deltas, low-lying areas and small island states.

Professor Konrad Steffen, from the University of Colorado, Dr John Church, of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research in Tasmania, Dr Eric Rignot, of Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, and Professor Stefan Rahmsdorf, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who are all experts in sea-level rise gave an alarming press conference.

Professor Steffen said Greenland was losing 200 to 300 cubic-kilometres of ice into the sea each year – about the same amount as all the ice in Arctic Europe. Dr Church said that the most recent satellite and in situ data showed seas were now rising by more than 3mm a year – more than 50 per cent faster than the average for the 20th century.

“As a result of improved estimates of the observed rise, the thermal expansion, the melting of the glaciers and of the ice sheets, we now have a much better quantitive understanding of why sea level is rising,” he said. “Without significant, urgent and sustained emissions reductions, we will cross a threshold which will lead to continuing sea level rise of metres.”

Professor Steffen added: “What we have learnt in the past three or four years is that the ice dynamic is much stronger than the models indicated, and the prediction has to be revised up to a metre or more – which is enormous if you look at the impact.” [39]

Political Issues Surrounding Climate

Big Oil's Day in Court is Coming

In December 2008, one of Britain’s leading climate scientists argued that the day when people affected by worsening storms, heatwaves and floods could soon be able to sue oil, coal and power companies was fast approaching. So as the science gets stronger it opens possibilities for litigation.

Myles Allen, a physicist at Oxford University, argued that a breakthrough that allows scientists to judge the role man-made climate change played in extreme weather events could see a rush to the courts over the next few years. He told teh Guardian newspaper: "We are starting to get to the point that when an adverse weather event occurs we can quantify how much more likely it was made by human activity. And people adversely affected by climate change today are in a position to document and quantify their losses. This is going to be hugely important."

Allen's team had used the new technique to work out whether global warming worsened the devastating UK floods in the Autumn of 2000, which inundated 10,000 properties. Although not disclosing his results, he said that people affected by floods could “potentially” use a positive finding in his research to begin legal action.

Some lawyers though argue that the issue of causation could be problematic. Proving a direct causal link between an emission and an extreme weather event could be difficult. Here the lessons from litigating Big Tobacco are not that encouraging. But the Guardian article closes on an interesting point about the legal repurcussions of denying climate change.

Owen Lomas, the head of environmental law at London law firm Allen & Overy, argued that companies that have also misrepresented the science of climate change could also get sued. Said Lomas: “If you look at the extent to which certain major companies in the US are accused of having funded disinformation to cast doubt on the link between man-made emissions and global warming, that could open the way to litigation.” [40]

In Search of a New Home

The newly elected President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, announced in November 2008 that the country would begin to divert a portion of their billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland for the 300,000 islanders, because of rising sea levels.

The Maldives, famous for its white beaches and coral atolls, lie just 1.5 metres above sea-level and are one of the most vulnerable to rising seas. "We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome. After all, the Israelis [began by buying] land in Palestine," said Nasheed.

Likely places to go include Sri Lanka, India or even Australia. Nasheed said he intended to create a "sovereign wealth fund" from the dollars generated by "importing tourists", in the way that Arab states have done by "exporting oil". [41].

Aborigines to be Hit Hardest by Climate Change

In January 2009, a new scientific report argued that aborigines will be among the Australians hardest hit by climate change, with higher rates of disease and spiritual suffering. Due to Aborigines' close connection to tribal land, when they witness it degrading due to a changing climate, it will make them "feel this 'sickness' themselves." Co-author Donna Green, a New South Wales University climate change researcher, said "The psychological well-being of indigenous people is frequently connected to the well-being of the land, the spiritual connection and the whole cohesion of the community itself".

The report, which was published in the Medical Journal of Australia, urged federal and state governments to act immediately to "mitigate some of the worst impacts of climate change in these communities". It continued: "Elevated temperatures and increases in hot spells are expected to be a major problem for indigenous health in remote areas, where cardiovascular and respiratory disease are more prevalent and there are many elderly people with inadequate facilities to cope with the increased heat stress". Other problems identified included: Higher rates of dengue fever, a mosquito-spread virus, and communicable diseases such as bacterial diarrhea, which are common in hot and dry conditions. [42]

One Third of China's CO2 Emissions "Due To West"

A new scientific report published in February 2009, found that half of the recent rise in China’s CO2 emissions was caused by the manufacturing of goods for other countries, which means that in total about a third of all Chinese CO2 emissions were the result of producing goods for export.

As China is the fastest growing source of carbon dioxide, much of the international pressure was being focussed on it. However China argues that it is not responsible for its “offshored emissions” – those that are due to it manufacturing goods for export.

According to Glen Peters, one of the authors of the new report at Oslo’s Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, about 9% of total Chinese emissions are the result of manufacturing goods for the US, and 6% are from producing goods for Europe.

The research, due to be published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, underlines just how important “offshored emissions” could be in the run up to this year’s crucial Copenhagen summit.

More and more people are arguing that the responsibility for these emissions should lie with consumer countries, although working out any global deal that incorporated this would be hugely problematical. [43]

Brown Tells US Congress he is "Confident" of Agreement in Copenhagen

In march 2009, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown addressed a rare joint-session of the US Congress. Amongst Brown’s message were three important passages on oil and climate. The first was a general concept of a “planet imperilled. “Past British prime ministers have travelled to this Capitol building in times of war to talk of war,” said Brown. “I come now to talk of new and different battles we must fight together; to speak of a global economy in crisis and a planet imperilled.”

The second was the use of environmental technology. “It is only by investing in environmental technology that we can end the dictatorship of oil, and it is only by tackling climate change that we create the millions of new green jobs we need For the lesson of this crisis is that we cannot just wait for tomorrow today.”

And the third was working together on the need for a “low carbon economy”. “I am confident”, said Brown, “that this president, this Congress and the peoples of the world can come together in Copenhagen this December to reach a historic agreement on climate change.” [44]

Hopes of Any Meaningful Climate Deal "Already Lost"

In March 2009, some nine months before the main UN Climate conference in Copenhagen, leading climate scientists meet in the city to discuss the latest scientific research and developments. The findings would be used to inform the politicians at the crucial meeting in December.

But on the eve of the conference, two leading British climate scientists broke ranks from their peers to declare that they believed that hopes of getting a meaningful deal on halting climate change were “already lost.”

Professor Kevin Anderson, director of the prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, and Professor Trevor Davies, one of the centre’s founders, said it was time to start looking for alternatives to an international deal.

“We all hope that Copenhagen will succeed but I think it will fail. We won’t come u9 p with a global agreement,” Professor Anderson said. “I think we will negotiate, there will be a few fudges and there will be a very weak daughter of Kyoto. I doubt it will be significantly based on the science of climate change.”

Professor Anderson argues that the severity of the likely impacts of climate change has been publicly underplayed by both politicians and scientists. Moreover Anderson believes that, rather than recognise the scale and urgency of the problem, negotiators will place a heavy reliance on technological solutions that have yet to be invented or proven. “The consequences of the numbers we come up with are politically unacceptable. It’s difficult for people to stand up.” [45]

Politicians "Willfully Ignoring" Climate Science

John Ashston, the British government’s special representative on climate change, spoke at the opening session of the climate conference in Copenhagen. He argued that that politicians were “willfully ignoring and misunderstanding” the science of global warming. He said: “In science the truth is out there. It’s there to be discovered. In politics often the truth is whatever is expedient to this or that project,” he said in the opening session of the conference.”

Urging the scientists to speak the “language of politicians”, he said: “We need to do this better to stand any chance of keeping climate change on the right side of the last acceptable risk. There has to be much better communication between the world of science and the world of politics.”

Speaking outside the conference hall, Ashston added: “There are plenty of people in the political world who are quite happy to abuse the [scientists’ conclusions] to serve political purposes. Politics is a shark-infested sea. The more effort scientists put into how their message might be heard, how it might be manipulated and made mischief of, the better." [46]

Scientists Warn of Catastrophic Risk of Political Failure At Copenhagen Summit

In what can only be described as a watershed moment, in March 2009, the 2,500 leading scientists meeting in Copenhagen issued a statement calling on governments to take “vigorous and widely implemented” steps to address climate change. Failure to do so would result in “significant risk” of “irreversible climatic shifts”.

Although their full findings would not be published until June 2009, the statement was a clear signal to the world’s politicians. Scientists agreed that “worst case” scenarios were already becoming reality and that, unless drastic action was taken soon, “dangerous climate change” was imminent. [47]

They continued: “The climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.”

The summary adds: “There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches - economic, technological, behavioural, management - to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented.” [48]

The meeting was also addressed by Lord Stern, the economist, whose landmark review of the economics of climate change published in 2006 highlighted the severe cost to the world of doing nothing.

He now says the report underestimated the scale of the risks, and the speed at which the planet is warming. Stern asked: “Do politicians understand just how difficult it could be, just how devastating rises of 4C, 5C or 6C could be? I think, not yet.”

He continued: “A rise of 5C would be a temperature the world has not seen for 30 to 50 million years. We’ve been around only 100,000 years as human beings. We don’t know what that’s like. We haven’t seen 3C for a few million years, and we don’t know what that looks like either.”

He said that if the world was to warm by 5C over the next century, there would be dramatic consequences for millions of people. Rising seas would make many areas uninhabitable leading to mass migrations and inevitably sparking violent conflict. [49]

“You’d see hundreds of millions people, probably billions of people who would have to move and we know that would cause conflict, so we would see a very extended period of conflict around the world, decades or centuries as hundreds of millions of people move, ” said Lord Stern. “So I think it’s very important that we understand the magnitude of the risk we are running.”

Lord Stern’s views were echoed by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen: “Business as usual is dead - green growth is the answer to both our climate and economic problems.” [50]

Maldives Outlines Plans to Go Carbon Neutral

In March 2009, Mohamed Nasheed, the new president of the Republic of Maldives promised to make the Maldives carbon neutral within a decade. “Climate change isn’t a vague and abstract danger but a real threat to our survival. But climate change not only threatens the Maldives, it threatens us all,” he said.

He added: “The level of warming and associated sea-level rise that would inundate the Maldives could also tip climate change beyond man’s control. If the world can’t save the Maldives today, it might be too late to save London, New York or Hong Kong tomorrow.”

Nasheed took issue with “many politicians’ response to the looming catastrophe” that “beggars belief. Playing a reckless game of chicken with Mother Nature, they prefer to deny, squabble and procrastinate rather than heed the words of those who know best.”

In a bold move, Nasheed said that the Maldives will be carbon neutral in ten years. In unusually undiplomatic language he argued “We have done a deal with the carbon devil: for untold fossil fuel consumption in our lifetime, we are trading our children’s place in an earthly paradise. Today, the Maldives will opt out of that pact.”

The plan includes a new renewable electricity generation and transmission infrastructure with 155 large wind turbines, half a square kilometre of rooftop solar panels, and a biomass plant burning coconut husks. Battery banks would provide back-up storage for when neither wind nor solar energy is available. [51]

Nasheed ended by saying “People often tell me caring for the environment is too difficult, too expensive or too much bother. Going green might cost a lot but refusing to act now will cost us the Earth.” [52]

Shell Bottom of the Emission Reporting League

In March 2009, The Financial Times reported that “Royal Dutch Shell’s disclosure of its carbon emissions lags behind its closest rivals and falls well short of best practice, a study by an industry consultant has said.”

According to the energy consultant, PFC Energy, Shell was rated bottom out of six multi-national oil companies surveyed on the level of detail, frequency and coherency of their emissions disclosures. In contrast, Shell’s rival, BP, was ranked highest. Even ExxonMobil, traditionally seen as a oil industry dinosaur on climate change, was rated above Shell.

PFC bases its rankings on publicly available data from corporate sustainability reports, annual reports and corporate websites. It scored Shell 1.15 out of 5 on its carbon disclosures, whereas BP got 3.05 and Exxon 2.76.

PFC said Shell’s performance on disclosure raised questions about its internal organisation - five years after Shell was hit by a scandal when it was revealed that oil and gas reserves had been overstated. “The possibility exists that the upheaval Shell has experienced over the last decade - the reserves writedown and massive corporate and business reorganisations - has made it difficult for the group to quantify its emissions thoroughly,” PFC said.

Shell argues though that it has been rated more highly on a broader set of criteria by the Carbon Disclosure Project. The company claims that “It is still early days on GHG [greenhouse gas] reporting”. [53]

UN Accuses EU of "Shifting the Goal-posts" Over Climate

In March 2009, the UN’s chief negotiator on climate change, Yvo de Boer, accused Europe’s politicians of shifting the goalposts over how much of the bill for reducing emissions will fall on developed and developing countries. At the Bali Climate Change in December 2007 the EU agreed to bankroll clean technology in developing countries if they agreed to take appropriate actions to curb emissions growth.

Now the EU has shifted its position to say it wants developing countries to produce plans to cut emissions across their entire economy before they will get financial assistance from the EU.

de Boer, told BBC News: “Quite frankly the language from (EU) ministers re-writes some of the fundamental agreements we made in Bali. I don’t think it’s constructive to enter into a negotiation by trying to change the fundamental principles on which you’ve just agreed the negotiation will be based.” [54]

The spat between the UN and EU came just six weeks before the start of negotiations that will lay the groundwork for international talks in December. The rift was said to be very much in evidence at the Carbon Market Insights conference where there was said to be a “distinctly frosty atmosphere” between the UN and EU. [55]

On February 18, 2010, de Boer announced he would step down as executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCCC) to pursue a career in the private sector. A senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated: "There is drift and hesitation, and the resignation will add ot the mood." [3]

US Politics

Obama Team Promises Action on Climate

Within days of taking office in November 2008, Obama's energy advisor, Jason Grumet, said that United States has “operated absent a federal climate policy, a federal climate program with mandatory elements, for many, many years now.”

Grumet told an environmental conference there would be “swift movement” on climate change legislation. “I think it is going to be a very very busy 2009, and I think we are going to need all of you to be on top of your game.”, Grumet said.

Despite the promises of action, Grumet gave no hint of any policy specifics, and the Guardian newspaper reported how “his optimism was not shared by others at the conference.” [56]. For example, Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said that a U.S. cap-and-trade law is “much more likely in 2010″ and said she worried that momentum might flag in the meantime. [57]

Gore Says "No" To Obama

There was also disappointment for the people who had hoped that Al Gore would be Obama’s White House “climate czar”. His spokesperson Kalee Kreider said “Former Vice President Gore does not intend to seek or accept any formal position in government. He feels very strong right now that the best thing for him to do is to build support for the bold changes that we have to make to solve the climate crisis.” [58]

Waxman Fires First Salvo on Climate

The week before President-elect Obama's inaugeration, Representative Henry Waxman, the Democrat from California, opened the new Congress’ first hearing on climate change and immediately promised to move “quickly and decisively” to have legislation coming from his committee before Memorial Day at the end of May.

“Our environment and our economy depend on congressional action to confront the threat of climate change and secure our energy independence,” said Waxman. “U.S. industries want to invest in a clean energy future, but uncertainties about whether, when and how greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced is deterring these vital investments.”

First up before the committee was the, the 31-member United States Climate Action Partnership, which earlier that week had called for a 80 percent emission reduction by 2050 with half of that coming by 2030.

But in a sign of the troubled times to come, the debate was seen as acrimonious. Representative Joe Barton of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, took the sceptic argument and argued that “the science is not settled” on climate change.

“Be prepared for a battle,” Illinois Republican John Shimkus said. Shimkus also vowed to “hold accountable” any Democrats from coal-abundant and petroleum-producing states who vote in favour of cap and trade legislation. They also promised to hold members of the Partnership accountable for their own use of fossil fuels. [59]

Although their plan came under attack from the Republicans, the Partnership’s group’s plan does not go as far as what Obama has proposed, or as Waxman has floated. Obama has called for an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels, meaning greater reductions would have to be made. [60]

Many environmentalists attacked the plan for being too weak. The Union of Concerned Scientists said the blueprint needed “strengthening.” Friends of the Earth focused on the same issues and called the blueprint “deeply flawed.” [61]

Obama Has "Four Years to Save Planet"

Just days before Barack Obama's inaugeration, James Hansen, seen as the ‘grandfather of climate change’ and one of the world’s leading climatologists, said that Obama has to act on climate now. The world was in “imminent peril” from climate change argued Hansen. He added that after years of inaction by the Bush Administration, only Obama and the US had the political muscle to halt the rise in CO2.

“We cannot now afford to put off change any longer. We have to get on a new path within this new administration” he says. “We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead.”

Hansen argued that “cap and trade schemes” should be scrapped as they are nothing more than “weak tea”. He lambasted carbon trading as “just greenwash”, and argued that only a carbon tax could work to reduce carbon. Hansen also argued for a moratorium on coal-fired power stations.

“Before the end of Obama’s first term, we will be seeing new record temperatures. I can promise the president that,” said Hansen. [62]

We will “roll back the spectre of a warming planet.”

In his inaugeration address in January 2009, President Obama pledged to "roll back the spectre of a warming planet. Each day, argued the new President, “brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

For those who had despaired over the last eight years how the Bush Administration abused and misued the science of climate change amongst others, there was relief that Obama argued he would “restore science to its rightful place”. Talking about his green revolution, he pledged to “harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”

But for all the hype will Obama deliver on climate? One press erport noted that all about how Obama's “room to maneuver may be limited, cramped on one side by the US recession and on the other by the scant time before the December 2009 deadline for completing the new UN climate treaty.” [63]

Obama Tightens Fuel Efficiency Standards

In his first major address on environmental issues, a week after taking offfice, President Obama directed federal regulators to allow an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emission and fuel efficiency standards.

Known as the “Californian waiver” under the Clean Air Act, it allows Californian with 13 others to set their own emission and fuel efficiency standards.

Together these 14 states account for about half of the American market for cars and light trucks. The move had been vehemently opposed by the auto industry who argued they would have to make one set of more fuel efficient vehicles for California and another set for everyone else. Charles Territo, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, criticised Obama’s plans saying. “Applying California standards to several different states would create a complex, confusing and very difficult situation for manufacturers”.

As the New York Times reported “Granting California and the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his stamp on environmental policy.”

Although Obama will not order the policy reversal, EPA regulators were widely expected to go through with them. Once this is so, car manufacturers would have begin producing and selling cars and trucks that get higher mileage than the national standard, coupled with a faster phase in.

Beyond acting on the California emissions law, officials said, Mr. Obama will also direct the Transportation Department to quickly finalize interim nationwide regulations requiring the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency standards to comply with a 2007 law. Again these were rules that the Bush Administration decided not to issue.

The policy announcement was met with glea by some environmental groups. Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress in Washington argued: “This is a complete reversal of President Bush’s policy of censoring or ignoring global warming science. With the fuel economy measures and clean energy investments in the recovery package, President Obama has done more in one week to reduce oil dependence and global warming than George Bush did in eight years.” [64]

Clinton Announces Climate Change Envoy

In yet another break from the disastrous Bush years, Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, appointed a special envoy on climate change a week after the President's inaugeraton. Clinton named the envoy as Todd Stern, a former White House assistant who was the chief US negotiator on climate during her husband’s administration.

In making the announcement Clinton vowed that the Obama administration would play a primary role in the fight against climate change, “American leadership is essential to meeting the challenges of the 21st century, and chief among those is the complex, urgent and global threat of climate change,” she said.

“The urgency of the global climate crisis must not be underestimated,” Clinton added. “Nor should the science behind it or the facts on the ground be ignored or dismissed. The time for realism and action is now.”

Sterns’ appointment, she said, sent “an unequivocal message that the United States will be energetic, focused, strategic and serious about addressing global climate change and the corollary issue of clean energy.”

After accepting the job, Stern said “Containing climate change will require nothing less than transforming the global economy from a high-carbon to a low-carbon energy base. But done right, this can free us from our dependence on foreign oil and become a driver for economic growth in the 21st century.”

“President Obama and Secretary Clinton have left no doubt that a new day is dawning in the U.S. approach to climate change and clean energy. The time for denial, delay and dispute is over,” he continued. “The time for the United States to take up its rightful place at the negotiating table is here. We can only meet the climate challenge with a response that is genuinely global. We will need to engage in vigorous, dramatic diplomacy.”

Stern will serve as the chief U.S. negotiator at United Nations talks on climate change including the crucial December talks in Copenhagen. [65] [66] [67]

Energy Secretary Chu Issues Dire Warning over Climate Change

In his first interview since taking office, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu gave a chilling message on the perils of inaction over climate change for America. “’We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California,” Chu told the Los Angeles Times.

His stark vision for America is one where California’s farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act. Water shortages in the American West could become routine with dire consequences for California.

“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either. “I’m hoping that the American people will wake up.”

Chu said public education was a key part of the Obama administration’s strategy to fight climate change — along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. [68]

Economic Impacts

The Cost of Climate Change

There is increasing evidence that how companies respond to climate change will have a significant effect on their business. In September 2008, a new report by the London-based Carbon Trust calculated that climate change could have an impact on global business to the tune of $7 billion.

The report, based on analysis by McKinsey & Co, found that companies’ futures will be highly dependent on how well prepared they are for the move to a low-carbon future. The groundbreaking research found that as much as 65% of company value was at risk in some sectors.

Well positioned and proactive, forward thinking businesses could increase company value by up to 80%. Conversely poorly positioned and laggard companies run the greatest risk of destroying value. Car companies have the most to gain by adopting greener strategies. The car sector also risks the greatest loss by failing to take onboard changes needed to meet ambitious emission targets in the coming years. [69]

Tom Delay, the chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said that investors and industry should wake up to this “trillion dollar wake up call. The financial risks of inaction are just too vast to ignore.” [70]

Research by the Carbon Disclosure Project also released that month showed that, although American companies judge climate change a risk to their business, they lag global companies in setting targets to cut emissions.

Paul Dickinson, chief executive of the Carbon Disclosure Project, which administered the annual survey, said “We're seeing the U.S. play catch up here, but they've got a way to go,” He argued that the gap demonstrates the difference between the climate culture of companies in Europe and the United States.

Although 81 percent of U.S. companies responding to the 2008 survey perceived climate change as a risk, only 33 percent of U.S. respondents had greenhouse gas reduction targets in place. “They are not listening to themselves,” Dickinson said. [71]

Financial Crisis Undermines Action on Climate

In October 2008, the head of the UN Climate Change secretariat argued that, instead of sidelining the fight against climate change, the global credit crisis could hasten efforts to create “green growth” industries by revamping the financial system behind them.

Yvo de Boer, who heads the Bonn-based UN Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference: “The credit crisis can be used to make progress in a new direction, an opportunity for global green economic growth.” He continued: “The credit crunch I believe is an opportunity to rebuild the financial system that would underpin sustainable growth … Governments now have an opportunity to create and enforce policy which stimulates private competition to fund clean industry.” [72]

But just the opposite seemed to be happening. “The truth is there is a very large question mark hanging over the idea that Congress would take economy-wide action on global warming with the economy in such anemic shape,” argues Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. [73]

In the US attempts to tackle climate change were being made more difficult by the current financial mayhem. The fear of a prolonged economic downturn was expected to delay attempts by the US to cap greenhouse gases, despite the fact that both political parties were still arguing that tackling climate change remained a priority. However some Republicans were breaking cover. Limits of carbon dioxide would increase energy costs and lead the country “off the economic cliff,” argued Republican Joe Barton, from Texas. [74]

In the EU, the financial crisis left the EU’s self-proclaimed mission to shape the first parts of a post-Kyoto agreement in “disarray”. At a two day meeting President Sarkozy of France, appealed to all 27 countries to stick to their target to cut Europe’s CO2 emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

But he was up against stiff opposition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, backed up by the Polish Prime Minister, who both argued that because they were not in power when the original agreements were mooted, they did not have to sign up. Backing these two up were Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia, who threatened to form a minority block to veto any forthcoming legislation, however much it could be watered down. [75] articles on global warming

Environmental Protection Agency Info

The Environmental Protection Agency's web page on global warming states:

"According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two decades. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Human activities have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases - primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The heat-trapping property of these gases is undisputed although uncertainties exist about exactly how earth's climate responds to them."

Greenhouse Gas Concentrations

Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing

One gas, CO2, is of particular concern:

Increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses have anthropogenic (manmade) sources

Radio isotope analysis of carbon in atmospheric CO2 shows that the increasing CO2 concentrations come from fossil fuel origins. (The Seuss Effect) If one simply has to have all the trivia, one can trace the carbon cycle.

Most of the atmospheric organo-halogens have no natural sources. Therefore, their increasing concentrations must be anthropogenic. For more information, see:

Published Works

Supportive of global warming

  • Stephen H. Schneider, Global Warming: Are we entering the Greenhouse Century?, Luttorworth Press, 1989. Written by a leading climatologist. ISBN 0679730516.
  • S. George Philander, Is the Temperature Rising? The Uncertain Science of Global Warming, Princeton, 1998. ISBN 0691050341.

Critical of global warming

  • Patrick J. Michaels Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media, Cato Institute Publications, 2004. ISBN 1930865597.

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

Background & Organizations

Articles & Commentary



United States

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. "The Climate Change Smoke Screen", Sydney Morning Herald, August 2, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Universities take action on Climategate", Washington Times, December 2, 2009.
  3. Mike de Souza, "‘Climategate’ inquiry shows scientist didn’t falsify data", Canwest News Service, February 3, 2010.
  4. "Inquiry into climate scientist moves to next phase", Penn State Live, February 3, 2010.
  5. Samuel Settle, "Penn State's Handling of Mann Investigation Fails to Satisfy Students, Community Members", PRNewsWire, February 10, 2010.
  6. Ed Barnes, "Exclusive: Top Climate Scientist's Exoneration Won't Be the Last Word", FOX News, April 6, 2010.
  7. "State of Virginia to Investigate Global Warming Scientist Mann", FOX News, April 30, 2010.
  8. Bud Ward, [ " Lynchburg, Va. TV Meteorologist Blasts State’s A.G. for Michael Mann ‘Witch Hunt’",] The Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media, May 18, 2010.
  9. Stephen Dinan, "NASA accused of 'Climategate' stalling", Washington Times, May 26, 2010.
  10. Frank Newport, "Americans' Global Warming Concerns Continue to Drop", Gallup, March 11, 2010.
  11. "Energy Update - Voters Take Global Warming A Bit Less Seriously", Rasmussen Reports, April 19, 2010.
  12. John P. Costella, Ph.D., "Climategate analysis", Science and Public Policy Institute, January 20, 2010.
  13. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named factcheck1
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  15. Steve Connor, "Exclusive: The methane time bomb", The Independent, September 23, 2008
  16. Geoffrey Lean, Greenhouse gases will heat up planet 'for ever', Independent on Sunday, November 30, 2008
  17. Dr Tina Tin,Climate Change: Faster, Stronger, Sooner - A European Update of Climate Science, WWF, October, 2008
  18. Paul Eccleston, "Climate change is 'faster and more extreme' than feared", The Daily Telegraph, October 20, 2008
  19. Wildlife Conservation Society, The Deadly Dozen, October 2008
  20. The Times, "Seas will rise faster than predicted, say scientists", December 17, 2008
  21. Mark Kinver, "Arctic ice thickness 'plummets'", BBC News, October 28, 2008
  22. Steve Connor, "Climate change at the poles IS man-made" Independent, October 31, 2008
  23. Steve Connor, Has the Arctic melt passed the point of no return?, The Independent, December 16, 2008
  24. David Adam, "Sea absorbing less CO2, scientists discover", The Guardian, January 12, 2009
  25. Richard Harris, "Study Busts Antarctica's Chill On Global Warming", NPR, January 21, 2009
  26. Richard Black, "New evidence on Antarctic warming," BBC News, January 21, 2009
  27. BBC News, "Emperor penguins face extinction"], January 26, 2009
  28. Will Dunham, "Melting Sea Ice May Doom Emperor Penguins, Study Finds", Reuters reprinted in the Washington Post, January 26, 2009
  29. Mark Henderson, "Penguins in peril as food search turns into marathon", The Times, February 13, 2009
  30. James Morgan, "Bleak forecast on fishery stocks", BBC News, Febraury 13, 2009
  31. U.S. Geological Survey, "Tree Deaths Have Doubled Across the Western U.S. -- Regional Warming May be the Cause", January 22, 2009
  32. Katherine Harmon, "Out on a Limb: Global Warming May Be Killing Old-Growth Forests New study says temperature rise is responsible for rapid death of forests in the U.S. West", Scientific American, January 22, 2009
  33. BBC News, "Global warming is 'irreversible'", January 27, 2009
  34. Canberra Times,"Heatwave shows climate scientists are right, Wong says", January 29, 2009
  35. Geoffrey Lean and Kathy Marks, "Parched: Australia faces collapse as climate change kicks in", Independent on Sunday, February 1, 2009
  36. Michael Perry, "Australian heatwave sign of climate change", Reuters, January 29, 2009
  37. Ian Sample, "The tropics on fire: scientist's grim vision of global warming", The Guardian, February 16, 2009
  38. Lewis Smith, "Climate scientists warn that world is heading for war of the resources", The Times, March 9, 2009
  39. Michael McCarthy, "Sea levels rising twice as fast as predicted - Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica force UN scientists to issue dramatic warning", The Independent, March 11, 2009
  40. David Adam & Afua Hirsch, "Science paves way for climate lawsuits", The Guardian, December 9, 2008
  41. Randeep Ramesh, "Paradise almost lost: Maldives seek to buy a new homeland", The Guardian, November 10, 2008
  42. Associated Press,"Aborigines 'to bear brunt of climate change'", Reported in the Independent, January 14, 2009
  43. Duncan Clark, "West blamed for rapid increase in China's CO2 - Consumer exports behind 15% of emissions - study", The Guardian, February 23, 2009
  44. The Guardian, "Gordon Brown's speech to US Congress", March 5, 2009
  45. Lewis Smith, "Hopes of climate change accord 'are sinking'", The Times, March 9, 2009
  46. Lewis Smith, "Top scientist: don't trust politicians on climate change", The Times, March 11, 2009
  47. Richard Alleyne, "World's leading scientists in desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change", Daily Telegraph, March 13, 2009
  48. David Adam, Stern attacks politicians over climate 'devastation', The Guardian, 13 March, 2009
  49. Michael McCarthy, "Lord Stern on global warming: It's even worse than I thought", Independent, March 13, 2009
  50. Matt McGrath, "Climate scenarios 'being realised'", BBC News, March 13, 2009
  51. Duncan Clark, "Maldives first to go carbon neutral", The Observer, March 15, 2009
  52. Mohamed Nasheed, "Why we are opting out of this pact with the devil", The Observer, March 15, 2009
  53. Carola Hoyos, "Emissions disclosure study puts Shell bottom of the big oil class", Financial Times, March 17, 2009
  54. Roger Harrabin, "UN accuses EU over climate change", BBC News, March 18, 2009
  55. Bryony Worthington, "Is the EU moving the goalposts on climate change?", The Guardian, Environment Blog, March 18, 2009
  56. Suzanne Goldenberg,"Obama's message to the world: we will act quickly on climate change", The Guardian, November 13, 2008
  57. Reuters, "Obama will act quickly on climate change: adviser", November 12, 2008
  58. Tom LoBianco & S.A. Miller,"No Gore in any 'climate czar' post", Washington Times, November 13, 2008
  59. Stephen Power, "Hill Heat: Climate Proposals Stoke Tempers in House Committee", Wall Street Journal blogs, January 15, 2009
  60. H. Josef Hevert,"Waxman promises quick action on climate", Associated Press, January 15, 2009
  61. Keith Johnson, "Under Fire: Corporate Climate Plan Pleases No One" Wall Street Journal blogs, January 15, 2009
  62. Robin McKie, "President 'has four years to save Earth,' US must take the lead to avert eco-disaster, The Observer, January 18, 2009
  63. AFP, Obama: US will 'roll back the specter of a warming planet,' January 21, 2009
  64. John Boder & Peter Baker, Obama’s Order Is Likely to Tighten Auto Standards New York Times, January 25, 2009
  65. Matthew Lee, "Clinton names climate change envoy", Associated Press, January 26, 2009
  66. Garance Franke-Ruta,"Stern Appointed Climate Change" Envoy, Washington Post, January 26, 2009
  67. John Whitesides, "Clinton climate change envoy vows 'dramatic diplomacy'", Reuters, January 26, 2009
  68. Jim Tankersley, "California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns", Los Angeles Times, February 4, 2009
  69. Carbon Trust, Climate change: "The trillion dollar wake up call", September 22, 2008
  70. BBC News, "Firms warned about climate change", September 22, 2008
  71. Timothy Gardner, U.S. companies see climate risk, but lack plan, Reuters but published on Guardian Website, September 21, 2008
  72. Patrick Worsnip, "UN says credit crisis could enable 'green growth'", Reuters, October 10, 2008
  73. Zachary Coile, "Fiscal woes could delay climate change efforts", San Francisco Chronicle, October 13, 2008
  74. Dina Cappiello, "Economic woes chill effort to stop global warming", October 12, 2008
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