Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scientific Consensus - Climate Change is real and we did it.

Last year, there was a wild frenzy in November called Climategate when email messages from two climate researchers were hacked conveniently before the Copenhagen Summit. Because of these emails, some people decided that all we know on climate change is a lie and part of a large global conspiracy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) front and centre, to force us to clean up the earth. This of course caused me some concern, so I decided to do some research.

First many people think that the IPCC is some big government organization. This is not the case. The IPCC is an organization that compiles all the research from climate scientist on climate change every few years. In fact, the IPCC has a small staff of about 10 people. The IPCC has working groups of volunteers who compile the research. This is basically how most standards bodies work like ANSI, ISO, and SMPTE. On the topic of IPCC reports, the last IPCC Fourth Assessment Report had “450 scientists from 130 countries served as Lead Authors. Another 800 served as contributing authors. More than 2500 experts provided over 90,000 review comments.” That is what I would call a pretty thorough report!

On the topic of thorough, some people would have you believe that there is no scientific consensus on human-caused climate change. While only half of the general population believes that climate change is caused by humans, research by Peter T . Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 97.4% of people that research and publish on climate believe it is human caused. That sounds like scientific consensus to me. Download the research from our document archive.

Questions: 1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant? 2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

The time for debate on climate change is over, we need to start acting today. It’s not all doom and gloom either. Greening our planet is good for our pocketbooks. Green jobs pay more than traditional jobs, and we’ve barely tapped into market for green. Just think of how many photovoltaic cells (solar panels), sustainably managed forest products, sustainability engineers, green building experts, and the list goes on, that the world needs.

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