Robert Watson: “There is no doubt that the evidence for human-induced climate change is irrefutable.”

Former chair says IPCC must acknowledge mistakes and “consider shorter reports focused on the key issues,” but “In many cases, the IPCC is very conservative in its statements, e.g., the projections of sea level rise.”

All major emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases need to rapidly and cost-effectively transition to a low-carbon economy, in both the production and use of energy and the management of forests and agricultural lands. In order to ensure food, water, and human security, and to protect the world’s biodiversity, the goal should be to limit the global average temperature rise to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels…. Without concerted action now, the world will be faced with temperature increases far in excess of 2 degrees C, with unthinkable impacts.

robert t. watsonDr. Robert Watson was chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1997 to 2002.  He was opposed by fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and the Bush administration waged a successful campaign to have him replaced with Rajendra Pachauri.  Now Watson is Strategic Director for the Tyndall Center at the University of East Anglia and Chief Scientific Advisor for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Yale’s Environment 360 online magazine has a piece by him they have given me permission to repost.

Until last December, a very large majority of the scientific community and most politicians would have agreed that the scientific evidence of human-induced climate change was unequivocal and that the sole question was whether the world’s political leaders could agree in Copenhagen to meaningful, legally binding greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. But, as we now know, the negotiations only produced an aspirational target of limiting the global mean surface temperature to no more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and an accord that does not bind any country to reduce its emissions.

Since then, there have been reported errors and imprecise wording in the Fourth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued in 2007. These include the hyped statement that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 or earlier (the IPCC admitted that this was an outright error and not evidence-based); that agricultural production in some North African countries would decrease by up to 50 percent by 2020 (the synthesis report failed to include the nuances and more detailed discussion in the underlying chapter); and that over half of the Netherlands was below sea level, rather than a quarter. (This was largely a definitional issue “” the Dutch Ministry of Transport uses the figure 60 percent below high water level during storms.)

These errors or imprecise wording in the IPCC’s 2007 Working Group II report, coupled with the issues surrounding the hacked e-mails and temperature data from the University of East Anglia, have provided the climate skeptics and some in the media with ammunition to undermine public confidence in the conclusions of the IPCC and climate science in general.

Clearly, the language in the leaked e-mails could suggest that the scientists may have inappropriately manipulated the data to support the theory of human-induced climate change and attempted to suppress other data that contradicts this theory. That is why I applaud the University of East Anglia “” affiliated with the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, where I work as strategic director “” for rapidly establishing an independent review of the whole issue. But to suggest that the hacked e-mails or the identified inaccuracies in the IPCC’s Working Group II report undermine the broad evidence that the Earth’s climate is changing due to human activities “” or that any talk of carbon emissions cuts should be suspended “” is simply untenable.

Recently, the UK Royal Society, the National Environment Research Council and the UK Meteorological Office issued a joint statement not only supporting the findings of the 2007 IPCC report, but showing that recent scientific information further strengthens those conclusions. The statement concluded that these agencies could not emphasize enough the body of scientific evidence that underpins the call for action now. Also, a statement from 11 science academies in developed and developing countries concluded that climate change is real, and that we need to prepare for the consequences, and urged all nations to take prompt action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

So let me return to the issue of the IPCC, which is one of the most rigorous scientific review bodies in existence. Many thousands of scientists have dedicated their time to preparing and reviewing the most comprehensive and authoritative assessments of climate science available. In addition, governments from around the world have reviewed and approved the IPCC’s key findings. The reports undergo two rounds of peer review, and the policymakers’ summaries of the working groups are then subjected to a word-by-word approval of all governments in the presence of the chapter lead authors.

In many cases, the IPCC is very conservative in its statements, e.g., the projections of sea level rise reported in Working Group I were based on contributions from thermal expansion of the oceans and the melting of mountain glaciers, but did not contain a contribution from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, due to an inadequate understanding of the current rate of melting.

Some would say that only four mistakes or imprecise wording have been found in the 1,000-page Working Group II report, and none in working groups I and III, and so would ask: Is there really a problem? But given that each of the mistakes overstated the implications of climate change, it is critical to regain any lost trust from the media, public, governments, and private sector. The IPCC could start by posting all errors “” accompanied by explanations of how they were made “” on its Web site.

I see no evidence that the authors purposely overstated the potential impacts from climate change in an effort to convince the public of the seriousness of the threat. The threat is serious enough without the need to hype the issue. But the expert and government peer-review process should have caught these inaccuracies and careless wordings. The vast amount of attention in the print and TV media, especially in the UK, has clearly left some of the public confused, if not skeptical.

The challenge now is to regain any lost trust through a continuing re-examination and restatement of the evidence, clearly identifying what we know and what is still uncertain. It is critical that the public understand the issue of climate change, given the need to both mitigate and adapt in a cost-effective and socially responsible manner.

So does the IPCC process need to be significantly revised? I would argue no, that the IPCC is more than capable of conducting rigorous and reliable assessments in an open, transparent, and inclusive manner. But the IPCC needs to regain its full and deserved credibility. The procedures for the selection of authors and review editors and the peer-review process and approval of reports are all sound. What is needed is to tighten up the implementation of these procedures, coupled with training of authors and review editors. The selected authors need to represent the full range of credible views, including those of the skeptics, and must ensure that all statements are based on sound science and that the citations used contain convincing evidence.

The IPCC should consider shorter reports focused on the key issues, rather than the all-encompassing reports that have become the norm. Authors, peer reviewers, and the working group secretariats need to be absolutely rigorous in ensuring that all conclusions are backed up by evidence, with an accurate assessment of how good the evidence is, and that all of the citations are valid. Gray literature “” i.e., the use of non-peer-reviewed literature “” can and should be used as long as it is evidence-based and available to the peer reviewers for evaluation.

One criticism often aimed at the IPCC is that it is inflexible and unable to conduct rapid response assessments of new evidence due to the requirements of two rounds of peer review involving experts and governments. One solution to this weakness is to complement, not replace, the IPCC by developing a “peer-reviewed” Wikipedia that can continually update the evidence and synthesize the findings and note where the new evidence strengthens, modifies, or undermines previous conclusions.

In my opinion, there is no doubt that the evidence for human-induced climate change is irrefutable. The world’s leading scientists, many of whom have participated in the IPCC, overwhelmingly agree that what we’re experiencing cannot be attributed to natural variation in the climate over time, but is due to human activities. And they also agree that if we do not act, climate change will continue apace with increasing droughts, floods, and rising seas, leading to major damaging impacts to the natural world (loss of species and critical ecosystem services) and society (displaced human populations).

There is no doubt that the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases has increased significantly over the past 150 years primarily due to human activities. These gases are radiatively active and absorb and trap outgoing infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface and hence, based on simple physics, the Earth’s atmosphere must respond by warming. The only issue is by how much and when.

The IPCC concluded that the global temperature data and analyses are robust, with evidence of increasingly variable and extreme temperatures, coupled with increasingly severe weather events, heat waves, floods, and droughts. While a number of scientists argue that some of the land temperature data is contaminated and unreliable because of the urban heat-island effect and movement of observational sites, ocean data “” as well balloon and satellite data “” also show an increasingly warmer world. These data sets are clearly free from any potential contamination from any urban heat island effect.

In addition, the evidence for a changing climate over the past 100 years also comes from observed changes in retreating mountain glaciers throughout most of the world, a decline in the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice, melting of the Greenland ice sheet, changes in precipitation patterns, and changes in vegetation and the behavior of wildlife. Yet despite this accumulating evidence, the challenges of the skeptics must be fully addressed.

The key question is the cause of the observed changes in temperature. The IPCC concluded that it is more than 90 percent certain that most of the observed changes over the past 50 to 60 years are due to human activities and that the changes cannot be explained by known natural phenomena.

Future increases in greenhouse gas concentrations are projected to be accompanied by increased climate variability and more extreme climatic events, leading in general to adverse impacts on agriculture, water quantity and quality, coastal erosion, loss of biodiversity, and degradation of ecosystem services. Developing countries will be the most vulnerable. Therefore, it is clear that climate change is not only an environmental issue, but a development and security issue.

Even as the climate science becomes more definitive, polls show that public concern in the United States about global warming has been declining. What will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions?

All major emitters of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases need to rapidly and cost-effectively transition to a low-carbon economy, in both the production and use of energy and the management of forests and agricultural lands. In order to ensure food, water, and human security, and to protect the world’s biodiversity, the goal should be to limit the global average temperature rise to 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. This will require a peak of global emissions of all greenhouse gases by around 2015, and at least a 50 percent reduction in global emissions by 2050, relative to 1990. Without concerted action now, the world will be faced with temperature increases far in excess of 2 degrees C, with unthinkable impacts.

An equitable and substantive post-Kyoto agreement is essential if the target of 2 degrees C is to be realized. Industrialized countries must demonstrate leadership, and provide developing countries with technical and financial assistance to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while they address the critical issues of poverty and hunger.

Given the limited success at Copenhagen, 2010 is a critical year for the world’s political leaders to unite in the fight against climate change. Strong and visionary political leadership will be essential. We must not allow the skeptics to use the incident at the University of East Anglia or the mistakes in the IPCC report to distract us or derail the political will to safeguard the planet.

— Dr. Robert Watson

[JR:  I agree with much of what Watson says, including the need for the IPCC to do “shorter reports focused on the key issues” (see “The IPCC lowballs likely impacts with its instantly out-of-date reports and is clearly clueless on messaging “” should it be booted or just rebooted?)]


38 Responses to Robert Watson: “There is no doubt that the evidence for human-induced climate change is irrefutable.”

  1. Mark says:

    Dr. Watson calls for “shorter reports focused on the key issues”.

    Why then does he wait until the 14th paragraph of this article before making his key points? Who but the must committed will even make it to that point?

    On top of that, dedicating the first 4 paragraphs to reviewing and acknowledging errors that those attacking the IPCC have made, only reinforces any doubt in the IPCC that may have already been in reader’s mind. Many people will stop reading at that point.

  2. Jim says:

    I agree with Mark only more so. The first part of this article looks like it was written by “Lord Monkton” or one of his mates. The blame lies 90% with the denialists combined with uncritical support from the media to turn a few inconsequential mistakes into a major “scandal” for the IPCC. Whose side is Dr Watson on.

  3. joe1347 says:

    Would defining the ‘unthinkable impacts’ if the amount of warming is not held to 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) better help sway the US Public (and the slow acting US Politicians)? Maybe I’m in the minority on this – but I don’t know what they (the unthinkable impacts) are.

  4. caerbannog says:

    Whose side is Dr Watson on.

    This is especially ironic given that Watson was replaced as the IPCC chair because the bush administration considered him too “alarmist”.

  5. lizardo says:

    I started drafting my comments as I read this piece and I too felt rather critical for the same reasons, but since the first 2 commenters also kinda lit into him (and he might be reading our comments at some point???) I’m going to preface those original comments by saying “yes to shorter reports produced faster, because the science is moving fast, global warming is moving fast, all of it worse.” But I hope he will take these criticisms below in mind before his next foray into public on this subject.

    Watson: “Clearly, the language in the leaked e-mails could suggest that the scientists may have inappropriately manipulated the data to support the theory of human-induced climate change and attempted to suppress other data that contradicts this theory.” Shocking capitulation and totally unwarranted in my opinion based on what’s been reported here about the actual emails (which are tiny specks in the ocean of years of informal and private correspondence) and the facts behind them, including the campaign to flood scientists with multiple duplicate and unnecessary FOIA requests (for data already public for cripes sake in either all or many cases).

    I would expect someone of this stature not to lead off with the “mistakes were made” meme. But since he does, I think that it would more helpful and more accurate to say that “language in some isolated emails [out of zillions] has been portrayed as suggesting that scientists may have inappropriately…. But, ”

    My trust is not lost and I am totally fed up with hearing about this. Enough with this taking a hatchet to kill a fly on your friend’s forehead (Confucius).

    Oh, and he’s not done. “The selected authors need to represent the full range of credible views, including those of the skeptics…” Well there’s a contradiction there.

    There is no place in a scientific review document for “views” of any sort. And viable science will be in there. “The skeptics” are those who don’t believe in global warming, and, thus in science, so the only place their “views” have would be in some completely different kind of document, one which possibly lines up the science with (just for an example) the top 10 (or 20 or 100) most commonly held false notions about global warming science, progression, impacts, etc. etc.

    Watson then says further down: “Yet despite this accumulating evidence, the challenges of the skeptics must be fully addressed.” This rather admits that “the skeptics” are basically outside the science tent and have no place inside. Yes, given public opinion in the USA (and UK, thanks, Rupert Murdoch again) the nonsense of the skeptics needs to be refuted, but in virtually all cases, has been refuted already, is refuted within 24-48 hours, if you know where to look. (Like here.)

    But refuting these people does no good whatsoever. The skeptics who get quoted in the newspaper and other media are 99% paid disinformers or professional bigots and know-nothings like George Will, or they are members of the public parrotting these views.

    To effectively refute “the skeptics” in the public mind would require actually getting at least equal time in every media format out there.

    Overall, Watson doesn’t sound as clearly terrified as scientists intimately involved in climate science have cause to be, but this could be his style. Nevertheless I really would urge him to find some good analogies to spring load the discussion from the start.

    My favorite is the giant meteor analogy: if a giant meteor had a chance of hitting earth (pick your odds here) we would be, on a global basis swinging into action to try to deflect it, but also to create more seed banks and human and critter arks and all that disaster movie stuff. Why, because the meteor has no corporate or political lobby here on earth, any more than malevolent aliens do. But we have met the enemy and it is us, and our ability to change, and to prevent, and/or adapt, are being frustrated by these short-sighted and in some cases unhuman corporate undead (unpersons) and their creepy minions.

    Well I don’t expect Dr. Watson to say all that last part, but the point is that if global warming were a meteor, scientists having been telling world governments for some time “consider the likelihood of a dead-on hit to be pretty much a 90% certainty”, not the kind of 1 in 1000 chance that would have us scrambling.

  6. john atcheson says:

    There were far more errors of understatement than there were errors of overstating things in the IPCC report.

    One wonders why, for example, when many raised the issue of leaving out the dynamic melting of continental glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, the press didn’t hop all over it the way they did over these relatively minor “errors” (I put that in quotes because I’d bet that the Himalayan glaciers will be gone by 2035 if we don’t change trajectory).

    This is particularly odd, since the consequences of the understatements are vastly more serious and more consequential than the overstatements.

  7. Wit's End says:

    joe1347, unthinkable impacts = “if we do not act, climate change will continue apace with increasing droughts, floods, and rising seas, leading to major damaging impacts to the natural world (loss of species and critical ecosystem services) and society (displaced human populations).”

    Does it take a flight of imagination to understand what that means in the real world?

    droughts = famine (you know, starving people)

    loss of species = extinctions

    rising seas = goodbye coastal cities, hello climate refugees, coral reef bleaching, ocean food chain collapse…

    loss of critical ecosystem services = no more trees for paper, habitat, lumber, shade, nuts and fruit

    floods = New Orleans + something along these lines

    displaced human populations = hungry homeless hordes pounding on your door

    etc etc etc!

  8. john atcheson says:

    One other thought — We routinely build safety factors into our engineering designs — bridges are built way beyond expected stresses; airplanes too.

    Can you imagine, for example, flying in an airplane that was built to meet precisely the tolerances that designers anticipated with no additional safety factor? Or bridges? Look up Tacoma Narrows bridge, which was, in fact built close to the tolerances expected, and you’ll get a picture of what the consequences of no safety factor looks like.

    Well then, why are we doing essentially that for the entire planet when we demand a degree of precision that is both unobtainable and unwise in forecasting our climate future.

    This is idiocy. If we can routinely afford to pay for safety factors in planes, trains and bridges, we can certainly do so for the planet.

    The only error that is serious is the one that exposes us to irrevocable or catastrophic risks — not the ones that might (but almost certainly wouldn’t) cause us to spend a little more a little sooner than we otherwise might.

    I mean geez, it’s only a matter of a little currency — it’s not as if out life depended upon it.

  9. joe1347 says:

    Wit’s end – Sorry I should have been more specific. Clearly, with >3.6 degree F of warming, the seas will rise (more) and flood coastal cities as you pointed out. Well why not specify exactly how much and use graphic or illustrative examples that the US public (and politicians) will understand. One example I remember was a map of Florida in the not too distant future – that showed most of Florida underwater after some finite amount of warming. So why not show it – the public might actually start understanding that Global Warming is a big deal when they see almost an entire state underwater. As for drought and famine, maybe the scientists need to start projecting how many humans will die if no action is taken to mitigate global warming. Is it a couple thousand – or 1 billion? In the age of “if it bleeds – it leads” sensational media, this is the type of sensational and very scary story might now get picked up by the major media/news organizations and shown to the public. Also, once the public starts getting interested (scared) by frequent end of the world global warming news stories – then Hollywood may then pick up the ball and start making more TV shows and movies to amplify peoples worries (about Global Warming) Hate to say it, but we may need a scared public to get the politicians to act.

  10. Wit's End says:

    joe1347, agreed.

  11. catman306 says:

    A blogs worth about the ‘unthinkable impacts’ of our great experiment with climate change would be welcome. Thanks.

  12. Lou Grinzo says:

    john (4):

    Why was the press not all over the understatements? Simple: There was no highly organized, relentless, well funded campaign to make a big deal out of those shortcomings.

    Face it: “Our side” (i.e. the reality-burdened community) is grotesquely outgunned in the PR department. That won’t change until it becomes undeniably obvious to even the most jaded voter and consumer that we’re in Very Deep Trouble.

  13. David B. Benson says:

    catman306 (8) — Well, there already is Joe Romm’s “Hell and High Water” and Mark Lynas’s “Six Degrees”. Regarding the latter, we already have almost 1 K of warming since around 1880 CE. Why not check to see whether Mark Lynas’s one degree predictions seem to be holding up?

  14. lizardo says:

    To all who commented re the unthinkable impacts: Depending on your preferred format I really recommend “Six Degrees” by Mark Lynas (book) and this blog, check the links or go to the website of the administration which unveiled a deep website last June:
    You can click on the US area where you live,
    In my area (central NC) the figure showing the increase in days per year with temps over 90 F is I think 30 days 1961-1979, but 2080-2099 increases to 120 days, that’s 4 solid months. That to me is unthinkable.

  15. Leif says:

    Need I remind you folks about the heat we took on unsubstantiated estimates of the Himalayan Glaciers. We are damned if we call it and damed if we don’t. The news media needs to get on the ball and start reporting scientific reality with respect to/of science and jump all over anti-science when presented with the same vigor as they have been reporting the opposite all these past years.

  16. jon says:

    Yeah, lot of talk about us humans and our emissions and the disruption of the atmosphere because there of; but can’t the inevitable move out of the last glacial period where inevitably most of the ice melts quite possibly have some small effect on what is going on; and would not with the almost 7,000,000,000 people in the world a large portion of them inevitably suffer or die off; and jesus mahoney christ, since the population from just the middle of the last decade to now exponentially grew from 2,000,000,000 to the almost 7,000,000,000 how can anyone say that by 2050 the population will only increase by about 2,000,000,000 when exponentially it should be up to 18,000,000,000 people and think of the effect that will have on the atmosphere?

    How are that many people expected to stop their ‘intellectually technological’ activities just to slow down their emissions/pollution, even if the population only got to 14,000,000,000 people?

    I would say that there isn’t even a choice of either the tiger or the lady here or a Hobson’s choice, this is more like the fast slope down with no stopping until we strike bottom because science nor government nor religion can do anything to stop such a large amount of people from doing what a human does to survive.

  17. Thanks for the link Wit’s End. I will be using this information on my Facebook Global Warming Fact of the Day group tomorrow. BTW, the full article referenced in Reuters is here:

    Lou Grinzo has a great post today on his excellent blog. Keep up the good work, Lou.

    I agree with Lou that we are not the best when it comes to PR. We need to make climate change personal. Once people see how their bottom line is affected by global warming, they will get on board. The worst impacts of GW are too far away for them to worry about it now, especially in this global economy. I just hope people wake up before it is too late.

  18. Sou says:

    I have to agree with Mark #1, it would be an excellent idea for scientists to use a journalist (press officer) or take a short course in writing for the media.

    It’s not that hard. Even if he kept the article the same but simply re-arranged the paragraphs the article would have a better chance of getting the message across.

    Put the main message first, use short sharp sentences, write in the positive. He also mixes up things that are already happening with suggestions for new actions. This implies that that many good things are not already happening and could sound unnecessarily apologetic.

    Still, it’s good that Dr Watson made the statement.

  19. Sou says:

    I also read Pielke’s piece, in which he repeats his false attribution of the ‘voodoo science’ quote. Hasn’t he already been called out on that?

    Amazing how he calls for changes in how conflicts are resolved yet he himself keeps spreading falsehoods.

  20. David Gould says:


    The reason people are predicting a smaller increase is because population growth has slowed over the last 20 years. Indeed, based on most analyses, the world population should stabilise sometime this century at around 10 billion or so people. Of course, this depends on certain assumptions holding, such as the decline in population growth noticed in the west flowing through to the third world over time and death rates not declining too dramatically.

  21. David Gould says:

    As to impacts, I am looking at the predicted impacts for my local region and blogging about them. I also made a submission to my local government about them. But in general I think that we have lost the battle in the short term, which could mean that we have also lost it in the long term. Stabilising at two degrees warming? I know for a fact that Joe Romm is more optimistic than me regarding that target …

  22. Leif says:

    Population. Every time that this topic comes up I am compelled to point out that on average one of us is equivalent to 5 to 10 in the third world. However that is the average. In reality there are many in our society that have a carbon stomp of a hundred to one or more. How many, I can only guess but I am sure that there is some information out there. For the sake of argument I will say ten million. That equates to one billion third world folks. In addition we need to take into account the type of energy used to satisfy the consumption habits of people. Obviously green energy access instantly lowers the carbon stomp but more importantly affords an increase in living conditions for third world folks without increasing their carbon foot print. Designing and distributing sustainable energy production capabilities to third third world folks should be on top of our humanitarian agenda. That and condoms.

  23. From Peru says:

    Check these images of sea ice bridge collapse in Nares Strait between Ellesmere Island and Greenland:

    This isn’t what happened in 2006-2007, the winter just before the massacre-melt of Summer 2007?

    (yes, I am the “Anonymous” there)

  24. Leif says:

    A point of clarification on the post above. Just getting green energy into the lives of those 10 million carbon stompers noted above and coupled with marginal life style changes could remove close to a billion people off the planet.

    And you know that world wide there is far more than 10 million carbon stompers out there.

  25. Michael T says:

    #14 Lizardo

    Yeah, I live in central NC too, and I find the Global Change site informative. Allowing someone to learn the different regional impacts, and what the long-term future impacts are, makes it easier to understand.

  26. mike roddy says:

    Watson is more informed on the science, but I prefer Pauchuri, since he’s a more skilled communicator.

    Most of us here have figured out the science well enough to know where we are headed, and the deniers never will. The audience in between is the one we want, and they find scientists dull and ponderous, and even the entertaining ones (like Alley) still have egghead written all over them.

    I think popular visual media are trivial and manipulative, but this is the world we live in. We need dynamic speakers and filmmakers to connect the average person to the dangers we face. It’s mostly in the future, and therefore abstract, but preachers don’t seem to have too much trouble convincing a ton of Americans that heaven or hell awaits, which would seem to be a tougher sales pitch.

    Scientists like Watson need to watch TV. The highbrow station these days on cable is The History Channel, which features Gangland, Ultimate Marksmen, and loggers chopping down trees. Ask that audience if they want to look at hockey sticks, and they’ll have a different interpretation.

    Then, try to figure out a way to reach them. Don’t hire PR pros, either: the man in the street senses that they are in on the program to sell them bad paper and crap they can’t afford, and they’re wising up. The rest of us are groping around for a way to reach them, too.

    Maintain a dismissive and pissed off attitude about those who are lying like hell about your work, and the kind of men you are. If you do that, and avoid language that is interpreted as remote and condescending, maybe they’ll listen, and things could change. Word of warning: this effort will take money and enduring commitment. Follow Romm’s example, in a hundred different ways.

  27. Wes Rolley says:

    The Great Climate Change Hoax is that there is a debate. It originated with those who want to keep Sen. Inhofe in office.

    Gosh, did you all know that Sen. Inhofe is using tax payer money to push dis-information? Is that fraud, or only a hoax?

    Where is the outrage? Why is this guy still being allowed to speak when it has been show that he continues to repeat the same often debunked story again and again? Where is the MSM Media on this story?

    We should be demanding that Inhofe cease and desist in using our money to attack our very existence.

  28. From Peru says:

    Now February 2010 is second hottest February on record:

    Astounding graphs, as seem to me.

    The “Global Cooling Party” has MELTED AWAY it seems!

  29. From Peru says:

    Another awesome graph, global UAH temperatures for JANUARY:


  30. catman306 says:

    Overpopulation? No doubt. A worldwide program of condoms on demand, starting in the cities where population density is already a problem, would relieve some of the over population stress. This would cost almost nothing and would be wake up call for many. Why hasn’t this been attempted already?

    Leif and David B. Benson: I’m a new comer here but have long read RealClimate and have understood the dire consequences of climate change since 1988. To the man on the street, climate change means frequent extreme bad weather events which will cost money, property and lives. To the environment, climate change means mass extinctions, which may eliminate whole ecosystems and that might include homo sapiens.

    I’m glad that Joe Romm has already addressed this. I don’t think we can over stress the consequences of global warming/climate change to the American people who are living in an informational bell jar.

  31. David B. Benson says:

    catman306 (31) — Think even more dire. Read Peter D. Ward’s “Under a Green Sky”.

  32. jon says:

    David Gould says:
    March 6, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    That is a reason I couched my comment as exponentiations as long before a rise to reach ~12,000,000,000 the systems to support that many people would have crashed and that is my thought. And I will admit to not being up on the study or research on the human population ‘bomb’ but just take the ‘unregulated’ growth subject to wars, natural disasters, diseases, the intellectual realization of what it takes to have offspring and murder which would slow it down.

    If you have and links close to mind, I would appreciate looking at them for the most I have read is from ‘Limits to Growth’ books published about every 30 years on the whole human population phenomona by Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers and Dennis Meadows.

  33. Randy Turner says:

    With 95% confidence that climate change is anthropogenic, when does the theory become a law? The words irrefutable are strong but what is strong enough to break through the level of theory?

    While science by its very nature produces knowledge that evolves, the core science behind the relationship between greenhouse gas and effects on temperature now appear to be pretty much fact, not theory. Just because we can’t say what the temperature will be in the future doesn’t mean we can’t say why the change will occur.

    If an attempt to upgrade the theory to law would be considered, how would this occur? Could it occur in an environment where the core scientific issues were center stage or would it be cast as a political ploy? With the poor treatment climate change gets in the media, would this result in less occurrences of equal time for deniers. I’m all for balance in policy discussions but science should be held to a different apolitical standard.

    Am I jumping the gun in thinking this discussion is appropriate or is this where the next level of debate should occur?

  34. David Gould says:


    The United Nations do some good work on this:

    or here if the above search result does not work:

    Basically, one of the main assumption is that high fertility countries will become low fertility countries, following the pattern that richer western nations have followed.

  35. catman306 says:

    Help! I am searching for a term: for a process like desertification but one that totally ignores the presence of, or lack of, water. Deserts are a place where we wouldn’t expect a great quantity of life, nor much diversity.

    Is there a term for a region that suffers a lack of bio-diversity (number of species) and quantity of life (bio-mass)? I need the name of the process that forms a region with low bio-diversity and low bio-mass.

    That unfamiliar word seems to be the name of the process we are experiencing. If deserts can be thought of as wet, we are witnessing an almost planetary-wide desertification. For instance, the dead zones in our oceans may as well be deserts.

    Or maybe this diminishing of diversity and bio-mass is part of the process of extinction.

    [JR: I use Dust-Bowlification.]

  36. lizardo says:

    Meant to post this earlier. This Yale 360 article by Watson also appeared in the UK Guardian, at least online, can’t tell if print version, as of March 2. Today I see that Chu is also talking about mistakes made etc but they don’t affect the conclusions. I guess the more scientists who get out there into the spotlight to make that latter point the better.

  37. fj2 says:

    There seems to be a huge number of people who have been duped by denier efforts and it is necessary for the government to educate the people on the climate change crisis.

    No half-baked efforts will do so we can start to seriously address the situation.