Durango Skeptics and Atheists

A Community for Critical Thinkers in the Four Corners Region

Reflections on the Recent Member Talk Regarding Global Climate Change (GCC)

We owe Sebastian and Jackie a big ‘thank you’ for their presentation last Thursday night. The turnout was impressive and the food was great, as usual. And it was a pleasure to meet the new members to our group: Clint and Susan, Barry and Roz, and Nate who just moved to Durango within the month! The discussion following Sebastian’s remarks was very engrossing, as members offered many different observations. As usual, members of the Skeptics and Atheists of Durango displayed a wide range of opinion!

Reflecting on the presentation, I want to offer a few observations of my own. In retrospect, I wish that we had polled the group in more detail about our personal perceptions of the extent to which human actions are the prime mover of global climate change (GCC). While no one present at the discussion believed that GCC was 100% natural or 100% the result of human action, everyone did agree on a mushy middle that a combination of human activity and natural cycles must underlie the phenomenon. I would have been interested to know who felt that the underlying cause is MOSTLY man-made…say, 90% human caused and 10% natural. I am not a scientist (ha!) but this is my belief.

In support of the above I refer you to the Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  IPCC is a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from countries all over the world, under the auspices of the United Nations, which concluded there’s a more than 90 percent probability that human activities over the past 250 years have warmed our planet.  Specifically, the industrial activities of our modern civilization have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in just the last 150 years. The panel also concluded there’s a better than 90 percent probability that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.

The IPCC has concluded that the rate of increase in global warming due to these gases is unprecedented within the past 10,000 years or more. The panel’s full Summary for Policymakers report is online at  http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf

Supporting the IPCC report, NASA has this to say on its ‘Vital Signs of the Planet’ website http://climate.nasa.gov/ :

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. They also show that [in the past 150 years], large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands.3 

hockey stick graph

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

As Clint pointed out, the graphs shown last night depicting historic wide swings of temperature are not relevant to the GCC discussion. Yes, the Earth has experienced many different climate conditions over the course of millions (billions) of years, BUT the question of GCC has to do with climate’s impact on HUMANS, NOW. That the Earth was much warmer in the distant past than it is today does not matter since the spikes in the graphs, for the most part, pre-date the existence of homo sapiens and our ancestors. As an example, the Earth was a molten hell-scape 4 billion years ago, but that that has no bearing on the climate issues we face today. There is no question that the Earth, itself, will continue to exist…the Big Question is whether human kind will survive in the long term.

I am also troubled by the graphs we saw during the presentation because the time-scale changed dramatically within single graphs. In the same graph, the scale for the modern era showed time scales in increments of decades/centuries but the time scale for earlier eras showed millions of years…the result was a graph that visually distorted the record of climate change throughout Earth’s history. The effect was to visually equate changes that occurred over tens of millions of years with the changes that have occurred over the past 150 years. Granted, had the graphs used a consistent time-scale, the graph would have cumbersome – an accurate graph would  probably have wrapped around the room. I am not claiming that the intention was to deceive, but the end result was exactly that.

NASA (not a liberal, green bunch of hysterics I hope all will agree) cites the following alarming facts:

  • SEA LEVEL RISE: Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century
  • GLOBAL TEMPERATURE RISE: All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880.5Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years. Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase.
  • WARMING OCEANS: The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
  • SHRINKING ICE SHEETS: The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
  • DECLINING ARTIC ICE: Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.
  • GLACIAL RETREAT: Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.
  • EXTREME EVENTS: The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.
  • OCEAN ACIDIFICATION: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.12,13This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.
  • DECREASED SNOW COVER: Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.

Natural Causes? As to the possible natural causes of the extreme temperatures that we are witnessing in the past 150 years (this is the time frame that is often referenced since we only started to keep comprehensive meteorological records), here are some facts.

Is the variability of the Sun responsible for heating up the Earth?NASA says this:  It’s reasonable to assume that changes in the sun’s energy output would cause the climate to change, since the sun is the fundamental source of energy that drives our climate system. 

Indeed, studies show that solar variability has played a role in past climate changes. For example, a decrease in solar activity is thought to have triggered the Little Ice Age between approximately 1650 and 1850, when Greenland was largely cut off by ice from 1410 to the 1720s and glaciers advanced in the Alps.

But several lines of evidence show that current global warming cannot be explained by changes in energy from the sun:

  • Since 1750, the average amount of energy coming from the sun either remained constant or increased slightly.
  • If the warming were caused by a more active sun, then scientists would expect to see warmer temperatures in all layers of the atmosphere. Instead, they have observed a cooling in the upper atmosphere, and a warming at the surface and in the lower parts of the atmosphere. That’s because greenhouse gasses are trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.
  • Climate models that include solar irradiance changes can’t reproduce the observed temperature trend over the past century or more without including a rise in greenhouse gases. 

Are volcanic eruptions to blame? It was mentioned that volcanic activity, such as the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the early 90’s, affects climate and resulted in a cooler global temperature for the year following the event. That is true. But according to the US Geological Survey (again, not a hysterical ‘green’ outlier group), the cooling was a result of energy-reflecting micro-particles and ash which were launched into the atmosphere by the eruption, not CO2 or any other greenhouse gases (GHG).

Volcanoes do release significant volumes of GHG. The USGS estimates volcanoes release CO2 in the range of 0.13 gigatons to 0.44 gigatons of GHG each year. A gigaton is equal to 1,000,0000,000 tons…that is, 1 billion tons. That seems impressive until you compare it with the amount of CO2 that is released annually from human activities: 35 gigatons of GHG per year.    Read more about it here: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/gas/climate.php     and here:  http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/2007/07_02_15.html

In summary, to say that human activity dwarfs natural sources of GHG is a vast understatement…the USGS notes that natural sources produce less than 1% of the volume of GHG produced by human activity.

Is there a ‘hidden agenda’ at work, driving the discussion using fear-mongering?  Is the science of GCC ‘not settled’ as some members claimed at the Member Talk? An objection was raised during our discussion about  the often-quoted figure of ‘97% of scientists’ who are said to agree that GCC is human caused. The objection is that the figure is inflated and/or skewed because scientists who have no standing to comment on climatological issues and theories have nonetheless weighed in on the topic.

So where, exactly, does the 97% figure come from? The website ‘Skepticalscience.com’ addressed what they call ‘the myth’ that there is no scientific consensus regarding GCC with ‘The Consensus Project’:   “…A Skeptical Science peer-reviewed survey of all (over 12,000) peer-reviewed abstracts on the subject ‘global climate change‘ and ‘global warming’ published between 1991 and 2011 (Cook et al. 2013) found that over 97% of the papers taking a position on the subject agreed with the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.  In a second phase of the project, the scientist authors were emailed and rated over 2,000 of their own papers.  Once again, over 97% of the papers taking a position on the cause of global warming agreed that humans are causing it.”

I offer the following list from the Governor’s (CA) Office of Planning and Research of 197 international scientific organizations who have determined that GCC is: a) real, b) human caused, c) is a threat to human life in the near-term…

  1. Academia Chilena de Ciencias, Chile
  2. Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, Portugal
  3. Academia de Ciencias de la República Dominicana
  4. Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela
  5. Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala
  6. Academia Mexicana de Ciencias,Mexico
  7. Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Bolivia
  8. Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru
  9. Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
  10. Académie des Sciences, France
  11. Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada
  12. Academy of Athens
  13. Academy of Science of Mozambique
  14. Academy of Science of South Africa
  15. Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)
  16. Academy of Sciences Malaysia
  17. Academy of Sciences of Moldova
  18. Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  19. Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran
  20. Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
  21. Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand
  22. Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
  23. Africa Centre for Climate and Earth Systems Science
  24. African Academy of Sciences
  25. Albanian Academy of Sciences
  26. Amazon Environmental Research Institute
  27. American Academy of Pediatrics
  28. American Anthropological Association
  29. American Association for the Advancement of Science
  30. American Association of State Climatologists (AASC)
  31. American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
  32. American Astronomical Society
  33. American Chemical Society
  34. American College of Preventive Medicine
  35. American Fisheries Society
  36. American Geophysical Union
  37. American Institute of Biological Sciences
  38. American Institute of Physics
  39. American Meteorological Society
  40. American Physical Society
  41. American Public Health Association
  42. American Quaternary Association
  43. American Society for Microbiology
  44. American Society of Agronomy
  45. American Society of Civil Engineers
  46. American Society of Plant Biologists
  47. American Statistical Association
  48. Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
  49. Australian Academy of Science
  50. Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  51. Australian Coral Reef Society
  52. Australian Institute of Marine Science
  53. Australian Institute of Physics
  54. Australian Marine Sciences Association
  55. Australian Medical Association
  56. Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society 
  57. Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
  58. Botanical Society of America
  59. Brazilian Academy of Sciences
  60. British Antarctic Survey
  61. Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
  62. California Academy of Sciences
  63. Cameroon Academy of Sciences
  64. Canadian Association of Physicists
  65. Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
  66. Canadian Geophysical Union
  67. Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
  68. Canadian Society of Soil Science
  69. Canadian Society of Zoologists
  70. Caribbean Academy of Sciences views
  71. Center for International Forestry Research
  72. Chinese Academy of Sciences
  73. Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences
  74. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)
  75. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
  76. Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences
  77. Crop Science Society of America
  78. Cuban Academy of Sciences
  79. Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters
  80. Ecological Society of America
  81. Ecological Society of Australia
  82. Environmental Protection Agency
  83. European Academy of Sciences and Arts
  84. European Federation of Geologists
  85. European Geosciences Union
  86. European Physical Society
  87. European Science Foundation
  88. Federation of American Scientists
  89. French Academy of Sciences
  90. Geological Society of America
  91. Geological Society of Australia
  92. Geological Society of London
  93. Georgian Academy of Sciences 
  94. German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina 
  95. Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences
  96. Indian National Science Academy
  97. Indonesian Academy of Sciences
  98. Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management
  99. Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology
  100. Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand
  101. Institution of Mechanical Engineers, UK
  102. InterAcademy Council
  103. International Alliance of Research Universities
  104. International Arctic Science Committee
  105. International Association for Great Lakes Research
  106. International Council for Science
  107. International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
  108. International Research Institute for Climate and Society
  109. International Union for Quaternary Research
  110. International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
  111. International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
  112. Islamic World Academy of Sciences
  113. Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  114. Kenya National Academy of Sciences
  115. Korean Academy of Science and Technology
  116. Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts
  117. l’Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
  118. Latin American Academy of Sciences
  119. Latvian Academy of Sciences
  120. Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
  121. Madagascar National Academy of Arts, Letters, and Sciences
  122. Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology
  123. Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts
  124. National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina
  125. National Academy of Sciences of Armenia
  126. National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic
  127. National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka
  128. National Academy of Sciences, United States of America
  129. National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
  130. National Association of Geoscience Teachers
  131. National Association of State Foresters
  132. National Center for Atmospheric Research 
  133. National Council of Engineers Australia
  134. National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, New Zealand
  135. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  136. National Research Council
  137. National Science Foundation
  138. Natural England
  139. Natural Environment Research Council, UK
  140. Natural Science Collections Alliance
  141. Network of African Science Academies
  142. New York Academy of Sciences
  143. Nicaraguan Academy of Sciences
  144. Nigerian Academy of Sciences
  145. Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters
  146. Oklahoma Climatological Survey
  147. Organization of Biological Field Stations
  148. Pakistan Academy of Sciences
  149. Palestine Academy for Science and Technology
  150. Pew Center on Global Climate Change
  151. Polish Academy of Sciences
  152. Romanian Academy
  153. Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium
  154. Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain
  155. Royal Astronomical Society, UK
  156. Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
  157. Royal Irish Academy
  158. Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
  159. Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  160. Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
  161. Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
  162. Royal Society of Canada
  163. Royal Society of Chemistry, UK
  164. Royal Society of the United Kingdom
  165. Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
  166. Russian Academy of Sciences
  167. Science and Technology, Australia 
  168. Science Council of Japan
  169. Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
  170. Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics
  171. Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  172. Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  173. Slovak Academy of Sciences
  174. Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
  175. Society for Ecological Restoration International
  176. Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  177. Society of American Foresters  
  178. Society of Biology (UK)  
  179. Society of Systematic Biologists
  180. Soil Science Society of America
  181. Sudan Academy of Sciences
  182. Sudanese National Academy of Science
  183. Tanzania Academy of Sciences
  184. The Wildlife Society (international)
  185. Turkish Academy of Sciences
  186. Uganda National Academy of Sciences
  187. Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities
  188. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  189. University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
  190. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  191. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  192. World Federation of Public Health Associations
  193. World Forestry Congress
  194. World Health Organization
  195. World Meteorological Organization
  196. Zambia Academy of Sciences
  197. Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences

In fairness, I will also present the following list of scientific and research organizations which do not believe that GCC is human-caused and believe that GCC poses little or no threat to human civilization:

  • there are none that I can find.

However, there are a number of fossil fuel advocacy groups (which differ from science-based institutions which, unlike advocacy groups, presumably have no agenda beyond uncovering facts) that are in the ‘denier’ camp. See if you can spot the pattern:

  • Americans for Prosperity (funded by the Koch Brothers)*
  • American Enterprise Institute (funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries)*
  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ExxonMobil and Koch)*
  • Beacon Hill Institute (Koch funded)*
  • Cato Institute (founded and funded by Koch Brothers)*
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (ExxonMobil and Koch)*
  • Heartland Institute (ExxonMobil and Koch)*
  • Heritage Foundation (ditto)*
  • Institute for Energy Research (ditto)*
  • Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (ditto)*
  • Information Council on the Environment  (Created by the National Coal Assn, the Western Fuels Association, and the Edison Electrical Institute.  ICE collapsed following the disclosure of their PR firm’s memos directing the ICE media blitz to target “….older, less educated males (who do not actively seek information) and younger, lower income women”. Ads compared belief in human-caused climate change to Chicken Little and Flat Earthers…another ad stated “if the earth is getting warmer, why is Minneapolis getting colder?”

*Source:Union of Concerned Scientists: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/fight-misinformation/global-warming-skeptic.html#.VeDLKflViko

If I were concerned about anyone pushing an ‘agenda’ it would be the above listed groups.

We Can’t Stop Building Fossil Fueled Energy Plants Because It Will ‘Hurt The Poor’.   One interesting tactic for people and organizations that wish to minimize or deny the anthropogenic nature of climate change is to cite the damage that mitigation of GCC would inflict on ‘the poor’. This argument was raised during last night’s discussion and is a talking point frequently used by many of the above listed groups. I think we should reject this attempt to seize a moral high ground by those wishing to minimize the threat that GCC poses. Bottom line: while there will be plenty of pain for many humans as we stumble in our attempts to avoid ecological disaster, the degradation of the environment hurts all of us in ways we can’t always imagine…for one reason, because of our absurdly short life spans in contrast with the glacial (ha!) pace of nature’s forces.

Our discussion Thursday evening also touched on the fact that the term ‘poor’ is lacking a universal definition in the context of GCC. Someone who is ‘poor’ in an American context might be considered as fabulously wealthy in a third-world context as Nate pointed out.  So, I propose that a better metric would be to consider ‘food security’ for the world’s population in the era of dramatic climate change. Sebastian mentioned that among  the advantages of living in a globally warmer climate would be the possibility of a longer growing season, the addition of arable land in the higher latitudes (estimated to be around 160 million hectares with the biggest gains in Russia and Central Asia – see link below) and increased biomass as plants thrive in the higher concentration of CO2. While these assertions may be true, it is also true that land in the lower latitudes are expected to become less productive or non-productive (estimated loss of land 110 million hectares, the biggest loser being Africa-see link below). Also consider that many plants (cereals and forage crops), while growing bushier, show lower protein concentrations under elevated CO2 conditions – see link. This is a complex issue…more details are to be found at this link:   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2148361/

What to do about global climate change?

As a start, how about:

  • Transition from fossil fuels as quickly as possible.
  • Upgrade the energy infrastructure to be able to make use of solar and wind power
  • Protect forest land…stop the destruction of the world’s rain forests
  • Conserve limited energy resources such as electricity and fossil fuels
  • Conserve water

What about the cost/benefit of mitigating GCC?   Is it ‘worth it’ to try to mitigate the impacts of human activity on the environment? Some in the discussion that followed Sebastian’s presentation suggested this as a metric to consider when weighing the pros and cons of taking ameliorative action against GCC.

Some members argued for taking no action until there is a definitive answer to whether or not GCC is real and is proven to be a threat. Others expressed the opinion that we have plenty of good reasons to limit our future use of fossil fuels even without the worry of global climate change. I confess that I am sympathetic with the latter view.

So what is the cost/benefit calculation? It’s so overwhelmingly complex that I don’t know that it is even possible to make such a calculation. But here is one educated guess made about ten years ago:

cost of climate change vs no action

Sources:  http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.43084.de/diw_wr_2005-12.pdf

And    http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29337/m1/1/

Finally a few closing quotes from institutions and organizations who do have standing to comment about global climate change:

American Association for the Advancement of Science  “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” (2006)3

American Chemical Society  “Comprehensive scientific assessments of our current and potential future climates clearly indicate that climate change is real, largely attributable to emissions from human activities, and potentially a very serious problem.” (2004)4

American Geophysical Union  “Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” (Adopted 2003, revised and reaffirmed 2007, 2012, 2013)5

American Medical Association  “Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.” (2013)6

American Meteorological Society  “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” (2012)7

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

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

International Science Academies Joint statement:

“Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001).” (2005, 11 international science academies)

U.S. National Academy of Sciences

“The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” (2005)

U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES –  U.S. Global Change Research Program

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

INTERGOVERNMENTAL BODIES – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.”

“Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely* due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

*IPCC defines ‘very likely’ as greater than 90 percent probability of occurrence.

Source citations for the above quotes are available here:  http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/


We’ve debated this issue for the last two decades and more…today, the Science appears to favor the view that global climate change is something that we urgently need to address. It’s one thing to be skeptical and it’s another thing to refuse to believe the best evidence science can provide us today.

I hope that this additional information is helpful to you when you ponder the issues surrounding global climate change.

Larry Bollinger, 8/28/2015


Alcohol as a social convention…


Interview with Bart Erhman RE: the source of the Gospels


  1. msberry49

    Very nice summary Larry. I would have attended THAT presentation! Mike Berry

  2. Lou Fontana

    Nice job as always Larry. Wish we could get past the straw man arguments. Except for the fringe, the position that global warming will make the earth less hospitable for some forms of life (including us) is clear; that we should take reasonable steps which will mitigate the negative effects of the warming is clear; that all of the actions you recommend are very reasonable is clear. What I don’t see is a two-pronged approach: Slow down warming if we can, AND plan effectively to protect life and property if we can’t. I think it is unethical to do nothing, but foolish to concentrate all our attention on slowing a process we may not be able to control.

  3. Thanks, MIke…there’s always a place at the table for you and Berit!

  4. Joyce Fontana

    Larry, your dedication and time commitment to your ideologies always impress me. A few more thoughts. I did look into the 97% consensus composition and yes those included in the figure were climatologists. But in perusing the internet sites questioning who are the 97%, the methodology of how they were included provides food for thought for anyone claiming to be a skeptic. I am not a “denier”, but I am a true skeptic about all things. The louder the claims (or longer the list of one sided web sites) the more skeptical I am. Check out climatedebatedaily.com. (and no I don ‘t know who sponsors this site. It may be big bad oil but it does provide links for both sides of the argument. My mantra is and will continue to be “follow those who seek the truth; shun those who have claimed to have found it”. Thus, I was very grateful for the opportunity to hear Sebastian’s presentation. I agree with Lou and Larry that despite our embracement or skepticism of the “science”, we all need to conserve our resources and protect our planet. To that end Lou and I have solar panels, have replaced every light bulb in the house with LED’s and I hang 75% of our laundry outside to line dry from March to November. It astounds me that few living in this spectacular sunny, dry climate use this free, green, abundant energy resource.

  5. Thanks for your comments Lou…I appreciate your taking the time to read my screed. I, too, am frustrated that this issue is a left vs. right political football …I agree that GCC requires some immediate action and that it is a moral imperative that we do so…I read a blog today that makes the case that the ‘migrants’ or ‘refugees’ leaving Syria are doing so because of the drought in the region which has de-stabliized the area leading to civil war. The writer warns us of millions more to follow in the years to come who are really the first wave of climate change related migration. It’s here.

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