Royal Society climate change resources

October 14, 2007 at 9:24 am | Posted in Climate change, IPCC, Joint Academies, Policies, Royal Society, Weight of scientific evidence | Leave a comment

For teachers and students, here’s a list to key pages on the Royal Society site that deal with climate change. I shall add similar lists of links for the Met Office and NERC sites soon ;-)

Royal Society: Climate change

This document, in addition to all the IPCC research, shows there is multinational agreement amongst world-class scientists as to the serious nature of climate change and makes recommendations to policymakers on key points:

Royal Society: Joint academies G8 statement on climate change

Climate change is real and requires a global response. The science academies of the G8 countries, China, India and Brazil urge world leaders to take prompt action to reduce the causes of climate change and adapt to its impacts.

This simple guide explains itself. Worth reading in conjunction with the resources provided by the Met Office and NERC:

Climate change controversies: a simple guide

Climate change controversies

The Royal Society has produced this overview of the current state of scientific understanding of climate change to help non-experts better understand some of the debates in this complex area of science.

This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of global warming. Instead, the Society – as the UK’s national academy of science – responds here to eight key arguments that are currently in circulation by setting out, in simple terms, where the weight of scientific evidence lies.

  • Misleading argument 1 : The Earth’s climate is always changing and this is nothing to do with humans.
  • Misleading argument 2 : Carbon dioxide only makes up a small part of the atmosphere and so cannot be responsible for global warming.
  • Misleading argument 3 : Rises in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are the result of increased temperatures, not the other way round.
  • Misleading argument 4 : Observations of temperatures taken by weather balloons and satellites do not support the theory of global warming.
  • Misleading argument 5 : Computer models which predict the future climate are unreliable and based on a series of assumptions.
  • Misleading argument 6 : It’s all to do with the Sun – for example, there is a strong link between increased temperatures on Earth with the number of sunspots on the Sun.
  • Misleading argument 7 : The climate is actually affected by cosmic rays.
  • Misleading argument 8 : The scale of the negative effects of climate change is often overstated and there is no need for urgent action.

Our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. Science moves forward by challenge and debate and this will continue. However, none of the current criticisms of climate science, nor the alternative explanations of global warming are well enough founded to make not taking any action the wise choice. The science clearly points to the need for nations to take urgent steps to cut greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, as much and as fast as possible, to reduce the more severe aspects of climate change. We must also prepare for the impacts of climate change, some of which are already inevitable.

This document was compiled with the help of the Royal Society Climate Change Advisory Group and other leading experts.

April 2007

Climate change controversies: a simple guide (PDF) Issued April 2007

The document below is also useful, but predates the latest IPCC report, AR4, whereas the April 2007 guide above is up-to-date in that respect.

Guide to facts and fictions about climate change (PDF) Issued March 2005

This document examines twelve misleading arguments (presented in bold typeface) put forward by the opponents of urgent action on climate change and highlights the scientific evidence that exposes their flaws. It has been prepared by a group led by Sir David Wallace FRS, Treasurer of the Royal Society, and Sir John Houghton FRS, former chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This document has been endorsed by the Council of the Royal Society, and draws primarily on scientific papers published in leading peer-reviewed journals and the work of authoritative scientific organisations, such as the IPCC and the United States National Academy of Sciences.

This also may be of interest when students ask what the government is doing, or what targets have been set, to combat climate change:

UK and EU Climate Change Policy

As a group, the EU has agreed to reduce its emissions by 8% below 1990 levels for the first Kyoto commitment period between 2008-2012. Within this, the UK must reduce its CO2 emissions by 12.5% and has set a domestic ambition of 20% by 2010 and 60% by 2050.

The Society’s Economic instruments report shows convincingly that placing primary emphasis on the use of economic instruments provides the most cost-effective route for emission reductions. The Society therefore supports CO2 emissions trading and is encouraged by the UK participation in an EU wide scheme from January 2005. In a response to the Defra review of the UK Climate Change Programme the Royal Society has recommended that some policies, such as the UK Climate Change Levy, be replaced with more effective economic instruments.

In its response to the Department of trade and Industry review of UK Energy policy (July 2006), the Royal Society outlined how the UK should make significant reductions in greenhouse gases and also ensure a secure supply of energy.


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