The radiation that reaches Earth from space is one factor that shapes our climate. Credit: Danish National Space Center
So, just what is the best simple explanation of climate change? Answering that question was the aim of the one-year quest I set myself in January when I set up this blog. Since then, scientists from around the world have helped me try and find an answer. While not all of them have offered their own explanations, 26 have. They’re all great in different ways, so I had difficulty imagining how to refine them into a single version. The solution to this problem, I decided, is to enlist your help in choosing which of the different explanations is best.
Between here and the end of the year I will be recapping these explanations, and running a series of polls, so Simple Climate readers can vote to choose the best one. Among the explanations there are a number of different approaches. Most scientists address the physics underlying climate change, either metaphorically or directly, with the direct explanations split between one-liners and longer versions. Many, however, explain climate change in terms of its effects, and some give a more personal or political explanation.
This week’s poll features the longer physical explanations, then next week will be one-liners and metaphorical physical explanations. The effects and personal explanations will then be included in votes over the following two weeks. Then, the winner of each of these will compete against each other in the final poll, over the final 10 days of 2010. In parallel with these polls, I’ll use my midweek blog entries to summarise what else I’ve learnt this year, beyond the explanations. Read the rest of this entry »