Climate change can be understood and tackled

Even a highly simplified model of the Earth's atmosphere shows great complexity in jet streams and macroturbulence. Mathematical approaches that focus on average statistics rather than detailed patterns can deepen our understanding of climate and climate change. Credit: Brad Marston / Brown University

Even a highly simplified model of the Earth’s atmosphere shows great complexity in jet streams and macroturbulence. Mathematical approaches that focus on average statistics rather than detailed patterns can deepen our understanding of climate and climate change. Credit: Brad Marston / Brown University

A flaming stand-up argument, a sulky ignoring, a two-faced seeming agreement undermined by continued belief in the opposite opinion. There are many ways for people to disagree – and when it comes to climate change, surely all of them have been used. These disagreements can be good. Through them the human race progresses, with some people proposing ideas and others questioning and finding holes in them until they are well refined and hard to break down.

Over the past year, I have been writing about the latest climate research and asking the scientists doing it questions on this blog. In that time I’ve learnt a lot about global warming, and it has become clear that the evidence showing that it is happening is robust enough to stand aggressive questioning. Most recently, it’s become more clear to me that the science on which predictions of how our behaviour will continue to affect climate is also well established, even though it is still being questioned and further refined. It’s right that we question it, but where the scientists I have been in touch with differ is in the fine details rather than on the overall picture.

That’s shown, in part, by the fact that many of the explanations of climate change that the scientists have given me are similar. In the past month Simple Climate readers have been voting to choose between them to help with one aim I had for the blog when I set it up in January: to produce a single, simple explanation of climate change. It’s fitting that the ultimate winner is one of the world’s leading climate researchers: Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Read the rest of this entry »