Maquina Lectora

Notes of a curious mind

Tag: environment

Climate Histories: Seeing Earth from space for first time

We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” Bill Anders

In the mid-1960s atmospheric physicists and modellers began to produce studies of how the atmosphere would respond to elevated levels of CO2.  But still, they considered the greenhouse effect as a geophysical experiment, and the rise of CO2, as a changing parameter in the general problem of atmospheric thermal equilibrium.[1] Meanwhile, diverse and competitive hypotheses had an influence on scientists’ view and generated disputes between those who adopted warming and those who backed cooling theories, although the number of scientists who considered the possibility of cooling was very limited. Scientific controversies and disputes between experts provoked major difficulties for decision-making and policy implementation. The situation was illustrated very well to a 1968  Time magazine essay, titled ‘The Age of Effluence’.

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Climate Histories: The emergence of the first interdisciplinary research programme in global climate

In the mid-1970s the evidence about the greenhouse effect and its effect to climate change was growing among the scientific community. Data showed a steady increase of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere during the twentieth century at a rate of 25 times the historical average. Scientists, influenced by the work of Callendar, Revelle, Suess and Keeling have started to wonder if the worming trend which was occurring in the twentieth century was indeed, due to industrial emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2.  At the same time, they discovered that the biological productivity of the oceans was an important regulator of the way the CO2 built up in the atmosphere, and that the water vapour which had been found to be an important factor in the formation of clouds, could also play a role in the modulation of weather and climate. And as the questions multiplied, scientists were starting to realise that only an interdisciplinary research programme could provide the much needed answers.

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Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen & the Story of a Bet

“My role is that of a witness, not a preacher”, says Dr James Hansen, one the world’s leading scientist on climate issues. A witness, as defined by the writer Robert Pool, is “someone who believes he has information so important that he cannot keep silent.”

In his book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, James Hansen, often called the father of global warming, talks about the science and the mechanisms that drive global warming in a way that makes it relatively easy for readers to understand.

“Politicians are happy if scientists provide information and then go away and shut up”, he writes. But science and policy cannot be divorced. ” Policy decisions on climate change are “being deliberated every day by those without full of the science, and often with intentional misinformation spawned by special interests.” “This book” says Hansen, “was written to help rectify this situation. Citizens with a special interest – in their loved ones – need to become familiar with the science, exercise their democratic rights, and pay attention to politicians’ decisions Otherwise, it seems, short-term special interests will hold sway in capitals around the world – and we are running out of time.”

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