Summary of US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report (CSSR)

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US Global Change Research Program Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) summary
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Rating

9 Overall

10 Importance

9 Innovation

7 Style

Recommendation

President Donald Trump and other politicians might be skeptical of climate change, but US government scientists are forceful and unanimous in their conclusions: The planet is heating up. It’s going to get hotter. Humans caused it to get hotter, and are continuing to cause further warming, and drastic declines in greenhouse gas emissions are the only way to stop the warm up from continuing. Predating the Hurricane Harvey disaster, this study didn’t get much support from the White House – but it garnered widespread attention after an insider leaked it to The New York Times, which posted it online in August 2017. This version is a first draft – given to the press before any government editing, vetting or authorization. It is the creation of scientists from NASA, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, among other federal agencies, along with researchers from the University of California, the University of Illinois, North Carolina State University and other institutions. Readers beware: While the information in this clear-eyed report is of utmost importance, the prose requires patience. Heavy on jargon, acronyms, meandering sentences and ponderous footnotes, the document reads like what it is: the product of a committee of government scientists (“paramaterized” or “covariance analyses,” anyone?). getAbstract recommends this authoritative report to investors, scientists, managers and voters seeking analysis of a defining political, economic and scientific issue.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the global climate has changed,
  • How temperatures might rise in the future and
  • How global warming will affect extreme weather.
 

About the Authors

Donald Wuebbles of the National Science Foundation teaches atmospheric science at the University of Illinois. David Fahey is a research physicist at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory. Kathleen Hibbard is a program manager for NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology Program.

 

Summary

A Clear and Obvious Warming Trend

Earth’s climate is getting hotter. The hottest year on record was 2014, but 2015 topped it, and 2016 topped that. Indeed, 16 of the hottest years on record have occurred in the past 17 years. Compare Earth’s climate from 1986 to 2016 to the period from 1901 to 1960, and the annual average temperature is up 1.2° Fahrenheit (0.67° Celsius). Significant global warming has occurred since the middle of the 20th century. It’s at least 95% likely that human activity is the primary cause. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming. No plausible alternative cause explains the rapid rise in temperatures since the Industrial Revolution. Increased solar energy and volcanic eruptions could account for small temperature increases, but not the sustained, significant warming trend that scientists have observed in recent decades. Human-related global warming began in 1870 and accelerated in 1970. In recent decades, the human race embarked on “an unprecedented experiment” with the global climate by burning huge amounts of fossil fuels while deforesting large swaths of the planet. The result could be that climate and ecosystems become “radically different.” Without significant curbs on pollution, average temperatures could continue to soar to perhaps 9°F above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. With dramatic decreases in fossil fuel consumption, temperatures still could rise 3.6°F. If greenhouse gases were held at current levels, temperatures still would rise by 1.1°F.

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