Climate Change Links
These links and descriptions were kindly supplied by my friend Andy Young, a working scientist with direct knowledge of the issue. Two links and access to much more is courtesy of Kevin Trenberth, a climate research scientist from Boulder, Colorado.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, Link 1
The Union of Concerned Scientists, Link 2
The Union of Concerned Scientists has been providing solid background information on issues of policy importance for many years. They have some good Web pages on the climate situation.
Another place to go for climate information is 350.org -- an organization that is pushing for action on the climate problem. The "350" in their name is the upper limit estimated by Jim Hansen for the number of parts per million the Earth's atmosphere can safely maintain. Jim Hansen recently retired from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He has continued to study the greenhouse warming of the climate on Earth for many years, and is one of the leading people in this field. I was very impressed by the accuracy and care of his work on radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres, which allowed us to identify sulfuric acid as the main component in the Venus clouds; so we have kept an eye on the work he and his colleagues at Goddard have done on climate change. He was one of the first people to point out that the increasing CO2 content of the atmosphere is leading to really serious problems.
An article concerning natural variations in the climate of planet Earth by Kevin Trenberth
A great overview of Climate Change by Kevin Trenberth
More Work by Kevin Trenberth
There have been a couple of papers in "Science" recently that deal with the relative contributions of natural variations and human activities in changing the climate. Here's a link to a recent one from the 14 August 2015 issue of Science.
Another effect of CO2 that has been detected is the increasing acidity of the oceans. This is already weakening the calcium carbonate shells of the plankton at the bottom of the oceanic food chain, and making the artificial culture of oysters more difficult. It may also be contributing to the dying of coral reefs worldwide, which is aggravated by the increasing temperature of the water. This side of the CO2 problem may be even more serious, in the short run, than the climate effects, such as rising sea level. It has been estimated that about a quarter of the human food supply comes from the oceans; if this gets cut off, it contributes to the decreasing supply of food, due to climate-induced crop losses.
Kids - What Can You Do?
Adults - What Can You Do?
I asked my friend the direct question that often seems to not be answered - what can an individual do on a personal level? Andy says "Probably the best thing an individual can do right now is support organizations like The Union of Concerned Scientists and 350.org. Regular, small donations to these organizations can be effective, if large numbers of people do so. So, encourage other people to join them, and contribute. Here are some other ideas.
Andy also says: Don't forget to write to your representatives in Congress from time to time. I have heard from people involved in such efforts that most of these politicians are pretty unaware of scientific and environmental issues, and that when they and their staff people don't know anything about an issue, they resort to just counting the letters that come in, pro and con. Sometimes a vote in Congress is determined by just 2 or 3 letters on some relatively obscure topic.
Similarly, letters to the editor of your local paper can influence other people. A big problem with the press has been their wishy-washy approach to the climate problem, treating it as "controversial" when the science has been settled long ago. Don't let misinformation go unchallenged.