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Climatologist analyzes Obama's speech

June 25th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

Climatologist Richard Alley reacts to President's Obama new initiative to combat climate change in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Alley is part of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that received a Nobel Prize.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Climate • Latest Episode
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Inquisitive

    Obama is stupid. Climate happens. In fact, Alaska had its hottest summer in 1912. Go figure. Oh, and we can't forget the droughts in Texas that led to the famous dust storms during. The Great Depression of the 1920s. So, why then do the democrats continue to enjoy instilling fear into the American people? Could it be power? Why do some American citizens believe everything they hear? Why can't they question our high and mighty leader? We are not sheep. We don't encourage group think.

    June 26, 2013 at 6:55 am | Reply
    • Scott S.

      A common skeptic argument is that climate has changed naturally in the past, long before SUVs and coal-fired power plants, so humans can't be the cause of the current global warming. Peer-reviewed research shows this is not the case.

      It's important to know there are a number of different forces acting on the Earth’s climate. When the sun gets brighter, the planet receives more energy and warms. When volcanoes erupt, they emit particles into the atmosphere which reflect sunlight, and the planet cools. When there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the planet warms. It's worth remembering that without some greenhouse gas the Earth would be a ball of ice.

      These forces are called "forcings" because they force changes in the global average temperature.

      Looking at the past gives us insight into how our climate responds to such forcings. Using ice cores, for instance, we can work out past temperature changes, the level of solar activity, and the amount of greenhouse gases and volcanic dust in the atmosphere. Looking at many different periods and timescales including many thousands of years ago we've learned that when the Earth gains heat, glaciers and sea ice melt resulting in a positive feedbacks that amplify the warming. There are other positive feedbacks as well and this is why the planet has experienced such dramatic changes in temperature in the past.

      In summary the past reveals our climate is highly sensitive to small changes in heat.

      What does that mean for today? Over the past 150 years greenhouse gas levels have increased 40 percent mainly from burning of fossil fuels. This additional "forcing" is warming the planet more than it has in thousands of years. From Earth's history, we know that positive feedbacks will amplify this additional warming.

      The Earth's climate has changed in the past and ice cores and other measures tell us why. Based on this knowledge, and other types of evidence we know the human emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the climate.


      June 27, 2013 at 3:03 am | Reply
    • bob

      the earth could care less if we were not around. However, if you wish to be around to enjoy ignoring science then it is in your own self interest not to wake a sleeping giant. The earth hosts a highly complex number of forces as the previous author elengantly put. It is a closed system meaning that an increase in one force can affect another. This might not alwaya be negative for some participants, but to ignore that increases in green house gases once trapped in stone or fossils does not affect the system is utterly wrong. Forests do absorb CO2, but those forests are also dissapearing at an alarming rate.

      Finally, climate and weather are two very different things. Climate change does not mean increases in heat, but increases in the intensity of weather.

      So, just be honest and say that you simply want to continue leading a wasteful life and do not care about resources that, ironically, you yourself rely on to live this life of ignorance.

      June 27, 2013 at 9:44 am | Reply
    • Robert Evans

      Inquisitive: Your comment belies the handle you use. If Obama is "stupid", as you assert, it is because he has been listening to the 97% of climate scientists who believe that human activity is affecting the planet's climate. I would call that wise. And you, as many have done before you, are confusing the meaning of "climate" and "weather". If you really are "inquisitive", go to your dictionary and look up those words, before wasting more space in this discussion.

      June 27, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  2. Owino

    Don't call people stupid withdraw your statements

    June 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  3. Mar

    Que tal,
    dir�a que es la unica vez que he visitado este
    blog y debo comentar que no esta mal y posiblemente me veras
    mas a menudo por tu blog.
    Un saludo!

    July 2, 2013 at 6:08 am | Reply
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    April 26, 2016 at 11:45 pm | Reply

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