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The Chemistry of Global Climate Change. Chapter 3, part III Miriam L. Wahl, PhD. Fig03.24. Scientists make predictions by following trends and patterns; using computer simulations. Table 03.03. Suggestions to counter climate change. Planting green plants on roofs Painting roofs white

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the chemistry of global climate change

The Chemistry of Global Climate Change

Chapter 3, part III

Miriam L. Wahl, PhD



Scientists make predictions by following trends and patterns; using computer simulations

suggestions to counter climate change
Suggestions to counter climate change
  • Planting green plants on roofs
  • Painting roofs white
  • Painting tar (roads) white
solar irradiance brightness
Solar irradiance (brightness)
  • The sun’s orbit oscillates
  • Output varies
  • Sunspots occur in large numbers every 11 years-dark spots mean more radiation is hitting the Earth, not less
  • Is the least variant of the radiative forces
  • (see next slide)
surface albedo
Surface Albedo
  • The ratio of reflected to incident light
  • Varies from 0.1 to 0.9
  • Changes where snow melts, ice melts
  • Deforestation
  • These things reflect light


Receding glacier in Alaska


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Recognizing the problem of potential global climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. It is open to all members of the UN and WMO.

In 2007, the IPCC stated in a report that scientific evidence for

global warming was unequivocal and that human activity is the

main cause.



Kyoto Protocol - 1997 Conference

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) certified the scientific basis of the greenhouse effect.
  • Kyoto Protocol established goals to stabilize and reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases.
  • Emission targets set to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases from 1990 levels.
  • (CO2, CH4, NO, HFC’s, PFC’s, and SF6)
  • Trading of emission credits allowed.



The Kyoto Protocol, an international and legally binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gases emissions worldwide, entered into force on 16 February 2005.

Notable country who has not signed


what is the kyoto treaty about
What is the Kyoto treaty about?
  • The Kyoto Treaty commits industrialized nations to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, principally CO2, by around 5.2% below their 1990 levels over the next decade.
  • Drawn up in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997, the agreement needs to be ratified by countries who were responsible for at least 55% of the world's carbon emissions in 1990 to come into force.
kyoto treaty 2
Kyoto Treaty (2)
  • The agreement was dealt a severe blow in March 2001 when President George W.Bush announced that the United States would never sign it.
key points
  • Finance - funding for poor countries to develop new technology
  • Mechanisms - tough systems in each country to verify and report carbon emissions
  • Sinks - heavily forested countries can use their 'tree sinks' to offset greenhouse gases
  • Compliance - countries that fail to keep to their greenhouse gas reduction targets should face legally binding consequences
  • A scaled-down version was drawn up four months later and finalized at climate talks in Bonn in Germany in 2002. The treaty now only needs Russian ratification to come into effect.
  • When the revised treaty took effect in 2008, it would have required all signatories, including 39 industrialized countries, to achieve different emission reduction targets.
kyoto continued
Kyoto (continued)
  • With that aim, it will provide a complex system which will allow some countries to buy emission credits from others.
  • For instance, a country in western Europe might decide to buy rights or credits to emit carbon from one in eastern Europe which could not afford the fuel that would emit the carbon in the first place.
bonn agreement
Bonn agreement
  • The US produced 36% of emissions in 1990, making it the world's biggest polluter.
  • The revised Kyoto agreement, widely credited to the European Union, made considerable compromises allowing countries like Russia to offset their targets with carbon sinks - areas of forest and farmland which absorb carbon through photosynthesis.
  • The Bonn agreement also reduced cuts to be made to emissions of six gases believed to be exacerbating global warming - from the original treaty's 5.2% to 2%. (Green peace called it “Kyoto lite”)
  • It was hoped that these slightly watered down provisions would allow the US to take up the Kyoto principles - but this has not proved to be the case.
politics as usual
Politics as Usual
  • What role does politics play in this kind of realm?
  • Which party typically backs industries?
  • Do industries contribute to political campaigns? What are lobbyists? What are special interest groups?
  • Who is the biggest loser? The environment and us!
scientific debate
Scientific Debate
  • It’s normal for there to be debate
  • It’s normal to test a hypothesis, find support for it or not
  • It’s normal for people to argue about the best way to handle data
  • It’s common to find people who won’t let go of their original hypothesis despite evidence to the contrary.
two you tube videos
Two You Tube Videos
  • “Man made Global Warming Hoax”
  • Key features of many: the person talking is not a scientist, is a theologist
  • No data shown, and graphs shown are without documentation
  • “The Age of Stupid”
al gore
Al Gore
  • “An Inconvenient Truth”
  • Is he a scientific expert?
  • Use of exaggeration to prove a point…leads to….a lack of trust and unnecessary fear.
  • What is exaggeration when used while describing scientific data?
  • The message in An Inconvenient Truth, the new movie starring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, is clear: Humans are causing global warming, and the effects are devastating.
  • Most scientists agree that the Earth is heating up, due primarily to an atmospheric increase in CO2 caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum.
  • But how accurate are some of the scientific claims made in the documentary?
  • Fact or hype?

In an attempt to clear the air, National Geographic News checked in with Eric Steig, an earth scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle, who saw An Inconvenient Truth at a preview screening.

He says the documentary handles the science well.

"I was looking for errors," he said.

"But nothing much struck me as overblown or wrong."

Claim: According to the film, the number of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last year.

"This is true," Steig said. "There is no theoretical basis for the notion that this is a [natural] cycle."


A study published in the journal Nature in August found that hurricanes and typhoons have become more powerful over the past 30 years.

The study also found that these upswings in hurricane strength correlate with a rise in sea-surface temperatures. Ocean heat is the key ingredient for hurricane formation.


No one can link Katrina or any other storm/disaster to the

global warming.

But," Steig said, "the statistics [show] that such events are

more likely now than they used to be and will become more

likely in the future."

Some scientists, however, believe that we are in the

high-intensity stage of a decades-long natural hurricance

cycle, which they say is primarily responsible for any uptick

in storm activity.

Still others aren't even sure hurricanes are gaining strength.


Claim: Heat waves will be more frequent and more intense as temperatures rise.

"There's no question about this," the University of Washington's Steig said. "If the average is going up, the extremes have to go up as well."

2005 was the hottest year on Earth since the late 19th century, when scientists began collecting temperature data. The past decade featured five of the warmest years ever recorded, with the second hottest year being 1998.


Claim: Deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years to 300,000 people a year.

"The exact numbers are, at best, an extrapolation from [a heat wave that] was experienced in Europe in 2003," Steig said.

"However, there is no question that that heat wave was a major event and statistically very unlikely to have happened unless the statistics are changing.

"Since it did happen, the statistics are changing—that is, the globe really is warming up."


Claim: More than a million species worldwide could be driven to extinction in just half a century as a result of global warming.

Steig is "skeptical that climate change itself will cause this [extinction] … so much as direct human impacts such as land-clearing." But he noted that he hadn't read the latest studies, some of which do make such a claim.

For example, a study published in Nature in 2004 predicted that climate change could drive more than a million species towards extinction by 2050.

"Climate change now represents at least as great a threat to the number of species surviving on Earth as habitat destruction and modification," said the lead author of that study, Chris Thomas, a conservation biologist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.


Claim: Global warming will also cause the introduction of new, invasive species.

"I take issue with the invasive-species linkage, because the human influence—directly, by transporting species around—I suspect is much more important than climate change," Steig said.


Claim: Global sea levels could rise by more than 20 feet (6 meters) with the loss of shelf ice in Greenland and Antarctica, devastating coastal areas worldwide.

There is little doubt that sea levels would rise by that much if Greenland melted.

But scientists disagree on when it could happen.

A recent Nature study suggested that Greenland's ice sheet will begin to melt if the temperature there rises by 3ºC (5.4ºF) within the next hundred years, which is quite possible, according to leading temperature-change estimates.

"It's uncertain how much warmer Greenland would get, [given] a certain carbon dioxide level, because different climate models give different amounts of warming," said Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

But many experts agree that even a partial melting would cause a one meter (three foot) rise in sea levels, which would entirely submerge low-lying island countries, such as the Indian Ocean's Maldives.


Claim: The Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summer by 2050.

Some climate models are more conservative, suggesting that there will be no summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2100.

But new research shows it could take as little as 20 years for the sea ice to disappear.

"Since the advent of remote satellite imaging, we've lost about 20 percent of sea-ice cover," said Mark Serreze, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

"We're setting ourselves up for very big losses this year."

"We think of the Arctic as the heat sink to the climate system," Serreze said.

"We're fundamentally changing this heat sink, and we don't know how the rest of the climate system is going to respond."

There is no doubt that as sea ice continues to melt, habitat for animals like polar bears will continue to shrink.

what is the u s doing about this

What is the U.S. doing about this?

What are other countries doing about this?

co 2 data information analysis center cdiac
CO2 Data Information Analysis Center (CDIAC)
  • The primary climate-change data and information analysis center
  • part of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). CDIAC is located at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and includes the World Data Center for Atmospheric Trace Gases.
  • CDIAC's data holdings include records of the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and other radiatively active gases; the role of the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans in the biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases;
cdiac cont
CDIAC (cont)
  • emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel consumption and land use changes; long-term climate trends; the effects of elevated CO2 on vegetation; and the vulnerability of the coasts to the rising sea level.
  • DIAC provides data management support for major projects, including the AmeriFlux Network, continuous observations of ecosystem level exchanges of CO2, water, energy and momentum at different time scales for sites in the Americas; the Ocean CO2 Data Program of CO2 measurements taken aboard ocean research vessels
cdiac cont1
CDIAC (cont)
  • DOE-supported FACE experiments, which evaluate plant and ecosystem response to elevated CO2 concentrations, and NARSTO, which assesses ozone and fine particle processes in the troposphere over North America. (note: NARSTO was a coalition of Mexico, the U.S. and Canada; chartered in 1999, disbanded in 2010-government/industry/researchers)
  • CDIAC is supported by DOE’s Climate Change Research Division of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research.
the maldives near southern india
The Maldives-near Southern India
  • Was originally a sultanate, under Dutch, then British protection.
  • It became a republic in 1968, three years after independence.
  • President Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM dominated the islands' political scene for 30 years; was elected to 6 successive terms by single-party referendums.
  • Following riots in the capital Male in August 2004, the president/ government pledged democratic reforms including a more representative political system and expanded political freedoms. Progress was sluggish, however.
  • Political parties were legalized in 2005. In June 2008, a constituent assembly - termed the "Special Majlis" - finalized a new constitution, which was ratified by the president in August.
  • The first-ever presidential elections under a multi-candidate, multi-party system were held in October 2008. GAYOOM was defeated in a runoff poll by Mohamed NASHEED, a political activist who had been jailed several years earlier by the former regime. Challenges facing the new president include strengthening democracy and combating poverty and drug abuse.
  • Maldives officials have been prominent participants in International climate change talks due to the islands' low elevation and the threat from sea-level rise.
what can or should we do
What Can (or Should) We Do?
  • Climate mitigation measures
  • Highest are China, the U.S., the Russian Federation, India, and Japan
  • Carbon capture from C02 (two dozen projects worldwide): promising, though expensive
  • Norway was first, in 1996! Now also Saskatchewan, and North Dakota
  • Tree planting (going on in Africa)

Fig. 3.25


global climate change initiative 2002
Global Climate Change Initiative, 2002
  • Proposed by Bush administration
  • 18% reduction by 2012
  • Agreements between 10 Northeastern states, another by NY, another by California, Oregon, and Washington.
  • California has been the boldest: imposed restrictions on cars and light trucks in addition to industry.
the science historian phd in geology naomi oreskes did a complete search
The science historian (PhD in Geology) Naomi Oreskes did a complete search
  • And of the 850 papers reviewed from the 2003 literature ( and review of 928 abstracts. She concluded the following:"This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect."
our new freshman class in congress in their own words
Our New Freshman Class in CongressIn Their Own Words

"With the possible exception of Tiger Woods, nothing has had a worse year than global warming. We have discovered that a good portion of the science used to justify "climate change" was a hoax perpetrated by leftist ideologues with an agenda.“ 

— Todd Young, new congressperson from Indiana 

  • "I absolutely do not believe that the science of man-caused climate change is proven. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or something just in the geologic eons of time where we have changes in the climate."  
  • — Ron Johnson, new senator from Wisconsin
more 2010 quotes
More 2010 quotes
  • "I think we ought to take a look at whatever the group is that measures all this, the IPCC, they don't even believe the crap."
  • — Steve Pearce, new congressperson from New Mexico
  • "There isn't any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth."
  • — Roy Blunt, new senator from Missouri 
  • "It's a bigger issue, we need to watch 'em. Not only because it may or may not be true, but they're making up their facts to fit their conclusions. They've already caught 'em doing this."
  • — Rand Paul, new senator from Kentucky