4 October 2010

Climate Change: a summary of the science

The UK's Royal Society has produced a new short summary guide to climate change. This updates an earlier guide and highlights key areas of debate as well as consensus on climate change.

The guide's key conclusions are [Bold emphasis added]:

"There is strong evidence that changes in greenhouse gas concentrations due to human  activity are the dominant cause of the global warming that has taken place over the last  half century. This warming trend is expected to continue as are changes in precipitation over the long term in many regions. Further and more rapid increases in sea level are likely which will have profound implications for coastal communities and ecosystems.

It is not possible to determine exactly how much the Earth will warm or exactly how the  climate will change in the future, but careful estimates of potential changes and  associated uncertainties have been made. Scientists continue to work to narrow these  areas of uncertainty. Uncertainty can work both ways, since the changes and their  impacts may be either smaller or larger than those projected.

Like many important decisions, policy choices about climate change have to be made in  the absence of perfect knowledge. Even if the remaining uncertainties were substantially resolved, the wide variety of interests, cultures and beliefs in society would  make consensus about such choices difficult to achieve. However, the potential impacts  of climate change are sufficiently serious that important decisions will need to be made.  Climate science – including the substantial body of knowledge that is already well  established, and the results of future research – is the essential basis for future climate  projections and planning, and must be a vital component of public reasoning in this  complex and challenging area."

More details of the guide can be found at http://royalsociety.org/climate-change-summary-of-science/

Download the guide directly by clicking here.