Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Primer for Understanding Climate Science

MIT Professor Kerry Emanuel explains the science behind climate change, as well as the associated risks and how to quantify them.

"Climate Science and Climate Risk: A Primer" by Kerry Emanuel is written for nonscientists. (Image Credit: Oceans at MIT) Click to Enlarge.
Climate science and threats from climate change have been hot topics of conversation amongst the public as well as business and political leaders.  And despite the fact that more than 90 percent of climate scientists attribute the majority of global mean temperature increase over the last few decades to human activity and warn that continued warming poses risks for mankind, doubt and misconceptions remain pervasive.  This ultimately hampers efforts to improve the scientific field around climate and to develop effective solutions and policies to mitigate risks. 

Now, a primer from Kerry Emanuel, climate scientist and hurricane expert in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences’ (EAPS) Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate (PAOC), explains how climate metrics and dynamics are evaluated, and why climate action today is important for our future.  Addressing some common questions about the field of study, Emanuel summarizes evidence for anthropogenic climate change, confronts some of the stickier questions behind uncertainty in climate projections, and discusses particular risks entailed by climate change and how they are quantified.

Emanuel worked with Larry Linden, an MIT alum and president of the Linden Trust, on how best to structure the scientific information and provide a socioeconomic case for climate action.  Using accessible language, they decided to write it for an audience of intelligent nonscientists who want to learn more about the science.  “What he’s [Linden] really trying to do is to get business leaders in particular, and some political leaders like moderate republicans to advance this issue,” Emanuel says.  “Larry thought it would be handy to have a climate primer to help people like these get the background they need to persuade others.”

Read more at A Primer for Understanding Climate Science

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