Reliable Sources of Information about Climate Change and Its Impacts

 

Climate change skeptics have seized upon e-mail messages among climate scientists to claim that climate change is a hoax and we can’t believe anything the scientists have said.

 

Dr. Raymond Najjar, Associate Professor of Meteorology at Penn State Univerity, spoke earlier this year before the Council’s Board of Directors, and left behind a document that provides many reliable sources of information that may be helpful. These resources are listed below.

 

He prefaces his list with the following statement:

 

There is an almost endless amount of information about climate change on the internet. Unfortunately, much of it is unreliable because there is no quality control—just about anyone can put just about anything on the internet. The most reliable sources of information are scientific journal articles, because these are subject to peer review (i.e., evaluation by other scientists). Though not perfect, peer review often filters out bad science. The journal literature, however, is often difficult for non-specialists to cull through, so there have been numerous efforts to bring peer0reviewed science to more general audiences. Below are some internet sources that are based on the peer-reviewed scientific literature and are relatively easy for the layperson to understand.

 

International

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

http://www.ipcc.ch/

This organization has put out four assessments of global climate change based on the scientific literature since 1990. A good place to start is the Summary for Policymakers of the AR4 (Fourth Assessment Report) Synthesis Report.

 

Joint statement from 11 national science academies

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has joined science academies from 10 other countries to issue a joint statement on climate change: http://nationalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf.

 

United States

 

U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP)

http://www.globalchange.gov/

This organization is similar to the IPCC but relies mainly on U.S. scientists to create climate assessments. Recently the CCSP created 21 Synthesis and Assessment Products, each concerning a specific aspect of climate change.

 

The National Academy of Sciences

http://dels.nas.edu/basc/index.shtml

The Academy is the major source of scientific advice to the nation. Within the Academy is the Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, which has published numerous reports about climate change. A good place to start is the recently published booklet Understanding and Responding to Climate Change.

 

U.S. Science Agencies (NOAA, NASA, DOE, USGS, EPA, etc.)

Examples: http://www.noaa.gov/climate.html, http://epa.gov/climatechange/index.html

Many of the major U.S. science agencies public information about climate change, typically focusing on the particular research that they fund.

 

Position Statements by U.S. Scientific Societies

A number of professional science societies have made statements about climate change.

 

Climate change in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S.

 

Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment (NECIA)

http://www.northeastclimateimpacts.org/

The most recent climate assessment of the Northeastern U.S., NECIA covered states from Pennsylvania to Main. This was a collaboration between the Union of concerned Scientists and 50 independent scientists. A report dedicated to Pennsylvania emerged from NECIA research, and can be found at this site. (NOTE: Also available at http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/climate-change-pa.html.)

 

Consortium for Atlantic Regional Assessment

http://www.cara.psu.edu/

An earlier climate assessment focused on making information about climate change available to stakeholders in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

 

Maryland Commission on Climate Change

http://www.mdclimatechange.us/index.cfm

A committee charged with developing an action plan to address the causes of climate change and to address its impacts on Maryland.

 

Climate change tree and bird atlases of the Eastern U.S.

http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/atlas/

Developed by scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, this website presents current and projected distributions of 134 tree species and 147 bird species at 20-km resolution throughout the Eastern U.S.

 

Climate blogs

 

My inclination is avoid these because there is little or no quality control. However, blogs are attractive because of their immediacy. One that I do find reliable is www.realclimate.org, which is run by climate sciences.

 

Other sources

 

Position statement by European Geosciences Union:

http://www.egu.eu/fileadmin/files/egustatement.pdf

 

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