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Climate Hustle

Explaining climate change science & rebutting global warming misinformation

Scientific skepticism is healthy. Scientists should always challenge themselves to improve their understanding. Yet this isn't what happens with climate change denial. Skeptics vigorously criticise any evidence that supports man-made global warming and yet embrace any argument, op-ed, blog or study that purports to refute global warming. This website gets skeptical about global warming skepticism. Do their arguments have any scientific basis? What does the peer reviewed scientific literature say?


New research, November 6-12, 2017

Posted on 17 November 2017 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The figure is from paper #32.

Climate change impacts

1. Nitrogen availability dampens the positive impacts of CO2 fertilization on terrestrial ecosystem carbon and water cycles

"Results suggest that the rate of global GPP increase is overestimated by 85% during 2000-2015 without N limitation. This limitation is found to occur in many tropical and boreal forests, where a negative leaf N trend indicates a reduction in photosynthetic capacity, thereby suppressing the positive vegetation response to enhanced CO2 fertilization."

2. Climatic variability and dengue risk in urban environment of Delhi (India)

"Findings reveal significant changes in weather across the year having significant and positive association with dengue cases at specified lags. Weeks in April and July to October with gaps have been identified as the high risk weeks based on the estimated relative risk. There has been intra-annual expansion in dengue risk period extending beyond monsoon and post-monsoon."



California’s new law aims to tackle imported emissions

Posted on 16 November 2017 by Zeke Hausfather

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief

California has started a large investment in infrastructure. In early 2017, the US state approved $52bn in spending on repair and maintenance projects. As one of the most progressive states for emission reductions and proactive climate policy, California has been examining ways to ensure that its infrastructure investments minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

Jerry Brown, California’s governor, signed into law the Buy Clean California Act. The act requires that the state set a maximum “acceptable lifecycle global warming potential” for different building materials, specifying that only materials with embodied emissions below that level can be purchased by the state.

As the state government is the largest purchaser of steel and concrete in California, proponents hope that it can leverage its buying power to help promote lower-carbon production practices.

This represents the first time a US state is trying not only to reduce its own emissions, but to also reduce the emissions embodied in some of the goods that it imports. This could prove to be an important part of reducing the state’s overall contribution to climate change.

As Carbon Brief has previously reportedaround 22% of all global CO2 emissions stem from the production of goods that are traded internationally. About 6% of total US emissions are due to net imports of CO2 embodied in goods.

While steel and other construction materials purchased by the state represent only a small part of California’s total carbon emissions, this bill sets a precedent that imported goods can be regulated based on their lifecycle carbon impacts.



An Inconvenient Sequel – the science, history, and politics of climate change

Posted on 15 November 2017 by John Abraham

Al Gore’s new movie ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ is, in some ways, similar to his groundbreaking Inconvenient Truth project, but different in other ways. Those key differences are why I recommend you watch it.

This movie successfully accomplishes a number of interweaving tasks. First, it gives some of the science of climate change. Gore gets his science right. I remember his first movie, which I thought was more steeped in science and data than this one, so based on my recollection this new picture is somewhat abbreviated. That’s a good thing because the science is settled on climate change. That is, the science is settled that humans are causing current climatic changes and the science is settled that we are observing these changes throughout the natural world. 

Readers of this column who venture into the comments below will likely find people claiming, “science is never settled.” But the people making those comments are not scientists. They don’t work in this field every day, they don’t see the data, and they don’t know what they’re talking about.

The opening of the new film shows a sample of the misguided attacks on Al Gore, exclusively from conservatives in the United States. It was so clear to me, when watching and listening, that these attacks are the same ones that we climate scientists constantly have to endure. Most scientists have not been attacked as consistently or for such a long duration as Mr. Gore, but the types of attacks he has had to handle are close cousins to what my colleagues and I experience on a regular basis. 



Analysis: Global CO2 emissions set to rise 2% in 2017 after three-year ‘plateau’

Posted on 14 November 2017 by Zeke Hausfather

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief

Over the past three years, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have remained relatively flat. However, early estimates from the Global Carbon Project (GCP) using preliminary data suggest that this is likely to change in 2017 with global emissions set to grow by around 2%, albeit with some uncertainties.

Hopes that global emissions had peaked during the past three years were likely premature. However, GCP researchers say that global emissions are unlikely to return to the high growth rates seen during the 2000s. They argue that it is more likely that emissions over the next few years will plateau or only grow slightly, as countries implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

2017 emissions likely to increase

The GCP is a group of international researchers who assess both sources and sinks of carbon. It has published an annual global carbon budget report since 2006. Its newly released global carbon budget for 2017 provides estimates of emissions by country, global emissions from land-use changes, atmospheric accumulation of CO2, and absorption of carbon from the atmosphere by the land and oceans.

Video summary of the findings of the GCP’s new 2017 global carbon budget, via Future Earth and the GCP.



On climate and global leadership, it's America Last until 2020

Posted on 13 November 2017 by dana1981

Five months ago, Trump quickly cemented his legacy as the country’s worst-ever president by inexplicably starting the process to withdraw from the Paris climate accords. With even war-torn Syria now signing the agreement, the leadership of every world country has announced its intent to tackle the existential threat posed by human-caused climate change, except the United States. 

View image on Twitter

While this decision may seem puzzling to the rest of the world, the explanation is simple - a study published two years ago found that the Republican Party is the only major political party in the world that rejects the need to tackle climate change, and we know that voters follow elite cues. In 2016, American voters made the terrible mistake of putting that party in charge of the entire federal government, including electing this man president:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.



2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #45

Posted on 12 November 2017 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

COP23: Writing the Paris accord rule book

Having agreed to limit global warming, the COP must now figure out how to measure progress toward the goals set in Paris. Without double-checking this progress, the climate goals won't be reached.

COP23 Bonn Germany 

Two years after the world committed to climate action in Paris, negotiators are still trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of the global deal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.

A big part of that is developing a plan to monitor and verify the pledges made by nearly 200 countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. During the two-week long COP23 talks in Bonn, negotiators are focusing, in part, on developing a system to make those measurements.

Writing that rule book is no easy task, says University of Edinburgh climate scientist Paul Palmer, part of an international team that assesses heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

"We need to measure carefully. We'll be looking for small, gradual reductions of large numbers, so we need to make sure we get the numbers right," Palmer told DW.

COP23: Writing the Paris accord rule book by Bob Berwyn, Deutsche Welle (DW), Nov 7, 2017



2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #45

Posted on 11 November 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

Conservatives probably can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what?

One more round of “messaging” won’t do it.

Mapping Climate Change Hot Spots 

When it comes to climate change, US conservatives inhabit a unique position, as part of the only major political party in the democratic world to reject the legitimacy of climate science and any domestic policy or international agreement meant to address it. Instead, the GOP is working actively to increase production and consumption of fossil fuels and to slow the transition to renewable energy.

How can conservatives be moved on climate change?

I recently heard a podcast that helped me order my thoughts on this perennial debate. It was Political Research Digest, a weekly 15-minute research round-up hosted by Michigan State University political scientist Matt Grossman for the Niskanen Center. (Grossman is the author of Asymmetric Politics, a crucial text for understanding American political parties. The podcast is nerdy and good.)

In the third episode, Grossman takes a look at some recent literature on climate change opinion and how, if at all, it can be shifted among conservatives.

It begins well, with an excellent lay of the land. But the discussion of how to move forward goes off course, in a very familiar way. It stops short of contemplating the uncomfortable but increasingly likely possibility that persuading conservatives on this subject has become impossible, and what that might mean for those concerned about the looming dangers of climate change.

Let’s start with a look a few basic facts about public opinion on climate.

Conservatives probably can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what? by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Nov 10, 2017  



New research, October 30 - November 5, 2017

Posted on 10 November 2017 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

The graph is from paper #80.

Climate change

1. Observed warming over northern South America has an anthropogenic origin

"Results indicate that the recently observed warming in the dry seasons is well beyond the range of natural (internal) variability. In the wet season the natural modes of variability explain a substantial portion of Tmin and Tmax variability. We demonstrate that the large-scale component of greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing is detectable in dry-seasonal warming. However, none of the global and regional climate change projections reproduce the observed warming of up to 0.6 K/Decade in Tmax in 1983–2012 over northern SA during the austral spring (SON). Thus, besides the global manifestation of GHG forcing, other external drivers have an imprint."

2. Observed changes in temperature extremes over Asia and their attribution

"We determined that the warming trend was inconsistent with the natural variability of the climate system but agreed with climate responses to external forcing as simulated by the models. The anthropogenic and natural signals could be detected and separated from each other in the region for almost all indices, indicating the robustness of the warming signal as well as the attribution of warming to external causes."

3. Reduced cooling following future volcanic eruptions

"Using earth system model simulations we find that the eruption-induced cooling is significantly weaker in the future state. This is predominantly due to an increase in planetary albedo caused by increased tropospheric aerosol loading with a contribution from associated changes in cloud properties."



“Toasted, roasted and grilled” or already over the hump?

Posted on 9 November 2017 by dana1981

Last week news stories came out that said that global human carbon emissions may have peaked, essentially implying that we could already be over the hump and on the way to solving climate change—while other news stories that same day and in that same publication noted that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations jumped by a record amount in 2016These stories exemplify the emotional roller coaster that often comes with following climate change news. How can we reconcile the ebbs and flows between hopeful and apocalyptic climate stories?

The answer lies in considering the timeframe around a piece of climate news. For example, the seeming contradiction in the two news reports is explained by the monsterEl Niño event of 2016 that intensified droughts and consequently weakened the ability of vegetation to absorb carbon dioxide—showing that while human carbon pollution is responsible for the long-term rise in atmospheric concentrations, there is still ample short-term natural variation.

To give a second example: In a recent story, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund was quoted saying: “If we don't do anything about climate change now, in 50 years' time we will be toasted, roasted and grilled.” While that is an alarming statement, it focuses on a potential scenario in which half-a-century from now we have failed to change the course of our climate policies.

It’s important to remember, however, that with the international Paris climate accords, nearly every nation in the world agreed to begin the process to alter that worst-case course.



Rapid CO2 cuts could allow some cool-water corals to adapt to global warming

Posted on 8 November 2017 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Daisy Dunne

Some of the world’s most diverse coral reefs are found in cooler parts of the tropics. These corals may be able to adapt to rising temperatures if future greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced, a new study suggests.

The modelling study simulates the effect of climate change on the survival of one population of a single coral species found off the coast of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The researchers find that the genetic makeup of some cool-water corals might allow them to adapt to gradual increases in temperature.

However, without rapid cuts to emissions, the rate of climate change will likely outpace the ability of the corals to adapt, the study finds, resulting in the extinction of many coral populations by the end of the century.

More research will be needed to see if other cool-water corals around the world also hold the genetic code needed to adapt, another scientist tells Carbon Brief.



What do Jellyfish teach us about climate change?

Posted on 7 November 2017 by John Abraham

What do Jellyfish teach us about climate change?

A lot. At least that’s what I learned after reading a very recent paper out in the journal Global Climate Change. The article, “Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubazoan predator,” was authored by an international team of scientists – the paper looks at impacts of climate change on life in the world’s oceans.

I recall attending a horse-pulling contest as a child. The announcer at the event said something strange that stuck with me all these years. He said that two horses pulling a load at the same time are more effective than if the two horses pulled separately and their loads were added. That is, something about two horses working together made them greater than the sum of their parts. This study is a lot like those horses.

To begin, ocean acidification refers to the changing pH of ocean waters. As humans emit more greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide in particular) into the atmosphere, the chemistry of the oceans change. The effect is that the creatures living in the oceans are experiencing an environmental change that is separate from changing temperatures due to global warming. Scientists want to know how these changes will affect creatures, in particular because the biodiversity in the oceans is so very important to us as humans.

There has been some reporting on studies of calcifying organisms and their susceptibility to changing chemistry in the oceans. For instance, echinoderms, molluscs, corals, and crustaceans have been studied in laboratories and in situ. The studies show that acidification reduces development and survival. Acidification can alter the way these creatures make and maintain their shells.

But the authors of this new study point out that there are many other non-calcifying organisms that may also be impacted by acidification. Even for these creatures, acidification has been shown to have deleterious effects that result in reduced survival, reduced reproductivity, and reduced size.



We have every reason to fear Trump’s pick to head NASA

Posted on 6 November 2017 by dana1981

Unlike past Nasa administrators, Trump nominee Jim Bridenstine doesn’t have a scientific background. He’s a Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and former Navy pilot. He also has a history of denying basic climate science. That’s concerning because Nasa does some of the world’s best climate science research, and Bridenstine previously introduced legislation that would eliminate Earth science from Nasa’s mission statement.

At his Senate hearing last week, Bridenstine tried to remake his image. He said that his previous science-denying, politically polarizing comments came with the job of being a Republican congressman, and that as Nasa administrator he would be apolitical. A kinder, gentler Bridenstine. But while he softened his climate science denial, his proclaimed new views remain in line with the rest of the harshly anti-science Trump administration. That’s very troubling.

A gentler form of climate science denial

The standard Trump administration position on climate change, held by administration officials like EPA Administrator Scott Priutt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, is that humans are contributing to global warming, but we don’t know how much. Bridenstine repeated that position in a tense exchange with Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI).



2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #44

Posted on 5 November 2017 by John Hartz

Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... SkS in the News... SkS Spotlights... Video of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

Story of the Week...

U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials

Record Temps in Phoenix AZ June 2017 

Phoenix experienced record highs in June. The report says there are “no convincing alternative explanations” other than human activity to account for rising global temperatures. Credit Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Directly contradicting much of the Trump administration’s position on climate change, 13 federal agencies unveiled an exhaustive scientific report on Friday that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization.

Over the past 115 years global average temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to record-breaking weather events and temperature extremes, the report says. The global, long-term warming trend is “unambiguous,” it says, and there is “no convincing alternative explanation” that anything other than humans — the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, the forests we destroy — are to blame.

The report was approved for release by the White House, but the findings come as the Trump administration is defending its climate change policies. The United Nations convenes its annual climate change conference next week in Bonn, Germany, and the American delegation is expected to face harsh criticism over President Trump’s decision to walk away from the 195-nation Paris climate accord and top administration officials’ stated doubts about the causes and impacts of a warming planet.  

U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change, Contradicting Top Trump Officials by Lisa Friedman & Glenn Trush, Climate, New York Times, Nov 3, 2017 



2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #44

Posted on 4 November 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

There’s a huge gap between the Paris climate change goals and reality

Current pledges are about a third of what’s needed.

Coal-fired power plant in Wyoming 

Coal-fired power plant in Wyoming 

n 2015 in Paris, the countries of the world agreed to hold the rise in global average temperatures to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

How’s that going?

The unavoidably grim answer: not well, and not just because President Donald Trump has promised to pull the United States out of the accord.

Every year, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) releases an “Emissions Gap” report, on the remaining disparity between the world’s stated ambitions on climate and the actions it is currently taking. The 2017 edition of the report is out a week before the next round of international climate talks in Bonn, Germany. And it reports that the gap remains ... substantial.

Researchers calculate that for a reasonable chance of hitting our goal, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 and the gap must be closed by 2030 — in other words, if we are not on the right trajectory by 2030, all hope of 1.5 degrees is lost and 2 degrees is almost certainly out of reach as well.

Let’s run through a few of the top-line conclusions of the report, which was assembled by an international team of scientists based on the most recent published science. 

There’s a huge gap between the Paris climate change goals and reality by David Roberts, Energy & Environment, Vox, Oct 31, 2017



New research, October 23-29, 2017

Posted on 3 November 2017 by Ari Jokimäki

A selection of new climate related research articles is shown below.

(Figure is from paper #16.)

Climate change mitigation

1. Geophysical potential for wind energy over the open oceans

"Wind speeds over open ocean areas are often higher than those in the windiest areas over land, which has motivated a quest to develop technologies that could harvest wind energy in deep water environments. However, it remains unclear whether these open ocean wind speeds are higher because of lack of surface drag or whether a greater downward transport of kinetic energy may be sustained in open ocean environments. Focusing on the North Atlantic region, we provide evidence that there is potential for greater downward transport of kinetic energy in the overlying atmosphere. As a result, wind power generation over some ocean areas can exceed power generation on land by a factor of three or more."

2. Public receptiveness of vertical axis wind turbines

"We find that the visual differences between the vertical and conventional wind turbines did not matter very much in any of the hypothetical settings in which we placed them. However, the prospect of killing fewer birds registered strongly with our survey respondents, though it could be outweighed by concern for cost. We also show that certain segments of the population, particularly those who are more educated, may be open to a more extensive deployment of vertical axis turbines in urban communities."

3. Getting the numbers right: revisiting woodfuel sustainability in the developing world

"The existing projects expect to produce offsets equivalent to ~138 MtCO2e. However, when we apply NRB values derived from spatially explicit woodfuel demand and supply imbalances in the region of each offset project, we find that emission reductions are between 57 and 81 MtCO2e: 41%–59% lower than expected."



Why people around the world fear climate change more than Americans do

Posted on 2 November 2017 by Guest Author

Gregory J. Carbone, Professor of Geography, University of South Carolina

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

When asked about major threats to their country, Europeans are more likely than Americans to cite global climate change, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Just 56 percent of Americans see climate change as a major threat, versus an average of 64 percent of Europeans surveyed.

Why the difference? Like climate data itself, data regarding public concern for climate change are “noisy.” Public response can vary depending on what’s going on in the news that week. Surveys of these types of surveys find no single explanation for how the public perceives the threat of climate change.

Of course, many explanations exist. As a climatologist who has taught university classes and given public lectures on global climate change for 30 years, I find it clear that public concern about climate change has evolved dramatically over the past three decades. In the U.S., now more than ever, it seems tied to ideology.



Greenhouse gas concentrations surge to new record

Posted on 1 November 2017 by Guest Author

via the WMO

Globally averaged concentrations of COreached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event. Concentrations of CO2 are now 145% of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

 Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have the potential to initiate unprecedented changes in climate systems, leading to “severe ecological and economic disruptions,” said the report.



The F13 files, part 4 - dealing with Elsevier

Posted on 31 October 2017 by Ari Jokimäki

Elsevier's journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews published a paper in 2013 (Florides et al. 2013, "F13" from now on) which we found problematic. We analyzed the paper and communicated our findings to Elsevier. Our main findings were that much of F13 text was copy/pasted from other sources without proper attribution and that F13 contained many false claims. In this series of posts, I'll go through the problems in F13 and in Elsevier actions. There are four posts:

Part 4 - dealing with Elsevier - first contacts

In parts 1-3 we discussed the possible plagiarism and the problems in the content of F13. In this fourth part we will go through what happened when we communicated our findings to Elsevier. Here is a brief chronology of events, which I explain in more detail below:

  • March 14, 2014: we become aware of F13 and start our analysis.
  • June 27, 2014: our first contact attempt to Elsevier.
  • September 10, 2014: first response from Elsevier - basically just receiving the information from us.
  • July 5, 2015: After us asking for the status of the issue a couple of times, and after much waiting, the Editor-in-Chief finally contacts us for the first time - the issue has been communicated to interested parties. We are asked to write and submit a comment paper.
  • March 31, 2016: after much work, we submit our comment paper.
  • March 21, 2017: after several contact attempts trying to ask about the status of our submission, we get a response from Elsevier saying that they had sent us F13's reply already in May, 2016, which we didn't receive.
  • May 14, 2017: The F13 reply is re-sent to us. The Editor-in-Chief rejects our comment paper because F13 didn't like it, and asks us to write another paper where the F13 issue would be reduced to just one example issue among other similar issues. We decline the offer.



New data gives hope for meeting the Paris climate targets

Posted on 30 October 2017 by dana1981

Over the past half-century, growth in the global economy and carbon pollution have been tied together. When the global economy has been strong, we’ve consumed more energy, which has translated into burning more fossil fuels and releasing more carbon pollution. But over the past four years, economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions have been decoupled. The global economy has continued to grow, while data from the EU Joint Research Centre shows carbon pollution has held fairly steady.

co2 vs gdp

Annual global carbon dioxide and gross domestic product growth. Data from the EU Joint Research Centre and World Bank. Illustration: Dana Nuccitelli

China is becoming a global climate leader

China’s shift away from coal to clean energy has been largely responsible for this decoupling. Due to its large population (1.4 billion) – more than four times that of the USA (323 million) and nearly triple the EU (510 million) – and rapid growth in its economy and coal power supply, China has become the world’s largest net carbon polluter (though still less than half America’s per-person carbon emissions, and on par with those of Europeans). But as with the global total, China’s carbon pollution has flattened out since 2013.



2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #43

Posted on 29 October 2017 by John Hartz

SkS Highlights... Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... SkS in the News... SkS Spotlights... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus...

SkS Highlights...

"A new Denial101x course launched on Oct. 24 and will be running for the next 7 weeks. Sadly, this course is more relevant and topical than ever." - John Cook 

What you'll learn:

  • How to recognise the social and psychological drivers of climate science denial
  • How to better understand climate change: the evidence that it is happening, that humans are causing it and the potential impacts
  • How to identify the techniques and fallacies that climate myths employ to distort climate science
  • How to effectively debunk climate misinformation

Click here to enroll in the timely and informative Denial 101x course.



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