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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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CO2 is main driver of climate change

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

Theory, models and direct measurement confirm CO2 is currently the main driver of climate change.

Climate Myth...

CO2 is not the only driver of climate

CO2 is not the only driver of climate. There are a myriad of other radiative forcings that affect the planet's energy imbalance. Volcanoes, solar variations, clouds, methane, aerosols - these all change the way energy enters and/or leaves our climate.

Natural processes have determined Earth’s climatic history, but human industrial activities have introduced a new mechanism that is driving Earth’s climate future.

At any given time, the Earth’s climate is subjected to a myriad of natural influences.  The impact of each influence varies based on the magnitude of the natural change, the duration over which the change occurs, and whether or not that change is part of an overall repeated cycle.

Processes that have historically altered the face of the planet, like cycles in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun or shifts in continental tectonic plates, occur over tens of thousands to millions of years.  While not nearly as dramatic, the influence of solar, ocean, and wind patterns is much more immediate, but these effects generally alternate between warming and cooling over the course of months to decades in relation to their respective cycles.  Volcanic eruptions and impacts from celestial bodies, like asteroids, have a near instantaneous effect, but very few of these one-time events are of sufficient size to impact the global climate for more than a few years.

The industrial contribution of CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere differs from its natural counterparts in fundamental ways.  This human influence is happening very rapidly, is not cyclical, and pushes the climate continually and relentlessly in the single direction of warming.

All of these influences, along with additional factors like land use changes, carbon soot and halocarbon emissions, and albedo variations, must be considered cumulatively to determine the net impact.

Over the last 30 years of direct satellite observation of the Earth’s climate, many natural influences including orbital variations, solar and volcanic activity, and oceanic conditions like El Nino (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) have either had no effect or promoted cooling conditions.

Despite these natural oppositions, global temperatures have steadily risen throughout that time.

While natural processes continue to introduce short term variability, the unremitting rise of CO2 from industrial activities has become the dominant factor in determining our planet’s climate now and in the years to come.

Basic rebuttal written by Michael Searcy

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

Last updated on 15 July 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

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Comments 76 to 80 out of 80:

  1. Another source of temperature reconstructions is the IPCC sixth assessment report. The following figure is from the Summary For Policy Makers. Full scale image is available at this link. The grey shading represents the uncertainty. Nothing even comes close to piotr's claim of a "decrease up to 1.5°C".

    Temperature reconstructions

  2. Piotr @73 ,

    another puzzle is your comment about "thousand parameters" [unquote] which you mention in your third paragraph.   I would very much care to learn what these parameters  are.   (Personally, I would struggle to nominate more than a dozen relevant parameters.)

    Are you repeating the words of some non-scientist . . . or are you being very loose with your language ?   It is desirable to be accurate & precise - not loose & hyperbolical - when discussing climate.  Otherwise, you are wasting your time and are confusing yourself.

  3. Let me just say thanks a lot at first for your effort to explain. Give me some time to respond. Its very pleasend not to get downed with dumb comments and instead get lot of effort.

  4. Hm my post has not been placed but in short: thanks a lot to your effort to explain as precise as possible. very pleased to not getting dumb comments.

  5. piotr @78,

    Going back to your up-thread enquiry, the responses were not entirely nailing you initial question.

    piotr @70
    I think you confuse the dips in the 11-year solar cycle with the Maunder Minimum. And I would add that associating the Maunder Minimum with a frozen River Thames rather defies the evidence. Frozen Thames events were very rare and only happened in winters when a long cold period of weather engulfed the region. And they stopped happening when they demolished the old London Bridge and embanked the river through London. Without such work, we would have witnessed a frozen Thames in 1963.

    piotr @72
    You asked what Martin Mlynczak was talking about when he talked of something that "will not cause noticeable cooling at the surface."
    The source of that quote is here and I don't think it directly quotes Mlynczak although Mlyncsak was being quoted directly upthread @69 when he says "There is no relationship between the natural cycle of cooling and warming in the thermosphere and the weather/climate at Earth’s surface," the source here dating to 2018.

    And what Martin Mlyncsak was talking about is the newly established Thermosphere Climate Index which back in 2018 was dropping due to the ending of sunspot cycle 24 and with the arrival of sunspot cycle 25 has since risen from 'cold' and approaching 'warm'. This is the "natural cycle" Mlyncsak referred to when he says it has no imact on surface temperatures and given this Thermosphere is a hundred+ kilometres up in the atmosphere, this should not be any great surprise. A graphic of the Thermosphere Climate Index.

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