Global Warming Science 2007: Ten Top Stories

Lisa MooreThis post is by Lisa Moore, Ph.D., a scientist in the Climate and Air program at Environmental Defense.

All year long we’ve been monitoring developments in climate science, and posting about the important new developments. I thought now would be a good time to look back over 2007 and summarize what we’ve learned.

Here are ten noteworthy science stories we covered in 2007:

  1. The Sun is (really, really) not responsible for global warming. This paper wasn’t breaking news, just an extremely thorough review of the science showing why the sun can’t be blamed for global warming. The folks over at RealClimate said it best: "That’s a coffin with so many nails in it already that the hard part is finding a place to hammer in a new one."
  2. American Southwest climate is becoming drier. Global warming has caused a long-term shift in rain patterns. An author of the study said, "You can’t call it a drought anymore, because it’s going over to a drier climate. No one says the Sahara is in drought."
  3. Sea level could rise 4.5 feet this century. This estimate, which is twice the highest business-as-usual value in the IPCC report, was based on the observation that sea level rise has changed roughly in proportion with global temperature.
  4. CO2 is rising at an accelerating rate. The cause is mostly accelerating emissions from fossil fuel use, but there’s also evidence that oceans are taking up an increasingly smaller fraction of humans’ CO2 emissions.
  5. Greenhouse effect now stronger than El Niño. Researchers studying America’s record-breaking temperatures and deadly heat waves of 2006 concluded that global warming, not El Niño, was the cause. The greenhouse effect, they say, is now stronger than natural temperature variations such as El Niño.
  6. Smog could accelerate global warming. Ground-level ozone, or smog, impairs plants’ ability to take up CO2, the main greenhouse gas. If (as expected) smog levels are higher in the future, atmospheric CO2 will accumulate faster than it would otherwise.
  7. Geo-engineering could be extremely dangerous. One idea for cooling the climate is to artificially reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface. But this approach entails a huge risk. If the technology fails or is stopped, climate could experience a large rebound, with warming rates 20 times faster than today’s.
  8. Arctic sea ice is melting faster than predicted. This year it hit a 29-year low, significantly below the previous record set in 2005. Melting ice can set off a cycle that causes additional warming, since dark water beneath the sea ice absorbs rather than reflects solar energy.
  9. Two-thirds of polar bears could disappear by 2050. According to a federal report, "because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative."
  10. Global warming is "unequivocal". The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that human activities have caused most of the warming over the past 50 years.

Please share this list. It’s a great way to help people catch up if they haven’t been paying close attention.

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. rkcannon
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Why are there so many scientists that think man is not the cause of global warming (and that warming has not occurred for the last few years?)
    Also many scientists don’t speak out because of threats and intimidation. Here is an article about a senate report on 400 scientist that disagree with the “consensus”, many of which were on the IPCC. I think both sides should be presented here.

  2. rkcannon
    Posted December 21, 2007 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to just copy some of the above here, it is so revealing.
    Scientists from Around the World Dissent

    This new report details how teams of international scientists are dissenting from the UN IPCC’s view of climate science. In such nations as Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Russia, New Zealand and France, nations, scientists banded together in 2007 to oppose climate alarmism. In addition, over 100 prominent international scientists sent an open letter in December 2007 to the UN stating attempts to control climate were “futile.” (LINK)

    Paleoclimatologist Dr. Tim Patterson, professor in the department of Earth Sciences at Carleton University in Ottawa, recently converted from a believer in man-made climate change to a skeptic. Patterson noted that the notion of a “consensus” of scientists aligned with the UN IPCC or former Vice President Al Gore is false. “I was at the Geological Society of America meeting in Philadelphia in the fall and I would say that people with my opinion were probably in the majority.”

    This new committee report, a first of its kind, comes after the UN IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri implied that there were only “about a dozen” skeptical scientists left in the world. (LINK) Former Vice President Gore has claimed that scientists skeptical of climate change are akin to “flat Earth society members” and similar in number to those who “believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona.” (LINK) & (LINK)

    The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; oceanography; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. Some of those profiled have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contribution to their field of expertise and many shared a portion of the UN IPCC Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Gore.

    What a fool Al Gore is.

  3. Posted December 21, 2007 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    What to do about climate change deniers in blogs (including this blog) and in general has been the topic of some discussion. Take a look:

    Basically, there’s nothing anyone can say to a climate change denier that will shift their viewpoint because they’re closed – not taking in new information. It’s like someone pointing to the sky and insisting that it’s orange. We’re all looking at it and can see that it’s blue, but the denier still insists that it’s orange.

    We have posted many science posts in this blog that meticulously – and with full documentation – explain why it’s not the sun, not volcanoes, etc., etc. You just ignore all this, and continue to make your unfounded claims. It’s very much worth noting that the deniers who post in this blog NEVER take on our science articles point-by-point because they can’t. You can’t dispute hard facts. Data doesn’t lie. Do you think NASA is part of a conspiracy, too?

    I’d like nothing better than for climate change not to be happening and/or not to be caused by human activities because it scares me and saddens me profoundly. But pretending doesn’t make it so. The world is already feeling the effects of global warming, and it will only get worse unless we do something.

  4. Posted December 22, 2007 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Greetings from Switzerland! I am a skeptic by nature, but I refuse to be called a denialist, especially as long as I still find so many peer review papers from outside the notorious Lindzen, Gray, Singer, et al. handfull. The consensus I see sieve through all the science blogs is that there was warming for about 30 years that cannot be attributed to solar output. At the same time I read in IPCC 2007 AR4 that the scientific understandic of solar irradiance and cloud cover is still low. So when I contineously read new papers freely available all over the net (not from the above “ratpack”), which question the magnitude of fossil fuels caused GW versus other possible forces, then I have the right to be skeptical regarding climate models projecting a rise in temperature of 2.1 to 7°C until 2100 owing to a doubling of CO2 concentration. For me it is clear, the U.N. wants to control the world, a reason not to concentrate on caps but on technology and energy efficiency and independence from Middle East energy sources. I am a skeptic that is observing and willing to learn from those who have an open mind. So, if a science blog that is potentially funded by the petroleum industry does not give a source, I will tend to ignore it, but IF there is a peer reviewed source paper, some even published by renown scientific magazines, then either people labelled as “warmoholics” or “denialists” should pay close attention to those controversial new studies. I can give expamples if you wish.

  5. rkcannon
    Posted December 25, 2007 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    “Climate change denier”??? That’s a good one.

    What can I call you? Al Gore groupie?

    Let the scientists settle it, not the politicians. This is not a political issue, and there is no rush to implement carbon trading right away, especially since
    1. The last 8 years has not resulted in warming
    2. Carbon does not cause global warming according to all the ice samples. I am referring to other scientist’s writings from the NZ Climate Science web site.

    I’m afraid this cause is not one worth joining and smacks of greedy financial and political interests with a hidden agenda that you are falling for, hook, line and sinker.

    You keep saying it is all settled but this is clearly not settled and you are losing ground badly. Who is the real “denier”?

  6. Posted January 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    If you deny that climate change is happening, then you are a climate change denier. That’s simple enough. Why would a climate change denier object to being called one??