BbOn Nov. 30, world leaders will gather in Paris for a pivotal United Nations conference on climate change.
Given its importance, I want to use the next couple months to explore some alternative perspectives on the unruly aggregate of topics lumped together as “climate change.”
More than anything, however, the real triumph of climate science comes in its ability to understand what’s happening to the Earth now. Del Genio describes it in the simplest of scientific terms:
“The major achievement of terrestrial climate science is that 34 years ago, Jim Hansen and colleagues published a paper in Science making the first prediction of the rate of climate change over the next few decades as a result of CO2 increases [see Figure]. Looking at how much the Earth’s surface temperature has actually changed in that time, they came remarkably close. That was a true prediction of the future, and sufficiently long ago that we have the chance to see how good it was.”
Prediction and validation: We once were blind and now we see.
Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester, a book author and a self-described “evangelist of science.”