Four points on climate change

One, weather (day-to-day) is part of a continuous range of changes to climate (centuries to eons).

Some changes are cyclic (the seasons in our latitudes) and some are steady or sudden shifts of the average and ‘normal’. Barry M Jones is right that far.

Two, changes in weather/climate are driven by variations in the input of energy to the atmosphere.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by about 15 per cent in the last 100 years.

That gas absorbs energy from the sun at wavelengths close to where sunlight is most intense: one would expect Earth’s temperature to increase. And indeed the weight of evidence is that it has and is doing so.

Three, for causes and consequences we have to rely on several independent complex computer models.

Their results used to differ a lot but in the last two decades have converged, though not yet completely.

Give them starting data for decades ago and they ‘predict’ the present fairly well.

We can ask them two questions.

Four, what will happen to weather/climate?

They answer: the frequency of extreme events will increase, and there will be differences around the globe.

What has caused the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Data about human burning of fossil fuels are one input to the models.

Remove that and the concentration of carbon dioxide does not increase, and nor does the temperature.

I’m sorry that this short letter allows me the outlines only of a complicated subject.

RS Clymo

High Street


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