This page is the internet version of the Notes & Sources section at the back of Hot Topic, with live links.
Using the internet
There is a vast amount of information available on the internet about global warming and climate change, and a huge range of opinion. It pays to check your sources carefully. For news, I recommend New Scientist and Scientific American. Google News is also useful, especially if you set up a standard search like “global warming” and register for a personalised Google News page. Google also offer a daily “news alert” service, based on the news search of your choice. For coverage of the latest in climate science, and a continuing effort to correct misrepresentations of that science, RealClimate is without peer). It’s a blog run by working climate scientists, and has very active and interesting discussions in the comments to each post.
Reading scientific papers
Sometimes it’s best to go straight to the horse’s mouth, but reading scientific papers can be a difficult exercise for someone outside the relevant field. They are not designed to be easy reading, and assume a level of background knowledge of the literature that can be very hard for any non-specialist to achieve without intensive study. Nevertheless, I would recommend that anyone who is half-way scientifically literate give it a try from time to time. Some papers, particularly those that set out to review a field, can provide a very good overview. The IPCC reports (http://www.ipcc.ch/) are excellent examples of straightforward coverage of complex issues. They don’t hide the complexities, so they’re not bedtime reading, but they do encapsulate the extent of current knowledge.
Chapter 1: Living in a greenhouse
Good explanations of the greenhouse effect can be found on Wikipedia. The relevant articles there are contributed and maintained by climate scientists.
The figure for the global energy imbalance (0.85 Ã‚Â± 0.15Wm-2) comes from Hansen et al (Science 308, 3 June 2005), popularly known as “the smoking gun” paper. The energy imbalance is the “smoke”. This paper can be downloaded from Hansen’s web site at Columbia University and is a fairly easy read, as these things go.
For a much more detailed treatment of the history of climate science, Spencer Weart’s The Discovery Of Global Warming is a superb resource. It is available as a book, web site and free downloadable PDFs: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.html. The web site provides around 250,000 words on the subject. It may fairly be described as comprehensive.
A global climate model that you can run on your home computer, EdGCM, is hosted by Columbia University. It will run on most recent home computers, and is not a toy. It’s used for teaching and research.
“A different world” is James Hansen’s phrase, used to describe the situation where global temperature increases more than 1ÂºC above present levels. He explained why in a talk to the American Geophysical Union, commemorating Keeling, in 2005.
The GISS temperature data can be accessed (and downloaded) here. You can see a wide range of graphs and representations of the data by clicking on the graphs link. The Hadley Centre data is here, with more at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.
More background on El NiÃ±o and ENSO can be found on Wikipedia here.
NIWA provides information on ENSO’s impacts on weather in New Zealand here.
NOAA in the US publishes regular ENSO monitoring information here.
Chapter 2: The climate system
Spencer Weart’s The Discovery Of Global Warming (see above) includes an excellent essay on the development of GCMs.
An introductory overview of the physics of climate modelling by GISS modeller (and RealClimate blogger) Gavin Schmidt is here.
MetService rural forecasts are here.
Hansen writes about his testimony, and the controversy that later surrounded his projections, here.
The figure for global carbon emissions in 2005 comes from the Global Carbon Project, and the conversion factors for CO2 to carbon from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA.
You can read more about the coupled carbon cycle work being done by the Hadley Centre here.
Figures for carbon release are from the Hadley Centre and the Global Carbon Project.
The figures for committed warming and time to equilibrium are taken from Hansen et al’s “smoking gun” paper, linked above.
Chapter 3: The state of the science
The IPCC website is here. The complete AR4 reports are available for download (free), and if you want to dig deep into the science of climate change there is no better place to start.
James Hansen’s Keeling Lecture at the American Geophysical Union’s 2005 conference provides an excellent discussion of how climate sensitivity can be worked out from ice age to interglacial climate change. The arithmetic is shown on slide 12 (linked above).
There’s a good map of New Zealand’s coastline during the last ice age at Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, here.
The State Of The Cryosphere site mentioned earlier includes a good discussion of glacier mass balance, as well as an overview of the world’s ice and snow.
RealClimate posted a good overview of the then current work on Greenland ice in March 2006.
The Wikipedia page for the Jakobshavn Isbrae includes satellite pictures showing the retreat of the calving front.
The full IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios is available on the web here.
All the numbers used in this chapter are from the Summary For Policymakers of the Working Group One AR4 Report, which can be downloaded from the IPCC web site. It is a very valuable overview of the state of the science, and is cross-referenced with the much more detailed full report, released in May 2007.
Chapter 4: The outlook for New Zealand
Much of this chapter draws on work by NIWA prepared for the government’s climate change office as guidance for local authorities. The full range of material is available here.
If you’d like to have a preview of what rising sea levels might mean, this web site uses Google Maps and allows you to choose a sea-level rise (from 1 to 14m) and see what happens to any part of the world.
Chapter 5: Impacts: the good and the bad
All dairy industry statistics are from Fonterra.
Estimates for pasture growth increases are taken from Climate Change: Likely Impacts on New Zealand Agriculture (Kenny, 2001) available from the government climate-change web site. This report gives a good overview of impacts on the major agricultural sectors.
An excellent overview of the likely impacts on Gisborne and district is An overview of climate change and possible consequences for the Gisborne district by Louise Savage (2006), prepared for the Gisborne Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group. It can be downloaded from the Gisborne District Council here. It is a model that other regions would do well to emulate.
Chapter 6: Sinking or burning: our Pacific neighbours
Figures for the Pacific Islands are taken from Climate Trends & Projections for Small Islands: Tropical South-West Pacific by Penehuro Lefale in Confronting Climate Change, edited by Chapman, Boston and Schwass (Victoria University Press, 2006)
Other material is drawn from the IPPC AR4 WG2 summary and report.
Chapter 7: Warming in the wider world
Most of the information in this chapter is from the AR4 WG2 summary.
Another useful resource is Impacts of Global Climate Change at Different Annual Mean Global Temperature Increases by Rachel Warren, Chapter 11 in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Cambridge University Press 2006). It provides an excellent overview of the impacts literature, scaled to different global temperature increases. The full text of Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change is available as free download here.
The Stern Review also includes a good section on expected climate change effects, as you might expect in a report devoted to estimating their economic impacts.
Chapter 8: Facing up to the inevitable
The list of farm adaptation options comes from work conducted by Dr Gavin Kenny for the Ministry for the Environment over 2003/4. You can find the full document here.
For further information on water issues including irrigation, dairying and contamination, a good plain-language source is the Water Rights Trust website. This site deals specifically with Canterbury but the principles it addresses apply throughout the country.
Chapter 9: Cooling the future
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change provides the international support for climate change negotiations. You can find out more here.
James Lovelock’s arguments can be found in his book The Revenge Of Gaia (Allen Lane, 2006).
My comments on the probability of hitting the EU’s 2ÂºC target are based on What Does a 2ÂºC Target Mean for Greenhouse Gas Concentrations? A Brief Analysis Based on Multi-Gas Emission Pathways and Several Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty Estimates by Malte Meinshausen, Chapter 28 in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, 2006). (Linked above)
The term “procrastination penalty” was first used by a poster at RealClimate, and explored by Bill McKibben in Warning on warming, New York Review of Books, February 2007.
The Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change is available as a free download here.
The quotes are from the Executive Summary, which gives a very concise and readable overview of the issue.
Socolow and Pacala first described their wedge concept, and gave examples of 17 feasible wedges, in Science in 2004. You can download that original article and learn more about wedges at their Princeton web site.
British environmentalist and writer George Monbiot’s book Heat (Allen Lane, 2006) includes an excellent section on how buildings can be designed to reduce their carbon footprints.
The high fuel efficiency Loremo car project is here.
The Tesla Roadster can be found here.
The figures on carbon emissions associated with a meat-eating diet are from Diet, Energy and Global Warming, by Gidon Eshel and Pamela A Martin in Earth Interactions (Vol 10, 2006). It can be downloaded here.
Chapter 10: A low-carbon New Zealand
The full text of the Kyoto Protocol is available here.
The welter of discussion documents on climate change related issues can be found at the government’s climate-change web site here.
Much of the material I draw on for the discussion of NZ’s energy options comes from 2020: Energy Opportunities, a report by the energy panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand, published in August 2006 and available here.
The Royal Society suggestions for action are considerably more aggressive than those in the government’s own Draft NZ Energy Strategy 2006, available here.
The government’s discussion document on Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change is also available from the above site.
The farming leader quoted is Frank Brenmuhl, chairman of Dairy Farmers of New Zealand, as reported by the NZPA on 21 February 2007 in an item headlined Dairy farmers spit the dummy on greenhouse gas accountability.
Landcare Research’s CarbonZero certification scheme web site is here.
EBEX21 carbon offset information here.
Chapter 11: The big picture
The Lincoln University study Food Miles — Comparative Energy/Emissions Performance of New Zealand’s Agriculture Industry by Caroline Saunders, Andrew Barber and Greg Taylor (Research Report No. 285, July 2006) can be downloaded here.
Tesco’s announcement of its green initiative was made in a January 2007 speech by CEO Sir Terry Leahy.
The Carbon Trust labelling scheme was announced at the end of February 2007.
The Walker’s Crisps web site has more information.
A New Scientist article called the The New Age Of Sail from 2005 includes details of two approaches to using wind power to improve fuel efficiency in ships. The SkySail kite system is now going into service.
All the tourism statistics come from Statistics NZ.
The 2004-5 numbers come from Tourism Satellite Account 2005.
The post-9/11 increase in US daily temperature range is reported here.
Chapter 12: The way forward
Full details of the Global Footprint Network’s Overshoot Day and how it is calculated are here.
Appendix: The sceptical view
There is a significant quantity of “sceptical” global warming material on the net, some of it on sites explicitly or covertly funded by fossil fuel companies and other interested parties, others run by interested individuals.
Full details of membership and actions of the Global Climate Coalition can be found here.
The Union of Concerned Scientists report on Exxon-Mobil’s funding of global warming denial, which includes the full text of the memo from the Global Climate Science Team, can be downloaded from their web site.
New Zealand’s Climate Science Coalition maintain a web site promoting climate change denial, linking to many other such sites.
Pillar 2: RealClimate calculates the contributions of the various constituents of the atmosphere to the overall greenhouse effect here.
Pillar 3: The Hadley Centre global temperature data can be downloaded here. I plotted the graphs by importing the data to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and using the “apply trendline” command, selecting a linear trend.
Pillar 4: You can track daily and seasonal changes in sea-ice extent at The Cryosphere Today, run by the University of Illinois. It includes excellent animated graphics of sea ice at both poles. For more information (including ice cap, permafrost and glacier data) see the State Of The Cryosphere site operated by the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre. The NSIDC also offers an overlay for Google Earth which tracks northern hemisphere snow cover, permafrost extent, and sea ice.
The press release from the two Auckland mayors is here, and the NZCSC reply is here.
An excellent source of information when looking to counter the arguments used by sceptics is a series of articles prepared by Coby Beck under the title “How To Talk To A Climate Sceptic”, also available at Gristmill.