The Warming Papers.pdf

The Warming Papers

Chosen for the 2011 ASLI Choice - Honorable Mention (History Category) for a compendium of the key scientific papers that undergird the global warming forecast. Global warming is arguably the defining scientific issue of modern times, but it is not widely appreciated that the foundations of our understanding were laid almost two centuries ago with the postulation of a greenhouse effect by Fourier in 1827. The sensitivity of climate to changes in atmospheric CO2 was first estimated about one century ago, and the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration was discovered half a century ago. The fundamentals of the science underlying the forecast for human-induced climate change were being published and debated long before the issue rose to public prominence in the last few decades. The Warming Papers is a compendium of the classic scientific papers that constitute the foundation of the global warming forecast. The paper trail ranges from Fourier and Arrhenius in the 19th Century to Manabe and Hansen in modern times. Archer and Pierrehumbert provide introductions and commentary which places the papers in their context and provide students with tools to develop and extend their understanding of the subject. The book captures the excitement and the uncertainty that always exist at the cutting edge of research, and is invaluable reading for students of climate science, scientists, historians of science, and others interested in climate change.

Before coming to its conclusions, this paper will briefly summarise some of the immense political consequences of the alarm over global warming: the costs and futilityofthestepsbeingtaken,chieflyintheWest,toswitchfromfossilfuelsto‘low-carbon’sourcesofenergy. The conclusions then follow, under three headings. The first summarises the na-

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The Warming Papers.pdf

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