This graphic, from Skeptical Science, is just awesome. I spend a good bit of my time thinking about climate change and its impacts on the global poor – mostly how we might address both global poverty and climate change, maximizing synergies and minimizing trade-offs between these efforts.  I’ve been a lead author of two major global environmental assessments (the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and GEO-4) and I am now a review author of the IPCC’s AR5.  Despite all of this, I find that people still question my understanding of climate change – they want me to be deluded by false data, or somehow motivated by another political agenda that I can only accomplish through an environmental hoax.  In short, they want me to be either stupid or a liar.  Not that anyone will say that to my face, of course, but that is really what it boils down to.

So, I greatly appreciate when someone comes up with a means of communicating what we know about the changing climate that is both simple and clear.  In one post, Skeptical Science has managed this.  Everyone should take a look and have a quick read.  First, the graphic:

Second, the explanation of the graphic:

1) If greenhouse warming is taking place, the stratosphere should cool while the troposphere warms (heat is being trapped in the troposphere). Check.

2) If greenhouse warming is taking place, nights should warm faster than days, as the nighttime radiation of heat into space will be limited by the greenhouse effect. Check.

3) For similar reasons, if greenhouse warming is taking place, winters should warm faster than summers. Check.

4) If greenhouse warming is taking place, and #1 is true, the troposphere/stratosphere boundary should rise as the warmer troposphere expands relative to the stratosphere. Check.

5) If greenhouse warming is taking place, out of the total carbon we find in the atmosphere, a rising percentage will be fossil carbon.  There is really only one way for a lot of fossil carbon into the atmosphere, and that is burning fossil fuels (remember, oil, natural gas and coal come from the decomposition of long-dead animals). Check.

6) If greenhouse warming is taking place, the oceans should be warming up overall, not shifting heat around.  Check.

In short, every theoretical predictor of the greenhouse effect is being realized in empirical measurement – again, not models, but the actual instrument record.  So, unless folks are willing to argue that all thermometers, weather satellites, weather balloons, and tools for measuring atmospheric chemistry are wrong or somehow perverted to a hoax, there is no empirical basis to argue that greenhouse warming is not taking place – nor is there much of an argument to be made, given the rising presence of fossil carbon in the atmosphere, that humans have nothing to do with it . . .

Time to start dealing with reality, instead of denying it.  What is happening in the global climate is affecting how we do development – or at least it should be.  Changes in the global climate have manifest in various environmental shifts that in turn are impacting livelihoods, migration decisions, and the food security of the global poor.  I’ll address this in a subsequent post . . .