Scientists have been concerned about global warming for some time now, it’s nothing new. What is new, however, is that extreme climate events are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity.
The so-called “greenhouse effect” that certain gases (known as GHGs) produce in the Earth’s atmosphere is a natural phenomenon that allows temperatures to be warm enough for life to flourish on the planet. This is not a recent discovery: the relationship between CO2, water vapor, other GHGs and the Earth’s climate was already the subject of study back in the 19th century: Fourier discovered that the atmosphere retains heat, and later Tyndall identified a number of molecules responsible for capturing the heat. It was Arrhenius who, at the turn of the 20th century, stated that a two-fold increase in the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere would lead to significant temperature changes on the surface of the planet. In 1958, Keeling began to undertake what was to become the longest ever monitoring of CO2 quantities in the atmosphere from his base at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In 1979 the first World Climate Conference was held and experts identified Climate Change as an urgent problem on a planetary scale; this led to the setting-up, in 1988, of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC itself does not conduct research: it reviews all current worldwide research work on Climate Change and presents it in Assessment Reports. Science has advanced considerably since Fourier’s day thanks to the scientific community’s growing dedication to Climate Change. Today it is possible to gauge more and more accurately the relationship between CO2 and temperatures, a key factor in the study of Climate Change. The latest IPCC Assessment Report (AR4) brings together the research work of 174 experts, all members of the scientific community. Since publishing its first Assessment Report, the IPCC has come to increasingly solid conclusions, incorporating a growing mass of reviewed scientific material. On March 28th, the IPCC will launch the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). Can you see how directly Climate Change is affecting our society and the business world? To be continued...
Helping to regain trust in scientific evidence on Climate Change is a shared responsibility for everyone committed to Sustainable Development.