Global Warming Information, Preparation and Decision

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Policy Talking Points on Climate Change / Global Warming

There is no more important problem 

Global warming is the distressing reality we are late to discover but it's not too late to avoid the worst damage

Global warming is not a belief, not an agenda, nor a fringe opinion. It is a physical reality that trumps ideology.

Today is the best time to act. 

Ignoring climate change is not a realistic option. 

Global heating will continue to increase.

We can't fix global warming,... But we can prepare for it. 

There is no more important problem to address. It already affects our lives and our children will face even greater problems. There has been no guarantee we will prevail

Global warming is the distressing reality we are late to discover. It leads to worldwide and regional climate destabilization. Global warming is not a belief, not an agenda, nor a fringe opinion. It is a physical reality that trumps ideology. It is a harsh lesson that now we must learn, or its consequences will become increasingly severe..

Today is the best time to act. Now is our best opportunity for addressing the problem. Eventually, global warming will powerfully impact everyone on Earth.

Ignoring climate change is not a realistic option. Standing apart from reality will not improve it.

The Sun delivers needed warmth to Earth, but excessive heat accumulates because carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere. As long as Earth retains more heat than escapes back into space, global heating will continue to increase. Radiant heat tries to leave Earth, but gets trapped in the atmosphere. As heat trapping increases, warming will accelerate as well. Some natural forces on Earth also increase heating - like methane release or more water vapor. However the carbon pollution we release today will be driving up heat for decades and centuries. Unless we invent and deploy something, our overheated world will stay hot for thousands of years.

We can't fix global warming, nor the resulting climate change as fast as we want to, nor as soon as we need to. But we can prepare for it now. Everyone can do things to slow heating, and we must continue to study the science. We also can adapt to whatever lies ahead. However, the world needs to unify around addressing this issue.

Governments can help citizens deal with climate change by drafting laws that lessen its impact, promoting businesses that help adaptation and restraining further damage. All governments and each community can take action now to help face climate change today and reduce the impacts expected tomorrow. Every single person, every family, neighborhood and group is an important agent of change.

For example, local community gardens can reduce the amount of produce that needs to burn carbon to reach any given neighborhood . State and local incentives for green housing and business construction can encourage less waste now, and less energy use in the years to come. Thousands of actions like these are small, but their effects are cumulative. But mostly people should demand active leadership and support from their governments.

Federal and state actions can be more ambitious. Subsidizing solar power, taxing carbon, removing carbon fuel subsidies and sequestering coal are a few serious decisions that a representative democracy can consider today. Climate change is such an astounding risk that any responsible electorate should put all ideas on the table. These are difficult times that will become desperate times, and governments at all levels should be open to all solutions. Governments must quickly nurture the thousands of large and small actions that must build a zero-carbon civilization.

Every region should expect more weather events that are not typical. This will include increasingly severe and more extensive heat waves (and even out-of-the-ordinary cold spells), extreme rainfall and droughts (sometimes one right after the other in the same area), and long spans of uncharacteristic weather. Many of these changes will become the new norm. Increases in secondary effects like wildfires, floods, and biological changes such as virulent diseases, pest infestations, and other agricultural stresses should be anticipated.

This will stress global and regional economies, encourage civil strife and mass human migrations, adversely affect public health and infrastructure, and lead to dangerous disruptions in agriculture and commerce. Climatic changes are inevitable and based on well-understood physical principles. As studies continue we expect specific changes will be more predictable. The growing knowledge of likely changes can help us plan a better future.


This document was researched, prepared, edited and reviewed by climate scientists and information experts.

* Most climate scientists are eager to take simple inquiries from government officials. Contact your local university asking them to confirm the talking points in this document. .

** The latest, most trusted science reports may be found at the IPCC web site of

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v. 11-15.

Planning Documents for Regional Climates

Guidance documents for specific US regional planning are in the Reports Library

The most recent document covering general science and national issues is

A few definitions:

Weather and Climate are different measures of the same thing. Weather is what happens from the skies today, what happened recently or what is forecast for the next few days. Climate is the collection of all weather events happening over a long time period in a specific region. Weather is an event; climate is the weather-based characteristics of the region. Weather defines climate; climate does not cause weather. Climates may be described by weather characteristics. The world has many different climates.

Global warming and climate change are different phenomena that are related to each other and lead to the same problems. Both terms describe changes. Global warming is what's happening to the planet as our Earth retains more heat than it loses back into space. Most of the current over-heating is due to human activities, mainly the burning of fossil fuels, and to a lesser extent the unsustainable land-use practices such as tree removal and industrial farming. We really aren’t able to reverse the global warming that’s already occurred, at least not soon, but we can slow future increases. Lowering and eventually eliminating carbon emissions world-wide is the only known way to slow the rate of heating. Short of somehow removing all the excess carbon dioxide and methane now in the atmosphere and oceans, scientists know of no way to return the world to the past climates that allowed civilization to develop.

Climate change is destabilizing change to weather patterns that happen globally and regionally. Rare weather events can occur, and strange weather patterns may develop and persist globally and regionally. Every region has a unique climate that will change in its own way. For example, the desert Southwest has a different climate than New England and both climates will change in different ways. People in each region will need to develop their own means of adapting.

Climate models are based on well-known and understood physical principles. They provide proven, realistic projections of future change. For instance, we know that our rising sea levels will continue for centuries - even increase - as the landmass ice over both polar regions continues to melt. Understanding what the models are telling us will help develop plans for both mitigation and adaptation as we prepare for the cataclysmic changes that are coming. However we choose to prepare, there will be surprises that models and scenarios have not predicted. We should prepare as best we can for the unexpected.

The main cause of our current episode of global warming is the cumulative output from every human on Earth putting carbon emissions into the air for the past few hundred ears. Everyone is guilty of this, but everyone is forgiven, and each of us should make efforts not to continue on this path. Carbon combustion, no matter what the current price, carries a much greater cost for the future. We are unaccustomed to factoring it in, and that, too, needs to change.

* Most climate scientists are eager to take simple inquiries from government officials. Contact your local university.

** The latest, most trusted science reports may be found at the IPCC web site of

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