On Thursday 12th January Dr Gavin Schmidt, Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will be giving a talk on climate science at the University of Southampton. He will argue that despite increased certainty that humans are responsible for recent global warming, avoiding the worst impacts requires a much deeper connection between policy-making and science. To paraphrase Sherwood Rowling:
What good is climate science, if all we are going to do is wait around for its predictions to come true?
Dr Schmidt is already on record as stating that it is “very unlikely” that global temperatures can be kept within the 1.5 degree limit agreed in Paris in 2015 and perhaps feels even more pessimistic with the reins of power in the U.S. soon to be handed over to Donald Trump and his horsemen of the apocalypse. President-elect Trump plans to cut funding for NASA’s research on climate change despite there being many good reasons why this would be a colossal mistake.
16/1/17 Update: If you were not able to attend the lecture, it is available online here:
One of the things that NASA does particularly well is communicate the urgency of climate action, demonstrating how scientific predictions on climate change have indeed come true. Below are some of the most compelling images which tell the story of global climate change.
The change in sea ice at the poles is a current concern but NASA has been documenting shrinking ice caps and early ice melt for decades, because as the agency points out “what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic”:
Add global sea temperatures to measurements of Arctic sea ice and you get:
And if you’re interested in how carbon dioxide is moving around the Earth’s atmosphere, take a look at this:
If funding is cut, is there still hope of climate action? Well, despite the incoming presidency, NASA has recently announced its new long-term project to study vegetation health and greenhouse gases from space – Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory, or GeoCARB.
However, some researchers believe we have already passed the point of no return and that dangerous climate change is inevitable without a major ‘war effort’. Those lovely people at NASA feel the same way: