News / Science & Technology

Climate Change Real, Human-Caused

An aerial view of a remote island of Suluan, Samar, devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
An aerial view of a remote island of Suluan, Samar, devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in central Philippines, Nov. 20, 2013.
Rosanne Skirble
2013 was among the hottest years ever, spurred by the highest accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on record.

2013 was another year of extreme weather. It began in January with sweltering temperatures in Australia. According to Joes Lisonbee of Australia's Alice Springs weather bureau, “Alice Springs airport has seen the most consecutive days above 42 (degrees Celsius) for any time of the year. So far, including today, we have had nine consecutive days.”  

Climate Change Real, Human-Causedi
X
December 26, 2013 8:09 PM
2013 was among the hottest years ever, spurred by the highest accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on record. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.

The year was marked around the globe by deadly wildfires and floods, unrelenting drought and one of the strongest typhoons ever in the Philippines that left nearly 6,000 dead and more than four million homeless.

While research indicates a warmer atmosphere makes bad weather worse, Richard Kerr, a veteran writer for Science Magazine, says no single weather event can be linked to climate change.

“Beyond heat waves and heavy precipitation, heavy rain storms, heavy snow storms, scientists are being much more cautious about making a connection between typhoons or tornadoes and global warming,” he said.

But leading scientists spoke definitively in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report released in September.  In it, they affirmed with overwhelming confidence that global warming is real and humans are largely to blame.  

The report makes note of a slowdown in the acceleration of warming, an argument climate change deniers use to support their claims that the higher global temperatures are part of a natural climate fluctuation. But Kerr says the IPCC report concludes the excess heat is being absorbed by the deep ocean rather than the atmosphere.
 
“There is a strong conclusion that it is not particularly out of the ordinary and that it does not mean in any way that global warming has stopped ... and there is no sign in the ocean that the warming has slowed,” Kerr said.
    
Announcing the panel's findings in Stockholm, World Meteorological Organization Secretary General Michel Jarraud underscored the threat.

“It should serve as yet another wake-up call that our activities today will have a profound impact on society, not only for us, but for many generations to come,” he said. 

That wake-up call came shortly before the annual U.N. talks in Warsaw, where delegates from 192 countries met to lay the groundwork for a new climate treaty to replace one that expired in 2012.

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions policy expert Elliott Diringer says that while the Warsaw meeting did little to develop a plan to reduce global emissions, it provided a clue about what a new treaty might look like.  He sees the accord as one more stitched together by national politics and less by decisions made by negotiations on the global stage.    

“Instead, this time countries will be setting their own numbers," said Diringer. "And I think this is an important recognition that in fact the effort needs to come from the bottom up, that the agreement has to reflect the political will that is being generated at the national level, as well as the policies that are taking shape at the national level.”

Diringer points to some positive signs: emissions trading efforts in China, the new climate law in Mexico and the U.S. Climate Action Plan announced by President Obama in June.

Diringer applauds these actions as a global treaty takes shape. He says, "Certainly countries, cities, states do not have to wait for the international agreement and they should not wait for the international agreement.  I think instead their efforts need to be brought together and coalesced in the international agreement and only if we are seeing progress at the local and national level that we will be able to produce a strong international agreement.”  

Diringer adds that the solution to climate change must come from every level of government, the public and private sectors and each of us as individuals.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid