February 28, 2007
GCRIO Program Overview
Our extensive collection of documents.
Archives of the
Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 9, NUMBERS 10-11, OCTOBER-NOVEMBER 1996
OF GENERAL INTEREST
to Ben Santer," Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 77(9), 1961-1966, Sep. 1996.
The letter, authored by officials of the American Meteorological Society and the
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, is published in support of Santer and
other scientists in the current controversy over the second scientific assessment of
climate change. (See related News items in GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DIGEST, June and
July 1996.) Much of the discussion relates to how inappropriate it is to carry out a
scientific debate in the mass media. Included in support of this point, the Bulletin
has reprinted an opinion piece from the June 12 Wall Street Journal, "A Major
Deception on 'Global Warming,'" by Frederick Seitz, along with two related letters to
the Journal editor in response to the Seitz commentary. The latter show additions
and deletions made by the Journal prior to printing. These modifications, whether
motivated by page space or other reasons, preclude a balanced scientific dialog.
Science and National Interests," R.M. White (Univ. Corp. for Atmos. Res., POB 3000,
Boulder CO 80307), Issues in Science & Technology, 12(1), 33-38, Fall
An essay on the constantly changing relationship between the science and the politics
of climate change. The scientific case for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is
perceived to be changing, but the political barriers remain daunting. It is surprising
that missing from the negotiations is any concept of marshaling international action to
develop technologies that will be needed for adaptation. Many promising energy options are
sufficiently far from commercialization that international collaboration might advance
their availability. But absent efficient new energy technologies, the negotiators simply
will not have the tools necessary to achieve greenhouse emission goals.
Warming, Bad Weather, Insurance Losses and the Global Economy," N.C Low (UOB Life
Assurance Ltd., 156 Cecil St., 10th Fl., Far Eastern Bank Bldg., Singapore 0106), S. Shen,
World Resource Review, 8(3), 273-288, Sep. 1996.
Argues that the economic stability of civilization is highly sensitive to climatic
stability, and that increasing greenhouse gases have already disrupted climatic stability.
Gives evidence for this based on the "Extreme Events Index," which shows an
upward trend over the past few decades, leading to a dramatic rise in insurance losses.
The potential impact of global warming has risks but also offers tremendous opportunities
for leaders of society. Discusses approaches for achieving a sustainable society and
reversing the current trend of increased extreme events.
Species' Range, C. Parmesan (Natl. Ctr. for Ecol. Analysis & Synthesis, 735 State St.,
S. 300, Univ. California, Santa Barbara CA 93101; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org), Nature,
382(6594), 765-766, Aug. 29, 1996.
Presents what the author describes as the first study to provide evidence of shifts in
the range of a species consistent with those predicted for global warming, that are based
on examination of the entire range of a species. A species of butterfly (Edith's
checkerspot) was studied in the western U.S. Concludes that the evidence presented here
provides the clearest indication to date that global warming is already influencing
species' distributions. (See Res. News, this GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DIGEST issue--Oct.-Nov.
of Ozone Depletion in the Spatial and Temporal Pattern of Recent Lower Stratospheric
Cooling," V. Ramaswamy (GFDL, POB 308, Princeton NJ 08542), M.D. Schwarzkopf, W.J.
Randel, ibid., 382(6592), 616-618, Aug. 15, 1996.
Incorporates observed decreases in stratospheric ozone concentrations over the period
1979-1990 into a general circulation model of the atmosphere. Results confirm the
expectation, based on simpler model studies, that the observed ozone depletion exerts a
spatially and seasonally varying fingerprint in the decadal cooling of the lower
stratosphere. The effect of other greenhouse gases is relatively small. The study suggests
a human influence on lower stratospheric temperature through the impact of ozone depleting
Solar Energy in the Atmosphere: Discrepancy Between Model and Observations," A.
Arking (Dept. Earth & Planetary Sci., Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore MD 21218; e-mail:
email@example.com), Science, 273(5276), 779-782, Aug. 9, 1996.
Calculations made by an atmospheric general circulation model were compared with
observations of the flux of solar radiant energy based on a combination of ground-based
and satellite measurements. The model underestimated the amount of solar energy absorbed
by the Earth's atmosphere by 25 to 30 watts per square meter. Contrary to some recent
reports, clouds have little or no overall effect on atmospheric absorption; water vapor
seems to have the dominant influence.
Tree Rings and 20th Century Warming," G.C. Jacoby (Tree Ring Lab., Lamont-Doherty
Earth Observ., Rte. 9W, Palisades NY 10964), R.D. D'Arrigo, T. Davaajamts, ibid.,
A 450-year tree-ring width chronology of Siberian pine shows wide annual growth rings
for the recent century. Ecological site observations and comparisons with instrumental
temperature records indicate that the ring widths of these trees are sensitive to
temperature. This chronology shows that the recent warming indicated is unusual relative
to temperatures of the past 450 years.
"Post-Modernism and Global Environmental Change," P.M. Blaikie (Sch. Development
Studies, Univ. E. Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK), Global Environ. Change, 6(2),
81-85, June 1996.
Post-modernist thinking has been invading and invigorating the social sciences over the
past two decades, and now impinges on the foundations of the natural sciences, policy
making and development studiesareas fundamental to the study of global environmental
change. The role of science and alternative ways of understanding global environmental
change are being increasingly questioned by a post-modern approach. For instance,
scientific truth may be seen to be socially negotiated, rather than universal and
invariably reproducible. This article discusses the challenges and opportunities posed by
in Perspective," M.B.A. van Asselt (Human Ecol. Group, EAWAG, Ueberlandstr. 133,
CH-8600 Dubendorf, Switz.), J. Rotmans, ibid., 121-157.
Addresses the issues of uncertainty and subjectivity in modeling, in the context of
integrated assessment. Relates bias to different perspectives by introducing a
"multiple model route" approach, which reflects different perceptions of reality
and policy preferences, and enables plurality to be accounted for in a consistent way.
Describes case studies on climate change and population growth, and suggests that
scientists should aim to manage uncertainty rather than completely resolve it.
Ecological Risks of Global Change: A Psychometric Comparison of Causes and
Consequences," T. McDaniels (Inst. for Resour. & Environ., Univ. British
Columbia, 6333 Memorial Rd., Vancouver BC V6T 1WS, Can.), L.J. Axelrod, P. Slovic,
Discusses the public's perceptions of ecological risks associated with climate change,
ozone depletion, and species loss, based on data collected from 68 subjects. The one
consistent finding is that laypersons perceive technologies or actions that contribute to
global change processes quite differently than they perceive the consequences of those
processes. Several explanations are discussed, but whatever the cause, this failure to
connect causes and consequences will likely limit meaningful collective responses, and may
help explain current patterns of political response to global change processes. One
possible way to overcome this obstacle is effective risk communication, through the media
as well as through government sponsored communication efforts.
Hunger: Current Status and Future Prospects," R.W. Kates (e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org), Consequences, 2(2), 2-12, 1996. Consequences
is published by Saginaw Valley State Univ. under agreement with NOAA. Articles are made
available on the Internet by the U.S. Global Change Office; http://www.gcrio.org/CONSEQUENCES/vol2no2/article1.html.
Chronic hunger affects about a sixth of the world's population. Worldwide, the
percentage and number of hungry people has fallen in the last 20 years, but this is not
the case in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and South Asia. Global food production has
kept up with population growth but the prospects of significant climate or other
environmental changes raise questions about how long the pace can be maintained. Hunger
could be eliminated, were certain known requirements to be met; among these are an ability
to cope with the unexpected, through resilience and flexibility.
"Nongovernmental Organizations in World Environmental Politics," T. Princen
(Sch. Natural Resour. & Environ., Univ. Michigan), M. Finger, J. Manno, Intl.
Environ. Affairs, 7(1), 42-58, Winter 1995.
Reflects on the tremendous growth in the size and number of nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs) dealing with international environmental affairs. Their role in the
international arena is not strictly analogous to the role of similar groups in the
domestic arena; rather it is shaped by the general characteristics of the ecological
crisis. The NGO's vdistinctive contribution is to draw out the political implications of
biophysical trends at local and global levels, and to challenge the limitations of the
traditional state-centric system.
Guide to Publishers
Index of Abbreviations