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Global Climate Change Still a Reality

Despite recent questions, associate professor Katharine Hayhoe believes global warming is occurring.

Written by John Davis

According to Hayhoe, more than 150 years of studies indicate a steady warming of the world's climate.

According to Hayhoe, more than 150 years of studies indicate a steady warming of the world’s climate.

E-mails and computer code stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit in the U.K. have caused a flurry of questions about the validity of climate change on a global scale.

However, one Texas Tech expert said it’s still clear from the immense body of independent research conducted around the world that global climate change is occurring and human activity is responsible for much of the change.

A Gradual Warming

Recently interviewed by Scientific American, Katharine Hayhoe, a research associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, said that the scientific consensus hasn’t changed, and that world leaders at the recent UN COP15 meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, used this evidence when trying to decide how each country should contribute solutions to slow global climate change.

“In terms of the scientists whose emails were stolen, I can’t defend their actions or their words, because I don’t know them or work with them,” she said. “At the same time, this is no call for us to throw the baby out with the bathwater. A few emails written by just a handful of the thousands of scientists who study climate change does not alter the fact that data collected from all over the world for more than 150 years shows a consistent warming.”

Although nations participating in COP15 did commit to voluntary greenhouse gas reductions, Hayhoe said these reductions would allow global temperature to increase by at least 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most studies, which explore the implications of alternative future pathways on the U.S. economy, energy demand, water supply, public health, and the natural environment, indicate that a 3.5 degree increase in overall climate limits the risks of potentially dangerous impacts to humans and the environment.

The Big Picture

If the world continues on the current pathway, it will soon be too late to even attempt to limit global temperature rise to below 3.5 degrees, Hayhoe said.

“Not since the 1500s, when scientists and the church were debating whether the sun revolved around the earth or the earth around the sun, have we seen such a widespread and deliberate attempt to discredit scientists themselves,” she said. “We need to take a step back and look at the big picture. We have to weigh those few emails from a handful of scientists against an overwhelming, worldwide consensus from thousands of researchers. The truth is that climate change is a very real and a very serious problem–one that demands our immediate attention if your goal, like mine, is to leave a better world for our children than the one we inherited from our parents.”

Hayhoe is a National Academy of Sciences committee member on greenhouse gas stabilization targets. She has authored a number of studies that examine how climate change will affect the planet, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2009 report on climate impacts in the United States. Her work has been featured in more than 200 newspapers and media outlets around the world, including USA Today, the BBC, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and Sports Illustrated.

Hayhoe also contributed to the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. In 2009, she and her husband, Andrew Farley, published “A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions.”

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5 Responses to “Global Climate Change Still a Reality”

  1. Global Climate Change Still a Reality :: Texas Tech Today | the world Says:

    [...] original post here: Global Climate Change Still a Reality :: Texas Tech Today Tags: application, children, fields, goal, like-mine, parents, the-one, very-real, very-serious, [...]

  2. Special K (NJ) Says:

    In thinking about perennial topics
    It’s difficult to think of one
    That has been debated with such futility as
    “Resolved global warming has begun”.

    Not before someone with access to data
    On locally observed temperatures, globally,
    Computes and reports means of daily hi/low means
    Will the general public have something tangible to see.

    That would be a useful beginning
    To presentation of data on temperature, worldwide,
    That could be introduced into the ongoing debate
    As ammunition for those on either side.

  3. Dick McGlynn Says:

    Are you sure this headline, “Global Climate Change Still a Reality,” is ok with the chancellor and the parents of Texas Tech students who talk to him?

  4. Ethan Says:

    Just wanted everyone to know that global warming does bring almost as many positives as it does negatives. If you do not believe me do a little research, you may be surprised.

  5. GM Says:

    The byline says it all … “despite recent doubts”. … still a reality. One would expect such headlines from FxX News not on a website of an academic institution. What is next … evolution – only a theory … despite mounting evidence? Clearly Johnny D is pandering to his demographic – who not too long ago cast doubt on the link between smoking and lung cancer, who from one side of their frothing mouths declare themselves “pro-life” while from the other fight tooth and nail for the death penalty. The question to Johnny D is – which side are you on boy?

    I am an ex red raider and i just threw up.

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Featured Expert
Katharine Hayhoe is a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which earned the Nobel Prize.

Katharine Hayhoe contributed to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which earned the Nobel Prize.

She is a research associate professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.

View her profile in our online Experts Guide.

Department of Geosciences
Department of Geosciences

The Department of Geosciences at Texas Tech University provides a wide range of research and educational experiences in the field of earth and atmospheric sciences. The Department has a strong commitment to research, education and outreach in the subdisciplines of Earth Sciences.

Our faculty are recognized experts in the fields of geochemistry, geophysics, structural geology and plate tectonics, vertebrate/invertebrate paleontology, atmospheric science, and the application of geographical information systems to solve geological and environmental problems.