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While scientists have long agreed that human activity was the biggest driver of climate change, there hasn’t yet been evidence from direct observation (the gold standard of scientific research) until now.
NASA has completed the first study of its kind, which has calculated the recent causes of climate change by directly observing satellite data. These observations are in line with what models have been suggesting for years: that the increase in greenhouse gases and other pollution in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels has been the biggest driver of climate change.
Why This Matters: While there has been other types of evidence to demonstrate anthropogenic climate change, this is the first time scientists have been able to track how humans are directly changing Earth’s energy balance on the global scale.
But NASA was able to calculate the changes in heat trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere by taking satellite observations and using a “radiative kernel” to analyze them, which allowed the researchers to understand what factors influenced the emission and trapping of heat. Before, satellite observations of heat on Earth could only find the number of total radiation changes, rather than the individual components.
Though these results are not surprising, Brian Soden, co-author of the study and professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, summed up the importance of the study in an interview with CBS:
“In reality, the observational results came in just as predicted by the theory. There is no surprise in the results, but rather it’s really more of ‘dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s’ on anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change. It closes that last link between rising CO2 levels and planetary warming.”
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Last Thursday, Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) introduced the Orphaned Wells Cleanup and Jobs Act of 2021 which would authorize nearly $8 billion in grant funding for abandoned oil and gas well cleanup projects across the nation. Methane emissions from abandoned wells threaten to derail President Biden’s climate goals, but dozens of […]
By Josh Freed, Senior Vice President for the Climate and Energy Program, Third Way For years, climate news has offered one of the best doomscrolling fixes, up there with the pandemic and Donald Trump’s assault on democracy. But we’ve finally entered an era when the good news on climate is starting to outweigh the […]
Special Presidential Envoy on Climate (or “SPEC”) Kerry is engaging with key nations this week in the run-up to the Global Summit in two weeks. In India yesterday he met with Prime Minister Narenda Modi, who reaffirmed his government’s commitment to its Paris pledges, including increasing its non-fossil fuel power capacity to 40% and substantially boosting forest cover to reduce CO2. Kerry visits Bangladesh today.
Why This Matters: Kerry is using these visits to try to elicit elevated commitments from other major emitters — China and India.
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