The climate of our state, our country and the world is evolving rapidly. Vital resources of land, water, environment and infrastructure are threatened by rising temperature and changes in intensity and distribution of rainfall. We know why it’s happening. The basic physics of greenhouse gases has been known for 150 years. Climate models that incorporate these well-known physical and thermodynamic processes have accurately explained past climate changes. Their proven accuracy builds confidence in their predictive skill, and provides informed guidance for taking action. The ‘uncertainty measures’ of future climate projections are small compared to ‘uncertainty measures’ associated with most any other economic, social or political policy proposals. The Paris Agreement to limit carbon emissions was a hopeful step made possible in part by the improving technologies of energy production and energy efficiency. Proposed economic policies could further speed these advances, and public opinion polls generally support the need for action.The US has made some progress, it contributed to the Paris Agreement, and it could help lead the way, but will it?
John Kutzbach is professor emeritus of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, and the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he taught for 36 years, led major research projects, and published over 150 research papers on climate change. He continues as Senior Scientist in the UW Center for Climatic Research. Kutzbach pioneered research on using climate models to understand the causes of large-scale changes of climate, including both glacial and warm epochs, and the impacts of climate change on land, water, and environment. Kutzbach participated in the early coordination of international climate research within the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the mid1970s and in the first years of the WMO-UNEP sponsored IPCC (1988-1990), as well as climate research panels of the National Academy of Sciences. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006, and has received awards in climate science from US, European, Australian, and Chinese science societies and academies.
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Madison, WI 53701
We would like to give special thanks to our Institutional Member, the UW Division of International Studies.
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