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Connecting local weather and global climate change

Our daily weather reports, cheerfully presented with flashy graphics and state-of-the-art animation, appear to relay more and more information.

And yet, no matter how glitzy the presentation, a key fact is invariably omitted. Imagine if, after flashing the words "extreme weather" to grab our attention, the reports flashed "global warming." Then we would know not only to wear lighter clothes or carry an umbrella, but that we have to do something about climate change.

I put the question to Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology at Weather Underground, an Internet weather information service. Masters writes a popular blog on weather, and doesn't shy away from linking extreme weather to climate change:

Photo Credit: Jennifer Jewett / USFWS
| November 18, 2014
Photo: guano/flickr
| November 11, 2014

It's not too late to take climate action. Here's how.

Photo: John Englart (Takver)/flickr

Meeting a target of keeping global temperature from rising above 2 degrees Celsius is still possible, according to 30 leading climate and energy experts.

The authors, who include former U.K. government scientific adviser Sir Bob Watson, conclude that staying under 2 C needs "immediate, urgent action" at the highest levels of governments. The Tackling the Challenge of Climate Change report was presented at Ban Ki-moon's UN climate summit in New York.

| October 21, 2014

Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change

October 10, 2014
| In his book, Don’t Even Think About It, long-time British environmental activist George Marshall explores the psychological mechanisms that lead to people refusing to take climate change seriously.
Length: 12:51 minutes (11.77 MB)
Photo by Neil Palmer/CIAT for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
| October 7, 2014
| October 7, 2014

The climate change deniers aren't entirely wrong

Photo: Nomadic Lass/flickr

Few people deny that humans are releasing immense amounts of so-called "greenhouse gases" -- notably, carbon dioxide -- by burning fossil fuels. Nor is there dispute about the physical process by which these gases trap some of the infrared radiation (also known as "heat") reflected into the atmosphere from the Earth's surface, preventing this radiation from escaping into space.

The simple version of the climate change story is that increasing amounts of greenhouse gases mean that more outgoing infrared radiation is trapped, and more can be re-radiated back to the Earth's surface, increasing its average temperature.

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