Veteran and highly regarded Washington, D.C., meteorologist Bob Ryan has posted online an extensive six-part discussion of climate change and human contributions to those changes, issues he says he long had avoided because of “the many political, emotional, and even faith-based reactions these discussions and articles generate.”
He asks that readers “keep me on my toes if I venture from the science and objectivity of these topics and issues” and opens his piece with a discussion of the nature of science and scientific laws, facts, and theories and with explanations of the differences between weather and climate. He outlines the case for a relationship between increased atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and “the slow, but irregular, increase in global temperature,” but quickly adds that connection “is not a new idea” but one explained nearly two centuries ago.
In Part III, Ryan explains the critical work of legendary Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Charles David Keeling in confirming rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels through precise measurements. He also addresses factors beyond CO2 concentrations that contribute to warming, but he concludes that only in considering anthropogenic factors – mainly increasing CO2 – do models reproduce observations “quite well.”
Ryan cautions fellow meteorologists, citizens, and others not to be fooled into drawing inferences about long-term global climate change based solely on short-term local weather developments: “A relatively mild mid-winter day in Siberia doesn’t get many headlines,” he writes. “Simple news headlines usually don’t mean simple science.”
He writes that “the theory of anthropogenic global warming is just that – a theory that will continue to be tested by scientists for years to come.”
“However, at the end of the day, the overwhelming evidence and the studies being done by the leading scientists of the world do indicate that children, our grandchildren and we will be living in a warmer world in the future. Warmer by probably 1-5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 50-100 years.”
Early commenters on Ryan’s site have credited him for having the “courage” to venture into a field that often prompts outrage, including among fellow broadcast meteorologists. Climate science contrarians are unlikely to be satisfied with Ryan’s gently stated and reasoned approach, while those generally seeing strong merit in the IPCC “consensus” science on climate change likely will find it a refreshing and useful addition to the climate change literature.