The climate journey over three decades: from childhood to maturity, innocence to knowing, from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism...
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Birth is a beginning,
And death a destination;
But life is a journey,
From stage to stage,
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age.
From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
And then perhaps wisdom.[8pt]
We see that the victory lies
Not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey,
Stage to stage...
—Rabbi Alvin Fine
KeywordsKyoto Protocol Climatic Research Unit Climate Science Seasonal Climate Forecast Enhance Greenhouse Effect
From this very southern perspective climate science has made a journey from an academic pursuit in the 1970s to being now at a critical crossroad. Now the mainstream climate community needs to re-establish its credibility so as to communicate the urgency of relevant science based policy. Decade 1970s was involved with establishing that climate does change and reaffirming the theory that increases in greenhouse gases lead to a warming of climate. During the 1980s climate science became more relevant to decision makers in the community because of the advent of the 1982/1983 El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, and the realisation that a major nuclear war could be followed by a nuclear winter with the demise of several millions of people. In 1991 the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption had significant impacts on climate. Out of these and other climatic perturbations the science of seasonal climate forecasting developed. The 1990s and early 2000s was a time of full maturity of the science with the development that anthropogenic climate change because of the enhanced greenhouse effect was extremely likely to determine the course of climate and its impacts during the twenty-first century. Much policy relevant debate occurred with governments of the world signing up to the Kyoto protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, with the advent of the late 2000s and 2010s the growth of climate denial and Climategate has turned the science in to being a very vexatious political issue. Climate deniers refuse to accept an empirically verifiable reality: that global warming is unequivocal and that most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities. Civil society is under pressure to believe the science, and it is a matter of urgency that the science is communicated clearly, frankly and with integrity. Climatic Change will have a major role in enabling the interdisciplinary mainstream climate science community to achieve this goal.
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