Many of the thousands of scientists studying the impacts of climate change are on location around the world studying specific impacts of global warming on individual species, glaciers, and ecosystems. Given the inherent preference of statistics for large numbers, it is difficult to tie the loss any single species or catastrophic weather event to climate change with absolute certainty.
Overall, such trends as the desertification of northern Africa, disappearing glaciers, acidification of the oceans, the loss of coral reefs, rising sea levels engulfing island nations, and melting polar icecaps, paint a disturbingly clear picture of a perilously warming planet.
The big picture science of climate change is rock solid:
Human activities are releasing over 40 billion tons per year of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into earth’s atmosphere - over 109 million tons per day globally - Missouri's annual CO2 emissions are 125 million tons per year, according to the Missouri Comprehensive State Energy Plan.
CO2 levels are rising precipitously, pushing the planet’s balanced life support systems ever closer to the tipping point, and past our ability to reverse course in time to leave our children a livable world. Burning coal, oil, and natural gas for electricity, transportation, and industry releases these greenhouse gases into earth’s atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels over the past 450,000 years. Note the sharp increase starting around 1950.
One problem is that CO2 is the lowest form of carbon, in terms of its energy level. It is the product of burning organic matter in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas, returning them to their original state of atmospheric CO2 and H2O. Reversing photosynthetic processes that have taken millions of years to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, converting it into organic compounds stored in all living things, most prolifically in tropical rain forests, and eventually into coal, oil, and natural gas over the course of eons of time.
The science of climate change is unequivocal: Earth’s meteorological systems are increasingly being destabilized. Global warming predicts an increased frequency and intensity of weather extremes of all kinds. The impacts are in line with the effects first described by Fourier in 1824 and further developed by Arrhenius in 1896, and thousands of scientists since. Certain gases in the earth’s atmosphere absorb sunlight and warm the planet, making it livable for all forms of life. Today, the consensus of the world’s scientist is reported by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), guiding the actions of every nation on earth but one, namely, the United States, to sign the global climate accord. Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel succinctly explains the history and science of climate change in the Forbes article, The First Climate Model Turns 50, And Predicted Global Warming Almost Perfectly.
We only have about three years left to bend global greenhouse gas emissions to a downward trajectory if we hope to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, a group of leading climate experts warned in the journal Nature - We Have Three Years To Safeguard Our Climate last June 2017.