Richard Alley on Earth's Biggest Climate Control Knob

Click here for a multimedia presentation of Richard Alley’s AGU talk.  (Credit: AGU)

Scientists aren’t known for being the savviest of public speakers, but Penn State’s Richard Alley is that rare researcher who knows how to give a talk. Alley — who’s willing to sing, dance, and gesticulate vigorously to get a point across — gave a lecture about carbon dioxide to an overflow crowd of scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting this year that’s well worth watching.

Blogger and University of Toronto computer scientist Steve Easterbrook has an excellent blow-by-blow of the talk, but the heart of it came down to this point, which Alley made on his last slide:

An increasing body of science indicates that CO2 has been the most important controller of Earth’s climate. 

If you want the details, (and the details are a pleasure to sit through in this case because of Alley’s gregarious speaking style) AGU has posted video and slides of the full talk. Still want to know more about carbon dioxide? NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released new details about the distribution of carbon dioxide in the troposphere, the region of Earth’s atmosphere that is located between 5 to 12 kilometers, or 3 to 7 miles, above Earth’s surface. (JPL also released a ten question quiz about the gas that you can access here).  

Meanwhile, Alley participated in a NASA science update back in 2005 that explored the nature of sea level rise, a topic that NASA researchers continue to investigate and that you can explore interactively using our Sea Level Viewer.

–Adam Voiland, NASA’s Earth Science News Team

3 thoughts on “Richard Alley on Earth's Biggest Climate Control Knob”

  1. Yet more and more, it’s being shown that some of the data is SWAG data. There’s something else that retains heat VERY well and yet apparently isn’t modeled, or I’ve not yet heard of it being in the climate model: water vapor. I’ve also heard that the models haven’t been able to account for the drop in temperatures this year either. I even recall that about 30 years ago or so, the climate experts were forecasting an upcoming Ice Age… Hmmm.

  2. As an owner of an IT company we realise that we need to do something but like most people you are not quite sure what to do.

    You’re right about Scientists not being the known for being savvy speakers but it’s wider than that and deeper – the general public needs to be shown this information.

    We heard of companies (hosting co’s) that plant trees to offset carbon but its difficult for a consumer to make that choice as they dont know.

    Something needs to be done

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