This summer, I’ve spent so much time corresponding with people who know more than I do about climate change – like many of our regular commenters – that it’s always sort of strange to talk to people who are new to this topic. When they don’t know about the Milankovitch cycles, the concept of radiative forcing, or the water vapour feedback, it’s sort of hard to know where to begin.
The purpose of this blog has never been to report on advanced scientific topics. I’d say that I created ClimateSight to explore the discrepancies between scientific knowledge and public knowledge on climate change, and to provide readers with tools and strategies to gain accurate scientific information on the topic.
In the almost-two-years since I became interested in climate change, I’ve read a lot of books, watched a lot of documentaries, and visited a lot of websites. I’ve come across far too many sources which are absolute garbage, a lot which are okay but oversimplified, and a fair few which are absolute gems.
So, if you’re totally new to the topic of climate change, or know a little but want to know more, or know a lot but are always on the lookout for good sources, behold: Kate’s Climate Change Reading List.
The very first place I would start is by reading the book What’s the Worst That Could Happen? High school science teacher Greg Craven discusses the nature of science, credibility, objectivity, and risk managment – all framed around climate change. It’s designed to help the reader make a decision about whether or not climate change is a problem, without having to do any of the science themselves. This book can be ordered from pretty much any major bookstore. I wrote a review of it here.
For those who are interested in how climate science works, the next place to look is Environment Canada’s Frequently Asked Questions about the Science of Climate Change. This PDF document is incredibly thorough, covering every question from “What is climate and how does it differ from weather?” to “Could changes in cosmic radiation from outer space have caused global warming?”, all in a very easy-to-read format using relatively simple language.
Once you’ve read and understood that document, you’re probably ready for the most recent IPCC report. This report, which is a compilation of current scientific knowledge on climate change, is widely considered to be the most credible source of information on the topic. The best place to start is with the Summary for Policymakers, which is much less technical (and much more concise!), but if you want more information on any of the subjects discussed, it’s very easy to choose the appropriate chapter and find what you’re looking for.
By this point, you’ll probably have realized that there are a lot of people out there who are working very hard to prove the idea of human-caused climate change wrong. Many, if not most, of their arguments have no scientific backing. Journalist Peter Sinclair, in his YouTube series Climate Denial Crock of the Week, debunks the most common of these claims, from “it’s the sun” to “global warming stopped in 1998”, all in an incredibly logical and entertaining fashion.
Less visually appealing, and without the background music, but much more comprehensive, is Coby Beck’s series of articles entitled How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic. It’s pretty hard to find an argument against human-caused climate change that isn’t covered here, and you don’t need a lot of scientific training to understand what he’s talking about.
If you liked Greg Craven’s book, by this point you’ll love his video series How it All Ends. It’s directed at a more knowledgable audience than his book did, and contains a lot more to think about and really sink your teeth into, plus some goofy hats, entertaining subtitles, and occasional explosions.
If you feel like you basically understand the mechanisms of climate change, but want to stay on top of current developments, I subscribe to a long (and growing) list of climate change blogs written by scientists. Only In It For The Gold, Island of Doubt, A Few Things Ill Considered, Deltoid, More Grumbine Science, and Tamino are my favourites (commenters are more than welcome to suggest additions to this list).
Enjoy. This is a complex and politically charged subject, but definitely one worth investigating.