Reports & Papers 2017 And Before



In 1988 NASA scientist James Hansen warned lawmakers in the US Senate of the looming dangers presented by global warming, which humans were accelerating. In the same year the United Nations (UN) and the World Meteorological Organization (WHO) formed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to report to world leaders on the science of climate change. 

In 1990, the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) was published, underlining the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation. It was followed by the 2nd (1995), 3rd (2001), 4th (2007) and 5th (2013-2014) with the 6th due in 2022.

On December 12, 2015 in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21, the now-infamous Paris Agreement was written with an objective to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. It entered into force on November 4, 2016 by which time it had been ratified by 55 countries (accounting for 55% of global emissions). Within the following two years 197 countries — every nation on earth — signed on, including the U.S.

Unfortunately in the summer of 2017 President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. That  takes effect on November 4, 2020.

Important papers in climate change research before 2017 also include the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment by the Arctic Council and International Arctic Science Committee in 2004 that chronicles a decrease in sea ice, thawing of permafrost, and disruption to arctic species. Also, crucially, there is the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the U.S. Department of Energy’s report back in 1968 called Sources, abundance, and fate of gaseous atmospheric pollutants, which warns of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere that may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes. 

In 2017, a variety of climate groups worked together to release 2020: The Climate Turning Point, which talks about how GHG emissions must begin declining rapidly by 2020 if the world is to avoid crossing the temperature threshold agreed to in the Paris Climate Accords. 

stunning timeline, following our extraordinary lack of progress since 1988, was written by Paul Bledsoe and published in the New York Times on December 29, 2018. Many of the 2017 reports and papers referenced in this article appear in this CCR section.

Carbon Brief published a list of 2017 climate-change related papers most featured in the media. The infographic below shows which ones made it into the Top 10.


Natural climate solutions

Most nations recently agreed to hold global average temperature rise to well below 2 °C. We examine how much climate mitigation nature can contribute to this goal with a comprehensive analysis of “natural climate solutions” (NCS): 20 conservation, restoration, and/or improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid…

Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014)

By Geoffrey Supran1 and Naomi Oreskes 08/23/17
This paper assesses whether ExxonMobil Corporation has in the past misled the general public about climate change. We present an empirical document-by-document textual content analysis and comparison of 187 climate change communications from ExxonMobil, including peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed publications, internal company documents, and paid, editorial-style advertisements ('advertorials') in The New…

Seeking Higher Ground: How to Break the Cycle of Repeated Flooding with Climate-Smart Flood Insurance Reforms

By Rob Moore 07/25/17
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was designed to help Americans recover from flood disasters, but it can also unintentionally trap homeowners who would prefer to move somewhere safer. Instead of moving, many policyholders find themselves rebuilding their homes again and again.1 Across the United States, more than 30,000 “severe…

Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely

The recently published Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections to 2100 give likely ranges of global temperature increase in four scenarios for population, economic growth and carbon use1. However, these projections are not based on a fully statistical approach.

Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines

The strong focus on species extinctions, a critical aspect of the contemporary pulse of biological extinction, leads to a common misimpression that Earth’s biota is not immediately threatened, just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss. This view overlooks the current trends of population declines and extinctions. Using a…

The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions

Current anthropogenic climate change is the result of greenhouse gas accumulation in the atmosphere, which records the aggregation of billions of individual decisions. Here we consider a broad range of individual lifestyle choices and calculate their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries, based on 148 scenarios from…

Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States

Episodes of severe weather in the United States, such as the present abundance of rainfall in California, are brandished as tangible evidence of the future costs of current climate trends. Hsiang et al. collected national data documenting the responses in six economic sectors to short-term weather fluctuations.

Global risk of deadly heat

Climate change can increase the risk of conditions that exceed human thermoregulatory capacity. Although numerous studies report increased mortality associated with extreme heat events quantifying the global risk of heat-related mortality remains challenging due to a lack of comparable data on heat-related deaths.

Widespread Biological Response to Rapid Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula

Recent climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula is well documented with warming, alongside increases in precipitation, wind strength, and melt season length, driving environmental change . However, meteorological records mostly began in the 1950s, and paleoenvironmental datasets that provide a longer-term context to recent climate change are limited in number…

2020: The Climate Turning Point

By Stefan Rahmstorf and Anders Levermann 04/01/17
This report explains why and how heat-trapping gas emissions must begin declining rapidly by 2020 at the latest if the world is to avoid crossing the temperature thresholds agreed to in Paris.

Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals

During 2015–2016, record temperatures triggered a pan-tropical episode of coral bleaching, the third global-scale event since mass bleaching was first documented in the 1980s. Here we examine how and why the severity of recurrent major bleaching events has varied at multiple scales, using aerial and underwater surveys of Australian reefs…

Medical Alert! Climate Change is Harming Our Health

12 medical societies summarize the threats climate change poses to our health through extreme weather, reduced air and water quality, increases in infectious and insect-borne diseases, etc.

Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance

“Things like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, domestic abuse, all these things tend to go up in the aftermath of a natural disasters,” says psychologist Susan Clayton of the College of Wooster, co-author of an extensive report on climate change and mental health.

Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records

Sea surface temperature (SST) records are subject to potential biases due to changing instrumentation and measurement practices. Significant differences exist between commonly used composite SST reconstructions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Extended Reconstruction Sea Surface Temperature (ERSST), the Hadley Centre SST data set (HadSST3), and the Japanese Meteorological…

Pathways to 100: An Energy Supply Transformation Primer for US Cities

While many cities do not have full control over their energy systems, cities can deploy a range of policy tools and strategies to influence their energy supply. This paper provides a high-level map of pathways for municipal energy supply transformation, structured around a three-step process for cities to identify a…

Fourth National Climate Assessment: Climate Science Special Report

As a key part of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) oversaw the production of this stand-alone report of the state of science relating to climate change and its physical impacts.

Climate Change and Resilient Communities Along the U.S.-Mexico Border: The Role of Federal Agencies

Climate change models project increasing economic, social, human health and environmental impacts on the diverse and vulnerable communities along the U.S.-Mexico border. Overall, the border region is one of the poorest in the United States, with many disadvantaged Hispanic and tribal communities in urban and rural areas especially vulnerable to…

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol: HFC Phase-down

The Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer reached agreement at their 28th Meeting of the Parties on 15 October 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda to phase-down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Planting Healthy Air: A Global Analysis of the Role of Urban Trees in Addressing Particulate Matter Pollution and Extreme Heat (2016)

By Rob McDonald et al. 01/01/16
This study from the Nature Conservancy reviews the positive cooling effects of urban trees planting on hot city climates and the quality of their air.

High and Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy

The impacts of climate change will be channeled primarily through the water cycle, with consequences that could be large and uneven across the globe. Water-related climate risks cascade through food, energy, urban, and environmental systems. Growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will converge upon a world where the demand…

Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report: 314 Species on the Brink

By Arctic Council and International Arctic Science Committee 09/01/15
The National Audubon Society has completed a continental analysis of how North America’s birds may respond to future climate change. Using extensive citizen science data and detailed climate layers, we developed models that characterize the relationship between the distribution of each species and climate. Then, we used our models to…


Welcoming the adoption of United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/1, “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, in particular its goal 13, and the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the third International Conference on Financing for Development and the adoption of the Sendai Framework for…

IPCC: FIfth Assessment Report

The Synthesis Report (SYR) of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) provides an overview of the state of knowledge concerning the science of climate change, emphasizing new results since the publication of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007.

The Role of Emotion in Global Warming Policy Support and Opposition

Nicholas Smith and Anthony Leiserowitz 11/12/13
Prior research has found that affect and affective imagery strongly influence public support for global warming. This article extends this literature by exploring the separate influence of discrete emotions. Utilizing a nationally representative survey in the United States, this study found that discrete emotions were stronger predictors of global warming…

Climate change and the oceans – What does the future hold?

By Jelle Bijma, Hans-O. Pörtner and Others 09/30/13
The ocean has been shielding the earth from the worst effects of rapid climate change by absorbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This absorption of CO2 is driving the ocean along the pH gradient towards more acidic conditions. At the same time ocean warming is having pronounced impacts on…

Tackling Climate Change through Livestock

An important emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), the livestock sector also has a large potential to reduce its emissions. This is the main conclusion drawn by the report “Tackling climate change through livestock”. This newly released report provides the most comprehensive global assessment made to-date of the livestock sector’s GHG…

Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

By Arctic Council and International Arctic Science Committee 12/13/04
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment is an evaluation of Arctic climate change and its impacts for the region and the world. This synthesis report makes the findings accessible to policy makers and the public.

Arctic Climate Feedbacks: Global Implications

WWF 11/01/09
This report assesses of the latest science on Arctic feedbacks and their implications beyond the Arctic. Edited by Susan Hassol and Martin Sommerkorn and written by an international team of scientists.

The Endangered Species Act, 1973

When Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, it recognized that our rich natural heritage is of "esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people." It further expressed concern that many of our nation's native plants and animals were in danger of becoming…

Sources, abundance, and fate of gaseous atmospheric pollutants

By Robinson, E. and Robbins, R.C. 01/01/68
This analysis of the sources, abundance, and fate of gaseous atmospheric pollutants has considered three families of compounds - sulfurous, nitrogenous, and organic; and two inorganic carbon compounds - carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. With the exception of CO/sub 2/, we have followed similar patterns in our analyses of these…