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.

In 2018, U.S. carbon emissions surged even as coal plants closed, rising by 3.4 percent just in that year alone, the biggest increase in eight years

Also in 2018, came the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report, a U.S. report written for the president every four years. This report focused heavily on climate change’s impact on the American economy. 

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 reports and papers referenced in this article appear in this CCR section.

That piece was almost immediately followed by Carbon Brief publishing a list of 2018 climate-change related papers most featured in the media. The infographic below shows which ones made it into the Top 10.


Global energy growth is outpacing decarbonization

Recent reports have highlighted the challenge of keeping global average temperatures below 2 °C and—even more so—1.5 °C (IPCC 2018). Fossil-fuel burning and cement production release ~90% of all CO2 emissions from human activities. After a three-year hiatus with stable global emissions (Jackson et al 2016; Le Quéré C et…

United Nations COP24

The 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference was the 24th Conference of the Parties( COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as the Katowice Climate Change Conference. It was held between 2 and 15 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland.

Climate Change in the American Mind: December 2018

“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.

Politics & Global Warming

Drawing on a nationally representative survey (N = 1,114; including 966 registered voters), this report describes how American registered voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — view global warming, personal and collective action, and climate policies.

Climate Concerns Increase; Most Republicans Now Acknowledge Change

An increasing number of Americans believe climate change is occurring, including a majority who now see this issue as a very serious problem, according to the latest Monmouth University Poll. Most Americans are optimistic that there is still time to prevent the worst effects of climate change and support taking…

The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown: tracking progress on health and climate change was established to provide an independent, global monitoring system dedicated to tracking the health dimensions of the impacts of, and the response to, climate change. The Lancet Countdown tracks 41 indicators across five domains: climate change impacts, exposures, and vulnerability; adaptation,…

2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment Report

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) deliver a report to Congress and the President no less than every four years that “1) integrates, evaluates, and interprets the findings of the Program…; 2) analyzes the effects of global change on the…

Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web

By Bradford C. Lister and Andres Garcia 10/30/18
Arthropods, invertebrates including insects that have external skeletons, are declining at an alarming rate. While the tropics harbor the majority of arthropod species, little is known about trends in their abundance. We compared arthropod biomass in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest with data taken during the 1970s and found that biomass…

Decreases in global beer supply due to extreme drought and heat

Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world by volume consumed, and yields of its main ingredient, barley, decline sharply in periods of extreme drought and heat. Although the frequency and severity of drought and heat extremes increase substantially in range of future climate scenarios by five Earth…

2018 IPCC: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. SUMMARY for POLICYMAKERS REPORT HERE and…

How Climate Change Will Impact Major Cities Across the U.S.

To understand how climate change will impact major cities across the United States, we gathered and analyzed available public data from Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN).

Emissions Gap Report 2018

Prof. Kevin Reed and Ph.D. Alyssa Stansfield 11/27/18
The goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change, as agreed at the Conference of the Parties in 2015, is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also calls for efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5…

The Human Influence on Hurricane Florence

Prof. Kevin Reed and Ph.D. Alyssa Stansfield 09/11/18
Prof. Kevin Reed and Ph.D. Alyssa Stansfield, along with colleagues at LBNL and NCAR, have for the first time used a climate model (CAM5) to produce near real-time experimental forecasts of Hurricane Florence to assess how much human induced climate change has altered the anticipated rainfall, intensity and size of…

Climate model shows large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara increase rain and vegetation

Energy generation by wind and solar farms could reduce carbon emissions and thus mitigate anthropogenic climate change. But is this its only benefit? Li et al. conducted experiments using a climate model to show that the installation of large-scale wind and solar power generation facilities in the Sahara could cause…

Global Climate Report

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v4) anomaly analysis as described in Huang et al. (2016). Temperature anomalies for land and…

Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers

By Francisco Sánchez-Bayo and Kris A.G.Wyckhuys 02/26/19
Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over…

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for The Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

This Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) analyzes the environmental impacts of fuel economy standards and reasonable alternative standards for model years 2021 to 2026 for passenger cars and light trucks. NHTSA has proposed these new or amended Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards under the Energy Policy and Conservation…

Macroscopic heat release in a molecular solar thermal energy storage system

The development of solar energy can potentially meet the growing requirements for a global energy system beyond fossil fuels, but necessitates new scalable technologies for solar energy storage. One approach is the development of energy storage systems based on molecular photoswitches, so-called molecular solar thermal energy storage (MOST).

Yale Climate Opinion Maps 2018

By Jennifer Marlon, Peter Howe 03/19/20
These maps show how Americans’ climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support vary at the state, congressional district, metro area, and county levels.

Quantifying excess deaths related to heatwaves under climate change scenarios: A multicountry time series modelling study

By Yuming Guo , Antonio Gasparrini, Shanshan Li , Francesco Sera, Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera, Micheline de Sousa Zanotti Stagliorio Coelho, Paulo Hilario Nascimento Saldiva, Eric Lavigne, Benjawan Tawatsupa, Kornwipa Punnasiri, Ala Overcenco, Patricia Matus Correa, Nicolas Valdes Ortega, Haidong Kan, Samuel Osorio, Jouni J. K. Jaakkola, Niilo R. I. Ryti, Patrick G. Goodman, Ariana Zeka, Paola Michelozzi, Matteo Scortichini, Masahiro Hashizume, Yasushi Honda, Xerxes Seposo, Ho Kim, Aurelio Tobias, Carmen Íñiguez, Bertil Forsberg, Daniel Oudin Åström, Yue Leon Guo, Bing-Yu Chen, Antonella Zanobetti, Joel Schwartz, Tran Ngoc Dang, Dung Do Van, Michelle L. Bell, Ben Armstrong, Kristie L. Ebi, Shilu Tong
The number of people dying from heat waves is likely to rise sharply in some regions by 2080 if policymakers fail to take mitigating steps in climate and health policies, according to the results of a study on Tuesday.

How big meat and dairy companies are heating up the planet

GRAIN and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) 07/18/18
A new report shows how the world’s 35 largest meat and dairy companies are pursuing growth strategies that will increase their emissions and derail global efforts to prevent dangerous climate change.

Arctic Report Card: Update for 2018

By Yuming Guo , Antonio Gasparrini, Shanshan Li , Francesco Sera, Ana Maria Vicedo-Cabrera, Micheline de Sousa Zanotti Stagliorio Coelho, Paulo Hilario Nascimento Saldiva, Eric Lavigne, Benjawan Tawatsupa, Kornwipa Punnasiri, Ala Overcenco, Patricia Matus Correa, Nicolas Valdes Ortega, Haidong Kan, Samuel Osorio, Jouni J. K. Jaakkola, Niilo R. I. Ryti, Patrick G. Goodman, Ariana Zeka, Paola Michelozzi, Matteo Scortichini, Masahiro Hashizume, Yasushi Honda, Xerxes Seposo, Ho Kim, Aurelio Tobias, Carmen Íñiguez, Bertil Forsberg, Daniel Oudin Åström, Yue Leon Guo, Bing-Yu Chen, Antonella Zanobetti, Joel Schwartz, Tran Ngoc Dang, Dung Do Van, Michelle L. Bell, Ben Armstrong, Kristie L. Ebi, Shilu Tong
Continued warming of the Arctic atmosphere and ocean are driving broad change in the environmental system in predicted and, also, unexpected ways. New emerging threats are taking form and highlighting the level of uncertainty in the breadth of environmental change that is to come. Previous Arctic Report Cards here

Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017,…

Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene

In July, 2018, group of scientists published “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene,” exploring the risk that climate feedbacks could lead to runaway heating and a “Hothouse Earth.” Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, and Katherine Richardson — from the Universities of Stockholm, Australia, and Copenhagen, with colleagues from Stanford,…

Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers

By J. Poore & T. Nemecek 06/01/18
Food is produced and processed by millions of farmers and intermediaries globally, with substantial associated environmental costs. Given the heterogeneity of producers, what is the best way to reduce food's environmental impacts? Poore and Nemecek consolidated data on the multiple environmental impacts of ∼38,000 farms producing 40 different agricultural goods…

Global Food Security: How much of the world’s food do smallholders produce?

The widely reported claim that smallholders produce 70–80% of the world’s food has been a linchpin of agricultural development policy despite limited empirical evidence. Recent empirical attempts to reinvestigate this number have lacked raw data on how much food smallholders produce, and have relied on model assumptions with unknown biases…

The carbon footprint of global tourism

Tourism contributes significantly to global gross domestic product, and is forecast to grow at an annual 4%, thus outpacing many other economic sectors. However, global carbon emissions related to tourism are currently not well quantified. Here, we quantify tourism-related global carbon flows between 160 countries, and their carbon footprints under…

Climate Change Cause Area Report

Climate change is an unprecedented problem requiring unprecedented global cooperation. However, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have failed thus far. This report discusses the science, politics, and economics of climate change, and what philanthropists can do to help improve progress on tackling climate change.

Global warming transforms coral reef assemblages

The paper warns that corals on the Great Barrier Reef began to die immediately in the aftermath of the record-breaking marine heat-wave in 2016.

Climate change and health

Over the last 50 years, human activities – particularly the burning of fossil fuels – have released sufficient quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to trap additional heat in the lower atmosphere and affect the global climate. In the last 130 years, the world has warmed by approximately…

Spatial and temporal patterns of mass bleaching of corals in the Anthropocene

Coral bleaching occurs when stressful conditions result in the expulsion of the algal partner from the coral. Before anthropogenic climate warming, such events were relatively rare, allowing for recovery of the reef between events. Hughes et al. looked at 100 reefs globally and found that the average interval between bleaching…

Carbon Omission: How the U.S. Media Underreported Climate Change in 2017

The proportion of pieces that mentioned climate change in climate-relevant contexts was decidedly low. There was no topic that media connected to climate change in more than 33 percent of pieces. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that high-water mark comes from articles discussing record heat.1 From there, the numbers drop off steeply. Some…

The Dangers of Industrial Ocean Fish Farming

The seafood business is booming. It comprises over 16% of the protein we eat worldwide, the majority of which is farmed. In the last 30 years, global fish farm production increased from 5 million to 63 million tons. Aquaculture recently surpassed global beef production, and by 2030, it is projected…

State of the Climate in 2018

An international, peer-reviewed publication released each summer, the State of the Climate is the authoritative annual summary of the global climate published as a supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

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…