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The Discovery of Global Warming            January 2020

Where to Find Other Information

For basic facts online try the "START HERE" page maintained by climate scientists. A few good general books are listed below, followed by a list of historical accounts.

A comprehensive review of scientific understanding as of ca. 2012 is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2013 reports (and other, specialized reports). For the physics with equations there is no shortcut; you cannot calculate anything correctly without studying the full problem as laid out in textbooks (see below)... a free online course is offered by the University of Chicago.

Links to basic information, news and reports online:

  • RealClimate's start here page is indeed a good place to start.
  • Another good set of resources, from
  • The National Academy of Sciences offers a multi-media presentation and a good booklet (read online or get a pdf).
  • The US Global Change Research Program offers many resources, including the national climate assessment reviewing what's happened and will happen in the USA.
  • The NASA climate site has many resources, including sections for kids and educators.
  • NOAA's is useful even though parts were removed by the Republican administration in 2017. The Environmental Protection Agency site also retains some material including a student's guide, and some pages removed from the site were preserved by volunteers on a rescue site. Resources for teachers at
  • Wikipedia's global warming pages have much information with frequent updates, mostly reliable if not well organized.
  • livescience global warming news; Climate Central and Climate Depot news and information; environmenalt news in the New York Times and The Guardian; the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication; a list of news links.
  • Climate Portal is a huge links compilation — articles, videos, materials for kids and teachers, music and art, whatever.
  • Illustrations: photos and diagrams, historical and contemporary.
  • If you want to really study it all, see the meticulously assembled IPCC reports. The National Academy Press also has key reports online (search on "climate").

    Links to discussion and action online

  • John Cook and Stephan Lewandosky, The Debunking Handbook, how to argue against those who deny there's a problem.
  • (run by climate scientists),, and are well-regarded blogs that discuss real scientific work as well as controversies.
  • Did global warming make that hurricane or heat wave worse? Scientists answer at WorldWeatherAttribution.
  • The industry-funded Cooler Heads Coalition, the billionaire-supported CO2 Coalition, and Anthony Watts's blog argue against taking action to restrict fossil fuel emissions and attack the credibility of consensus climate science.
  • Skeptic Arguments and What the Science Says; How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic; Responses to Common Contrarian Arguments. For expert advice on convincing people see The Consensus Handbook (pdf).
  • The World Resources Institute (mainstream environmentalism) has reports, including matters of business interest. The Pew Center on Climate Change offers news and policy-related reports, and the World Bank on economic dimensions. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions and the Solutions Project address the energy supply problem.
  • is coordinating a global climate movement with marches, political campaigns, etc. The WWF, Greenpeace, Environmental Defense, and the National Resources Defense Council also have basic climate change information and arguments, news, and programs for action.

  • You can reduce your greenhouse emissions! See organizations linked immediately above and The US Environmental Protection Agency's suggestions, deleted in 2017 by the Trump administration, have been preserved here. But reducing your personal greenhouse emissions is no substitute for political action to attack the problem globally. See my Personal Note, particularly this footnote.
  • You can contribute to climate science! Put your computer's idle time to good use by joining the team at Or help recover vital historical weather data, for example from ships' logs, see this post.

    Some other useful Websites: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Union of Concerned Scientists' Hotmap of impacts.The European Commission climate site from the European Union. co2now tracks the level and more. Photo documentation. Scientists attributing weather events to climate change.

    Ten recommended books:    BACK TO TOP

  • Elizabeth Kolbert, 2010. Field Notes from a Catastrophe. New York: Bloomsbury.
        Outstanding account by a journalist
  • Kerry Emanuel, 2012 (2nd ed.). What We Know About Climate Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
         A 96-page summary, hand it to the undecided or skeptical.
  • John Houghton, 2015 (5th ed.) Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
         The leading science textbook, reliable and comprehensive (456 pp.) ...for a more advanced technical overview: Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, 2011. Principles of Planetary Climate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Robert Henson, 2014 The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change. Boston: American Meteorological Society.
         Many kinds of information on the issues. Replaces his Rough Guide.
  • Al Gore, 2009. Our Choice. A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
         Technology, economics, psychology... what experts say about solutions.
  • Joseph Romm, 2015. Climate Change: What Everyone Needs to Know.
    New York: Oxford University Press.
         Well-written survey in Q&A format, emphasizing practical matters.
  • Dale Jamieson, 2014. Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed — and What It Means for Our Future. New York: Oxford University Press.
         A philosopher's analysis of the economics, ethics, policy, etc.
  • Mark Lynas, 2008. Six Degrees. Our Future on a Hotter Planet. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
         Careful survey of the impacts expected at different levels of warming.
  • DavidWallace-Wells, 2019. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming. New York: Crown-Tim Duggan.
       The worst-case scenario if we continue on the present trajectory.
  • Spencer R. Weart, 2008. The Discovery of Global Warming. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press (second edition, translations into six languages).
         The much shorter narrative version of this history website -
    more info here.

    For the history, some publications by climate scientists and other scholars:
    ... pioneering histories by participants:

  • Handel, Mark David, and James S. Risbey. 1992. "An Annotated [Historical] Bibliography on the Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change." Climatic Change 21: 97-255.
  • Jones, M.D.H., and A. Henderson-Sellers. 1990. "History of the Greenhouse Effect." Progress in Physical Geography 14: 1-18.
  • Kellogg, William W. 1987. "Mankind's Impact on Climate: The Evolution of an Awareness." Climatic Change 10: 113-36.
  • Revelle, Roger (1985). “Introduction: The Scientific History of Carbon Dioxide,” in The Carbon Cycle and Atmospheric CO2: Natural Variations Archean to Present (Geophysical Monograph 32), edited by E. T. Sundquist and Wallace S. Broecker, pp. 1-4. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union.
  • ... later work:

  • Alley, Richard B. 2000. The Two-Mile Time Machine. Princeton University Press.
  • Archer, David, and Raymond T. Pierrehumbert (Eds.) 2011. The Warming Papers: The Scientific Foundation for the Climate Change Forecast. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Bolin, Bert. 2007. A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change. The Role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bowen, Mark. 2005. Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains. New York: Henry Holt.
  • Boykoff, Maxwell T. 2011. Who Speaks for the Climate? Making Sense of Media Reporting on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Broecker, Wallace S., and Robert Kunzig. 2008. Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat and How to Counter It. New York: Hill and Wang. (Including history of Broecker's research.)
  • Christianson, Gale E. 1999. Greenhouse: The 200-year Story of Global Warming. New York: Walker.
  • Crawford, Elisabeth. 1996. Arrhenius: From Ionic Theory to the Greenhouse Effect. Canton, MA: Watson Publishing - Science History.
  • Dansgaard, Willi. 2004. Frozen Annals. Greenland Ice Sheet Research. Copenhagen: Dept. of Geophysics of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.
  • Dalmedico, Amy Dahan. 2007. "Models and Simulations in Climate Change. Historical, Epistemological, Anthropological and Political Aspects." In Science without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives, edited by Angela N. H. Creager, Elizabeth Lunbeck and M. Norton Wise. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Edwards, Paul N. 2000. "A Brief History of Atmospheric General Circulation Modeling." In General Circulation Model Development, edited by D. A. Randall. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Edwards, Paul N. 2010. A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Fleagle, Robert G. 1992. "From the International Geophysical Year to Global Change." Reviews of Geophysics 30: 305-13.
  • Fleming, James R. 1998. Historical Perspectives on Climate Change. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Fleming, James R., ed. 1996. Historical Essays on Meteorology 1919-1995. Boston: American Meteorological Society.
  • Fleming, James R., ed. Classic papers on global warming online (PALE).
  • Fleming, James R. 2007. The Callendar Effect. The Life and Work of Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964), the Scientist Who Established the Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change. Boston, MA: American Meteorological Society.
  • Fleming, James R. 2010. Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Fleming, James R. 2016. Inventing Atmospheric Science: Bjerknes, Rossby, Wexler, and the Foundations of Modern Meteorology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Gelbspan, Ross.1997; 2004. The Heat Is On. The High Stakes Battle over Earth's Threatened Climate. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997; Boiling Point. How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis — and What You Can Do to Avert Disaster. New York: Basic, 2004.
  • Hansen, James. 2009. Storms of My Grandchildren. The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity. New York: Bloomsbury USA.
  • Hecht, Alan D. 2014. "Past, Present and Future: Urgency of Dealing with Climate Change." Atmospheric and Climate Sciences 4: 779-795.
  • Heyman, Matthias, Gabriele Gramelsberger, & Martin Mahony, eds. 2017. Cultures of Prediction in Atmospheric and Climate Science: Epistemic and Cultural Shifts in Computer-based Modelling and Simulation. London & New York: Routledge.
  • Howe, Joshua P. 2014. Behind the Curve. Science and the Politics of Global Warming. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • Imbrie, John, and Katherine Palmer Imbrie. 1986. Ice Ages: Solving the Mystery. Rev. Ed. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Jones, M.D.H., and A. Henderson-Sellers. 1990. "History of the Greenhouse Effect." Progress in Physical Geography 14: 1-18. (Pioneering short account.)
  • Le Treut, H., et al. 2007. "Historical Overview of Climate Change Science." In Climate Change 2007: The Physical Basis of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, edited by Susan Solomon et al., pp. 93-127. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press (online at the IPCC site)
  • Lynch, Peter. 2006. The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction: Richardson's Dream. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mann, Michael. 2014. The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. New York: Columbia University Press, rev. ed.
  • Mayewski, Paul A., and Frank White. 2002. The Ice Chronicles: The Quest to Understand Global Climate Change. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.
  • Miller, Clark A., and Paul N. Edwards, eds. 2001. "Changing the Atmosphere. Expert Knowledge and Environmental Governance." Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Mooney, Chris. 2007. Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming. New York: Harcourt.
  • Nebeker, Frederik. 1995. Calculating the Weather: Meteorology in the 20th Century. New York: Academic Press.
  • Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik Conway. 2008."Challenging Knowledge: How Climate Science Became a Victim of the Cold War." In Agnotology: The Cultural Production of Ignorance, edited by Proctor, Robert, and Londa Schiebinger, Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Oreskes, Naomi, and Erik M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • O'Riordan, Tim, and Jill Jäger. 1996. "The History of Climate Change Science and Politics." In Politics of Climate Change: A European Perspective, edited by T. O'Riordan and J. Jäger. London: Routledge.
  • Powell, James Lawrence. 2015. Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences. From Heresy to Truth. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Peterson, Thomas C., et al. 2008. "The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus." Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89: 1325-37.
  • Pooley, Eric. 2010. The Climate War. True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth. New York: Hyperion.
  • Rodhe, Henning, and Robert Charlson, eds. 1998. The Legacy of Svante Arrhenius. Understanding the Greenhouse Effect. Stockholm: Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
  • Schneider, Stephen H., and Randi Londer. 1984. The Co-evolution of Climate and Life. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.
  • Schneider, Stephen H. 2009. Science as a Contact Sport. Inside the Battle to Save the Earth's Climate. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
  • Sörlin, Sverker, and Melissa Lane, 2018. “Historicizing Climate Change—Engaging New Approaches to Climate and History (Special Issue on Climate Change in History and Politics ). Climatic Change 151, Issue 1.
  • Stevens, William K. 1999. The Change in the Weather: People, Weather and the Science of Climate. New York: Delacorte Press.
  • Victor, David G. 2001. The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the Struggle to Slow Global Warming. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Weart, Spencer R. 2008. The Discovery of Global Warming. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2nd ed. - more info here.

    copyright© 2003-2020 Spencer Weart & American Institute of Physics

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