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Global Climate Change DigestArchives of the
Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999



Item #d97oct1

"A Comprehensive Approach to Climate Change: Political and Scientific Considerations," T. Skodvin (Ctr. for Intl. Clim. & Environ. Res.--CICERO, Univ. Oslo, POB 1129 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway; e-mail:, J.S. Fugelstvedt,Ambio, 26(6), 351-358, Sep. 1997.

The comprehensive nature of the climate convention, which addresses the treatment of all important greenhouse gases, hinges on the proper comparison of the greenhouse warming impacts of the different gases. This paper discusses the scientific and political considerations involved, and proposes an operational definition of comprehensiveness. The concept of Global Warming Potential, commonly used to compare greenhouse gas impacts, has serious shortcomings but is a useful preliminary tool pending better approaches. A major challenge facing policy makers is choosing an appropriate time horizon, a trans-scientific problem with significant ecological and political implications.

Item #d97oct2

Two related papers in Nature, 389(6646), Sep. 4, 1997:

"Abrupt Mid-Twentieth-Century Decline in Antarctic Sea-Ice Extent from Whaling Records," W.K. de al Mare (Australian Antarctic Div., Dept. Environ., Channel Hwy., Kingston, Tasmania 7050, Australia; e-mail:, 57-60. A decline in the extent of Antarctic sea ice is a commonly predicted effect of a warming climate, but evidence based on available data has been inconclusive. This paper reports an overlooked data source, whaling records collected from 1931 to 1987, which indicates a decline of 25% in the area covered by sea ice between the mid 1950s and the early 1970s. This abrupt change poses a challenge to model simulations of recent climate change, and could imply changes in Antarctic deep-water formation and in biological productivity, both important processes affecting atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

"Icy Message from the Antarctic," E. Murphy (Marine Life Sci. Div., British Antarctic Survey, NERC, Madingly Rd., Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK), J. King, 20-21. Comments on the previous paper, and how it highlights concern over mechanisms involved in generating variation and potentially rapid change in the Southern Ocean, an example of the "unpleasant surprises in the greenhouse" heralded by Broecker (1987).

Item #d97oct3

Two related papers in Science, 277(5334), Sep. 26, 1997:

"Total Solar Irradiance Trend During Solar Cycles 21 and 22," R.C. Wilson (Ctr. for Clim. Systems Res., Columbia Univ., 2845 Windfall Ave., Altadena CA 91001; e-mail:, 1963-1965. Satellite-based instruments show an upward trend in total solar irradiance (TSI), a measure of the climate-driving radiative energy from the sun, of 0.036% per decade between the minima of the last two solar cycles. Trends in TSI near this rate have been implicated as causal factors in climate change on century to millennial time scales. This TSI trend could produce a warming of about 0.4K in 100 years, compared to the range of 1.5 to 4.5K estimated by the IPCC.

"Did Satellites Spot a Brightening Sun?" R.A. Kerr, 1923-1924. Some analyses of the same data support the striking conclusion of the previous paper, but others do not. Researchers will have to wait at least another decade before deciphering the sun's role in global change.

Item #d97oct4

"A Winning Coalition of Advocacy: Climate Research, Bureaucracy, and 'Alternative' Fuels: Who is Driving Climate Change Policy?" S. Boehmer-Christiansen (Res. Inst. for Environ. Sci. & Mgmt., Univ. Hull, Hull HU5 7RX, UK; e-mail:,Energy Policy, 25(4), 439-444, Mar. 1997.

Based on research supported since 1988 by the British Economic and Social Research Council. Argues that policy proposals to mitigate global warming are favored by three powerful lobbies: certain scientific institutions; energy corporations which stand to gain by restricting the use of high-carbon fuels like coal; and numerous interlocking bureaucracies. Critically examines the scientific consensus that underlies the climate treaty, finding that support for emission abatement policies is better explained by diplomatic interest in the globalization of energy-related investments and trade, than by an understood causality between global warming and fossil fuel combustion.

Item #d97oct5

"The Greenhouse Effect: An Interdisciplinary Perspective," M. Nissani (Interdisciplinary Studies, CLL, Wayne State Univ., Detroit MI 48202),Population & Environ., 17(6), 459-490, July 1996.

This review is described by the author as an "accessible, factual, holistic, and self-contained portrayal of the greenhouse effect" for concerned scholars and citizens. Examines the scientific background, and the risks involved in ignoring climate change. Shows that steps to eliminate the greenhouse threat are clearly justified.

Item #d97oct6

"Economic Growth in South East Asia and Its Consequences for the Environment," A. Michaelowa (Hamburg Inst. for Econ. Res. [HWWA], Neuer Jungfernstieg 21, 20347 Hamburg, Ger.; e-mail:, Intereconomics, No. 6, 307-312, 1996.

The South East Asian countries are starting to realize that environmental protection is not an unnecessary luxury. Nevertheless, authoritarian regimes inhibit public accountability and favor interest groups from industry and forestry. Even if these conditions change with future democratization, income and production growth will present enormous environmental challenges, especially for global concerns such as climate change and destruction of biodiversity.

Item #d97oct7

"Fragmenting Uncertainties: Some British Business Responses to Stratospheric Ozone Depletion," M. Purvis (Sch. Geog., Univ. Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK), F. Drake et al.,Global Environ. Change, 7(2), 93-111, July 1997.

Uses interviews of key business personnel to examine the impact of uncertainties (environmental, regulatory and commercial) on the financial viability of businesses affected by concern over stratospheric ozone depletion. Some businesses claimed difficulties in developing a strategic response to uncertain science. Also explores the ways in which attempted regulatory and technical resolution of environmental problems may create new difficulties for business.

Item #d97oct8

"A Look Behind Trend Data in Industrialization: The Role of Transnational Corporations and Environmental Impacts," M. Mason (ESIG, NCAR, POB 3000, Boulder CO 80307),Global Environ. Change, 7(2), 113-127, July 1997.

Presents an overview of the growing role of transnational corporations (TNCs) in the global system of production and environmental impacts of industrialization, and examines the processes within industrialization that are obscured by trend data. Discusses how such knowledge may aid the formulation of policies associated with industrialization, such as greenhouse gas emissions and national accountability.

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