The scientific method and climate change

How scientists know

By Holly Shaftel, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a June 1, 2018 article

keelingcurve imageOnline  —  The scientific method is the gold standard for exploring our natural world.

You might have learned about it in grade school, but here’s a quick reminder: It’s the process that scientists use to understand everything from animal behavior to the forces that shape our planet—including climate change.

The way science works is that I go out and study something, and maybe I collect data or write equations, or I run a big computer program,” said Josh Willis, principal investigator of NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission and oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “And I use it to learn something about how the world works.

Using the scientific method, scientists have shown that humans are extremely likely the dominant cause of today’s climate change.

The story goes back to the late 1800s, but in 1958, for example, Charles Keeling of the Mauna Loa Observatory in Waimea, Hawaii, started taking meticulous measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, showing the first significant evidence of rapidly rising CO2 levels and producing the Keeling Curve climate scientists know today.

Since then, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers have come to the same conclusion about climate change, telling us that human activities emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, raising Earth’s average temperature and bringing a range of consequences to our ecosystems.

The weight of all of this information taken together points to the single consistent fact that humans and our activity are warming the planet,” Willis said.

Read the complete article on the NASA website at