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Start here

Filed under: — group @ 22 May 2007

[Note this is page is updated regularly. Please notify us of any dead links. Last update: 26 Jan 2020.]

We’re often asked to provide a one stop link for resources that people can use to get up to speed on the issue of climate change, and so here is a selection. Unlike our other postings, we’ll amend this as we discover or are pointed to new resources. Different people have different needs and so we will group resources according to the level people start at.

For complete beginners:

NCAR: Weather and climate basics
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: Climate basics
Wikipedia: Global Warming
NASA: Global Warming
National Academy of Science: America’s Climate Choices (2011)
Encyclopedia of Earth: Climate Change
Global Warming: Man or Myth? (Scott Mandia, SUNY Suffolk)
Open Learn: The Basics of Climate Prediction

There is a booklet on Climate Literacy from multiple agencies (NOAA, NSF, AAAS) available here (pdf).

The UK Govt. had a good site on The Science of Climate Change (archived).

The portal for climate and climate change of the ZAMG (Zentralaanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Vienna, Austria). (In German) (added Jan 2011).

Those with some knowledge:

The IPCC AR4 Frequently Asked Questions (here) are an excellent start. Updates to these questions were provided in the 5th Assessment report (pdf).

The UK Royal Society and US National Academies of Science produced a joint Q&A on climate change in 2014, and an update in 2017.

RealClimate: Start with our index.

Informed, but in need of more detail:

Science: You can’t do better than the IPCC reports themselves (AR5 2013, AR4 2007, TAR 2001). Also the Climate Science Special Report for the US National Climate Assessment.

History: Spencer Weart’s “Discovery of Global Warming” (AIP)

Informed, but seeking serious discussion of common contrarian talking points:

All of the below links have indexed debunks of most of the common points of confusion:

Please feel free to suggest other suitable resources, particularly in different languages, and we’ll try to keep this list up to date.

A Slovak translation is available here

Tłumaczenie na polski dostępne jest tutaj
A Bulgarian translation is available here (via Ivan Boreev).

293 Responses to “Start here”

  1. 1
    Paul Higgins says:

    Next, in my view, is what society chooses to do about the risks created by climate change. To help inform that discussion the American Meteorological Society initiated the project (

  2. 2
    Bill says:

    Great idea…

    Because so much of what we think may happen is based upon what we think has happened
    perhaps a pointer to PAGES might be helpful??


  3. 3
    Reasic says:

    I happen to be partial to :P

    Shameful plug, I know, but I had to do it. The window was opened. Thanks for the link, btw, guys.

  4. 4
    pat n says:

    I don’t see NOAA or NOAA’s NWS mentioned. Does anyone feel they have enough courage, moral obligation and know how to stand up to two generals and a Vice Admiral? – to see that they are held accountable for their wrong doing on global warming?

  5. 5
    Rod B says:

    At first glance it looks 100% biased/advocacy. I would have preferred all but one reference being that way to make it fair (though you certainly should not make it balanced.) But it looks pretty good and helpful; I’m looking forward to it. Good work (as usual).

    btw, while we all can sympathize with “pat n” (#3), I don’t think lynching belongs.

  6. 6
    Steve says:

    One thing I’ve been looking for but haven’t found yet is a recommended list of peer-reviewed papers – i.e. for someone who isn’t afraid of the science, which papers would you recommend reading to get an overall picture of where the research is at?

  7. 7
    Tony says:

    What I’ve been looking for is a site that actively debunks Steve McIntyre’s ClimateAudit site. I’ve noticed that climate scientists rarely link to him. On his site, he appears to make some very serious allegations about the integrity of the IPCC process, and is still engaged in fighting the hockey stick (and now, spaghetti) wars.

    Is there a definitive post somewhere that addresses his criticisms?

  8. 8
    S. Molnar says:

    How about some climate first principles (pdf)?

  9. 9
    Tony says:

    Hi, I don’t mean to turn this into yet another sceptic thread, but I’ve read in another site that there apparently are doubts about current models assuming that climate sensitivity is constant. (Do they indeed assume this?)

    Also, the individual asserts that control systems theory has not been properly addressed in the current models, and that some climate scientists who have properly accounted for this have doubts about the current models.

    I’m not a climate scientist, just an interested layperson, and I thought I’d seen all the sceptic arguments, but this is a new one for me. Would appreciate any reply. Thanks!

  10. 10

    Isn’t environmentalism the right thing to do regardless? On top of such a comprehensive listing of facts, I think we also need to broaden out the apeal.
    Basically, you really don’t even need to believe in global warming to want to live more efficiently, right? I mean, it’s the right thing to do for many other critical reasons. Apart from improving our health:

    Living more efficiently SAVES MONEY. Yeah, like you really need to twist my arm for that… To think how companies can save millions in just the efficient design of their office buildings. Economy cars can also save you like $16,000 in gas over the life of the car when figured at just $2.00 per gallon. Isn’t that worth it right there?

    It improves our national security. Oil could spike to $5.00 a gallon tomorrow if something happened in the Middle East or a hurricane hit Huston. If that happened, the economy and our security would be greatly weakened, Duh!

    Burning less fuel creates less smog, less air pollution, and less soil contamination. Go figure…

    Living more efficiently ultimately lowers our impact on wildlife and forest areas in the form of less acid rain, fewer catastrophic oil spills, and less strip mining.

    Finally, if we can become more energy self-sufficient on a very local level we become that much less vulnerable to region-wide disasters like Hurricanes or mass blackouts. In this regard, renewable energy, isn’t just good for the environment. It’s also the key to keeping the power on when everybody else is sitting in the dark.

    Overall, isn’t wastefulness and carelessness “morally” wrong? We have to expand our thinking to find solutions that address the broadest possible array of problems. Being able to work productively at home or in our own communities would, to me, be the most ‘cut-to-the-chase solution’ of them all as it would eliminate the need for a daily commute in the first place while giving us five more hours of free time during the week! It’s exactly what LA is trying to do to curb the extraordinary amount of traffic they have: create consolidated communities where people live, work, and have great recreational facilities nearby! Got to think that’s smart at some level, right?

  11. 11
    mankoff says:

    EdGCM! lets you run a climate model on your laptop.

  12. 12
    Hugh Curran says:

    These links for “complete beginners” and the site for the IPCC reports are great, as are the Realclimate Index. Although I was aware of a couple of the websites I wasn’t aware of all of them and will post them to my on-line class on ecology. A lot of students will be clicking on those links in the next few months.

  13. 13
    Balta says:

    A couple months ago I was looking for a really simple graph showing the ice core CO2 measurements with the modern day rise superimposed on it to show to a contrarian. An easy resource for any of the simple but powerful graphs that the science has produced (some of which simply don’t appear within the IPCC reports in a way that is presentable to the public) could be useful.

  14. 14
    Gareth says:

    Re #12: Balta

    You need Global Warming Art.

  15. 15
    Hank Roberts says:

    A list for nspiration and humor?
    (don’t miss the video there no matter what your politics)

  16. 16
    alex muller says:

    Hey I was wondering what anyone thought of this article: It’s kind of interesting and it makes you think about global warming from an economic standpoint. Do you think anyone in the United States government might be into this type of thing? How does stuff like this affect the energy crisis?

  17. 17
    E. Somanathan says:

    One thing which is confusing in all the commentary is the shifting baseline for temperature increases. The AR4 Summaries for Policy Makers from Working Groups 1, 2, and 3 sometimes use 1960-1990, sometimes 1980-99, and sometimes “pre-industrial”. Is there a place where one can see what the levels for these baselines are, so that translation is possible?

  18. 18
    John Mashey says:

    UK Met office, John Mitchell’s “Climate Change Myths” is a short one, but useful.

  19. 19
    Emile Arens says:

    Since everyone stumbles on a *wealth* of websites, any commentary on other more dubiuous websites would also be a good starter. Just to avoid confusion. Perhaps under a header like like “Wat not to visit”? Make sure you provide some hints as to why these sites are not that good.

    I recall vividly the comments the bloggers make in their inline responses when someone copies information from these dubious sites.

    Thanks for all the good science blogs and comments. This is a great site! I am amazed you guys find time to maintain this site. Did you invent a parallel universe? :-)

  20. 20

    Great infomative site! Just heard of the huge chunk of the artic that recently broke off..bloody scary!! Hey guys..australia has invented new solar cell technology called ‘sliver’ cells – 15x more efficient than the current ones and flexible too. In production within 18 months -2 years. What this means is that the avearage family house can be producing 30Kw+ at the same price as a normal 2Kw solar system. and it uses 99% less silicon than conventional ones as well! There are ways to reverse global warming..all it takes is people to be aware of their options and to apply the blowtorch to their respective governments. Just take a minute to think of all the possibilities that this new technology promises. Flexible–so the bonnet and hood of your car can be made of sliver cells and that will supply more than enough power to it’s electric motor for even the most blaze speed freak to raise a sweat over. It’s time to stop talking about what we are going to do and get in there and damn well DO-IT!!!! I know I am!! Hope this has been an inspiration.

  21. 21
    Juola (Joe) A. Haga says:

    Compend’s a good move, I think. Within the last few days I’ve read in news services of Dr. Mike Raupach ‘s and Dr. Pep Canadell’s report for the Aussie CSIRO Global Carbon Project that emissions have intensified and carbon-loading of the atmosphere has increased near or beyond IPCC worst-case scenarios. No Hank Roberts-style adept at net linkages, I google Steve Rintoul and other ocean-sniffers from time to time. Thank you for permitting me to gum crumbs from the high table.

  22. 22
    Dan says:

    re: 5. Science links are not “advocacy”. That should be clear by now.

  23. 23
    Fergus Brown says:

    A lot of the links are compiled here:
    The AR4 isn’t there yet, but the TAR is.
    Scepticism is also accounted for.

  24. 24
    danny bloom says:

    One issue that has not been adequately addressed yet is the possible need to start planning and designing and building model polar cities and towns now, in the event that they are needed in the distant future, when building materials and transport fuel will be scarce. Anybody thinking about this yet?

  25. 25
    Dennis says:

    Great post – thanks! One thing you could add to it and maintain over time would be a list of climate focused blogs. Many of us maintain links to other blogs with a climate change focus and this helps create community and spread awareness. Since you’ve got a good following and are well respected, maintaining a clearing house list of such blogs in this this post would be a great community service.

    Here’s a list of those I’m currently following via RSS. Many of these I list in my blog’s blogroll and some of them I am cross-linked with (and would be pleased to be cross-linked with all of them):

    Not all of these are single issue blogs but climate issues form a significant part of all of them.

    Best wishes,

  26. 26
    Mike Donald says:

    I find sourcewatch a goodun for finding out the background of sceptics.

  27. 27
    Andrew says:

    This is one of those pages that will be useful for years to come. You guys to great work on the site, thanks.

  28. 28
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Rod B., what would you suggest to make the suggestions “fair and balanced”? I personally don’t know of any “skeptical” websites that deal in actual science. I mean, would you suggest that a biology department offer a course on creationism just to be “fair and balanced”?
    I’m reminded of a scene from the play “Greater Tuna”, a very funny play that revolves around the only radio station in the town of Tuna, Texas. In one scene, the Station Manager is interviewing a “concerned citizen” who is advocating the removal of several books from the Library. One book that is subject to his wrath is “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. When asked why, he replies incredulously, “Why, it only presents one side of the slavery issue.” There are some issues that only have one side, and the science of climate change is such an issue.
    There is still room for legitimate debate about how bad things are going to get, although I think the IPCC has mostly been quite conservative in their analysis. There’s lots of room for debate about how we handle the issue. I have yet to hear anyone present a coherent case for the so-called skeptic’s point of view on the science. Have you?

  29. 29
    Craig Allen says:

    Re #20: Sliver cells solar panels:

    Lawrence, that is bloody amazing. I found a good blurb on it here. 5 to 7 years to recoup the cost of your solar panel instead of 20 as is the case with current solar voltaic products on offer! And they’ll be mass-produced and flooding the market within a couple years.

    That makes at least five new Australian kick-ass zero CO2 energy technologies that I know of that are all on the cusp of blitzing the energy market. Go Aussie!

    It would be good to have section in the new resources page that is devoted to solutions.

    Well done again RealClimate.

  30. 30
    FurryCatHerder says:

    Re #20 —

    Very unlikely. I recently priced 175 watt Solarworld panels that have a module efficiency of 24%. Being 15 times more efficient is just impossible …

    One thing I’d like to see for the “Okay, so maybe you are right, but we’ll die without our fossil fuels!” crowd is links to alternate energy and energy savings. I know I’ve got to be the official ‘alternate energy’ poster child these days, but there are people who might “do something” if they thought they could have their cake and eat it too.

  31. 31
    LochDhu says:

    A beginner’s page shouldn’t use anacronyms like IPCC, AR4 and TAR without saying what they mean like International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

  32. 32
    Anil Baysan says:

    If you wanna see the latest MELTDOWN live via SATELLITE CAMERA on NORTH POLE ; visit and connect to SatCam weather satellite.
    You will not believe your eyes.

  33. 33

    Great list of resources, thanks. Here’s another one, which I guess could go under “Informed, but in need of more detail” – here at we’re providing free updates on the latest research in climate change and other environmental change topics as well as on potential solutions such as renewable energy.

  34. 34
    Chris Squire says:

    The Royal Society [UK] has: Climate change controversies: a simple guide at: . New Scientist magazine has: Climate change: A guide for the perplexed at: . Grist has How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic at: . I particulalry like dthe entry explaining about the Vinland ‘grapes’. It is anecdotes like this which impress the non-scientists and make them think that perhaps the sceptics are on to something after all.

  35. 35
    NU says:

    Someone mentioned the EdGCM model you can download and run. Perhaps better for beginners is Ben Matthews’ Java climate module, which is interactive and lets you play around with various parameters in realtime.

    Also mentioned previously on this site is Kerry Emanuel’s Phaeton’s Reins, which is one of the best introductory essays on climate change I’ve read.

  36. 36
    Bill Morlan says:

    #24 is spot on…if we’re going to change hearts and minds (and harvest the resulting political will) of those currently interested but uninformed, let’s converse in a common language devoid of untranslated alphabetitus.

  37. 37

    #6 seems peculiar: “One thing I’ve been looking for but haven’t found yet is a recommended list of peer-reviewed papers – i.e. for someone who isn’t afraid of the science, which papers would you recommend reading to get an overall picture of where the research is at?”

    This is hard to understand. The IPCC reports fulfill exactly this purpose. They review the literature and provide references to it. You may follow up on just about any relevant current scientific issue from there.

    Links to IPCC reports are provided in the current RealClimate article.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    stuart says:

    mankoff, that link is already in the post as Coby Beck’s How to talk to Global Warming Skeptic

  40. 40
    Tim Jones says:

    Regarding #5, “btw, while we all can sympathize with “pat n” (#3),
    I don’t think lynching belongs.”

    How can confronting malfeasance in appointed office be construed
    as a “lynching?”
    NOAA and NWS have set back awareness of AGHG climate
    change for decades. These retiring administrators should
    be brought before Congress to explain to the American People
    why and how they have compromised the welfare of the nation,
    putting politics and job security before informing the population
    of impending catastrophes due to climate change.

    Pat was fired from the NWS for his insistence that the agency
    broach global warming as an issue. The wrong person was fired.
    Pat is the whistle blower. There should be an explanation. In the
    end I suspect there will be – and Pat will be recognized as a hero
    of the movement.

    These two articles:
    “Study: Worldwide carbon dioxide emissions soar.
    Warnings about global warming may not be dire enough,
    according to a climate study that describes a runaway-train
    acceleration of industrial carbon dioxide emissions.”

    “U.S. aims to stop G8’s tough push on global warming.
    The United States is battling to stop next month’s Group
    of Eight summit in Germany from pushing for urgent talks
    on a new deal to fight global warming after the Kyoto
    Protocol lapses in 2012.”

    …make me fear for the planet – at least the current millennium.

    What exactly _does_ belong?

  41. 41
    Greg Simpson says:

    australia has invented new solar cell technology called ‘sliver’ cells – 15x more efficient than the current ones and flexible too.

    Getting 15x the current 10% or more efficiency of silicon solar cells is, of course, impossible. This site claims 19% efficiency.

    I would guess the 15x number comes from using one fifteenth the silicon, although I can’t find that exact number anywhere.

  42. 42
    Thomas says:

    Well all this is, fine and dandy, preaching to the choir material. But you would be surprised just how effective the contrarian (so-called skeptic) rhetoric is – as applied to real world events (actual debates by scientists, actual debates in person or on the web, with, or between laypeople). I think the members/creators of this website can attest to that.

    See end on page 78 of transcript, as a testament to the truth of this:

    Also, many people I know, that are reasonable and intelligent, but not necessarily interested in the details of Global Warming were easily swayed by the Swindle Show (“The Great Global Warming Swindle”). Their comments were along the lines of: “very powerful” or “more controversial than I thought” or even “opened my eyes.” All that happened was a few of the usual suspects (the same handful of skeptics) were paraded about, more or less, they made they same tired old (or debunked) arguments, displayed a graph or few, and correlated environmental-ism, as an -ism, that is actual “junk science” that can hurt the impoverished world (like Africa, etc).

    I am a little confused and disheartened by the fact that – a few hands can be waved about, a few spurious arguments can be made, and one only needs say “it’s actually too complex a system and the debate over what is driving the Climate is still wide open to debate, at this time.” Why is the rhetoric of claiming it is more, or too, complex, and it is still wide open to debate – so effective?

  43. 43
    sal d says:

    i don’t know much about NOAA’s history on global warming, but they have some good info nowadays.

    Global warming FAQ’s:

    A Paleo Perspective on Global warming:

  44. 44
    Rod B says:

    Ray (28): Actually I said “fair” but explicitly said I was not looking for “balance”. I think it would be nice to have, say, one reference to the skeptical side (probably along with the links giving the opposite arguments), but balancing the two sides on RC would be silly.

    Actually, I do think an aspect of creationism (something along “intelligent design”, except the fundamentalists have co-opted that phrase — now I don’t know what to call it) should be taught, or at least mentioned — but probably in Physics, not Biology. Just like I think Fred Hoyle’s et al version of the “start” of the Universe ought to be mentioned along side the Big Bang theory. Just like I think meterology and climatics (neat new word?!) courses out to at least describe the skeptic side.

  45. 45
    tom says:

    Are there any links to sites with a differnt viewpoint?

  46. 46
    Rod B says:

    Tim, (40), call it what you may, but “confronting malfeasance ” is a lynching, albeit with a Committee instead of a rope. Your description of the situation with pat n, NOAA and NWS could be right on, and I do sympathize. I simply meant that the lynching (or confronting malfeasance, if you like) ought to be done with your Congressman or some such; it’s not RC’s job.

  47. 47
    David B. Benson says:

    Some prefer books. I recommend recommending

    W.F. Ruddiman
    Earth’s Climate: Past and Future

    for the complete beginners…

  48. 48
    odiyya says:

    A long overdue and much needed compendium. Thanks RealClimate!

  49. 49
    stuart says:

    A beginner’s page shouldn’t use anacronyms like IPCC, AR4 and TAR without saying what they mean like International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

    Those acronyms are not under the section ‘For complete beginners’, they are used in the section ‘Those with some knowledge’, which you would presume would be covered by any meaningful introduction to the topic (thats up to date).

  50. 50
    pat n says:

    Good points Tim. Nearly everyone in here has known for years that climate change is happening in the Upper Midwest. NOAA NWS supervisors told the public, for many years, that global warming wasn’t happening or was not a problem. They were ordered to tell national media during the summer flood of 1993 not to bring up global warming while doing national interviews. Would we be better off if NWS did make global warming an issue in 1993 and afterwards? I think so.