Global Heating: A scientific primer

There is compelling evidence for human-caused climate change, principally due to the production and release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The associated heating is accelerating the loss of species, ecosystems and biodiversity, increasing fire risk and will cause substantial future mortality and economic damage. Although the public increasingly accept the science and importance of climate change, there remains substantial inertia regarding effective policy and action.

This document briefly reviews the physics and peer-reviewed science of anthropogenic climate change – with a focus on fire risk – for those wishing closer familiarity with the peer reviewed literature.

Sources used in the following sections include scientific peer-reviewed research papers [papers], reports and briefing to the Australian federal government [reports], third-party scientific websites [sites] and where relevant to specific instances, [media] reports.

  1. Climate change; the Australian context
  2. Is the climate changing?
  3. Is it due to human activity?
  4. Is it “normal variation”?
  5. Climate change and bushfires
  6. Impact of climate change on economic activity and human mortality
  7. Action to arrest further climate change
  8. What is not causing climate change
  9. Source material

For full report, please click here: Climate-v5.docx or Climate-v5.pdf




Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

Attribution of the Influence of Human‐Induced Climate Change on an Extreme Fire Season

No evidence for globally coherent warm and cold periods over the preindustrial Common Era

State of the Climate in 2018  (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society)

Independent confirmation of global land warming without the use of station temperatures

Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades

Global reconstruction of historical ocean heat storage and transport

A probabilistic analysis of human influence on recent record global mean temperature changes

Man-made carbon-dioxide and the “Greenhouse effect”

Climate impact of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide

Global climate change as forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies three dimensional model

Twentieth century temperature trends in CMIP3, CMIP5, and CESM-LE climate simulations: Spatial-temporal uncertainties, differences, and their potential sources

Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis

Observational constraints on mixed-phase clouds imply higher climate sensitivity

Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

Humans are driving one million species to extinction

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas

Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers

The projected effect on insects, vertebrates, and plants of limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C

Patterns and causes of extinction and decline in Australian conilurine rodents

Forecasting wildlife die‐offs from extreme heat events

Climate change and the effects of temperature extremes on Australian flying-foxes

Drought-driven change in wildlife distribution and numbers: a case study of koalas in south west Queensland

Darcy’s law predicts widespread forest mortality under climate warming

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

A new, high-resolution global mass coral bleaching database

Global warming transforms coral reef assemblages

Warming Trends and Bleaching Stress of the World’s Coral Reefs 1985–2012

Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals

Longer and more frequent marine heatwaves over the past century

The unprecedented 2015/16 Tasman Sea marine heatwave

Disease epidemic and a marine heat wave are associated with the continental-scale collapse of a pivotal predator

Marine Heat Waves Hazard 3D Maps and the Risk for Low Motility Organisms in a Warming Mediterranean Sea

Local Extinction of Bull Kelp (Durvillaea spp.) Due to a Marine Heatwave

Climate Impact on Plankton Ecosystems in the Northeast Atlantic

Extreme mortality and reproductive failure of common murres resulting from the northeast Pacific marine heatwave of 2014-2016

Biogeochemical Controls and Feedbacks on Ocean Primary Production

Climate-induced variations in global wildfire danger from 1979 to 2013

Observed Impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Wildfire in California

Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity

Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

Attribution of the Influence of Human‐Induced Climate Change on an Extreme Fire Season

Climate change and disruptions to global fire activity

Future changes in extreme weather and pyroconvection risk factors for Australian wildfires

Climate Change Increases the Potential for Extreme Wildfires

Low genetic variability of the koala Phascolarctos cinereus in south‐eastern Australia following a severe population bottleneck

As fires rage across Australia, fears grow for rare species

Use of expert knowledge to elicit population trends for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)

Climate and human influences on global biomass burning over the past two millennia

A human-driven decline in global burned area

Spatial and temporal patterns of global burned area in response to anthropogenic and environmental factors: Reconstructing global fire history for the 20th and early 21st centuries

The Interaction of Fire, Fuels, and Climate across Rocky Mountain Forests 

A review of prescribed burning effectiveness in fire hazard reduction

Fire, Global Warming, and the Carbon Balance of Boreal Forests

Reductions in labour capacity from heat stress under climate warming

Global non-linear effect of temperature on economic production

Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States

The 2019 Report of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change.

Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia

Anomalously warm temperatures are associated with increased injury deaths

Climate Econometrics

Valuing the Global Mortality Consequences of Climate Change Accounting for Adaptation Costs and Benefits

How Large are Global Energy Subsidies

Climate warming will not decrease winter mortality

The Structure of Economic Modeling of the Potential Impacts of Climate Change: Grafting Gross Underestimation of Risk onto Already Narrow Science Models

Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against

Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being

Meeting the world’s energy needs entirely with wind, water, and solar power

Roadmaps to Transition Countries to 100% Clean, Renewable Energy for All Purposes to Curtail Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Risk

Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials

Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II: Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies

Meeting the world’s energy needs entirely with wind, water, and solar power

Understanding future emissions from low-carbon power systems by integration of life-cycle assessment and integrated energy modelling

Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: low-carbon electricity generation

Co-benefits of mitigating global greenhouse gas emissions for future air quality and human health

Eastern Europe’s forest cover dynamics from 1985 to 2012 quantified from the full Landsat archive

The global tree restoration potential

Changes in potential wildland fire suppression costs due to restoration treatments in Northern Arizona Ponderosa pine forests

Wildlife decline and social conflict

Negative emissions—Part 1: Research landscape and synthesis


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I'm a psychiatrist and professor of neuroscience with about 200 peer-reviewed publications. I studied medicine at the University of Sydney but I also enrolled in an Arts degree and studied mathematics in parallel (I also did some history and philosophy). I hence did four years of formal undergraduate mathematics (the fourth, honours year was at the University of California on an exchange program) together with medicine. Following university, I did a PhD in computational neuroscience (including some post-graduate mathematics in the UK) and then a post-doctoral fellowship in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. I graduated with a BA (hons), BSc (hon), MB BS, PhD and a Fellowship from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP). I am currently the Global Professor of Systems Neuroscience at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. I also work part-time in private clinical psychiatry

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