Published on Apr 29, 2012 by oita06
In the 1970s the world seemed to be falling apart. From acid rain to overpopulation, ecological concerns were at the fore. And it was at this time that climate change first became a hot political issue. But it wasn't global warming that frightened scientists, it was the complete opposite: a new ice age.
Dr Iain Stewart traces the history of climate change from its very beginning and examines just how the scientific community managed to get it so very wrong back in the Seventies. Along the way he uncovers some of the great unsung heroes of climate change science, and introduces us to a secret organisation of American government scientists, known as Jason, who wrote the first official report on global warming as far back as 1979.
He shows how - by the late 1980s - global warming had already become a serious political issue. It looked as if the world was uniting to take action. But it turned out to be a false dawn - in the 1990s global warming would be transformed into one of the biggest scientific controversies of our age.
Having explained the science behind global warming, and addressed the arguments of the climate change sceptics earlier in the series, in this third and final part Dr Iain Stewart looks at the biggest challenge now facing climate scientists. Just how can they predict exactly what changes global warming will bring?
It's a journey that takes him from early attempts to model the climate system with dishpans, to supercomputers, and to the frontline of climate research today: Greenland. Most worryingly, he discovers that scientists are becoming increasingly concerned that their models are actually underestimating the speed of changes already under way.