The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change

The Greenhouse Effect is the physical process by which CO2, water vapour, methane, and certain other gases in the atmosphere warm the earth. This has been the subject of research for more than 150 years, and is now well understood, and agreed upon by the overwhelming majority of the world’s climate scientists. Climate Change is the practical consequences of the Greenhouse Effect, here and now.

Information about the Greenhouse Effect

To understand the greenhouse effect, try simple explanations first!

There’s a good explanation with helpful diagrams at The Links Page at the American Institute of Physics has links to other accounts, at different levels of sophistication.

Although the basic idea of the greenhouse effect is not hard to grasp, there are some subtleties, and until the 1960s, mainstream meteorologists believed that it would not lead to global warming. The historical account we recommend below helps to see how there could be once have been opposing views on the science.

Learn about the science by seeing how it developed

The American Institute of Physics, AIP, has a website called The Discovery of Global Warming. Its Contents Page has links to the basic science, and to the rest of the website. But we think its most interesting contribution is its historical account. Because history is a human story, it is sometimes easier to take in the science as you read about how it developed. Give it a try! There are links from there to other more detailed accounts, with lots about the surprisingly complex science involved. But be careful not to confuse the AIP with the API, the American Petroleum Institute, one of the world leaders in climate disinformation.

Information about Climate Change

The IPCC and UNEP produce periodic reports — see our page on Governmental Organisations.

For more agile and easily accessible information, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA is hard to beat. Their website at has explanations of climate science, and data on all sorts of climate measurements — CO2 concentrations, temperatures, sea ice, etc etc.

Climate Action Tracker tracks government climate action and measures it against the globally agreed Paris Agreement aim of “holding warming well below 2°C, and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.” CAT quantifies and evaluates climate change mitigation commitments, and assesses whether countries are on track to meeting them. The world map on their homepage shows CAT’s classification of the mitigation commitments, ranging from ‘critically insufficient’ (the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Ukraine and Argentina) to ‘1.5 degrees compatible’ (Morocco). A few other countries are ‘2 degrees compatible’, notably Costa Rica, the birthplace of the chief organiser of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, Christiana Figueres. The UK government’s current 2030 target of a 57% reduction in GHG emissions below 1990 levels is rated as ‘Insufficient’, as is the existing EU target under the Paris Agreement.

What would you find most helpful here? Tell us what kind of information you would like to see. Suggestions for links to other website would be welcomed. Send your ideas, requests and comments to

The Climate Race Film

This film exposes the assumptions about the development of new technology that lie at the heart of all governments’ plans to avoid climate breakdown. With contributions from experts and change makers, it tells how humanity can rise to the challenge, and ensure a flourishing future. View on website

Talk by Sir David King

For an update on current predictions and prospects, see the talk by Sir David King, former Chief Government Scientific Adviser, given as the annual Peace Talk for Coventry’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, on November 12 2020.

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