Michael Oppenheimer and I have an overview of the science of climate change in the new Children and Climate Change issue of the open-access Princeton-Brookings journal The Future of Children :
A defining theme of this article is the need to balance high uncertainty in some areas with relative certainty in others. As we will show, we now have overwhelming evidence that human emission of greenhouse gases has already begun to change the climate and that it will continue to do so unless emissions are halted; hence we call this climate change anthropogenic, from the Greek for human influenced. Moreover, ample evidence indicates that we can expect many changes in the weather and the climate that will fall outside the range of human experience. Unless we reduce emissions drastically, those changes are expected to have pervasive impacts worldwide, including, in some cases, the destabilization or destruction of ecological and social systems. Thus the costs of inaction are high. At the same time, enormous uncertainty surrounds any forecast of specific outcomes of climate change. Which regions will be affected and in what ways, how quickly changes will occur, and how humans will respond are all impossible to know with certainty, given the complex natural and social forces involved. From a risk management perspective, the possibility of extremely negative outcomes means climate change has much in common with other large-scale global threats such as conflict between nuclear powers, wherein the potential for highly undesirable and irreversible outcomes is real but very difficult to predict with precision.We tried to provide an overview of the physical science of climate change suitable for non-specialists and policymakers concerned with children's well being, in particular highlighting what we can expect to be major impacts on children's livelihoods given the current state of the climatological and empirical climate impacts literatures. The rest of the issue contains overviews of multiple other aspects of climate change relevant to policymakers, from what we know about the likely excess temperature effects on health to mobilizing political action on behalf of future generations. You can check it out here.