Climate change science is now big science

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Abstract

Climate change is now a big issue, “perhaps the most pressing and urgent environmental issue on the world's agenda,” according to the United Kingdom's National Environment Research Council (NERC) [1998], and so not surprisingly climate change science (CCS) is now Big Science involving Big Money How this situation came about, how big is Big, and whether Big is too big are three of the questions concerning the future of CCS addressed in the following discussion.

The growth of the scientific literature on climate change shown in Figure 1 indicates that the transition of CCS from a Little to a Big science began in 1950. Up until that time CCS was conducted by a few self-motivated individuals using simple observational techniques to study past changes occurring over geological eras. Since then CCS has grown into a major and highly organized activity carried out by large national and international groups using state-of-the-art and very expensive remote sensing and computing facilities. It is now almost exclusively concerned with current and near-future changes.

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