Los conocimientos conocidos del cambio climático

POTSDAM – El filósofo Daniel Dennett alguna vez comparó la ciencia con la construcción de una pirámide gigante. Su base representa la masa del conocimiento bien establecido -el que ya no es polémico y el que rara vez se discute fuera del ámbito académico-. La investigación más reciente se va apilando hacia la cima de la pirámide, donde se lleva a cabo la mayor parte del debate público. Es una metáfora adecuada para la investigación sobre el cambio climático, que vale la pena tener en cuenta con la publicación del último informe del Panel Intergubernamental sobre el Cambio Climático de las Naciones Unidas (IPCC por su sigla en inglés).

El quinto informe del IPCC, producto de varios años de trabajo de cientos de científicos expertos en clima de todo el mundo, analiza nuestro conocimiento establecido del cambio climático y explica hallazgos más recientes. Los medios, comprensiblemente, tienden a centrarse en esto último -como las predicciones de una crecida mucho más alta del nivel del mar comparado con el informe previo del IPCC de 2007-. Pero olvidémonos del ciclo de las noticias y démosle una mirada a la base de conocimiento sólido de nuestra pirámide.

La investigación sobre el clima se remonta a por lo menos dos siglos, al descubrimiento de Joseph Fourier de los efectos de los gases de tipo invernadero en los climas planetarios; en 1859, John Tyndall demostró en su laboratorio qué gases causan este efecto. Mediciones detalladas de radiación, en el terreno y desde satélites, han demostrado desde entonces la existencia del efecto invernadero.

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