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Statistical evidence about human influence on the climate system


  • Pierre Perron

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Francisco Estrada

    (Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)

  • Benjamín Martínez-López

    (Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México)


We use recent methods for the analysis of time series data, in particular related to breaks in trends, to establish that human factors are the main contributors to the secular movements in observed global and hemispheric temperatures series. The most important feature documented is a marked increase in the growth rates of temperatures (purged from the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation) and anthropogenic greenhouse gases occurring for all series around 1955, which marks the start of sustained global warming. Also evidence shows that human interventions effectively slowed global warming in two occasions. The Montreal Protocol and the technological change in agricultural production in Asia are major drivers behind the slowdown of the warming since 1994, providing evidence about the effectiveness of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases other than CO2 for mitigating climate change in the shorter term. The largest socioeconomic disruptions, the two World Wars and the Great Crash, are shown to have contributed to the cooling in the mid 20th century. While other radiative factors have modulated their effect, the greenhouse gases defined the secular movement in both the total radiative forcing and the global and hemispheric temperature series. Deviations from this anthropogenic trend are shown to have transitory effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Perron & Francisco Estrada & Benjamín Martínez-López, 2012. "Statistical evidence about human influence on the climate system," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2012-012, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2012-012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elliott, Graham & Rothenberg, Thomas J & Stock, James H, 1996. "Efficient Tests for an Autoregressive Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 813-836, July.
    2. Pierre Perron & Francisco Estrada & Carlos Gay-García & Benjamín Martínez-López, 2011. "A time-series analysis of the 20th century climate simulations produced for the IPCC’s AR4," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2011-051, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Kwiatkowski, Denis & Phillips, Peter C. B. & Schmidt, Peter & Shin, Yongcheol, 1992. "Testing the null hypothesis of stationarity against the alternative of a unit root : How sure are we that economic time series have a unit root?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1-3), pages 159-178.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ye Li & Pierre Perron, 2013. "Inference Related to Locally Ordered and Common Breaks in a Multivariate System with Joined Segmented Trends," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 2013-010, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. Francisco Estrada & Pierre Perron, "undated". "Detection and attribution of climate change through econometric methods," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 2013-015, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    3. Richard S.J. Tol & Francisco Estrada, 2013. "Estimating the Global Impacts of Climate Variability and Change During the 20th Century," Working Paper Series 6213, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.

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