Shock: NOAA study shows climate change "largely irreversible for 1000 years"

Air pollution ! #2

Creative Commons License Photo credit: pfala

A new scientific study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in USA shows that "there's no going back" from climate change caused by carbon dioxide. The study, led by NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon, has reached the shocking conclusion that the effects of man-made climate change are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped.

"Our study convinced us that current choices regarding carbon dioxide emissions will have legacies that will irreversibly change the planet," said Solomon, who is based at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

"It has long been known that some of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years," Solomon said. "But the new study advances the understanding of how this affects the climate system."

"If CO2 is allowed to peak at 450-600 parts per million, the results would include persistent decreases in dry-season rainfall that are comparable to the 1930s North American Dust Bowl in zones including southern Europe, northern Africa, southwestern North America, southern Africa and western Australia.

The study notes that decreases in rainfall that last not just for a few decades but over centuries are expected to have a range of impacts that differ by region. Such regional impacts include decreasing human water supplies, increased fire frequency, ecosystem change and expanded deserts. Dry-season wheat and maize agriculture in regions of rain-fed farming, such as Africa, would also be affected."

According to the IPCC we will head towards 1000 ppm by the end of the century that if we continue on the current emission path. Joseph Romm over at Climate Progress says "that would put essentially every at risk region into conditions worse than the Dust Bowl for a long, long, long time. Clearly we must peak no higher than 450 ppm". The bottom line is that "a few decades of prevention is worth 1,000 years of misery," Romm said.

Solomon doesn't put much faith in geo-engineering and the possibilities of it to help stop the rising levels of carbon dioxide:

"Asked whether current efforts by some scientists and engineers to invent ways to suck excess CO2 straight out of the air would mean global warming could in fact be reversed after all, she agreed it would, “if by some miracle” such engineering feats could ever be realized.

Otherwise, she said, her study was only further proof of the urgency of the need for humanity to drastically reduce its greenhouse emissions worldwide."

Sure, geo-engineering with our climate might work. Or it might not, and we end up wasting precious time and resources on it. We should not put our hopes into geo-engineering. Instead, as Solomon said, we need to reduce our emissions now. There is no other easy fix or solution to this man-made problem.

Also read:

- Obama warns of "irreversible catastrophe" on climate, says he will not deny facts

- Al Gore: "We've Arrived at a Moment of Decision"


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Simon Leufstedt
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