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Study says GW is irreversible

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've quoted the words of Solomon before, but in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, leading Climate Scientist Susan Solomon and colleagues argues:

 

"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years. What we're showing here is that's not right. It's essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years," Solomon says.

 

I caught the piece mid way on NPR radio.  Pretty heavy stuff.  Check out the rest of the story on the link below.  What do you think? How is this kind of report going to be received by the general public?  By the politicians guiding us through this point in time?

 

Interesting note: in looking up the story, I was a bit surprised to see that NPR has been doing a fairly good job of keeping decent climate change stories in the news.  The nice thing about the link is you can read the story or listen to it as it was presented when I caught it during drive time.

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99888903&ft=3&f=searchTerm=global+warming

 

 

post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

This topic is posted on the Yahoo Q&A site as: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AulAg4yXs2ZaGArU4snpUBfsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090127212127AAi9YUS&show=7#profile-info-o2BT74Viaa

 

The answers have been .... interesting, to say the list.  A bit disappointed at the flat response on Huddler.  The significance of this study, given the source and the response from the scientific community, is tremendous.

post #3 of 10

Yeah in a way it's a little bit discouraging to some people I think, because there's a certain amount of damage we've done that can't be undone (for 1,000 years).  Some people are taking it as 'oh well the damage is already done.'

 

On the other hand, it also highlights the fact that we need to limit the amount of damage we do ASAP, because the damage lasts for so long.  So for some people it's discouraging and for others it's motivational.

post #4 of 10

The problem is that the changes are too slow for people to really get a grip on intellectually.  When you start talking about time horizons that extend beyond a few years, people lose focus.  For example, it is next to impossible to get people to plan for retirement until it is too late.  This is why climate always comes out DFL (or almost DFL) in polls of issues people are most concerned about.  The bad stuff projected is vague and off in the future and not an immediate risk. 

 

That misestimation of the risk is why people aren't taking this seriously.  Nobody really can envision what a world without the US grain belt would look like, regardless of how awful that would be in terms of the world food supply.  Go down the list of all the potential (well, probable) consequences of unchecked climate change and they are all like this.  Collapse of barrier reef ecosystems, flooding of lowlands, loss of arable lands, our minds have no way of rationally assessing the impact, and how god awful it will be, so we ignore it. 

 

The preamble should read:  "We the ostriches, ..."

 

post #5 of 10

That's true - the consequences are not only in the fairly distant future, but also huge in magnitude.  When you start talking about catastrophic consequences, people just shut off and say you're being alarmist.  And it's hard to blame them, because we live in a relatively comfortable society where all our needs are met, and it's hard to envision a future where that might not be the case.  You can just turn on the tap and get as much water as you want, or go to the supermarket and buy whatever food you want.  People take it for granted and it's just hard to imagine that our actions may be bringing this easy way of life to an end.

 

Or they say they'll be dead in 50 years, so the consequences don't matter to them.  Those people need to be smacked.  But again, when you're worried about making your next mortgage payment, it can be difficult to worry about environmental changes 50 years in the future.  While it's understandable, it's also short-sighted.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change released new findings saying that 21st century climate change may be far more significant than some previous climate assessments had indicated.  While this concept isn't new to those of us who follow this kind of news, the source is to me almost unimpeachable, and noteworthy for me because the article in the Washington Post included this tidbit:

 

“The modeling experiments are not meant to provide precise forecasts of future temperature changes, but rather to serve as what one related MIT study calls "thought experiments" to help policymakers and the public understand how decisions regarding emissions reductions may affect the magnitude of climate change.”

 

I just thought that was a great way to say that. 

 

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2009/02/new_research_from_mit_scientis.html

 

 

 

post #7 of 10

I started a topic on that MIT study here.

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dana1981:

Yeah in a way it's a little bit discouraging to some people I think, because there's a certain amount of damage we've done that can't be undone (for 1,000 years).  Some people are taking it as 'oh well the damage is already done.'

 

On the other hand, it also highlights the fact that we need to limit the amount of damage we do ASAP, because the damage lasts for so long.  So for some people it's discouraging and for others it's motivational.

 

Yes, there has been damage done and possibly irreversible but, I agree that this is a call for immediate action for those who have made little or no changes as of today.  I know this definitely motivates me to continue making changes and to live as green as possible.  We are still able to survive on the earth with the current damage we've done but, we will I'm sure in due time cross even that threshold if people don't change.  

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Sorry Dana, didn't see the thread as it was posted in science, and I don't visit that category often because I can't contribute effectively to the discussion overall.  Which is why this was added to an existing thread in News & Policy.  The newsworthy element is that the source material stems from MIT, as solid a source as there ever was, in my opinion, and their findings seem to corroborate other findings released recently.  Also, the article, as was the L.A. Times article I mentioned recently, was included in a prestigious newspaper.  Hence my posting it here for discussion.  Don't go getting "my site" on me!

post #10 of 10

Haha I was just letting you know the discussion was there.

 

But yes, this study gave almost identical results to one done by the Hadley Centre, which concluded that the current emissions path will result in 5-7°C warming by 2100.  It's good to see this high level of agreement by models from entirely seperate groups.

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