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Report: Some climate damage already irreversible

26 January, 2009

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

While people sit around and debate whether or not climate change is real, or whether polar bears need saving or the concern about our environment is all just another feel-good “hippie” movement, a major study has just been released that says it’s already too late.

“People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 years; that’s not true,” climate researcher Susan Solomon said in a teleconference. Solomon, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., is lead author of an international team’s paper reporting irreversible damage from climate change, being published in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
She defines “irreversible” as change that would remain for 1,000 years even if humans stopped adding carbon to the atmosphere immediately.


Ms. Solomon’s opinion is supported by other scientists.

Alan Robock, of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, agreed with the report’s assessment.
Solomon’s report “is quite important, not alarmist, and very important for the current debates on climate policy,” added Jonathan Overpeck, a climate researcher at the University of Arizona.

Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said, “The real concern is that the longer we wait to do something, the higher the level of irreversible climate change to which we’ll have to adapt.” Meehl was not part of Solomon’s research team.

While scientists have been aware of the long-term aspects of climate change, the new report highlights and provides more specifics on them, said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the center.


So whatever we do today, many of the effects will still be around in 1,000 years.  While that won’t matter to me personally, I hate to think that my descendants will look back some day and wonder why we didn’t do more.  Evidently the air won’t clear up over-night if we control the C02; the ocean waters won’t immediately subside because the glaciers won’t reappear suddenly. Climate change won’t be radically altered, because the ocean will release the warmth it has absorbed into the atmosphere. We have already begun to notice the difference in the weather patterns, colder in the Northeast, more rain in the Northwest and Southeast, drier in the Southwest.And that is just the beginning. We haven’t done enough, despite the naysayers.

Pay attention, people, before it is too late for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.

Read it for yourself: HERE.

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