Worst Climate Change Impacts Are Avoidable

April 16, 2009

A soon to be published study is giving people hope that we can prevent the worst impacts of climate change, if we take action now that is. If global concentrations of greenhouse gasses can be cut at least 70% and then stabilized, then the most dire predictions associated with climate change — massive sea level rise, mass species extinction and widespread droughts — can be avoided. The study, to be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, finds as summarized by MSNBC/AP:

  • Temperatures would rise by 2 degrees Celsius, as opposed to 4 degrees C.
  • Sea level rise due to thermal expansion from warming waters would be about 5.5 inches instead of 8.7 inches. But either scenario still projects significant sea level rise from melting ice sheets and glaciers.
  • Arctic summer sea ice would shrink by about a quarter and stabilize by 2100, as opposed to shrinking at least three-quarters and continuing to melt.
  • Arctic warming would be reduced by almost half, helping preserve fisheries, sea birds, polar bears and other wildlife.
  • Significant regional changes in precipitation would be cut in half. The U.S. Southwest would not be as dry, and the U.S. Northeast and Canada would not see as much rain as under an unchecked scenario.
  • The climate system would stabilize by about 2100, instead of continuing to warm.

This is good news for anyone that has been reading the papers over the last few years and seen the dire predictions associated with a warmer world. This study gives people reason for hope & reason to continue to act on behalf of the climate and for future generations. Now is the time to encourage action, continue to reduce your carbon footprint, and continue to offset your carbon footprint. Reducing emissions at least 70% will not be easy and will require everyone to pitch in. But the good news is that if you take action today, the world will be safer and healthier tomorrow. Image Credit: Geophysical Research Letters/UCAR