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article imageExpert Says Policy Makers Underestimate Climate Change Problems

By Carol Forsloff     Mar 19, 2010 in Environment
While politicians debate the pros and cons of climate change and worry over emails and arguments among scientists, one professor, Charles H. Greene, observes climate change is far more critical than thought.
In a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Oceanography, March 2010, Greene, Cornell professor of Earth and Atmospheric Science, has published a paper called "A Very Inconvenient Truth" along with colleagues D. James Baker, professor of the William J. Clinton Foundation and Daniel H. Miller of the Roda Group, Berkeley, California. They conclude that the United Nations Panel on Climate Change of 2007 underestimated the specific dangers that man-made climate change has created. The social problems now and in the future are considerable, according to these scientists.
The implication is that simple reduction of man-made greenhouse emissions are not enough. As the paper relates: “Even if all man-made greenhouse gas emissions were stopped tomorrow and carbon-dioxide levels stabilized at today’s concentration, by the end of this century the global average temperature would increase by about 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 2.4 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, which is significantly above the level which scientists and policy makers agree is a threshold for dangerous climate change.
“Of course, greenhouse gas emissions will not stop tomorrow, so the actual temperature increase will likely be significantly larger, resulting in potentially catastrophic impacts to society unless other steps are taken to reduce the Earth’s temperature."
The catastrophic conditions are such that governments should take action because, as the scientists continue, the consequence means "the temperature rise we see this century will be largely irreversible for the next thousand years."
What Greene and his colleagues have concluded is that, “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone is unlikely to mitigate the risks of dangerous climate change. Society should significantly expand research into geoengineering solutions that remove and sequester greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. Geoengineering solutions must be in addition to, not replace, dramatic emission reductions if society is to avoid the most dangerous impacts of climate change."
While Greene and others stress the risks of ignoring climate change and man's contributions to it, 650 scientists are said to have signed on to a dissenting view, as noted in a blog by the U.S. Senate on Environmental Safety. Scientists are said to strongly disagree with the U.N. statement on climate change. The dissent is represented by a number of scientists including Ivar Giaver, Noberl Prize Winnerr for Physics, who writes:“I am a skeptic…Global warming has become a new religion.” -
Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, reported to be the first woman in the world to receive a Ph.D. in metereology and formerly of NASA, maintains, “Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly….As a scientist I remain skeptical.”
The debate continues among the scientists of the world, as the recent report by Greene and the opposition expressed by others suggests. However, many scientists support Greene and his colleagues, in articles like the one written March 5 in the Guardian discussing conclusions made by climate scientists . After 100 studies of sea ice, rainfall and temperature these scientists believe they have found what reveals "clear fingerprints" that climate change is man-made. They go on to stress the evidence should convince the public that global warming is a problem.
More about Climate change, Global warming, Man-made climate problems