Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Global Warming might now be "irreversible"

I remember reading the 1998 State of the World report for a class in college. One of the articles was on the risk of global climate change reaching a saturation point, where no matter how we changed our habits, a tragic sequence of events would proceed to change our planet for hundreds or even thousands of years. That was considered dire threat 10 years ago.

After 8 years of suffering the will of self-centered oilmen, a new study out in PNAS shows that the latest climate models suggest we have just passed this point of no return.

Climate change is essentially irreversible, according to a sobering new scientific study.

As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, the world will experience more and more long-term environmental disruption. The damage will persist even when, and if, emissions are brought under control, says study author Susan Solomon, who is among the world's top climate scientists.

Now I am not an expert on these types of dynamical climate models, but I have worked on similar attractor systems for my own research and I can say that once these competitive forces cascade, there often is nothing to do but to let the system stabilize. Whether we really have reached this point is still up for debate. However, the fact that we're even worried about it is disturbing enough. I hope that Al Gore's Nobel Prize didn't come 10 years to late.

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