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Climate Change Discussion: Needs To Happen Now, Not Later

Apr 29, 2014 05:07 PM EDT
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The climate change discussion is one that we need to have now, rather than waiting until we feel its repercussions, new research from The Carnegie Institution for Science's Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira asserts.

The authors note that there is overwhelming scientific evidence for the impending dangers of human-made climate change, and that political discussions about solutions need to speed up.

"Local weather is anecdotal information, but climate change is sound science," Caldeira said in a press release. "Good politics can be based on a good anecdote, but good policy needs to be based on sound science."

Ricke and Caldeira's study models show that within 50 years nearly every country in the world will experience noteworthy extreme weather. However, local natural variability in weather means that majority of people in each nation, particularly large countries like China and the United States, could experience these extremes as soon as tomorrow or many years from now.

If the climate change discussion keeps getting put on the backburner, and people wait finally sit down and talk about it until it's happening to them, natural variations in weather could delay action by decades, authors describe in the journal Nature Climate Change.

"When support for doing something about climate change is based on personal observations of local weather, policymaking may end up being dictated by the roulette wheel of natural climate variability," Ricke elaborated.

Some people, like former NASA scientist Les Woodcock, think global warming is folly. But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, just released two reports discussing climate change's apparent evidence.

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased," authors wrote.

Not only are there obvious environmental costs to consider, but economic ones as well.

The New York Times reported that some economists think taking action now is already too late, and no matter what the world does at this point, the economic damage due to climate change is going to be substantial.

"Despite those findings, the typical economic analysis suggests that it is still worth trying to limit climate change - in other words, not only can the damage be reduced somewhat, but the future benefits of doing so outweigh the current costs," author Justin Gillis wrote.

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