Monday, July 19, 2010

National Research Council releases Climate Stabilization Targets report

As promised last week, the National Research Council of the US National Academy of Sciences has released a new report where they state that "emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth's climate." In short, human activity is causing climate change, and we need to do something about it.

The full (243 page) report, called "Climate Stabilization Targets; Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts Over Decades to Millenia" can be downloaded for free on the National Academy Press web site.

The NRC is concerned that "because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock the Earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which could become very severe."

According to the report, "important policy decisions can be informed by recent advances in climate science that quantify the relationships between increases in carbon dioxide and global warming, related climate changes, and resulting impacts, such as changes in streamflow, wildfires, crop productivity, extreme hot summers, and sea level rise." The report takes the tack that "one way to inform these choices is to consider the projected climate changes and impacts that would occur if greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were stabilized at a particular concentration level." The report tries to do just that using data from the literature. NRC intends the report to be "a useful resource for scientists, educators and policy makers, among others."

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