Analysis: The ‘Greenhouse Effect’ is really taking hold

Researchers at Columbia University and the Bonn Institute have published projections for just how the so-called “Greenhouse Effect” could result in the loss of our planet from the warmest year on record to be below 2°C, and then hotter than 3°C.

Their forecasts come with a warning to those who would engage in the “climate litmus test”: if they’re not careful, the results might be disastrous.

According to the scientists, in the absence of action on the part of governments, the shifting weather patterns could threaten seaside cities, ecosystems and agricultural production, triggering mass migrations and global starvation.

“Individual individuals, non-governmental organizations and governments must commit to addressing this reality,” the researchers wrote. “Our Earth’s impacts are greatly increasing — not decreasing — through an increasing amount of emissions, and this alone cannot be swept under the rug.”

Jonathan Jones, a theoretical physicist who was not part of the team, said this problem is exacerbated by a global warming model that fails to account for variation in the range of the wind. He said the results would leave us “less vulnerable to future droughts, floods, dust storms, massive snowmelt and wildfires.”

Researchers mapped 42 weather extremes — from the snowmelt in Greenland to the heating of Antarctica, from typhoons in the Philippines to devastating floods in India — with warning that these events represent an ever-rising percentage of average global temperatures.

As of 2005, climate change was already “more extreme than any other ecological change we have experienced” in recorded history, the researchers said.

The report found that in the next ten years, drastic climate changes would likely result in already record extreme weather events.

In the East, the mercury would rise 0.27°C — about 20 years from now. The West would rise 0.4°C, but this can’t happen due to the regional greenhouse effect, which “eliminates cooling mechanisms based on temperature differences,” according to the report.

The study also warned that future precipitation could be 20–30 percent drier than it was in the last 20 years.

The authors said that if not for sharp increases in greenhouse gases, life in parts of the world would be set back 200–300 years. “All societies are more vulnerable to changes in climate, including those with habitats we have intentionally retained and to our internal combustion engines,” the scientists wrote.

The report said that the only way to avoid an extinction-level event is to ensure that new technologies are affordable and available, that we have ethical and legal commitments on our part to develop them, and that regulations to address global warming are implemented.

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