It’s too late to stop global warming, according to top climate scientists

It’s too late to stop global warming, according to top climate scientists

Science Recorder | Staff | Monday, December 31, 2012

Any possibility of halting the effects of global warming will likely fail, according to a newly released report.

A published report by Johannesburg-based Wits University geoscientist Dr. Jasper Knight and Dr. Stephan Harrison of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, finds that government attempts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade has largely failed and that policy makers should seek ways of adapting to a warmer planet.

“At present, governments’ attempts to limit greenhouse-gas emissions through carbon cap-and-trade schemes and to promote renewable and sustainable energy sources are probably too late to arrest the inevitable trend of global warming,” the scientists write in a paper published online in the scientific journal, Nature Climate Change.

The paper, entitled The Impacts of climate change on terrestrial Earth surface systems, is published in the Perspective section of Nature Climate Change and its argues that recent studies confirm that Earth is experiencing a warming period. The team says data collected by scientists around the world show that despite efforts to limit the emissions of greenhouse gases, few countries have demonstrated success in limiting emissions.

According to researchers, climate models remain inadequate for predicting future climate changes, which they argue should serve as an impetuousness for examining possible solutions for addressing changes that may occur. The team said changes to the climate are likely to disproportionately impact coastal areas, where policy makers are already considering contingency plans.

“This is particularly the case in coastal environments, where rocky and sandy coastlines will yield very different responses to climate forcing, and where coastal-zone management plans are usually based on past rather than future climatic patterns,” they argue.

While the team urged policy makers to begin considering how to adapt to a warmer world, they did note that additional resources should be devoted to collecting data on how the Earth is managing increased emissions. With that in mind, the scientists said an international coordinated effort is likely needed, a proposal that could cost millions of dollars.

“However, monitoring of the response of these systems to climate forcing requires decadal-scale data sets of instrumented basins and under different climatic regimes worldwide. This will require a considerable international science effort as well as commitment from national governments,” said the two scientists.

The study comes as the debate over the effects of global warming continue. Policy makers seem to widely agree that curbing emissions is possible, however, opponents to cuts in emissions argue that the economic impact could push the world economy back into recession.