The fallout of global warming: 1,000 years

In stark terms, scientists confirm that climate change is ‘unequivocal’

MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT

Humans have already caused so much damage to the atmosphere that the effects of global warming will last for more than 1,000 years, according to a summary of a climate-change report being prepared by the world’s leading scientists.

Katrina Aftermath

Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

The draft, seen by The Globe and Mail yesterday, also says evidence the world is heating up is now so strong it is “unequivocal” and predicts more frequent heat waves, droughts and rain storms, as well as more violent typhoons and hurricanes. It concludes the higher temperatures observed during the past 50 years are so dramatically different from anything in the climate record that the last half-century period was likely the hottest in at least the past 1,300 years.

Moreover, 11 of the past 12 years rank among the warmest since humans began taking accurate temperature measurements in the 1850s, a record of extremes so pronounced it is unlikely to be due to chance.

Struth, An der Sweinmund

Struth, An der Swinemünder Brucke

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, melting of snow and ice, and rising sea level,” says the draft, which is being reviewed in Paris before its formal release Friday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The draft says concentrations of two main greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, “far exceed” anything seen over the past 650,000 years, based on data that reconstructed the atmospheric composition of earlier times using air bubbles contained in ice cores.

Ernst, Europe After the Rain II 1940

Ernst, Europe after the Rain II 1940

The changes to the atmosphere are so large the scientists estimate that warming due to human-caused increases in greenhouse gases are at least five times larger than natural changes caused by normal alterations in output of solar energy from the sun.

Although the draft doesn’t mention Canada directly, it says average Arctic temperatures have experienced a far sharper rise than elsewhere on the planet, increasing at a rate over the past 100 years that is double the global average.

Read the full article here.

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