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Climate future depends on what action humans take

Climate scientists on Earth’s two futures   The worst effects of climate change don’t have to happen, scientists say. But humans’ actions in the near future will determine if they do. CBS News 60 Minutes Overtime,  2020 Oct 04, BYBrit McCandless Farmer  

    • For more than three decades, climate scientists have accurately forecast how carbon emissions would cause a global rise in temperatures. Now they’re looking ahead at the decades to come.

When it comes to predicting the future, scientists do not see just one possible outcome. Rather, they say the actions humans take in the near-term will have a major effect on how Earth changes for generations beyond.

“We need to change our course in the next few years because it’s still possible, I think, to avoid the worst outcomes,” Former NASA scientist James Hansen told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley…….

California is facing the largest wildfires in its history, the East Coast has already been pummeled by nine powerful storms, and what may be the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth scorched California’s Death Valley.

But as bad as they are, Hansen believes, raging forest fires and destructive hurricanes will not be Earth’s worst crises if humans fail to change their actions. The worst consequences will come from permanent changes — rising sea levels and the potential extermination of species.

“We can get back to the old climate if we haven’t caused irreversible things,” Hansen said. “If we lose our coastal cities, that’s irreversible on any time scale that we would care about. And also, the loss of species. So those are the things that I worry about. But those are … late-in-century effects which our children and grandchildren will feel.”

Stopping climate change before irreversible effects have damaged the planet is possible, some scientists believe. …….

According to the latest models, how much the planet will warm is mostly a function of how much carbon humans have burned up to now. If all carbon emissions were to cease today, Mann said, both plants and the ocean would increase the amount of carbon they take out of the atmosphere. As a result, temperatures would remain fairly flat.

“We are only committed to the warming that has happened already,” Mann said. “If we stop burning carbon now, we stop the warming of the planet. In a sense, that is empowering. It tells us we can have a real impact.”

That does not necessarily mean the damage that has been done is reversible. Future generations may be able to figure it out, Mann said—but only if humans halt the planet’s warming.

October 10, 2020 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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