April 1, 2010

Global Warming, Underestimated

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Amongst other current difficulties, the United States and the entire world faces the threat of climate change.  Prof. Charles H. Greene, earth and atmospheric sciences, believes that the United States, among other countries, underestimates the threat of global warming, and has failed to take effective measures to address it.

In the essay, “A Very Convenient Truth,” published in Oceanography this past March, Greene addresses this issue, and claims that the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underestimates the threat of global warming and its probable effects the world. Using the melting of the Arctic as an example, Greene demonstrates the IPCC’s inaccurate predictions.

“The IPCC model of Arctic Sea melting shows concerns that the Arctic would lose all ice cover by the end of the century,” Greene said. According to his research, “We are losing ice much more quickly. It could be gone by 2025 to 2030.”

Similarly, Greene proposes that the IPCC’s predictions about the rising global temperatures are incorrect. While the IPCC’s climate change models suggest that the global temperature may increase by 1.1 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, Greene predicts as much as a 2.4 degree increase by 2100.  This exceeds the dangerous climate change level, as established by the United Nations.

According to Greene, the ocean will affect climate change.  Thus far, oceans have slowed the warming by absorbing the heat associated with greenhouse warming. Because of this “thermal inertia” [a term commonly modeling heat transfers], the oceans may consequently slow the cooling process if greenhouse gas emissions ever decrease.        

Greene believes that, although climate change requires immediate attention and drastic action, the United States is capable of overcoming the challenge. He said, “This is the grand challenge of the [our] generation. But challenges have been overcome with political willpower and technological innovation, so all hope is not lost.”

Original Author: Maria Minsker