Future Climate Depends on Us
A new report by the National Research Council concludes that humans will largely determine our future climate. The authors analyzed scenarios of emissions, concentrations, and stabilization targets to evaluate the impacts to Earth’s climate over decades to millennia. They found that because carbon dioxide is so long-lived in the atmosphere, its impacts will be experienced for generations to centuries or longer. While specific effects on human societies and the natural environment cannot yet be quantified as a function of a particular target CO2 concentration, the report concludes that sufficient confidence exists regarding how various degrees of global warming affect such things as precipitation patterns, streamflow, crop yields and sea-level rise to inform policy choices—such as selection of stabilization targets.