Challenge of Global Warming

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Most people rely on secondary sources for information, especially the mass media; and some of these sources are affected by concerted campaigns against policies to limit CO 2 emissions, which promote beliefs about climate change that are not well-supported by scientific evidence. There will inevitably be additional risks and surprises.

The climate system and human institutions that are affected by climate are exceedingly complex; consequently, it is impossible to anticipate all changes that may occur. Among the potential surprises that could be in store is that climate change turns out to be more manageable than.

For instance, if climate sensitivity is on the low end of current estimates, then the resulting impacts might feasibly be adapted to without major costs or disruptions. It is also quite possible, however, that climate change could be much more severe, or have much more severe impacts, than the average. For example, a climate change-induced crop failure or severe drought could precipitate a geopolitical crisis.

It is worth noting, however, that the potential impacts associated with larger magnitudes of climate change are less well studied than more moderate climate change; and thus the potential for surprises is comparatively greater with larger magnitudes of warming.

Rather, these are inherent features of climate change that must be recognized and understood in order to craft sound response strategies.


The issues highlighted in this chapter point to the idea that conventional analysis tools that have historically been used for guiding responses to major environmental problems are not well suited for addressing the complexities of climate change. In the following chapter, we discuss the type of framework that is best suited for this context. Climate change is occurring. It is very likely caused by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. And these emissions continue to increase, which will result in further change and greater risks.

America's Climate Choices makes the case that the environmental, economic, and humanitarian risks posed by climate change indicate a pressing need for substantial action now to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts. Although there is some uncertainty about future risk, acting now will reduce the risks posed by climate change and the pressure to make larger, more rapid, and potentially more expensive reductions later. Most actions taken to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts are common sense investments that will offer protection against natural climate variations and extreme events.

In addition, crucial investment decisions made now about equipment and infrastructure can "lock in" commitments to greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. Finally, while it may be possible to scale back or reverse many responses to climate change, it is difficult or impossible to "undo" climate change, once manifested. Current efforts of local, state, and private-sector actors are important, but not likely to yield progress comparable to what could be achieved with the addition of strong federal policies that establish coherent national goals and incentives, and that promote strong U.

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The inherent complexities and uncertainties of climate change are best met by applying an iterative risk management framework and making efforts to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; prepare for adapting to impacts; invest in scientific research, technology development, and information systems; and facilitate engagement between scientific and technical experts and the many types of stakeholders making America's climate choices.

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Climate Change Researcher Describes Challenge Of Pulling Off Worldwide Global Warming Conspiracy

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Page 30 Share Cite. Page 31 Share Cite. Energy System The U. Page 32 Share Cite. Page 33 Share Cite. Page 34 Share Cite. Costs and benefits are difficult to quantify. It is difficult to characterize the costs and benefits of climate change impacts in part because many of the natural assets and ecosystem services that could be affected by climate change have no market value or are priced in a way that does not truly reflect social values.

The costs of efforts to limit or adapt to climate change are often perceived as being comparatively more certain, but in reality, different assumptions about, for example, the rate at which new technologies are developed and brought to market can result in widely varying conclusions about the costs of such actions. Although the United States is vulnerable to many impacts of climate change, other parts of the world—for example, low-lying island nations—are at a greater risk of catastrophic impacts 8 and thus would benefit most from actions to limit climate change.

Even in this country, the primary beneficiaries of near-term actions to reduce climate change risks are the future generations that would avoid severe impacts later in the century and beyond although there are some immediate, local benefits, as discussed below.

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In economic analyses, this issue is usually addressed by choosing a rate at which future benefits and costs are discounted relative to current benefits and costs. But many economists and others have expressed concerns about using these conventional discounting techniques to value public benefits, especially in the context of climate change, where trade-offs must be evaluated across multiple generations. Changes in one system can affect others, and actions taken to limit or adapt to climate change may result in unintended consequences, both positive and negative.

For instance, reducing the use of fossil fuels to limit GHG emissions can offer the ancillary benefit of also reducing emissions of several health-damaging air pollutants e. As an example of ancillary costs—the production of biofuels for renewable energy has indirect effects on land use, which in turn can increase GHG emissions and negatively affect biodiversity.

Page 35 Share Cite. Page 36 Share Cite. There are significant time lags in how the climate system will respond to forcing from GHGs in the atmosphere, and there are likewise significant time lags in many of the social, technological, and political systems that must respond to climate change.

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  • Waiting to act until all uncertainties are resolved, or until impacts of concern have become fully manifest, will likely mean it is too late to have any meaningful effect in mitigating many risks. Due to uncertainties in climate sensitivity and other factors, one cannot say exactly how severe climate change and its impacts will be for any given level of atmospheric GHG concentrations.

    The sooner that serious efforts to reduce GHG emissions proceed, the less pressure there will be to make steeper thus likely more expensive emission reductions later on. For instance, investments in infrastructure for energy production and use can entail a massive commitment to future GHG emissions. Getting the relevant strategies and policies in place as soon as possible will provide crucial guidance for these investment decisions.

    Challenge of Global Warming

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    Membership Lists 93—96 Appendix B: Acronyms and Initialisms — Atmospheric CO 2 is measured with sensitive equipment as well as flask samples. CO 2 can also be measured in seawater. The overall trend of CO 2 is that it has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution. Coupled with historical data, contemporary measurements, and computer models, CO 2 is shown to have a strong correlation with recent warming.

    Explain that human's recent contribution to the total levels of CO 2 has offset the natural process and have caused the world to warm if skeptics argue that the total human-produced CO 2 levels are small compared to natural sources. It is estimated that if humans were not present, ninety-five percent of CO 2 emissions would still occur. However, natural emissions are balanced by other natural processes that absorb CO 2 , such as plants and oceans. Additionally, CO 2 causes heating through the greenhouse effect even in small quantities.

    CO 2 has a long atmospheric lifetime. Once released, it can stay in the atmosphere for years. Explain the importance of offsetting human contributions to the atmospheric CO 2 levels as opposed to eliminating CO 2 if skeptics argue that greenhouse gases are some of the most vital elements of this planet that keep it in order. Oceans and volcanoes help produce the atmosphere on a planet. CO 2 and other greenhouse gases are vital to our existence on this planet. Explain that we do not want to remove all the CO 2 from the atmosphere.

    However, too much CO 2 can harm the Earth. Explain that the wavelength at which solar radiation passes through the atmosphere is not same as the infrared radiation Earth radiates back into space if skeptics argue that the very notion of the greenhouse effect is flawed because UV rays from the sun penetrating the CO 2 in the first place ought to be able to escape. The greenhouse effect was discovered in This is the greenhouse effect. Explain that troposphere temperatures have been rising. The troposphere is warming, just like the land temperatures.

    How to Challenge People About Global Warming Theories: 5 Steps

    Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Tips The urban heat island, the warmer area around urban center, has been shown not to effect global temperature measurements. Globally, temperatures are rising. Local temperatures, of course, fluctuate with weather patterns. Additionally, if you look at the oceans, on which the urban heat island has no effect, you can find similar increases in temperature.

    The reduction of ozone depletion is a result of our efforts to reduce our CFC emissions and has virtually nothing to do with our CO 2 emissions. By exhaling, humans are a natural source of CO 2 emissions. By burning fossil fuels, humans are also an unnatural source of CO 2 emissions.

    The burning of fossil fuels is considered the main cause of global warming. The current level of CO 2 is approximately parts per million. This is the highest level in twenty million years. The most abundant gases in our atmosphere are, in order of highest to lowest, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and then carbon dioxide.