404 Climate Management Issues
Unfortunately, climate change has progressed enough that no amount of
cutting back on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will allow some ecosys-
tems to return to the way they once were. If emissions are cut back now on an
aggressive basis, scientists at National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) believe it is still possible to avoid the worst consequences of climate
change. Unlike the targeted 5 percent outlined in the Kyoto Protocol, the
European Union has said that it will actually require a reduction of 60–80
percent to prevent dangerous climate change (Hare, 2008).
On the positive side, scientists do understand what the world is up against
and are trying to educate the public to make the right choices, and the pub-
lic does seem to be responding (although slowly) to the green movement.
Solving the problem will take the concerted effort of everyone. There will
have to be change in the future design of buildings, transportation, energy
systems, leadership, innovation, and investments from governments and
businesses. Both public and individual commitments are critical in order to
A Look toward the Future
Based on several emission scenarios run by the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) and NASA, global temperature is projected to
increase by approximately 0.2°C per decade for the next two decades. Even if
GHGs were kept steady at 2000 levels, because of the inertia of the oceans—
the long time it takes them to store and release heat—there is already a sug-
gested warming in the pipeline of 0.1°C per decade.
If GHG emissions continue at the current rate, or become even greater, cli-
mate models suggest that changes in the global climate system during this
century will be even larger than those that were observed during the twenti-
eth century. Another critical factor, as mentioned previously, is the warmer it
gets, the less CO
the land and ocean are physically able to store. This means
that any increasing concentrations in CO
will remain in the atmosphere.
At this point, the IPCC projects that from now to 2090, the global average
surface air warming will most likely range from 1.1 to 6.4°C. The ranges are
attributed to the differences in the models and energy-use scenarios used.
Global average sea level is projected to rise by 18 to 59 centimeters by
2099. Scientists caution, however, that models do not include uncertainties
about some climate mechanisms because there is still a lack of knowledge.
For example, one of the key uncertainties is ice ow from Greenland and
Antarctica. There are still mechanisms that control the ow and dynamics
of the ice that scientists are trying to understand. If the speed of future ice