Posted by Jerrod @ 9:21 pm on January 28th 2009

Greenhouse effect: bringing you changes for the next 1000 years.

According to Susan Solomon, Senior Scientist of the NOAA, our rosiest secenario is 1000 years of global warming.

Currently, CO2 levels in the atmosphere are around 385 ppm, a 35 percent increase over pre-industrial levels. The most optimistic scenarios arrive at a figure of 450 ppm as the best we might be able to achieve in the coming decades, but even at that level, changes in precipitation patterns, temperature increases, and a rise in sea level appear to be locked in for at least the next thousand years.

The dynamics of the oceans are to blame…”In the long run, both carbon dioxide loss and heat transfer depend on the same physics of deep-ocean mixing. The two work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant for more than a thousand years, and that makes carbon dioxide unique among the major climate gases.”

One of the most profound effects looks to be a severe decrease in rainfall that will affect the southeastern US, the Mediterranean, southern Asia, and swathes of subtropical Africa and South America. Sea levels are going to rise too. Without even accounting for melting ice sheets, the sheer thermal expansion of the Earth’s oceans will be between 0.4-1m, and as with the temperature rise and the changes to rainfall, these effects look set to persist for at least until the year 3000.

And for those who are still skeptical of this whole “global warming” scheme, even though 82% of the earth scientists surveyed are convinced that the earth is warming due to human influence, only 64% of meteorologists are in on the conspiracy.

Among those who accept the facts of global warming, there have been two camps: rollback vs adapt. Unfortunately, because of the tendency for these kinds of debates to scream to extremes, there doesn’t seem to be a very visible camp promoting the idea that we need to do what we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but shouldprepare to deal with the now-inevitable changes. We should get off of oil for no other reason than that it will run out eventually and making the transition off it sooner than later is bound to be easier and less painful. The fear is that accepting impending changes and making preparations for it is going to equate with abandoning efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Obviously this is stupid as it would only make our effort to adapt even harder. It looks like this is where we need to go though, although I don’t have much faith that we’re going to get off oil until forced to. And that is likely to be more painful than rising sea levels and local weather changes.


  1. I don’t get it. How come the Obama people are all in favor of change when it comes to politics, but when it comes to the climate, they’re such big fans of the status quo?


    Comment by Rojas — 1/29/2009 @ 11:15 am

  2. What I want to know is, how cold does it have to get for how long before the “consensus” changes, or will it take the drying up of grant money?

    Comment by James — 1/29/2009 @ 12:35 pm

  3. Yeah! If there’s global warming, how come there’s still WINTER, eh??? Answer THAT, Mr. Science-pants!!!

    Comment by Rojas — 1/29/2009 @ 12:57 pm

  4. I think “snowballs in Hell” would be cold enough, James.

    Comment by Jerrod — 1/29/2009 @ 7:02 pm

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