Is it really possible to reverse the effects of global warming or is it too late?
Yes, it is possible to reverse the effects of global warming. It's happened naturally over the Earth's history hundreds or even thousands of times.
Whether humanity can muster up the political willpower to do anything about global warming is something else entirely. There are several techniques we could use that would probably be effective, but most of them would require the cooperation of the entire world to be successful.
Waiting around for a natural solution isn't an option, either. While the Earth would eventually cool down naturally, it could take tens of thousands of years to do so.
So, yes, it is possible, but probably not likely unless and until global warming starts to cause truly catastrophic consequences.
Clouds are complicted. Low cloud tends to cool, as you describe; but high, thin cloud tends to warm. And of course there are many types of cloud in between. This is one of the knottiest areas to understand.
UK Guardian article 2/1/10: Leaked Climate Change emails Scientist 'hid' data flaws. NASA study 2011: Mass Balance of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet from the IESat Measurements. Solar cycle in max right now (7-9) years. Solar energy/flares high=heat.
Keep looking, Eric--the Guardian charges were not substantiated upon investigation. The mass balance study shows less ice loss during 2003-2008 than the preceding period. But, like the solar cycle, so what? 40 years of warming is real.
Volitans has a good answer already, but I'd add that we do have time to curtail emissions enough to avoid the probability of the *most* damaging effects--usually pegged, a bit arbitrarily, at 2 C total temperature rise--but not *all* damage. We've now wasted about 2 decades in comparative inaction, after all.
(And actually, it's likely that GW has *already* cost the world economy several billion dollars and perhaps 10,000 premature deaths, even with the mild warming so far. No getting those lives back!)
But if we wait much longer, the only hope we'll have of avoiding a greater than 2 C rise is active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, which may not be economically possible to do on a sufficiently large scale. That would be the only true 'reversal' of the atmospheric effects.
On the other hand, the longer we wait to act effectively, the worse the damage will be, so there will still be scope for useful action for some years, even decades, to come. But if we continue business as usual, then at some point we will probably invoke positive carbon feedbacks large enough to remove all human ability to influence the process at all.
The globe is going to get warmer. We are coming out of an ice age, even now. Go check the climate history of the earth. Compared to our past, the weather right now is mild considering warmth.
Although some would have you believe otherwise, the reality is that the current warming has nothing to do with recovery from the last Ice Age; the height of the interglacial warming came ca. 8,000 years ago. It'd been cooling since, til recently.
Then what does the current warming has to do with? Some blame fewer clouds. Apparently, more clouds cause the planet to become cooler. Just a 1% difference in the clouds per year changes the planet temperature.
The current warming is mostly to do with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are due to human emissions. CO2 is up 40% from pre-industrial concentrations. Other GHGs are up, too.
Have you seen the climate history for the entire planet's history? Not just up until the Middle Ages as most maps are. The planet has been much hotter without us even being here. So why should we worry about this?
Because we--and the current ecosystems--aren't adapted to those hotter conditions. And the rate of change allows little time to adapt.
I also believe that the "Global Warming" is one of the myths. Looking in short range (100 years back) it does seem like warming. However comparing to what we had 500-600 years ago - today is a global chilling.But we still have to care about nature
With the rules of evolution, or what I consider of all life, if you don't adapt you die. Humans are hell bent on surviving. Even if we live underground, we will live.
Andriy--Careful study of 'proxy records'--things like ice cores, coral, stalactites, boreholes among others--makes it very clear that today's warming is unprecedented within the 1-2 millennia.
lburmaster--R U serious? Who wants to live underground?
My point is that we will survive and don't always have to change everything. Sometimes it is better to see how the world plays out.
But we ARE changing something. I am advocating that it is in our best self-interest to stop doing so.
I can partially agree. However, I doubt we can completely brush away our footprints. We have too many people to make it easy.
Very true. Achieving a sustainable economy is no small challenge, which just makes it more urgent.
Just listened to a meteorologist speaking on this topic recently on the radio. He indicated that only 1% of the earth's warming is due to man made emissions. The earth goes through cooling and warming cycles naturally, and that is impacted by volcanoes, earthquakes, meteor strikes, etc. We give ourselves way too much credit in terms of affecting the planet. One major volcanic erruption, and the subsequent gases and ash would impact our weather patterns 1,000x more than the earth's entire population could. Check out the 'year without a summer' in 1816, after the erruption of Mount Timboro in Bali. It snowed in the U.S. in July and August!
What caused the Mini Ice Age during the 1200's to 1400's? Man? We had a hot summer in 1988....24 years ago. We had a severe winter in 2010-11 and then a mild one last season. According to this scientist that I listened to, the more CO2 that we produce actually benefits our planet as it leads to enhanced plant and tree production, which in turn produces more levels of oxygen for us to breath. Again, we do not impact our climate with our fossil fuels much at all. Methane production, I believe he mentioned, is only 2% produced by man. The rest is from natural occuring sources.
Eric, 'meteorologist' covers a lot of folks... many, basically TV presenters. The "1% claim" is a clear tip-off that your presenter didn't know whereof he spoke, as such precision in attribution isn't possible. Please seek out reliable information!
So the ones that believe in global warming are correct and those that don't are wrong? Like Al Gore who has had half of his 'facts' disproved since his sham An Inconvenient Truth? And the British university that falsified their data? Wake up.
AIT is substantially correct, and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia did NOT falsify data--though that claim has been incorrectly made. Again, please seek reliable information.
U win. Now what we must all do 1st is stop using computers, video games, IPads, smart phones, etc. They all generate heat and use electricity, 50% of which is from coal plants. One car per household only. Otherwise, we are all hypocrites.
U forgot the sarcasm icon! But it's precisely because the challenge is not easy, that we need to get serious about meeting it. One credible estimate--the Stern report--said 5% of GDP, which should leave some room for computers (and us) to survive.
Doc, I wasn't being sarcastic. Sacrifice needs to be done by all; not merely when its convenient. Notice that the elite advocates of global warming burn the most fossil fuels. Have you checked out HAARP? Go to YouTube and do a search.
Eric, I don't think that "advocates of global warming"--meaning, I presume those concerned about it--are much aligned with "elites" in the economic sense. Scientists as a class are solidly *middle* class, economically speaking.
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