A recent study by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that global warming is not a natural phenomena, but caused directly by the impact of human greenhouse gas production. But how this is affecting climate is still open to question, as the report also states that temperatures have not increased as much as global warming models predicted given the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
This first instalment of a three part report, which will be released over the next 12 months, is set to provide the most accurate and thorough appraisal of the climate change issue, in which it claims that humans are the '"dominant cause" of the problem which was identified in the 1950s.
Despite a more recent trend towards global 'cooling' experienced over the past fifteen years or so, the IPCC predicts that the Earth will experience an increase in land, sea and air temperatures, and that they see this prospect as "unequivocal", particularly if emissions continue to increase as they have. They state that unless there are significant reductions in the levels of gases produced, warming will continue to affect global temperatures and all aspects of our weather systems. The violent weather extremes being experienced across the United States at this time are a result of unexpected alterations in the jet stream being caused by two things: 1) cooling of the atmosphere augmented by reduced solar activity and 2) destabilization of the northern hemisphere jet streams as a result of a reduced temperature difference between the warming arctic and the cooling mid-latitudes. While none of this is predicted in global warming models, the violent outcomes are the same.
The latest findings seem to be aimed at silencing the sceptics who have voiced their doubts about global warming over the past two decades, and whose arguments appeared to have been substantiated by the cooler temperatures recorded since 1998. The subject of climate change, originally a hot topic, cooled along with the temperatures and public interest waned. The IPCC have not been able to fully explain the reason behind the falling temperatures but have dismissed them as irrelevant to the bigger picture, the report stating that "Due to natural variability, trends based on short term records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not, in general, reflect long term trends".
The study suggests that we can expect sea-levels to rise much more quickly than in previous years as it is the oceans which accumulate around 90% of the excess heat and which therefore reflect thermogenic imbalances more accurately; the surface of the planet does not conduct heat so readily as water, and the Earth's atmosphere has little capacity for heat storage. It is predicted that seas will rise between 26cm and 82cm, depending on further human impact and gas emissions, though global temperature increases are expected to occur now even if emissions are reduced.
Simulations indicate that the increase in surface temperature will exceed 1.5 degrees Celcius by the end of this century.
Qin Dahe, co-chair of the IPCC group which produced the report, painted a grim picture of warming oceans, vanishing polar ice caps and rising sea levels, with greenhouse gases still on the increase in the atmosphere. His colleague, Professor Thomas Stocker, outlined the situation in blunt terms, saying that climate change "challenges the two primary resources of humans and ecosystems, land and water. In short, it threatens our planet, our only home".
Other leading scientists were equally outspoken. Prof Sir Brian Hoskins, from Imperial College London, had this to say: "We are performing a very dangerous experiment with our planet, and I don't want my grandchildren to suffer the consequences of that experiment."
The subject of global warming is taken very seriously at Unknown Country. Prior to his encounter with the Master of the Key in 1998, Whitley Strieber was unaware of the concept of climate change, but the insights given to him during that meeting affected him profoundly, and the information he was given became the foundation for his best-selling book "The Coming Global Superstorm". The book later became the inspiration for the movie blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow".
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