Global warming impacts may be inflated: scientific article

No, this is not an article written by a "climate change denier." It is a peer-reviewed article in the respected journal science. To quote directly from the article's synopsis:

Assuming paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future as predicted by our model, these results imply lower probability of imminent extreme climatic change than previously thought.

Basically, the study found that while increases in carbon dioxide would cause climate change, the most severe predictions have been significantly overstated. Why is this important? Because the report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change had adopted some of these most dire predictions.

Here's how the New York Times "Green" blog on the environment and energy summarized the findings:

Typical forecasts say that if humanity doubles the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before emissions cease, the temperature will most likely rise by about 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit, though the figure could be as low as 3.6 degrees or as high as 8.1 degrees. And scientists have not entirely ruled out far higher numbers.

Now comes a new entry in the effort to specify the value known as “climate sensitivity,” and it falls on the low side of the existing estimates. The paper, in the journal Science, calculates that a doubling of carbon dioxide will most likely lead to a warming of 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit, though the number could be as low as 3 degrees or as high as 4.7 degrees.

“Our study shows that very high climate sensitivities are virtually impossible, suggesting that we still have enough time to deal with the problem and reduce carbon emissions, which could avoid the most severe impacts,” said Andreas Schmittner, a climate scientist at Oregon State University and the study’s lead author.

Those (like me) who are waiting for science to fill in the many more blanks about global warming will not try to say this disproves the science that supports climate change warnings. But it is one more study that illustrates the complexity of the debate and the need to avoid claiming a "scientific consensus" on the matter.

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