News The Global Warming “Debate”
A new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that global temperatures have climbed to levels not seen in thousands of years. According to one of the authors of the study, “If further global warming reaches 2 or 3 degrees Celsius, we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know. The last time it was that warm was in the middle Pliocene, about 3 million years ago, when sea level was estimated to have been about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today.”
A second PNAS report concludes that human activity is almost certainly the cause of the majority of ocean warming—the main cause of increased hurricane intensity. Substantial research shows that hurricanes have gotten far fiercer and more devastating in the past 30 years—a pattern that can’t be explained by natural fluctuations.
It’s unclear what policy implications might come out of the study, although it will probably add to growing pressure from environmentalists and some legislators to pass laws limiting the release of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, from power plants.