New research into clouds and climate change suggests that global warming will be a deadly problem for future generations.
A recent study took a look at how climate change is affecting Earth’s cloud formation. The results are bad news for the planet, and those likely to be living on it in the year 2100.
The study, led by researchers at the University of New South Wales found that as global average temperatures steadily increase, fewer clouds are forming in our atmosphere. Clouds perform a valuable function as reflectors, bouncing many of the sun’s rays back out into space. Without clouds, more sunlight makes its way to the Earth’s surface. The researchers say that unless we do something–something really drastic–to curb the amount of greenhouse gases we’re pumping into the atmosphere, the world is going to be a pretty unfriendly place for our grandchildren.
“…unless emissions of greenhouse gases were cut, the planet would heat up by a minimum of 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, twice the level the world’s governments deem dangerous,” reports the Guardian.
If climate change is allowed to turn up the heat in this way, future generations may never know what it’s like to vacation by the sea. “4C would likely be catastrophic rather than simply dangerous,” Professor Steven Sherwood told the Guardian. “For example, it would make life difficult, if not impossible, in much of the tropics, and would guarantee the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet and some of the Antarctic ice sheet”, with sea levels rising by many meters as a result.”
The idea that we may be polluting ourselves out of a home planet hasn’t been enough to spur action, so scientists hope this new understanding about how global warming affects clouds will open the public’s eyes.
“Climate skeptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect,” said Sherwood. “But what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by the models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.”
Related on Ecosalon