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The Future Positive Feedbacks to Global Warming Warming oceans and soils are absorbing less CO 2 , so more CO 2 is accumulating in the atmosphere. Melting permafrost is now emitting CO 2 and methane; the more melting, the greater the emission.

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Positive Feedbacks to Global Warming

  • Warming oceans and soils are absorbing less CO2, so more CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere.

  • Melting permafrost is now emitting CO2 and methane; the more melting, the greater the emission.

  • The warming methane hydrates on the Siberian continental shelf are beginning to emit methane and CO2.

  • The decreasing ice and snow cover is exposing more dark surfaces causing more surface and atmospheric heating.

  • A warming atmosphere holds more water vapor (a strong greenhouse gas) increasing the temperature.




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The 800 lb Gorilla Nobody Wants to Talk About: ABRUBT CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Some large natural climate changes have occurred abruptly.

  • In some instances, the average global temperature has risen or fallen >8º C in less than 10 years, and at least one in as little as 5 years. An increase of 6° C in this century would be considered an abrupt climate change.

  • The trigger for the abrupt temperature rises is not well understood but probably involves a catastrophic release of methane and carbon dioxide.

  • Global warming could trigger an abrupt climate change. If this happened its effects would certainly be catastrophic.The recent accelerated melting of permafrost and increased atmospheric methane could be the beginning of an abrupt climate change.



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CO2 Reductions Required to Keep Warming Under 2°C


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Emission Reductions to Stabilize the CO2 Content at 400, 450 and 550 ppm


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Scenarios of Future CO2 Global Emissions and Concentrations



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Possible Political and Societal Consequences of 2005

Three Climate Change Scenarios:

Expected (1.3° C Increase)

Severe (2.6° C Increase)

Catastrophic (5.6° C Increase)

Reference: The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change,Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC , November 2007.


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Scenario 1 (Expected) of 2005

  • Global Temperature Anomaly = 1.3° C

  • Sea level rise of about 0.23 meter

  • This temperature anomaly is almost certain because of the inertia of the system.

  • The time for this condition is probably about the year 2040.


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Environmental Stresses of 2005

  • Water Scarcity for ~1.7 billion people

  • Tropical Infectious Diseases Spread North

  • Frequent Flooding for over 3 million people

  • About 30 million people subject to starvation


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Political and Societal Stresses of 2005

  • Conflicts over resources

  • About 25 million people displaced from coastal areas

  • Immigrations from countries with widespread disease causes political unrest

  • Dissatisfaction with governments may radicalize internal politics

  • Social services become burden to governments

  • Large decrease in world GDP


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Scenario 2 (Severe) of 2005

  • Global Temperature Anomaly = 2.6° C

  • Sea level rise of about 0.5 meter

  • This scenario looks more and more probable.

  • The time for this condition may be about the year 2040.


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Environmental Stresses of 2005

  • Sea level rise of ~0.5 meter

  • Water scarcity affects over 2 billion people

  • About 50 million people displaced from coastal areas

  • Up to 15 million people face severe flooding

  • Significant increase in diseases including malnutrition and infectious diseases

  • Major changes in marine ecosystems due to ocean acidification


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Political and Societal Stresses of 2005

  • Wealthier nations provoke poorer highly stressed nations to abandon democracy and increase aggressive behavior to neighbors

  • Global fish stocks crash causing conflicts among nations for food.

  • Many nations may privatize water resources causing internal upheavals

  • Globalization will probably end and rapid economic decline will occur.

  • Alliance systems and multinational institutions may end.

  • Private corporations may become more important than governments


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Scenario 3 (Catastrophic) of 2005

  • Global Temperature Anomaly = 5.6° C

  • Sea level rise = 2 meters

  • This condition may occur about the end of the century


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Environmental Stresses of 2005

  • About 170 million people displaced because of sea level rise

  • Water scarcity affects about 3.2 billion people (half today’s population)

  • Collapse of the marine ecosystem

  • Mass starvation due to crop failures and fish depletion

  • Large increase in deaths due to high temperatures, spread of diseases and malnutrition

  • Mass extinction of over 50% of existing species


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Political and Societal Stresses of 2005

  • Massive migration to the north (U.S., Canada, Russia and Europe) leads to chaos in these regions

  • Rage at governments, rise in religious radicalism, and hostility and violence toward immigrants leads to political chaos

  • Economic collapse is a distinct possibility

  • Nuclear war is also a possibility

  • Probably the end of civilization as we know it


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