Humans' Climate Impact Hard to Assess

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, Oct. 5 (UPI) — The possible impact of human activity on the world’s environment and climate may not be known for 40 years or more, U.S. researchers say.

A Texas A&M study shows that although it is evident the world is experiencing one of the fastest warming rates since the beginning of climate record keeping, it will take a long time before a statistically significant difference can be seen between possible human impacts and those caused by natural climate variability, a university release reported Tuesday.

The study analyzed 150 years of climate data to determine past trends and annual temperature fluctuations and then used the data to simulate possible temperature scenarios for the rest of this century, the release said.

The effect of humanity’s carbon footprint on the environment may not be measurable for decades, if at all, the study concludes.

Their study has broad implications for international policy making and protocols, including initiatives like cap-and-trade, programs that provide financial incentives to companies that pollute less than others, the study authors said.

“In the end,” lead author Doug Sherman at A&M’s College of Geosciences said, “we found that even with an aggressive international effort to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases, it may be decades before we can see definitive results.”

“There is something here for both sides of the ‘war against global warming,’” Sherman said. “Do we charge ahead with international agreements and policies, or do we do nothing? Do we save money for our grandchildren’s future or do we try to save the climate, not knowing if our efforts will have any effect?

“Unlike a true war,” he said, “we cannot anticipate victory. We have, at best, a stalemate.”

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