US, UK scientists: Cutting all CO2 emissions would not stop global warming

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Calls from environmentalists and lawmakers to cut carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming would do nothing to stop global temperatures from rising, according to American and British climate scientists.

In fact, completely stopping all man-made carbon emissions would do nothing to stop the Earth from warming.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the UK’s Royal Society have jointly put out a publication to lay out the knowns and unknowns of global warming science. The publication says that global temperatures are rising due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels.

The publication, entitled “Climate Change: Evidence & Causes,” adds that scientists are more certain than ever that the continued, unabated burning of fossil fuels could warm the planet by as much as 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century.

Fears like this have spurred the U.S. and Europe to cut carbon emissions and try to convince the rest of the world to follow suit. In the U.S., the Obama administration has begun efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Across the Atlantic, Europeans are calling for a 40 percent emissions reduction by 2040.

But these efforts will likely be in vain, according to American and British scientists, because even stopping all greenhouse gas emissions would do nothing to stop global warming.

“Even if emissions of greenhouse gases were to suddenly stop, Earth’s surface temperature would not cool and return to the level in the pre-industrial era for thousands of years,” according to the joint publication.

Global surface temperatures would stay elevated for a thousand years and sea levels would continue to rise for centuries — even after temperatures stopped rising. There would need to be lots of cooling to reverse glacial melting and to reform the Greenland ice sheet.

In summation, U.S. and UK scientists say, “The current CO2-induced warming of Earth is therefore essentially irreversible on human timescales.”

Despite the dismal outlook of the planet, international diplomats are still adamant that they can hammer out an international climate deal in the near future. Though talks were hung up last year over disagreements about the level of international wealth transfers from rich countries to poor countries.

Last year, 132 countries stormed out of United Nations negotiations after it was clear that the U.S., Europe and Australia were not going to agree to any firm climate aid requirements until 2015. Australian diplomats, in particular, were accused by poor countries and activists of not taking the climate talks seriously.

“They wore T-shirts and gorged on snacks throughout the negotiation. That gives some indication of the manner they are behaving in,” said a spokeswoman for the Climate Action Network last year.

Diplomats are set to reconvene in 2015 where countries are expected to hash out an international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

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