Report on Climate Stabilization Targets Lays Out Potential Impacts


  • Randy Showstack


Emissions reduction choices made today are critical in determining impacts that will be experienced not just during the next several decades but also over the coming centuries and millennia, due to the long atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide (CO2) and time lags in the climate system. This is according to a new report on climate change that attempts to quantify the outcomes of different stabilization targets for greenhouse gas concentrations.

The report, “Climate stabilization targets: Emissions, concentrations, and impacts over decades to millennia,” released on 16 July by a committee of the U.S. National Research Council, indicates that “the Earth is now entering a new geological epoch, sometimes called the Anthropocene, during which the evolution of the planet's environment will be largely controlled by the effects of human activities, notably emissions of carbon dioxide. Actions taken during this century will determine whether the Anthropocene climate anomaly will be a relatively short term and minor deviation from the Holocene climate, or an extreme deviation extending over many thousands of years.”