Reducing greenhouse gases now may lower climate change risk


A new climate analysis by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and elsewhere, which focuses on probability outcomes, finds that even moderate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions now will significantly lower the risks of dramatic, future climate change.

The analysis also indicates that, to avoid a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F.) above preindustrial levels — an oft-discussed goal — these emissions reductions had better come soon. If not, say the researchers, dramatic changes in climate driven by feedback loops will become difficult — and perhaps impossible — to control.

The analysis lays out climate salvation in terms of odds. We still have around a 50-50 chance, it says, of stabilizing climate and avoiding a temperature increase of much more than 2 degrees C. (That’s supposed to be encouraging, by the way.) Generally, scientists think that keeping temperature increases to no more than that will avoid dramatic sea level rise, as well as a disruption of agriculture and natural ecosystems.