Researchers once thought the more drastic effects of climate change were centuries away, leaving humans time to adjust their conduct to mitigate the damage.
“The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century,” reports the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, adding Greenland lost 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice each year from 2002 to 2006, and Antarctica lost 36 cubic miles of ice from 2002 to 2005.
It notes 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been reported since 2001. Last year was the warmest year on record, with eight of its 12 months the warmest months on record.
Because of melting ice, sea levels worldwide have risen 8 inches since 1880, and are expected to rise from one to four feet by the year 2100.
The warming caused by greenhouse gasses trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere wouldn’t stop now even if humans immediately quit adding more carbon dioxide.
“Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades if not centuries,” says NASA. “That’s because it takes a while for the planet to respond, and because carbon dioxide – the predominant heat-trapping gas – lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years.”
The public’s invited to hear more about climate change 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center, 701 Front Ave.
The symposium “Climate Change: The Facts, The Fiction, The Future” features speakers from CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.
Physics Professor Kimberly Shaw will lead off with “Venus and the Greenhouse Effect: How Scientists Talk About Scientific Knowledge,” followed by geology Professor David Schwimmer talk on “Paleoclimates and What They Tell Us About the Past and Present.”
Columbus has a connection to an ancient climate. The high sea levels of the Cretaceous Period, from 145.5 million to 65.5 million years ago, created Georgia’s Fall Line, the ancient seacoast. The state chose this site for the city of Columbus so mills here could harness the hydropower from the river’s abrupt drop in elevation.
Following Schwimmer will be William Scott Gunter, an assistant professor of atmospheric science, with “Taking Earth’s Temperature: What Global Measurements Tell Us About Climate Change,” and then environmental science Professor Troy Keller will talk about “’Hacking’ Your Carbon Footprint.”
After that, the audience gets about 30 minutes to ask questions, followed by a reception with refreshments.
“This is in a sense a followup to the march on Washington,” Schwimmer said, referring to Saturday’s “March for Science” at the capital.
Those who couldn’t travel to Washington wanted to have a local event, he said.