The Human Impact on Climate; December 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Karl, Trenberth; 6 Page(s)
"The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate." With these carefully chosen words, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (jointly supported by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program) recognized in 1995 that human beings are far from inconsequential when it comes to the health of the planet. What the panel did not spell out-and what scientists and politicians dispute fiercely-is exactly when, where and how much that influence has and will be felt.
So far the climate changes thought to relate to human endeavors have been relatively modest. But various projections suggest that the degree of change will become dramatic by the middle of the 21st century, exceeding anything seen in nature during the past 10,000 years. Although some regions may benefit for a time, overall the alterations are expected to be disruptive or even severe. If researchers could clarify the extent to which specific activities influence climate, they would be in a much better position to suggest strategies for ameliorating the worst disturbances. Is such quantification possible? We think it is and that it can be achieved by the year 2050-but only if that goal remains an international priority.