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Thu Mar 24, 2016, 04:57 AM

The Struggle of Clear Climate Communication

http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/03/the-struggle-of-clear-climate-communication/474987/



The Struggle of Clear Climate Communication
Robinson Meyer Mar 23, 2016

There has never before been a scientific study quite like the one released this week by James Hansen, a climate scientist and the former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The paper, published Tuesday in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, reports that the near-term effects of climate change could be much more catastrophic than previously anticipated.

It warns that, by 2100, the planet’s natural system could change so dramatically that enormous “superstorms,” sometimes powerful enough to hurl ocean boulders hundreds of feet into the air, will form in the Atlantic Ocean. Seas could also rise so quickly that they will inundate coastal cities—including New York, Washington, and San Francisco—rendering them unlivable before the end of the century.

Hansen’s paper isn’t the first to spell out a scenario for climate doom. What makes it so harrowing, though, is that it says all these consequences would follow the global average temperature rising a relatively small amount: only two degrees Celsius. That isn’t an arbitrary target. The nations of the world have repeatedly agreed to keep climate change specifically below two degrees Celsius, but, without as yet uninvented technology, it will be scientifically unlikely.

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