Global warming is undeniable, according to an atmospheric science specialist speaking at the University of Wisconsin on climate change Tuesday. The second annual Wisconsin Climate Change Forum attracted hundreds of people to Weeks Hall, where Susan Solomon presented a summation of recent global warming findings. “Eleven of the last 12 years have been the hottest in history,” Solomon said. “The current conclusion of greenhouse gases, and Earth’s rate of change are unprecedented. Humans are forcing the climate in a new way.” The lecture, entitled “Climate Change: A Review for Everyone,” began with a discussion of global warming trends over the course of the past century and continued with discussions of Arctic changes, fluctuating rainfall, long-lived gasses causing climate change, fossil fuel burning and various ice and ocean topics. Solomon explained climates of the distant past tell us temperature and carbon dioxide emissions are coupled, and with constant CO2 emissions comes an increase in average global temperature. “If we continue with business as usual, by the end of the century, average global temperature will have risen approximately 5 degrees, inland about 6 degrees and the Arctic 12 degrees,” Solomon said. Temperature increases like these will have severe implications, including the melting of polar ice caps and glaciers, she explained. If everything melts, Solomon said there will be a 6-meter increase in sea level, drastically affecting coastlines worldwide. “In Vietnam, just a 1-meter rise in sea level would threaten 17 million people,” Solomon said. Solomon is known for having pioneered the theory explaining the ozone hole in Antarctica and is recognized as one of the first people to discover its cause. According to Mark Marohl, representative from the Gaylor Nelson Institute for Environmental Study, Solomon also serves as a co-chair of a group in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently won a Nobel Peace Prize for its 2007 IPCC Scientific Assessment of Climate Change. “Susan is an excellent speaker,” said Dan Virmont, UW professor of weather and climate. “No one is more at the center of the process than she is, so we’re very lucky to have her.” In an attempt to provide the best available view of the known and the unknown, Solomon said people should “just look at the facts.” “Let’s be balanced by saying what we know and what we don’t,” she added. The current Koyoto Protocol requires countries to decrease emissions by too little to initiate the necessary change, Solomon said. Larger reductions in emissions are required to keep temperature increases below 2- or 3-degrees.
JAKE NAUGHTON/Herald photo