21st Century policy decisions will affect Earth's climate for millennia

Posted on Friday, February 12, 2016

A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change demonstrates that anthropogenic Carbon emissions will influence the climate system for many thousands of years and that the full impact of these emissions only becomes apparent when considering changes over millennia rather than centuries given the time taken for the climate system to respond. For example, the study shows that if the current Carbon emission pathway is followed for the rest of this century, our planet will be committed to several 10s of metres of sea level rise in the coming millennia, requiring costly and disruptive mitigation and adaptation strategies. A key message of the article is that decisions made this century will have a major impact on climate change and thus civilisation for thousands of years. Glenn Milne in our department is a co-author on this study.

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