- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The future effects of global warming are hazy at
best, according to researchers on Tuesday who urged a better system for
predicting long-term climate change.
- Otherwise, according to a report by the
National Research Council, floods, storms and droughts will continue to
devastate agriculture, kill people and destroy property.
- The report, put together by nationwide
teams of experts, found that climate was changing and would continue to
do so with or without human influences.
- "In 1992 and 1993 ice cores approximately
1.8 miles long were extracted from the heart of the Greenland ice sheet,
revealing changes in the Earth's climate system over the last 150,000 years
or so," the report said.
- "One of the most remarkable revelations
of these cores was the fact that the climate in the Holocene (the past
10,000 years) -- a period that we might consider representative of our
modern climate conditions -- has undergone considerable natural variation."
- In modern times, much milder extremes
have had huge effects -- such as the "devastating" floods in
the U.S. Midwest in 1993 and 1997, the research said.
- Then there is global warming, which most
experts agree is partly caused by humans who burn fossil fuels, cut down
forests and release chemicals into the atmosphere, according to the report.
- The study, funded in part by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said researchers had been
able to make some long-term predictions. For instance, experts know about
El Nino, the Pacific current blamed for causing droughts, floods and other
weather disruptions every few years.
- Rainfall in northwestern Europe and western
North America can also be predicted months in advance, to some degree.
- But making longer forecasts would be
harder because of the complexities of climate change, the researchers said.
- The National Research Council is made
up of three government institutes -- the National Academy of Sciences,
the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.