Reason for Alarm?
According to some, humanity is sitting on a volatile time bomb—one that could send the entire planet into a tailspin of epic destruction, with detonation not far in the future. But is this a realistic scenario?
It is not easy to decipher to what extent this human-induced accumulation of greenhouse gases is responsible for the global warming trend. Other factors—natural climatic variations, changes in the sun’s energy, and the cooling effects of pollutant aerosols—affect our planet’s temperature, and understanding in these areas is incomplete.
Nevertheless, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated there is a “discernible” human influence on climate. The observed warming trend is “unlikely to be entirely natural in origin.” In another report, the IPCC wrote, “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities” (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
The computer models used to forecast global climate change are still unable to accurately simulate how things may change at smaller scales. As a result, scientists generally feel more certain about large-scale projections (global temperature and precipitation change, average sea level rise) than small-scale ones (local temperature and precipitation changes, altered weather patterns, soil moisture changes).