FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Study: Human Activity May Cause "Extreme Weather"

Global warming has been recognized -- if not completely understood -- for years. What is most controversial about the phenomenon is its cause. Is it a purely natural occurrence, or do humans play a role? Now, a study published in the journal Nature offers convincing evidence linking manmade greenhouse gases with a global rise in temperature and resulting catastrophic weather events -- killer heat waves, floods and melting of glaciers.

The study compared the likelihood of the 2003 European heat waves occurring without human activity, and concluded that it would have been much less likely to have happened. Other climate models -- some able to be run on personal computers -- are being used to study whether this year's devastating floods in Bangladesh and the melting of Himilayan glaciers have similar causes.

One consequence of such research is that countries that permit the emission of greenhouse gas could be held legally liable for weather-related disasters elsewhere in the world if a conclusive link can be established. This would be bad news for the developed world, but even worse news for developing coutries that are industrializing rapidly, often without benefit of pollution controls.

Source: SciDevNet