Today, six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.That warming stems from a new report headed by James Hansen, one of the world's leading experts and voices for climate change science. Based on the results of the study titled Climate Change and Trace Gases, Hansen is predicting that the nations of the world have a slim 10 year window to put in place the radical changes needed to avert catastrophic global warming.
In an email to the UK's Independent Hansen said, "In my opinion, among our papers this one probably does the best job of making clear that the Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of our control."
The reason for the alarm focuses on the impact of what is termed an "albedo flip". It layman's terms it's simple. Right now the Earth has what amounts to two continent sized mirrors - the ice sheets of Antarctica and the north polar ice cap - that are reflecting heat back into space and minimizing warming. Once those start to shrink, the heat that used to be bounced off the planet will be absorbed by open waters and exposed rock, causing a runaway warming effect that will lead to the rapid collapse of the world's remaining ice sheets.
If that happens, sea levels are expected to rise not by 40 cm, as predicted by the UN consensus, but by several meters within the next century.
The complete report is posted online through the NASA website.