Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Extreme weather linked to global warming, Nobel prize-winning scientist says

Date:
August 20, 2012
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
New scientific analysis strengthens the view that record-breaking summer heat, crop-withering drought and other extreme weather events in recent years do, indeed, result from human activity and global warming, Nobel Laureate Mario J. Molina has said.

New scientific analysis strengthens the view that record-breaking summer heat, crop-withering drought and other extreme weather events in recent years do, indeed, result from human activity and global warming, Nobel Laureate Mario J. Molina, Ph.D. explains.
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stφckli (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon (ocean color, compositing, 3D globes, animation). Data and technical support: MODIS Land Group; MODIS Science Data Support Team; MODIS Atmosphere Group; MODIS Ocean Group Additional data: USGS EROS Data Center (topography); USGS Terrestrial Remote Sensing Flagstaff Field Center (Antarctica); Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (city lights).

New scientific analysis strengthens the view that record-breaking summer heat, crop-withering drought and other extreme weather events in recent years do, indeed, result from human activity and global warming, Nobel Laureate Mario J. Molina, Ph.D., said at a conference in Philadelphia on August 20.

Molina, who shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for helping save the world from the consequences of ozone depletion, presented the keynote address at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

"People may not be aware that important changes have occurred in the scientific understanding of the extreme weather events that are in the headlines," Molina said. "They are now more clearly connected to human activities, such as the release of carbon dioxide ― the main greenhouse gas ― from burning coal and other fossil fuels."

Molina emphasized that there is no "absolute certainty" that global warming is causing extreme weather events. But he said that scientific insights during the last year or so strengthen the link. Even if the scientific evidence continues to fall short of the absolute certainly measure, the heat, drought, severe storms and other weather extremes may prove beneficial in making the public more aware of global warming and the need for action, said Molina.

"It's important that people are doing more than just hearing about global warming," he said. "People may be feeling it, experiencing the impact on food prices, getting a glimpse of what everyday life may be like in the future, unless we as a society take action."

Molina, who is with the University of California, San Diego, suggested a course of action based on an international agreement like the Montreal Protocol that phased out substances responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer.

"The new agreement should put a price on the emission of greenhouse gases, which would make it more economically favorable for countries to do the right thing. The cost to society of abiding by it would be less than the cost of the climate change damage if society does nothing," he said.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Molina, F. Sherwood Rowland, Ph.D., and Paul J. Crutzen, Ph.D., established that substances called CFCs in aerosol spray cans and other products could destroy the ozone layer. The ozone layer is crucial to life on Earth, forming a protective shield high in the atmosphere that blocks potentially harmful ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Molina, Rowland and Crutzen shared the Nobel Prize for that research. After a "hole" in that layer over Antarctica was discovered in 1985, scientists established that it was indeed caused by CFCs, and worked together with policymakers and industry representatives around the world to solve the problem. The result was the Montreal Protocol, which phased out the use of CFCs in 1996.

Adopted and implemented by countries around the world, the Montreal Protocol eliminated the major cause of ozone depletion, said Molina, and stands as one of the most successful international agreements. Similar agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol, have been proposed to address climate change. But Molina said these agreements have largely failed.

Unlike the ozone depletion problem, climate change has become highly politicized and polarizing, he pointed out. Only a small set of substances were involved in ozone depletion, and it was relatively easy to get the small number of stakeholders on the same page. But the climate change topic has exploded. "Climate change is a much more pervasive issue," he explained. "Fossil fuels, which are at the center of the problem, are so important for the economy, and it affects so many other activities. That makes climate change much more difficult to deal with than the ozone issue."

In addition to a new international agreement, other things must happen, he said. Scientists need to better communicate the scientific facts underlying climate change. Scientists and engineers also must develop cheap alternative energy sources to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Molina said that it's not certain what will happen to Earth if nothing is done to slow down or halt climate change. "But there is no doubt that the risk is very large, and we could have some consequences that are very damaging, certainly for portions of society," he said. "It's not very likely, but there is some possibility that we would have catastrophes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "Extreme weather linked to global warming, Nobel prize-winning scientist says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820114041.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2012, August 20). Extreme weather linked to global warming, Nobel prize-winning scientist says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820114041.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "Extreme weather linked to global warming, Nobel prize-winning scientist says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120820114041.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Is North Korea Planning Nuclear Test #4?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — South Korean officials say North Korea is preparing to conduct another nuclear test, but is Pyongyang just bluffing this time? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

Nasa Gives You An Excuse to Post a Selfie on Earth Day

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) — NASA is inviting all social media users to take a selfie of themselves alongside nature and to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or Google Plus with the hashtag #globalselfie. NASA's goal is to crowd-source a collection of snapshots of the earth, ground-up, that will be used to create one "unique mosaic of the Blue Marble." This image will be available to all in May. Since this is probably one of the few times posting a selfie to Twitter won't be embarrassing, we suggest you give it a go for a good cause. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins