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The Greenhouse Gamble: We Still Have a Chance to Stop Climate Change

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Here’s some news to brighten up your weekend: there’s still a 50/50 chance that our planet’s temperature won’t rise more than two degrees Celsius, and we won’t have to suffer the consequences of flooding, starvation, and animal extinction. But don’t start celebrating yet–there’s still plenty of work to be done.

A group from researchers at MIT used the university’s Integrated Global Systems Model, a computer simulation of global economic developments and climate processes, to calculate hundreds of climate change scenarios. The results aren’t surprising: the quick implementation of carbon-cutting policies now (read: at the upcoming Copenhagen 15 conference) can significantly cut the risk of a temperature increase. If carbon emissions are left unchecked, however, climate change will quickly spin out of control.

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The simulation also shows that modest emission cuts can decrease the probability of extreme temperature change. That means even small changes by big industrial companies could help save the day.

There’s no silver bullet with the climate change quandary, and even if we do everything right there is still a chance that our planet’s temperature will go haywire. But at least now we know that it’s worth trying–and that we all have something to gain at the COP15 conference.

[MIT]

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