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Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change





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by James E. Hansen and Makiko Sato


Climate change is likely to be the predominant scientific, economic, political and moral issue of the 21st century. The fate of humanity and nature may depend upon early recognition and understanding of human-made effects on Earth's climate (Hansen, 2009).

Tools for assessing the expected climate effects of alternative levels of human-made changes of atmospheric composition include (1) Earth's paleoclimate history, showing how climate responded in the past to changes of boundary conditions including atmospheric composition, (2) modern observations of climate change, especially global satellite observations, coincident with rapidly changing human-made and natural climate forcings, and (3) climate models and theory, which aid interpretation of observations on all time scales and are useful for projecting future climate under alternative climate forcing scenarios. Continued...


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