Only Carbon Emissions Reduction Can Best Fight Climate Change -- New Study

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By Reissa Su | July 1, 2014 8:14 AM EST

A new study has found that only carbon emissions reductions present the best possible chance to address climate change. The findings of the study by University of Chicago climatologist Raymond Pierrehumbert suggested that unless the world does something to reduce carbon dioxide, nothing "is going to matter much for climate."

REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
Steam rises from the stacks of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming in this file photo taken March 14, 2014. The U.S. power sector must cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, according to federal regulations unveiled on Monday that form the centerpiece of the Obama administration's climate change strategy. States which rely heavily on coal-fired power plants are thought to have the toughest tasks ahead. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS POLITICS)

According to reports, the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere last longer than any other climate pollutants emitted by humans. The effects can last for thousands of years even if emissions stop.

Pierrehumbert is a professor in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago and was awarded the King Carl XVI Gustaf Chair in Environmental Sciences at Stockholm University for 2014-15.

The study revealed the benefit and importance of lowering carbon emissions. Although other pollutants like methane should be reduced, but the urgency lies in stopping fossil fuels from burning and emitting carbon dioxide.

Worldwide concern about the rise of carbon emissions in the atmosphere has grown over the years. Carbon dioxide levels in the northern hemisphere had surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in history. According to climate scientists, the global milestone was of "symbolic and scientific significance."

Michael Jarraud, the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said greenhouse gas levels have been increasing by 2 ppm every year in the last 10 years. Jurraud said "time is running out" for this generation to save the planet for the future. He said the new record for carbon dioxide levels will serve as a "wake-up call" for climate change action.

CSIRO, Australia's premier research organisation, fellow Dr Paul Fraser said the carbon dioxide reading at Cape Grim, the northwestern tip of Tasmania, is about 397 to 398 ppm and may reach 400 ppm by 2016. He said the northern hemisphere is where most sources of fossil fuels are burning. According to Fraser, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may surge to 500 ppm unless countries around the world make "serious" emission cuts. 

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere follow a seasonal pattern in the northern hemisphere. An increase is observed throughout the winter with the highest peak in late spring as plants begin to absorb carbon dioxide out of the air.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Urquhart / )
Steam rises from the stacks of the coal-fired Jim Bridger Power Plant outside Point of the Rocks, Wyoming in this file photo taken March 14, 2014. The U.S. power sector must cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, according to federal regulations unveiled on Monday that form the centerpiece of the Obama administration's climate change strategy. States which rely heavily on coal-fired power plants are thought to have the toughest tasks ahead. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENERGY BUSINESS POLITICS)
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