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Question:
How fast is the warming due to the greenhouse effect? How do we measure the rate of warming and how long will it take to confirm the effect?



Replies:
This is a difficult question. There is general agreement among atmospheric scientists that a rise of 4 degrees Celsius in the average global temperature might result from the greenhouse effect bythe year 2050, or roughly one degree Celsius every 15 to 20 years.

However, there are also many reputable scientists who dissent from this view because they do not agree with the theoretical assumptions underlying the forecast. In fact, some believe a global cooling is more likely. It will require years of global temperature monitoring to establish reliable baseline data from which to measure departures or trends. In the mean time, it would be prudent to restrain the rate of growth in air pollution to avoid making the problem worse (if indeed there IS a problem), and the United Nations have agreed in principle to do this, though it is not likely that much economic activity will actually be restrained. In my own research on this subject, I skipped over the intervening step of trying to predict how much warming would take place (which is the major concern of atmospheric scientists) and went directly to the political and economic consequences of a drastic global warming.

Given crude predictions of future population and future food supply under a global warming scenario, there will likely be enough food to go around, but it will be very important to distribute the food efficiently from productive regions to regions where agriculture will be hard hit (such as Africa). Global warming would make global trade a vitally important issue.

Don Libby



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