March 2007 Update: The following text was written in 2004. The second hypothesis has since been eliminated, and both 1 and 3 appear to be taking place. This discussion makes it clear how fast both climate change is advancing and also how rapidly our acceptance of the fact is also developing. The question is how soon will society begin to react and take action?
If we take the view that the increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations since the industrial revolution have created a warming effect on the climate, and disregard the question as to whether the warming is unprecedented or not. Three different possible hypotheses exist, which predict the response of the atmosphere in the near future to the increase in CO2 (Soon at al., 1999):-
- The first hypothesis adopted by the IPCC (2001) takes the view that the atmosphere will amplify the effect of CO2, the consequence being a large temperature increase.
- Hypothesis 2 predicts the opposite that the atmosphere will respond to counteract the increase in CO2, subsequently resulting in no significant increase in global temperatures (Lindzen, 1994; Spencer and Braswell, 1997).
- The third hypothesis that temperature increases will lead to an increase in natural disasters including flooding, storms and drought. (This hypothesis has been grouped together with hypothesis 1 to be what is known known as the “global warming phenomenon”.)
The predictions which have resulted from the logic of the likely combination of 1. and 3. comprise the consensus view, and have led to the belief that it is necessary to dramatically reduce world energy consumption and builds the basis of the Kyoto Protocol (Soon at al., 1999).
Follow the link here to read further discussion of the global warming hypothesis.