Bay Area Scientist Analyzes Climate Models
May 3 - KGO (KGO) -- In a few short hours, a United Nations panel will issue the third in a series of reports on climate change -- and what to do about it. Today, ABC7 News sat down with a local scientist who helped develop the climate models on which this new report is largely based.
When Dr. Bill Collins of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab opens his computer and shows a model projecting the earth's future climate, it is frightening.
Bill Collins, Ph.D. Climate Physicist: "We have taken the planet to a place it has not been in recorded history. And we're going to take it to a place, if we're not careful, to a place it has not been in 20-million years."
Dr. Collins is a physicist and a lead author of the first report by the International Panel on Climate Change. Most of us have heard the predictions: melting ice caps, rising seas, increasing severe storms like hurricanes, heat waves in America and Europe that last entire summers at nine or ten degrees higher. In California, a 30-40 percent loss of snow pack, affecting the water supply.
These long-term climate change models did not come easily. They require terabits of data, mountains of it, oceans, and continents; for that matter, a volcano too.
Remember Mount Pinatubo's eruption in the Philippines in 1991? it cooled the planet temporarily by three degrees. Collins and others were able to measure, quantify and standardize.
Bill Collins, Ph.D. Climate Physicist: "We used Pinatubo as a natural climate change experiment."
That's one reason science remains so certain yet also hopeful, because while man's use of fossil fuels has already changed earth's climate for several thousand years to come. Those same models show that we have not reached a tipping point.
Bill Collins, Ph.D. Climate Physicist: There are literally no fundamental problems that stand in the way of a solution. It's a matter of political will."
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