The damage is already locked in, not for a mere few hundred years, but at least 1000 years.
Yep, we can't accurately predict when we'll all have our long promised jet packs and space cars, but thanks to beaut computer models (hey, don't knock it, where would the derivatives markets be without computer models!), we humans can predict the climate 1000 years hence.
Gawd we're clever!
(Give self pat on the back for being part of the superior species.)
Last week the National Academy of Sciences published an analysis of carbon emissions that concluded that no matter how quickly or by how much we reduce carbon dioxide levels in the here and now the climate change damage is locked and loaded for the next 1000 years.
Well, that sort of time line and precision sure sends me into a frenzy of carbon reducing activity!
Gosh darn it, if I'd known that the climate on Earth would keep changing over the next 1000 years I would have set up residence on a far more reliable planet.
"People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide, the climate would go back to normal in 100 years, 200 years," lead author Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a telephone news conference. "That's not true."
Alas, I can't find a definition of "normal climate". As far as I'm aware the normal state of Earth is ice-covered, semi-regularly interrupted with a few thousand years of balmy weather, briefly suitable for human breading and voracious consumption.
"... heat absorbed by the ocean is released slowly, and will continue to contribute to global warming even if the concentration of greenhouse gases should decline, the authors said.
Solomon said in a statement that absorption of carbon dioxide and release of heat -- one acting to cool the Earth and the other to warm it -- would "work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant for more than 1,000 years."
Arh ha. Temperatures are going to be warm yet constant for a 1000 years?
Gee, if I think about that for too long I'll become hysterical and spend the entire month weeping for future generations who won't need to bother listening to daily weather forecasts.
Climate change has a firm grip