University of Kentucky CAER Home


CO2 and Climatic Change

AUTHOR: Irene M. Smith
DATE: May 1988

This review examines recent developments in the issue of a greenhouse warming due to increased concentrations of CO2 and other trace gases in the atmosphere. Past, current and possible future trends in the emissions of the greenhouse gases are summarised. The limitations and results of models to study possible climatic changes are discussed and evidence from empirical studies appraised as a means of detecting such changes. Precautionary measures concerned with abatement and control of CO2 emissions are outlined. These include improved energy use efficiency, substitution of energy sources as well as recycling, removal, utilisation and disposal of CO2.

It is concluded that future emissions of the greenhouse gases form one of the greatest sources of uncertainty. Climatic model results suggest that there will be a noticeable global warming in one or two decades with more uncertain regional changes. Observations are consistent with these results. An improved understanding of such climatic changes is required to provide a firmer basis for policy decisions.

The scope of the report excludes the potentially detrimental or beneficial effects of a climatic warming on human welfare and hence also policies of adaptation to such changes.