Abstract

What does it mean to consider climate change in the human perspective? Throughout human history, climate has both promoted and constrained human activity. In fact, humans only very recently ha\ c been able to reduce their dependence on climate through advances in technology and organization. The other consideration in the discussion of climate change in the human perspective is how human action affects climate. Arc our actions causing the climate to change in ways or at rates that wilt threaten natural systems or make human adaptations difficult: What actions can we or should we take to alleviate the effects of human action on climate change? To approach these questions, we often use mathematical modeling and computer simulation general circulation models (GCM) to aid our understanding of the relationship between human action and global climate change. Integrated assessment models (IAM) are important tools to studv the impacts of climate change on the environment and society as well as the costs and benefits of various policy options and decisions.

1 present a brief overview of the climate debate, modeling, and the current understanding of the climate processes. I discuss how IAMs evaluate the effects of human-induced climate change and the implications of policy options. Finally, I suggest areas for further consideration,

6.1 Can a Forecast Climate Signal Be Detected in the Climate Record?

Twenty thousand years ago, a mere blink in geologic time, a visitor to the now-productive US. Corn Belt would not have seen the heart of one of the world's foremost granaries, but rather would have seen open spruce parkland forest, where many of the tree species were the same kinds that are found today 500 to 1000 kilometers north in the boreal forests of Canada (e.g., W right et aL, 1993), Similarly, if we could somehow have been flying over the Great Basin in the western United States, we would have seen massive fossil lakes. Some of them stretched hundreds of miles, such as the former hake Bonneville in Utah. We would also have seen the now-fossil beaches (currently visible flying into the Salt Lake City, Utah, Airport or over Mono Lake, California) from high-water stands that date back ten to fifteen thousand years ago. The Ice Age,

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