A new study by Carnegie’s Ken Caldeira and Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures concludes that about half of the warming occurs within the first 10 years after an instantaneous step increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration, but about one-quarter of the warming occurs more than a century after the step increase. Their work is published in Environmental Research Letters.
Could replacing coal-fired electricity plants with generators fueled by natural gas bring global warming to a halt in this century? What about rapid construction of massive numbers of solar or wind farms, hydroelectric dams, or nuclear reactors—or the invention of new technology for capturing the carbon dioxide produced by fossil-fueled power plants and storing it permanently underground? Nathan Myhrvold of Intellectual Ventures teamed up with Carnegie Institution’s Ken Caldeira to calculate the expected climate effects of replacing the world’s supply of electricity from coal plants with any of eight cleaner options.