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Study: Climate Change At Its Fastest Since Extinction Of Dinosaurs

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A wind turbine stands near a coal-fired power plant. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A wind turbine stands near a coal-fired power plant. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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AMARILLO, Texas (CBS Houston/AP) – A report issued out of Stanford University is claiming that the Earth’s climate is changing at its fastest rates since the time of the dinosaurs’ extinction approximately 65 million years ago.

“Humans have never seen anything like this,” study co-author Christopher Field observed to Scientific American.

According to their study, which was published in the journal Science, the rate could even increase moreso from where it is presently.

Field, who is with the Carnegie Institution for Science and works in the Department of Global Ecology, collaborated with Stanford’s environmental Earth system science associate professor Noah Diffenbaugh for the study.

In order to reach their conclusion, the pair reportedly examined every major weather event or climate transition since the dinosaurs were rendered extinct, including the time during which the planet emerged from the ice age.

At that time, temperatures were said to have increased at a rage of 3-5 degrees Celsius – on par with today’s climate shifts. However, those earlier changes occurred over a period of about 20,000 years, while today, they are happening within the span of decades, the researchers told Scientific American.

There could be numerous consequences of the dramatic climate shift, and its effects could have far-reaching and long-lasting implications, the pair stated.

“In responding to those rapid changes in climate, organisms will encounter a highly fragmented landscape that is dominated by a broad range of human influences,” researchers were quoted as saying in the study. “The combination of high climate-change velocity and multidimensional human fragmentation will present terrestrial ecosystems with an environment that is unprecedented in recent evolutionary history.”

Some are taking the matter seriously, and are taking strides by making an effort to embrace alternative energy sources. For example, the California-based energy company that recently reached a deal to buy the first phase of a 500-megawatt wind turbine farm planned for the Texas Panhandle.

Officials with EDF Renewable Energy of San Diego say the agreement with Lincoln Renewable Energy includes an option to acquire the second phase of the Hereford Wind Project. Hereford is about 40 miles southwest of Amarillo.

Construction on the first phase should begin later this year. Transmission lines will connect the wind generating capacity of the area to high electricity demand parts of Texas.

The study noted that alternative energies – particularly those that move humans away from fossil fuels – will help, though it may not be an easy feat to accomplish.

“Demand for energy-enabled improvement in human well-being creates additional inertia, particularly given that 1.3 billion people currently lack reliable access to electricity, and 2.6 billion people rely on biomass for cooking,” the study noted, according to Scientific American. “The political process provides further inertia, both because emissions continue as political negotiations take place and because mitigation proposals are built around gradual emissions reductions that guarantee further emissions even if such proposals are eventually adopted.”

And even with successful efforts in that vein, researchers doubt present climate shifts will be stopped entirely – rather, they would likely only happen at a slower rate.

“Even with aggressive mitigation, the changes are substantial,” Field noted, “and they’re still very fast.”

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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