Climate scientists on Earth’s two futures.

CBS News discusses Climate scientists on Earth’s two futures. The worst effects of climate change don’t have to happen, scientists say. But humans’ actions in the near future will determine if they do. For more than three decades, climate scientists have accurately forecast how carbon emissions would cause a global rise in temperatures. Now they’re looking ahead at the decades to come.

When it comes to predicting the future, scientists do not see just one possible outcome. Rather, they say the actions humans take in the near-term will have a major effect on how Earth changes for generations beyond.

“We need to change our course in the next few years because it’s still possible, I think, to avoid the worst outcomes,” Former NASA scientist James Hansen told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley.

Michael Mann, a geophysicist whose work has shown today’s elevated rate of warming began with the industrial revolution, sees this bit of good news through the climate models scientists work from today. Current projections create a more comprehensive look at how the climate responds to carbon dioxide, including how the ocean and plants can absorb some of the carbon humans have released into the atmosphere.

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