A scientific study group recommended yesterday that the new Department of Energy spend $100 million in the next 10 years to pinpoint the causes and effects of rising amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Citing "major uncertainties" about the impact of a carbon dioxide buildcap on climate and weather, the study group said there is an "urgent need" to investigate .
Carbon dioxide in small concentrations is normal and necessary for the photosynthesis of plants. But if it continues increasing, it would trap enough of the sun's heat to raise the temperature of the atmosphere and trigger worldwide climate and weather changes.
On the increase since man began to burn coal, oil and natural gas, carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere by almost 10 per cent in the last 20 years , and forecasts double it in the next 50 years.
At worst, scientist say, a doubling of carbon dioxide levels would increase world temperatures by three degress in the tropics and temperate zones and by as much as 11 degress in the polar regions where air currents would carry heat closer to the earth's surface.
While the air closet to the earth would warm up, the stratospheric regions around the world would cool down. The highest regions of the stratosphere might suffer temperature drops of six degress. Which could trigger violent changes in the earths weather because of the temperature differences with the lower regions of the atmosphere.
The study group recommended that the Department of Energy establishes as many as 20 new stations around the globe to sample atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. At present, there are three - in Hawaii, Alaska, and the Antartic.
Chaired by Dr. Alvin Weinberg of the Institute for Energy Analysis, the study group suggested a major program to evaluate the effects of a risking carbon dioxide levels on life in the oceans where excess atmospheric carbon dioxide settles out.