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Climate change nearing the end-game – unprecedented action is needed

Take unprecedented action or bear the consequences, says eminent scientist and advisor, REneweconomy, 

“Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”Those are the challenging words from Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, for twenty years the head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a senior advisor to Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union.

In the foreword to a new report, Schellnhuber says the issue now “is the very survival of our civilisation, where conventional means of analysis may become useless”.

The report, What Lies Beneath: The understatement of existential climate risk, is released today by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.

Schellnhuber describes climate warming as an “existential risk”, and says the report highlights crucial insights which may lurk at the fringes of conventional policy analysis but which have a new resonance in today’s circumstances, “a unique situation with no precise historic analogue” in which “the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is now greater, and the Earth warmer, than human beings have ever experienced”.

He says it is hardly surprising that a trend towards “erring on the side of least drama” and an understatement of risks has emerged in the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after delivering their five Assessment Reports over the last three decades.

This he attributes, in part, to the statistical “probability obsession” of orthodox science, where repeating the same experiment on an object many, many times can identify the likelihood of various outcomes.

He says that if this were applied literally to climate warming:

Strictly speaking, we would have to redo the Industrial Revolution and the greenhouse-gas emissions it triggered a thousand times or so, always starting with the Earth system in its 1750 pre-industrial state.  Then calculate the averaged observed outcome of that planetary experiment in terms of mean surface-temperature rise, global biological productivity, total number of climate refugees, and many other variables. This is a nonsensical notion.

Schellnhuber argues that calculating probabilities makes little sense in the most critical instances, such as the methane-release dynamics in thawing permafrost areas or the potential failing of entire states in the climate crisis. ……..
What Lies Beneath analyses why:

  • Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that will either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential, unless dramatic action is taken.
  • The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence.
  • IPCC reports tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, and downplaying the more extreme and more damaging outcomes, and are now becoming dangerously misleading with the acceleration of climate impacts globally.
  • Why this is a particular concern with potential climatic “tipping points”, the passing of critical thresholds which result in step changes in the climate system. Under-reporting on these issues is contributing to the “failure of imagination” in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.

August 20, 2018 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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