Lancaster University (UK) scientists have proposed a new way of considering society's reactions to global warming by linking societal actions to temperature change.
Using this framework to analyse climate change policies aimed at avoiding dangerous climate change, they suggest that society will have to become fifty times more responsive to global temperature change than it has been since 1990.
The researchers, Dr Andy Jarvis, Dr David Leedal and Professor Nick Hewitt from the Lancaster Environment Centre, also show that if global energy use continues to grow as it has done historically, society would have to up its decarbonization efforts from its historic (160 year) value of 0.6% per year to 13% per year.
Dr Andy Jarvis said: "In order to avoid dangerous climate change, society will have to become much more responsive to the risks and damages that growth in global greenhouse gas emissions impose."
The research, published in Nature Climate Change on 15 July has found that the global growth of new renewable sources of energy since 1990 constitutes a climate-society feedback of a quarter percent per year in the growth rate of CO2 emissions per degree temperature rise.
Professor Nick Hewitt said "If left unmanaged, the climate damages that we experience will motivate society to act to a greater or lesser degree. This could either amplify the growth in greenhouse gas emissions as we repair these damages or dampen them through loss of economic performance. Both are unpredictable and potentially dangerous."
- A. J. Jarvis, D. T. Leedal, C. N. Hewitt. Climate–society feedbacks and the avoidance of dangerous climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1586
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