Monday, July 22, 2013

"A World We Have to Avoid at All Costs"

The Alberta tar sands are Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse gasses. Photo by Kris Krug.
So what about a 4°C rise?  This is a world that we have to avoid at all costs.  Many scientists suggest that a 4°C rise is incompatible with an organised global community.  It is beyond “adaptation.”  Yet this review of 4°C temperature rise does not take into account possible feedbacks and other discontinuities, which on average are anticipated to make the situation worse still.

So a 4 degrees future is something we must avoid.  And that takes us back to 2 degrees – albeit with increasingly lower probabilities of achieving even this.  What does 2°C imply for the wealthy parts of the world, the OECD countries?  It means a 10% reduction in emissions every single year: a 40% reduction in the next few years and a 70% reduction within the decade.  Such reductions are necessary if poor parts of the world are to have a small emission space to help their welfare and wellbeing improve.

Despite the coherence of this analysis, I am repeatedly advised that such levels of mitigation are impossible.  At the same time, living as a civilised global community with a 4 degrees rise would also seem impossible.  In other words: the future is impossible!

So what do we do?  We have to develop a different mind-set – and quickly.  The impossibility we face on mitigation may open us to conceiving of different futures – moving beyond the reductionist thinking of the twentieth century, and towards new ways of framing issues in the twenty-first century."

- Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

"A World We Have to Avoid at All Costs"

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