After much anticipation, the U.N. recently released its Fifth Assessment Report on climate change, leaving us with more certainty than ever that we need to do more to address the effects of climate change
In case you don’t have the time to read over the entire 900-page document we recommend a few visual aids that can help you understand some of the report’s major findings and what their implications will be for life as we know it.
To see how the U.N. projects temperatures could change over your lifetime, check out The Guardian’s interactive graphic, which allows you to input your birthday and see how much the planet has already warmed over your lifetime and how much hotter it will get. According to The Guardian’s analysis, if the world continues along with business as usual, a child born today would see rise of 2.7 – 6.3 degrees Celsius in his or her lifetime. To put that in perspective, 4 degrees was enough to take the planet out of the last ice age.
Image taken from The Guardian website
Because of the long time span and the detail of The Guardian’s graph, you can also see how temperature fluctuations have varied over time while exhibiting a clear general upward trend. This is especially important given the reactions of many climate skeptics to the lull in temperature increases over the last 15 years. As the graph shows, however, there’s no reason to believe this lull will continue if we continue business as usual.
Stanford grad students experienced the thrill and complexity of dealing with climate change head on recently, as Climate Interactive brought our World Energy exercise to Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy for the second year running.
Drew Jones briefs Stanford students ahead of the World Energy exercise
Led by Climate Interactive Co-Director Drew Jones, World Energy challenges participants to create an energy policy that will limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius while at the same time meeting economic and political goals. With our En-ROADS model, participants can adjust inputs such as emissions prices, efficiency standards, taxes and subsidies, land use changes and breakthrough improvements from R&D, and see the effects in real time.
Much of this year’s exercise was familiar — groups of astute grad students plugging away at the models on their computer screens, lots of invisible light bulbs clicking on, a good deal of surprise — but this time around, we offered a slight twist — thanks to funding from Stanford, the entire simulation was run online.
“One thing the students found particularly helpful this year was the fact that the simulation was online and accessible via a web browser, so the students could run scenarios from anywhere at any time and share results with teammates,” Jones said. “We’re now exploring the possibility of moving it into a shareable space so educators across the world can have access to it”
Travis Franck presents Climate Interactive’s “Climate Pathways” mobile app
As part of its ongoing interview series, the Climate Change Initiative at University of Massachussetts Lowell talked recently with Climate Interactive’s Travis Franck about some of our simulators and the insights they’re providing on climate change.
As Franck explains, Climate Interactive’s emphasis on an analytical approach called systems thinking gives its models a uniquely comprehensive view of the complex systems involved in climate change.
“Very often in academia, we work in silos, or departments,” he says. “With systems, it’s really thinking across those silos…and it’s really taking that perspective that combines those multiple disciplines and then looks at all the feedbacks and interactions.” Continue reading
In his latest blog for Transition Voice, Prof. Guy McPherson of the University of Arizona provides us with an excellent reminder of just how urgent climate action is with a list of 19 natural phenomena that are exacerbating global warming. The list illustrates a point that we’ve written about in previous posts and frequently try to reinforce — unless we act quickly, the effects of climate change will be felt faster and harder than we tend to realize.
Here’s the full list: Continue reading
“To save the spineless world from itself, supplying the truth isn’t enough. You need to supply the spine, too.” – Joe Romm
Photo by Doug Grinbergs
When NASA climate scientist James Hansen testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 1988, it marked a watershed moment in history. Not only did it bring global warming into the public eye, it also set off a major alarm in certain corridors of power that business as usual was under attack.In the years that followed, Hansen was met with considerable censorship, mostly from NASA and the White House, as his efforts to raise public awareness about global warming intensified. But this did little to dampen his conviction, and today Hansen’s message rings louder than ever before.
Fellow climate expert Joe Romm may have summed up Hansen’s struggle better than anyone:
“We live in a spineless world,” he said as he presented Hansen with this year’s Ridenhour Courage Prize. “To save the spineless world from itself, supplying the truth isn’t enough. You need to supply the spine, too.” Continue reading
For years, Climate Interactive’s World Climate exercise has been used in classrooms and conferences around the world to help students and professionals better understand the challenges facing international climate change negotiations. Our friends at MIT have documented a recent exercise that beautifully captures the experience:
Led in this instance by MIT professor and Climate Interactive team member John Sterman, World Climate is simple to play–you can download all the materials for free on our website–and gives participants a very accurate glimpse into the issues facing U.N. climate change negotiations. Participants are broken into six different blocs–the U.S., the EU, other developed countries, China, India and other developing countries–and are tasked with crafting proposals to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100.
Participants must agree to a timeline in which they will cap carbon emissions and eventually reduce them. They must also agree to a rate of emissions reductions and can add additional measures such as increasing net forestation. And, of course, they hope to do all this within their own financial means. Continue reading