MITIGATION OF CLIMATE CHANGE
A couple of blogs ago I talked about mitigation and adaptation and geo-engineering. Today the IPCC released the summary for policy makers for the third IPCC working group. (link to report
). This report says that if we want to keep the levels of CO2 below levels which are considered "dangerous," then we need to act now. If you look at the rate at which we release CO2, the rate at which CO2 is removed (slower than we emit), then it is not very likely we will keep CO2 below 550 parts per million. That's about a doubling from the pre-industrial levels. If we are to have a chance of limiting ourselves to a doubling, without the installation of massive (still unknown) human-made devices to remove CO2, then we have to take significant action in the next few years - less than a decade.
An important paper in the past couple of years is Pacala and Socolow,
which appeared in Science in 2004. This paper and a body of work that follows recognize both the need for short-term actions as well as the need for a portfolio of approaches to control CO2. There are meaningful short-term ways that address the perceived urgency of the climate change problem, and there are multiple choices which provide the flexibility that allows the participation of many communities. Further, a subset of approaches is free enough of controversy that people will recognize the value of their implementation. The proposals of Pacala and Socolow give an excellent strategy that starts to address the climate change problem; however, they do not stand as a solution and require integration with many other elements of the problem, including policy, as well as sustained management towards the long-term solution set.
The (IPCC Report
)talks about the useful strategies to reduce our emissions and also evaluates the possibility of other approaches, such as geo-engineering.
The question, of course, remains, what is dangerous climate change? I know some of the readers think that climate change offers no dangers, other readers hint at a feeling of doom. With some notion of management, I think that it is within our means to develop policies and practices to allow us sit somewhere between doom and denial. Have at it.
see also my latest entry at climatepolicy.orgPrinceton University Press Release of Pacala and Socolow Pacala and Socolow at carbonsequestration.us