Top Story: December 4, 2013

Climate Change Action

climate change, action, reforestation, carbon dioxide, UN, PLoS

By Molly Michelson

While world leaders continue to disagree on what steps are needed to address global climate change, climate scientists and other academics increasingly urge immediate action.

Last month’s annual UN climate talks limped slightly forward, according to the Associated Press, and seemed to be stuck on emission reductions and who should pay for climate-related damage, says the New York Times. NPR called it a conflict between rich and poor nations.

As 190 nations continue to discuss, looking forward to a resolution in 2015, many climate researchers feel that will be too late—the time to act is now.

Two weeks ago, Nature Climate Change published two perspectives (links here and here) under the header, “The time to change is now,” seeking action to reduce emissions sooner rather than later. And yesterday, a study in PLoS ONE led by climate change scientist and activist James Hansen titled “Assessing Dangerous Climate Change: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature,” invokes people to action.

From the abstract:

Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice.

The article, whose 17 co-authors contribute expertise ranging from atmospheric and earth science to economics and public health, challenges researchers, policy makers and world leaders to respond to climate change with active attempts to restore energy balance and regain stability of Earth’s ecosystem.

Yale’s e360 Digest summarizes the call to action in the multi-author paper:

Offer global leaders a detailed blueprint for decarbonization that involves setting a steadily rising price on carbon, the large-scale deployment of nuclear power and renewable energy, significantly increased research into low-carbon energy technologies, and a reform of forestry and agricultural policies that leads to massive sequestration of CO2 — all while not spending more than 1 percent of global gross economic output.

PLoS ONE will provide a forum for furthering this discussion, calling for researchers to submit work that goes beyond typical boundaries between scientific disciplines. “Our hope is to generate a wide range of submissions on climate research and in particular papers that address solutions to the challenges posed by a changing climate, such as alternative energy development, environmental preservation, the problems of acidification, adaptation strategies and restoration of failing ecosystems,” says Damian Pattinson, of PLoS ONE. “...We hope to make that research freely available to the world for application and further development.”

Papers submitted to the call will undergo peer review and will be published in a collection, “Responding to Climate Change,” early next year.

Hansen and his colleagues aren’t the only ones pushing for fast action. The Public Policy Institute of California held an event earlier this week on Climate Change and California’s Future to discuss the impact of California’s climate change and renewable energy policies. We’ll provide details on that event in tomorrow’s post.

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